Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Bringing Smiles

We are in the midst of the active, crazy, and exhausting season.  It’s not that it’s autumn or winter, it’s the holiday season.  This time of year many people are trying to spend time with friends and family, go to everyone’s party, shop for gifts, clean and decorate the house for guests, and still go to work, eat, and sleep like normal.  Good luck.  For me it’s a show or two every weekend until Christmas.  Some of the shows are three days long.  That drains me like running a marathon because I’m such an introvert.  I’ve seen people be ugly to each other while driving to the mall or shopping for the perfect gift at the best price.  All in the name of joy.  It’s really silly.

Pottery Smiles by Lori Buff
Smiling Soap/Sponge Holders

Last week my friend Gary Rosenberg wrote a blog post titled En-Vision Art which discussed how our lives are our art.  How we see things, how we react to things and events is our art.  How we bring smiles is defiantly our art.  So I’m going to challenge myself to try to find ways of bringing a smile to someone everyday throughout this season.  Would you like to join me in this challenge?  Post your ideas for bringing smiles in the comments of this blog or on my Facebook Page or tweet them using #HolidaySmiles.  Let’s see what we can do together.

Check out the gallery page - Future Relics Gallery by Lori Buff

Monday, November 24, 2014

Meatless Monday - Turkish Eggs

As the holiday’s approach people take time off from work.  This often means they are in the mood for a good breakfast and sometimes that mean eggs.  Many people think that eggs have to be served with a meat but really, they don’t.  If you’re concerned about the cholesterol in eggs skipping the meat will help.  This meatless egg meal has green leafy vegetables for vitamins, minerals and fiber plus yogurt for added protein and probiotics.  It also sports enough spice to help wake you up but it’s also really good for a quick and easy lunch or dinner.

The eggs in this recipe are poached.  I used an egg poacher for many years but it broke or something and I had to learn how to poach them in a pan of water.  I discovered that this isn’t really difficult and can be less messy with a couple of tricks.  First, I use a frying pan (not cast iron), I fill it with water then add a couple tablespoons of apple cider vinegar or rice vinegar.  This gets covered and set on a high heat until it boils.  As the water is boiling I break each egg into a small cup (like a measuring cup).  When the water is boiling gently pour the eggs out of the cups and into the water.  This helps keep them together and evenly cooked.  Bring the water back to a boil then cover the eggs and turn off the heat.  Let them cook for about 4-5 minutes depending on how runny you like the yokes.  Remove them from the pan with a slotted spoon.

Turkish Spiced Poached Eggs by Lori Buff
Turkish Eggs


1 TBS Butter
1 TBS Olive Oil
1 clove minced garlic
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
pinch of salt
4 eggs
1/2 cup greek yogurt
Spinach leaves or other greens of choice.


In a small sauce pan melt the butter and olive oil together.  Add the garlic and cool for about 30 seconds on medium low.  Add the other spices and salt.

In the meantime poach the eggs.

Create a bed of spinach, lay the eggs in the bed, spoon the sauce over the eggs and top with the yogurt.  Serve with toast.

Check out the gallery page - Future Relics Gallery by Lori Buff

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Good Karma At The Gift Show

Doing art shows can be fun and exciting as well as exhausting.  At some point in every show I think “I’m too old for this.”  But I keep doing them for several reasons like meeting new people.  Often the other artists and artisans are a lot of fun.  We share information about shows and stuff, we make friends because of the common bond.  Sometimes we create really good karma.

The NMP Gift Show was one of those shows with great karma.  I’ll give you an example.  I had been fairly active on social media in promoting the show, I wrote a blog article, posted on twitter and liked some other artists work on Instagram before the show.  It was no big deal and only took a little bit of time but I felt it paid off when one of the organizers came to my booth, thanked me for doing that and then bought a few pots from me.  Later someone else from the show posted a picture of one of my pieces and it sold within the hour.  It felt like good karma.

