Throwing Thursday - Bisque & Glaze Firing

There are a lot of steps getting pots ready for the kiln.  The first step is of course getting the pots thrown and completely bone dry.  That can take as little as a week or as long as 3 weeks depending on the clay thickness, and drying area.  The warmer the area the pots are stored in the shorter the time it takes to get to the bone dry state.

Photo Credit - Renee Sosanna Olson
Loaded Kiln

Before the glazing process the pots must be bisque fired.  Bisque firing takes the pots from green-ware stage to bisque.  This is where the pot is ready to accept the glaze.  The kiln can be fully loaded, meaning pots on top of pots and the kiln sitter loaded with the correct cone for the type of clay.  After the firing is complete the pots will have a slight ting sound with thumped.  On to the glaze.

Glazing a pot is a step where a mixture is applied to the pots that when fired actually turns to a liquid glass and coats the pots with a protection and decorative layer.  For our test fire, we picked up an assortment of glazes from Clay-King out of South Carolina.  This is the same place I purchased my ClayBoss pottery wheel.  They have really reasonable prices.

Photo Credit - Renee Sosanna Olson
Glazing Area

We used the dip method to coat the pots.  Because I'm still learning how to throw, I neglected to make sure all my pots had a lip or foot on the bottom to hold on to while dipping.  This made for a bit of extra clean up before we could put them in the kiln.  The bottom of the pots all need to be completely free of the glaze to ensure that the pots don't stick to the kiln shelves during firing.

After the pots are dry from the glaze they can be placed in the kiln about an inch or so apart.  The pots should not touch.  They should be away from the walls, the top and from each other.  As the kiln reaches the firing point and the glaze turns to liquid glass, the pots can become fused together or to parts of the kiln.

Photo Credit - Renee Olson
Kiln Loaded for Glaze Fire

Each kiln is different and requires a bit of testing to make sure everything fires nicely.  We have a kiln sitter on our kiln.  The sitter holds a bar (pyrometric cone)  that breaks when the kiln has reached the correct cone or temperature. When the bar breaks the kiln shuts off.  The kiln then cools down over the next day, at which point the pots will cool down and be ready to remove.

Sometimes an event will occur.  It is called under-fire.  This can happen if power goes out or if the kiln does not reach the correct temperature to melt the glaze.  If this happens, it is usually a good idea to do a cone test on the kiln to ensure that the kiln is reaching the correct temperature to melt the glaze.

You'll be able to confirm a miss-fire by opening the kiln and seeing the following image.  It will look EXACTLY like it did when it was loaded.  Sometimes, some of the glaze may appear melted however the photo below shows no changes to the glaze coat.

Photo Credit - Renee Olson

That is what happened to us on our first fire.  So for now, we test fire, fire again and hope for the best.

Next week, tune in for what we hope will be a colorful reveal.

Missing My Stew - Sharing 4/20

This was to be my Sunday Stew post for today.  For those that don't know, Kallan's laptop is down for the count and we're waiting not so patiently for its return.  I thought I'd share the post I originally submitted for the Stew today.  So for those that celebrate... Happy 4/20.

April 20th is a day that has a lot of highs and lows.  One of the most recognizable associations is of course 4/20 day.   Urban legend tells us that 4/20 day, 4/20 being a code for Marijuana, started as a police code for marijuana smoking in progress.  As with most urban legends this one is a bit off, however that does not stop millions of marijuana enthusiasts from lighting up and celebrating 4/20. 

April 20th has had many negative things happen.  One of which is in 1999 Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold killed 13 people and injured 24 more before taking their own lives in Colorado at Columbine High School.  Some stories say it was in retaliation for bullying and others claim that it was in celebration of Hitler’s Birthday.  This is only one of the many great losses we've experienced on 4/20 leading some to believe that this day is cursed.  Plane crashes, drilling rig explosions and earthquakes fall on this day into 2013.  Our hearts forever touched by these huge losses.

We have a choice in our lives to either focus on the negative or embrace the positive.  We are not ignoring the past, or forgetting those things that were so tragic, but instead looking for the silver lining.  So for this edition of Sparkle & Shine, I’m going to give you a few wonderful things to celebrate on 4/20 that won’t get you arrested.

