Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Seed Exchange

We hopefully had our last frost last night. Today we are going to buy plants. We have already planted peas. I am going to take part in a seed exchange at the Peak Oil discussion forum as soon as I get something to trade.
It may become important to gather seeds wherever and whenever we can...from now on. It may become equally important to begin trading with others who are of like mind, and networking with them to exchange information and seeds.
Disaster preparedness is very important. The slogan for the Peak Oil website is "Deal with Reality or Reality will Deal With You!" Genetically modified seeds are to be avoided at all costs as they won't germinate a second year. Big business has almost made it so that seeds have to be purchased every year. In a time of disaster the seed companies will not be able to supply the demand.
I read a book last winter that I can no longer remember the title or author that proclaimed that the first thing we (United States Army) did in Irac was confiscate the enemies seeds. This makes the people of Irac totally dependent on our government and the genetically modified seeds they will have to buy from us. We took seeds that were germinated from hundreds of years of their culture. We must have done this as an act of war. if we can control their food production then we can control the people of Irac...or even our own people. So start saving those seeds. They may well become the next currency. Oh...and don't throw away your seed packs. They are a dictionary of knowledge, and very aesthetically pleasing decoration (shown above).

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Investing in Silver

Yesterday I started working on the silver buttons I am making from old damaged silver dimes. I thought of the idea after reading the discussion forums from Peak Oil group. As our economy takes a nose dive because of the Peak Oil situation many of us are preparing for the worst case scenario: the collapse of the economy and the value of the dollar. Silver is increasing in value as the dollar plummets! I have the Peak Oil website in the favorites (to the right of this column). I am still not able to highlight and drop a link from this laptop. So you will be looking for These dimes will become common buttons that can be concealed in the event that money becomes scarce and needs to be hidden from desperado's and thieves.
I purchased these damaged silver dimes on Ebay. I smoothed off the "tails" side of 5 coins yesterday just to see how much work was involved. Today I will attach a loop on the back. 10 old silver dimes weighs .8 of an oz. It takes about 10 buttons for a standard flannel shirt, counting the sleeves. These will tarnish over time and can easily replace plastic buttons that will have little worth. I domed them slightly, and I left FDR on the underside for easy proof that the dimes match the dates when dimes were silver. As Silver climbs in value, so does the value of old damaged dimes.Posted by Picasa

Monday, April 28, 2008

Ceramic Molds

Today I have a truck load of ceramic molds to donate to The Martin Janis Center. I hope I can barter with the ceramics instructor for a spray booth he has just sitting around gathering dust.

The Martin Janis Center has a spray booth , but no air compressor or sprayer.
I just inherited a small air compressor and spray gun. The spray booth would be indespensible. I want to be able to spray glaze on my pottery, as opposed to just brushing on the glaze. I have no need or desire for ceramic molds, but The Center can probably use these. If the instructor doesn't take these I will have to store them and perhaps offer them on Craigs List.

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Sunday, April 27, 2008

Birds Eye View

Here is an aerial photo of Olympic Peninsula Washington. It was taken by Photographer George Steinmetz.Deception Forrest Woods Washington lumber

Yesterday, THE BAG of mostly Kroger grocery store ads and coupons got delivered to our front door. I have repeatedly called THE BAG answering machine requesting that it not be delivered here anymore. We do not use the coupons or anything in THE BAG. We end up recycling it. It is just one example of the waste that is plaguing our planet...all in the name of making a buck. We certainly are not saving a buck. We need to stop cutting down all our trees so that THE BAG can come to our door on Saturday afternoon.

The trees that were allowed to remain in this photo were carefully chosen to maintain the illusion of vast forest for the happy motorist.

It is time to reclaim these lands...reseed them, revitalize them. I think it may be time for Guerrilla Gardening and Seed Bombs.
Last year I read Starhawks recent book The Earth Path. Starhawk has direct experience with seed bombs that is a worthy read. I know that if we wait till our government decides to do the right thing, we will be waiting too long for Mama Earth. Too many men are making too much money on exploiting her. We need to balance that out a bit with good ole fashioned activism. From now on EVERY DAY IS EARTH DAY! So do something green today. Call your local "Bag of Ads" and have them take you off their list. If enough of us do that we might be able to save a few trees!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Product Recall

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Com- mission has recalled the Lawn Bott Robotic Lawn Mower. You can visit the Safety Commision's website or you can visit the Lawn Bott site at I became curious this morning when I read about this recall. I wondered how a robot could be programed to mow a lawn? So now I have seen the video. We really need to rethink this lawn thing in our society (see my blog from April 15th Going Greener Than Grass?). It is costing us too much in precious time, and resources. I am thankful that we do not use our yard to grow grass. We will grow food and we will grow flowers. Grass almost seems boring in comparison. It is ironic that someone put EVOLUTION on this invention. There are some folks that wouldn't exercise at all if it were not for taking care of their lawns. How is sloth evolution? I enjoyed the video of this gizmo. It made me smile.

