Tuesday, November 11, 2014

annual (unripe) green fig preserving

Last year, after I had just moved into my new home, I found that I owned a Black Jack fig tree. With a lot of figs that will never ripen in New England climate. To my surprise, it survived one of the worse winters ever (I wrapped it in burlap), to produce even more fruit than last year. I think it likes me.

Four times as much fruit, to be precise.
So I tackled boiling the figs, three times for fifteen minutes each...

Then simmered them in sugary water (2.5 cups of sugar to 5 cups of water) until syrupy, and canned them!

After about a week, the figs become more flavorful, you can eat them whole on top of yogurt or vanilla ice cream. I blended them to use as a spread.

Delicious on top of pumpkin seed bread from Seven Stars. Served on a gleena plate, of course. Yum! For a more formal recipe follow this link to NY Times.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

busy busy october

October is the month of many deadlines. It is when stores would like their orders shipped to begin their holiday season sales. All stores. Of course it is impossible to accommodate all requests, so I try to be very honest with myself, as well as my clients. I can only produce so much, fit so much in the kilns. Looking back, though, I moved a lot of work through my studio in the past thirty days, no wonder I’m wiped out, and my hands are dry and wrinkled:

400 Lil Bub wee teas, 120 tumblers for RISD, 30 dinner plates for RISD’s President’s house, and many more bowls, plates, serving pieces for some great stores across the country. Whew.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

sea urchin wees available on gleena.com

Each porcelain dot is hand applied, creating a sea urchin effect. The texture adds a level of insulation from a hot beverage, and gives a nice massage as you hold the cup. Click here for more details.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

new things for the risd alumni sale, october 11th,
on benefit street in providence

I had a lot of fun planting gleena vases and wee cups with succulents. All will be available for sale at the RISD Alumni Sale on October 11th.

I will also have a few air plants, in special gleena air plant pots.

So many cuties:

Hope to see you!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

growing things

This summer has been amazing. The weather reminded me of summers spent at the family dacha, and working in my garden felt like I was channeling my mother's, grandmother's, and great grandmother's gardening magic. Seriously, I never really dug in the dirt. And had no idea what I was doing. But things grew, and grew tasty, and I even had some awe-inspiring critter visitors.
German striped heirloom tomato.
Hibiscus flower.
Hydrangea, Russian sage, nasturtium, hollyhock leaves, dill flowers.
Emerald dragonfly in the cucumber vine.
Black jack fig.
Nasturtium leaf.
Basil flowers.
Berrie hiding in the hostas. She thinks she’s camouflaged, funny girl.
Cucumbers, oh so many: for cucumber salad, soup, cocktails, pickles, and snacks.
Calendula flowers in the small vase, hollyhock leaves in the tall vase.
Praying mantis on the hibiscus leaf. Had not seen this color combo before.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

lil BUB wees, the making of...

This is a story of how the Lil BUB wee teas were made. It was Lil Bub’s third birthday on June 21st, and as a gift, a limited edition of wee teas were created with all proceeds going to charity. We raised over $6000 for Lil BUB’s Big Fund for the ASPCA, it sure felt good to contribute to the aid of animals with special needs. Here is the making process:
after the cups are hand-poured and popped out of a mold, each is stamped with a vintage letterpress Caslon 540 letter.
the edge is smoothed out with a sponge, so it is nice and round and feels good when you are drinking from it. any excess porcelain bits are reclaimed and used in the next batch. we mix our own porcelain slip (liquid clay) in the studio.
after the cups are completely dry, they are fired to 1948 degrees F, this firing is called a bisque.

as an aside, you might ask "why do we bisque?" porcelain is notorious for cracking, and a bisque makes it stronger, therefore easier to handle while glazing. there are clays that don't necessarily need this step. heath ceramics, for example, has developed a strong clay body that can be glazed without the bisque.
the bisque cup is then coated with wax on the bottom, to prevent the glaze from seeping in. the bottoms cannot have glaze on them, or they will stick to the kiln shelf once they are glaze-fired.
the wax has to dry out for a few hours before glazing can proceed.
while the wax is drying, the next batch of wees is already on deck to be bisqued.
glazing step one: the ivory glaze is poured into the bisque cup.
the glaze is swirled around, and then poured out. any spills over the edge are wiped off with a sponge, the excess glaze is reclaimed. we mix our own glazes, too.
glazing step two: once the inside is dry, the cups are dipped into the color glaze. you can see where the glaze rolled off the waxed part. the cups are left to dry overnight, and in the morning loaded into the glaze firing. the cups are fired to over 2300F, called a high-fire, which works well with porcelain.
after the glaze firing, the image and typography are applied. the image is printed in-studio onto a piece of film, and then transferred to the cup. each piece of image has to be smoothed out to eliminate air bubbles.
the transfers are left to dry overnight to ensure proper adhesion to the cup.
the image firing is taken up to 2100F. since the bottoms are placed directly on the kiln shelf, sometimes parts of the transfer stick to the shelf. i am ok with that, it gives the logo a unique vintage look.

transferware is a very old form of decorated ceramic, see more images of it here. we just take the modern approach and use a laser printer instead of a copper plate to print the image.
the bottom of each cup is sanded with fine sandpaper for an amazing feel, and individually wrapped for safe transit.
double corrugated packing is used to make sure the cups arrive safely. we don’t like to use styrofoam peanuts, and so far the flexible, recycled corrugated has worked great for cushioning.
designing the packaging was an extra treat, graphic design was my first career, and package design is my favorite.
it took three trips to transport the packed and labeled boxes to the post office. all were shipped via Priority Mail, and so far have safely arrived. whew! good job post office!

and good job BUB fans, i am so grateful for all your kind notes.

and thank you BUB and DUDE (who happens to be my brother). so fun to have family one can do meaningful projects with. it has been an incredible experience all around.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

color, texture, expression: the paintings of Hilde Wilms

view more of Hilde Wilms’ work on her website: hildewilms.com

Thursday, July 3, 2014

things are growing in my garden

this is the first summer in my garden. i am completely new to gardening, so everything that comes up and lives is very exciting to me. i hope i keep that novice excitement forever, in all parts of my life, actually...

thai basil flowers, smell and taste incredible and exotic

baby cucumber

full grown cucumber, in less than a week after the baby stage

perfect lettuce

lovely pale pink roses