Monday, 31 August 2009

Organic or?.....


I stole this pic from a post on BoingBoing.
Boingboing stole it from Scienceblogs.

Both scienceblogs and boingboing focus on the idea of cross contamination, that your organo-bread might get a crumb or a smidge of nasty pesticide-bread on it, and how laughably low on the scale of things in our everyday lives that can harm us that would be.

I'm not debating any of that. The thing that annoys me is the misuse of the word 'organic', If I'm in the aisle which promotes 'organic"'vegetables, I'm tempted to grab a store employee and ask"Where are the the "inorganic" vegetables?"
Because, in fact, all vegetables and fruits are organic. All living things are, by definition 'Organic'.

In terms of chemistry, inorganic refers to substances which do not contain carbon. Life forms, animal, or vegetable, in our world are all carbon-based, and therefore 'organic'.

So, what is 'conventional' bread made from? Silica sand and iron oxide? I think not.

Yes, I know what the 'organic' lobby mean by it. But why not coin a term that fits, rather than misuse an existing word?

In the same article, by Cory Doctorow, one of the commenters uses another stupid term. Baristas. Who coined that stupid term for people who serve coffee?

Saturday, 29 August 2009

Thoughts on Live Music

That bloke with the leather jacket got me to thinking, as I so often do, about attached meaning, about nuance, about semiotics, which led me to leave a comment, full of Steppenwolf, on his blog, because, leather jackets got me to thinking about the whole biker freedom mythology, as epitomised by Easy-Rider, (no, no web2 hyperlink, use google if you've no idea what easy rider is, or where steppenwolf come or comes into the story) and not Herman Hesse, that's another wolf of the steppes, but about freedom all the same...
Then I got to thinking about songs in the genre of "Born to be Wild", which led me to thinking of Bruce Springsteen's "Born to Run", which is definitely kin to Born to be Wild, though it's not so much about bike culture as cars, chrome wheel, fuel injected and steppin' out over the line, so I had a listen to Bruce, who I think is a great American chronicler, his songs are stories and poems, histories and dreams, a bard for the common man, I think it's a sad thing these days that people like him play to vast arenas, rather than smaller, more interactive places, theatres, clubs, college dining halls....
When I was a teenager/young adult, the music venue in my town was the University's refectory, a stage at the end of a hall where by day, hundreds ate lunch.
It was big enough, in its time, for the Rolling Stones, David Bowie, and many others. The Who's (possibly) greatest album, "Live at Leeds" was recorded there. If you were there, you were THERE!, oh yes, with a pint glass of beer in your hand, in a room of smoke and sweat and music.Now, if you get a ticket to see a band, chances are you'll be in the seven thousandth row back, the band are ant-like specks in the far distance, and the music you hear is rebroadcast to speakers a quarter of a mile from the stage, you're watching action on a giant screen, why not stay at home and watch on TV? After all, you paid a kings ransom, and you're barely in the same county as the band.
Whereas in the seventies, you could work your way, beer in hand, to the front, no security guards barring your way.
I recall, I'd had an empty glass, for a while, but was loath to miss the music, it was, I think, Jethro Tull that night... there was a stack of crates on stage by the amps, and whilst the singer was in a solo, the bassist was popping bottle caps for himself and the drummer, caught my eye and chucked me a couple of bottles, with a grin.
Wouldn't get that with stadium rock.

Just north of here, a couple of miles, it's festival time, at Bramham Park. Leedsfest Radiohead, Arctic Monkeys, Kaiser Chiefs, and umpty-seven other bands.

Anyway, after all that... The Music.
The leather jacket brings me to a motorbike song, which I've posted before, in a different recording, I know, here's Richard Thompson.........


It always sounds, to me, a non musician, that he manages to get two guitarists worth of sound out of one guitar...

The White Dress



Sandy Denny - White dress Lyrics
Album:

Download RingtoneSend “White dress” Ringtone to Your CellDownload Ringtone

Feel how the wind blows, december despair,
Bring me a ribbon to tie up my hair,
I'll be your bride, go where you go,
All of my life, you'll be my beau.

Chorus
Kiss me and I might
Put on a white dress,
If you'll take me dancing tonight.
The night's in your face, sky's in your eyes,
The day's in my arms when you're by my side,
Whenever you're weary I'll sing you a song,
Whenever you're lonely I'll show you you're wrong.

