Monday, April 27, 2015

Video Blog on YouTube

I have a video blog on YouTube. I talk about pots and life in the studio. You can watch pots from start to finish. Each blog has how too tips. Please stop by.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

The blog has moved.

I have moved the blog to a new site. Please visit The Clay Teacher Blog.  and check out the new site.

Thank you!

AKA Mrs. Clay

Sunday, August 17, 2014

All is well in Couttsville

Last post was about the first firing in the studio. I had a few challenges but I got loaded just the same. The firing turned out just fine. Was there any doubt?
It is all sold and the customers are happy. They have gone to Maryland USA. Canmore AB, Edmonton AB and Raymond AB.

I have a dinner set to finish this week and then all the "have to get dones" are done. The house is done, the yard is done, the deck is done and by Friday, all the orders will be done. Whatever will I do with myself? Find more "have to get dones"

We have our daughters coming to visit next week, and then after that we start to do what we wanted to do here a year ago. Make the videos and make more pots. Feels good!

Until next time. 
AKA Mrs. Clay

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

First Glaze Fire, What Could Happen??

I will be firing my first glaze load tomorrow. We moved our kiln from single phase wiring to three phase in the new studio. The original elements in the kiln were rated for 240 volts, but with the change in wiring we had to change them out for elements rated for 208 volts. What could happen?

We had a bit of "fun" with the glazes. When we moved I had let the glazes get low because it is so hard to move large vats of glaze. I usually work with garbage can size lots, 30,000 to 40,000 gram batches. Sunday, the last possible day I could make the glazes and still meet the deadlines this week, I started making glazes.What could happen?  I quickly realized that I was short some chemicals. I weighed what I could and we planned to go to Helena MT Monday afternoon and pick up what I needed to finish. I was using a digital scale and I wasn't aware it wasn't level and not weighing or reading properly. It was way out to lunch but at that time, I didn't know. We took a flying trip to Archie Bray, a wonderful place, and picked up what we needed. Got home about 8:30 pm and I went right to work to finish the already destroyed glazes That's when noticed the scale was not sitting right and realized everything I had done before was incorrect. Now I have 2 large vats of mystery glaze, probably garbage, and  again, I don't have enough chemicals to finish the glazes. So Jim took off early this morning for  Plainsman Clays in Medicine Hat to get more supplies so can I hopefully finish the darn glazes.

I now have 2 fresh glazes to finish the orders that are so late. Cleaning up the glazing area and the many buckets that moved with us, I found tail ends of the same glaze I had just finished. They were acting kinda weird in Edmonton, but that could have been because of a number of factors. Time, temp and nothing to do with somehow being slightly contaminated...right? I dumped them in the new and now I have the big batch I like to work with.

Tomorrow morning I will glaze all the pots with the new and not so new glazes, fire them with the new elements and deliver, late, to new clients. A sixteen cubic foot kiln filled with wholesale and retail orders. What could happen??

Until next time.

AKA Mrs. Clay

Monday, August 11, 2014

Done, time to get on with it.

Life in Edmonton was expensive and hectic. We moved to Coutts to start a new life. A slower and more affordable one. We bought a fixer upper and an empty lot. How hard could it be? It should take only a couple of months and then we could start making pots and videos as planned. Yeah right.

A year ago we bought the house. A modular in Central Alberta. We hired someone to move it down, build the pad, do the plumbing, gas and bring in fill to level the lot. We did all the rest. We just finished the yard and the house just this month. It has taken a year from start to finish. It was the hardest thing I have ever done, including child birth.

House, before and after pics.

A quick list of what we have put into it:

About 20 gallons of paint and stain

2 gallons of dry wall mud for all the repairs

1200 square feet of new floors
felt like a mile of baseboards and quarter round

all the light fixtures,15, sinks,3
and taps, 3 replaced. We only kept the tubs and their taps.

back splash in kitchen and bathrooms

The Yard, before and after pics.

A quick list of what we have put into it:

250 yards of fill to level the yard and then with a landscape rake changed the drainage of the yard.

Lumber for deck, fence and repairs

over 1,000 deck screws

150 pounds of grass seed, the yard is 12,000 square feet

32, 24"x 30" concrete side walk blocks

10, 8" x 20" concrete blocks

14 yards of gravel, just over 42,000 pounds moved by hand in wheel barrow

We are here. It is not a big fancy house, but it is ours. I have learned more than I ever wanted to know about plumbing, heating, wiring, building, repairs, painting, concrete and whole list of things. I honestly think that there is very little that Jim and I can not do.... well you know what I mean. If it has be fixed, we can fix it. I got past my fear of small places when crawling under the house in the cold for days doing the skirting. I got past my fear of heights and went up on the scaffolding to help repair the trim on the roof. So far past I went up on the roof at the school to see what needs to be fixed up there. We came here to play with clay and video. If someone had told me the house and yard would take a year, I would not have believed them.  After all, how hard could it be. Until you have a done it you just don't know. For a couple of old farts, we did pretty good. 

