Show-n-Tell Ceramics, GR Pottery Forms

Image source: Scarva

Experimenting with Shapes and Textures

New ceramics supplies at the Visual Arts Center of NJ means time to experiment! I’ve been creating textured dishes with the studio’s GR Pottery Forms. These cool, fiberboard shapes come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and I’ve been having fun trying out different forms, applying textures, and finishing with different glaze combinations.

Next up will be small, wheel-thrown bud vases. Hon, I’ll let you know how they turn out.

Happy creating!

Basket weave texture on medium, rectangular dish. Stones on long, thin dish, made without a form.
Hexagons, plaques, and oval with leaves, swirls, stones and lace textures.

Cinnamon Swirl Apple Bread

Image source: Once Upon a Chef

This is the first time I baked Cinnamon Swirl Apple Bread, but it won’t be the last! I intended to bake Coffee Cake, but didn’t have sour cream or buttermilk on hand. Searching for a recipe that contained ingredients I already had in my kitchen, I came across Jen Segal’s blog Once Upon a Chef  and found just what I was looking for. Her recipes look so good, I’m sure I’ll be referring to her blog again. The Cinnamon Apple Swirl Bread smelled amazing while it was in the oven!

Happy baking, hon.

CINNAMON SWIRL APPLE BREAD

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar (packed)
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 cup peeled and finely diced tart baking apple (such as Granny Smith)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and set oven rack in middle position. Spray an 8.5 x 4.5-inch loaf pan lightly with nonstick cooking spray. Optional:  line the long side of loaf pan with parchment paper “sling” and spray lightly with nonstick cooking spray again.
  2. In a small bowl, mix  brown sugar and cinnamon until evenly combined. Set aside.
  3. In a larger bowl, combine granulated sugar and eggs. Using an electric mixer with paddle attachment, blend on medium speed until pale and creamy
  4. With mixer on low, gradually add melted butter followed by milk and vanilla. Mix just until evenly combined.
  5. Add flour, salt, and baking powder to batter and mix on low speed until evenly combined.
  6. Add apples to batter and fold with a rubber spatula until evenly incorporated.
  7. Spoon about 2/3 of the batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle about 2/3 of brown sugar-cinnamon mixture on top of batter. Spoon remaining batter over top, followed by remaining brown sugar-cinnamon mixture. Using a butter knife, swirl layers by making a zig-zag motion through the batter once in each direction (don’t overdo it!).
  8. Bake for about 50 minutes, until bread is golden brown and a cake tester or toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Let bread cool on rack for about 30 minutes, then use parchment sling to lift bread out of pan and onto rack. Let cool completely before slicing, a few hours or overnight. Store loosely covered with aluminum foil on the countertop for up to 4 days.

Yield:  One 8.5 x 4.5 inch loaf (approx. 8-12 slices)

Show-n-Tell Ceramics, Textured Dishes

Clay Class

I spent a large part of the Fall semester’s Ceramic class working on a project that was way more challenging than I’d imagined. Since I’m going to Raku glaze and fire those pieces, that “Show-n-Tell” is a long way off. Once I’d finished throwing a number of closed spheres, I wanted to work on easier projects that would be glazed and fired much more quickly. Hon, you know I love texture so I pulled out my texture mats and got to work.

These ceramic pieces were created by using inspirational forms available at the studio. For the two small, shallow bowls and square bowl, rolled out clay was textured and then laid, trimmed and pressed into wooden bowls. The larger tray was textured and then draped, trimmed and pressed on top of a wooden tray. The berry bowl is an add-on. It’s not textured but I punched holes out to create a small colander. That was a project that I’d put away half-way done and just finished. So sweet!

Thanks for viewing and happy creating!

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread

Pumpkin Bread on my hand built ceramic serving dish.

Have you heard of The Able Baker in Maplewood, NJ? It has the most delicious baked goods and the place I go to when I don’t have time to bake. Last week, I picked up a Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread and wondered why didn’t I think of that? This easy and delicious recipe can only be made better by adding chocolate!

Happy baking, hon.

CHOCOLATE CHIP PUMPKIN BREAD (OR MUFFINS)

Yield:  2 loaves

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups sugar

4 large eggs

1 cup vegetable oil

1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree

3 1/2 cups flour (I used a combination of whole wheat and unbleached flour)

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3/4 teaspoon ground allspice

3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

2/3 cup water

1 cup chocolate chips, add more if desired

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Beat first 11 ingredients at low speed with an electric mixer for about 3 minutes or until well blended.  Add 2/3 cup water and beat until blended.  Stir in chocolate chips and pour batter into 2 greased and floured 9-by-5-inch loaf pans.  Or, add batter to muffin tins.  Bake for 1 1/4 hours for bread, 35 to 40 minutes for regular sized muffins, or 30 to 35 minutes for mini muffins.  Test centers with toothpicks and when they come out clean, they’re done.  Cool in the pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes; remove from pans and cool completely on wire rack.

