11 December 2011

Back to Anagama in Cumbria

  Back to Cumbria before I forget too many details.

After 60 hours I had the feeling to stop. Already 20 hours more than the previous firing with cone 10 down at the front after 30 Hours. So we are certain we have achieved much higher and more consistent heat  than before. I would have liked to have seen the results from this point of the firing but we are on a roll. There's still half a ton of wood left (good and dry to start the next firing I argued) but pyromania takes hold and we keep going.

 The wind picks up. Not so good for pizza on the flue, the top won't cook despite the covering kiln shelf.  Two seconds at the open fire mouth sorts that, five seconds and it's carbonised. The wind is in the trees blowing crazily. Little oblongs of light between the bricks at the top of the chimney become bigger, squarer, lower down too. The chimney is listing away from the kiln. Loud harsh cracks from a tree as it starts, in slow motion to snap. It's not offering itself to the firing but seems to want to get away from it. It's the only thing to pull our attention away from the kiln.
The wood is running low, the rain sets in, the chimney looks dangerous. The kiln is as happy as Larry, I have the impression it would continue for another 6 tons and reach higher temperature.   We call time, I'm really a bit scared that the chimney might go, like a giant red hot Jenga.  As we load up the fire box to finish off, the tree finally snaps and twists as it falls across the drive.
72 hours.

4 December 2011

Why I'm a potter not a sculptor

Arriving in America for the time is rather surreal, very familiar and completely new. And having to get imediately to work the morning after just felt wrong. No sightseeing? No shopping? No gawping. We stayed at Alexander Inn on South 12th and Spruce street (highly recommended) only 10 minutes walk away from the convention centre via Reading Terminal Market and you couldn't want for a better more concentrated experience of a new country than its oldest indoor food market. Fruit and veg (piles of asparagus) meat & fish, herbs and spices, cheese, real maple syrup, Italian coffee, Amish fruit juice, Chinese cornbread, French patisserie, shrimp gumbo, chocolate brownies, cookies, cup cakes - sorry I should be talking pots - set up, sold a few, packed up, came home.
Now what was I saying about the food?
(I love food, food goes on plates, potters make plates, food tends to fall off sculptures)

3 December 2011

First impressions of USA

Tall hotel, and trees growing straight
 First impression at the airport, woman buying $1.99 bottle of water with a credit card. Definitely not in Scotland, buying water?
Big bridge, we have a bridge but not like this

BIG truck, we have trucks too but this one is much bigger

Cal Mac ferry? opposite Ikea car park, we don't have Ikea on Skye

Getting to Philadelphia

A week of packing and cataloging, the worst part of making one-off pieces, pricing in dollars and hoping the exchange rate doesn't veer wildly in the wrong direction. Three home made crates (thank you Rick) polystyrene 'prawn crackers' everywhere, more paperwork for insurance, wishing I had missed this opportunity after all. Manhandling it all into the back of the car which is really half a centimetre too small, in a gale. Drive off to Edinburgh to deliver for shipping - via a garage in Fort William after one of the brakes seizes, everything out and into a hire van, on my way again and half way into the city the sat nav dies (I'd forgotten all of this in the fun of actually getting to Philly).
Anyway enough of the journey getting there. The work arrived safely, Craft Scotland were brilliant at organising the shipping for us.
The week before departure I spent in Cumbria on a 72 hour anagama firing (another blog soon). No time to get home but I managed to wash off most of the wood smoke before arriving at the airport. Met up with lovely ceramist Lorna Fraser and then we really were on our way. It was a long time coming.