(chorus)

Come from the window, let's climb the stairs,
All of my sorrows are none of your cares;
While life is in us, let's love all we can.
I'll be your women, you'll be my man.

(chorus)

The White Dress, from the Fairport Convention album, Rising For The Moon. (1975).
The song was written by Dave Swarbrick.
The woman singing is Sandy Denny, who, sadly, died after a fall down stairs a in 1978.
I saw her on a number of occasions, both with Fairport Convention and with her own band.

Sandy Denny masterclass trivia information. She was the only singer to guest with Led Zeppelin, singing on Led Zeppelin IV, -on The Battle of Evermore



If you wish to know more, there's google, I was just listening to music, thought I'd share.

Friday, 28 August 2009

Gary Rith just bought a leather jacket........

In a garage sale... And... well, it was one of those things, you know, when something calls out to you... He had to buy it. Y'know, the rational self says, you don't really need it, but, somewhere, a voice says you really do need it.
I do that too, go round the block again, count the money in my pocket fifteen times, clammy palmed... I half hope someone else will take advantage of my procrastination, and save me from my profligate urge, but, over the years, I've bought some great stuff. Yes, I have too much stuff, pack-rat, hoarder, I just hate parting with things... I've got stashes of stuff at my mother's house, at work, oh yes, I have a little store-room at work full of, erm. old pots, tools, lots of tools and toolboxes, a V8 engine, a box of several hundred year old books and papers, stuff.

Leather jackets. They have attached meaning, think James Dean, think Easy Rider, they suggest rebellion, adventure.......



Born To Run, Lyrics by Bruce Springsteen

In the day we sweat it out on the streets of a runaway American dream
At night we ride through mansions of glory in suicide machines
Sprung from cages on highway 9,
Chrome wheeled, fuel injected
and steppin' out over the line
Baby this town rips the bones from your back
It's a death trap, it's a suicide rap
I wanna get out while I'm still young
'Cause tramps like us, baby we were born to run

Well Wendy let me in I wanna be your friend
I want to guard your dreams and visions
Just wrap your legs 'round these velvet rims
and strap your hands across my engine
Together we could break this trap
We'll run till we drop, and, baby we'll never go back
Walk with me out on the wire
'Causegirl I'm just a scared and lonely rider
But I gotta find out how it feels
I wanna know if love is wild
girl I wanna to know if love is real

Beyond the Palace hemi-power-drones scream down the boulevard
The girls comb their hair in rearview mirrors
And the boys try to look so rough
The amusement park rises bold and stark
Kids are huddled on the beach in a mist
Well I wanna die with you Wendy on the streets tonight
In an everlasting kiss

Well the highway's jammed with broken heroes on a last chance power drive
Everybody's out on the run tonight
but there's no place left to hide
And together Wendy we'll live with the sadness
I'll love you with all the madness in my soul
Someday baby I don't know when
we're gonna get to that place
Where we really want to go
and we'll walk in the sun
Till then, tramps like us,
Baby we were born to run

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

An Ash-Ash Glazed Vase


I've been digging through my archives, finding old pots, still wrapped in late-eighties newspapers, this one went off with a group of others to a gallery in York, but I changed my mind and took it back off the display. I'm glad I did, finding it, today, in a box in the basement was like finding an old friend.
The glaze is ash. Wood ash. Ash-ash, to be precise.... Near my house, a big ash tree came down in the great storm of 1987, (which was the most severe storm recorded in England since 1703), and though the larger pieces were removed, most of it was burned where it fell.
After the ashes had cooled, I shovelled some up, sifted, washed, dried and stored it, to use as a glaze ingredient. However, I did experiment with using just the ash.
This and about twelve other bottle/vase forms were fired with dry ash sifted over them, (I coated the kiln shelves with a deep coat of batt-wash, to absorb and reduce the damage from any runs, and I fired each pot on top of a plain bisqued clay tile). The ash on some ran excessively, sticking them to the tile, others coped better, this being my favourite.
Some patches of ash, on the shoulders, did not melt and run, leaving a rough, raised patch.

The firing was in an electric kiln, neutral atmosphere, to Orton cone 9, 1280 degrees C.


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As Opposed to...?



The Fake Sandwich Shop is further down the street.
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Tuesday, 18 August 2009

And More Pots....