Wood Fired Pottery Vase with Horse design by Future Relics Gallery
Wood Fired Horse Vase

The next day I made friends with a woman that knit really funky scarves and hats and such.  She was a lot of fun and was promoting positive energy for a good show for all.  She’s one of those people with a great spirit.  She bought a smiling soap holder from me for her mom but as we were talking to another artists the bag slipped from her hand and the pot broke.  Sometimes the wrapping is just not enough to cushion against a hard floor.  I let her pick out a replacement but would not take her money, stuff breaks, it was nobodies fault.  Finally I had to say “if you have really great sales today I’ll let you pay for a new one, if not, don’t worry about it.”  At the end of the day she came to me with cash and a nice warm hat.  She said it was a good day.  I believe it was.

Check out the gallery page - Future Relics Gallery by Lori Buff

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Why Pots Break in the Kiln

So often potters talk about pots blowing up in the kiln because they have an air bubble in them but this is actually not completely true.  Yes, expanding air can make a pot crack or break but that usually happens in the drying process.  The clay gets smaller as it dries and squeezes the air which causes a crack or break. Sometimes the cracks are so small they aren't seen until the kiln is fired and expansion and contraction have done the damage.  So it is a good idea to avoid air pockets without some means of egress for the air.  But we usually make air pockets when we load the kiln. In a bisque kiln we often stack pieces which create an air pocket.  Any piece with a foot wil create an air pocket just by sitting on the kiln shelf.

Jar with Stuck Lid
When I made this lidded jar I forgot to put paper or cloth between the jar and the lid while the clay dried. The result is that the lid stuck to the rim of the jar.  Since I had not done anything to make it a strong connection- like slipping and scoring, I figured the lid might come free in the firing where a poor connection will usually separate.  Of course, it'll only come apart if you DON'T want it to.

If air pockets explode in the kiln this would have blown up, but it didn't.  Actually, I've been unable to get it to separate at all.  So sad.

So what makes pots blow up? Moisture.  As the water expands from the heat of the kiln it needs room and breaks apart the clay.  It's the worst enemy of a pot in the kiln.  If you make sure the clay is completely dry before you get the kiln over 212 degrees Fahrenheit you should not have any problems.

Check out the gallery page - Future Relics Gallery by Lori Buff

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Kiln Loading In The Cold

Potters who fire wood kilns, especially in warmer areas of the world, try to fire when the weather is cooler.  Fall and Spring are the favorite times of year for most of the wood firing potters I know.  It’s awfully nice to gather around a hot kiln on a cool evening tossing around wood and stories.  So often someone brings a guitar or ukulele, for even more entertainment.  It’s sort of like camping.  Of course this sometimes means that we are loading in cool or cold temperatures also.

Yesterday I went down to Roger Jamison’s to bring some pots and help finish loading the kiln. When I left Atlanta it was pouring rain but as I drove south it got lighter and finally stopped entirely.  That made me feel good.  Even though the kiln area is covered it would not be fun to be getting stormed on while loading.  As I was driving my phone sent me an alert that was long enough and strong enough to make me look at the phone.  I saw a tornado warning and advice that I seek shelter immediately!  I was in the middle of nowhere Georgia, it was going to take time to get to an exit to seek shelter.  So I kept my eye on the sky as well as the traffic and looked for a place to hunker down for a few minutes.

Thankfully, nothing seemed to develop and I made it to Roger’s with no issues.  We even commented on how “balmy” it felt out on the kiln pad.  Of course the tornato warning was because a cold front was hitting that balmy weather and we were putting our sweatshirts and wool hats on after a while.

Wood Kiln Loading by Lori Buff Pottery
Pots in the Wood Kiln

The good news is that we got the kiln loaded and will start firing it really soon.  The down side is that it will be unloaded on November 30th which is the last day of my Open Studio and Sale so I won’t be able to help or see the pots until after.  Luckily, I have several other shows after the studio sale so I can still get the good pots on display.

Check out the gallery page - Future Relics Gallery by Lori Buff

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Art Visions at Paideia School

While I’m at the NMP Gift Show some of my pottery will be at the Paideia School’s annual Art Visions show.  This is a great fundraiser for a great school.  You’ll find lots of fantastic art pieces and lot of great craft pieces for your home or to give as gifts.  We always do a little holiday shopping here, it’s a way to find something very unique and the prices are quite affordable.