1902 Marie & Pierre Curie isolate the radioactive element radium chloride
1910 Halley ’s Comet makes it 29th recorded pass
1972 Apollo 16 lands on the moon
1974 Paul McCartney releases the single – Band on the Run
1977 Annie Hall premieres
1981 Final performance of the TV show Soap airs
1993 Uranus passes Neptune, only happens once every 171 years
1997 Space Shuttle Endeavour 6 lands
1996 Chicago Bulls win a record 72 games in a season
2008 Danica Patrick becomes the first female driver to win an Indy car race

We have to keep in mind that April 20th is not only the birthday of Adolf Hitler and Napoleon III (who apparently share a happogroup with me) but also of Jessica Lange, Shemar Moore and George Takei.  

By Diane Krauss (DianeAnna) (Own work)  via Wikimedia Commons

Many celebrate today as the Cannabis Culture holiday of 4/20 and the Christian Feast Day.  Which I think make wonderful bedfellows!

By SanctusAbMortis (Own workPhotographed by Dan Schooling.) [CC-BY-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

While we remember and respect those things we've lost, let’s take a moment and celebrate the good things in our lives.  Let’s embrace the world and send out a big dose of positive energy.  We all can use a little good thoughts no matter where we are.

No matter what or how you look at 4/20 day, stop take a deep breath and have a fantastic day!

Namaste & Blessed Be

Source -


Throwing Thursday - Tantrums Not Mud

As many of you know my laptop has been shipped off to HP for repairs.  I'm writing this on the Saturday before I put it in the box and seal it up I needed to schedule a few posts in the event my little guy doesn't make it back in time.

I've noticed over my years on the internet a serious lack of personal responsibility when it relates to posting. Being behind a computer screen gives some people a veil of anonymity to which they feel they can attack others without being held accountable.  One thing that really blows me away is that people believe you can delete things from a blog entry or from a chat room and it is gone. Article after article will tell you that NOTHING is ever deleted.

There are things that were posted about me when I worked at Sony Online Entertainment as a Game-Master for Everquest that I wish could be removed. Just Google search GM Salonafinn.  There they are in all their glory.  It would be nice if some of it was gone.  But guess what?  They won't be.  Even the victims of suicide have had their photos that were on the internet used as ad photos for dating sites.

As someone on the internet today, people need to take individual responsibility for what they share.  If you join a blog, or a message board and you select the profile picture, you agree to participate, coming back later and demanding that the board is some how responsible for your face being out there associated with a particular view on a topic, is indeed a mistake.  We all grow and change our minds.  Maybe one day we fully support PETA and post lots of blog posts and messages about them.  We then find out they actually euthanize more animals than most kill shelters and we rethink that position.  We can certainly post our new position but expecting all content ever published regarding our alliance with PETA to be stricken from the web is ridiculous.

There are only two things in life we can really control.  What we say and what we do.  When people are caught in a situation that implicates them, sometimes it is a bitter pill to swallow to understand it's not the ISP, or the computer, the chat room manager or the blog author who is responsible for our face being on the web. That is a decision we made.

That being said I wanted to offer a few tips for participating online with a bit more privacy without throwing a tantrum.

  • If you're not out in life, don't be out on the web
  • Use a pseudonym
  • Use a avatar
  • If you don't want your mom to see it, don't put it on the web

Remember, once it is out there on the web, you're probably never going to get it completely off.


Calling a Spade a Spade

When I was in my 9th grade creative writing class I remember each morning the teacher would have us all write a paragraph.  It could be anything we wanted to write about.  When I handed her my assignment she circled a word and looked at me and said the following:
"Don't use a $50 word when a .50 word will do."
I've taken this with me through my entire life.  Basically what she as saying was, to call a spade a spade.   From Joseph Devin's 1910 book - "How to Speak and Write Correctly". (link)
"For instance, you may not want to call a spade a spade. You may prefer to call it a spatulous device for abrading the surface of the soil. Better, however, to stick to the old familiar, simple name that your grandfather called it."

I can honestly say that this has been my personal philosophy on life.  While trying to remain tactful, giving honest feedback when requested and providing my honest opinion about things has not won me a great deal of friends.  I've found that many people are not really interested in the truth or to know exactly what you're thinking about a particular idea.

More often than not what they are really looking for is a pat on the back, affirmation and move on.  There are a few out there that really want blunt, honest feedback.  These people know that when they come to me with questions or they want my opinion, I will not hold back and I will give them honest professional opinions about the item in question.

I also have a strong sense of fairness.  I do not like to see people picked  on or bullied by someone else.  I do not believe in running down other people behind their back.  If you have an issue with me, come to me. Talk to me directly.  Don't post some crazy status message or blog post about it.  Don't run your mouth to my friends behind my back.  When I see someone running another person down, I'm going to say something. Just as I would expect any of my friends when approached with lies or gossip to stand up for me.

