Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Today I am grateful for all the chemists, biologists and whoever who have dedicated their lives to fighting cancer. I know there are plenty of reasons to feel aggravated at the large pharmacy companies, but today I am super grateful for the medicines they have provided to help my sister combat colon cancer. Tumor smack down!

What are you grateful for today?

Monday, January 30, 2012

Today I am grateful that when listening to the news that most people understand the term "Whack-a-mole". I actually heard this used today during a serious news report.

What crazy thing are you grateful for today?

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Today I am grateful for Post-it notes. I just love them. I know they fall into the "wants" not "needs" category, but they are really wonderful! A bit silly - I know.

What are you grateful for today?

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Today I am grateful for our local farmer's market.

What are you grateful for today?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Today I am grateful that long distance is included with our cell phone contract. How else could I talk to my sister for an hour! Glazing beads while talking on the phone to Barb is a great way to spend the afternoon. Thanks Barb!

What are you grateful for today?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Last day of chemo cream

Today I am grateful that this is the last day I need to apply Fluorouracil Cream 5% to my nose. This is a treatment I am doing to my nose to destroy sun damaged skin cells to hopefully prevent skin cancer from developing in the future. I have read that one positive side effect is that it can act similar to a cosmetic skin peel. So, if you see me all healed up in a couple of months and think: "There goes Elaine with her 50 year old face - why does her nose look only 45 years old?", you will know the back story.........

What are you grateful for today?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Today I am grateful for family conversations. It is good that we do not always agree on everything. It would be kind of boring just reiterating and agreeing with what someone else has said. Instead it is great to hear many different opinions and ideas. Thank you to my family for never being afraid to state their opinion!

What are you grateful for today?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Today I am grateful for my new wireless mouse to use with my laptop. My success rate with the touch pad is poor - this will be great improvement.

What are you grateful for today?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Today (all days actually) I am grateful for the many talented jewelry designers that use my beads and pendants in their designs. You can see a list of some of them on the right hand side of this blog. Click on any name and be taken away to a world of beauty!

What are you grateful for today?

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Today I am grateful for comic strips in the newspaper

Today I am grateful for comic strips in the newspaper. We still get a daily paper, the Raleigh News and Observer. The paper has shrunk significantly in the past few years, but I'm so glad the "funny pages" have not - we have two whole pages of comics! The comics helped to motivate my kids to search out the paper as they were growing up. This often lead to them reading other articles that helped give them a sense of the world around them and to take an interest in it.

My favorite comic strips in our paper are Agnes and Frazz. Do you have a favorite?

What are you grateful for today?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Today I am grateful that all 3 of my children (ages 22,21 and 19) are good, hard workers. They know how to set a goal, devise a plan, follow that plan - while making necessary adjustments to that plan, to achieve their goals. I must admit, when they were younger the "goals" and "plans" they had were not always ones a parent would approve of, but I like to think of those times as "learning curves". Anyway, they are really wonderful people and will do wonderful things in their lives and for the lives of the people they touch. Thank you Alex, Cora and Samuel for being part of our family!

What are you grateful for today?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Today I am grateful for a free and open Internet.

Here are a Ted Talk that helps to explain it in terms you and I can understand.

The Senate will begin voting on January 24th. Please let your Senator know how you feel.

What are you grateful for today?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Today I am grateful for cheese!

Today I am grateful for cheese!

Fatty cheese, thin sliced cheese.
Cheese that comes in blocks.
Tough cheese, soft cheese,
even cheese with moldy spots.

What are you grateful for today?

Monday, January 16, 2012

New bead racks - day 4

Today I am grateful for modern medicine. Today my neighbor is getting both of his knees replaced, my sister is having the last of her chemotherapy treatments for colon cancer, and my husband had routine blood work done for a yearly physical. All of these are very different types of medicine that not rare and touch the lives of many. Thank you to all you creative minds that work at health problems, preventative care and treatment.

Here are my new bead racks in action. They are very sturdy and don't wobble which is very helpful. One thing I didn't think about before is the fact that they are wider than my old bead racks. If I take a 12mm round as a standard measurement, each row of beads has about 1 less bead on it. That makes an average of 20 less beads per shelf, equaling about 80 beads less per kiln load. If I were to take 6mm rounds as the unit of measurement it would be about 200 less beads per kiln load. I think it is well worth the loss of space, but something to take into consideration when planing what will go into each firing. Yes, I'm a bit geeky about this.......