I’ve had pieces in this show for a few years now and I always feel like they are appreciated.  I appreciate how much work goes into putting on the show.  For me it’s easy, make pots, fill out an inventory sheet, deliver pots, pick up remaining pottery (if any) at the end of the show, wait for a check.  But the volunteers who organize this are running around like crazy trying to make sure it all goes smoothly.  They do a beautiful job of it too.  It’s always a joy to be a part of this show.

If you’re in the area, you might want to consider checking it out, I’ll bet you find something you like.

Hours and directions are below.

  • Saturday, November 15
    10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Sunday, November 16
    12 p.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Location: Art Lobby & Practice Gym (Near the corner of Oakdale and South Ponce de Leon)

Check out the gallery page - Future Relics Gallery by Lori Buff

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Northside Methodist Preschool Gift Show

The Northside Methodist Preschool Gift Show starts today.  I’ve loaded up the truck and I am ready to go do the set up thing.  I’m really excited about this show for several reasons.

First, the people who are organizing this even have been very professional.  I’ve worked with a good many event organizers, I’ve even organized events myself, and it’s so nice to deal with a group that is well organized and professional.  I really feel like they are trying to make this show a success for the artists and artisans.

Second, it’s a new location for me so I get to meet a lot of new people.  Hopefully those people will be happy and fun and even want to buy some pottery.

Third, the show is inside.  As much as I love to be out of doors it’s often challenging because of the weather.  As much as we all want sunny, warm autumn days for these shows it’s not always possible. Sometimes the weather does not cooperate and we get cold, snow, wind, you know, winter weather.  I’m glad my pottery, my customers, and I will be safe from that.

Check out this great video for the show and be sure to stop in if you’re in the area.  The show hours are posted below:

Thursday, November 13th 5:30 – 8 pm (Ladies Night)
Friday, November 14th 9 am – 4 pm
Saturday, November 15th 9 am – 4 pm

Check out the gallery page - Future Relics Gallery by Lori Buff

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Shaving Bowl

A few years ago a man contacted me to order a shaving scuttle.  This is a type of bowl that one can use to mix up shaving cream and shaving soap and warm it at the same time.  I made one for him which he liked so I made more and have sold a few.  They do attract attention because people who are not into the wet shaving culture (yes, there is a wet shave culture) always want to know how it’s used.

About a year later he contacted me again and we designed a holder for his razors, toothbrushes, and toothpaste.  It’s a sweet little design but I haven’t made very many of them.  I’m not at all sure why, maybe it’s something I have to re-think, it might be something lots of other people would like.

Recently, he ordered a shaving bowl.  We discussed the functionality of the piece, how it had to be able to fit into the palm and be gripped while the shaving soap and shaving cream are being mixed with the brush.  This is what I created.  I’m really happy with it, I just love the profile.

Shaving Bowl by Lori Buff
Shaving Bowl
I tend to think of handcrafted pottery being used in the kitchen, dinning room, and living room but I’m really starting to think about making more pottery for the bathroom.  It’s where we often start our day, it should be filled with special things too.

Check out the gallery page - Future Relics Gallery by Lori Buff

Monday, November 10, 2014

Meatless Monday - Green Rice with Leeks and Roasted Chiles

One thing that’s awesome about living in Georgia is that we can eat out of our garden all year long.  A few cold days will slow down the yield of tomatoes and other summer veggies but they aren’t completely gone.  The cool weather vegetables are producing too so it is possible to make dishes with combinations of both.  Of course it’s also pretty easy to find decent quality vegetables in some grocery stores.

This dish uses some mixed season vegetables, I paired it with one of the last tomatoes from the garden but it will pair nicely with lots of other foods.  The rice is hardy enough to be a main dish but it would make a great side dish too.  I love these types of recipes for pot luck dinners, don’t you?

