Monday, June 22, 2015

Visiting and Eating inTrinidad

Last weekend we made a short but special trip to Trinidad. I'd never been there before so everything was new to me. We did lots of internet research before going and our friend and friends of friend showed us some of the surrounding areas....the ride up into the hills to visit Asa Wright Sancutary was just as much fun as seeing the birds and forest.
 On the way back to Port of Prince we made a quick stop at Maracas Bay....
We thought that finidng vegan food would be tough as all the restaurants that were advertised as vegan were only open for breakfast and lunch but we found a great restaurant for Friday evening, Veni Mange. An email inquiring about vegan options led to a special menu on our table, typed up just for us! The food was delicious, home cooked style with lots of flavor. We also found that the buffet at Asa Wright offered enough side dishes that were vegan including eggplant, rice with veggies and lentils. Our hotel was also very accomadating, ordering soy milk for our coffee and breakfast and letting us know what was in each of the intriguing dishes we had not seen before. I was very surprized to find some wonderful flavours as I'm not usually a fan of the hot spicy flavors of local Indian restaurants here in Florida.
     Our Saturday night dinner was also delicious at BUZO Osteria Italiana. I had the best pasta dish, simply pasta, tomatoes, basil and amazing flavour! And the coconut mint frozen dessert was the best.
     Before heading to the airport on Sunday we took a quick stroll around the Queen's Park Savannah near our hotel. The jacaranda trees were in bloom, first shot near the Botanical Gardens.
 Soccer in the Savannah...
 Some of the mansions around the Savannah....
One under going renovations or upkeep...
 Another waiting it's turn....
 Then there was the modern architecture....
 And just a fun shot for the color....
And another for the color.....
It was a fun whirlwind weekend!
Oh, anyone know the name of this bird? We saw several of them in the Savannah.
Update: Thank you to our friend Ronald from Trinidad for inquiring about this bird ... it is called a Southern Lapwing. Interesting reading about this bird at wikipedia.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Test Run

I did my first glaze load in my new little kiln using their suggested slow program to cone 6 then added a slow cool to 1400 after a five minute hold at top temp. It fired to a full cone 7 so will work at developing my own program now that I can make a good guess at actually temperatures. A nice plus with my new little kiln is with two thermocouples I expect the kiln should be firing pretty evenly.
 Besides testing the glaze program I also did some glaze tsting. I was looking for a satin or metallic black to use on this bell. Rather than start from scratch I looked for something that already looked close. I found one but it's only colorant was some copper carb. Although it had some zinc in the recipe I wondered if the carb was actually oxide or if it was missing something like cobalt or manganese. So I added 10% RIO to half the test mixture and put it on my bell. 
Turns out the original recipe was not misprinted and did produce a black but I'm glad I added the RIO as it gave exactly what I was hoping for. The original recipe test below. 

 Another test was for a purple. Although I like it, it is a semimatte so I would want to test it well before using it functional work. It has a silica/alumina ratio of almot 9 so I was expecting a glossy glaze although it does have some magnesium in it. I think I'd like to use it on a totem that I'll make as part of our class project next year. The first test in on my clay, Mike's Stoneware from Axner and the second is on one of our studio clays, Buff from Highwater. They are actually closer than the photo shows.

One other glaze test was a very old one from my FAU days. It was one of my made from scratch recipes for an assignment. I found the old sample and dug out my recipe. It is actually a little glossy which surprized me as the original test was fast cooled and it was super dry. I like it a lot, however it is definitely not a glaze for functional ware as it has very little alumina. I think it will work well with the purple on my totem.
That same glaze is on the lower two thirds of the vessel next to the test, then Waterfall brown from the rim down halfway. I like how they worked together.
A good reminder about refiring: I put this beer tumbler in to refire hoping to seal over a couple pinholes that were bothering me. I added a little bit of glaze to the rim and that was it. However with the refire and the kiln going to cone 7 it sure ran! Reminds me of one of those drip candles from the 70's. Ideally I would only refire to cone 5 but I'm not a big fan of refiring to fix things so I rarely have much that I'd fill a kiln for cone 5.
Above is copper oxide. I usually stick to iron as I like its effect and it is safer than other oxides. However I really like the more orange color on this piece above. Just realized it came from the last load of my old kiln but my new little kiln gave me another cap jar below....

I'm headed to add some pine needles to another piece that came out of this load.
Hope you're having a great day!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Black Swallowtail

A few days ago as I was cleaning up a patch of the garden this beautiful swallowtail swooped right in and around me, landing on and off of what remains of my parsley. Luckily I had my camera hanging around my neck so I tried to grab a few shots.
 Once uploaded onto my computer I could see that it was a she and she was a black swallowtail. I was thrilled because I had never seen a black swallowtail, at least not that I know of. I should have because we've had lots of dill and carrot plants.
 I went back out and tried to find the eggs but didn't see any. I wondered if they had already been eaten by one of the many predators in the garden. But two days ago I spotted several tiny caterpillars.
 These little ones were in their first or second instar, indicated by the white around their middle section.
Yesterday I could only find two left but they had grown some and must have moved into their third instar. This is a photo taken this morning. I hope there's enough parsley for them and even more important I hope they stay safe out there in the jungle. I'm hoping for more black swallowtails!

Friday, May 8, 2015

Last Run, Maybe?

 I just did my first bisque and glaze loads since December! I never thought I'd give up my Skutt and downsize but when there was a good kiln sale going on just as I was thinking I'm not doing as much clay work as I used to do and I'd like to fill a smaller kiln more quickly, doing more experimental work, I decided it was time to downsize. I ordered a smaller L&L which should make changing elements easy (which I was not looking forward to as my Skutt gets closer to needing new elements plus at the same time I would replace some bricks that had been damaged through it's last move). Bonus: I won't have to stand on my toes or head to reach the very bottom of the kiln!
First photo is loading the bisque then some of the glazed work after unloading earlier this week.

Now to decide, what to do with my Skutt... wish I had a larger garage so I could keep it for those times I really want to make something taller than 18". Guess when that happens I'll just work out ways to put my work together post-firing.

My new kiln should be delivered today!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Gelli Printing Fun

 Our OT group got together this week! To see what E and J have been doing check out our post here.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Spring has Sprung!

The rains have arrived and today the first rain lilies are in bloom!

 A Bluejay seen through our family room window.
 The Mexican Flame vine will soon be going to seed again.
The coffee bushes are having their first flowers!

Spring may be very hot here but it's makes for beautiful blooms!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Early Morning in the Garden

Early morning is one of my favorite times in the garden. This morning I grabbed my camera instead of a coffee and wondered about.

 Native Pennyroyal
 Sand dune sunflower, native
 Blue plumbego. The native white plumgego is pictured later on.
 Society garlic
 Spiderwort, native and such fun to count to the blooms each morning.
 Mexican Flame, a new one for us this year. It is very happy and climbing around the palm.
 Aloe in 'bloom'.
 Desert Rose although I think of it as "Anniversary Rose" as Ken gave it to me for our anniversary a couple years ago.

 Our native Cassias which has had some beautiful caterpillars this spring.
 Spanish Needle, native, is one of the common names for this beauty.
 Coreopsis, native
 Blanket Flower is one of the common names for this native.
 Looking through the Marlberry towards our bench and Cedar Bay tree.
 Looking forward to seeing our Strongbark grow big and strong! The coontie next to it will be a slow grower but worth the wait. Looking forward to more atalas.
 Ageratum, native.
Much of the yard is quite wild looking. Here is some russelia, the white plumbago against the screen and cassias in the background.
 Have a gorgeous day!