Friday, April 25, 2008

House in my Neighborhood

Here is a house in my neighborhood that I have been inspired to try to paint. I don't ever quite know what my subject will be. It is almost as if the subject calls to me first. I started this painting several months ago and have been waiting for spring to come so I can add blossoms and foliage.

One of these days I will get back to it!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Kiln Cauldron

This is one of 4 kilns at The Martin Janis Center. It is electric. I will be learning to load one of these in the near future.
I understand that clay can be fired without using a kiln. I hope to learn about that process as well.
A few years ago I was a community scholar at Denison University. We did a saw dust fireing in a oil barrel.
I wish I had taken notes.
Now I have to relearn everything I did not write down! So it seems much of what I am doing is relearning. Perhaps that is the true meaning of research re search.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Makers Mark for sale on Ebay

On Monday April 7th my blog was titled Makers Mark(see blog archive to the right of this page). Here is a close up photo of my personal makers mark ring. It is my logo for Divine Designs and my initials two Cs. I use it to mark the bottom of my pottery. I have never liked my handwriting. I don't sign my name with a scribe on the bottom of my pots as most potters do, because it just plain looks bad. I remove my ring and mark my pot instead!
This week I ran an experimental auction on ebay to sell Makers Marks or ID rings. It is tricky because ebay has policies that prohibit circumventing ebay fees. So the wording of this auction was problematic. I am not selling an already existing ring, rather I am selling a service. I am selling a custom made "future" makers mark ring or initial ring. Art work will have to be approved ahead of time. 50% of the price will have to be paid prior to my beginning the project. Anything extra such as gemstones will have to be added to the total cost. Ebay likes to make sure they get their share, so they might frown on too much back and forth negotiating.
It is doubtful that folks will have a design that can be inverted or reversed as mine is. So an initial ring that is to be used as a makers mark will appear reversed and upside down for most people. All this is very hard to convey in the format of an ebay auction. If you get a chance to check out my auction for the makers mark, you can access my auctions through my contact page on my website Divine Designs (just click on skymetalsmith). You can access my web site Divine Designs from the bottom of this blog page. I do not know if it is possible to insert links on this laptop. I keep trying. I can't I would need to highlight in order to put a link in here. Our computer is still at Staples getting cleaned up. I look forward to being able to blog active links! I look forward to being able to download my recent pictures.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Vintage Radios for Sale

I have two Vintage Radios for sale on Ebay right now. They are in good condition and it is part of an estate I am helping to liquidate. Stop by my ebay auctions and take a look before they are gone. The fastest way to get to my ebay auctions is to access my web site Divine Designs at the bottom of this blog. After you go to my web site, click on Contact. When you are on my Contact page you can click on my username skymetalsmith. From there it will take you to my current auctions. Hope to see you there!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Painting a Memory

Painting a memory is what I ended up doing in response to the feeling that Gallery Hop left with me in June 06 (See my in my blog archive drum workshop April 19th). It takes a while to let the experience "cook". In this instance it took a year for me to realize I wanted to paint my friends right into the mural. So I did!
I don't get much time to paint. But when I do it is a glorious feeling. Not much space in our house to do paintings. But not much space is needed. This little painting ended up being called 3 Cool Katz. It features Wahru, Ron, and Pat. Three drummers that I am always glad to see and glad to drum with. I got to drum with both Wahru and Ron this weekend. Maybe Pat will come to visit soon and I will get to drum with her too!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Ubaka Hill Workshop and Concert

Hope to see ya'll at Ubaka's Workshop tonight and tomorrow. We will be drumming! See details on my website Click on EVENTS at

Thursday, April 17, 2008

My Logo

This is the first image I have been able to download at a computer at the library. It means that I will be able to
blog from the library as our computer is being serviced. I am hoping to get some pictures this weekend of the Ubaka Hill workshop.
The next thing to learn is how to get the pictures into my picture storage from the camera at the library. I will be adding a custom logo smithing element to my silversmithing business soon. I know potters would value a ring or a necklace stamp with their mark: so that they can stamp their pottery. It is perhaps the most useful piece of jewelry I have ever made. This logo originally for my initials Concha Castaneda will also work for Concha's Cauldron logo.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Drum Workshop

