index

Brad's Blog

  Click here to zoom down to today's entry (after clicking, you can bookmark this page and it should always take you to the current date).



Nov. 1
I think I'm over the hump on this cold, just in time for a final musical practice on Thursday.  I've been using the Halloween Candy cure.  I don't think the Diabetic counsel recommends it, nor does anyone else besides the candy companies.  But when on Halloween do as the trick or treaters do...
Meanwhile I continue a kiln firing per day, but two more firings will empty the studio.  Next week I should feel in form to produce again. All the firings have filled the inside display shelves, so the pottery migration is fairly complete.

Nov. 2

    When I was a kid, my father went to some journalism convention and brought back a lot of weird buttons, some of which he gave to me.  There was a red one that just said "Control Variables" on it.  I wish I still had it--it's the key to success. Well, I suppose actually the idea is the key, not the button...
    I'm thinking about glazes.  I've never been really adventurous about glazes.  I have 6 that I use regularly.  As long as they work, all good.   That's where the variables come in. Glaze chemicals are mostly pulverized stone, or ores that have been processed to produce a refined oxide or carbonate of an element.  Pottery suppliers buy them in quantity, but each lot can vary a bit in composition.  Also they may shift suppliers to go with a cheaper source.  When I mix a glaze, I may misweigh one of the ingredients, such as by leaving a weight on the scale that I meant to remove.  I may grab the wrong bucket of material. In mixing I may add too much water, and make the glaze too thin.  If I forget to add epsom salts, some glazes seem to suffer.  Since any of these variables may make the glaze go bad, it's important to reduce them as much as possible.
    The pot pictured is the gold star crystalline glaze which I said about a week ago "went bad"--stopped producing a smooth glaze even at cone 10.  So after several adjustments, this is what it looks like--a sort of greenish gold, with two shades of green stripes.  The green stripes running one way are my white glaze added over it, running the other way are a green glaze. They both look green, due to the underlying copper in the glaze.  I don't think green and gold are a winning combination, but I still may salvage something from the bucket with a few more tests.
    Meanwhile my newest batch of white was doing some "interesting things" when I started using it for this last firing.  One of the variables I've gotten a bit lax about is how much water to add to a batch of glaze, mostly going by experience rather than checking it with a glaze hygrometer.  For example, if the glaze is too thick, it will take too long to dry on the bisque pot, and tend to show little pinholes as it dries, which may affect the final glaze in the firing.  If it is too thin, it will usually apply nicely, but appear "dry" on the final pot. So this new batch of white, when applied to some canister lids, did the pinholing routine, but didn't appear to be too thick by other standards. Then the pots that came out with the glaze on it appeared more thin and dry.  So I'm left to ponder what variables I'm losing control of.  I suppose it helps keep life interesting, but on the whole I prefer boring and predictable.

Nov. 3
I spent most of the day packing pots for this weekend's Folk Festival, which starts on Saturday.  It's a good thing I thrive on sensory overload--there are a total of 8 stages, and when I'm not performing I go around to all of them and take photos for the Folklore Society website.  It's practically aerobic exercise, particularly since my lungs aren't totally over my cold yet...

Nov. 4
As the Folk Festival happens, I become a kind of sampling machine--listening to one or two songs from a performance, taking 2 or 3 pictures, then moving on.  Towards the end of the day I slow down a bit, if there's some music that really touches me.  Even though there are familiar genres such as blues, folk, and celtic represented, each performance has its special flavor.  I got to wondering how my solo performance fit in.  For my set, which I selected over a month ago, I did a mixture of originals, classical pieces including the Pachelbel canon, blues, a Swedish harmonica tune, and a tin whistle piece.  There wasn't a large crowd, but that's not unusual for solo performers at the festival.  Among specific comments afterwards, a classical cellist acquaintance said she loved my voice, and offered to play cello if it would work.  On reflection, I thought this a bit humorous, since I only had about 4 songs with vocals, the rest instrumental...  Then a blues musician said he liked the Swedish tune the best (not mentioning the blues I'd done). They weren't exactly left handed compliments, but they had a touch of that about them...  Reminds me of some lyrics I wrote a long time ago: "She said she loved me for my money, but that was when I was poor, she said she wanted just to hold me, then she walked right out the door..."
Meanwhile in the real world, it started raining this afternoon, and in Spirit Lake it's rained over 2 inches and is still coming down.  The night crawlers are out for the first time in months...  This is good, if soggy...

