Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Kitchen Renovation

Note: This is not my kitchen.

What do you do when you want to renovate your kitchen?

The first rule before you do anything else is: Know Thyself.

Before jumping in, take a very long think and decide what your cooking style is. Ask yourself what kind of cook you are - how you work your kitchen and how you want your kitchen to work for you.

If you're like me, you've been saving pictures of kitchens for a long time, dreaming of sailing around in your gleaming domain, giving something a stir or hauling a delectable symphony of roasted things out of the oven.

But then

You must be ze detached, calculating Hercule Poirot and analyze how your kitchen works just for you. What kind of a cook are your? A baker? A vegetarian is always working between the 'fridge and the sink? A cookbook librarian with shelves and shelves of cookbooks? Someone who buys lots of vegetables and needs a big crisper storage area in your refrigerator? Or you like to make meals ahead and freeze them? Do you cook on the fly just throwing things together?

Do you bake a lot? if so, are you tall or short? (Stiff or limber, I might add) At what height do you visualize opening an oven door and hauling out a turkey?

I am a baker (who happens to be short. There's a joke in there somewhere.) and when we went to look at stoves at Sears, I visualized lifting my much-loved, giant pro baking pan out of an oven. Honestly, some ovens on some stoves are so low, you feel like you would have to be on your hands and knees to get something out of there. You might as well kiss your back goodbye some Thanksgiving.

On the other hand, some wall ovens are mounted so high, I couldn't see into them well enough to know if something was done let alone maneuver around enough to haul anything out.* I'd need to stand on a step or something and that's not a good idea.

I know I could have an oven mounted especially low, but then just about all the storage space above and below would have to be special ordered and even then, whatever I put in the above area or the below areas would be practically dead space. So that's a waste. And boy, do I hate waste.

*I used to have a big block of wood next to my tall kiln to stand on in order to reach the bottom for loading and unloading. I had visions of my husband coming out to the studio after hearing my yells to see only my feet sticking up in the air out of the top. Now I have a 'shorty' Skutt.

Why oh why don't they make wall oven doors that ratchet upwards like a car hatchback, out of the way so you can reach right into them? Instead, you must fetch from one side of the oven or the other and rotate the dishes out to a heat-proof surface.

I did find to my surprise that I liked one particular stove with two ovens--the large oven just below the cooktop and a shorter, smaller one nearly on the floor. I reasoned that the heavy stuff would be high enough to remove comfortably and the smaller oven would work well for smaller things. Lifting small pans and dishes from nearly floor level would be easy. (Great for proofing bread, Yea.)

And, of course, for artists, looks are important. We 'see' everything. And if you're like me, you see it every time. The room you walk into and work in a good deal of the time needs to please your eye.

So the upshot of this tirade is this: Figure out what your 'Style' is; aesthetically and operationally and then start looking and looking and looking and looking and looking.......

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Time Out


It's been a while.

I haven't done any clay work because we're in the throes* of all-consuming kitchen renovation planning. Ugh!
*The other day I saw that someone wrote 'throws'. Maybe that's right after all.

Decisions, decisions. My head is spinning with cabinet fronts, appliance specs, electrical wiring layouts, blueprints, estimates, etc.

We have spent 3 days, so far looking at humongous slabs of granite, soapstone, marble. How do you balance beauty and practicality?

Like the Mud Lady in the mop ad, I stuck to a beautifully undulating-patterned, buttery sea of slab of marble. Going back to look at my kitchen brought me back down to reality and I realized it was infatuation, not a marriage. I'd still like to live with that slab of rock in my house. It was beautiful. But soapstone it will be for the countertops.

So be warned, fair reader, I will probably subject you to the agony and the ecstasy of renovation.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Thinking with your Hands

Making pottery is like thinking with your hands.

There's this almost mythic connection between a part of your mind that commands your hands and touch and that place in your head where you daydream.

The brain shifts into neutral--like coasting.

A free-floating, altered, but intuitive state--almost self-hypnosis.

Is it shifting into Alpha Brain waves?

Is meditation the same kind of state? Like driving down long, boring freeway, looking at the ribbon of asphalt laid out to the horizon?

Or like standing a steam-filled shower--just you and the water drumming on your back--and you're just there; Being?

Throwing clay: Your hands and your mind suspended in a dream. That's when you make magic.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Another Experiment

This is another totally experimental piece.
It's almost impossible to photograph.

It started out to be a trivet or small square dish.

I was thinking Japanese pavilions and made these fanciful fly-away legs just for fun.

The underside tells the story with little buttons at the corners to keep their shape.

The glaze did not behave well.....it bubbled and bloomed.

I don't care, though. This piece amuses me every time I see it.