Gary's Third Pottery Blog

When the going gets tough, dragons gonna get going....

Gary's third pottery blog

WRITE TO ME! garyrith@yahoo.com Come see me! Open studio HERE! November 25-26 (11-4 each day); Aurora Art and Design, daily until 12/24; Cooperstown Art Assoc. daily until 12/24; Ellis Hollow Community Fair, 12/10; December 10, Little Red Wagon at the Space at Greenstar. All material on this blog unless stated otherwise is copyright Gary Edward Rith 2016

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

NON-Triskaidekaphobia: 2013 was actually, surprisingly, quite awesome




Triskaidekaphobia: basically, fear of 13.

I was thinking "I'll post four favorite pots representing my work in 2013" but realized that you might want a little MORE. I do!

A quick summary would be something like "A great year!   I cut out gluten and seem to have ended a 4 year stomachache, this pet sitting thing is now 13 months old and keeps me damn busy...chickens today, actually....and finally, YES!  Whoa!  Pottery making went really really well and dang, business?  Shoot?  Where did that come from?  An avalanche of sales, best ever..."  You kinda feel like 2014 has some good possibilities!

We can finish with the pots.

Friends:  I have, at least, 2 Steves and one Ray this year....gotta see as much of them as possible in the new year:  one Steve and a Ray for running and, well, still trying to matchmake with Ray but that sh!t never works out, does it?  And the other Steve is likely the most fun person to chat with you have ever met and a good excuse to get out to listen to rock and roll....

Travel:  I am not one of those people that travels.  The wife travels more, while I stay home watching DUMBO or CADDYSHACK with the dog and cat.... BUT I did travel to NY city in the spring and Ontario in the fall....

21:  years married to the wife!  2014, actually, marks 25 years since we met...whoa, where does the time GO?

Reading:  I am reading an entertaining book right now about a murderer who plants a body in his backyard, and surprise!  Turns out somebody buried other bodies back there before the murderer got there...great plot idea, right?  I love books like that, BUT the best I read in 2013 was FLIGHT BEHAVIOR by Barbara Kingsolver.  I got it from the library last month, read it, and liked it so much I bought a new copy for the wife and to share, a first for me, I think....

Health:  well, most of my 4 year stomachache is gone....one reason I like Obamacare, which although unperfect is a great fukking start in the right direction, is that it doesn't make you feel quite so vulnerable to the expensive whims of insurers.  It looks like I have celiac disease, no biggy as long as I stay away from gluten, which has been a fun recipe ride as you know.  Other than that?  I am just as healthy as I was when I met the wife 25 years ago, I really am, and still have jeans that old which are...baggy.

Business:  I remember all those depressing years of the Reagan-Bush economy, when the job picks were slim and business was only so-so.  I don't know why anybody thinks those 2 clowns were good presidents, the economy sucked eggs for years.  But in 1997 it was like the sun dawning:  holy cats, look at this economy!  Then, sadly, we got another Bush....and....anyway, the end of 2013 is starting to feel like that again, wow, where did all this good business come from?  You never take it for granted, just feel grateful...and save.  I also have now 13 months of pet sitting...THAT is fun, and keeps me busy at ALL times, not just the lead-in to Christmas.  So, like, I am still busy babysitting chickens, etc. Being diversified has made me feel like if I don't wanna do somebody's weird-ass order, I don't have to...

ALTHOUGH many weird-ass orders are worth paying attention to! Maybe my favorite work of this last year was when a customer asked for a hippo mug...and in talking with the wife "you could make it dance!" which she demonstrated.  The idea works for other animals too...


Also, I have been working in the other direction, as I do, trained to make pieces like east Asian pots, trying to make a particular shape of vase for the Quaker meeting house I attend...


And, excitingly, I made rockets and robots and....one day woke up wanting to make an airplane! Flown by a pig...it was another friend who said "when pigs fly!".  Yes! DUH!



And lastly, I asked the wife what she thought the fourth pottery highlight of the year should be.  This covered mug.  We fight over it here at our house.  It has this groovy new dark green glaze and is, well, perfectly fun to use.....thanks for listening!