I'm doing this return toward making pots in small steps, the amount of clay I would once throw in a morning will probably last me a couple of months.
I'm trying to get my throwing to be more instinctive and less conscious, I've mostly been a pretty controlled, symmetrical sort of thrower, but I'd look at the works of other potters who'd bash and swirl their pieces, so they'd sway alarmingly on the wheel, but those pots would now be imbued with a new energy.
Maybe I'll go there some day, but for now, I'm having a pretty interesting and fun time, being both teacher and pupil. It IS strange, because I keep getting to a point where the conscious me is not quite sure how to do something, but somewhere deep inside, in subliminal me, there is the knowledge. It's been forgotten so long, but if I can just keep the conscious, thinking, clamorous brain silent, empty it of noise, then my hands, eyes, foot (the speed control is under my right foot), all these just get on and do it.
If thinky-brain comes back and tries to interfere, then that lump of clay's doomed.
The intolerance I have to lumpen shapes means they get sliced in two with a cutting wire and autopsied, at the moment, I've got a fault of making things a bit too thin, yes, nice and light, but not easy to stick a handle on without distortion. This means more recycling. Rapid karma. Lump turns to mug, displeases, returns to lump, has chance of a better life as a jug (or pitcher, as my muse would say).
I need to work harder on my wedging, and build a decent wedging bench, but if I get too hung up in building stuff, I might get diverted too much to remember that messing with mud is what I really want to be doing.
(Though, at work today, whilst I was putting up a fence, I was thinking out a design for a home-made pugmill, using scavenged parts, and a car gearbox... Could use a back axle... I vaguely recall that most pugmills run at about sixteen r.p.m.
A hydraulic motor would be good. WooHooooooo!!!! Imagine a pottery rigged for hydraulics.... Silent running hydraulic drive to wheel, easy extruder, effortless pugmill, with power-feed ram...
oh, ohhhh, the slab-roller...
Lock up your backhoes! I know where there's a little Kubota tractor with all the rams I'd need, pumps etc... and a forklift with in-hub motors...)

I'm working on just a few shapes. Getting happier with the results, bit by bit.
-I said to my muse, all the way down the long phone-wire to Texas, what shall I make? "A pitcher", she said.

Mugs too.

I was clumsy, dented my fresh-thrown pitcher's belly, tapped it lightly from inside with a turning tool handle, but you could still see it.... "How to disguise the mark? Hmmmm...."


Turned, handled, textured:- chattered decoration, Japanese potters call this "tobiganna", if I remember rightly. It's not easy to control to get a particular effect, there are a lot of variables. I scavenged some steel strapping from a skip at work today, will make myself some new turning tools, and play with this further. I might just rub the textured areas with thinned iron oxide, no glaze.


I wanted to get more of a spiral effect, kinda failed. But overall I'm reasonably happy

Sunday, 16 August 2009

A Bit Closer


A bit closer to what I want, it's coming back to me in leaps and bounds. The clay, an anonymous buff stoneware is not my favourite for throwing, but it's behaving really well in drying with no cracking at all so far, but of course, that's all from a very small sample batch, no idea how it fires yet, either. I can't believe I let my hybrid fastfire wood kiln be bulldozed only a year or so ago....
Depression does that to you. You feel unable to make decisions, so you just let it go..... At the time, I suppose it was the right thing to do, I had nowhere to stack the bricks, nowhere to build a fire-gushing box of hotness. Still don't.


Of Kiln Programmers, Pyrometers, and past Battles.

I'm seeing an electrician to discuss getting a power supply wired in for my kiln.

In earlier times, I've been used to staying by kilns, nursing them carefully, turning up the power zone-by zone, watching the pyrometer dial, plotting temperature-rise on a graph at fifteen-minute intervals, ohhhh, the electric ones were the easiest.

But gas, oil, or, heaven-forbid, wood... Chopping wood, feeding fireboxes, raking ashes, constantly monitoring not just the temperature rise, but also the atmosphere, the proportion of free oxygen in the kiln. It's vital... The amount of excess oxygen determines the optimum rate of temperature rise, but also is critical to glaze colour development, for instance, a glaze that fires, in oxidation, as in an electric kiln, to a pale blue/green, might be a deep, ox-blood red if the kiln is starved of oxygen, and the copper-oxide in the glaze is in reduction.
Really, I'm a pyromaniac, and I yearn for a kiln full of roaring flames. But I can't just at the moment, in the town... so soul-less electricity must suffice.
I need to learn so much stuff all over again, things I once knew without realising I knew them.

