Samgyeopsal

Day three of “grill-a-pa-looza” weekend was wonderful! Jeff barbecued pork belly for samgyeopsal. The meat is sliced in strips, then cut into smaller pieces with scissors. Rice and pork belly is placed on lettuce or perilla leaves, rolled up, and eaten in one bite. We are not very good at the one bite tradition! I also made a version of the traditional dipping sauce, ssamjang. The ssamjang is salty sweet, with just a little heat from gochujang. If you are wondering about the scissors, they are used for cutting the pork belly… no knives on the traditional Korean table!

One of the greatest joys of being a pottery collector, is choosing just the right dish when serving food. I particularly enjoy it when we cook Asian influenced meals. So many little dishes filled with sauces, vegetables, and rice. While many of our pots go into the dishwasher, most of these get hand washed, which gives me the opportunity to spend extra time with each one. I always hope that our pots go to homes where they are used, either for everyday meals or reserved for special occasions… no matter which, as long as they are enjoyed.

P.S. We had a little bit of kimchi in the fridge, and I bought a small jar at the grocery store. Not as good as Jeff’s homemade, but we made do!

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Samgyeopsal

Day three of “grill-a-pa-looza” weekend was wonderful! Jeff barbecued pork belly for samgyeopsal. The meat is sliced in strips, then cut into smaller pieces with scissors. Rice and pork belly is placed on lettuce or perilla leaves, rolled up, and eaten in one bite. We are not very good at the one bite tradition! I also made a version of the traditional dipping sauce, ssamjang. The ssamjang is salty sweet, with just a little heat from gochujang. If you are wondering about the scissors, they are used for cutting the pork belly… no knives on the traditional Korean table!

One of the greatest joys of being a pottery collector, is choosing just the right dish when serving food. I particularly enjoy it when we cook Asian influenced meals. So many little dishes filled with sauces, vegetables, and rice. While many of our pots go into the dishwasher, most of these get hand washed, which gives me the opportunity to spend extra time with each one. I always hope that our pots go to homes where they are used, either for everyday meals or reserved for special occasions… no matter which, as long as they are enjoyed.

P.S. We had a little bit of kimchi in the fridge, and I bought a small jar at the grocery store. Not as good as Jeff’s homemade, but we made do!

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Holiday

Jeff and I may not get a three day weekend to celebrate Memorial Day, but we still get in the spirit of the holiday. The last two days were spent prepping pots to fire a bisque in the gas kiln. Jeff finished the loading last night while I started the process of grilling pizza. 
I have dubbed this weekend, “Grill-a-Palooza.”
Fresh mozzarella, fresh basil, pepperoni, vidalia onion… drizzled with balsamic vinegar glaze
We kicked off the weekend with bbq chicken, corn on the cob, and salad. We ate so late that I never thought about taking a photo. Chicken isn’t that exciting to photograph anyway!
Jeff is going to be the cooking star tonight. He is making samgyupsal, which is a Korean recipe for grilled pork belly. We will have lettuce leaves to wrap it in and the other sides have yet to be determined. I am sure jasmine rice will be involved. Sadly, we are all out of kimchi (GASP). 
Memorial Day has now become the kick-off of summer, but I still remember what this day is really about… honoring the men and women who lost their lives while serving this country. 
Peace to All

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New Letter Stamps

I have been struggling with some of my letter stamps. I have 4 or 5 different sets. Some are rubber stamps, one interlocking set that is designed for clay, and another metal set that I believe are jeweler’s stamps. My largest font are rubber stamps and they are not well made, making it difficult to line the letters up. They are also not very deep, which means I am often carving them out. The stamps that I use on the standard piggy banks is starting to show some wear, particularly the letter “A.” Last month I searched the web for a deeper set of stamps, with a font that appealed to me. The only one I found was $66 dollars. The size was fine for the standard size piggy bank, but really too small for the large pigs. I decided I needed to think about it before plunking down the dough.

Lo and behold, last week on facebook, another potter posted a link to these “stone stamps”. She was using them to letter dog bowls. I was able to order a set for under $5 and have them shipped to Walmart for free. I wasn’t sure how easy they would be to work with, since there is no handle or guides on them… but for less than five bucks I was willing to take a chance.
I practiced on a salt pig and once I got the hang of it, moved on to orders. The size is great for the big piggy banks, and will work well for short names on the smaller banks. Lining them up was pretty easy. Now I wish they were available in a smaller font too!

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New Letter Stamps

I have been struggling with some of my letter stamps. I have 4 or 5 different sets. Some are rubber stamps, one interlocking set that is designed for clay, and another metal set that I believe are jeweler’s stamps. My largest font are rubber stamps and they are not well made, making it difficult to line the letters up. They are also not very deep, which means I am often carving them out. The stamps that I use on the standard piggy banks is starting to show some wear, particularly the letter “A.” Last month I searched the web for a deeper set of stamps, with a font that appealed to me. The only one I found was $66 dollars. The size was fine for the standard size piggy bank, but really too small for the large pigs. I decided I needed to think about it before plunking down the dough.

