|Laura has been making painted wooden Christmas decorations.|
We are intending to actually celebrate Christmas this year..., and hopefully, on Christmas Eve I will be transformed, from aged, tired potter into a wise, welcoming and jovial member of the human race! This happy state may only last a few hours, or even a day, but is unlikely to rival the 6 months free of wrinkles and apparent youth promised by a Botox injection!
Whilst we are still on the subject of transformation and Christmas, there is a rather lovely legend that animals talk in the middle of Christmas night. I remember hearing this when I was a child, and attempting to stay awake as long as I could, just in case the family cat, or dog, or a tadpole, or whatever we had at the time, could suddenly enter into deep and meaningful dialogue!
Some of us hardly need the magic of Christmas night to supply the ability to converse. Lately Nigella Stopit has become more talkative... rather verbose in fact, in "Cat", anyway. She is the most linguistically gifted cat that we have had so far, and has a meow for almost every occasion. She has a way of injecting emotion into this simple sound.
...There can be a most plaintive and pathetic "meee-eew", like a little kitten who has been cast adrift in a sad, sad world by a neglectful and cruel parent.
...There can be a series of assertive, and loud "Meeows", when she finds a door shut, that really must be opened.
...And she can also manage a series of sounds that begin with "W".
For example, I once had a charming conversation with her about her taste in cat food. It was tea time, and her best pottery bowl was brought to her for her inspection. The question was put... "Would you care for some smoked salmon, or tuna?" "Waaow" was the response. "But, my dear cat, whaling is not permitted in New Zealand waters. How about some tuna?" "Waaow!" She was most emphatic about that!
Nigella has also mastered the letter B. Several of her words begin with a B, sometimes short, and other times rolled with a Brr sound. "Brrurp", "Brrurp".... being typical of words uttered whilst rubbing the head on the leg of someone who is about to open the fridge door.
Probably her finest vocal accomplishment is operatic in its scope. No Wagnerian soprano could compete with the height, depth, volume, and courageous physicality of her performance when travelling to the vet in our van!
As parents of such a gifted 3 year old wonder-child we should be enrolling her in a special school, and putting flash cards beside her food bowl with simple sentences for her to memorise, such as pithy sayings of Nietzsche and Einstein.
I fear that little NS is getting a little round. Rather in the footsteps of a certain celebrity chef who shares her first name, Nigella is fond of a midnight snack, and one at 4am if she can arrange it. Sometimes I worry about her, as she shows signs of being a couch potato. For example..., these three photographs show the sorry extent of what our NS considers to be a vigorous workout..
Well, here we are. Christmas Eve! I started this post yesterday, and ran out of "steam" whilst navigating my way through the subject of cat intelligence, so I will begin this part with a weather report for Christmas Eve, Waikouaiti, South Island of New Zealand, 2013. All drippy, grey, windy and wet outside today... who knows when this will end! Local Farmers are tearing their hair with frustration as they wait for several sunny days in a row to dry stuff that they want to bale for winter feed. From my own point of view it is actually rather nice to see rain. I find the sound of it on the roof quite soothing, and the swish of car tyres on the wet road sounds good too. We have our gallery open today. I am hoping that a couple of the orders that I did for people for Christmas will be picked up. It has been a tiring few weeks in the lead up to Christmas, but it has been good to have got a few commissioned pieces finished. I still have some work to do that people wanted more than 6 months ago.. but it was one of those years!
A couple of interesting projects that I have done fairly recently included making large mortars and pestles, and some olla pots.
The mortars had to be very large, and had to be thickly potted for strength. It took me a few attempts to work out how much clay was needed. My first attempt, on the left in the photo, with about 2.5 kg of porcelain, shrunk to only 6 3/4 inches in diameter (171mm) when fired, which was too small. I found that I needed about 3.5 kg of porcelain to give me a fired size of about 8 1/2 inches diameter (216mm).
The lovely handles for the pestles were turned for me by Barney Barton, a wonderful wood turner from Palmerston. He made a really nice job of matching the wood to the porcelain tips that I had made, following and developing their profile in a simple but elegant way.
I mixed a very small amount of stoneware clay in with the porcelain that I used to make the mortars. This gives a fine speckle that breaks the stark whiteness of the porcelain.
The olla pots are intriguing. Someone got in touch who had seen such things on the Internet, and wondered if I could make some for her. Olla pots are designed to gently leak water into a garden to irrigate it. I guess that they have Mediterranean origins. Most of the pot will be buried below the surface.
These olla pots are about 13 1/2 inches tall including the lid (343mm), they hold 3 litres of water (just over 6 pints). I made these ones in three pieces. Two bowl shapes joined rim to rim, and a doughnut of clay thrown to form a neck. I can make this size from one piece of clay, but making them out of smaller components was easier on my back, and I am having to be cunning these days when making larger pots.
Well, I had better sign off. I might even write a short Christmas letter!
Best Wishes to All of you that stumble upon this blog. Thank you for your encouraging comments and support through what was a difficult year.