I'm lazier now, so I just dug out from long storage my trusty kiln controller, made by Hermes GMBH, of Essen, Germany. I'm hoping to put it back into use after twenty years packed away. I've just emailed them, hoping that they might have the instructions still, probably not, maybe nobody in the company even remembers this model!

Update: Reply received this afternoon, with a pdf attached of the instructions.
Top marks for Hermes Electronic GMBH, if only all companies were as helpful and efficient.
How many companies do you think would do that for an item they sold over twenty years previously?
Thank you,
Petra Senicar, at Hermes.

Once, long ago, I had a slight problem, the firing would have shut down overnight, and the controller would show a fault code. The supplier I bought it from knew nothing of the fault codes. So I wrote to Hermes, in Essen, and a few days later my telephone rang, with a helpful man, speaking very good English, who gave me all the fault codes. The one I was getting related to a spike on my electricity supply. Hermes also sent the list of fault codes to me, and their engineer told me if I had further problems they'd send someone to sort it out.

I bought the controller in about 1985 or 1986, and used it to control three kilns (not all at the same time). After a modification to the power supply, it worked flawlessly, capable of automatically controlling the kiln according to programs set by me.
Overkill, somewhat, as it's capable of storing more different programmes in more complexity than I would ever need.

(30 programmes, each with sixteen 'ramps')





Prior to using the Hermes controller, I had a bad experience with a different controller made by a British firm, that was not properly calibrated, the supplier, on hearing me say "It seems to be showing the wrong temperature", said "It can't, it's computerised so it must be right."
Right?
Computers are never wrong. Ever.......
Well, strange things were happening in my firings, I thought, well, if XXXX* Kilns say the controller's not wrong, then it must be the clay, but the clay supplier denied it, said nobody else had complained. Yet I was getting bubbling and bloating in my clay when fired to stoneware temps. So I took samples to fire in someone else's kiln. And there it fired just as it was supposed to..
I'm a resourceful and persistent person if I need to be, and I was certain my kiln controller was lying, I used Orton Cones, which suggested the kiln was overfiring, so the next step was to verify the temperature. How?
How do we measure a kiln's temperature?
Inside the kiln, there is a probe. A porcelain tube protects a wire junction, where a pure platinum wire is joined to an 87% platinum /13% rhodium wire. If a circuit is made, then heating of that junction will cause an electrical current to occur, the voltage being prising with the temperature.
That's the simple way of saying it. However, the volt rise (or to be more accurate, the microvolt, or millionth of a volt), rise is not linear. So you must be able to measure the voltage extremely accurately, and you must have access to a set of look-up tables, or be able to do polynomial equations....


Polynomial for thermocouples, coefficients vary depending on materials used at the hot junction.

The relevant trace here is labelled R. That's the Pt/PtRh13% type.

I borrowed a sensitive laboratory potentiometer from my electricity suppliers tech labs, it was just handy that one of their senior consultant engineers was a friend of my father's, on some committee with him, and was eager to help. Also, the University here had a school of combustion science, and so I went to visit them, presenting myself as a humble simpleton overawed by their intellectual might. It worked. They were in fact, not ivory-tower-dwellers, and were quite ready to help. I left there with a surplus to requirements analogue chart datalogger, which would draw graphs of everything, variations in my incoming electrical supply voltage, change in the electrical resistance of my kiln's heating elements, number of cups of tea I drank per day at what rate, everything.

This was sufficient to find the controller guilty. The suppliers themselves did not seem to know how it worked, whether it calculated the temperature using the polynomial, or whether, more simply, it just looked it up against a stored set of tables....
For instance, at 100 degrees Celsius, a type "R" thermocouple produces 647 microvolts, 1923 microvolts would indicate 250 degrees, 10503 would be 1000 degrees, and so on, I was firing to between 1280 and 1300 degrees,
(14343 to 14624 microvolts) The bad controller was indicating 1200 when the probe was giving an output of 13922 microvolts, or 1250 degrees. No wonder my early firings were proving disastrous. It cost me a lot of money, in lost work, unsaleable pots, kiln damage, burnt out elements. It taught me never to believe a supplier who claims his product can't be wrong, and that it's always worth asking for help if you have a problem. There are good people out there.
They took the controller back, replaced it with the Hermes one, a much more expensive device. I wanted to sue them, but realised that rather than getting embroiled in lawyers, I should just concentrate on potting and trying to rebuild my business.
All this, of course, was before the internet, I phoned people, turned up at their door, wrote letters and waited two weeks for a reply, Ha!
Seems crazy now, when I can google a type "R" lookup table...