(pottery by Gary Rith)

Monday, December 30, 2013

dragon's blood....


goblets by me
SO, 2 ways of making goblets, right?  I was compelled to make Godzilla goblets (or dragon goblets or whatever) PLUS I was mentioning to the wife I can make plain too. That green glaze is killer isn't it?
In other news, I have in mind to sell cards and drawings....below you see the, well, maybe PROTOTYPE.  I have an awesome old school desk to draw on and you can see envelope and drawing....I think I could go nuts with this...
have an awesome day!


(drawing and goblets by Gary Rith)

Sunday, December 29, 2013

beagles and bagels....



If you are a potter you might like baking..it is hard to believe how many of us use the same skills baking it takes work clay, you have STUFF, water, and heat! Try to find a potter, for example, who does NOT make pizza every week....
I like to make bagels, and Nicole Hunn of Gluten-Free on a Shoestring has a great recipe with instructions.  On the one hand, it seems complicated, but on the other, it is fun:  mix dough, let it rise, boil it, bake it, not hard at all....plus beautiful and bountious in the freezer!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

you only get up at 3am because: a) you want to organize your files! b) you want to play with your cat! c) you want to make a teapot!

D)  All of the above!
I was sleeping soundly and awoke...with an idea.  For a teapot.  I started playing with the cat, sleeping on the pillow next to me, the wife being in NYC partying with the sisters, and began thinking "have you REALLY cleaned your desk (as you claimed yesterday) if you have NOT gone through all those boring files UNDER your desk???" and it was all too EXCITING so I had to get up and...well, here I am.

The teapot I mention is all part of the NEW YEAR, NEW IDEAS push.  I always seem to come out of the Christmas season with a bunch of ideas screaming NEW AND IMPROVED!

The first of these is below, just outta the kiln, a decorating scheme of blue squiggles under greens...I know you have seen me do things like this in the past, but this is the NEXT STEP for me....this pitcher is large and EXCITING, yet friendly and fun!
(pitcher by Gary Rith)

Friday, December 27, 2013

that PSYCHO-KILLER LOOK


(That is what happens when you clean your desk, you find a picture of yourself when you were 2...and cute! Not looking like an aging almost 50 year old psycho killer with hobo overtones....)


You will notice in these pics that, as cold as it is, I can wear my new (to me!) vintage lumberjack shirt with my new Godzilla tee.  The wife would be appalled although she is too polite to say anything:  that makes for a bright and festive combo, does it not?  Bright green tee with a red shirt?

As for that PSYCHO KILLER look, I must admit, I did not look at myself all Thursday.  I babysat chickens, I babysat cats, I cared for my own cat and dog and baked up beans * and bread (2 loaves!) but mostly...


I cleaned the hell out of the house.  I find the end of Christmas unbearably sad.  I take all the decorations down, and start noticing all the piles of junk heaped up everywhere.  I notice the fridge door: filthy! (what I don't notice, apparently, is myself:  you get that psychokiller look by rolling out of bed when the wife is on the road and not really, you know, grooming yourself or anything...)

So, it started this year with my drawing desk after the Christmas decorations.  Then windex on the fridge door.  I find cleaning VERY boring, but it has momentum, right?  The momentum starts with the Christmas stuff...why does it repulse me so much on the 26th?  because I spend so many months at Christmas fairs, I am beyond saturation?  Probably that, plus the "LOVED ME AND LEFT ME" idea. Christmas and I had a torrid 3 month affair...now I am spent and bereft and Christmas has left me...

* About those beans:  I remember as a kid the 2 kinds of canned beans.  One had this CHUNK of what, blubber in it?  Like a schoolroom eraser for your pencil, but softer and uglier?  The other kind was lip-smackingly sweet, probably full of high fructose whatever....

I have not had baked beans in a LONG time, years!  The wife always hated those sweet things.  I hate the non-vegetarian version...but I was reading about New England Baked beans... in logging camps, a pot was simmered all day with bacon and maple syrup...the result was hearty and tasty, and long simmering kept the log camp from turning into a gaseous cloud....

