Monday, May 27, 2013

Brown out of the ground

Local clay fired to cone 6 oxidation with clear glaze.
      Dug from the pasture. I finally found some clay that will hold shape and vitrify to Cone 6 – so far. Recent storms and wash-outs have uncovered a small seam so I'm hoping to dig a larger quantity to play with. For now, I'm just testing. This is basically the same clay body as Bybee's clay body as it comes from the same geologic layer laid down during the Denovian extinction.  If all goes well, it should fire to cone 10 and a little bit higher. At higher temps, other tests with some of my local potter friends have yielded a deep, dark chocolate body color.
Local slip clay fired to Cone 6.
     Most of the clay I have found along my stream beds has been the gray-blue variety which I've been using and testing as a slip. It won't hold a form but it fluxes on it's own as a slip/glaze. Bright orange at low fire (cone 010-cone 060, at least) but deepens it cone 6 and becomes shinier. This recent clay is yellow ochre in color. Happy that I found some. Now I have to get buckets and dig some up before the horses crap all over it.
I spy a teacup form.
     In the mean time, I have some carving of mugs to execute while I wait on the second glaze firing in the past few days. Night times are being devoted to researching kiln building. I plan to construct a kiln on the property next to the studio and future gallery. I've settled on a soda/reduction kiln using LP gas and wood. I have found a hybrid plan and hope to modify it to my needs. I want the flexibility of using wood, which I have in abundance on my property, with gas or just gas firing alone. I'm intrigued by soda, mostly because I find myself gravitating towards pots that are soda-fired again and again. I think the effects might work well with the type of primitive carving and graphic shapes I use. The other reason, quite frankly, is that no one else close by utilizes soda-firing, (mostly salt-firing) so a good part of this is curiosity and experimentation. Worse comes to worse, I'll just fire reduction firings.
     Slowly getting back to some regular production after the Great Gall Bladder Removal. Much to catch up on, the least of which is finally getting all the raised beds situated in the garden. My husband did most of the heavy work, the construction, the tilling and the filling of the beds. I tried to help but really shouldn't be doing so much just yet. Weeding and planting are my speed. It's late in the season, I had hoped to be so much further along but better late than never!
Courtesy Scott. Garden fence is next.
Miniature Irises still showing off...
Mmm... yummy.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Recovery and CO2

Angus greets the irises.
     Surgery was fascinating. Well, not the surgery since I wasn't "there" when it happened in an awareness sense but oh my! The part where you go under is seriously so final and sudden, without warning or memory!  The last words I remember saying were "In the moment," then it was <LIGHTS OUT> until the superfantastic-percoset-ride upon waking. WOW. That was weird. The nurse called me "a real trooper." Just for sitting up and putting my clothes on! My mother was never that complimentary.
Minimalism, flesh as canvas.
     The whole non-awareness part and how drugs can induce that has me fascinated about states of awareness and neurology. Just what is memory? What is awareness? If you can turn it off so definitively and quickly, without any memory whatsoever, what is going on when we think, or when we think we're thinking? Awareness, self-awareness is truly an amazing thing. At any given moment, just be amazed that you can contemplate at all.
SPRING HAS ARRIVED. Including the lovely poison ivy bordering the irises.
     As for the surgery, the CO2 part is the biggest pain, literally. Well, I'm not sure I'd call it pain as much as discomfort that moves around your body. In laproscopic surgery, they poke holes in you and blow your belly up with CO2 so they can move around under the skin. When they're done, they remove the surgical tools and push the air out of your belly, as much as they can. (I had comical visions of me flying around the OR erratically like a balloon when it was described to me prior to my surgery. When they actually strapped my legs down on the table in the OR, I couldn't help giggling.) However, they can't get all the CO2 out and so it has to dissipate through your diaphragm and throughout your abdominal cavity. It tends to settle in your upper chest and shoulders (and neck) causing some feelings like you're having a heart attack except that it's just pressure from the gas. The remedy is to move, to walk, in order to help the body move the CO2 out of your system. And that's where I am now, balancing moving, working and walking without over-exerting myself. Other than that, so far, so good. I'm even back at glazing the pots I bisqued the day after surgery (thanks to my husband and mother-in-law for helping me fire the kiln and unload!). I have other trays, mugs and slab bowls to carve for additional bisque firings. I'm a bit behind where I'd like to be but really, pretty pleased with where I am, considering this unexpected health adventure. And all my irises are blooming! What a bonus!
Some new ideas...
Blue Horse Bowls.
     A grateful thank you to the surgical people, naturally (with a shout out to the anesthesia team! -Go Fentanyl! Go Percoset! Go anti-nausea drugs!) and thank you's to every one who has wished me well, including people who have contacted me here on the blog, Twitter and on Facebook. I still cannot reply to comments on my blog for some unknown reason but just know that I love you all :)

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Saying good-bye to a part of me

     You make plans. And then they change. New pots, new sculptures, new gallery, raised beds, planting the garden, time to get busy. And then, it turns out, your gall bladder has to come out. Which really puts a crimp in the quarterly plans, you have no idea.
     I've been told of all the abdominal surgeries, laparoscopic cholecystectomy is the safest, easiest and quickest to recover from. I certainly hope so. However, as someone who has never even encountered a cavity, well, let's just say this has been quite the adventure so far. I go in tomorrow. I hear the drugs are fab. My biggest regret? That I won't "be there" to see it happen. Surgery is so cool!
     It is my organ so I asked if I could have it afterwards but apparently that's a biohazard. They don't even give out gall stones any more. The surgeon has kindly offered to take pictures while he's looking around in there. (They blow you up like a balloon so they can move around to perform the surgery. Nice view of the liver, I'm told.) I would rather have the DVD but I'll be happy with snapshots.
     Poor little gall bladder. It's been a spastic case my whole life but I didn't realize it until recently. I just assumed post-meal discomfort was part of eating. When I was interrupted by sharp stabbing, spasmodic pains for a day or two recently, I opted to see the doctor at my husband's urging. Two months later and I'm about to lose an organ that's been with me for fifty years.
     I had considered just putting up with the discomfort and changing my diet since the stabbing pain only lasted a day or two and I'd rather not have surgery but then I spoke to my mother who told me that there may be a family connection since her older sister had gall bladder issues in her 50-60s and ended up in emergency surgery, sick for many months afterwards as a result of ignoring the symptoms of "indigestion" for so long. Soooooo, that changed my mind.
     And now I bid fond adieu to the lowly gall bladder, storer of bile. You did what you could. Not very well, apparently, but I appreciate your service nonetheless. When I think back on the stabbing pains, I will think of you and the biohazard refuse container that will be your final resting place. I will eat raw cookie dough in your honor tonight (before I'm to stop eating at midnight!) as a last meal of sorts. That and spicy Italian sausage and lentil soup. Bon appetit!