Gary's Third Pottery Blog

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

Gary's third pottery blog

WRITE TO ME! 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

Friday, January 31, 2014

killer teapots and Gary's FAMOUS gluten-free skillet cornbread!

(new teapot by Gary Rith)
Luscious, eh wot?  Celadon grey/green/blue with blue loops and a beagle????

Claudia is looking for a NON-cardboard tasting gluten-free cornbread recipe.  Imagine that! I invented a recipe...well, anybody could, cornbread is tres easy, right?  I like to use the skillet for that extra crisp edge!  If you want it more rich, you can add sour cream or yogurt or use butter and real milk...but I find this superb.  Molasses is my favorite sweetener--it has nutritional value and helps baked goods stick together and retain moistness AND gives this cornbread a bit of a toasty color ****

I am on the road for a bit...catcha SOON and have an awesome weekend yerself!

Gary's gluten-free skillet cornbread
-preheat to 350
-grease an iron skillet or 9 x 5 loaf pan
-in large bowl combine:
-3/4 cup brown rice flour
-1 cup corn meal
-1/4 cup coarse corn meal (or regular cornmeal if you prefer)
-3 1/2 teas baking powder
-1 teaspoon salt
-with a spoon, whip it together, whip it good!  well, stir anyway
-in second bowl beat 2 eggs
-add 3 TBS molasses, 1 cup (soy) milk, 1/4 cup canola oil--with your spoon whip it, whip it good!
-add wet to dry, with your spoon...whip it, whip it good! 
-pour into skillet or loaf pan
-bake about 25 minutes for the skillet, check that it looks crisp and brown at the edges and a toothpick in the middle is clean....a loaf pan is a thicker block, and 30-40 minutes baking is about right
-when done take outta the oven, let cool a few minutes, then you can slice and  remove to a wire rack to finish cooling

Thursday, January 30, 2014

" hopefully you don't go blind..."

LAST thing the eye doctor tells me today is "We'll get you under treatment so hopefully you don't go blind" which sounds dramatic, doesn't it?  Yet, it SUCKS! To explain:

I was all excited to see the eye doctor today.  When I was in my 20s my eye doctor told me "you have textbook perfect vision!" and I felt pretty proud of that, and didn't see an eye doctor for about 20 years.
The husband of a pottery student of mine is a fantastic eye doctor...and he surprised me about 4 years ago by telling me I needed glasses, not just for reading.  Simple enough,. as he explained, everybody's eyes change in their 40s, right?  And it explained why my teapot lids didn't fit very well (close up vision) and why I couldn't read deli menus (far off vision), so I got a handsome pair of progressive bifocals--first time I have ever worn glasses.

WELL, that was then.  Last summer I see in the window of the glasses store the SPIFFY pair of specs seen below, and the wife snaps the pic and I figure that when the new year comes along and we have a new medical plan I will go to the eye, well, I couldn't see that well.  I didn't see BADLY, but the glasses did not seem to be doing their job, you know?

So today my eyes are full of drops and I am thinking lustful thoughts about maybe needing those new glasses and I am strapped into the thingy where the eye doctor does whatever and he says "interesting".  Which isn't fair, because what is interesting to him may be like stepping on a banana peel and falling in front of a fast moving bus feels like to ME.

INTERESTING turns out to be early stages of glaucoma, found early.  And I am YOUNG! And healthy!  Well, sh!t, things happen... and I am lucky to have a great doctor, care, medicine, and health insurance (again:  what is it with the repubs, they don't think that we all have health and need insurance to help?)

BUT here is the fukker:  I am an artist, right?  I live with my hands and eyes, and pretty much EVERY human prefers anything other than to lose their sight.

Some people go on vacation...I am getting new glasses.  I was thinking about canceling my tiny little trip Saturday over guilt at the costs of this (even with insurance!) but then realized "hell, I could be blind or abducted by aliens next week....GO ON THE TRIP now, and appreciate it, and APPRECIATE EVERYTHING and everybody in life".  Yes. (I will NOT be blind next week.  Treatment is very helpful with glaucoma, but you get my point.)

