Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Ode to Fire!

The virgin firing of the new kiln took place ten days ago. It was a bisque firing. That was followed two days later with another bisque firing. Today, I completed my sixth firing and my fourth glaze firings and to my great relief, it is firing amazingly well. The glazes look great. The pots are turning out beautifully. I have fire again, and it is wonderful.
I went a whole 6 weeks without electricity in the studio. It has made me appreciate the little things in life. This remodel thing has been anything but convenient, but I have enjoyed nearly every aspect of it. It has been a long time since I have worked less than 14 hours in a day, except Sundays, which are always a welcome relief from the week's work. The house is really beginning to take shape. I was promised shingles would be on the roof by Friday. We won't make it. But we do have 3 walls on the third floor and it is beginning to be a little easier to imagine what this is going to look like when it is all done. Already I am a bit in shock by how tall it is, but the finishes and the roofing will hopefully make it look a little squattier. is that a word?
Normally, this week every year, I am stressed out of my mind, frantically trying to get ready for the Utah Arts Festival. This year, I decided to do the best I could and let things happen. I just returned from setting up for this years show and I am feeling calm, easy and peaceful. I have done my best and I can't stress over what I don't have. This house project has forced me to find times of meditation among the chaos, and it has been good medicine. Who knew that sweeping the floor could be such great meditation? I have sought and found a spiritual aspect of all my daily activities and that feels good.
This Sunday, we stopped by the house after church to check on the house and were shocked to find our basement full of water and the the ceiling leaking badly from all the rain. We had covered the floors with tarps, but that doesn't mean much when you receive a months worth of rain in 16 hours. We made a couple of calls and within a half hours had nearly two dozen people come to help clean up the mess and throw a makeshift roof on our house. So the drywall ceiling was a total loss, but we got most of our stuff out of harms way and all was well. And now we have easier access to the stuff in the ceiling. This has been a blessing in many ways and all is well.
So, the Arts Festival runs all weekend downtown Salt Lake City at Library Square. I am in booth 126. Hours are from noon to 11pm, starting tomorrow. Hope to see you this weekend. Keep your chin up-- above the clouds, the sun is always shining.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Living on reds, vitamin C and Rogaine

The title of this blog is kind of a twist on some lyrics from a Grateful Dead song. The reds, in this case would refer to my gatorade, which I really prefer lemon lime. The vitamin C is self explanatory and the Rogaine is necessary for all the hair I've been pulling out.
Have you ever pulled off the roof of your house and then wondered if you might be stupid. I have. Tuesday, my roof came off and the last of it left for the city dump yesterday--all 4 layers of shingles (2 wooden shake layers and 2 layers of asphalt shingles). Needless to say, the load was very heavy. It took 3 dump trucks loaded to the gills to haul it all off. The dump said it weighed in at 11 tons! Its crazy how much stuff weighs. I don't think my addition will weigh anything close to that--at least not anything above the concrete.
I have learned to enjoy the meditation of hard, physical labor. Pottery is hard work too, but these past 4 1/2 weeks have really been the hardest I have ever worked in my life. I have bruises and scratches over my whole body to prove it. A friend of mine is out of work and so I have hired him to help me with this project. We have spent the last three weeks building concrete forms, moving dirt, digging holes, grading dirt, ripping the roof off, making lots of mistakes, working on basic plumbing, etc, etc. I'm glad he has come to help me because I have been able to have someone to blame for most of my mistakes. Things are moving along. Framing begins Monday if all goes as planned. Tomorrow will be consumed with finishing the kiln, stripping concrete forms and making new ones for the bond beam on top of our walls. As it turns out, this project is kicking my butt. Today was the first day that I wondered what the heck I was thinking. I'm sure tomorrow will be better.
Throughout all of this chaos, people have continued to drop by and visit the studio. It has been nice to have so many visitors that have both questioned my sanity and insured me that the worst is over. I'm not entirely sure that is true. A portion of the roof fell off on Tuesday and hit the gas meter, breaking the pipes in a couple of locations. But a nice, unemployed plumber came over today and put it all back together, better than before. It only cost money, right. Over all, we are still under budget, which is exciting, but I find myself bracing for disaster. Rains yesterday were a little scary. This morning found me trying to avoid the puddles on top of the blue tarps we nailed to the hardwood floors. It will get better. Hopefully we will have some better cover by the time the the rains come again. The art festival starts in less than two weeks and I am freaking out. Pickins this year may be slim, depending on how this weekends firing goes. This is the fourth Kiln I have built, but the first on with these configurations. I worked on the floor tonight until I could not longer see my tools in the darkness. Tomorrow I will organize the chimney stack. Saturday I hope to do a bisque fire. I have said a lot of very earnest and sincere prayers and hope all will be well. Wish me luck.