Thursday, December 9, 2010

Mugs, Pots, & Mice

I am trying to come up with a new mug shape. In the past I have usually made "cuddly" mugs that are wider and somewhat rounded lower down, and narrow a little towards the top, with a slight flare out towards the lip. They have been OK for a cup of tea or cocoa in the evening, and somewhat comforting, but they have not made a "celebration" of the act of drinking tea or coffee. So.., I have been fiddling around trying to make something just a little more adventurous! I also have in mind that it would be fun to make mugs that I could decorate with a band of crystalline glaze on the outside. To make it easier to control the runny crystalline glaze, I have made a slight flare out towards the foot of the mug, which also adds stability. The only disadvantage with the flare is that it makes for an internal shape that is not as easy to clean as a simple "U" shape. If I had a "thrown" or turned foot on the mug, then I could have a more simple shape inside, but I much prefer to avoid turning mugs if I can.

I also will play with putting two bands on the mug to mark the area where the crystalline glaze will be. I might try slip trailing these on some mugs that I make later, but this time I have simply put the lines on with a notched piece of plastic as I was throwing the mugs on the wheel.

The mugs are made from 350 gms of clay and are about 10.75mm high by 9.5mm wide (4.25 x 3.75 inches) when freshly thrown. The mugs will shrink as they dry and when they are fired.

The handles are pulled and shaped off the mug and then applied when the clay is a similar stiffness to that of the mug. When I use my sandy stoneware clay, I usually add a sausage of clay to the mug and pull the handle from that, but this very fine textured white clay is less "forgiving" and has a tendency to split as the wet pulled handles dry. We had coffee at a cafe earlier in the week where I could not even fit my little finger through the handle of the Italian made cups that we were drinking out of, I had to concentrate more than I would prefer to in order to safely manage the hot liquid inside. So I have tried to make the handles of these mugs generous enough to be easily held with at least two of my large fingers!

Hopefully I will be able to bisque the mugs tomorrow, along with new pots that I have made.

Above are a couple of photos of some of the pots that I have made recently. These will be for crystalline glazes.

Ginger and Nigella do some of their hunting together. Nigella, being young and able to fit into small spaces, generally does a lot of the work whilst Ginger supervises. This photo was taken shortly after Ginger found a mouse then lost it under the cupboard when it ran away as he was about to play with it. Ginger considered this to be the height of bad manners, and was quite offended, but Nigella enthusiastically joined in the hunt for it, and they knocked over my earthenware watering pot to improve access to behind the cupboard. Occasionally Ginger would run through to the room behind just to check that the mouse hadn't managed to somehow make its way through a brick wall in order to make good its escape! Ginger is a great believer in the rather odd and quirky ways of Quantum Mechanics, and suspects that they may apply to small mammals such as mice more than General Relativity. He is convinced that a mouse may rearrange its atomic structure and align it in such a way as to be able to pass through a wall or a floor as fast as Captain Kirk could say "Beam me up Scotty"! This does worry him at times, as does the thought of exploding black holes (especially mouse holes), or the final and inevitable demise of our sun. I mean, where would a cat be without the sun!!

Eventually Nigella did catch the mouse. Ginger was so preoccupied by this time that he was no longer part of the hunt and was probably sunbathing outside somewhere whilst he still could! Laura rescued the mouse from Nigella and released it outside..... but..., it was later recaptured by one or other of the cats and its mortal remains were left proudly for us to discover in the evening on the kitchen floor!


Angie said...

Those mugs /cups are a wonderful shape ..cant wait to se what finish you will give them.
I loved reading the cat antics and their thoughts on atomic structure lol

cookingwithgas said...

lovely mug shape!
Oh, I wish those cats would come here.
We had three cats and now we have none.
One day I think I will have cats again.
Especially since we caught to wee little mice trying to move in...

Peter said...

Hi Angie,

Lovely to hear from you. I do hope that you are managing to keep warm enough..., it sounds like you are having quite a winter in your part of the world! I think that Ginger should write a book about atomic structure, as he understands it... He does try so hard to demonstrate really elegant equations by arranging his cat biscuits on the floor by his food bowl, but, for the most part, these are casually swept away by his humans! Mmmmm, I'm interested to see how the glazes turn out on those mugs too!

Hi Meredith,
I guess we could persuade our cats to take a flight in your direction. Provided that the aircraft had warm places to curl up in, food on demand, and the occasional mouse for entertainment, I don't suppose they would mind the journey at all. I know that once they were established in your place, they would be very willing to help out all they could, and mice, rats, and lizards are a speciality! Nigella also finds moths and flies very entertaining, and will chase them in very spirited fashion!

