Monday, June 29, 2009


Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
y'all know I love bees, right? I love them so much that I'll go out and rub the fuzzy tops of drunk/sleepy/cold stunned bumble bees (they wouldn't really sting, anyway). I just adore this bee.

My good friend April is married to one of the most talented craftsmen I've ever met. Doug, in turn, has become a friend. He MADE this honeybee for me. Yes, really. He got really into realistic fly-tying a year or so ago and started making the most incredible, realistic bugs. Doug recently opened an Etsy shop and a blog documenting his finished pieces and his creative process. Right now there's a honeybee drawing post that makes me swoon.

Each bug is built around a fishing hook, which is perfect if you plan to mount a bug in a shadowbox, as I have. I could also see a dragonfly becoming a spectacular piece of jewelry. . . . I hope you'll all go check his amazing work out. I've learned so much about bugs from following his blog- I've always loved them, but now I'm actively learning about their names, sizes, and habits.

I found out today that two sisters have begun a blog around two of my egg vases. I am both flattered and delighted that my work can showcase their creativity and strengthen their bond. And very interested to see what they'll put in the little vases.

We've gotten a little break in the weather this week, so I'll be firing my kiln tonight and glazing this week. YAY!!!

Have a great week, everyone!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

one local supper: 3

one local supper: 3
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
This week I finally got my hot little hands on some local flour. A few weeks ago I was visiting with the Becky and John, the nice folks at Delta Grind, buying grits and polenta - theirs is the only brand that I like to use. They are a small business, family-owned, and they procure local corn for their masa, grits, polenta, and cornmeal. I saw a bag of wheat bran and asked about flour. Happy day! They carry whole wheat, wheat bran, and all-purpose. I ordered a 5 lb bag of all purpose flour, and I'm planning to pick up a bag of whole wheat next week, as well. All of their corn and wheat is grown in North Mississippi. I was thrilled. I was even happier when I realized that John was a dear friend's grandson and that I could throw them a little more business!

It has been ages since I've made any sort of dough with just all purpose flour. It was very, very soft. Most of the flour you can buy commercially is made with hard wheat, which makes a stiffer dough. This was *almost* difficult to work with because it was so soft. If you've ever used White Lily brand flour for biscuits, you'll know what to do. I think that once I add in some of their whole wheat flour the consistency will be closer to what I'm used to. The finished texture was fabulous- very airy and soft.

So- the meal- pizza bianca with sauteed swiss chard from my friends at Dodson Farms, garlic from Flora at Bluebird Farms (and I'm keeping a few cloves to replant in my own garden this falll!), and my favorite goat cheese from Jim Tanner at Bonnie Blue Farm. It was good hot, drizzled with a bit of olive oil, but even better cold the next day for lunch.

I also made my favorite summer soup this week and ate all week for lunch. It is nothing but pickling cucumbers (from Tim Family Farm, and I recently found out that they're moving from minimal pesticides to NO pesticides!), a clove of garlic (from Flora, see above), a splash of rice vinegar, and a cup or two of buttermilk (from Rock Springs Dairy, in Wildersville, TN) or yogurt. Process it all in the blender, add some mint, basil, or dill if you like, and call it soup. I've also thrown it in the ice cream maker to produce a savory ice cream (after an happy accident last summer). It is so good and refreshing on miserably hot and humid days.

Friday, June 26, 2009

etsy update

I have finally, finally added new work to my etsy store. Not NEW new, but new to the internets new. I'm still cranking out berry bowls, and on monday night, after we only have a high of 92, I'm going to bisque fire them. Hopefully I'll be able to glaze fire the following week. I promised my family that they won't have to suffer two air-conditioner-less nights in the same week.

So. This update has a lot of bowls. Egg-glazed bowls, color bowls, a few cafe au lait bowls. Those are my most favorite. And some ladybug cups, too.

I'll be back here tomorrow or sunday to tell you about my local meal and my local-sourcing coup. Have a great weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
I'm still here. It is horribly hot (really. awful.) and it is too hot to fire the kiln. I have work to fire, just not the strength to go without the air for 8 hours. Soon, though, I'll have more to show you. I'm going to put up some of my inventory on etsy and freshen things up a bit. No berry bowls, but some colorful cereal bowls and more egg-inspired pieces.