Here are the specs I ordered today when I first tried them on last summer, tortoiseshell wayfarers, mm mm good!

yeah, that loopy thing....

No, I am not loopy, but these pots are...can you see I am HAVING THE TIME of my life in the studio?  Aside from horrible January weather, it has been the best January of my life...really rolling and having fun.  Thanks for listening, have a great Thursday!

(new pottery by Gary Rith)

Emily Dickinson (1830–86).  Complete Poems.  1924.

Part Four: Time and Eternity


MY cocoon tightens, colors tease,
I ’m feeling for the air;
A dim capacity for wings
Degrades the dress I wear.
A power of butterfly must be        5
The aptitude to fly,
Meadows of majesty concedes
And easy sweeps of sky.
So I must baffle at the hint
And cipher at the sign,        10
And make much blunder, if at last
I take the clew divine.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

speaking of LOVE and gluten-free brownies...

It has been like zero or below lately, I don't have to tell you.  I babysit Yogi and tried to get our picture by the thermometer and he kept kissing me!   He came over to rescue Penny from CABIN fever and boredom, then came inside to wrestle with our cat Spike.... Yogi is so fun and easygoing, our pets love him.

Then we made brownies.... a new recipe to me! Nicole Hunn's gluten-free on a shoestring gluten-free skillet brownies!  Magnificent :)

Speaking of love, you might need a new heart cup and saucer! Handmade by me and now at my etsy shoppe!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

William..... not the prince, or the singer, the HIPPO!

William, as in Prince William? of the Black Eyed peas???? No.  William of the Met! NY's huge museum... they have a small ceramic hippo glazed a pretty turquoise named William for an unofficial mascot ... the Egyptians who made it basically knew that hippos could be vicious man killers, and by making this cute hippo and putting it into a tomb it might help protect somebody in this world AND the next.... myself?  I am trying to exorcise the bad spirits out of hippos in my life:  a very difficult, nay EVIL person who was in our lives loved hippos...and so I have been trying to reclaim hippos as a cute symbol and NOT as nasty man killers, right?

Hippos are pretty damn CUTE aren't they?  I made this mug and tried drawing a hippo on there...then went all zoo on it with an elephant and crocodile!  It can be yours through my online etsy shoppe, get it now!

hippo elephant crocodile mug

Monday, January 27, 2014

like "4 Weddings and a Funeral", except with 2 bowls and a pitcher..

Yesterday I see the wife writing with a fancy yellow pen and I resolve to steal it when she isn't looking.
Later that same day, my sneaky fingers go for it but ZOINKS!  I am caught!  Sweet thing that she is, she graciously tells me I can keep it.  I offer her the awesome one in my pocket in exchange (I stole that one from her in September) and she says I can keep them both.  The girl is a KEEPER!

Anyway, the point?  I really love a lot of colors but a nice lemony/ buttery yellow is a HUGE favorite.
Like my yellow glaze!  Not like Minnesota Vikings yellow and purple which could make me hurl and Green Bay Packers yellow with green which is obnoxious.  More like Sweden's softer yellow with blue, mmmmm.

2 points.  I have been, as I keep saying like the most boring person on EARTH, working these loops and whirls of blue onto my pots, and have been trying to do so for over 25 years.  AH HA! It is working!  I have figured out how to keep it from falling off the pots! Second, I was thinking yesterday I have all this dark blue under light colored glaze, and my dark blue glaze (and other darks) are lonely.  And I was AH HA! Try to figure out how to get a light color for loops and whorls under there..... something to try this week....have a great Monday!

(pottery by Gary Rith)

Sunday, January 26, 2014

if SPIKE cat had anything to do with it....

