Thursday, June 10, 2010

Sleeping with Nigella Stopit, and other diversions!

She has a delightful nature, is very pretty, her ears feel just like velvet, and she is highly intelligent, outgoing, confident, and is always pushing boundaries. At night she feels the cold, and snuggles up to me, between my right arm and my chest, and vibrates with pleasure!

I should insert here (with some haste!) that I am referring to She of the White Whiskers, a tiny four legged friend who is one of the most intelligent cats I have known. She, being young, is experimenting with everything that she can climb up, put in her mouth, chase, or cuddle up to. It is an exhausting time for us in our roles of mummy and daddy cat..., and two names have been used a lot whilst awaiting a "proper" name for her; "KittyKittyKittyKittyKitty!" said repeatedly and with a high and encouraging timbre, and "Stop It.... Stop It.....Stop It!" shouted, bellowed, in a corrective and assertive manner!

Almost all the cats we have had up to now treat our attempts to call them with complete disdain, only glancing sullenly once in our direction or twitching a single ear, but not actually moving from point A to point B. This Little One, to her credit (and our amazement) will come when called, and this is a huge bonus! If this were the only test of a Name, then "KittyKittyKittyKittyKitty" would have to be it.

Thank you to all of you who supplied names for our new feline family member. There were some really splendid ones, and I feel almost obligated to comb the neighborhood and add truck loads of abandoned cats to our household, in order to put your suggestions to use. Not only are they great names, but it would be nice to think of the friendly community of bloggers that supplied them.

It is all in a Name!
We tested out the names on Her Ladyship, and some came close to fitting.

A name for a cat, though, is a complicated matter. It is said that cats have nine lives, what is not often stated is that their personalities can be equally complex. When I think back over the grand aggregation of cats that have spent some of their nine lives with us, I can see that their names have mostly been unusual, for example:

Bathsheba, Coco Le Bouffon, Bonkie, Woostle, and Ginger (also known as Goonge).

And now we have..????
Just as I was slipping into the slough of despond with great names from lovely people not quite fitting the person of She of the White Socks, a comment from Jewels brought with it a ray of hope, "Glad to see Ginger has a new friend. Have you decided on a name for her yet? Maybe another spice name like Nigella or Pepper?"

Nigella Lawson, Kitchen Aphrodite!
We don't watch much television these days, but..., in the days that we did there was a cooking programme, Nigella Bites, that we did enjoy. The programme was the presented by Nigella Lawson, a raven haired beauty, who padded and purred her way through her kitchen, presenting recipes that oozed chocolate, cream, calories, and naughtiness! (She really did purr!)

Just Right!
For all sorts of reasons, Jewel's suggestion of "Nigella"seemed just right for the kitten! So, Thanks Jewels..., Nigella will be one of her names, but not quite alone. We are also fond of Stopit as a name, so Nigella Stopit, it is!

Feeling Glazed!
I have been up since 2.30am firing an electric kiln full of crystal glaze tests and still have a couple of hours to go. I have been experimenting with two new glaze bases, and a preliminary test of them last time I fired the kiln looked promising. So, this time, I have added various metal oxides to the best of the two glaze bases, and a little extra flux to the other one, and we will see if I am on the way to something I can use on a pot or two!

Here are some photos of the first test pieces.

These rather curious looking forms are what I am currently using for testing crystal glazes. As some of you will know, crystal glazes are usually very runny and need a special stand and saucer to be made to collect the glaze that runs off in the course of the firing. These forms are thrown in one piece on the potter's wheel and have their own built in glaze catcher. Being a rounded shape allows me to test the glaze on both gently sloping and vertical surfaces. The built in glaze catcher saves a huge amount of time in getting tests ready for the kiln.

The close up photos are of the base glazes that I am doing further tests on. The first one here grew lots of 20mm crystals with a dandelion like shape.

This base glaze gave 35mm crystals that had more variety of form, and a rather lovely ivory and white colouration.

The white/ivory glaze was very runny, but developed good crystals on both thick and thin areas of the glaze.

