Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Beyond chicken-eyeballs humid

The weather has gone back to hot and humid--so humid that even chicken eyeballs are out of the question. E came home from school today and asked if I had heard about the impending hurricane. (I called it hwa-KEEN, he called it jo-AH-keen.) The rumor among his classmates is that schools might be closed on Friday; even the level-headed is already predicting 100% chance of heavy rain.

It has already been raining all week, and the trees have had enough. Yesterday, a carpool of kids and I saw a large branch fall off a tree, pulling some phone lines down with it. This is not the week to park near trees.

The pervasive humidity has slowed progress on the porch, but after three days, these teapot parts were firm enough to assemble. I'm trying to get through my last bag of Standard 266 so I can do a major clean and switch over to some lighter clays. Coming soon: the second Durham County Pottery Studio Tour (November 14-15).

I'm not entirely convinced by the slip on the lid knot-knob, but it might look less distracting once the pot is fired and receives a reed handle.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Chicken eyeball weather

I moved my wheel back outside a few weeks ago and reclaimed the foyer for regular foyer duty. With the move came a new idea for chicken use (to be revealed only if it works), so I've been preparing a new flock for that. This involves throwing egg shapes off the hump, forming the eggs into chickens, and adding beaks, eyeballs, and feathers. Because these are Orpington-inspired birds, I'm using a dark brown-black clay (Standard 266) and making the wee eyeballs out of porcelain. If the weather is too dry, the porcelain eyes dry out and crack as I form them between my fingertips, or they crack when I add the pupils with a needle tool. Very frustrating. But one morning last week, the weather was warm and so foggy-humid that the porcelain stayed beautifully hydrated. Prefect chicken eyeball weather.

This past weekend, a cold front moved in, and the weather is no longer perfect for chicken eyeballs--it's just plain perfect. Clear, crisp, cool in the morning and warm in the afternoon; lovely all around. This makes it easier to work outside with Standard 266. It's a relatively heavy clay, and tends to soak up lots of water. It's pretty gummy in humid weather, but quite nice to work with on drier days like today. This morning I decided to make a few teapots, and I set the pots-in-progress in the sunlight on the porch to speed up drying. Woe! After a mere 30 minutes, they were toasted almost beyond saving. Here's hoping all the parts stay attached to all the right places! Toasting wouldn't have happened during chicken eyeball weather; nonetheless, I'll take crisp and sunny over hot and humid any day.

A flock of chickarinas mingles with New Idea chicklets and assorted zigzag pots.

Toasted teapot: will all the parts stick together?

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

More bugs in the 'hood

My neighbor J, who showed me the freshly molted cicada the other week, pointed me toward an orb weaver and a praying mantis in her garden the other day. En route, I encountered a gray hairstreak butterfly.

This is a flower in our garden, for those who want to look at something yellow and black that isn't a big hairy spider.

The gray hairstreak butterfly rubs its hind wings together. In fact, the reason I know it's a gray hairstreak butterfly is that I googled "butterfly rubs wings together," and the search returned a bunch of photos of gray hairstreaks. One theory is that they rub their wing tips together to draw attention to their faux rear antenna and faux rear eye-like spots, making them look more threatening to predators.

Hind wing tip up

Hind wing tip down

In my wingtip-rubbing search, I came across a photo of a hairstreak-like butterfly being devoured by a praying mantis. It was a pretty graphic image, as such things go. The praying mantis in J's yard wasn't eating anyone when I saw it.

Nor was the orb weaver spider. I feel some affinity for the orb weaver, because it spins dramatic zigzags, like me, although I find the spiders a little disconcerting to see up close.

Unlike the flower in our garden, this yellow and black thing is a big hairy spider.