(cat cups and saucers by Gary Rith)
Well, sure, OF COURSE he did!
I was thinking last week, as I told you, that it would be fun to revisit an idea I hadn't gotten around to lately, cat mugs, but with cat saucers!  I also changed how I do the base, making it a more rounded, cat bottom type shape.
The idea had been suggested to me by a customer "could you make a cat shaped mug?" and I considered how and made a few tries, settling on this simple silhouetted cat ear rim.  Then another customer wondered if the handle could be the tail, DUH! Yes! Brilliant!  So you see here version 4.0 or something.
Susan runs the office at the senior center Penny and I visit every week if there is no blizzard. (there have been blizzards lately)  Susan is a HUGE beagle lover and SPOILS Penny.  It is our last stop every week, and Penny has the belly bump to prove it.
BUT, last summer Susan's house had 2-3 feral cats hanging around.  One of them came to LOVE Susan, and she is surprised to find even her husband is suddenly a cat lover.  She asked for these cups and now they are out of the glaze firing...looking quite festive in their baby blue with spots color scheme, hmm?  Then of course other people wrote to ask for cat mugs too and its like "YESYES sure...."

Saturday, January 25, 2014

tall and thin or chubby and short

I was cropping this photo and realized "I used the same amount of clay to start each of these cup/mugs, funny, they are so similar but so different! Like the tall thin brother and short chubby brother".
I love wide, round cups and saucers so much, my favorite pottery coffee or tea sipping shape, like this blue cup here.  You see it and want to lay some cappucino in there and draw a smily face, right?  Then dunk a cookie in there and swoon! It is also good for your cuppa soup or yogurt...

The wife tells me the other day she really likes the shape of the green mug here.  It is really simple but easy to wrap your hand around and will also resist slopping out when you carry it plus is slightly better at retaining heat (being closed in at the top).  Both cups are really practical and simple, friendly rounded shapes, and then there is the pig! Have a great Saturday!

(mug and cup by Gary Rith)

Friday, January 24, 2014

Wallace and Gromit, Brown Betty and beans on toast....

(teapots by Gary Rith)
Brown Betty is the most easily recognized teapot on earth...with good reason!  Just a pleasant and useful, pleasing fat round shape.  As a person who slurps a lot of tea, the color brown is VERY useful when you are not, um, really strict about scrubbing your teapot like surgical nurse:  making tea always creates a stain, right?  You scrub hard or soak with vinegar from time to worries if your teapot is already tea colored!!!!

The Brown Betty IS England.  It is tea!  Teapots are also the one pottery item most often made fanciful, the opposite of the Brown Betty, thanks to Alice and her mad teaparty...
LC wrote from Nova Scotia, which is halfway to England, wanting a simple green teapot of the large size.  I told her it needed groovy decoration, and made 2 really big ones.  The one in front is hers (note:  can you guess what it costs to ship this to Canada???? 37 bucks, thank you very much, with rates rising Monday...).

ANYWAY, this all got me thinking about other subjects, like Burgess.  Day one of college my freshman suite had my roomie Scott who although Jewish dressed like a priest (not as psycho as he seemed then...he later became a family man trying to sell mortgages) and next door was Alex who became a best friend and later a doctor and next to that was Denis, still my best friend rooming with Marcelo the Brazilian nudist poet (you can't make this sh!t Bennington College is famously filled with avant garde students:  Bret Easton Ellis wrote LESS THAN ZERO while he was a student at Bennington, for example, plus we had Jonathan Lethem and Donna Tart at the same time ). Saucy sexpots Joanna and Nora were down the hall and will be reading this today (actually, nearly all the people mentioned here will be reading this today).... and just about all the people in my freshman suite REMAIN BEST FRIENDS, 30 plus years, since I was 17!
Burgess was next door.  I met him when he came over and asked in a plummy English accent "do you have any cellotape?" and Scott and I stared at him wondering what planet he came from and what he had just asked for.  England is just like the US, except filled with cute little expressions and names for things like BEANS ON TOAST, Brown Betty, cello tape and Margaret Thatcher...

