Functional hand made stoneware pottery with complex metallic glazes available at The Virginia Farmhouse

Fresh Out Of The Kiln- Our Latest Batch of Stoneware Pottery

They Survived! And even better the (somewhat experimental) combinations of glazes I used came out beautifully-Stoneware pottery with metallic glazes available at The Virginia Farmhouse

So for this large batch of pieces I used a dark, red stoneware clay called “Brooklyn Red”. This clay is heavy, groggy and due to the iron oxide content will stain anything it touches (before firing of course). It’s actually the kind of clay used to make red bricks and in is incredibly durable once fired. It is great for hand building pieces as it has minimal shrinkage during drying and and attached parts really hold together.

I also love this clay as it gives you a rich, dark ground to work off of- perfect for the metallic glazes I wanted to use for these pieces-A tuliptree leaf shaped dish and other functional ceramics with metallic glazes hand made by MJ SealI used 2 different combinations of Potter Choice Glazes from Amaco. In group one I applied 2 thick layers of Saturation Gold to the piece. Then I coated that in a blotchy layer of Temmoku (a dark, translucent brown/black glaze) and Saturation Metallic. After those layers dried I applied a little more saturation gold to the edges and rims of each piece for a little pop of gold.A luminary, soap dish and various serving bowls hand made from red stoneware clay by MJ SealDuring firing the glazes melded beautifully. In the areas with a thinner layer of Saturation Gold the glaze developed a dark bronze coloration that flashes iridescent blue when viewed at certain angles. The splotches of Temmoku and Saturation Metallic gave silvery, pewter-like touches and in areas where the Saturation Gold pooled and dripped you can see these patches of rich gold with little coppery flecks.

Soap dish and serving bowls with an ancient bronze like finish available at The Virginia FarmhouseIn the second group (which turned out to be my fav) I applied a couple thin layers of Saturation Metallic glaze over the dried clay body then a splotchy layer of Temmoku with thick blotches of Saturation Gold.Metallic finish on a stoneware leaf made by MJ Seal at The Virginia FarmhouseThis combination of glazes developed a rich and complex black metallic finish with patches of pewter and ancient bronze. On these little dishes I made with torn edges (the clay had started to dry out and had become unmanageable) the finish almost makes them look like shards of a meteorite-Stoneware dish with torn edges and metallic glaze hand made by MJ SealClose up of a meteorite like finish on a ceramic piece hand made by MJ SealIt’s always nice when an experiment turns out even better results than you were expecting!

Functional Arts and Crafts- Making a Mirror

Easy as 1-2-3-

First I took a plate of clear picture framing glass and rubbed it down with alcohol to thoroughly remove any grime or oils. The glass’ surface must be  scrupulously clean- if it is not you’ll have issues with  peeling later on.

Then I drew up a little design for some corner ornaments on a post it note. I placed that under each corner and carefully dabbed on a thick coating of contact gilding adhesive. I used Pebeo’s Gedeo Mixtion Relief which comes in an easy-to-use tube with a fine-tip applicator. The adhesive is white when wet but dries clear. Remember you are reverse gilding/silvering- so you will be working in reverse on the inside surface of the soon to be mirror.

After the adhesive dried I cut up a sheet of 23 kt transfer gold leaf. I then carefully pressed the leaf (gold side down) into the adhesive. The parchment backing of the leaf was peeled back leaving the gold thoroughly stuck in place on the ornaments.

After the gilding size has cured for a few days I dusted off the excess gold leaf and sealed up the ornaments with a layer of raw sienna acrylic paint- which gives the overlying layer of gold a richer color and renders the ornaments opaque-

Next I turn the glass into a mirror with some handy-dandy Looking Glass Silver spray paint from Krylon-

The Looking Glass paint is easy to use- just make sure to apply it in multiple thin coats or the mirror with develop a blotchy appearance. Do this outside. Yeah note the weird reflections around the mirror-in-progress above- I did this in the parking lot against my car using a sheet of old plexiglass as a shield- hence the hubcap visible in the upper left.

After the spraypaint has dried (which only takes a few minutes) it needs to be top coated with something to protect it- I find Rust-Oleum’s Matte Clear Enamel works wonderfully. The enamel coating seals up the looking glass coating and it’s matte appearance makes the reflective finish more pronounced and brighter.

After the enamel has cured for a bit the mirror is ready to be framed. I placed this mirror in a cassetta-style frame I made a few years ago. The gilt ornaments beautifully complement this simple but classic molding profile.