Arkansas Patti said...

I just love that Laura released the mouse. I'd have done the same thing, even though my local mice have attacked my car's wiring system. Just can't watch a mouse murder, but if it occurs out of my sight, I am OK with that. Guess I am fair weather merciful.
Good to know the cats are earning their keep.

Linda Starr said...

I've saved many a bird from my cats but no mice, I did save a kangaroo mice one time which is altogether different. Once a mouse family was born in Gary's tool box drawer and I wouldn't let the cats in the garage or Gary in his tool box till they were big enough to leave. Mice are cute, wood rats are another story.

Judy Shreve said...

I like the new mug shape and the idea of a crystalline ring.

I love Ginger's brilliant Einstein thinking -- but probably the smartest thing he does is lay in the sun while the younger cat catches the mice!

Linda Fahey said...

great mug shape! old fashioned and modern at the same time - my favorite! I don't have a cat, but my dogs a varmit hunter!

Armelle said...

Salut Peter,
Oh, les jolis mugs, looking forward to see them glazed, with "crystals". Nice to know a mouse were rescue, as Laura I did it once. Rather than catching mice, Miko brought one of them at home !!! My daughter was as afraid as an elephant, finaly I caught the mouse and put it outside, phew!!!
Ginger have great thoughts about astronomy and about quantic world, wowwwww !!!
Best wishes to all

Peter said...

Hi Patti,
There is just a chance that the mice that attacked your car's wiring were... a) just trying to understand how it worked so that they could later become auto electricians. Having a trade would allow mice all sorts of advantages that they don't currently have.
or b) they could have been radical environmentalists trying to do what ever they could to halt global warming.

Hi Linda,
I must look up kangaroo mice on Wiki... my mind is boggling, what with Australia so close to us and all that.. and my silly sense of humour...!
Rats..., I did see one when I was out painting a few years ago. It came right up to me and was quite unafraid as I was mostly concentrating on my painting. The rat looked quite beautiful out in the wild, not nearly as off-putting as seen indoors.

Hi Judy,
I should be doing my first tests with the crystalline ringed mugs this week. The main challenge will be getting the glaze thickness just right so it doesn't
run too badly. Ginger has many talents in that furry head of his... if only he could talk!

Hi Linda,
Old fashioned and modern at the same time sounds a bit like me....! The only thing I don't like about the mug shape at the moment, is that I am taking too long throwing it. I guess that lots of practice will help with that.

Salut Armelle,
I was very amused by your mouse story! It is certainly difficult to catch mice. We have managed it sometimes. The funniest time was when we caught a mouse in an electric stove (oven) and carried the whole thing outside to let the mouse escape! We have also caught a mouse in a shoe.
Nigella says Meeow, Meeow to Miko!
P, L, NS, and G xx

Kitty Shepherd said...

I love the mug shape, particularly the thrown strapping bands they really give structure to the shape. I try now and then to improve on the immortal cup/mug, I am currently making mine (and they are just for me) very small and with a rolled and modeled handle. It does not look at good as a pulled on but I think it is better ergonomically.

Pat - Arkansas said...

Hello, Peter. The cups (and pots) are a lovely shape. I like the whiteness of the clay -- they are beautiful even without being glazed. However, loving your crystals as I do, I am looking forward to seeing the finished products.

Nigella and Ginger are trying to earn their keep; good work, kitties! My girls have not yet encountered any mice, but are wonderful bug-chasers; my lazy boy just watches from the sidelines.

Peter said...

Hello Kitty,
Lovely to hear from you. I like the strapping bands too, I just need to get more efficient at putting them on. Handles are a dilemma, the rolled and modeled ones sound like a nice approach, especially for something small. I can pull a handle on a mug, but it all gets a bit messy for me on something smaller.

Hello Pat, good to hear from you too. I'm glaze firing 2 of the mugs as I write this, just to test how they will turn out with the crystalline glazed area. Our Ginger cat is in front of a heater all soaking wet, having been sitting out in the rain a few moments ago. He is a funny fellow, and doesn't seem to notice the rain all that much (or it takes rather longer than it should for the "warning...wet fur" message to get through to his brain!!).
Little Nigella likes moths very much indeed and will spend many a happy hour "mothing" under the light by the back door in the evening.

Angie said...

Just popped back to say 'Bah humbug' to a white Xmas ...had enough now ...not sure I want your heat either though .... Have a wonderful sunny Xmas Angie and the gang xx

Linda Starr said...

Hi Peter, happy holidays to you and Laura and the cats. Hope all is well with you.