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  • Writer's pictureGabriela Weber

The good life in paradise (part 2, shooting stars in my vaccume cleaner....)

Just having a break from housework e.g. vacuuming. Each time I can't believe how much dust has accumulated in just two or three days..... did you know that due to Wikipedia:

Dust in homes is composed of about 20–50% dead skin cells. The rest is composed of small amounts of plant pollen, human hairs, animal fur (lets blame Frankie!), textile fibers, paper fibers, minerals from outdoor soil, burnt meteorite particles, and many other materials which may be found in the local environment.

Specially, meteorite particle I find interesting! (If a meteor dust hit the atmosphere they are seen as shooting stars). So technically.... when I see a shooting star I can wish something even when its dust? Yay! Makes vaccum cleaning more fun!

Mentally I often pat my shoulder, because we have chosen to live in a small house. It is in fact so small I can reach every corner with one extension cable!

But outside, the garden is another caliber. Roughly 5000m2 subtropical garden. There is a lot to do in spring. We had decent rain lately and not only the "good" plants grow fast but the weeds as well. So I am weeding and Tom is planting new plants and fertilizes plants in need. My weeding is a bit clumsy at the moment as I am using mainly my left arm due to an elbow inflammation of my good right arm. Guess why: could it be overuse in the clay shed?

Otherwise life is good. I love spring: plants are bursting with energy, birds are chirping and day by day it gets warmer.

We cleaned our Bali hut for summer and my bananas (see banana blog) are doing well under their new banana bags.

Most lemons are ready for harvest in New Zealand at this time of the year. I collect lemon juice and rind for a years supply and they go in the freezer. One of my lemon trees regularly produces three time the size of a normal lemon. That means I have three instead of one...... but it isn't as easy to squeeze such a monster..... haha.

For the first time we have done some air layering of our Ficus dammaropsis (common name: Dinner Plate fig because the leaves could be as large as 60 cm). We did a deep cut around a branch and put a tight wet cocos fiber packet around the wound to trigger growing roots right on the branch. As growing roots at this place and cutting off the branch underneath would give us an instant ready to grow plant instead of taking cuttings and waiting ages for roots.

on the bottom left of the picture you see our air layering.....

At the moment ceramic material shops are running out of materials and you could have to wait a long time to get your favorite materials.,,,,

In the past year I worked with more than 5 different clays. Each clay is different to work with depending what they are made off and you have to experiment each anew. Glazes react all different to different clays. That means, the shrinkage of the clay during drying and firing (could be even more than 15%) have to be addressed and each clay is different to work with. Some are tough and robust others are smooth and soft but not good for big projects as they lack stability.

I started to create some of my own glazes again. That means mixing chemicals together and do a lot of tests. It is a challenge as there are so many things to consider (chemical compounds, heat relation, combination of chemicals, clay/glaze adaption and so on). But super interesting and I love to experiment. I just try not to use the super toxic ones (lead and barium mainly) and substitute them as best as possible.

Usually you have to fire ceramic pieces twice. Once for the "bisque" (without glaze on them) and then a second time with the "glaze". My goal is to find glazes, which are usable on bisque so I can skip the second firing which would be environmentally more friendly.

So my dear readers, times running..... and its chill time!

Kia kaha!

P.S. Just heard in the news that colder weather is on this coming week..... sniff !

Picture Shooting stars: unsplash Jeremy Thomas @jeremythomasphoto

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