Green Rice with Leeks and Roasted Chiles by Future Relics Pottery
Green Rice with Leeks and Roasted Chiles 

3 cups vegetable broth or stock
3 poblano chilies (or chilies of your choice)
2 TBS olive oil
1 1/2 cups white rice, uncooked
3 - 4 medium sized leeks, white parts and paler greens, chopped
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup parsley leaves
1 cup cilantro
4 ounces queso fresco, cubed
1/2 cup sour cream
kosher salt


Char the chilies over an open flame, drop them in a plastic bag and let them steam for 15 minutes.  Then pull off the skin (whatever comes off the easiest, it doesn’t have to be perfect), remove the seeds and roughly chop.

Heat your dutch oven, pour in the oil, add the rice and cook over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes while stirring occationally.  Add the leeks, chilies, a pinch of salt, the bay leaf, and the broth. Stir and cook for a few minutes then lower the heat, cover and cook for 20 minutes.

While that is cooking, puree the cilantro and parsely in a small food processor or blender.  Add a little water but no more than one cup, just enough to make it saucy.  Stir this sauce into the rice when it’s done cooking.  Add the chopped cheese while the rice is still warm.  Serve with sour cream.

Check out the gallery page - Future Relics Gallery by Lori Buff

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Happy 40th Birthday to Charis Books and More

Every community needs some kind of voice, we need to gather, to see, and to hear.  Sometimes we even learn in these communities.  I can’t imagine it’s ever been easy to run an independent book store, it seems like it’s harder to do that in the past few years.  Make that book store a specialty, niche book store and it must be harder still.  But Atlanta has been blessed for the past 40 years with just that.  We are the fortunate home of Charis Books and More who will be celebrating 40 years of being in business this week.  Charis is one of the oldest Feminist book stores in North America (including Canada) and one of only 13 according to Paste Magazine.

They are celebrating with in store events at the bookstore on Euclid Av in Little 5 Points and ending with a big bash at The Wrecking Bar which is a very cool brew pub a few blocks away on Moreland Ave.
Goddess Mug by Lori Buff
Goddess Mug
This is a great time to go visit them and show your support, buy a book or a craft from a local artisan (hint: try the pottery, I hear it’s great).  When you go to the store you might find one of the owners reading to the children of the customers.  That’s the type of service that has helped keep them alive for so long.  If you can’t make it to the store or the party you can always order a book on line at the website  http://www.charisbooksandmore.com.  We should keep this going for another 40 years at least.

Check out the gallery page - Future Relics Gallery by Lori Buff

Monday, November 3, 2014

Meatless Monday - Spaghetti Squash Alfredo

The winter squashes are off the vine and ready to be enjoyed. One of my favorites is spaghetti squash because it is supper easy to cook and it tastes delicious. You can prepare it as you do most spaghetti dishes but it has a lot less calories and carbohydrates which makes it better for some diets.  It’s also gluten free.


1 medium-sized spaghetti squash
1 Tablespoon butter
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons flour
1 cup milk
1 Tablespoon cream cheese or Neufchatel cheese (for less fat)
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus 2 Tablespoons extra for topping 
kosher salt
Crushed red pepper flakes and fresh parsley, for garnish


First, prep the squash. Cut spaghetti squash in half lengthwise using a large sharp knife then scoop out the seeds.  Now you make the squash into a self steamer by filling the cavity where the seeds were of one half of the squash with water, put the two halves back together and place in the microwave.  Cook this for about 5 minutes.  Carefully (it will be very hot and steamy) check for doneness.  If the squash does not seem tender enough you can put it back together and cook for a few more minutes.

Once squash is cooked, use a fork to gently scrape the “spaghetti” strands into the center.

For the sauce, melt butter in a small pot over medium-low heat. Once hot, add garlic and sauté for 1-2 minutes. Whisk in flour, and continue to whisk for another minute. Whisk in milk until smooth. Let this cook for a few minutes, stirring frequently.  Add cream cheese and stir until smooth. Remove from the heat. Stir in Parmesan cheese and add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

Spoon sauce equally into each spaghetti squash half. Gently pull up the spaghetti strands to coat as much as possible with the sauce. Top with extra Parmesan and place on a cookies sheet.  Heat under the broiler for 2-3 minutes, or until golden and bubbly. Top each half with a pinch of red pepper flakes and fresh chopped parsley, if desired. Serve hot.

Check out the gallery page - Future Relics Gallery by Lori Buff