I make beans of all kinds all the time.  This recipe (click here!) from YANKEE is flippin' AWESOME, vegetarian and cooked in your crock pot all day, you will wonder "WHY THE HECK DON'T I MAKE THESE every day???????????????"

And it did NOT result in this...have a great Friday!


Thursday, December 26, 2013

now that we have celebrated GREED, time to get rid of crap


("NO Spike, the new tee is MINE!")


Now that is a cynical view, isn't it, especially from a retailer like me, who dearly wants to fill your life with CRAP THAT I MADE?

(at least the crap I make is:  a) useful!  b) CUTE! c) breakable!!!! drop that mug RIGHT NOW on your tile floor and order up a new one from me!)

So, the wife and I have the delightful Christmas and wedding anniversary (why YES, we got married on Christmas, lo those many years ago) AND Mother Nature had even provided us with a very beautiful snowfall, after it had been 65 on the weekend....
and I pat her on the azz with a cheery "OFF YA GO!" early Christmas morning and drop her at the bus station....

OK, before that last line pisses everybody off, let's keep in mind that a)  I have a wicked sense of humor and b) my wife is not here reading this and telling me to delete it.

So like I was saying, off she goes!
To NY city to see the sisters and eat delightful Japanese food and send me PICTURES of that food to make me jealous....but I am not jealous.  I am home with the cat, taking care of a flock of chickens and Puffy the psycho kitty so YOU KNOW I have the better deal.

Sure I do.

Before she left, I made Christmas crepes!*  It was 4 degrees outside and I was like remember when we made this blueberry jam??? It was July and a wonderful 84 degrees....
don't remind me....

Anyway, something about the DEPRESSING end of all that good Christmas fun makes me look around for the first time since LAST January and I go "UGH, this house is a stinking mess full of junk, I am GETTING RID of it all!".
And we do.  We like to start the new year with a freshly cleaned house.
The wife is out of town.
I shall do my best.
BUT first, check OUT the lovely gifts I got!  A FOREST of brightly colored socks!  Cousin Mark was having the drink with me last summer and I was admiring his colorful argyle socks and I said "NICE.  I love argyle socks too!" pulling up my pant leg to show mine, and Mark tells me, semi-quoting Bill Murray "chicks dig me because I wear argyle socks".
My chick digs ME in my argyles, but look at some of the socks cousin Mark's family gave me, and also my delightful sister-in law!  I tell the wife "they are too pretty to wear!" but she tells me they have "immense socks appeal....TIGER.... rrrrreOW!" and I quickly put some on....




When I say it was 4 degrees yesterday, I am not kidding....poor chickens have a nice warm coop, but their water was starting to freeze!  They were cheerful about it, and it is a lot warmer now, in the 20s, and like they used to say "warm enough to snow!" and it is....

*rice flour crepes -- gluten-free!
1 c. rice flour 
1 c. milk
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt
1 T. cooking oil plus some for the fry pan

In a bowl, whisk the 2 eggs, then add the other wet ingredients, last slowly stir in the rice flour, then whisk it all so it is smooth with no lumps.
Pour about 1/4 cup at a time into a medium heat oiled skillet, shake the pan a bit to spread the batter thin.  When the top looks fairly dry after a minute or 2, flip, cooking the other side 45 seconds or so. remove from pan, keep them warm in the oven on a baking sheet at 200.
Serve rolled up with jam or....!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

merry merry quite contrary GARY...

I spend Christmas under a lot of trees, in a lot of stockings, right?  Artists and retailers have the unique joy of being Santa's elf, the person making the surprises! What an honor.

I also have the unique joy of babysitting a FLOCK of chickens and Puffy the cat too!

And catch this:  there is this really pretty place near us, a village called Forest Home.  They have 2 bridges.  One of which was recently PICKED UP and moved 100 feet away for repairs..wish I could have seen THAT.  You can see that although all our snow melted on the weekend...we got plenty for a white Christmas (oh yes, one day I will have that warm and green Christmas in Key West... :)

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

all I want for Christmas is...a new celadon glaze!???



