Pottery class

For 2 years so far, we have invited local Pender potter Nancy Silo to teach pottery to our Spring Leaves group.  She has successfully been able to integrate the abilities of a large age range with the projects of  slab construction bowls, and with creating tiles.  Both times, Nancy has taken us through the careful steps of working with the clay in such precise ways so that our pieces will make it through the drying and firing process in the kiln.  Everyone was given glazing choices, which made each piece very unique.  We worked with coating the undersides of the bowls and tiles with wax so that the glazes will keep the kiln clean, and we experimented with the possibilities of design and sculpture.  The children treated all the tools and the clay with such respect and careful attention, knowing that they were working on real pieces that would be usable and valued.  The tiles were made in April, in celebration of Earth Day.  Nancy’s idea was that we would decorate our tiles as a tribute to the environment, so our tables were piled with such treasures as leaves, feathers, shells, twigs, and anything else we could make a print with.  On Earth Day, when our tiles were finished, Nancy displayed them at the Farmers Market as an example of many small masterpieces making one whole, or, the collaborative efforts of individuals.  We hope that Nancy will be able to continue her participation with our group, bringing more inspiring creative opportunities using the rich textural qualities of clay.

Fresh apple juice

How many kids does it take to squeeze a few hundred pounds of apples in an afternoon?  How many litres does that make, divided by how many families, minus all that was drunken fresh from the spout?  well let’s see… I suppose that all equals a lot of fun and enthusiasm for celebrating the apples that grow up from the soil we stand on.

Our Spring Leaves group met with our friend George, to use his retro fitted apple press on a glorious fall day.  Retro fitted meaning that he updated the working parts of an old press that he found derelict and out of use.  We all got a lesson on putting it together, and on the steps involved in crushing and pressing.  There were plenty of jobs for everyone to get a chance to try out, requiring patience and teamwork from the youngest of our group to the adults.  First we load the apples into the small hopper box, then crank the wheel to turn the crusher below the hopper.  This sends the crushed apples through into the large barrel below.  When the barrel gets full, we place a lid on it, and then turn the handle above the hopper, which pushes down on the lid and squeezes the crushed apples.  Juice then begins to flow out the through the spaces in the barrel at the bottom, onto a stainless steel tray, and through a small hole into our catchment bowl below.  Then we empty out the dry apple pulp, and start again crushing apples into the barrel.  Each family brought containers to fill, and we all went home with 5 or 6 litres each of pure unpasturized juice, which we can freeze or can, plus as much apple pulp as we wanted for our composts or for our chickens.  It was heart warming to see the kids connect so easily to the process of transformation, from trees in our backyards to sweet golden juice in our mouths. 

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