AND ALSO the home of Wallace and Gromit.  Oh gosh, I LOVE those movies, and anything else Ardmore has done and I know you do too....have a look at Gromit and the tea below...I don't have to explain why he is my hero!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

there is a good reason people have a TILE BACKSPLASH on their kitchen counters

You would think I have nothing better to do than make and give US pots this season!  Sure, why not?  I mean, the Christmas rush is behind me and I am experimenting!
You see here the test tiles I have been making lately for a decorating scheme I have been working on since...1988.  Maybe I am getting what I want, finally?! YES I am.
SO, it started here:  I made a couple of test tiles in the kiln and kept thinking of OTHER ways I could blob and whirl this blue under glazes....I have, um, 6...7..8? green glazes alone.  5 of those look good with the blue.  Then there is the other couple of colors, the last and 9th being red on the right.  (you will not be surprised to hear that I started a NEW set of test tiles with variations..based on these test tiles...)
I put the first couple of tiles on the kitchen counter backsplash so I could think about GLAZE while I made toast and chopped onions or made martinis....and added tiles until I got 9 on one side of the stove and very large ones on the other side.
Then I asked the wife if they could stay there, it looks so festive!  She liked the idea, so yesterday GOOD GOD what a mess I scrubbed the hell out of the walls and everything else.  After, um, taking these pics.
We have been here 8 years.  8 years worth of dried spaghetti sauce and chili on that wall....

In other tile news, I MADE FRAMES! Have an awesome Thursday!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

"cousin Mark says you make great plates..."

Last fall cousin Mark is here with his wife, my pal, Michele and daughter Catherine, who you see here sometimes, and also a variety of OTHER cousins and hangers on, and I am serving enchiladas or something (on my own bowls, plates, etc) and I come out to the back porch with the guac and find there has been a discussion:
"Mark says you make really nice plates" and he nods.  It is a big compliment, I think, because cousin Mark grew up in the restaurant business and says ONLY VERY wise things. Mark is also the one who told me last summer, as I admired his argyle socks "chicks dig me because I wear argyle socks"  (Bill Murry in STRIPES had said "chicks dig me because I don't wear underwear....").

All of my plates in my cupboard are odds and ends, and I HATE making plates.  They are VERY easy to make and fire, but always want to crack and warp, and I would rather make hundred dollar teapots with little doggies on them.  But I like my own plates for MYSELF.

So, as you know, I am horsing around with decorating schemes...and wanted a new plate for myself.  Out of the kiln yesterday came a gorgeous green one...and I was feeling so generous toward MYSELF I also helped myself to a yellow cup and saucer.... it is perfect for MY HAND...the handle fits just so, and the saucer fits atop the cup to keep things warm ..... tis a rice pizza crust, in case you were wondering, mmmmm ....

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

like wearing last year's jeans...

A fact or 2:  I am a compact person, about five foot 8..... 121 pounds.  I have been like this since I had a massive growth spurt when I was 12.  I have never wanted to be any other size.  I am very comfortable in airline seats, for example.  Strangely, the wife is the same height, which makes her almost a tall woman, but puts me at the shorter side of average height.  There are some exceedingly tiny Welshmen in my ancestry....

ANYWAY, I will get to the point soon.
The boy next door went through the same growth spurt when he was 12.  I got a bag of his outgrown clothing, I am wearing his 6th grade jeans now.  They are baggy and I can get long johns on under them.  BUT, his growth spurt has not stopped, and he now is a 6 foot 3 HS senior.  I am still wearing boys' clothing.  Sometimes mens' size small is...too big.

ANYWAY, now we get to the point.  I got to thinking 2 things today, as I wear this kid's hand me downs:  you never want to wear LAST year's stuff, that you outgrew.  Highwaters or tight in the belly or whatever.  I feel that describes how I feel about my work.  I am always outgrowing myself because I get bored so easily and move ahead to new ideas.  I like to sometimes re-visit old ideas though.