Lo and behold, last week on facebook, another potter posted a link to these “stone stamps”. She was using them to letter dog bowls. I was able to order a set for under $5 and have them shipped to Walmart for free. I wasn’t sure how easy they would be to work with, since there is no handle or guides on them… but for less than five bucks I was willing to take a chance.
I practiced on a salt pig and once I got the hang of it, moved on to orders. The size is great for the big piggy banks, and will work well for short names on the smaller banks. Lining them up was pretty easy. Now I wish they were available in a smaller font too!

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Making Sets

When we unloaded the kiln last week, Jeff commented that my order for dinnerware with flower stamps was a big one. In actuality, it was two orders not one big one. It was sheer coincidence that two people who have been collecting this pattern, ordered new pieces within days of each other. 

I wish orders like this happened more often. It is much easier to get in the groove of making one style of work for a day or two, never mind the fact that glazing goes really quickly.

I usually make extras whenever I do orders. No extras of bowls this time, but I did make an extra of the sugar and creamer set, as well as mugs. You can find those in my Etsy shop.

Today, I am back to making piggy banks.

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Kiln Fillers

I am not a thrilled about making sponge holders. They seem too much like work to me. But we sure sell a lot of them, even after raising the price to $20. They also can be placed any where in the kiln and take up could be empty space. I even put some of them on the bag wall… especially the ones with shino glaze. 

To move things along more quickly, I have a bin of pugged clay that was dropped through a harp to measure each lug to 3/4 of a pound. No weighing or wasting time. Just sit at the wheel and throw those little guys.

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The Almost Famous Cheese Stone

I hadn’t made cheese stones since last fall. I am not even sure why I didn’t spend the winter cranking them out, to keep ahead, The thing with flat items is that it’s hard to get them in the kiln. They are sort of space wasters. I usually make a bunch, they go through the bisque firing, and then it takes many glaze firings before they are done. I think this is where I lose interest. The waiting just kills me!
Wednesday afternoon I threw a few and was totally shocked that they were ready to be trimmed by Thursday afternoon. I am still not used to working in a studio with air conditioning. It can really move things along in the summer. Even though we turn it off at the end of our day, the studio stays cool and dry overnight.
I have found the best method of drying these evenly, and keeping them flat, is stacking them between squares of sheet rock. I top the stack off with a plaster form, just keep the last one weighted. I find it’s best to dry these for at least a couple of weeks. 

 Now that our copper red glaze is behaving again, I can do some stones with this combination!

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New Pigs On The Block

I figured I was about overdue for a pig post. These are the latest oinkers from last week’s firing.
I hadn’t done any pigs with the shino and “glaze splash” combo in over a year. Our copper red glaze was crawling like crazy and the rutile glaze was often foamy looking. Jeff re-mixed the copper red, and added a little darvan. He said the darvan keeps it a little more fluid, but he doesn’t think it’s what stopped the crawling. As for the rutile… I just stopped using it. I can get a similar look by using our nuka glaze as a replacement. 

I have had requests for pigs with hearts and stars, but not necessarily together! The nuka glaze often gives a blurry look to stamps and lettering so I decided to glaze a “heart” piggy bank with Temple White. This glaze works well with the under-glaze and I think I like the simplicity of using this glaze alone. The true test is, “Will it sell?”

I will also offer this piggy bank with a name on it as well. You’ll find this new litter of pigs in the Etsy shop.

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Happy News!

Jeff and I have been really excited about the collaborative works we have been creating. It seems like nearly everyday he hands me something and says, “Carve some ginkgo leaves on this.” We have been so happy with the pots that a few weeks ago we decided to apply to Piedmont Craftsmen, here in North Carolina. Jeff spent a few nights photographing our work (he is a much better photographer than me) and uploaded the application. 

This week we got our letter of acceptance! There were 68 applicants this year, representing a variety of craft media. We were one of twelve that were accepted. This is the first part of the jury process. In November there will be a physical jury during their annual show. We are feeling pretty confident about the next step.
That being said, we got right back to work, glazing and loading the kiln. These pots are pretty labor intensive from start to finish. The interior is glazed in tenmoku and then the rim is dipped in the same glaze. The excess is sponged off prior to the ash glaze being sprayed on. Despite the drizzly weather, Jeff managed to fire the kiln, starting around noon yesterday and finishing in the wee hours of the morning today. We will anxiously await the door coming down on Sunday night.

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…Better Living Through Handmade Pottery.