We have a drum workshop this weekend with Ubaka Hill. Ubaka is a performer, composer, and teacher of hand drums. On Friday Night the workshop will be from 7-9 and men are included. On Saturday the workshop is 10-4 women only.
The Columbus Women's Chorus will do a couple numbers and Sistah Ngoma will perform as openers for Ubaka's Concert Saturday night 8-10. I look forward to drumming with Ubaka and hoping to play again with some of my men friends Friday night. We have been preparing for many weeks and it seems that we have all come a long way since the day this photo was taken Gallery Hop in The Short North June 06. I like this photo because it was a reunion of sorts for me. I hadn't played drums with Wahru Cleveland in years. I sort of just arrived (I saw an ad) and was shocked that she remembered me and allowed me to sit in on this little ensemble. It was my first paid gig as a drummer and I have been part of the Columbus drumming community since that day.
Sometimes we have exquisite days that we remember. This particular day I knew was larger than life. I can't ever remember being quite as happy as I was that day. And I feel gratitude about that day each time I see this photo. The mural we were playing in front of is now covered over by an outside dining area. But that day, that space was ours!
This weekend the drum workshop at The Broad Street Christian Church will be somewhat like a reunion. I have not played with Ubaka since 1995. I am looking forward to making some happy memories.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Going Greener than Grass?

This is the only grass in our yard. It is cat grass. Cat Grass is for the sole purpose of gratifying our cats. They eat it everyday and because it is in a planter, they can have it all winter long. Maintaining our lawns in America is perhaps one of the largest wastes of space, resources and time. If we didn't have to mow our lawns...we wouldn't need lawn mowers. We could use the space to grow something greener and more useful to our lives. This cat grass is in a planter at the base of this little pine tree. So technically, we don't have any grass in our yard at all. This little pine also serves as our Christmas Tree..and this year our Easter Tree.
Consider how much waste of space, time, and money our "lawns" cost us each year. It could be greener, to get rid of our grass. In the next few years golf courses could very well become the only places grass is cost effective. Too bad most golf courses do not even bother to recycle their aluminum.
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Monday, April 14, 2008

Computer Crash

We are still having computer trouble. The easiest operations not possible this morning. I am working on getting my photos somewhere where I can use a library computer to blog. This computer is like beating on a dead horse.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

More Taiko!

We have drum practice today. My computer is slow to download pictures. So the blog today will be short...but always sweet. The website for Taiko Drum Master Hayashi Eitetsu is enclosed in this blog. There are many photos of Taiko drums on this site, as well as Taiko Drummers. Enjoy.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Taiko Drums at Capital University

This is a picture of some of the Taiko drums at Capital University. The smaller Taiko drums look like cauldrons. They even have metal rings on the sides for handles. The sound that these drums make is larger than life. We were told to bring ear plugs to our workshops! Eric Payton teaches Taiko at Capital. The Columbus Women's Drum Chorus attended several of Eric's workshops. We look forward to working with him again in the future.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Cauldron of slow death...

This is a Vintage Turquoise Fiesta Ashtray. It is worth about 60 dollars as a collectible. I quit smoking cigarettes in November 2007. We are not keeping this as it is too expensive to use when company comes over...and I don't smoke anymore. I don't need the cue. It was a filthy habit for me. I can still smell stale cigarette smoke in my truck and in my old clothes. I am grateful that in the last 3 years, I mostly smoked outside. So our furniture does not have to be replaced. I love this little ashtray as I have loved the lighters and all the rituals of smoking. As a small child I was fascinated by fire and the adults who controlled smoke and fire. I can remember loving the smell of the fuel in lighters and even loved the snapping sound of a closing metal zippo. Some adults actually had the skill of blowing smoke rings for our amusement. I grew up knowing that one day, I too would control fire and smoke. I was a dedicated smoker from the very start. In order to steer away from "starting back up", I can not consider keeping such a thing as this Fiesta Ashtray. Back when this ash tray was produced, it was quite common for everyone to have an after dinner smoke. Hollywood glamorized smoking. This piece matched the dinnerware at the time and was kept right in the hutch along with the other fine china. Today smoking is not sanctified by Hollywood. It is not popular to smoke at the dinner table. Just in my lifetime this popular habit has lost its status. I always believed smoking was slow suicide. So an ash tray ends up being yet another cauldron of death.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Cauldron of possessions (Herb's Wall)