I have made heart mugs, but not much lately even though Feb. 14th is coming up.  I really like cat cups, but have not made them much in a year.  BUT yesterday I was thinking to self "tee hee, what if they had a cute saucer, shaped like a heart or cat?".  Which is the equivalent of your mom letting out your jeans so they aren't too short....

"it was early morning yesterday...I was up before the dawn..."

OK, a couple of random thoughts, alright?
One, I ordered this book on the weekend.  A friend loaned the wife a copy and I started flipping through it and I was like EGAD! And stopped flipping through it and came to the laptop and ordered it for meself.
If you have known me for awhile, you know Beatrix Potter is my hero. A wonderful illustrator, and I love how she preserved thousands of acres of the English Lakes District and gave it to the country, lovely and protected.

Another thought? YES, I have a crazy-busy cat-dog babysitting schedule today, of my 4 regulars?  3 of them today!  Yogi, Nook and Scoop...that does not happen too often... and temps are gonna go below zero soon...

And do you recognize the title of this post?  It was one of those moments, I awaken from a sound sleep...and start thinking "wonder how the pots look, they fired Monday?" partly because it is always exciting to look at freshly fired pots BUT I had trouble with a part and wondered if all was good in there... YES, all is REALLY good looking... mor eon that later...

Monday, January 20, 2014


The radio tells us MLK would have been 85 today.  That means that he would have been about 40 when he was shot.  He did quite a bit before Memphis, but gosh, imagine what MORE he could have done in the last 45 years if racial hatred and gun violence hadn't killed him....

In other, more ordinary Gary news, because I rarely give you my far left humanist point of view, the cow over moon piece shown yesterday was made with a friend, just like Pooh had Piglet....
have an awesome day!

(2 wall pieces by Gary Rith)

Sunday, January 19, 2014

I've been framed!

You know I sculpt plaques, wall pieces.  A favorite motif is cow jumping over the moon.
I asked myself recently "hey, what would it take to make a frame???!".
More on this in coming days....

(wall sculpture by Gary Rith)

Saturday, January 18, 2014

hip hip hooray!

I sent the wife off with her coffee and a note Friday, a hippo drawn singing 'hip hip hooray for long weekends!'.  She has Monday off.  I was thinking Friday about how to draw a hippo.  My first doodles in pencil had top and bottom jaw, but when I took up the brush I realized it is cutest to draw the minimum, just the top of its mouth...the essence...the cute essence! I tell her yesterday evening, pointing at a mug just made 'gonna draw a hippo on that...maybe elephant and crocodile too....kind of a whole zoo on one mug, right?'
Have an awesome weekend yerself....

Friday, January 17, 2014

the write stuff...

I have been making little animals and gluing them atop pencils for some years.  I sold them for like 3 bucks each once upon a time, until a few years ago a rich person tried to bargain with me and get 2 dozen at 2 bucks each.  I politely declined!  I would also add them in a package if somebody ordered a whatever, just as sort of a surprise gift.  I sent hundreds of them. Nobody ever thanked me! (what is it with this world, people are not ordering from Amazon, it is an artist, a single human being, somebody who works hard for every buck, why wouldn't you send a 2 second email of thanks?). People are VERY nice to me with my work, don't get me wrong, but I simply realized that me being generous seemed more important to me than the customer, so why bother giving an extra?

ANYWAY, that said, I still make them.  But for different reasons, like to simply give as a personal gift. (I would rather make and sell 70 dollar teapots, to tell you the truth!)
I made this batch for one of my very best friends.  Her daughter was turning 9 and having a party, and they wanted a dozen as party favors.  I made them the last second warned them that it was not a good idea.  These are NOT little rubber pigs, etc!  I said "listen, I am making them, but I don't think you should buy them.  By the end of the party half the kids will have broken them".  Because they are fragile, adult toys, really.  Turns out THEY had reached the same conclusion before me, and were relieved to change plans.  Which included moving the party to NY city and having it for more kids, at a skating rink!