What are you grateful for today?

Sunday, January 15, 2012

A garage full of tools

Today I am grateful for a garage full of tools. Power tools, hand tools, glues, scrap lumber, hardware, paints, tapes etc., etc., etc. Normally, what you may hear me say sounds more like griping than saying thanks for all this stuff, but today reminds me why it is there. We are doing some minor home repairs and there is nothing like having the right tool for the job.

Often, as I'm working on beads, these same tools are what allows me to get the job done. Grinding high temp rods to points, drilling holes for bead holders, sawing bead supports, shaping cutters, building shelves, making drying racks etc., etc., etc....

What are you grateful for today?

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Recipes on the web

Today I am grateful for the ability to look up recipes so easily on the computer. Typically I just type in what I'm looking for (zucchini soup), but other times I use Google recipe search if there are specific ingredients I have on hand. Finding recipes on the web is especially good for me because there are always pictures. I pretty much refuse to cook something if there is not a picture. Somehow, having that visual image helps guide me in food prep, and I really need all the help I can get.

This evening I made making a recipe sent to me by a friend: Cheddar Bacon Pull Apart Bread except I used Jalapeno-cheddar bread instead of sourdough. To go with the bread I found this Zucchini Garlic soup on the web. Here is how my ended up:

Yes - it was as good as it looks. If you are local and invite me to your Superbowl party, I'll make it and bring it with me. Yes - I'm willing to use bribery to get invited to a Superbowl party. I don't pay much attention to football, but I love the food!

What are you grateful for today?

Thursday, January 12, 2012

A bowl of bisque fired beads

A bowl of beads that has been through a bisque firing. Typically, I do not bisque my beads and pendants preferring to glaze them in the greenware stage, then once fire to maturity. There is one glaze that I often have to re-fire to get smooth unless I bisque the beads first. So bisque I did.

The main reason I don't typically bisque fire my beads and pendants is the I really dislike the feel of bisqued clay. Even low fire clay when fired to maturity doesn't feel icky to me like medium fire clay only fired to a low temp. Also, it saves energy needed to fire the kiln and my time involved. So this picture is a rare site in my studio garage - enjoy!

Today I am grateful that my oldest son (who will graduate from North Carolina Sate University this spring) has his pick of job offers to choose. He has worked super hard to excel in his field and all his hard work is paying off. Congratulations Alex!

What are you grateful for today?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Today I am grateful for my refrigerator. I know this must sound like a lame joke, but it is true for so many reasons: cold beer, left-overs, milk, ice, less trips to the grocery store, sauces of all sorts, cream cheese, a place to hang lists, a place to display photos, a spot to put wet shoes in front of to dry, ice cream, frozen mugs and maybe most importantly: bacon.

What are you grateful for today?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Ted Talks

Today I am grateful for Ted Talks. These are some of the most inspiring people you will ever listen to. In addition to being great talks, I can just choose a talk to listen to and when that talk is done, it will then move onto another talk of the same general topic. Wonderful for listening to as I make beads!!!! If you have a favorite Ted Talk, please let me know - I'll give it a listen.

What are you grateful for today?

Monday, January 9, 2012

Cascade glazes fired. Some success, some fail....

Some of the pendants turned out beautiful and some just average. I only over loaded the one rod near the bottom of this picture, the rest held up great.
Here are two that got stuck together in the free fall.
Some sets that turned out great:
Restock ready for deliver to Ornamentea tomorrow.

Today I am grateful for the chance for all our family to get together for dinner this evening. What are you grateful for today?

Sunday, January 8, 2012

New bead racks - day 3, Tile saw

Well, last week I again tried making new clay slabs for bead racks but they still had a bit too much warping for my liking. After much consideration, I decided to cut up a bunch of old, broken kiln shelves that I have and use those as my racks instead of trying to make racks out of clay slabs. There will be no warping, the sides will be perfectly straight and it is fast and easy.

Here I am with my new tile saw. It looks like the pictures were taken at different times of day, but they are really just without, then with, a flash.

Since everything gets all wet with a tile saw, here are the new racks drying on a hot kiln. Some long pieces, some short pieces. I'll have to lay them out on the shelves before I know how many more to cut to which size. (Yes, over the years I have collected that many broken shelf pieces. Not such a good thing...)