Note:  Bread may be well wrapped and kept frozen up to three months.

Show-n-Tell Ceramics, Neriage Nesting Bowls

Neriage (pronounced nair-ee-ah-gee)is the Japanese word for the technique of combining different colored clays.

Neriage, according to ceramic artist Thomas Hoadley, comes from “neri…a root word meaning ‘to mix’ and age…a root word meaning to ‘pull up.’ This refers to the pulling up action in throwing clay on a wheel, hence neriage refers to wheel work with colored clays.”

I created these bowls by layering brown and white clay, and then throwing the combined clay. I glazed the insides in matte white and the outsides in glossy clear. Stripes give way to swirls and, since I wanted to maintain the clays’ natural patterns and didn’t smooth the insides completely, you can feel some of the throwing lines.

Patterns and textures–so fun to create!

Show-n-Tell Ceramics, Nerikomi Mugs and Plates

Mugs and coordinating plates. Insides and edges glazed with Sky.

Hon, have you heard of Nerikomi?

Neither had I and, although I’d combined different clays in the past, it wasn’t until this spring that I learned what it was called. Peter Syak, one of my amazing instructors, had finished Nerikomi hand-built mugs and coordinating dishes and, as ones does in ceramics, I wanted to try to create the same. Peter glazed the insides and edges of his pieces with GB Blue and I used Sky. More posts to come on this very cool technique.

Nerikomi defined by Robin Hopper, author of Making Marks:

In Japan, the words ‘neriage,’ ‘nerikomi,’ and ‘zougan’ are all used for specific colored clay processes and there is some confusion as to which is which. In England they are often referred to as ‘agateware;’ in Italy they’re often referred to as “millefiori,” from a decorative glass-forming process meaning “a thousand flowers.” 

In Japan the words neriage (pronounced nair-ee-ah-gee), nerikomi and zougan refer to different ways the colored clays are used. Always interested in why things are called what they are and the confusion surrounding names, I asked Thomas Hoadley, a long-time artist working with colored clays, about the Japanese names.

Hoadley told me, ‘When I became aware that colored clay work would be my primary life’s work, I figured I should get to the bottom of the nerikomi/neriage question. I had been told that even in Japan the terms are mixed up. I spoke to a Japanese woman who lives here, and she explained that neri is a root word meaning ‘to mix’ and age is a root word meaning to ‘pull up.’

This refers to the pulling up action in throwing clay on a wheel, hence neriage refers to wheel work with colored clays. Komi means ‘to press into,’ as in pressing clay slabs into a mold. Nerikomi thus means hand-building with colored clay, which in Japan I guess usually meant mold work. It has been expanded to include other methods of hand-building.”

Neriage and nerikomi both use either naturally occurring colored clays or light-colored clays that are specifically stained to satisfy the artist’s color requirement. Neriage, or agateware, is done by laminating different colored clays together and throwing them on a wheel to develop a swirling and spiraling blend of the clays. Cutting across the grain…will expose an infinite variety of random patterns.

Robin Hopper, author of Making Marks, for Ceramic Arts Network Daily, April 21, 2021

Pumpkin Bread

Pumpkin Bread and Muffins featured on my handmade ceramic dishes

I came across this recipe years ago and I love it! Found in a local magazine, the recipe was credited to Arthur Garcia of the Monterey Gourmet Shop in Bernardsville, New Jersey. It’s easy and delicious. The autumn air never fails to put me in the mood for pumpkin bread. This is great plain or heated up with a bit of butter or cream cheese. Happy baking, hon!

PUMPKIN BREAD (OR MUFFINS)

Yield:  2 loaves

2 1/2 cups sugar

4 large eggs

1 cup vegetable oil

1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree

3 1/2 cups flour (I used a combination of whole wheat and unbleached flour)

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3/4 teaspoon ground allspice

3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

2/3 cup water

optional- 1 cup chopped toasted walnuts or pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Beat first 11 ingredients at low speed with an electric mixer for about 3 minutes or until well blended.  Add 2/3 cup water and beat until blended.  Stir in the nuts if using and then pour  the batter into 2 greased and floured 9-by-5-inch loaf pans.  Or, add batter to muffin tins.  Bake for 1 1/4 hours for bread, 35 to 40 minutes for regular sized muffins, or 30 to 35 minutes for mini muffins.  Test centers with toothpicks and when they come out clean, they’re done.  Cool in the pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes; remove from pans and cool completely on wire rack.

Note:  Bread may be well wrapped and kept frozen up to three months.