Nov. 5
So today was the concert with my new musical group at the Fall Folk Festival, playing for 45 minutes, including a set of tunes from early Nashville musician Uncle Dave Macon.  Considering we've only played together about 4 times, we did well.  If we stay together for 6 months or more, it ought to get really good...  The festival itself seemed a bit more crowded, with jams lingering both nights, a sign that folks were happy to be there, and my pottery sales were better than last year as well.  I looked through the hundreds of photos I took to find one that was "best," but they all have their points.  Within a couple days I'll get them posted to the folklore society webpage.
    One real surprise of the festival, and something that both made the festival good, and weird, was that with the election coming up in two days, you would have expected a lot of hand shaking candidates there.  But at the door there was a small sign that said, "Please, no electioneering" or something to that order.  And there was NONE.  I never saw a political button or red-white-and-blue hat or anything, except for a musical group called the Raging Grannies, who held up signs promoting solar power.  I do think folk music without politics is a bit emasculated (if it's possible to be "a bit" emasculated, and I'd rather not speculate on that...).  On the other hand, the politics of the 60's is not something most of us want to relive (part of why our wars have been relatively wimpy in the last 40 years).  Since the media is flooded with campaign ads, it was a relief to not confront the election there, but still it was weird...

Nov. 6
The weather today was like the strongest March gale, with May-like temperatures.  Along the way we had another 1.3 inches of rain.  It was a record warm day locally (61 in Spokane), in spite of the drizzle and totally gray skies.
Meanwhile I glazed a load of pots, combining an old bucket of white glaze with the new problematical one, hoping it will result in a more satisfactory finish (and you thought ceramics was a science...).
Then I put away the leftover pots from the weekend sale, and have been working all evening on putting up photos from the Fall Folk Festival. I took hundreds of photos, and condensed it to about 180 that I used on the 4 relevant webpages.  I suppose you mostly would have had to been there to enjoy most of the photos...  But you can look, from this link... There are a lot of pictures of friends, but none of me...

Nov. 7
Another day, another 1.5 inches of rain.  The coastal areas are making the national news with flooding.  There's a bit of flooding here, but aside from the wind and rain (one pot blew over in my outdoors stand from 40 mph winds), it's all good for restoring ground moisture and reservoirs...  The largest bowl I make was sitting out as a birdbath, empty, when the rain started a few days ago.  It overflowed the brim today.
Meanwhile I started throwing pots today--a few orders have come in to keep me motivated.
And all this rain has helped in the  porch leakology department.  My wife suggested we just catch the leaks in a gutter and run them out the side.  As there are two main leak points, this is a good idea.  One of the gutters is already up and running.  The other will take a little more effort. This is a case of thinking "inside the box"--having an interior gutter.  It won't even collect any leaves...

Nov. 8
I got a van full of bags of leaves today from a trip to Spokane.  It frequently happens that we value what others are throwing away, in this case, for our garden.  It's probably too late for the carrots still in the ground, due to the cold snap a couple weeks ago, but if I'd had the leaves on then, it would have insulated them from freezing.  As it is I'll distribute the leaves around the garden tomorrow, especially over areas already manured.  The bags we save and re-use as garbage bags, usually enough to last all winter.

Nov. 9
It was snowing again this morning, large clumps up to an inch across, but later the day warmed up to melt most of it.  My wife covered with leaves the carrots I spoke of as being too late to save yesterday, and brought me one to show it didn't get frozen yet.
Lately in the pottery workshop I'm making lots of the things with lids and knobs--I suppose because it's baking season, a lot of casseroles and such sold at the Folk Festival last weekend.

Nov. 10
The only excitement today was replacing a video card in my computer, after which it's become unstable and tends to freeze, even after switching back to the old video card, which made wheezing noises. So if things don't get updated, you'll know a new computer is probably on the way.

 Nov. 11
One lighthearted theory of why my computer is dying is that at the announcement of the release of the new Windows Vista, all the old computers are designed to go into random death mode, to assure propagation of billions of dollars in sales.
On the less light hearted side, my computer is both business and pleasure, and like a house of cards, delicately assembled, to be destroyed in one draft of wind.  I'm hoping to be able to bring a hard drive from the old computer to the new, to make things a little easier...
On the weather front, we had 2.1 inches of rain yesterday, and a large storm is scheduled for tomorrow.  The snow is beginning to build up in the mountains.   Winter is soon likely, as annually scheduled... 

