Monday, July 9, 2012


Well once in a while it happens. Usually when your stretching right? I guess I was stretching a little too far when I thought I could make a frog fountain at the request of a collegue who wanted it for his fish pond.
First, I've never done anything sculptural before.
Second, I wanted to make it out of paper clay, (for strength because it is large) which I've never made before.
I made some clay from a recipe I found on line and it seemed to work well. I made a test pot with it just to make sure and that seemed to come out OK. I looked at some 'how to ' vidoes to find out how to make a sculpture from clay. All this was taking some time and my collegue was getting impatient.
I then researched what frogs actually look like and also what frog fountains look like. I started the process and it was turning out ok.
But the paper clay made it dry really slowly. I dried it for 10 days in the studio, which has been a balmy 30 degrees C this sunny summer. I was worrying it was drying too fast. And his legs did lift off the table as he dried, but once his body caught up they lowered again. (Well, his body shrank) I wanted to fire it this past weekend, but I was worried it wasn't dry enough, so I candled the kiln for 4 hours on low before I closed the lid. No more vapour came out so I started the firing schedule.
Then I went to the JASNA lunch and hoped for the best.
When I opened the kiln tonight, froggy's legs had exploded apart.
I must be growing as a potter because I didn't dry or throw a tantrum, I just sighed and vaccuumed the kiln.
His back legs must have been too thick compared to the body. His front legs were thinner and did fine even though they were essentially attached the same way. The failure came at the place I attached them. I think making them hollow the next time will help. But before I go to the trouble I think I'll ask my collegue if he still wants it.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

I can breathe, but I can't speak.

Five months ago, for Christmas, we got an air exchanger for the house. Because when you have asthma and allergies, and a long haired dog, and a long haired cat, and unfinished dry wall and floors, and a wood stove, - air quality is important.
Like all our renovations we started off with great gusto, and then when the project was 80% installed we stopped and went back to doing other things. Now that the weather has become almost summer like (27 degree today) and we can open the windows for fresh air, we decided that the last step of installation could be completed. It was humming (or hissing) along for me when I got home from work yesterday. Peter thinks it looks like a robot and has taken to calling it Marvin. The installation guy also defrosted the deep freeze while he was at it. Thanks Sweetie.

It may be psychosomatic but both Peter and I feel that the air in the house is a lot cleaner, even though it has been only a few hours. One of the ways we can tell is when the sun comes through the window pane, the beam of light doesn't get dispersed through a haze of grey dust, dander and soot, but actually hits the floor. And neither of us woke up with the sniffles this morning.

Waking up with sniffles is actually something I got used to a long time ago. It usually gets worse in spring with the pollen, and sometimes the allergies give me a sore throat. That is why, when I woke up last week with a sore throat I just took an antihistamine and went to work anyway. Three days later it still wasn't better and then I lost my voice. That was last Saturday. I have been voiceless for a week now, although the course of antibiotics that the doctor prescribed seems to be working and I can almost talk.
My doctor insisted I stay home from work for two days unless 'you don't have to go outside, do physical labour or talk." Pretty much sums up my job. She said I couldn't go to work, but she didn't day I couldn't go shopping, so I took advantage of having a week day off to prepare for an art fair I am doing in June. I feel so ahead of the curve. (I'm sure that feeling will go away)
It was the worst possible week to get sick though. I was preparing a 'special' street planter to be part of the Alliance of Kings Artists summer art series Unommon Common Art. The planter was due to be finished by Monday, and since Monday is a holiday here, it had to go out Friday. So I went to work Friday and did a lot of mime for my co-workers. All of who had something clever to say, along the lines of "Today is a good day to argue with Jane" and "Gee, Jane, you're almost the perfect woman."

It did get finished though, and the idea is that by the end of summer, the plants will envelop the bicycle and it will disappear. This is the plan, but tonight we are scheduled to get frost, and there is always the worry that enterprising young hoodlums may try to throw it in the harbour, so I took a picture now for posterity.
In case you are wondering, no, I did not get frustrated with my cycle riding and trash my own bike. This was on found on the street, along with a lot of other debris as the university students vacate all the rental units for summer.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

In training (I'm such a jock, not!)