The wife said to me last week, quite cleverly (she is genius!) "why not have a pig with his arms wrapped around the pencil, then it would be cuter and you could still use an eraser???".  BRILLIANT. I think I shall give that one to her today :)

In other news, Yogi was over Thursday, horsing around with our dog and cat...dang he is FUNNY!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

and now for something COMPLETELY different....

(new hippo teapot by me)

I will always tell you:  If I had not become a potter, surely I would be an illustrator or drummer in a rock and roll band.  I draw all the time!  And, er, when I drive I bang on the steering wheel in time to the radio....
You have seen me make hippo mugs in recent months, right?  WHY not go over THE TOP and make a hippo handled teapot????  They are just so round and friendly and funny looking, exactly what I like about pigs.  COMIC!

Funny, a good friend writes overnight:  "I need a large green teapot...but, um, could you do plain?" and it is like "HAHA of course I can do that too...I will try to hold myself back...but of course you would want me to decorate it with wild blue loops under the glaze too, right?".

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

a new trick for an old dog....

Everybody knows the four (or five) ingredient peanut butter cookie recipe, right? Mix peanut butter, egg, sugar, salt together, form and bake cookies, DONE?  Not much more to it than that, but there are variations out there.
I love that recipe, and always add a 1/2 cup peanuts and a half cup choco chips, mmmmm!
But thought to myself yesterday "there is no reason to NOT add 1/4 cup cocoa powder too..." and I did and OH my, sooo tasty!
A peanut butter cup cookie! Sort of.

Our young cousin is visiting.  She kicked our asses AGAIN at blackjack...I don't know why we invite her over if she is gonna be so poorly behaved ;)  Our piggy bank lost some weight in pennies yesterday...
ANYWAY, she started working in a commercial bakery quite young, and comes from a family of bakers AND she is a restaurant critic for the Cornell Sun. So, young, but experienced, a foodie.

She knows this recipe too.  I was telling her "this is good with the cocoa powder, but they are a little more crumbly than they should be, cocoa powder is drying things a little" and she tells me what I should have guessed myself "melt some chocolate and mix THAT in!" and it is like AHA! A nice way to add moisture and stickiness. Then these peanut butter cookies would be triple chocolate.... I'll let you know how it turns out when I get to it next week...

(note:  alert dog trying to steal cookies down there)

Tuesday, January 14, 2014


You will remember that I have been babysitting Yogi since he was a puppy.  Judging by his size, I don't have to tell you that it has been awhile since he was a puppy.  He is Penny's best friend, and isn't it lucky to have a dog you babysit who is also besties with your own dog?  Esp. since we have a fine fenced in yard for them to play in!  I will admit, when I talk to him it just comes out "Oh Yogi baby" or "Yogi booboo".  Maybe you have to have pets to understand the affectionate ways you talk to dogs...even other people's dogs!

I woke up Monday and was like "OMFG IT IS NICE OUT".  Remember, we have had off and on snow for over a month and most recently the coldest days in 20+ years, below zero, a week of 30s-40s, yesssssssssssssssssss... what it does for your mood!

The other reason I had a big kick in my step was my first glance at the load of pots I had fired...oh MY.  You see me babying this cookie jar can see it is a large jar for coffee or sugar or a small cookie jar....
remember I was telling you yesterday, about the blue decorations under the glaze?
a)  I used it here, and tried it in a way that makes it a little more fuzzy and melted in...
b) as you see in the header, I have added more color schemes, not just greens! and
c)  there will be more color schemes and once I have finished the glaze test tiles I will
d) use them on my kitchen wall....the first ones are lined up now and HOLY CATS it looks GORGEOUS!

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