Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Townsend, Tennessee

I was able to go to my Happy Place this past weekend and, as usual, felt a sense of restoration. It's been a long, hard winter and I was able to have a taste of SPRING! It is amazing what a sunny Saturday, the river, and some dear friends and family can do for a person! We went on a walk down the street to the swingin' bridge and across to an old farmhouse that is falling down.  It breaks my heart to see it in this state, but I'm also drawn to it like a moth to a flame. There are lots of stories about it. All I really know is that the current owner is an elderly man who will not sell it or let any of his children fix it up so it continues to crumble. The entire front porch has fallen now. So sad.

Here's a picture of  another old farmhouse and pasture down the road from THE white farmhouse.

Later in the week I will show some pictures of one of the most interesting shops in town. Come back and see more!

Where is your happy place? I'd love to hear about it!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

A Sunday Song: Amazing Grace

Each Sunday I am going to highlight a song that has special meaning to me. I hope you enjoy this version of Amazing Grace by the Celtic Woman, with the accompaniment of bagpipes.

If you would like to, please share with us in the comment section so we can all enjoy, too!

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, February 17, 2014

February: Prepare. My First Ceramic Test Firing Results

I know, I know.  February is almost over, but I still have a word that characterizes what has been going on this month. PREPARE! I've been preparing to start my new business with ceramics, to organize my house by cleaning out my closet, to be a better writer by taking a class online about blogging (Blog with Pip, which is great, by the way). Yes, I've been PREPARING for SPRING!!!!

I was sick with a cold for a good part of January, and I'm just now getting moving again.In Tennessee we have had a hard winter; cold temperatures and snow. Don't get me wrong, I love snow! I really do! Here's a lovely photo of our eleven pm walk in the neighborhood last week.

We had 7 inches total, which is a lot for us in the south.  We are really excited if we get 2-3 inches. The next day it was in the 50's and almost completely melted. I'm sharing this to say that I love snow but I HATE COLD WEATHER, and we have had very cold temps all winter long. So.... I'm PREPARING for Spring! Bring on the daffodils, tulips, dogwoods, azaleas, lilacs, and peonies.

Some of my February preparations have included making my ceramic jewelry for taking to the Market Square Farmers' Market. Your items have to be approved, so the first step is MAKING the jewelry. Luckily, that's also the fun part. I think I mentioned I have a degree in art education and have had several classes in ceramics. In my art classroom we had a wonderful ceramics program and all of the children made a ceramic project every year. The 4th and 5th graders were taught how to use the wheel, well sort of. I had to have my hands on theirs because throwing a pot on the wheel is actually very hard. It's a wonderful medium but VERY messy. To have a studio for wheel throwing you really have to have certain considerations, like a place to get dirty with drains in the floor with special plumbing so the clay doesn't clog your pipes. The kiln has its own requirements, like electrical wiring, ventilation, and of course it must not be near anything that could catch on fire.
If you make something on the wheel it is called "throwing". I am not great at throwing.
Here's an example from someone who IS good at it. Click on the link to see pictures of someone throwing a pot.

If you make something without the wheel it is called "hand built". There are three types of hand built pottery; pinch pots, coil, and slab. Here is a link to see some hand built examples. This is the way I choose to work.

In one of my posts I showed you my new kiln, Kitty. I made some jewelry pieces and loaded them in for their first firing, called the bisque fire. Different kinds of clay have to be fired to different temperatures (in the general range of 2000 degrees Fahrenheit) to permanently remove all water from the clay which makes it into bisque pottery. A pyrometric cone (seen below) is placed inside the kiln in a shutoff switch and when it gets to its temperature it begins to bend which causes the kiln to turn off. Here are some of my photos.

pyrometric cones

cone 04 = 2008 degrees fahrenheit 

new cone placed in an automatic shutoff switch

A melted and bent cone after it has been fired. This drops the cutoff switch

At that point the pieces are white and not shiny, so this is when you add color and gloss with glaze.  There are SO MANY different kinds of glaze and they also must be fired at different temperatures. I chose to use colored underglazes with a coating of clear glaze for shine. I wanted to see how these looked before I took the time to finish all of the pieces, so I painted a few and did a test firing. I'm glad I didn't bother doing all of them because I am not completely happy with the results. The color is not as vivid as I had hoped for, and it appears that I needed more coats because the colors are too transparent. With my pieces being so small adding many coats would be very tedious, so I will be changing my glaze choice and method. Once I find the glaze I want, I am confident I will love them.  Here are some before and after pictures of my test fired pieces. You'll notice they all look green when placed in the kiln. This is the clear glaze that will change color during the firing process.

These are the jars of underglaze and the jar of clear glaze.

It Is SUPER exciting to open the kiln and see the colors!!!!