Started riding my bicycle for the charity ride I do for brain cancer research in June. This is my second day out. I rode in March when we had the hot summer 24 degree freak weather week, but that was just a quick ride to the store in the village, a mere 2km. My ride today was from Habitant to Medford and back. Google maps tells me it was 8.2 km. That's less than 1/5 of my goal as the charity ride is 50km (not 25 like I thought )
Amazingly I didn't feel that bad afterwards. Possibly I will be singing a different tune tomorrow. I think the yoga and physio I have been doing are really helping but by the end of the ride I was wishing I had dug out my cycle shorts.
While I was cycling I was keeping an eye out for our dog pool. We bought a child's wading pool for Willow last year, and it was in the shed of the winter, but we pulled it out to put the snowblower and generator away for summer and left it out without water in it. It blew away in one of those windy days we had. Our winds blow west to east, so I expect it fetched up on a hedge row between some farm fields between here and Kingsport. No luck, but perhaps I will go ask at the vineyard if they have seen it.
Thaks to everyone who has donated to my ride, if you haven't already you can do so by clicking here and click on Sponsor a Participant to find me and donate.
No picture of my route today. I didn't think to take a camera, but here is a photo of some tulips I planted by the greenhouse last fall.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Spring is Here

I know that Spring really has happened this time, unlike all those false times in the last 2 months or so because the branches I pruned a few weeks ago have finally started to bloom. I put these peaches and pears in the studio, which stays quite cool at night because the wood stove is only on while I am in there. The electric heaters are set to 6 degrees to keep the clay from freezing and so these didn't force as quickly as the ones in the house. But now even though I went to my parents house for Easter and I haven't had to use the wood stove for several days it is now warm enough to force these into bloom.
Just watched on the new tonight that the peaches and apricots in Ontario flowered ages ago in the early spring and they are worried about frost still. It hasn't been that warm here. The daphne bloomed a few weeks ago but the forsythia is still bare.
Curling season is over and I start back to work next week. This is another sign of real spring. To compensate for no curling I am starting yoga tonight in Kingsport. This is really just an excuse to avoid cycling for a while longer. (I need to limber up first...) I have already been on my bike though, I cycled to the store for something in March when we had three days of summer weather. I need to do more of this so I don't die on my charity ride in June.
I'm cycling for Team Ed again this year. Check out my donor page to support the Princess Margaret Hospital Foundation in support of brain cancer research. Go to
and click on Sponsor a Participant to find me and donate.
Now, I'm off to yoga. Oooooommmmmmm

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

New Studio Space!

I moved into the new studio last week, or maybe it was the week before. Anyway, it took longer than expected. There was a lot of stuff to go out to the garage from that little sun porch. Days of carting stuff across the driveway. And then I had to figure out where it all went and how it all worked in the new space. I'm still doing that, and I find that no matter what, I'm still getting up to get something on the other side of the room.
I bought a counter top at the Restore which will be the sink and glaze area on the far wall. Eventually, but for now I'm using a bucket of water from the kitchen as always. The plan is also to have ware shelves across the north wall, but for now, there is still construction material for house reno stored on the wall, and it will be there a while I think. For now I'm still using the small ware shelves that we had in the other studio.
I'm in a decorating phase right now which you may notice from the pots of paint littering the table top. I signed up for a tile making and decorating course at the Nova Scotia Centre for Craft and Design with Suzi Cameron. I was attracted to the decoration aspect of the course in the description because I know nothing about painting (and it shows) so my pots always end up looking like a 4 year old painted them, but not in a good way like naive art or folk art, or Jackson Pollack but just in a bad way like a completely talentless hack had a go.
So I've been practicing on greenware with underglazes under Suzi's very expert direction, and in some ways I'm actually getting the hang of it, but it still looks pretty amateurish. Plus now I want to go out and spend money on better brushes because her brushes actually do what I want (sort of) and mine I bought in a package of 10 at the dollar store 4 years ago. Nuff said.
Also, we moved all the orphan pottery equipment that we have collected over the years into the studio. You may notice a large treadle wheel and a belt driven bench style wheel and a stand up cabinet style wheel in the photos. These came with various kilns we acquired on kijiji. The bench wheel was my first wheel which I used until the sweetie (and inlaws) bought me the new one a couple years ago at Christmas. All the wheels work, although the electric ones are slow and a bit jittery. The treadle wheel also came with a motor but the wiring was apart, so we just took it off and the treadle bit works amazingly well. I had a go this week for the first time. I've never done it before, and I was surprised at how much energy it took. It was like riding a stationary bike and my heart rate increased by the time I was finished centring.  An art workout!