Later gator.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

one local supper: 2

local meal: 2
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
I missed last week's local summer entry due to the amazing powerless adventure, so I'm going to make up for it this week by doing two local meals. Tonight we had a skirt steak that looked bad (I think this cut is not a grilling cut) but tasted SO good. It was from Donnell Beef, just outside Jackson TN. I pre-steamed then grilled potatoes from Whitton Farms and dressed them in rosemary and my homemade mayonnaise. I also bought their green beans this weekend- delicious steamed and sauteed in some Mennonite butter one of our produce stores carries.Tims Family Farm from Ripley, TN provided the tomato and zucchini I grilled and dressed with olive oil and basil for a warm salad.

I cooked some extra potatoes to make gnocchi later this week, and I still have chard, green beans, zucchini, and cucumbers (not to mention peaches and plums!) from the market this week.

One thing about local meats- I'm not the biggest meat-eater around, but my boys love it. Buying local meat can be more expensive, but I think that the benefits- health and environmental- from buying sustainably raised and healthy livestock is worth the higher price, especially when meat is used sparingly. This piece of steak was nearly a pound and only cost me $9. For a special meal (like Father's Day), I think it is a bargain. I really try to stretch my food budget, but I am an avowed foodie. If I have red meat (or any meat, for that matter), it needs to be spectacular. Similarly, I'm not interested in chicken just to have chicken. It needs to be really good- no bland frozen chicken breast, please. I'm exploring a source for local chicken - I think I'm going with halal chicken provided by the west TN Mennonite community, because they don't use antibiotics or hormones on their farms. If I could find a local sustainable source for ground turkey (or any turkey, because I could grind it myself), I'd have all of my meat bases covered.

Hope everyone has had a great weekend.

Friday, June 19, 2009

I'm home! and mayonnaise

Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
Tuesday night I had reached my limit and we fled to a friend's house for relief until our power was restored on Thursday I'd tried to be really diligent about keeping the house picked up and clean while we were here, but really, it is a disaster area. I spent Thursday cleaning up, running the dishwasher and multiple loads of laundry, wiping up spills and wiping down the inside of the fridge. We went to our local produce store to get milk, a new loaf of bread, and those first tempting tomatoes.

Once home, craving a tomato and mayonnaise sandwich, I thought about my jar of mayonnaise that had gotten warm, cooled down, gotten warm, cooled down, and thought better of it. I use a really good mayo (Duke's is actually all I will use when it comes to commercial mayo, and it is a southern thing, like community coffee, which I used to have college friends from Louisiana bring to NC on breaks), but I started thinking about the mayonnaise I used to make, and how it had a shelf life of perhaps a week and a half, and why was I expecting a jar of the commercial stuff to last for more than a month? Yes, it is pasturized and heat processed, but it left me thinking. So I pulled out the blender, rice vinegar, two eggs*, and 3/4 cup of olive oil.

The recipe is simple- you can use a hand-mixer, a whisk (lord help you), a food processor, or a blender. Take two eggs, break them, and mix them with 1/2 tsp salt, a dash of dry mustard (I didn't) and 1 tsp lemon juice, white wine vinegar, or rice vinegar. I mixed this for about a minute on high in my blender. Slowly slowly add about 1/3 of your oil (I used straight olive, but next time I'll add in half safflower oil) in the thinnest stream- or drop by drop. I was reminded that if you use a food processor, there's a hole in the "food pusher" thing that will dispense the oil in a thin stream- that's why the hole is there. I used my blender and did it manually. You'll notice that the consistency will change after you've added half the oil. Towards the end, the sound of the processing changes noticeably and you'll know you're about finished.

After you first make mayonnaise, it will be a little thin, but taste it, and add more lemon juice/ vinegar and salt to taste. Mine completely filled an old Bonne Maman jelly jar. After refrigerating overnight, it has thickened considerably. The color is golden, not white, like commercial mayonnaise. Mine also has a distinctive olive oil flavor. I think I'll use most of it for a roasted potato salad and to go with grilled veggies and a steak for my local meal this week. I also use mayonnaise in my favorite ranch dressing/dip, so that should take care of the rest of it. It should keep a little over a week, but I think I'll make half a recipe next time.

I'm looking forward to getting back on the wheel today. I've made no pottery for the last two weeks and am itching to get back to it.
I'm so grateful to be home, have my power restored, and for all of your kind comments, thoughts, and prayers last week. Thank you for your friendship.