 I do have a few favorites even with the transparent colors.

Overall, I am very happy with the test firing, because I learned a lot and I am excited about making earrings, bracelets, and necklaces with these pieces.  Preparation is half the battle! Now, to go get some more GLAZES!!Yipeeeeeeeeeee!!!!

Sorry about the long post, but I felt like these things really went together. As always, thanks a bunch for visiting.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

A Sunday Song

I've decided to start a new series called "A Sunday Song". I grew up in a musical family and music is such a part of my life that I wanted to find a way to share songs that have special meaning to me. I hope you enjoy!

"How Great Thou Art"

O Lord my God, When I in awesome wonder,
Consider all the worlds Thy Hands have made;
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.

Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!

When through the woods, and forest glades I wander,
And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees.
When I look down, from lofty mountain grandeur
And see the brook, and feel the gentle breeze.

Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!

And when I think of God, His Son not sparing;
Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in;
That on the Cross, my burden gladly bearing,
He bled and died to take away my sin.

Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!

When Christ shall come, with shout of acclamation,
And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart.
Then I shall bow, in humble adoration,
And then proclaim: "My God, how great Thou art!"

Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art, How great Thou art!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Kitty the Kiln

Here is the answer to the Sneaky Peek post I made earlier this week!

Several of you guessed correctly! Kitty is my "new to me" kiln. I found her on EBAY and got her for a song. She looked beautiful on the outside but was a little worse for wear on the inside. I was able to order some parts and put her back together, so now she's as pretty on the inside as out. I was a little nervous about it because it took some electrical work, but between the written and video instructions, she fired right up!! Yeah!! I wish I had taken pictures while I had her all in pieces so I could prove I did it myself, but I didn't, so you'll just have to take my word for it.


I've been busy making some things to go inside, as well. I'm making some ceramic jewelry and I hope to get a booth at our local Farmer's Market on Market Square in Knoxville. I've been wanting to do this for a while and am so excited to give it a try. I'll let you know if it works out (you have to be approved). There are lots of arts and craft booths even though it is mainly for local vegetables. One of the rules is that you have to produce, grow, or make by hand everything that you sell. Here are a few pieces before they have been fired and glazed. They are going to become jewelry. What do you think?

I loaded them all into the kiln and I'm going to fire them tomorrow. Here's what Kitty looks like when her belly is full.

empty kiln

bottom floor of kiln with posts in place for shelves

starting second layer

Third layer

I had to move a shelf over so the cutoff mechanism will work

She's all dressed up and ready to go! Come back soon to see how it goes. Hopefully, my wiring will work properly!!!!

As always, thank you SO much for stopping by and have a great day!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Sneaky Peek

I have a new toy! I will show you some pictures to see if you can guess what it is. I am soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo excited about this new toy that I am going to name her. I will call her Kitty. Here is a sneaky peak.

Ok. That's all you get right now ;-)

Do you have any guesses? I'm curious to know.

I'll be back soon to let you in on the new project.

I just had to say Happy Birthday to my sweet son, Hunter! It was 22 years ago today at 9:14 am that he made his appearance, 6 1/2 weeks early. He was in the NICU for 19 days. I didn't get to hold him for two days. It was undoubtedly the best and most terrifying day of my life. It is also a time where I felt the "peace that passes all understanding" that is talked about in scripture and it is hard for me to describe what I mean by that. I was both scared to death and felt the loving arms of God wrapped around me, at the same time. He has grown into a wonderful young man and I am so proud to be his mother. I think the thing I am most proud of is that he is very kindhearted! Happy Birthday Hunter and I love you so much!

  Thanks so much for stopping by!

Monday, February 3, 2014

California Dreaming: Grand Finale

We ended our trip in San Francisco. We stayed in a lovely house in Half Moon Bay that was in walking distance to a beach. We toured San Fran and also had a little down time on the beach (freezing cold!!!). I really loved the whole area and would go back for a visit anytime. I'll leave you with some pictures from our adventure!

Do we look like tourists or what?

Alcatraz - we did not have reservations so, no go
There was an amazing Market with some yummie good things and really nice gift shops.


Urchins? Really??

Hand knit finger puppets :-)

Fogged in Golden Gate Bridge. Never saw it!
Muir Woods

 China Town


More mushrooms

Absolutely NO IDEA

Waited a LONG time for brunch at Mama's

French toast

Beach near our house

Very windy "selfie"

Super cute gift shop that had bucket for you to gather "sea" glass. Pretty sure it didn't actually come from the sea!

Thats a mountain of glass

 Stopped by the local marina for some photo ops

Overall, this was a fantastic trip. What you don't see in the photos are the fun times we have together as a group (some which I would never be able to share in public, lol)! It truly is a blessing to be a part of a family of travelers! I hope you enjoyed some of the sights.