Last night we got a phone call that Lori's Dads Tools were gone. Herb was a diesel mechanic among other things, and his tools were his livelihood. He spent his whole life buying, trading, bartering and collecting them. When he began losing his memory he constructed this wall in order to find things that he was looking for that he knew he had. He must have been at the end of his rope trying to remember...and surrendering to this wall. Alzheimer's is a cruel disease. It is most cruel to those who knew the person before they lost memory. For those of us who knew Herb this wall was sort of a monument to him. It is only a fraction of the tools that he owned. It is a shame that an outsider could talk a grieving widow into taking these off her if he was somehow doing her a favor. He probably did it in about 5 minutes and the rest of the family was not a consideration. Herb's tools will be up for auction on Saturday morning in Breman, a town so far away that it will be hardship to try to get there. It will be a hardship to come up with any kind of money in such a short notice in order to try to outbid a non family member on precious heirlooms. It will mostly be a hardship to watch others walk off with these gems. No accounting was taken as the tools left Herb's residence yesterday. I would be surprised if it all made it to the auction on Saturday as men like Herb's friend are known to arrive not at the funeral, but while the family is at the funeral home or cemetery: they usually rob the house. I understand the lucky fellow made 6 trips yesterday. And he is coming back for the rest of it today...with guys to help him lift the heavy stuff! That is lots of hauling and gas money for someone just trying to do a good deed! Herb's widow will get a fraction of what these tools are worth. She gets the unconditional love of her daughters...who once again get their hearts broken. My own family got broken up over possessions after loved ones passed. Now I get to watch painfully at the sidelines while another family breaks. The moral...must be something about not being able to take it with you when you enjoy it while you got it. I have given my possessions away before when I thought I was about to have the property seized. It is not a good feeling. I guess it all comes down to giving it away or letting it be taken or stolen. Anyone that says anything now will look greedy. After all they were Herb's tools. They belong to his widow. If his daughters want something...well they should have spoken up. They will just have to bid on it like everyone else on Saturday.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Glazing and Re-glazing

Things are not always as they seem in ceramics. Oftentimes a glaze does not look anything like the color it will be after the pot is fired. It is easy to assume that because a glaze application is red when it is brushed on that it will stay red. Not so. The red in these pots turn a beautiful moss green after the final firing. The gray looking glaze turns into a deep cobalt blue. The pink color on the top left pot is really a clear coat to cause a shiny appearance. It becomes important to make careful notes in between times so as not to forget exactly which glaze is on which pots. Sometimes a pot needs re-glazed in order to balance the colors. Sometimes a second color needs to be added after a second firing in order to observe the interaction of color.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Makers Mark

One of the most useful pieces of jewelry I have made is my initial ring stamp. I mark each of my pots with my trademark before bisque firing. I have made a few ring stamps for other potters. I also use this symbol on my business cards and it is inlayed in the ebony handle of my Athame.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Cauldron of Death

I saw a film in the 80's called Koyaanisquatsi. The film itself is a "cauldron" it "contains" ideas and images about technology versus "stirs, and cooks" those ideas up for us to view and listen to. The word Koyaanisquatsi is a Hope Indian prophesy that has several different components in the definitions. The part that infers cauldron is "inside" one of several of the definitions... "A container of ashes might one day be thrown from the sky which could burn the land and boil the oceans".TThe featured photo is Fat Man dropped "thrown" at 11:02 am August 9, 1945 on Nagasaki Japan. This is just one example of "cauldron" used in warfare that challenges the standard definition of cauldron. There is other historical precidents for using the word cauldron in conjunction with warfare, and they will undoubtedly come up later. Perhaps my favorite ancient biological warfare connection to cauldrons is the General Hannibal (247-183 BC), where he threw "clay pots" that "contained" venomous snakes upon the Roman enemy ship decks. They retreated. This guy "Hannibal" was bad news to any of his enemy's. He might just be the ancestor of The Godfathers of Italy...really! His strategies were legion and using cauldrons came to play several times in his history of warfare. Throughout these weeks in my blogs I may honor General Hannibal in his various strategic deceptions...usually involving a cauldron. In the should look him up...he was ruthless!