A slightly closer view-

The Looking Glass paint gives a softer reflective effect than commercially made mirrors. It also has a slight texture to it (due to the droplets of paint) and with a dark board placed behind it takes on the appearance of an antique mirror.

New Additions- November 2018

We’ve been very busy this past month and there are lots (!) of new products gracing our shelves-

For the Pantry we now have instant Vegetarian Vegetable Soup Broth Powder, No-Beef Broth Powder, No-Chicken Broth Powder and Nutritional Yeast Powder. The “chicken” and “beef” broth powders taste and smell just like the real thing but are low in sodium, have essentially no fat and are great for making soba and other instant noodle soups on the fly. The nutritional yeast powder is actually very nutritious- high in protein and vitamins – and is made from all-natural, deactivated yeast. It smells like chicken and wild rice soup with extra mushrooms and tastes similar to miso. The yeast powder imparts a rich, meaty quality to dishes and is great for making savory broth from scratch.

And to go along with the broth powders we have Veggie Deluxe Soup Blend- a rich and flavorful blend of dehydrated vegetables and herbs that are great for making a quick stew. We also have dried Organic shiitake mushrooms and Bell peppers.

Also we now carry Organic Mushroom Gravy Mix, French Onion Dip Mix and Red Enchilada Simmer Sauce (tastes just like home made) from Simply Organic.

New: Artisan Salts from JQ Dickinson Salt Works. JQ Dickinson Salt Works makes salt from ancient brine deposits deep underneath West Virginia’s Kanawha Valley. The brine was left behind when the Iapetus Sea which covered our region 400 million years ago evaporated- so technically this is sea salt. We carry their Heirloom (plain) salt in refillable grinder jars and in bulk bags. We also have their ramp salt (lightly flavored with local ramps -a relative of onions) and Apple-Wood Smoked Salt (earthy and slightly smoky).

Back in Stock: Traditional Yellow Corn, Blue Corn and Guacamole Flavored tortilla chips from Nana’s Cocina.

On the Spice Rack we now have Organic white peppercorns, Organic dried jalapeno and Simply Organics Mulling Spice Blend- perfect for making spiced cider or mulled wine at home. Also Organic dried lemongrass (great for making tea), hibiscus and black peppercorns are back in stock. I also stashed our harvest of fresh, locally-grown lemongrass in the freezer. The frozen lemongrass works great in place of fresh in recipes like Tom Yum Goong and in curry pastes.

On the Wine Wall we now have Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from Hook or Crook. Blueberry Muffin, Blackberry Cobbler, Ras Ma Tas Apple Raspberry Wines from Peaks of Otter are back in stock as is Hugl’s Zweigelt.

And on the Beer Cart we now have “Cheeky Monkey” Belgian-Style Blonde Ale and “Cocoborealis” Triple Chocolate Stout from Chaos Mountain and Hoptimization IPA from Brothers Craft Brewing. Legend’s Brown ale is back in stock and we got a sweet close out deal on Hacker Pschorr’s Oktoberfest.

Remember the Holidays are just a few weeks away -yeah I know it’s hard to believe it’s that time of the year again. We have a ton of hand made fabric ornaments and gift tags made by Dawn Steed and lots more goodies on the way. Hopefully my latest batch of pottery will be ready to go here shortly as well. And for your four-legged friends or friends with four-legged friends we are well stocked on gourmet dog treats like Doggie Donuts and Goat Cheese Twists  from South Paws K9 Bakery-

Sea Forms

My first batch of experimental sea forms turned out beautifully-

porcelain sea form luminary by mj seal
For this porcelain luminary I applied a layer of Nutmeg Glaze to the outside and then top-coated that with several layers of white- they melded beautifully. In the interior a applied several layers a translucent burgundy glaze and then applied a layer of clear along the edges which created a very smooth transition.