First off, potters can be pretty damn boring when it comes to chatting about glaze.  You'll be out with 3-4 potters and also some civilians, like my wife, and talk will turn to, as it does, of glaze recipes, like "just add another 1.5 ounces copper carbonate!" and civilians, like my wife, their eyes will glaze over and they might just stare, uncaring, and say "unh huh..."

Second of all, potters also say "I opened the kiln and it was like Christmas!".  It is true.  I realized last year that I opened up the kiln...on Christmas!  It was like Christmas on Christmas!  DITTO today! (Christmas Eve = close enough).
Potters say that because you always hope for the best with firing the kiln:  you slop on the glaze, you cook it up to 2200 degrees and GOD KNOWS what is going on in there...and then you peek in and hope to see little prizes cooling!

Well shoot, have a look below.  I awoke at, um, a very Christmassy 1 am...thinking about opening the kiln!  I was also thinking about a cup of tea and writing a blog post and reading my book AND AGAIN sorting and organizing and wrapping presents....I mean, there is a LOT of fun sh!t to do (I sleep very well as a rule, but sometimes I ...just get so excited!) ... The wife gave me a very cheery little sleepy happy anniversary (we got married on Christmas!) as I not-very-quietly-crept-out-of-bed with the exuberant little beagle, grabbed the camera and opened the kiln and snapped this very photo...

The kiln is so hot I couldn't hold it open more than a second.  Every potter will tell you you should never open a kiln early.  You singe your eyebrows, who knows what else...the kiln needs to cool on its own, but right now it is down to like pizza temp, 500 degrees, so a quick peek is good and IT LOOKS like Christmas in there!

OK, more about me, celadon and glazes.  If you look up celadon, you might find, in my summation, something about a pale green glaze, a little blue/grey in color, maybe transparent and a little jade toned, definately of far eastern origin.  The easiest summation?  It is like a coke bottle!

I have been telling people lately, as I point to this dark green seen in the picture on those pots in the picture here "this is like, my 7th green glaze I love green glazes so much!" But do you see the tiny little pale green bit at the left, a little loop of clay?  THAT MIGHT BE MY 8th green glaze, a TRUE celadon!  Because my celadons are all fakers, I love them all, but by definition they are all probably too dark or opaque or whatever for a real purist.  Not that glaze test there:  it is the real deal, and I canNOT wait to look at it more closely later, and the other samples of it I just fired....

Like I say, potters talking about glazes = boring as hell :)

Wish us well, the wife and I got married a LONG time ago today, and she is utterly SCHWEET and I am lucky to have her....

(before and after glaze firing)


Spike, RIGHT THIS VERY SECOND helping write this


and speaking of Sleigh Bells....


Monday, December 23, 2013

end of Christmas rush = SELFIE + (cat +/- dog)



Actually, I am shipping orders today, too.  17 good seasons, some REALLY good, but this one? INSANE.  I have never seen a retail season like this year, an avalanche!  And, well, pet sitting too, including CHICKENS this week and Puffy the psycho cat.  So, I keep figuring the Christmas rush is over, but on a wing and a prayer I sent 3 items to Florida Friday, fingers crossed they arrive by Christmas, but the stuff going to Nebraska today???? "HAPPY NEW YEAR!" I guess....

People see pictures of Penny and her ears:  "you arranged that, didn't you?" and it is like "NO, she draped it like that herself!"

Sunday, December 22, 2013

considering DEEP DISH



The wife and I met in Chicago, where, as you know, pizza is deep dish with a cornmeal crust, a feast!  Gluten-free, too, this polenta pizza is from a recipe in my favorite cookbook GLUTEN-FREE on a shoestring... beauty!.
Spike only think he likes it..... I guess this is what happens when you are cooking and your cat wants his crunchies...

Saturday, December 21, 2013

recipe SECRETS....gluten-free chocolate chip and triple chocolate cookies!



OK, like I say:  the other day cousin Catherine is here.  She will say "we're foodies", and it is true, her family will come over with a great bottle of wine or 2 and eat and ENJOY any wacky thing I cook...plus she has been a professional baker and chef herself since she was 16.  AND a newspaper restaurant reviewer. A totally fun guest, and the sort that you hand a cutting board and knife and makes half the dinner for you...