The cabinet wheel has only one speed, and I think we will turn it into a sharpening wheel because it isn't very fast and I don't think I could manage to throw a pot on it, although I thought for a while I could use it as a dedicated trimming wheel.
Oh, and the studio has a facebook page! The world must be coming to an end if I'm on facebook. Except I don't understand what I'm doing, and I can't seem to make anything work. My page doesn't have a search window or a fans or events button, so I can't do anything but post to myself and post photos on my wall. I'd like to invite you to see it but I can't. Just search facebook pages for Sun Porch Pottery and Like me (or don't) and maybe it will start working, or something.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Happy New Year 2012 - Remember to Have Fun

Yes, I know. It's been ages.
Something's gotta give.
Can't do everything.
In June, the sweetie said to me one day...."All we ever do is yard work or work on the house. I want to have fun"
Now, I was surprised at this because I love the yard work, (some of us would call that gardening.)
And I love my house, as unfinished as it is and crazy as that may seem. But I understood what he meant. We used to go hiking, camping, drinking, adventuring, exploring, whatever, and we don't do that anymore because:
1. We spend any extra money we have on the house stuff.
2. We have too many projects on the go. It can be overwelming.

It was getting him down. He's already a little stressed because of this phD project. He wanted some leisure time.
So for the past 6 months or so we have been working at having fun.
I abandoned the garden and the blog (two things which suck up a lot of time) to do other things. Fun things for both of us.
Boy, was it expensive.
In July we bought a new truck. It's blue, and still doesn't have a name. That wasn't so much fun as necessary. Casper was 11 years old and starting to really fall apart. We sold him to friends who didn't have a truck at all, and sometimes we still visit.
In August we drove the new truck to Montreal and bought a new bike. The green one to match my red one. Now we are twins.The plan of spending time riding together was foiled by the crappy summer weather we had and also that the green bike (which still doesn't have a name) was in the shop being fixed for a month. We bought it used, and it had some unknown problems which are now fixed and we are eagerly waiting for spring. Vroom.

In August we also bought kayaks. We were having so much fun with those that we forgot to take pictures. We put the kayaks on the truck and went to various lake and beaches all over, getting wet and exhausted and pretending we are 20ish rather than 40ish.

In September we built a new garden for a friend (yup, that's yard work but I managed to squeeze it in anyway). We used the new truck for that too, you can just see it in the distant background. September we decided I needed a new larger pottery studio and began renovating the upstairs of the garage. Including putting on a new roof. Thanks to our friends Peter and Gabrielle for helping with that. This is the new studio space under construction. It looks better now. The electricity is in, the lighting and the insulation and vapour barrier are in. There is a wood stove for the heater, along with a couple electric baseboards to keep it from freezing at night. We still need to put down the vinyl floor and plumb a sink before I move in. Oh, and a couple windows would be nice. It will be rudimentary, without drywall and will still be a storage space for much of our renovation and summer activities, but it is a much larger space that the sun porch I am currently in.
In October we renovated a craft fair booth we bought from a friend and went to a craft fair in November. Exhausting but fun.Over Christmas we collapsed from all the fun.

In the Boxing Day sales we bought me a new computer to replace the 8 year old antique I had been using. (for using - read swearing at and getting frustrated when it would hang up or crash)
The new one is much faster and easier to surf with, so perhaps blogging won't be such a time consuming task and I will do it a bit more in 2012.
Happy New Year to all, and remember to have fun.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The upside of crappy weather

What follows two days of rain? Monday.

It has been a bit of the summer that never was so far, although it is still early days yet I keep telling myself. The last two weeks have been getting better, except for the weekends which have been rainy and cold.
The upside: I can ride my motorcycle to work during the week and relax in the pool after a long sticky day.
I'm not getting a sunburn at work.
The cool nights are wonderful for sleeping.
Have I convinced you yet? I have almost convinced myself.
This week has been sunny and warming up and the forecast for Canada Day weekend is for more of that. Ironically the garden needs water. I'm hoping for rain.
The downside: Weekend chores in the garden get left undone and laundry goes in the dryer. The second coat of paint on a garden chair is still waiting, and plants that should have been planted a month ago are not. Like these.LinkThese are the results of the sweet potato experiment I wrote about last winter here. These are only a few, I had great success with getting the sweet potatoes to overwinter in storage and then got them to grow slips which then root in water for planting. I also tried just planting the sweet potatoes, and that was slower because there wasn't much heat in the greenhouse in spring, but once they started, they really got going.
The other half I took to work and they were not as successful but are starting to come on now.

Other things to do when it rains:
I did complete a sewing project that has been sitting there since April.Friends gave us this teak chair sans cushion in February, and I finally finished the cushions. I had hoped to also cover the cushions of another teak chair we inherited but I ran out of fabric and now can't find it anymore. Bummer.

I started some pottery that a friend has commissioned me to make. And I finally glaze fired a kiln of stuff that has been sitting around since I went back to work. Most of it came out OK. Maybe pictures later.