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The results of our third kiln firing which included re-fires and glaze experiments turned out much better than the last two firings. In this firing there were a number of re-fires–pots that had been fired twice before and still produced bubbles in the glaze. However, some of the re-fires turned out beautifully, such as this bowl:

 

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Here is a pile of pots that still have bubbles and we will re-fire some of them for a 4th time. Others have tiny flaws that we may be able to simply grind off.

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We tested the temperature of the kiln from top to bottom with pyrometric cones and found that we do indeed have a much higher temp on the bottom – cone 11 was flat, so it may have been a cone 12 (porcelain temperature) down there. We’ve always known that the kiln was “hot on the bottom and cool on the top” and stacked it accordingly. What surprised us was that our re-fired pots closer to the bottom looked better than when we stacked them close to the top.

We tested the re-make of the “squirrelly” glazes — the ones that were bubbling in previous firings and got no bubbles in the light blue and orangey-yellow:

 

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We liked the glaze combo Jim came up with for his fish mugs–coffee mugs with fish motifs on the handles:

 

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We are testing a new cobalt blue recipe laid over a flat denim blue. The results were interesting but not stable as can be seen in the glaze cracks.

 

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Yesterday’s kiln opening — after three days of waiting out the snowstorm and shoveling pathways to the house and garage — was a happy ending.

This is the first time in 18 years we’ve had to dig out the roof avalanches in such an impressive fashion. In the past, snow has remained on the roofs longer. Here’s the way our path to the garage looked yesterday.

 

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Here’s Mt. Everest–before the last of it slid off the roof:

 

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And here’s view after we’d cleared a path between house and garage this morning.

 

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Some snow still remains on the roof and will no doubt come down in an hour or two.

Here’s a shot of the picnic table behind our garage — it’s where we place pots that come out of our kiln. We have not unstacked the kiln yet.

 

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We are happy to have this moisture. We are grateful to our neighbor Brad for plowing the driveway, and we will be exceedingly glad when this un-named storm system moves on toward the Mississippi River!  Jim says he’s ready to go to town for a burger, so we’re outta here!

The West, our state of Colorado, our Arkansas Valley–all of it–has been dry since January. Normally March is our snowiest month. No snow fell. In fact the temps reached into the 70s. But yesterday that all changed.

 

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A foot of snow had fallen during the night. The snow on our roof had slid onto our west-facing deck and obstructed our exit from the house out of this door.

Jim and I shoveled while snow continued to fall through the morning. The writing workshop I had signed up to attend Friday evening and all day Saturday was cancelled.

 

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I worked on clearing a path to the garage as fresh snow piled up to 18 inches:

 

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As snow kept sliding from two roofs, the garage and the art room, here’s what we’ll face tomorrow morning–shoveling the path – again –  from the art room door where I stood to take this picture, to the garage door. The last of the snow slid after we’d finished dinner.

 

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Mt. Princeton was still bundled up at 5:00 pm:

 

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With sore backs, we’re still happy. The water we need for gardens, river, ranching, and peace of mind – at least for a little while – was delivered with this storm.

Today I picked up 90 cards from Chaffee Printing Center in Salida. Here’s an arrangement of the cards spread out on our dining table. I received 10 copies of each print — enough to test the waters with (note the pun–they are watercolor images).

 

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Having prints made of my artwork is a first for me, and I’ve got to thank a few friends for egging me on. Two former sisters-in-law, Patty Evans Snyder from Denver and Jan Snyder from Jacksonville, IL, vociferously (on Facebook)  insisted that I have my playful watercolor cards professionally printed. I’ve never done this before, so it became an adventure. My in-town friend, Marcy Adams, always sees the best and brightest side of all situations. Her encouragement helped me stop procrastinating.

Jim and I happened to drive by Chaffee Printing Center — a place I didn’t know existed. I hollered, “STOP — I want to go in there!” He did a You-ee on Highway 50 and I talked to Bonnie about my miniscule project. No job was too small. So I took my originals in. Moe, an artist herself,  guided me nimbly through the decision-making process, and this is the result.

A happy day for me, while Jim is firing the kiln–another page in the ongoing pottery saga.

Jim, John and I took the tour yesterday at the Grand Opening of the new Eddyline Brewery. I was impressed with the size of this operation, which will eventually employ 50 people. This picture shows the grain silo at the north end of the building. In the distance you can see an open air beer garden demarcated by a low A-shaped roof.

 

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Once inside the building, we received a tour by one of the young expert brewers. I took the photo below to show the vastness of the building. It is truly enormous. Brewing operations take place at the north end, canning operations, at the south end.

 

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Here’s a photo of six-foot-four John walking between two of the brewing vats. We were told that the spent grain, that has been sprouted and fermented, is used by local  ranchers for cattle feed.

 

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The environment of this brewery must be kept as clean and bacteria free as a hospital operating room. Brewery employees must be clean-freaks. Our guide was one of those.

This photo was taken in the canning area. These are stacks of empty cans. Eddyline beer is not pasteurized. To taste tip-top, it must be kept cold until a person drinks it.

 

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The canning process is semi-automated now. Eventually, our guide said, a new canning machine will be installed that will speed up the process exponentially. Why cans and not bottles? Cans are infinitely recyclable.

 

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Jim’s son John came from Denver on Friday for a weekend visit. He arrived around noon. We went to a burger joint for lunch and then a ride. John drove. Jim directed us down a steep dirt road to a lovely hidden valley — the same valley in the picture for my blog’s banner. I do not know its name, but it’s a favorite with campers in the know. I wanted both men to see this lovely place, although with the drought, everything is brown instead of spring green. Here is a hidden camping cranny that we  liked:

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Jim and John both like to fish. We headed over to the Arkansas River. No fishing this time, but we looked for them among the rocks.

 

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Then some pictures—first of Jim and me sitting in a two-seater river rock:

 

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And then of John, back on top of the river rim in the South Main area of BV where a local artist crafted a faux over-stuffed couch and chair out of concrete and ceramic tile:

 

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We wound up our day with dinner at our home followed by a movie downloaded from Amazon —The Imitation Game. If you have seen this excellent movie, maybe you will agree that it needed closed captions to understand the British accents!

Some Good; Some Bad. But we are narrowing down the odds.  Here’s a picture of the good:

 

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There were around 25 pieces that I’d call good. A few of those had one (expletive) bubble in the light blue glaze that knocks down their rating.

Here’s a picture of the bad:

 

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Eight re-fired bowls and several mugs ended up with as many bubbles as in the first firing. Five beautiful leaf pieces that were on the lowest kiln shelf were ruined due to something we did. It’s truly a pain when you have to kick yourself. I have a solution for these pieces, but it will require yet another re-firing.

Here is our cone pad that determines if we’ve reached temperature and can turn off the kiln:

 

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And here is our kiln goddess who promises excellent firings from henceforth, if we promise to feed her extra treats:

 

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