Archive for July, 2010

The Dream Trip: Camp 14, March 16-17

Saturday, July 24th, 2010

After lunch with Raven’s group we packed up and went across the river to look at what has become of the Shady Ledges. The Shady Ledges is a favorite post Lava lunch spot used by many river trips. Sometime since the last time I was there a huge bunch of limestone fell down bisecting the spot. It is quite impressive. From there we floated lazily down to the Whitmore Wash Camp. ON the way we saw the first ocotillo flowers and one Whipple’s Yucca in bloom. The dessert in general is very green from the winter rains but we have seen few blooming plants yet.
At Whitmore Wash we encountered a group from Colorado laid over there. It was the same bunch we had seen at Matkatamiba. Since we had yielded the Matkat Hotel Camp to them they invited us to share the beach with them. They would be leaving in the morning and we could stay there for a lay over. We had a good time visiting with them and swapping more river tales. One of their group had just finished a biography of Harvey Butchart and couldn’t find any takers for it in his group so he passed it to us and we spent the rest of the trip reading it together. It was a great read and what better place to read it than the Canyon.
Our hosts left us in the morning by about 9:30. We buttoned down our camp and went hiking. Lee wanted to do the Whitmore Wash mule trail so she went that way. I angled southwest and summited the twin peaks visible from camp. It was a strenuous hike and I made the peaks in 2.5 hours. The desert was very beautiful. Everything was green and the ocotillos blooming a little.

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The twin peaks are visible in the back ground of this image.
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Looking west and then north from the summit. Note all of the lava flows coming from the rim down.
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From the summit I descended a very steep chute to the saddle west of the peaks. There are a lot of faults in the area and I found myself on the Esplanade Sandstone. I contoured around to an alcove I had seen from above that has a huge juniper tree in it. In the alcove was a very old bee colony. A long time ago someone, Indian or cowboy fashioned a crude ladder from some of the long branches of the juniper tree and harvested honey from the cliff above. I couldn’t tell how old the ladder was. TYhe bee colony still had bees buzzing around it.

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A very tenacious little tobacco plant growing out of the rock.

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From the bee alcove I descended a talus slope to the valley below and picked up an old cowboy trail back to our camp. The decsent reminded me of my age. Thank heaven for ibuprofin. Lee has also had a great day. We enjoyed swapping stories as we made our dinner. It was Lee’s 54th birthday and we celebrated with roast beef, mashers with gravy and a cabbage salad with red bell peppers in it. Can you believe it, red peppers on day 20 with no ice on the trip? Dessert was apple crisp with canned whipped cream….again, no ice!

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Our camp at Whitmore Wash. With the stars as our canopy we slept hard after such a good day.

July 2010 Firing

Friday, July 23rd, 2010

Unloaded pots from my latest firing last night and today. I fired on Monday starting the fire at midnight in an attempt to miss some of the beastly heat we have had this month. I enjoyed firing through the cool of the night.

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The kiln. This was firing number 72.

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The boys from Birch Creek came and helped me prepare wood earlier last week.
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We spent three days at Bear lake on the Utah/Idaho boarder with Lee’s Webster relatives. Upon returning Thursday evening I unbricked the kiln and took these pictures. We unloaded the kiln Friday morning.
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This grave marker was in the firing. It is for Hannah Wagstaff who passed away two years ago near here. It will be installed on her grave near Hatch, Utah.

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I had six of these lidded bakers in the firing and they turned out reasonably well.
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I had a bunch of tall vases and jars on board.

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Tea Bowls
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One of these oval vases fell into the firebox and got blessed.

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20 inch platter
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John’s dinner ware.

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Matt Hamilton helped me evaluate the pots.

Making the “MacKenzie” salt shaker.

Friday, July 16th, 2010

Many people associate this little salt shaker with the Minnesota potter Warren MacKenzie. He has made a lot of them. A friend of mine traveling in rural France saw them in a traditional potter’s showroom. Who knows. Warren did not come up with the design. As the story goes he was teaching a class when one of the students came in with a salt shaker and asked Warren if he would show them how to make one. Warren asked the student where that one had come from. The student replied that his teacher had made it to which Warren replied why don’t you have the teacher show you. The student replied that the teacher wouldn’t, that it e=was a secret. Warren then suggested that this was no teacher.
I was eating lunch with Warren and Nancy some years ago at their home in Stillwater where I first saw one of the salt shakers. As I was examining it Warren gave me some pointers on making one. I’ll pass the information along.
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I start with a centered ball of about one pound of clay.
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I open the clay leaving the clay in the middle a bit thicker than the rest of the bottom.
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I thin open the bottom of the pot all the way to the wheel head.
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I pull up a little bitty cylinder in the center of the pot.
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I close the cylinder off forming a cone.
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The a start pulling up the outside walls
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See the cute little cone down in there?
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I taper the walls in and close off the top.
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With the top sealed off I shape the salt shaker into whatever shape I want. I like a slightly onion dome shape.

After the shaker is leather hard I put it in a chuck and trim the outside edge and trim out the inside of the cone. A needle tool works best for the inside. I then bore a hole in the center of the cone with a one eighth inch drill bit. That size works best according to MacKenzie. If it is smaller the salt takes too long to load. If it is larger the slat comes out too fast. In use the salt will only come out if the shaker is shaken up and down. If it is shaken side to side nothing comes out.
People always ask if they can put pepper in this pot. I tell them to use a small pepper mill.

The Zuni Trip

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

Joe Bennion in Lava Falls from Matt Fahey on Vimeo.

I’ll be blogging about this trip soon. Here is a teaser from Matt Fahey.