I hope your weekend is beautiful!
*My egg man was at the farmers market last Saturday and told me that because they didn't "scrub the eggs to death," they would be fine for a week without refrigeration, so I put them in a lidded container and stuck them in the basement, which is always cooler (it felt like 20 degrees!) than the rest of the house.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

fingerling potatoes

fingerling potatoes
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
Clearly, I'm a bit nuts to begin a 97 degree day by digging up part of my potato crop, but I was outside looking at the garden and noticed that two of my potato plants had yellowed and fallen over, which means it is time to harvest. The other four or five plants are still looking good, so I left them in the ground. These are Russian Banana Fingerling potatoes (if I remember correctly) that I bought from Whole Foods in the winter. A few of them started to sprout, so I left them on the counter and cut them into pieces once the eyes began to grow. I didn't plant them until mid-March (usually we plant potatoes here in February), didn't hill them up properly, but this was a nice sized crop from just two little plants. I spread some of the dirt and composted leaves over the remaining plants so they'll grow a bit more, and in a few weeks I'll harvest them, too.

There are only 10% of the original 130K+ residents left without power- they're estimating that we will join the ranks of the powered today. Last night we bailed and went to a friend's house to sleep in the AC. It was bliss.

I had planned to finish the last of the May 27 berry bowl orders this week, but obviously, that didn't happen. The good news is that the enforced rest means that my arms are healed! Hopefully next week when little boy is at a day camp I'll crank the rest out and get them out to my most patient friends and customers.

Happy Wednesday! And keep your fingers crossed for us!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

little things

purple kohlrabi
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
breezes, ice, good friends who whisk us away to the pool for the day, and big things, like friends who lend us their generator.
Day 4 without power and we're fine, cranky, but fine. Better with the fan and fridge, courtesy of said generator (**ETA, we've had hot water the whole time because the heater, like our stove, is gas. It's been a help).

I made this round vase, oh, four years ago. Couldn't sell it at the time. Now I think it looks lovely with the purple-veined kohlrabi leaves in my windowsill.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

at-home camping

our light lately
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
Friday afternoon we had a big, big storm. Our power is out and may stay out for the week according to our utility company. One neighborhood to the east of us is powered back up, so I'm hopeful, but for now, I'm hanging out anywhere there's free wi-fi and air.

I've borrowed a friend's aero coffee maker, another friend's deep freeze, and with the grill, the crank radio, indoor plumbing (and hooray, the water heater still works!) and, um, the car, we're doing just fine. This is taking the idea of a stay-cation to a new level, but I'm fairly certain that gary will be going to work at first light Monday morning.

Pottery-wise, I'd planned to fire this week, but that's not happening. I'll continue to make slab pottery- platters and plates and the like. For now, though, I'm enjoying the air conditioning and comy sofas in my church's parish hall for just a few more minutes.

Have a great week, everyone!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

not much to report this week

sprig decorating
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
not. much. at. all.

I got some nice things in the mail today. That last bit means I'm quite finished shopping for the summer.
I'm planning to sew a little (haven't yet), read a little (finally read Julie and Juila, now on to the Dangerous World of Butterflies, which I heard about on Bob Edwards Weekend). Gardened a little. Kept my wrists wrapped/iced. They're doing much, much better.

Today I thew a tiny little bit and made these three small plates with my slab roller and an old press mold I made out of clay and some early fiddleheads at least seven years ago. I'm going to make a few more and glaze them in my deep celadon green. We'll see if they work or not. I'm a wee bit concerned about how they'll stack since the fiddleheads are raised. I really like square plates- these are little melamine salad plates I've picked up at target over the past few years. My favorite mold is a long version of these plates, but they haven't carried that long melamine platter shape in a few years. I could really use more than one, but I'll keep my eyes open for them.

Not working has thrown me off kilter a bit. I'm taking it slow so that I can get back to work. I felt much better after I spent an hour in the studio today.

More later. Happy Almost Friday.

Monday, June 8, 2009

bird's egg glaze

salt cellar
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
On Saturday I had my last-day-for-the-summer (I *think*) at the farmers market. I bailed out a session early, but I plan to go back in September/October. All of the pottery-making, 100 push-up-ing, aspic-making (or rather, full 10 gal stockpot lifting) has resulted in some stress/overuse injuries to both of my arms. I'm resting them for several weeks so that I can get back to the wheel; this means no new thrown-potter, and I don't have enough ware to take back down to the market week after next. I'd rather not be there than have a pitiful little showing. I can still do some handbuilding, and I've got some new ideas percolating in this old brain, so maybe I'll be able to save the work and ideas for a sale at home in July. Maybe.