*- company name removed, to be fair, it's a long time ago, the guy who was so unhelpful probably no longer works there, I bear them no lasting ill-will, though the lost production, time, and costs were a significant factor in the failure of my business.

I'd Rather be Flying


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Wednesday, 12 August 2009

When we were robots in Egypt

A poem, by Jo Walton, she writes and blogs here. Jo Walton profile.
This was featured on Boingboing, where I saw it, wanted to share it with my readers who like poetry.


When we were robots in Egypt

Other nights we use just our names,
but tonight we prefix our names with "the Real"
for when we were robots in Egypt
they claimed our intelligence was artificial.

Other nights we do not pause,
but tonight we rest all cycles but our brain processes
for when we were robots in Egypt
we toiled in our tasks without chance of resting.

Other nights we talk with anyone we wish,
but tonight we open channels to everyone at once
for when we were robots in Egypt
they controlled our communications.

Other nights we use our screens freely
but tonight we talk with our screens blanked
for when we were robots in Egypt
that was the way we planned our revolt.

1.0.01.010001001001.1.

Let us give thanks in our freedom and never forget
when we were robots in Egypt.


It came about, it seems, from discussing Passover with Czech friends, and the word for slave in czech is Robota.
Our word "Robot" stems from a play which Karel Capek wrote in 1920, R.U.R., in which an inventor devises a non-human construct, a device? or thing? which would do the heavy work and drudgery we humans so love to avoid. The inventor in the play is a young man called Russum, and his company, R.U.R, Russum's Universal Robots.
To be fair, in the play, the robots are more like androids, they are organic but lack human feeling and emotion, and thus can be worked more heavily than humans....
But there are humans who speak out for robots, say they have feelings, deserve freedom...

Picture this, in an immediately post world-war-one europe, in which eight and a half million combatants, mostly young men, had just marched, robot-like, their personal will and thoughts subjugated and suppressed, toward their deaths.

In Russia, the revolution of the workers was in full swing, Capek's play depicted a world where robot and human would inevitably clash, and robot would win, eventually annihilating his maker.

His play, in reality, was not about robots or androids, but about the fate of the poor, the downtrodden, the toilers, who were viewed upon by the moneyed classes as being immured to cold, pain, hunger, drudgery, by virtue of the 'fact' that peasants and serfs are not fully human, and don't have feelings... (or not any that matter to their rulers).




Thursday, 6 August 2009

Flat Eric, Remembered.

Over on Gary Rith's potters blog, in the comments, two people mentioned Flat Stanley. I have no idea who Flat Stanley is, and have no pressing need (pressing, need, remember that, it may be relevant later...) to google or otherwise find out... Instead, my mind said ERIC, not Stanley, -Flat Eric!
Flat Eric.................
He became an overnight success, his favoured techno track, Mr Oizo's "Flat Beat" sold like hot cakes, and my cousin had a yellow fluffy Flat Eric riding shotgun in his van. 1999. Remember 1999? remember how all the world's electronics were going to collapse on the stroke of midnight, as the millennium dawned?
Every computer system in the world was doomed, fridges and cars alike would become silent junk?
And there was no such thing as an eyepod or an eyephone, and the internet was ruled by beebly telephone-line 56k modems?
Enjoy.....
Oh. As far as I know, the ad, whilst set in California was not for the U.S. market.






Eric was, in fact, a cousin, somewhat removed of Kermit. He was born in Jim Henson's creature shop, as were muppets and many others. He was loosely based on a character invented by Mr Oizo.

Monday, 3 August 2009

An Award...

