Friday, September 23, 2011


This reminds me of what I did once going up the stairs and holding a pot with both hands.
I missed the step,I crashed into the wall putting a divot in it, bumped my knee and elbow, but by golly, I saved the pot!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Perfume Pear

A customer who had bought a salt and pepper pear set asked me to make a "perfume pear".

It was an interesting problem. Neither one of us had ever seen such a thing, but she explained she wanted a pear with a stopper that fit into the top much like the old fashioned glass perfume bottles.

So, I made a pear with a closed bottom, a long dipper with a stem and leaf handle. The dipper part of the top was waxed to keep it in bisque during the glaze firing. The inside of the pear was left in bisque also.

The stem was fired with a kiln post support--the stem stuck in the hole in the post. Both were liberally waxed.

The customer already had a tiny funnel, but it would have been interesting to make a matching one to use to fill the pear.

The whole thing worked well with an added bonus--since the inside and stem were bisque, the part of the perfume was absorbed into the body and it exudes a faint whiff of perfume. So it can act as a very subtle room deodorizer as well.

Luckily, there has been no leaching from the base--that would be a disaster, since it would ruin a varnished surface.

The next time I make one, I think I'll make a matching tray for it to sit on, just in case.

Monday, September 19, 2011

More Progress.....

The kitchen is coming along.

The beams have been reinforced and the Insulation is in, as are the light cans.

We even gained a widened door leading into the living room. (not showing, however).

I had debated long and hard about whether to have a whole-room concept with a bar dividing the living room/dining area and the kitchen or to have two distinct rooms.

In the end, decided I wanted the kitchen to be separate.

Adding a bar would virtually put the kitchen in the living room and, since it that room is very large and long, I wanted it to stand alone.

Also, the area where the kitchen is serves as a main traffic area between the front and the back of the house. Putting a bar in the middle of that would not be a good idea. (A main bearing wall also had something to do with it.)

The new kitchen has been opened up visually to a very large degree and it should be within it's own space.

We also gained even more view of the bay from there. And glimpses can be seen from the living room area.

This view is looking toward a small walk-in pantry to the left and the sink location under the window; the stove will be where the metal vent shows at the right.

I'm going to have the wooden wall showing at the back of the room; this is the original wide wooden boards that framed the house. It is shown in at the back of the room in the first shot.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Things Left in Walls

I remember hearing once about odd things found by renovators within the walls of houses.

Like mice and insect nests--things that would happen naturally. We found an ancient mouse nest behind the wall that covered the chimney. A nice, warm place to sleep after raiding the kitchen.

They never lasted long after we moved in, though.

I remember one humorous English newspaper story that renovators had come across a "Letter to the mice" putting the rodents on notice to "Leave forthwith and never return!"

Especially interesting are items intentionally put within walls by superstitious people wanting to thwart bad spirits, spells, and things of like nature. Water-filled, corked bottles were common in the New England area during the early settlement period. Witches were very real to those people. Effigies, containers with hair, pins, herbs or spells thought to contain magical powers were placed in the walls during construction.

Shoes are common things found in many ancient houses and barns, although the symbolism of shoes escapes me. They are usually stuffed into the rafters or built into chimneys . (Chimneys were thought to be convenient entrances for witches.) Mummified beef hearts (???) were another common thing sealed in chimneys . No one seems to remember the symbolism, though.

I also recall stories about the hiding or burying of things under the front door step. Probably also to serve as a barrier for evil entering the house, and I can well remember horse shoes hanging on barn and farmhouse door lentils as well as talk about three rusty bent nails buried at a threshold.

Hex signs are still painted on barns and houses in the Pennsylvania farm country.

A research paper written in 2007 and found here: discusses many items and symbols used to protect a house.

I have a potter friend who, every year takes one of his best pots, walks out to the end of his dock on a local lake and quietly slips it into the water. He's thinking of future archaeologists. Vikings did the same things with axe heads as an offering. And, well, he lives in Minnesota. : )

In Arizona if you can't sell your house right away, bury a small statuette of St. Joseph in the yard. There is some argument whether it should be the front or back yard; whether St. Joseph should to upside down or upstanding, facing the street or facing the house. Poor St. Joseph.

I still have a chance of slipping something between the insulation and the dry wall of the kitchen. Hummm, what should it be? Think I'll go out to the studio and have a little look.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Chinese Alter Fruit

After I posted the miniature porcelain veggies, I ran across a reference to antique Chinese porcelain alter fruit on a decorating blog.

The collection pictured on the desk is from the blog

This is a whole new ceramic form and tradition to me. Evidently, these small fruit are highly sought after and are very pricey.

On another site is pictured a miniature alter complete with miniature fruit and other food from the Ming period.

I can see their influence in the 1950s - 1960s glass fruit and carved monkey pod wooden fruit that was so popular then. And even in the blown glass fruit forms still being produced today.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Saga of the Safari Chairs, Reprise

You may remember this post from May 20, 2008:

These are our chairs. They come from Pakistan, manufactured in Pershawa around 1970 by a man named M. Hayat. They are made of leather, rosewood and have brass fittings. The chairs totally disassemble and can be transported in canvas bags.

I just received a note from a lady who is repairing one of these and she was asking about the seat lacing.

The seats are one rectangle of black buffalo hide perforated with eyelets at the ends.

The ends are placed over the rounded front and back pieces and curled around to the bottom, then laced with heavy cotton cord. If you didn't get the cord, check with fabric supply stores in the drapery department. Cotton is the only cord that will work for these chairs, anything else is either too stretchy or too stiff. Take the seat with you to check if it will thread right--the cotton should be well twisted.

The first part of the cording is threaded through the first front eyelet and knotted to secure the end. The cords run from front to back through the alternating eyelets just as if you were threading one shoelace into a shoe. They don't cross over; it's just a straight run in a zig-zag.

There should be a little slack on the lacing so that there will not be too much strain on the eyelet holes.

Depending on how long the rope is, when you have laced all the eyelet holes, the end looped over and under across the back lacings and tied off. It's always better to have a little slack or extra rope at the end, just in case you need it.

I once got a chair that had the seat put on the wrong way--the leather looped over the square side supports. The eyelets couldn't take it and some of them ripped.

Good luck with the repair and keep me posted!

Cheers, Jeanette

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Veggie Porcelain

Just playing around with left over pieces of clay, I made these little pill/needles cases that can double as Christmas tree ornaments.

It's fun to try new ideas like this.

Each piece is about 2 inches long: A bunch of celery, carrots and beets and a single asparagus spear.

They are hand molded, hollowed out and a tiny cork is glued in to make a stopper.

They are glazed with a clear glaze and an application or layers of liquid stain thinned with water to make the finish look like watercolor.

I worked from light to dark, layering color over the last after it dried. I couldn't get a vivid red for the beets, so I used fingernail polish just as you would use a lacquer--after all, that's really what it is.

Maybe I should think of making fruit and vegetable whistles?

Friday, September 2, 2011

Look What we Found in the Walls

It is detailed instructions about what to do in a gas attack in 1943. I suppose it needed to be posted during construction of the house.

Clicking and enlarging the jpeg will make it readable.

Also, there is a reference to a 'sealed room' that people were to retreat to and seal themselves into in the event of a gas attack.

And noted at the bottom, evidently you could buy war bombardment insurance.

Three antique thumb tacks held it in place. I remember seeing this style in the drawer of my Dad's desk when I was very young. They were a simple disk with a triangular punch-out that had been bent at a 45 degree angle to make the point of the thumbtack. An elegant design.