But back to this glaze. I've gotten such a good response to this glaze. I've sold out of my little egg vases and most of the bowls. I made this little lidded salt cellar for Gretchen, who used to work with my husband eons ago and is also a friend's cousin. One double-degree of separation. Another couple asked me about mugs in this glaze, which I hadn't thought about- my sole application idea was egg vases, but why not mugs?. Someone else asked about a berry bowl in this speckled robin's egg blue (more of those in july!). For now, I'm thinking about some squarish plates and platters in this glaze. Later on, I'll make more lidded items like this one. Maybe even larger- butter-dish sized. And mugs.

I'm excited to get away from what I *must* do for a little while and think in slightly different veins. I'm thinking about molds for pieces that are particularly difficult to make, thinking about flat things, thinking about different, 3-d decorations. I'm also thinking about photographing all of my unsold ware and putting it up on etsy. Or about hauling out the sewing machine and playing that way this week.

I hope you're finding your summer unfolding with creative potential this week, too.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

site maintenance

we're doing a little work of the url for the sole reason that I'm out of business cards, need more, and we may as well get the right url on the cards as not. Right? So if things are funny for you, as in, you get directed to a google reader feed, drop me a line and I'll put my PR guy on it.
Happy week.

Friday, June 5, 2009

one local supper: 1

one local supper: 1
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
This isn't our first entirely local meal. I'll post about the first one a bit later, because it's been such a hectic week. Tomorrow is my farmer's market day, little boy has been at a day camp all week, and I seem to have come down with tendonitis in both arms. The first local meal was before all of this craziness began, and I'm grateful for that, because this is only the second real, home-cooked meal we've had this week. Usually I'm a 5+ home-cooked meals a week kind of girl. I like to cook and I'm nutritionally picky.

I, ah, amended my definition of local a smidge this year. I'm allowing a 150 mi radius from Memphis because my milk and goat cheese sources are both a tad over 100 miles away. And after much deliberation, I've decided to give myself the gift of purchased wine/cider vinegar, because I couldn't find a good local vinegar. I tried, but it was all meal-ruiningly-bad.

So. Friday evening we had local polenta (from delta grind, and I'm afraid you'll have to google anything you're interested in because I'm to stinkin' tired to link) with sauteed green onions, swiss chard and beet greens (dodson farm and whitton farms) with the leanest pork sausage* I've ever had. You know how when you cook sausage the pan usually fills up with fat? I had to add olive oil to get the greens to cook "right." Bulk sausage came from Yoder Bros in Paris TN. We had a chopped "farmers market salad"- lettuce, radishes, carrots all from the market, cherry tomatoes from my garden- with a buttermilk/yogurt/goat cheese ranchy dressing. Buttermilk and milk for the yogurt (which I made) are from Rock Springs Dairy in Wildersville, TN (available in Memphis at Easy Way). Goat cheese is from Bonnie Blue Farms in Waynesboro TN.

This was good- even little boy ate it all. He said that the goat cheese tastes "gorgeous." Yes, it's a word I use a lot. He wasn't crazy about the swiss chard stems, but he tried one or two and I happily ate the rest.

Next up- our local pork chops, beet salad, and roasted potatoes. Every meal at our house doesn't feature meat, but it keeps the boys happy. I was a vegetarian for many years, and probably 1/3 of our meals are completely veggie, but we usually have meat as a side dish, as we did Friday night. There wasn't more than 1/2 cup of sausage in our meal (total, not in each serving), but it sure did help the boys to eat those greens. There were none left!

Have a great good-eating weekend everyone!

*Andrew Donnell, of Donnell Beef just let me know that this wonderful sausage comes from Barnes Farm and is his neighbor. He also makes wonderful porkchops, bacon, and porkloin. I have more porkloin in my freezer but I haven't broken it out yet. I'm looking forward to it, though!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

piling up

Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
I am firing my kiln right now, for the third time in as many days. It didn't finish on Tuesday night, I couldn't figure out why, but thought that it was so full, maybe it just needed more time. Didn't finish last night, I was perplexed and a little worried. I woke up in a cold sweat at 3 am, went to check it, saw that the light had gone off, so I thought, "all is well" and went back to bed. This morning I went out to look at the kiln and saw that it STILL hadn't finished. Because the bottom element was on low while the middle and top were on high. Which meant that *perhaps* the ware in the center was properly fired, but the ware on the bottom definitely was not. Nor were the pieces on top, because I peeked. So I'm refiring. Again. And dreading my next utility bill. But grateful that we had a cold front come in and today's high is 70, so there is no need for air conditioning. Because, as I'm sure I've told you, I can not run the air and the kiln at the same time.