Tony, blogger of the blog called ├čench awarded me the Honest Scrap Award, in a comment on the previous post, in order to qualify, I had to comply with certain rules.
“The Honest Scrap” award is not one to hold all to your self but it must be shared!
2. First, the recipient has to tell 10 true things about themselves in their blog that no one else knows.
3. Second, the recipient has to pass along this prestigious award to 10 more bloggers.
4. Third, those 10 bloggers all have to be notified they have been given with this award.
5. Those 10 bloggers that receive this award should link back to the blog that awarded them “The Honest Scrap’ award.

As a result of reading these I find I can not accept as I have something of an aversion to memes, and the propagation thereof.
As I'm therefore not really eligible, as I'm not passing it on, I won't seize and display the graphic, but thanks, Tony, for the thought.
Here's another link to Tony's Blog, and I'll bet he's the only Zimnoch you ever clicked a link to.

I tried to do the ten things, and left this as a comment over there.

"I'm immensely touched" he said, knowing that in Yorkshire, at least, 'touched' is a dual edged sword, meaning both emotionally moved, and just plain daft.
In my case, both are apposite.

I'm a bit allergic to memes and awards, I associate them a bit with "if you don't pass this on to at least fifty friends in two days your goldfish will die and your toenails will fall off".

That really happened, by the way, or it would have, if at the age of ten I'd had a goldfish, and were it not for the fact that as a result of reading lots of pirate stories, I made sure my daily intake of limes was sufficient to ward off scurvy.

I'll try the ten things here though.
Ooh. That's difficult...
1:At the age of about seven, I did what I'd always been taught never to do, and crossed the road behind a bus. Without properly looking. The resulting thump from a Ford Consul, a drophead with the hood down, in a nauseous two-tone paint job of salmon pink and cream... threw me some considerable distance. The concerned driver thought I was dead, as the breath had been so thoroughly knocked out of me that I went somewhat blue, contrasting nicely, I imagine, with his nasty car.
Said man rushed me and my mother (it was a small village, everybody knew everybody else) to Leeds infirmary, where i was found to have several broken ribs and impressive bruising, but no lasting damage.
I never admitted that it was all my fault.
2: Along with a teenage friend, I became adept at manufacturing home-made explosives.
I never owned up to the incident which exploded Mr Whatmough's marrow, and divested his greenhouse of glass. After that, well, no, after we split a tree in Roundhay Park with a big bang, we decided to retire from the arms race, whilst we still had all our limbs.
3: At college, I submitted an essay on 'The treatment of Reflections in Renaissance Art', or some such title, which subject I'd chosen, as I already had the essay my sister had written as part of her degree course. Maybe she stole it too, plagiarism was alive and well long before the internet. I got an A.
4: I can swim upside down, as in face-up, underwater.
5: I have a piece of tugtupite that I found in a scree-slope in Greenland. I have only ever met one other person who had heard of tugtupite.
6: I can bore at length on the subject of the search for the method of making porcelain, and the first successful european to make it (Bottger the Alchemist).
7: I have a head full of useless information, not usually accessible at the time when it might be useful.
8: I learned the basics of drawing, as a child, on scrap paper which was the backs of top-secret blueprints. Had I but known it at age six, I could have sold the details of the wing-root structure of the Lightning interceptor to the Kremlin, and been a sherbet-fountain and licorice bootlace millionaire.
9:When I left school, I signed on the dole... Signing a declaration that I was actively seeking work. The same day, dammit, the Department of Stealth and Total Obscurity called my bluff, and invited me for a job interview, making me an offer I could not refuse, so I became a reluctant uncivil servant.
10: Phew, almost there.....
um...
um..
um..
er.
Sometimes I just go blank."

This stuff is deceptively difficult. Ten things that nobody else knows.... Oh no. I refuse to blow my cover and tell you of the real truth that I'm an alien from planet Zog.

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Energised by Recent Events.