This is the last post about the house, yard and repairs. I complained and bragged, but I think there was room for both. It was hard work, emotional work and expensive work. I learned over and over again, everything always takes longer and costs more than you ever dream it could. We are done, for now, and it is time to get on with it!

Until next time. 

The Clay Teacher and former construction worker

Monday, August 4, 2014

The Studio is Finished....YAY!!

When we moved to Coutts we rented the Art Room in the local school. This town is so small and the population has been decreasing, the school board shut down the school in 2010.

The town bought the school and a local group has been turning into an arts and rec building. They have a lovely little library and a music room. We have rented the Art Room for our pottery studio and the Science Room for our video. Here is a picture of the school and if you look closely on the roof, Jim is on his way down from repairing the vent fan for the kiln room.

The Art Room was empty and just begging to be a studio

we need somewhere to unload all our crap.... errr... I should say quality items to be sorted. Most of this truck load, unfortunately, ended up in the middle of the studio floor.  

That was the middle of January. We have worked on the finishing the house and studio. We are waiting for backsplash for the bathrooms and the house is done. We have moved, sorted and organized the stuff in the studio and it is done and I am back to work. 

and teaching. 

Getting the kiln hooked up was a bit of challenge. We had to go from three phase wiring to single phase kiln, find a breaker that everyone said we would never find, but we got a refurbished out of California and then drill through eight inches of solid concrete to go from the kiln room to the panel in the maintenance room. 

Here is the mother of all drills Jim used to do it. Those are his size 13 feet.

We have gone from this

to this.

It feels great to have a studio again.It has almost been a year since I made pots. I have a few orders and I am enjoying teaching. I have already become Mrs. Clay to most of the kids in Coutts. It was funny, I met some boys when walking to work and we were talking. When we were done one little boy , " good bye Mrs. Fatty", the others were upset. " You can't say that, she is Mrs. Clay" they told him. He was only about four and hadn't learned not to tell the truth yet, but the boys like and respect Mrs. Clay. Even the kids in my summer program know my real name, but they call me Mrs. Clay. When Jim shows up, he is Mr. Clay. 

It has taken longer than we ever had thought it would to get to this point, so has the house, but we did it. Now on to the next phase, not single or three, just pots. I don't plan  to do a lot of production, we are after all "retired", but I want to do more art and playful pieces. After all, Rule Number One is Have Fun!

Until next time. 

Mrs. Clay

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Almost Done.

The house is almost done. We just have a few base boards to install and the back splash in the kitchen and bathrooms to put up. The bathrooms and base boards will be done today. We have to order the back splash for the kitchen. I will post pictures when it is all done.

The outside is still not quite finished, but it has been a long and cold spring and it has been hard to get outside. Yesterday was rainy and snowy so the yard was, and still is, too muddy to do anything. We it rototilled once and now we have a lovely crop of rocks, some the size of my head, to pick. When it dries we will pick all we can and then rototill it again. Then drag the landscape rake around for a while, pack it down, seed and tell it to grow. We have to get a load of gravel to put around the house and where the patio will go, add a row of siding and paint the skirting. We are almost done. It will be finished by the end of the month. I have been saying that since February and this month I should be right.

The studio is almost done. We just need to put particle board tops on the tables for working with the clay, hook the kiln up and we are good to go. I start lessons May 20th so we have to be done. The video studio is almost done. There is not a lot of work to do there. Hang some lights and the back drop is all we have left to do.

We are going to Edmonton next week. I have lined up a week of workshops. We have some great clients that will have us anytime in their classrooms. We will go for the workshops, and that will pay to get our truck fixed, my fancy back splash for the kitchen, rent the Uhaul to get the rest of our stuff out of storage, a load of clay and maybe a few bucks for gravel and paint for the skirting.. We will stay with the kids and I am so looking forward to seeing them. We talk often on the phone but a visit is much better.

It has been a record breaking long, cold winter and spring. The house has taken all our time, money and energy. I have gained weight and lost fitness. I am so looking forward to the next chapter. We first saw this house parked on blocks in the farmer's field nine months ago. That's an interesting gestation period for the birth of a new life. But the house will soon be done, the studio will be up and running, We are walking again We have met a few people. Time to get on with it.   I have not even touched a piece of clay this year. Since my kids were babies, 20+ years ago, this is the longest I have gone and not made something out of clay. This state of transition I have been in, is almost done.

Until the next time.

AKA Mrs. Clay
Teaching Blog Traffic School