The white glaze was more difficult, becoming rough and opaque where slightly thicker, or where thin.

With crystal glazes, adjusting the formula is only part of the equation, it is equally important to find the right firing schedule for the glaze. A glaze that looks hopeless in one firing, may be really good in another, if small adjustments are made to the way it is fired.

If you go down to the woods today! (teddy bears picnic song... for those of you who remember it!)
Mostly it has been raining over the last couple of weeks, but there have been the odd moment of sunshine. On one such moment I could not stand being inside any longer, and went for a little expedition into our half acre of "woodland". I took the camera with me, and was accompanied by Nigella Stopit throughout.

As I took photographs, I thought of how marvelous a camera would be to people with limited mobility. I had only to put the lens close to a tree trunk, or a leaf, or some lichen, to become an explorer in another world of colour, beauty and form. If you are feeling shut in and unable to get out much, try a simple digital camera that can take some macro photos. It is wonderful.

little white feather on autumn leaf



kohuhu (Pittosporum tenuifoliam)

Horse Chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum)


ang said...

gorgeous glazes pete i'm diggin the ivory one..i have a piece by a guy in the dandenongs its lovely...

Peter said...

Thanks Ang, Goodness, you were quick out of the blocks today, I'm still proof reading this one! I think the ivory one has a lot of potential, it will be interesting to use it on a bigger piece as it is, but also to see what some additional oxides will do.

Linda Starr said...

Hi Peter, Nigella Stopit sounds so unique. Your new crystals are wonderful love the white on white and the dandelion shaped ones. I like the small pots with the narrow openings for crystals. I get my new kiln tomorrow, can't wait to fire all my work. Hope all is well and you're all surviving the winter, your botanical photographs are beautiful.

Peter said...

Hi Linda,
Very exciting news about your kiln, it will be really great for you to be able to fire your work soon. We have a strong impulse to hibernate at the moment as it is very cold. Frost on the ground all day in shaded places, and what started a clear day, became cloudy later on, with temperatures hardly above freezing. Brrrrrrrrrrrrrr! I think that the white on white crystals will be really apt for winter! I am looking forward to glazing some larger work with them.
Glad you liked the botanical photos. I am just so impressed with what lovely things can be found so close to home, if you look hard enough.
Good to hear from you, P, L, G and NS!

Angie said...

What a wonderful post ... loved the photos and the glaze was stunning ...very wintery and Ice Queen like. I find it hard to think of you being in winter time and it actually being cold where you are....some how I always think of warmth when I think about NZ

I love the name ...I am a great fan of Nigella and I think the names suit so well ...niggela is also a seasoning but I think I spelt is wrongly lol Love the second name ...I thought we were the only ones who did that lol I only gave you their first names here are 3 examples of the full names Felix Ferdinand ....Bilbo Baggypants .... Buffy the Rat Slayer

Judy Shreve said...

Peter - I think you have come up with the perfect name -- Nigella Stopit -White Socks -- (my insertion -- a proper first, middle & last name lol)

The white crystals on the white form are stunning! I do think the chill of winter has inspired you. And I think your botanical photos are wonderful - thanks for sharing them. Stay warm!

Arkansas Patti said...

Nigella Stopit is wonderful. Good go Jewels.
I had a friend who named his puppy Damnit. Similar thoughts.
She is beautiful and really looks like she knows she has found the perfect home.
Enjoy that little beauty.

Peter said...

Hello Angie,
Lovely to hear from you. The climate in NZ varies a lot from island to island. North of the North Island is probably more what people associate with NZ in that it is mostly free of frost and it is possible to grow some varieties of bananas up there! In our part of the South Island things are quite different. We notice our closeness to Antarctica in the winter when the wind is from the South, and throughout most of the year it is possible for us to experience four seasons in one day! We can get cold, but there are lovely things associated with that, such as snow on the hills, and autumn colours. At times we can get fairly hot too, but not usually for very long!!

That is so much fun to find someone else who uses more than one name for a cat! I love your name "extensions". I used to call Woostle, "HR Woostle Esquire OBE, VC, and Bar" when she was looking particularly splendid or smug!