I think I'll easily make up the purchase money for the tile saw with time saved racking up the beads and not having to buy clay to make new racks. The broken shelves were all just sitting around doing nothing anyway.

Today I am two days worth of grateful for my husband, Mark. He listened to me over think and over analyze which tile saw to get, gave his input and went with me to pick it out. Thanks Mark!

What are you grateful for today?

Friday, January 6, 2012

I've decided to work with my cascade glazes again so I dug out this old shelf. You can see the puddles of glaze and yes, those kiln posts are glazed into place. When I first started to use these shelves dedicated to the cascade / drippy glazes I was upset when the kiln posts stuck, but the more I used them, but more I realized that stuck is a good thing. I fill the shelves, then carry them over to the kiln and gently lower them in. The stuck posts keep everything in place and there is very little shifting going on.

Here is the shelf filled up and ready to be loaded into the kiln:

This old post: http://elaineray.blogspot.com/2008/09/trunk-show.html shows examples of some pendants I made in the past with cascade glazes. Those shown above are much smaller versions. This full shelf will help me judge just how many of these small pendants I can load on the rods without too much slumping. I'll photo again after firing.

Today I am grateful for the NC Museum of Art. We went to see the Rembrandt exhibit this evening. It is inspiring and interesting - so get there if you can.

What are you grateful for today?

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Amaco FC-766 kiln needs ring repair

The top ring of this kiln is split in two all the way around (the inner two rings you see should be just one thick ring rather than two thin rings) and has many vertical breaks in it also. Right now it is patched together with pins to hold it to the outer ring and small chunks of kiln brick to hold it from slumping down over the heating coil. Yesterday I found out that Amaco no longer makes replacement parts for this kiln - bummer! So now I'm beginning my search for a "work around" fix. I have plenty of kiln brick around from an old dismantled kiln, so I will start with that. It is just a flat ring - the heating coil nestles in the ring below. If I can measure and cut the kiln brick precisely, it shouldn't be too hard. I'll keep you posted.

Today I am grateful for Dr. Dan Turnbull. This morning he worked on a molar that I broke a chunk off of last week. It needs a crown, so the dentist visit involved the use of a needle, drill and that yucky impression stuff - all of which he and his staff used with gentle touches and efficiency. Thanks Dr. Dan for making my appointment go as smooth as possible.

What are you grateful for today?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Today I am grateful for online banking / bill paying. It is fast, easy and saves paper. What are you grateful for today?

Gotta run,

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Chilly in North Carolina

It is cold here in North Carolina today and my studio / garage is very chilly so I have been sitting on a heating pad glazing beads all day. Today I need to express gratitude toward my friend Jane for long ago suggesting that I sit on a heating pad to keep warm. Thanks again Jane!

What are you grateful for today?

Monday, January 2, 2012

New bead racks - day 1

I'm in need of new bead racks. Here is my typical set up:

Over the years I've made different / additional slats as needed resulting in a mismash of heights and lengths. Add to that periodic breakage and it has become a time consuming task to set up each shelf as I'm glazing beads. So, inspired by instructions provided by fellow ceramic bead artists over at Golem Studio , I'm starting out fresh and making all new slats. My first trial is firing today:

This trial slat is only about 6 inches long. It is sitting across two clay support slats to check for possible slumping.

Today, I am grateful for my small kiln. It was given to me by my late Aunt Betty and as far as I can guess, she purchased it in the 70's. Here it is finally given a permanent home in my garage studio. In the past I just moved it from place to place when firing it.

What are you grateful for today?

Sunday, January 1, 2012

2012 = 366 Days of Gratitude

After thinking about this for quite a while, I have decided to try to blog daily. To be completely honest with my readers, the reason for this is basically self promotion. I have more time now than ever to work in the clay and plan to again expand beyond beads and pendants. To help keep me on target with daily blogging, I have decided to include thoughts of gratitude along with clay happenings. Even if I don't have anything worth while to say about my clay works, I always have something to be grateful for. So here I go....

Today I am grateful for.... Hot Sauce! I'm not much of a cook, but there isn't much that can't be improved with a squirt of Sriracha, Frank's or Texas Pete.

What are you grateful for today?