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Distance Learning

We are coming up to the end of week six of distance learning. It has been a strange experience to have been thrown into this format, at first thinking it may just be a few weeks, to the realization that it is until the end of this semester, and school year. A few weeks back the school board implemented the move to ass/No Pass for grades this semester. Along the way there have been many conversations, meetings and debates about the best way to move forward in these times.

As the push to return to “normal” and bring the economy back happens, we are now looking at how to start the fall semester under the assumption that we will still be practicing social distancing behaviors. How do you operate a school with a student body of around 2500 and keep everyone six feet apart? Not to mention the cleaning of air and surfaces in between groups of students.

Whatever it looks like, the digital divide has been highlighted in these past weeks. It is amazing the discrepancies in access to the online world. A technology that was intended to connect has been one of the main factors in the division of the community.

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Shelter in place…

So we are now in week 2 of the shelter in place order. I did go out to the store for a few things yesterday. Otherwise, I have stayed in the neighborhood. Dog walks, a few short runs, and probably too many calories consumed for what I’m doing.

Distance learning, some ceramic work, hanging out with students on Zoom. Watching students sleep later and later, some until 2 PM.

Appreciating what we, as a family, have. Appreciating the dogs, the sun, the rain – even though I am solar-powered and really miss the blue skies. That goes to my appreciating where we live. Weather wimps, yes. I will take the mild climate in exchange for the occasional earthquake.

I have started a morning picture in the backyard, so that’s a good way to start the day, take a moment to appreciate it all.

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My Journey with Raku continued…

finished raku kiln

Picking up from where I left off last time, I was determined to make a raku kiln of my own. So, looking at images I took while at Mike’s and the video from Simon Leach, I ordered some materials. When the materials all showed up I excitedly started forming the bottom half, cut the right sizes for the ends and then realized I didn’t have enough of the wire mesh for the whole form, let’s call that mistake #1. Mistake #2 then would be the amount of ceramic wool I purchased, falling way too short. I had not done adequate research and while there is much I appreciate about Amazon, the one-click purchase is not one of them! So I re-ordered some wire, found a new place for more appropriate wool, and fit in the rest of the building of the kiln. One aspect that helped me get it done was a conversation with a friend around going to NCECA and while catching up and making plans, I put out there that I would fire the kiln before the end of January.

finished raku kiln

So there it is, the first kiln I built. Rough around the edges and with plenty of room for growth. In all it was a fun project and as I’ve said previously, I’ve learned a great deal about what not to do. For now though, it’s been fun to fire and share my path. There’s more to come about the firings I’ve done and where I want to take it next. Thank you for looking.

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My journey with raku.

So it starts last September (2018) with a trip to Southern California to visit some friends from NCECA. Mike Flower had planned a raku firing in his back yard on the Friday after school. I had gone down to visit his classroom and see what he had going on.

I brought a few pieces to fire and got to participate and see first hand the set up he has. It’s based on the Simon Leach model from his 2010 video. So it had been quite some time since I had seen a raku firing and was excited for the evening.

Mike Flower setting up kiln.

Mike Flower setting up the kiln.
Raku kiln, firing underway!
Kiln, during the fire.

After leaving that weekend I was determined to make my own and then bring it to the students at school to share the process with them. Not having any solid plans to work from it was a great opportunity to learn from mistakes made.

Thanks for reading, check back for more of the journey.

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So… there’s been a lot.

raku kiln

It so happens that today is National Napping Day and while I think it’s great to celebrate a good nap, I try to get them in as regularly as possible. After a short, but good nap, I thought I’d finally take some time to put down some thoughts and a bit about what’s happened in this first quarter of the year. As I write about all of this it seems to be all on the home front and all things I am practicing to bring into the school setting. The Peninsula Pottery is another project I am working on that will help bring these experiments and explorations into schools; not just Menlo-Atherton but I envision sharing this with other communities too.


I’ve successfully fired a homemade raku kiln a few times in this month, I will follow up with a more detailed account of that process. It’s been fun, educational, and has left me with more questions than answers. I suppose that’s not bad for where I am in the process.

Slipcast and mold making.

As a part of Etc. have built and used our first slip cast molds. A great learning experience with mediocre results. Still fun and were left wanting more. More details to follow on that too.


I am looking forward to attending NCECA in the next few weeks. It will be good to see friends from last year and meet some new folks with similar interests. I don’t know about the weather in Minneapolis, but I imagine by the end of the week I will acclimate relatively well. I hope I will anyway.