ANYWAY, Wednesday we were making tortilla corn chips (do it yerself, click here!) and she is like "this is how we make potato chips!" and I was like "say what, potato chips at home, on a COOKIE SHEET? ANY OLD cookie sheet, even my gnarly old one????" "YEP"

And by coincidence I buy this new VERY sharp knife at the restaurant supply store Friday and realize that I now have no excuse but to NOT try making potato chips to surprise the wife... and dang it is true, it is the EASIEST thing to do.... (click here for link--basically, slice potato thin, brush with evoo and bake then EAT, like drenched in hot salsa, mmmmmm)

THE OTHER thing Catherine and I baked went like this "hey Catherine, let's invent a recipe!" and everybody knows that whereas chocolate chip cookies are good, and for many of of us, gluten-free chocolate chip cookies are a NECCESSITY, tripling the chocolate is EVEN BETTER!

Claudia at Idiot's Kitchen is begging me for the recipe...which I am not gonna share.
BUT, I will help you do it....
Start here with a rice flour chocolate chip cookie recipe (click!).
How do you triple the chocolate?  Why don't you improvise, like I did?

SO HERE IS the secret: use that recipe, or any chocolate chip cookie recipe and melt a half cup of chocolate chips and stir into the wet part of the recipe....and to the dry part?  Add 1/4 cup cocoa powder and 1/4-1/2 cup more flour, otherwise just follow your recipe.  That is IT!


Friday, December 20, 2013

that dog sure does get AROUND...


(me...and the wife and naughty dog)

Our cousin Catherine was here the other day.  I have chili bubbling away, 13 bean!  So tasty, and pretty! She is from Cincinatti, which is famous for mixing noodles with chili and I ask
"shall I make plain noodles to go with or....Chinese noodles?  "
"Those are the same noodles you made last time I was here?"
"Yep"
"Make the Chinese noodles!"
And I did.
So, we had very spicy chili and Chinese noodles, our own super tasty fusion!
I also made triple chocolate cookies because holy cats, why  use ONE KIND OF CHOCOLATE when you can use THREE TIMES as much?
Catherine gets home and decorates her tree...does her beagle ornament look familiar there?????
Have a great Friday!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

the ESSENCE of Yogi....


(drawing of Yogi by Gary Rith)
OK, so the last 2 days I have told you I have been trying to do brush drawings that are NOT detailed, just a few strokes to capture a picture, right?
You know I babysit Yogi sometimes, we walk, run, he comes over to play with our cat and dog.  He is covered with adorable curls!  Therefore, a series of curls, just a few, captures Yogi.
What I realize about a drawing method like this:  what you do is think...in a different language.  Let's say you practice speaking German....then when you arrive in Berlin you flip a switch in your brain "OK, now I am going to try to think and speak in German".  It is the same, drawing like this.  It feels like you flip a switch, and look at things in a different way, does that make sense?

I freaked out a little Monday.  I had all these orders to ship, TEXAS!  ENGLAND!!!! And the purchasers are like "yeah, this will get here in time for Christmas, right?"
 and I am like *gulp*....
do you think the PO can get a package to Texas or England from NY in a week....????????????????????
my wife tells me not to worry about it
"hey, they paid...you shipped, you did your part!!!!!"
*gulp!*

You can see Yogi came with me to the PO....YES, I have a Swiss post bag to carry parcels to the PO, suits our weather, right?
Have an awesome Thursday!


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

more minimal drawing and you know it is Christmas when the cat eats the tree


(like I said yesterday:  I am doodling along FUN NEW LINES! (pun) and trying to see what little I can do to suggest everything you need to see in a drawing...2 cats above)

I know you are waiting to hear about the tree, but here is a haiku first:

Spike wants his breakfast
But Penny is still hiding
Under the covers

That cat I drew above?  Here he is.
We don't bother with a full size tree.
You can see why.


Which does not mean the dog is any kind of angel, I mean, if she was bigger?  She would finish that berry pie of mine on the counter in 2 seconds....
hey, happy Wednesday!  Just one week until..... !!!!

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I am a full-time studio potter, sculptor, and dog walker, married to superhawt Missus Tastycake.