Saturday, May 31, 2008

Sushi Set for Bri

I'm a food junkie, no doubt about it.

There isn't much I won't try, or try to cook, and I check out as many food blogs as possible. If there were an extra 4 hours in a day, I'd probably spend all four reading about food.

Maybe that's what happens when you grow up in a family of restaurateurs. Or maybe it's just growing up Italian.


Which leads me to the following - one of my favorite food blogs is Jen Yu's "Use Real Butter", she's smart, wickedly funny, and unfortunately, fighting cancer right now. It just dawned on me that I've never met Jen, but still ride the ups and downs of her cancer journey. I think it's an amazing testament to the blogging community that bonds can be made over DSL lines, across telephone networks, and hand held devices all over the world.

Think about it... it's pretty amazing.

So with much sadness, I'll try to help out the blogging community by posting this next bit.


This is an appeal on behalf of a group of food bloggers who are friends of Briana Brownlow @ Figs With Bri.

Bri was diagnosed with breast cancer two and half years ago. A mastectomy, chemotherapy and two years of relatively good health later, the cancer is back. It has metastasized to other parts of her body. At the age of 15, Bri lost her 41-year old mother to the disease. Now, she’s waging her own war against breast cancer. More about it here.

She is going through intensive chemo and other treatments and needs to focus single-mindedly on healing and finding what treatment works best for her. Her health insurance, unfortunately, does not cover holistic alternatives which she would like to try. Bri and her husband Marc have enough on their plates right now in addition to worrying about her medical bills.

The team organising the JUNE edition of CLICK at Jugalbandi has organised a fundraiser to help Bri and her family meet her out-of-pocket medical costs for ONE YEAR.

CLICK is a monthly theme-based photography contest hosted by Jugalbandi. This month’s theme is: YELLOW for Bri

Yellow is the colour of hope. Through the work of the LiveStrong Foundation, it has also come to signify the fight against cancer.

The entries can be viewed HERE. The deadline for entries is June 30, 2008. The fundraiser will extend until July 15, 2008.

The target amount is 12,000 U.S. dollars. We appeal to our fellow bloggers and readers to help us achieve this. Bri deserves a chance to explore all options, even if her insurance company thinks otherwise.

There’s a raffle with exciting prizes on offer. After viewing the list, you may make your donation HERE or at the Chip-In button on any participating site.

Your donation can be made securely through credit card or Pay Pal and goes directly to Bri’s account.

This month’s photo contest also has some prizes. Details HERE.

You can support this campaign by donating to the fundraiser, by participating in CLICK: the photo event, and by publicizing this campaign.


I'm pretty sure it's too late for me to contribute a piece of my work, but here's the deal - I sell some awesome sushi dinnerware sets on Etsy. I will donate the proceeds of the next sushi set that I sell to Bri.

Please check it out, and think about how nice one of my sets will look in your home.

Better yet, think about how great it would be to help out Bri.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Potsticker platter

A few posts ago, I included a picture of a Waterfall Green glazed plate.

It's a glaze that took nearly a year and a half to achieve, and I've started using it on some tiles that I'm currently making. If all goes well, I plan on making a video showing how I make the tiles, as well as how I inlay them.

The key phrase in that last sentence is..."if all goes well" because you know how things crop up that are totally unexpected. Like company. Or a backache.
Or a sick pet.


Until I get that video finished, here are a few more pictures of that green glaze. This platter is a Potsticker platter that I designed a few years ago. This platter was made (and fired) about a week ago.

The kiln gods have been particularly kind to me lately.

It has a small dipping bowl formed within the plate, requiring feet to raise it so the bowl can be flush with the plate surface. See, a lot of potters make platters like this, but with a bowl sticking up from the top surface.

Why be normal?

(On a related note, if you love Potstickers, you might want to check out Stuart Chang Berman's amazing book - Potsticker Chronicles. After I bought it, we had different potstickers every night for a week!)

(On another unrelated note, WTF is up with Blogger tonight? The fonts are all screwy, no matter how many times I edit this, I can't get all the type to match. Screw it.... complain to Blogger for me!)

Friday, May 23, 2008

Watco Danish Oil - come oil (and laugh) with me

Don't faint, the Watco videos are finished and finally posted.

Grab a beer (or a cup o' joe) and put your feet up. Hopefully I won't come off as too big of a dork.

Let's Watco...

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Any woodworker / Mac users out there?

Here's the thing... I am NOT a videographer.

Never studied it, probably never will, other than a short online tutorial that wasn't worth the time it took to watch it. So when I tell you this upcoming Watco video is a labor of love, let me explain...

Mistake #1 - It wasn't too smart on my part to try and film this video on the hottest day (so far) of the year. I put these short clips together over the better part of two days, and at one point, it was 115˚ in my studio.

Think I'm exaggerating?

Sure, I have a pretty decent swamp cooler and some powerful fans. But those make noise, and the noise interfered with the video, so I had to leave them off. Hence... there was a massive sweat/fatigue thing going on.

Mistake #2 - I should have learned by now to leave certain things up to professionals. By this, I mean video editing. OK, maybe I'm just a putz, but I feel like I know my way around my Mac well enough, and Macs are great for things like film editing.

So why was it so hard?

Could it be the heat stroke? (See mistake #1)

So here's the deal - I have a Watco video filmed and somewhat ready to go, but I'm going to have to upload it in three different segments. I'll be damned if I can figure out how to string them together... I did once, but they say your memory fades with age... or with heat exhaustion...