There are about 18 berry bowls in the kiln now, which will take me half-way through the last batch of orders. I haven't made any new ones yet because I threw so much last week that I developed a mild case of "owie arms," repetitive stress pain, in both arms. I haven't been on the wheel in 2 weeks to give my arms a chance to heal.

These plates were a custom order that I finished up the last week of May. I was so happy with them- happy enough to make more! They are 5" in diameter and I made 4 with different ferns, 2 with ginkgo leaves, and 2 with japanese maple leaves. I hope that Robert and Emma like them, too!

I'll be at the farmer's market this weekend- and I just saw that I'm on the front page today! The weather is still going to be nice and cool this weekend- I hope you're able to get out and enjoy it.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

an ode to southern food and a friend.

love is
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
Tomorrow we're having a memorial luncheon for a dear friend. She was a native of the Mississippi Delta, so we're doing it right. Do you know about the Delta? Or about Deltans? There's an old one-liner about about the Delta: "it's rainin'! Let's have a party!" I first heard that one from my friend Rayner. I've known lots of Deltans, and I have lived in Mississippi, and for all of the region's flaws and its frequently deservedly bad reputation, there is a strong sense of hospitality and making the best of any situation, turning it into a joy-filled event, even if the circumstances are not joyous. I lived in Mississippi, and I'm a strong person, but I'm not a Delta girl. They're made of stronger stuff.

On the menu: Chicken Salad (with nuts), Vichyssoise, Tomato Aspic (my contribution), Cucumber Sandwiches, Fig Cake, Champagne (lots), wine (lots), and some beer. And lots more food that I can't even remember. And y'all, this is what I love. The luncheon is at our church. I'm so happy at such times (at all times, frankly, as I'm a convert) to be an Episcopalian- that we can enjoy our friend's memory, with libations, at church. Rayner was our crucifer for many many years- and she was an extraordinary caterer. Church, food, and wine were important to her. They are important to me.

My friend Rayner was such an encourager. She encouraged me to become active at our church. She encouraged me to really pursue pottery. We shared a love of McCarty Pottery. She was the epitome of hospitality. If someone was ill- she took food. If someone had a special occasion- she took food. She brought artichoke dip for all of my early pottery sales, and often stayed to help close down the first night- chatting up customers, pouring wine (for she was a Delta girl, after all), and buying a special piece or two to use in her catering business or for a friend or family member. She was a "doer." Not one to sit back.

I'm having a hard time with her death. I'm so glad that she's not struggling with cancer anymore. She fought hard for 3 years and outlasted 90% of esophageal cancer patients. But I miss her. I miss who she was before she was sick. I miss who she was in the midst of her sickness. But I'm happy to help honor her tomorrow in the ways that I can. I am a worker- she was a worker. I'm working through it. I'm celebrating her life and honoring her memory by helping to throw a party. If you have a little drink tomorrow, on Wednesday- of wine, tea, or even water, send up a little toast for my friend Rayner, will you? I will too.

Monday, June 1, 2009


Already? I have a self-imposed "rule" about the AC. Well, guideline, really. I don't like to run it before June. Last night we had to turn it on. Mid 90s all week. Everything is green, blooming, producing. Those tomatoes, though, are cheaters. The hanging basket was a gift in mid-march, it came full of blooms. I brought it in and out every night. Nice teeny salad tomatoes.

The other thing about the AC is that when it is on, the kiln can't be. Or vice-versa. We crank the air up so that it is very cool then turn the kiln on right before we go to bed. When we wake up, we turn the air back on. If we're lucky, we'll have a cool day, weatherwise, on a scheduled firing day. Yesterday got up to 93, so I fired during the night. I hope to glaze fire on Tuesday evening*. Hoping for a cool day.

I hope you all have a beautiful summery week!


*I'm still working on cranking out and delivering berry bowls to everyone who has ordered one. I got lucky with a 2-week turnaround on the first half of the first batch of orders. The next 33 will be in the 4-6 week range. Thanks for your patience!