Nov. 22

I'm struggling to set up my new computer, rather like trying to rebuild a card castle with a different set of cards.  The old computer's hardware isn't compatible with the new, so "workaround" is the key word here.  Also there are lots of new programs to learn, including a new webpage editor, which seemed to make my post from yesterday vanish.  Until I get the hardware to integrate my old computer's files, the new computer is lovely to look at but has little useful beyond web browsing.  I use my computer for everything from manufacturing my training DVD's to making all the little cards that go with my pottery as well as accounting and creative pursuits.

At least faithful readers haven't missed much weatherwise--more rain and gloom, currently leaning more towards snow.

Nov. 23

Happy Thanksgiving! Ours included pumpkin pie, carrots, and frozen peas from our garden (and turkey etc.) .  I think a lot of traditional Thanksgiving foods were just what was common in the fall from rural living.  At least it's one thing that, for non vegetarians, gives most Americans a common experience.  Only we didn't watch any football... We did play games including Scrabble and Careers, with a couple nieces who were visiting.  Board games lack the vivid presence of computer games, but still both entertain and tickle the intellect. And pass time, which gets harder to do without technology, as we grow more dependent on it...

 Nov. 24

After a bunch more frustrations and workarounds, I'm regaining most of my computer files while writing this.  I guess I need to work on backing up things in a more accessible manner...

The local school gave me some buckets of glaze they didn't want. One of them fired out to be a black glaze resembling my black glaze.  So I took a chance and combined it into my black glaze bucket.  The risk is that they will not chemically combine in the way that they physically combine.  The gain is $10-20 free glaze.  So I took the risk, and the pots will be out in a couple days.

We've now got about 2 inches of snow on the ground, with more predicted.  The lake has been hovering between having a skim of ice, and remaining open, with the fluctuating weather.  The first real cold blast is expected in a couple days, but weather reports seem predictably unreliable around here.  Meanwhile the 3000 lbs of materials I ordered 2 weeks ago, hoping to avoid traveling with them on cold and slippery roads, will arrive on Monday.

 Nov. 25

The glaze mixing gamble was a mixed success.  It looks like a nice smooth black glaze, but the glaze I added had some sort of thickening additive which extended itself to the rest of the bucket when added, and made it difficult to get a good even glaze on the pots dipped in it.  That's life.

With the advent of snow and ice covered roads, and most of the pottery nearly frozen to the display cases, sales tend to drop around now.  This means I mostly miss out on the holiday sales furor.  The descriptions I read of Black Friday make it sound like the retailers are trying to invoke a feeding frenzy response among shoppers, like throwing some bloody meat to the sharks.  

I did put up a few strands of little white lights around the display, and bought a wreath from the local garden club today.   I'm pretty grinchy about the Christmas season, particularly the secular one.  There's also a lot of anxiety tied to the change of seasons.  Snow on the ground means you can forget the garden work now until April.  It means relearning winter driving skills.  It means figuring out which cars are the best on the snow, and parking the others.  My son began daily skiing yesterday, which means he's around less to help watch the shop and Grandma.  Well, that's also life...

 Nov. 26

I'm waiting for two cars with two family members to return from skiing during a major snowstorm.  They're late, but that's to be expected--we've had 6 inches of snow so far, and no end in sight.  It makes me realize we could have a genuine winter here, with 3-5 feet of snow on the ground.  I added two videos of my piano music today, accessible from the video link at the top or bottom of the page...  These are songs I wrote about 10 or 15 years ago, then I pretty much quit playing piano, so I've been practicing piano again so I can at least perform the piano pieces I wrote back then...

Nov. 27

The snow's probably about 8 inches deep.  I started the day downhill skiing on snow a bit bumpy for my tastes.  From there I rode a packed bus down the mountain hearing from others on the bus how the same driver drove another bus off the road yesterday when pulling to the side to avoid a snow plow, which damaged the bus significantly.  While on the hill I'd hear people talking about a search and rescue effort to locate a lost snow boarder, then towards noon I heard someone report the person had been found.

Later I met up with my son, who'd driven separately so we could haul 2500 lbs of clay from Sandpoint.  At home I had to back down an icy hilly road into our back drive to unload both vans.  And tomorrow severe cold is expected.  Winter hit with a vengeance this year.

I took my camera to the ski mountain, but it was too dark, foggy, or snowy to get nice pictures.  It's been a low photo month for the blog.  The bowl pictured at the top of this month's blog sold last weekend...  

