Saturday, November 29, 2008


Sky is blue and water is warm and turquoise in Aruba. When we left Rochester, it was snowing. It is very special threat to enjoy this kind of weather middle of the winter.
Swimming, snorkeling, sunbathing and eating good food. Very relaxing.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Seven faced bird

"Shichimenncho" in Japanese.... Translate to "Seven faced bird". The name comes as it turns the colors of head, red, purple and blue when excited. Not native bird in Japan, I think. Yes, it's Turkey.

I had not tasted turkey growing up in Japan. I am not fond of its taste. It's a bit gamy for me, and I think this is very difficult bird to cook well. Brine worked well for me in the past. I was just amazed the amount of salt for its application, but the cooked turkey was not salty at all.

Over the year, our family spent time out of town during Thanksgiving. This year, we are going to Aruba. I am looking forward to see the turquoise color of turquoise, seas, sky....

The bisque firing is done, and ready to glaze when I get back.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Opening Kiln

Salt hoppers from American Rock Salt., just south of Rochester line up at the yard. Are these salts for the snowy road?

Just opening the kiln after 36 hours of cooling. Do you notice the difference? The bottom shelf might looks different from the previous picture. There were last minutes change before firing. Anyway, firing looks good. I will list the new pots on the etsy over next couple days.

Plates are done. I will have another load to fill this order.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Firing and Pyrometric cones

Just finished 11 hours firing. There were not much wind today.

When firing the kiln, we use the pyrometric cones as one of the guide. Cones measure the maturity of the glaze by time and temperature. If you fire quickly and reach the target temperature, the glaze sometime is not matured as desired. It is like the cooking turkey, you can cook outside of the bird golden brown quickly at higher oven temperature, but inside is not cooked well. Quick fired piece sometime does not have the depth in the glaze. Good firing requires the time and the temperature to develop interaction between glazes and the clay body,

I use cone 9, 10 and 11, 2332, 2377 and 2394F respectively. I set these cones on the clay and place inside the kiln where you can see through the spy hole.

As the firing getting close to the end, the cone starts to bend. Pictures above shows cone 9 down, cone 10 60-70%, and about 20 minutes of soaking to go.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Glaze firing is Go.

The yard is covered with snow. About 3 inches. Very pretty.

Plates are finally glazed and loaded into the kiln.

Glazed for two days, and all loaded. Wind affects the firing greatly, and I decide the firing depending on the forecast wind. Weather looks good tomorrow. Glaze firing is "go".

Monday, November 17, 2008


Snowing at hard over the yard.

Second bisque done. All plates and others are ready to be glaze for next two days. Glaze firing on Thursday depending on the wind.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Tea stalk

Some of my teapot has built-in strainer, which has about 50 holes, and I have been asked about the loose tea with the teapot in the past.

Today, I bought the finest (smallest) loose leaf tea, Ceylon Fannings, which is shredded Ceylon tea. I heard that this Ceylon tea is enjoyed with lots of milk in the morning when you want something strong.

I brewed the tea with boiling hot water, and poured into the mugs. It is good idea to warm up the teapot before pouring the boiling water to avoid thermal shock. I saw some loose leaves in the bottom of mugs, but insignificant.

Modern teapots incorporate the mesh strainer, which is very effective, but loses some enjoyment. When brewing the Japanese green tea, very rarely, a stem of tea passes through the strainer and it stands up in the tea . We believe this is good luck, and you are supposed to drink it without mentioning to others. "Ochabashira. (tea stalk) Tea is standing up."

Friday, November 14, 2008

Reclaiming clay

After trimming, clay is recycled to use. Here is how I do. I collect scrap clay from trimming into a plastic bag the clay and let it dry out . Then, I filled the bag with water, soak well.

Then I pour it over the plaster table for drying. One day per one side.

I will pug the clay through the pugmill and put back to the bag for several days. I use the bluebird deairing pugmill for sevral years. Deairing mugmill works like sausage mixer, and takes out all air from the clay with vacumming compressor. I read somewhere that deairing the clay makes the water penerates into the small particle of the clay, therefor elminating the clay maturing period. It is a life saver, and is my best investment ever. Before using the clay, I will pug the clay one more time.

Done one bisque firing, and have another one tomorrow. Glaze firing next week.

Monday, November 10, 2008


This is my studio overlooking CSX yard. I enjoy watching these colorful and different freight trains while throwing the clay. The yard was very busy this summer until last month. It seems the number of freight cars have been dramatically down since October. Sign of the economy, maybe.

The studio is located in Hungerford building, where the J. Hungerford Smith Co. used to manufacture soda fountain syrup. All equipment from wheels to gas kiln are placed inside 400 square feet room. I am always looking for additional shelve spaces, like a floor.

Friday, November 7, 2008


It's trimming time. It has been four days since I wrapped these plates under the plastic. I use the combination of the chuck and the grips for bowls and plates. Centering and securing the chuck is done faster with the griffin grips. Chuck is useful for irregular shape and trimming soft greenware. I use the bisqued chuck, but I prefer glaze fired one as the clay sticks easily to chuck. I throwclockwise, and trim counterclockwise. Once a plates is centered on mythe chuck, I make a small hole/dent in the center for finger to hold the piece while trimming outer side. This also compress the clay from
the bottom side. I make a foot,except mugs,
to have smooth transit from bottom to top, as well as
trimming away excess of the clay from the bottom.
Trimmed plates are under the plastic for a couple days for another slow drying.I reclaim These trimmings later.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Dinner Plates

Throwing dinner plates today. Four pounds of clay stretches to 12.5” wide plates. It will shrink to 10.5” after the glaze firing. I spend some time to compress the center of plates using the wood and metal ribs to prevent a center of plate from heaving as it dries. I like the plates with notches on the edge, to give some character.

These plates will be covered for two-three days before trimming. Sometimes patient pay itself. This studio varies the drying condition greatly day by day. When the steam boiler kicks in, the studio gets to 90 degrees and very dry, while it is not on like today, it is below 60F and chilly.

Clay is like a baby, I think. If you give them plenty of attention, they are happy and behave like angel! If you do not, you know what!