These free-form sculptures took on a variety of oceanic forms- Seashell  shaped  soap dishes, primitive sea sponge like goblets and vases and leafy, algae like platters and luminaries. With the glazes I experimented with mottled, oyster shell finishes and smooth transitions from areas of clear glaze into patches of intense color.

seashell soap dish made from porcelain by mj seal
For this seashell-like soap dish i glazed the interior with a shell-pink Peach glaze, and then top-coated that along the “lip” with layers of Satin Clear glazes- than transition came out perfectly. Note the slight ridge on the bottom to keep the soap from sticking.

sea sponge shaped goblet made from porcelain by mj seal
On this little shot glass/ mini vase I created a mottled oyster shell-like finish with a combination of Temmoku and Satin White glazes. on the interior I applied several layers of Lavender. The shape of this miniature goblet reminds me of some primitive sea sponge.

porcelain sea form luminary by mj seal
With this leafy luminary I applied layers of Satin White glazes over a layer of Nutmeg- which created a sea shell like finish on the outside. The interior was coated with an intense, translucent coral glaze.

turquoise porcelain platter by mj seal
On this platter I applied Nutmeg and Temmoku Glazes along the sides and edges of the top and then I applied several layers of Turquoise to the top/inside. The final effect look like the aerial view of some tropical lagoon.

porcelain sea form business card holder by mj seal
On this business card holder I applied an opaque white glaze over splotches of Temmoku on the outside for a mottled oyster shell effect. on the inside I painted several layers of turquoise and top-coated the edges with a Clear Satin glaze.

Porcelain Leaves

Another batch of leaf-shaped porcelain spoon rests and soap dishes are glazed and out of the kiln-

porcelain leaf shaped soap dishes and spoon rests by mj seal
On this batch of leaves I applied two layers of Nutmeg to the backs and sides; three layers of Yellow glaze to the top surfaces and a thin layer of Temmoku to the back, sides and top edges. The result was this interesting cheesecake like finish.

porcelain sassafras leaf shaped soap dish by mj seal
I coated the back and sides of this Sassafras leaf shaped dish with two layers of Nutmeg glaze. On the top surface I applied three layers of Seaweed. Then a applied a thin glaze of Temmoku along the top edges, sides and back. The final result was strangely retro and psychedelic.

red oak leaf spoon rest made from porcelain by mj seal
The coral red glaze on this Red Oak leaf shaped soap dish came out very intense. The effect is nice especially along the edges where I applied a bit of Temmoku- but could use a little tweaking.

porcelain chestnut oak leaf spoon rest by mj seal
On this Chestnut Oak leaf shaped spoon rest I applied a this glaze of Temmoku over two layers of nutmeg- which created this rich, bronzed brown finish.

coral glaze on porcelain jewelry by mj seal

Experimenting with glazes for porcelain- Part 2

So I made a huge batch of porcelain necklace pendants and after bisque firing them  I tried out each different glaze on the shelf . I also experimented with an array of different layering combinations and blends. Most importantly I wrote down (in tedious detail) what I did on each of them-

experimental glazes in porcelain necklace pendants by mj seal
The pendants before firing- they will look nothing like this after the cooking process.

porcelain necklace pendants by mj seal after firing
The pendants after firing- the one in the center was glazed with “Seaweed” and then layers of “Indigo Float” were applied along the edges.

porcelain necklace pendants by mj seal
The Turquoise and Indigo Float combination turned out especially nice.

coral glaze on porcelain jewelry by mj seal
And I’m very happy with the (expensive) Coral glaze I found- which is good because I have alot of cardinal ornaments in the works.

Parcel Gilt Mirror

A finished experiment in parcel gilding a mirror- I took a piece of plain antique glass and painted little Fleur de Lis designs in the corners on the back of the glass with aqua size. Then when the size set up I gilded them with 24 kt gold leaf. After sealing up the gold with yellow acrylic paint I silvered the back of the glass with mirror finish spray paint.

A parcel gilt hand made mirror by MJ seal
A hand silvered mirror with parcel gilt ornaments by MJ Seal.

Gold fleur de lis in a hand silvered mirror
Close up view of a gold fleur de lis corner ornament.

Valley landscape XII

An abandoned field overlooking distant mountains at midday in warm, dry weather- maybe early summer.

A Shenandoah valley landscape painting by MJ seal
“Shenandoah Valley Landscape XII”- Original painting by MJ Seal. Acrylic on canvas board, 6″ X 4″. C. 2016

Mountain and fields

Mountain and rolling fields on a partly cloudy day perhaps in early summer-

Landscape painting by MJ seal
“Mountain and fields”- Original painting by MJ Seal. Acrylic on canvas,approx. 10″ X 8″. C. 2016

Looking north from my apartment at sunrise

My memory of the view from my bedroom’s north facing window at sunrise two days ago-

Landscape at sunrise painted by MJ seal
“Looking north at sunrise”- Original painting by MJ Seal. Acrylic on canvas, Approx. 11″ X 14″. C. 2016