"Being honest may not get you a lot of friends, but it'll always get you the right ones"
- John Lennon

Calling out someone isn't always going to win you friends.  In fact, I personally have experienced ridicule, gossip and blackballing because I stood up to someone.  I was tagged "mean girl" because I said, NO, you're not going to say X about X and be unchallenged.

And I'm OK with that.


Throwing Thursday - 11th Throw

Here's some shots of my 11th throw.

Photo Credit - Renee Sosanna Olson

Photo Credit - Renee Sosanna Olson

Photo Credit - Renee Sosanna Olson

Photo Credit - Renee Sosanna Olson

Photo Credit - Renee Sosanna Olson

Photo Credit - Renee Sosanna Olson

Photo Credit - Renee Sosanna Olson

Photo Credit - Renee Sosanna Olson

Photo Credit - Renee Sosanna Olson

Photo Credit - Renee Sosanna Olson

My DNA Journey

So on my birthday hubby picked me up one of those 23 and Me DNA kits. I started out by doing some research on which kits gave you what type of results.  I’m to trying to reinvent the wheel so I’ll link to a DNA comparison page that gives you all the pros and cons of each service.  I decided to go with 23 and Me because it offered a referral program that I could share with people AND 20% off any additional kits I purchased.  I was also concerned about the ability to be able to download my raw DNA and share it on other sites.  I’m a member of however the note about having to be a subscriber for some of the results bothered me.  That is the main reason I chose not to go with AncestryDNA.  Hubby wanted to get access to the medical portion of this, however at this time the FDA has ruled that they cannot provide that.

The interface on 23 and Me left me a little confused.  When I commented on their Facebook page, they recommended that I review the example blog to fully understand the results.  I’ve yet to go back and have a look at that.

My overall results were 99.8% European.  That broke down to 34.2% British/Irish, 1.1% French/German and a whopping 56.8% Nonspecific Northern European.  I had a tiny 0.1% Sub-Saharan African. 

Screenshot - 23 & Me

I then found another site that were really helpful with the DNA raw data.  One was  I just uploaded my raw data from the 23 & Me test and for FREE it returned a bit more specific results on my ancestry.

Screenshot -

Finally I found a third site that gave me the medical information that was missing from the 23 & Me kit. will let you upload your raw data and provide you with a pretty detailed medical evaluation for $5.00.   They keep the data on the site for a limited time, but do allow you to download your results at the time of the submission which you can review at any time. 

The site offers a goodnews/badnews set up.

Here is my good news.

Screenshot -
Here is my bad news.

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Each area can be drilled down and a lot of information is available.  The site owner recommends to check back periodically as new information from DNA is made available to find more information.

Over all it was a pretty interesting experience.  There was much speculation that there may have been Native American blood in my family.  This DNA test pretty much ruled that out completely.  I have 0% American blood.  I am pretty much completely European with a dash of African.  The European part is broken up with a bit the Irish.  According to the records that I have found up to this point, my maternal link to Ireland is Alexander O’Grady who was the father of William O’Grady born in 1680 in Donegal Ireland. 

Earlier this week I had contact with someone who matched my DNA on 23 & Me.  I introduced myself and we discovered that we shared a common paternal ancestor (Micajah Casey).  The very cool thing about this is that there was a story in my family about how my mother had slept with one of my father's uncles and that was who my "real" father was.  Tracing the DNA, with the assistance of my new 23 & Me DNA relative we found that our connection was through my father's mother.  That would mean that only one of her son's would have been able to pass that DNA to me.  NOT from an uncle (my grandfather's brothers).

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I'm still learning more and hopefully will end up finding some people to help me establish who Alexander Potter's father is.  Which is my current complete dead end on my family tree.

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Overall at first I was not impressed with 23 & Me at all.  I was annoyed that it really didn't open up that much for me.  But I do see now, how more people joining in and contacting with people they share DNA with opens up many of the doors that were tightly closed.

I wonder if that means I celebrate St. Patrick's Day now?   LOL  J/K

Hope this information is useful!

Throwing Thursday - Singing Clay

When working with pottery there are always broken pots or bowls that don't make it.  There's also the trim that comes off the pots when smoothing them out to dry to bone dry.  These end pieces, broken pieces and un-fired bits can be tossed back into a bit of water to melt back down to a clay state.

Earlier in this series I wrote about how to do that process.  One thing that I wasn't able to catch at the time was the sound of the dry clay being dropped into the water.  Bone dry clay is like a dry sponge.  If you drop it in the water you can literally hear the sucking sound. 

Today I recorded it to share.