Inside Out

Sometimes the inside of a bowl looks more beautiful than the outside. This is the same bowl as the one featured in my first blog Spring Fever (see blog archive dated 3/23). This glaze is called Moss something or other. Because I poured glaze in and out of this pot the application was even on the inside creating this dramatic effect, with no brush strokes. The outside of this bowl had to be painted with a brush as our studio does not have a sprayer. This is why the inside looks more finished and is different looking than the outside. Because I know that I like this glaze, I need to find out exactly what it is called so I can use it in future bowls. I will be trying to find a sprayer and small air compressor this summer that I can use in the studio as we have a spray booth with no sprayer. It would make glazing pots more efficient and speedy. If any one out there knows of a handy transportable air compressor, spray, package that I could cart back and forth to school on glazing days, I am in the market! It is the sort of thing that the school probably can't afford, and keep protected from students not trained in its proper use. My experience with sprayers are that they are temperamental and they clog up easily. But the effect of spraying verses brushing is clearly something I want to try for. My cat Syd does not care about glazes. He just wonders why the bowl is empty!

Friday, April 4, 2008

It starts on the wheel

I am off to throw some pots today on a potters wheel. I will no doubt need a nap when I come home. It will not be Hollywood Glamorous! will be glorious. Wedging clay is physically demanding. If a person wedged clay everyday, they would not need to go to the gym to lift weights. Some days I am physically challenged and can only stand or sit to glaze a pot. Some days I walk with a cane and can not even drive a car. It is a miracle on days when I am able to throw pots on the wheel. I will do it as long as I am able.
Potters will tell you that this scene from the movie Ghost is totally unrealistic. We laugh when we see this scene. Hurray for Hollywood! Throwing pots on a wheel requires a rigidity and balance that we don't see here. She makes it look too easy. It is not easy. I have heard it takes 7 years to become a good potter! I have been at it almost 5 years collective time. In reality I have been at it for almost 30 years, with many years of not throwing at all because I didn't have any place to work or to take classes. The trick is to have 7 consistent years. I know I will get there someday if I just keep at it.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Mason Stains

Mason Stains are used both as an under glaze prior to the first firing, but can also be used after bisque for the second and final firing. When a stain is used prior to bisque, it is mixed with part of the clay body. It is then applied just like any under glaze. When it is used after bisque it is used with water only. These are two experimental bowls that were not acceptable for The Empty Bowls Project (mentioned in an earlier blog). I haven't found exact instructions and formulas about Mason Stains. I will be looking for this information before attempting this again. I bought this stain at Columbus Clay Company I look forward to using Mason Stains in the future as they give a very rich color that is hard to obtain with a glaze or even an under glaze.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Cat Cauldron

Here is Nesta happily posing for her photo in a New Scarlet Fiesta Pasta Bowl made by The Homer Laughlin China Company. We had been gone all day buying Fiesta, and it was time to pay attention to the cat! Homer Laughlin China Company is located in Newell West Virginia across the river from East Liverpool Ohio. I plan on visiting HLC soon and taking the factory tour.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Candle Cauldron

This little bowl was thrown on a wheel at the Columbus Cultural Arts Center (see my link at the right) located downtown Columbus Ohio at the old Arsenal. The Arsenal is just one of several recreation centers throughout Columbus Ohio funded through the City of Columbus Parks and Recreation. It was bisque fired there as well, but I was prevented from finishing it there. It made it to a new destination, kiln and final glaze fire at The Martin Janis Center a closer recreational facility also operated by Columbus Parks and Recreation. It is lovingly used to house a pomegranate candle I received from a friend at Christmastime. When Herb Rayburn passed we burned this candle near a photo of Herb and his hammer. I marvel at all that had to happen for this little bowl to get finished. I had to pack up and leave one art center and find a new place to work. The bowl had to survive packing and driving, and storing on a shelf until I could find a place to finish the work. After finding the next art center, the bowl had to survive more packing, driving, and carting it into the new building. This bowl is slightly out of round. It is somewhat oval. It was abused downtown as someone Else's clay pot got smushed up against it. I was having a lot of trouble getting my pots fired and finished downtown. Parking was problematic and costly. Clay needs TLC. It needs checked often and worked on at various stages of becoming green ware. I was not able to look in on my clay often enough at the downtown center. Reluctantly, I found a new place to work that I can look in on my clay more often.
I found the new center in the nick of time and was able to donate 20 bowls the The Empty Bowls project (see link to the right), and still get some bowls done for Christmas presents.