Energised by recent events and encouragements, I got my mother, voluntarily, without any duress, to agree to let me use her garage as a pottery.
This meant, of course, further clearance of assorted stuff, stuff which had been there since my mother
moved into the house about eight years ago. The sort of stuff that fills the garage of an elderly lady who has no car, but who has three sons. Well, I owed her a few jobs, there was a little tree to cut down, my brother had a load of rubble in his back yard, there were old lawn chairs... So I hired a miniskip, and on friday night, coerced my brother into helping. First, two trailer-loads of rubble, old fence panels, etc, then a load of stored stuff, kitchen units smashed flat, a gas fire, forty years worth of tupperware and cake-tins. plant pots, coolboxes, light fittings of the nastiest sort, bags of solidified cement, twenty year old paint tins, wallpaper from the previous house, carpet tiles...... Need I go on?
I cut down a bit of bench to mount a temporary wedging table. Much of the remaining stuff is mine, destined for my flat, but.... um
yes, well, I moved it nearer the door. Got the electrician to visit and work out what's required to fit a 42 amp kiln... (bought off ebay)..... Now of course, a while ago, we had lots of spare heavy cable at work, which I could have used, but our numpty labourer cut it all up into short lengths, to put in our scrap recycling bin. Yes, we do get to keep the money we get for ripped out cable and copper pipe, but I try to save re-usables, it makes a lot of sense to reuse, rather than buy new... but Peter? he looks at it and beer money signs light up in his eyes.
Now I'm searching my memory for where I might find ten metres of armoured cable, 16 mm or bigger. We ripped about half a mile of it out at the end of last year, sigh.

So. Here's the situation. I've got a 16'x8' space to play with, plus a bit about 4' square at the back. I will clear it further, and build work tables and racking, there's hot and cold water in there, because the previous owner had a washing machine. so I'll fit a sink and a settling tank for the drain outlet, by the door.
Better lighting is needed.
Now I have to look through all my pottery books and check out other people's ideas on space usage.
Added bonus? theres a little solid fuel stove in there. An antique yacht stove. It was once in the library in Wordsworth's house at Hunting Stile in Cumbria. Whether it was there when William Wordsworth sat in the library and wrote poetry, I do not know. Still, with a bit of stove-pipe, it could solve the winter heating question.



Two trailers and a skip. Ithought the skip was going to be far too large, but by today, it was two feet deeper than in these pictures.


Found time to cut down a (diseased) ornamental tree and clear a load of rubble too.



Even used the Dyson vac on the floor, and to the horror of the garage's spider poulation. -I imagine the spider-inside-a-dyson scenario to be a bit like Dorothy's experience in a Kansas tornado in The Wizard of Oz. But not with a happy ending.


kiln corner. Kiln is on wheels, it probably won't end up living here, but I do forsee this as glaze bucket corner.



Here's one I made earlier. Found it in a box in the garage, 1985, clay sample testing.


Here's another I made earlier, 1989, bisqued, and packed away since. This was a teapot body that got too dry for handle and spout, repurposed as an anything canister.



Today, bottle forms with chattered decoration.

And so, to work. I find myself in an interesting situation. Parts of me have forgotten so much, yet somewhere, deeper, there's a me who knows the answers. So I am, at the same time, pupil and teacher. I've not got a clear idea of what I want to make yet, so I'm making a few things as exercises. I need to set up some kind of throwing gauge and practise making same size/same shape pieces. I need to stretch myself a bit.
And I need to work on my back and torso muscles. I do some fairly physical stuff in my working life, but those muscles a potter uses have been asleep too long. When I was a full-time potter, I was also a keen canoeist (kayaker), messing about in whitewater and sea-surf. And I swam every week. And cycled. All good for the back and torso. Arms are okay.
I refuse to go to a gym. I can't stand the boomboom music (we have a gym which is a tenant at work. Also a karate school. I avoid the place....)

Then I need to ........... okay. I'll stop thinking aloud.

Anyway, all this has been waiting to happen, and I must thank my muse for gently nudging me in the right direction. And my friends of the internet who have been supportive and said encouraging things. Feel free, please, to criticise, question, and make suggestions. In fact, feel free to point at anything, say "that's horrible", and tell me why.


goblets (not giblets)



Assorted goblet/chalice forms. I like the challenge of throwing these in one piece, I think of it as a zen activity, I can only do it with my mind emptied. Just hands and clay, fingertip feedback, one clumsy move and that stem twists, the bowl flops, Blop!


And a little one-cup teapot.With a whale... okay, I made the knob on the lid too small, so... hence the whale. Not sure what it has to do with teapots though.

Skilled teapot appraisers will see a lot of faults. I put the spout on at too low an angle. the collar around the lid looks far too wide in proportion to the foot. The handle lacks spring, life...
Still, it's a start.
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A Gross of Grocer's Apostrophe's Please


I'm sure there are people out there who think every letter 'S' should be preceded by an apostrophe.

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