Sunday, September 30, 2007

Guacamole, anyone?

It's been a while since I posted any new glaze test results here.

If anyone's been following this blog, they know that I've been trying to come up with a green version of a glaze made popular in the book "Mastering Cone 6 Glazes. Every time I fire the kiln, I manage to place a few test pieces somewhere inside, hoping to find the color that I can see in my head, but I just can't seem to formulate. I've gotten tips and recipes from potters all over the world. I'm inspired by not only their encouragement, but by hearing about their work and dedication to ceramics.

These two test tiles came from a recent firing. The glaze has some lovely crystals and color, and perhaps I'm too critical, but the color isn't EXACTLY what I wanted. I've been wanting a deeper green, and these are more avocado. Every time I look at these, I want to reach for some tortilla chips.

Monday, September 10, 2007

An epiphany at 38,000 feet

I had a woodworking epiphany several years ago, at 38,000 feet while on my way to San Diego for a little R&R. Looking back, it was a benign moment. I was staring out the airplane window, studying the crop circles below, made from elaborate irrigation systems. Here are some table tops that came from that inspiration:

I make circular tiles to hold that "something special" that you don't want to misplace. It might be your watch, when you work out, or your keys when you walk in the door at the end of your day. There's a slight dip in the tile, perfect for holding whatever you want it to hold. These tops have morphed over the years, I started adding a little carving to some of them. But what these pictures really remind me of is how many large holes I have routed over the years.

Because the tiles shrink as they dry, their exact size is somewhat hard to determine. I like small grout lines, so even if the hole is 1/4" too big, the resulting grout line can be large and unattractive.

I needed a better way to rout circles, and I've been searching a long time.

Fast forward to this past July, when I attended the AWFS show (the Association of Woodworking & Furnishings Suppliers) here in Las Vegas. I usually try to enroll in a few seminars, and then spend some time touring the exhibitor halls. I'd seen a review of a new router accessory, called the Router Buddy, and thought it might work for me. So imagine my delight when the inventor, Louis Duplessis, had a booth, and was giving demonstrations.

It's truly a simple concept, you drill a small hole in the center of your desired circle. There's a small pin on the router base, which slips into the hole you drilled. The router rotates around that pin, it's very simple and effective, and easy to micro-adjust. In fact, it's the best system I've ever seen.

I liked it so much, I had Louis autograph the package!

I'm working on a few speculative pieces right now, there's a film maker who has expressed some interest in doing short documentaries on Las Vegas artists. So I'm trying to prepare a few things to work on when she arrives with her film crew. This piece is a current one- a small ritual table, perfect for everything from mediation, to using as a bed tray. It's Walnut, with a drawer that pulls out of the side, making access easier than a drawer in front. As usual, I'm inlaying one of my tiles. Here are a few pictures in progress. I'll post more when it's finished.

Meanwhile, if you're interested in the Router Buddy, here's a link to Louis' site.

Monday, September 03, 2007

I've started a killer restaurant review, and was going to post it here, but I keep thinking up new places to add to it. So for the time being, it's still in progress.


Maybe it's because I live up in the Northwest area of Las Vegas, the part closest to the Nevada Nuclear Test Site, but my cherry tomato plants are out of control. Radiation? Who knows?

I stopped trying to control the way these two plants grow a few months ago, when their height approached 8' tall, and they both burst the metal tomato cages I naively put up, trying to harness their growth. After splitting the metal frames, they cascades down and around the yucca, over the dwarf citrus trees, and spilled out of the bed, into the gravel. I've honestly never seen anything like it, these tomato vines are now approaching giant squid territory.

And lo and behold, the peskiest of garden pests have started to invade- the dreaded horn worm.

When I was a child, my grandparents visited us one summer in Los Angeles. We had a small garden in our mostly concrete back yard, with a few herbs and a couple of tomato plants. My grandfather Dominic was sitting outside, probably smoking a cigar, as he loved to do, and noticed some hornworms on the tomato plants. He offered a challenge- a dollar for every worm I could find.

After 10 or 15, he started to sit up and notice that this challenge might be a costly one. After 40, he started to backtrack, explaining that he meant a dime for each one. And after about 75, I was certain I had them all. He never did pay, and I still remember that incident, some 40 years later. Maybe that has something to with my "trust" issues....

Where do these ungodly things come from, anyway?

I've started finding them in my tomatoes here, and unfortunately, destroying them. In fact, every morning, when I take the dogs outside, I walk over to the plants, coffee mug in hand, and search for them. They're somewhat easy to locate; they leave a visible trail that you can't miss, even with only a half-a-cup of coffee to prop open my eyes.

In some ways, I suppose they're beautiful, in a freaky kind of way. An elegance of nature, or something like that. But they sure wreak havoc on my garden.

Stay tuned for my dining in Vegas post, coming in just a few days.