Hi Judy,
Good to hear from you. Great idea, first, middle, And last names! I like White-Socks!

The white crystals have got me thinking about forms that would go with them. Quite nice to turn things around for a change and let the glaze inspire a form, rather than form coming first and then the "ooops..., what shall I glaze it with??" thing that often happens (to me at least!).

Hi Patti,
What fun, "Damnit" for a puppy! Very apt I would have thought! Lovely to hear from you, hope you are enjoying some summer sunshine your way (and find some time to write a book or two!!!).
NS seems particularly "full of beans" at the moment and is up to all sorts of tricks, I rather fear that the hormones may be starting to kick in. Time for Laura and her to have a "little talk" about important matters!

Armelle said...

Hi Peter,
She of the Pink foot is different from Miko who have black ones, her name is nice really.
I love your glazes, white and ivory fit very well to your amazing tests. Waiting to see them onto your pots.
Very nice macro photos, it's really another world. Love the one whith the feather.
Here it's raining every day, when will we see the spring ?
Thank you for your nice post.
Best wishes to L, G and N

carlie_star said...

hi have just started reading your blog and am enjoying it a lot I used to live in the south island and it nice to see it still looks the same as I remember I am a student at art school studying painting and ceramics and
i am experimenting with crystalline glazes too have have one successful firing at cone seven with bluey green crystals I got my recipes from lasse ostmans website I am obsessed it seems crystal madness just strikes some people I would like to incorparate the glaze with some firgurative elements would love any tips you have for me any good books to get or anything like that thanks =)

Peter said...

Bonjour Armelle,
Lovely to hear from you. She of the Pink foot sends greetings to He of the Black feet! Ginger also sends greetings to you all. He has just jumped onto my lap as I write this and is now sleeping on my right arm so all words that follow are from my left hand only!

I unloaded some more tests from the kiln yesterday, and will post some photos soon. They are most encouraging, and are further developments of the white ones.

Snow is likely here tonight to low levels. It will make a change from rain! I hope you will see Spring, it had better come quickly, it must be nearly summer where you are by now?

Best Wishes, P,L,G & NS

Hi Carlie,
Really Nice to hear from you, welcome to this site! The South Island is a really special place.., even if it does get cold, I am sure you will have some good memories of it (let's hope that my photos make you homesick so you come back again!!).

Really pleased to read that you have been trying Lasse Ostman,s recipes, I have found his base recipe #6713 a really good one, and have played a lot with adding different metal oxides to it.

I usually fire to cone 8 and a half (cone 9 just starting a little bend). This is the vitrification temperature of my clay (Abbots White). I know that Lasse says that he just holds at top temperature, then lets the kiln cool normally, but I like slightly larger crystals, so I usually fire the kiln to top temperature, and may do a very short hold, then let the kiln cool to about 1100 Centigrade and hold for about 2.5 hours. I sometimes go longer then that, or hold slightly higher, or hold at two or three temperatures to encourage more variation in crystal shape and size.

I'd love to see any photos of what you are doing with crystal glazes. It would be so interesting to see how Lasse's recipes work out for you. You are welcome to Email me.

Regarding books. I first came across crystal glaze information when I bought a book by John and LeRoy Price called "The Art of Crystalline Glazing Basic Techniques" (Krause publications ISBN:0-87349-603-5). This book is clearly written and I have found the explanations of why and how things happen, and the basic technical advice very helpful.

The other day I ordered "Macro-Crystalline Glazes: The Challenge of Crystals" by Peter Ilsley. I think this will be a lovely book, but I am still waiting for it to arrive. Amazon books have it, and you can have a little preview of parts of it online.

Recently I discovered the Crystalline Glaze Forum. This has some very impressive members and some good technical advice. You should find that at

I am just beginning a series of tests using frit 4110 (3110), silica, and zinc as a base, and these are very promising. Most of the recipes in the book by John and LeRoy Price are based on that frit, but it has been fun to find that the Feldspar based ones that Lasse uses work really well too.

Do stay in touch and let me know how you get on. Best Wishes, P.