What was I saying?

I have a request- I know that people (not just woodworkers) read this blog, and if anyone out there is a Mac user and has any suggestions for video editing software (hopefully shareware!) can you please send it to me? I'm hoping for something simple, that will allow me to string a few short clips together, edit out my babbling, and perhaps adjust the sound level and contrast levels.

In fact - if anyone gives me a really great software suggestion, I'll mail you a great shirt - better yet... it's brand new.

One of my tool reps gave it to me, it's lightweight denim, embroidered with a their logo. It's a mens - medium.

I'll send it to whoever (or is it whomever?) gives me the best suggestion for Mac software, and I'll give you a shout out on this blog, as well.

As we say here in Las Vegas... Muchas gracias.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Hammer collections and hardware thoughts

When I was in college, I started a hammer collection.

In fact, my college roommate went to Europe and my only request was a hammer, which turned out to be a sweet Warrington cross-pein version. What a cool

Over the years, I've lost track of my friend, but not the hammer.

In every foundry class I took, I took the opportunity to cast solid metal hammers - in bronze, nickle, and even a small one in sterling silver. It's not a collection that I work hard at keeping up, but last year, I bought a sweet set from Garrett Wade, a set of Double-Faced Traditional Style Japanese Hammers.

Be still my heart.

Which got me thinking about one of my favorite books, Tools of the Trade by Jeff Taylor.

For any of you like minds out there (tool whores at heart) this book is sure to stimulate your tool lust.

Someone stopped by my studio the other day and saw the small Japanese hammer on my workbench, and inquired about it's purpose. It's very small, so it's not like you're going to drive many nails with it.

What do I use it for?

I keep this hammer handy for purpose, and ONE purpose only... breaking ceramic pieces that I deem of poor quality. I figure - if I've put my time, energy, creativity and money into making a piece - and it turns out bad, I don't want to simply toss it in the trash.

My pot and tile breaking ceremony probably seems a little ostentatious to some, but it's important to me.

Which brings me back to thoughts of great hardware stores. I can think of two that are near and dear to my heart - West Hill Hardware on Market Street in Akron, Ohio, and San Diego Hardware. They used to be located in the downtown area of San Diego, but moved in 2006. I haven't been to their new location, but it would be hard to beat their quaint old location.

Great hardware stores are hard to find. I'm not talking about the big box ones, the huge mega stores that have tons o' stuff, but not really anyone that cares about what they're selling you.

I'm talking about the old time, odd stocked, personal stores of my youth. The kind where it didn't seem odd to see a mouse run across the floor, or a bird caught in the eaves. Or the lumber dude with a couple of missing fingers.

The kind of store where you can buy one toggle bolt, or a cork for the bottom of your grandmother's salt shaker. Or a nails by the pound, measured with an old time hanging scale.

My kind of place.

So today, when I read The Poop today, a blog in the San Francisco Chronicle by Peter Hartlaub. It was entitled " Hardware Stores: the new Disneyland" and
I feel a little mixed about what he wrote. (You may have to scroll down a bit to find it on his blog.) I was thrilled that he's introducing his son to the thrills of hardware stores. But I sure wish he'd picked a better hardware store than the one he chose - they are out there, you just have to look.

I just thought of another: Lehman's Hardware in the heart of Amish country.

Anyone care to add to the list? Where are the cool stores in your neighborhood?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Finally - a Waterfall Green Glaze!

If you've read earlier entries on this blog, you know I've sort of lost my mind trying to develop a green version of the lovely WaterFall Glaze.

Don't faint... I think I've done it.

I've tested and retested this recipe, more than a half dozen times, on different clay bodies, on smooth and textured slabs. A year and a half of experimenting. Who knows where the time goes?

Of course, it's too late to shoot any decent pictures of the platter I just unloaded, but I'll try to add a few more pictures as soon as I can.


Friday, May 02, 2008

Blowing off work...

This is a difficult post to write, I've been putting it off for about two weeks.

But it's finally time to gather my thoughts and get it done.
First, I totally blew off working yesterday and headed to Red Rock Canyon for some hiking.

Any one who knows me probably just blew coffee out their nose; hiking is just about last on my list of favorite things to do, along with going to the dentist and pulling weeds in the yard.

But it was nice.

(How does a tree grow right out of a huge boulder?)

Tranquil and relaxing.

Even physical and challenging, which I needed.

See, there is a bit of a crisis going on in my family, and distractions are good. My sister-in-law, Debbie, was just diagnosed with stage 4 stomach cancer. She's one of those great people you meet in life - funny, beautiful, SMART
smart, everything you could ask for in a relative. Three great kids.

As you can guess, everyone in the family is having a rough time wrapping our heads around the thought that Debbie is so sick. She does everything right in life - eats well, doesn't drink or smoke, you know... she actually listens to all the stuff the doctors tell you NOT to do.

And still, Debbie is fighting for her life.
This website, Trekking for Debbie, was started in an attempt to raise funds for Lance Armstrong's LiveStrong foundation. You know the cute little yellow rubber bracelets you see?
That's the one.

There's a picture of Debbie on the Trekking for Debbie website, as well as a few updates from her. Even if you don't want to donate, I hope you'll check it out. And if you do decide to donate, that's very cool, too. Oh - that's me in the picture... I'm the hiker with the
yellow rubber bracelet. The one trying to wrap my head around all of this.

Keep us all in your thoughts.