Last week (mid-August, 2003) I went to Colorado to attend a crystal-glaze workshop with Fara Shimbo.
I was supposed to go through Pittsburgh, but there was some sort of mechanical trouble, and they had to get us a different plane, which took quite a while -- I was late enough getting out of BWI that I missed my connecting flight. The airline rebooked me through Charlotte, where it was so humid outside that this is what I saw when I finally got on the plane to Denver:
The airconditioning system was taking in outside air and chilling it below its dew point. Every air vent in the plane was spewing waves of fog, which at times was so thick that the upper half of the plane was almost completely filled with it.
I eventually did get to Denver (about 5 hours late, argh) and continued on to Boulder, where I stayed with Jacque Marshall. Jacque has a lot of guinea-pigs; here are a few of them, having a secret meeting to plan a takeover:
She has built them quite a little hotel, which she keeps expanding by constructing additions. The guinea-pig population keeps expanding too, but under moderately controlled conditions -- Jacque can only build at a certain pace.
Fa and her husband, Bob, live a little bit northeast of Boulder. Here's a Colorado sunset that I saw on my way back to Jacque's one evening:
Fa has studied animal communication, and has done various animal rescue work. She and Bob also have some pets, currently including cats, dogs, and horses.
That's Katrina, an Akhal-Teke, on the left.
Fa also has four ostriches. I don't think you can properly describe an ostrich as a pet, but Fa says they make pretty good couches.
This is what an ostrich looks like, about two seconds before it bites you (note the blandly satisfied expression):
The hand in the photo is Fa's, and the ostrich did not bite her, probably because she has established herself as Da Big Boss-Lady among them (the hens even invite her to take a turn sitting on their eggs once in a while); it bit me. Mind you, I don't think there was any malice in it -- the hand was a different color from the shirt, is all.
"Must mean something, the different color, no? Think I'll check it out.
Uck. Not ostrich food. Sigh. Where's the ostrich food? Didn't you bring me some ostrich food? Here, lemme eat that thing off your shirt -- it's a different color from the rest, it must be good."
...and so on. Fa claims that the four of them share approximately one synapse. (I was careful to remove my phone, my camera case, my pens, my LED flashlights, and on one occasion even my glasses before I went into the ostrich area. Sure enough, they went after my belt-buckle and buttons...)
I should note that although being pecked by an ostrich is surprising and somewhat disconcerting, I didn't find it particularly painful. Not a patch on getting bitten by a goose.
Ostriches have great eyelashes...
...and truly astonishing feet:
(When was the last time you saw a bird with two toes?)
There was also various wildlife, including a nice mantis:
I didn't get any good crystals out of the firings (I'm just beginning to learn about these glazes), but I hope to have some eventually from my kiln here. You can always go to Fa's Website [link, above] if you want to see some nifty photos. Meanwhile, here's a bowl that I threw the last time I was in Colorado, about a year and a half back. Fa glazed and fired it for me:
That's one glaze, fired once (!).
Ellie Blair did get some pretty amazing results. Here's a bottle she made, after a special post-firing treatment that Fa has worked out:
While I was there, Fa asked me if I'd throw a saggar for her from some high-temp stoneware that someone provided. (Lots of people misspell that as "sagger", but it has nothing to do with sagging; as far as I know, it's a corruption of "safeguard" -- something you put pots in, to protect them from flames and ash deposits in the kiln.) Here is the completed piece, sitting on Fa's wheel just after I threw the knob onto the lid --
I was very careful to keep the clay centered while I was
throwing, and to make a nice broad flat rim on each half
where it meets the other, to act as a gas seal. The fit is
nice and tight, so the lid doesn't wobble back and forth,
and the knob is big so she can grasp it securely while
wearing a hot-mitt, in case she has to do that. I include
the photos because even though it is gawky and ungainly, it
is technically one of the best pieces I've thrown so far.
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Last modified: Sat Feb 9 00:18:36 EST 2013