 Nov. 28

After some discussion, the main thing happening today is considering buying a new car.  New, in this instance, means less than 10 years old.  The goal is to replace our 1994 van which has 210,000 miles, with something similar only a reasonable 100,000 miles or so.  The all wheel drive van is particularly versatile here, for skiing or hauling pots.  We hope to keep the old one to use as a pseudo truck for hauling wood, leaves, and other valuable stuff.  If we were to buy a van tomorrow, we'd have 5 vehicles, for 4 drivers (one of whom is at school in Illinois).  So we also plan to part with a couple cars.  

Therein lies the rub.  We're usually the last owners of our cars.  By the time we're done with them, they have enough things wrong that we'd feel bad for anyone else having them.  So this marks a first, having a couple cars to dispense with in usable condition.

Besides the functional considerations, cars also carry emotional baggage.  It's hard getting rid of old friends.  Also they, like pets, in aging and dying repeatedly through our lives, are reminders of our mortality.  Or maybe it's just winter...

 Nov. 29

We did buy a  "new" 1998 Chrysler Town and Country van today.  I never walked on a car lot nor looked in a newspaper.   I checked one on line site and found what appeared to be a great car in Spokane.  I feel sorry for the car.  Idaho is tough on cars. We've hit deer, tree branches, gotten rocks on windshields.  And then it's really clean, too.  We haul clay, leaves, garbage and lumber in our van.  Good thing I didn't tell the guy, or he might have gone emotional on me.  He probably had an inkling, though, since I drove there in the van it's replacing, and it had about 4 inches of snow on top and plenty of dirt in evidence.

Beyond that, I spent about 3 hours packing pots for the Clay Art Guild sale this weekend.  I'm afraid I've got another couple hours to do it tomorrow. I've got to stick little ID tags with price and inventory info on each one.  That's the price you pay for not sitting around next to your booth all weekend.  Instead I'm looking forward to playing music, as part of the entertainment.  Which I'd better practice some, mostly to keep my callouses tough enough to play for hours this weekend...  (If you're not a string musician, you might not realize the importance of callouses to music, also fingernails...)

Nov. 30

This upcoming pottery sale took another 3 hours of work packing today (besides glazing two more kiln loads to fire).  It's the kind of work that makes one say "never again", but it's sort of like preparing little party favors for the big party--you hope that all the diddley little stuff will some how make the party a success.  Last year it was the first big winter storm, yet it went very well over all.  This weekend promises to remain cold but no more fresh snow, which is as good as one can expect for the first weekend in December.

After 130,000 views of my music videos, I had my second actual CD sale resulting from them today, from Scotland.  I mention it in case you wonder why musicians find it hard to get rich...  

Sondahl blog index
January
2017
February
2017
March
2017









January
2016
February
2016
March
2016
April
2016
May
2016
January
2015
February
2015
March
2015
April
2015
May
2015
June
2015
July
2015
October
2015
December
2015
January
2014
February
2014
March
2014
April
2014
May
2014
June
2014
July
2014
October
2014
December
2014
January
2013
February
2013
March
2013
April
2013
May
2013
June
2013
July
2013
August
2013
September
2013
October
2013
November
2013
December
2013
January
2012
February
2012
March
2012
April
2012
May
2012
June
2012
July
2012
August
2012
September
2012
October
2012
November
2012
December
2012
January
2011
February
2011
March
2011
April
2011
May
2011
June
2011
July
2011
August
2011
September
2011
October
2011
November
2011
Deember
2011
January
2010
February
2010
March
2010
April
2010
May
2010
June
2010
July
2010
August
2010
September
2010
October
2010
November
2010
December
2010
January
2009
Febr.
2009
March
2009
April
2009
May
2009
June
2009
July
2009
August
2009
Sept.
2009
October
2009
November
2009
December
2009
Jan.
2008
Febr.
2008
March 2008
April
2008
May
2008
June
2008
July
2008
August
2008
September
2008
October
2008
November
2008
December
2008
Jan.
2007
Febr.
2007
March 2007April
2007
May
2007
June
2007
July
2007
August
2007
Sept.
2007
Oct.
2007
Nov.
2007
Dec.
2007
January 2006February 2006March 2006April 2006May 2006June 2006July 2006August 2006Sept. 2006Oct. 2006Nov. 2006Dec. 2006



April 2005May 2005 June 2005 July 2005August 2005September 2005October 2005November 2005December 2005


index