Walter and Sara on the road to who knows where
Our wonderful ‘Summer Camp for Older Adults’ (as a friend calls it) was beginning to wind down as September rolled along. As you may have been able to tell, my time in the pottery studio has made this summer a really fantastic experience. The group of people who play there are great and being able to work with clay again has been wonderful.

Donna, one of our monitors, spent the summer making birds and birdhouses to create 3 graduated ‘totem poles’ in front of her house. On September 13th, I drove by her house and she’d finished installing them.

Donna's totem poles

I especially love the family of quail that top them off. I think I’ll need to build a covey of them next summer for the yard of our new house.

Meanwhile I had begun my training in loading, running and unloading the kiln here at Juniper Ridge in preparation to do the same at Rancho Resort this winter. It turns out we have the same model kiln here as at Rancho and so I asked to learn how to deal with it. On September 11th I helped load the kiln, and then it ran starting early on Thursday the 11th. It takes about 7 1/2 hours to fire the kiln. Once it reaches the desired temperature, it takes another 24 hours to cool off again. So on Saturday the 14th, it was ready to unload.

Kiln load

Because we have such an large active group, we seem to always have LOTS of things to fire and that means loading the kiln is like working a big 3D jigsaw puzzle. We managed to get all these goodies into one kiln. It was a pretty amazing process. There were all sorts of little goodies (some of which I don’t even know what they were for).

Kiln load

On the lower shelves we had vases, bowls plates, bird houses and lanterns.

Kiln load

I had some goodies in this load myself. There was a red clay pencil jar with a wood texture for Walter. I burnished the outside so that it’s totally smooth even without a glaze and then used clear glaze on the inside.

Wood grained pencil cup

I also had two small ‘circle pots’ with this wonderful fun glaze called Ocean Mist that I just love.

Two small circle pots

By this point we knew that we had to close down the pottery studio by Sept 25th so they can spend the winter ripping all the floors up and replacing them. Since the studio usually stays open through the month of October that put everyone into hyper drive and we had another load of goodies ready to load again on September 16th. I got to load the entire kiln myself this time—are real experience. And it all came out just fine on September 18th.

This time there was a huge plaque, and a bevy of tall pieces that didn’t fit in the last firing.    

Kiln Load

Plus a bunch of bowls, plates and vases.

Kiln load

The time before we had a ton of little itty bitty things. This time we had very few and instead it was all bigger things—many of which took up a whole shelf by themselves. That’s what makes the jigsaw puzzle part of the job so interesting—every time you have a whole different bunch of things.

This time, my luminaria came out glazed and glorious. I just used clear glaze on it so this white is what our white clay fires to. It’s really very nice. I’ll take this back to Sahuarita and figure out what kind of light bulb it needs to glow and give off light like a regular luminaria. If all goes well, I hope to make a whole series of these this winter—all with different hole designs.

Glazed pottery luminaria

Our resident, artist, Lynn, had finally finished this gourd-being that she’d been working on for several weeks and s/he was drying in the ‘green room’. I had to take a photo of him/her because I knew I would be leaving before the piece got fired.

Lynn's gourd being

She does amazing work.

On Thursday September 19th, we took a break from the process of getting things ready to leave early the next week and packed a picnic lunch and drove over to Fools Hollow Recreation Area just west of Show Low.

There’s a nice lake here with day use areas on one side of the lake and a large campground area on the other side. We drove to the end of the Day Use area to Blue Bird Ramada to have lunch.  

Blue Bird picnic area Fool Hollow Lake

It was in the mid-70’s and just perfect. I wandered down to get a shot of the lake.

Blue Bird picnic area Fool Hollow Lake

Out across the lake there are interesting cliffs that look like they’re basalt.

Blue Bird picnic area Fool Hollow Lake

There were a few people down on the fishing piers and you could see the paved path that goes around the lake. But otherwise it was really quiet.

Blue Bird picnic area Fool Hollow Lake

On our way out, I spied some White Heath Aster (Symphyotrichum ericoides).

White Heath Aster (Symphyotrichum ericoides)

Some Hairy goldenaster (Heterotheca villosa) sprawled so low I didn’t recognize it.

Hairy goldenaster (Heterotheca villosa)

And some Wright's Bird-beak (Cordylanthus wrightii).
Wright's Bird-beak (Cordylanthus wrightii)

We motored on home and I went back to the studio to finish glazing a bunch of things so that they could be loaded into the kiln on Friday afternoon. Once again, I loaded the kiln (I’m feeling much more confident that I can easily do the same this winter in Sahuarita) and it all came out on Sunday afternoon September 22nd.

Kiln load

Yes, your eyes aren’t fooling you. There are a whole lot of apparently similar mugs on one shelf. We had a cup building class on September 11th, and they came out so great that many folks had to built another and then other people had to learn how and next thing you knew there were 15 of them ready to be fired. I call it cup-itis and I highly recommend it. It’s way fun.

Kiln load with lots of cups

The light blue one is the example that Eleanor used in the class.

In addition to all those mugs we had a couple of ‘pot heads’ which are planters made of the bottom half of a head with the hair provided by the plant that will grow in it, and lots of other goodies.

Kiln load

I had a red clay box that I’d made for Walter to keep his supplement bottles in.

Red clay box

It’s wood textured to match his pencil jar.

There were four red clay bowls with a cool glaze that turns almost black on the red clay (it’s dark green on white clay) with turquoise crystals to make the splashes of color.   

Red clay bowls

There was a snazzy red clay vase that I used a round plastic lace placemat to create the texture and to guide the cutting of the upper edge.
Red clay vase Red clay vase
One of our members found the placemat at Goodwill and bought it for $1.00. An incredible number of plates, platters, vases, mugs and planters have been made with it in the last month—we do seem to have fads where we all just HAVE to try out the latest thing.

I also had 4 more test tiles with petroglyphs. I made these mostly to use up the last of my red clay but they are so much fun how could I resist making more of them?  

Petroglyph test tiles

I’m still not sure what I will make with the petroglyphs now that I’ve figured out how best to make them but no matter what it is, they will be fun.

Sunday and Monday we finished up getting ready to leave. We’ve never stayed put for this long before—4 whole months—and so it was a little strange having to figure out how to get everything back in the truck along with all the things that we’d acquired while we were here. I filled an entire middle sized Rubbermaid tub with pottery. I knew I’d been having a really good time (I used about 36 pound of clay) but I had no idea how much I’d accumulated until I had to pack it all up. Sheesh. A good portion of it was ‘an experiment’ which made it all the more fun. There are so many things to try and so many fun things to make.