Right, so we finished our second glaze firing with the second-hand kiln we bought. The result: plenty of of groovy pottery lewts. Pics below. Made in paper clay.
Some weeks ago we bought an old Studio 3000 pottery kiln. Several visits from the electrician and lots of money later, we ran our first bisque firing programme. Nothing melted, burned down or exploded — so we’re happy. More the way!
Holy Sweet Mother of Mercy who Wept at the Cross. By the Awesome Saints of Ages Gone, their Blessed Bones and Relics, and their Miserable Martyrdom: what is this horror I just witnessed? How is it possible my eyes have not shrivelled in their sockets and rolled to the ground like raisins discarded by a petulant child? How could my poor, ragged heart endure such an appalling act? How can I be expected to bear the beastly torment of what I just saw?
I must pen the details of this abhorrence at once! My soul will evaporate in an explosive puff of mortification if I contain myself one instant longer! The indescribable must be described, or I shall expire in this very chair!
Breathe. Just breathe. Right, so:
Our beautiful, heart-achingly perfect Bengal cat Ada is renowned for her gentle demeanour, her sweet disposition, her infinite capacity to amaze and delight us with her elegance and chirrupy chatter. Verily, she is the veritable paragon of felines.
How could it be otherwise? She is our Ada. She came with papers.
Because — not ten minutes ago — she caught a huge, mangy, goddamn motherfucking rat. And then she swallowed the filthy bastard whole, from crooked whisker to quivering tail.
No, I must restrain myself. I must begin at the beginning — the moment when this act spawned itself upon my distressed nerves and proceeded to pollute my brains with unrelenting abandon.
First, a confession: I shall confess my initial mirth upon discovering that Ada had captured the vermin. She was a good girl! Brave Ada! You conquered the pest! Now be a good kitty and neatly deposit the corpse upon the compost heap, as per the Lessons Learned in our Responsible Prey Disposal workshop last month.
Well now! I cannot help but observe how you toss the fresh carcass about, hither and thither with gay abandon, whereupon you swat it back to earth with your perfectly groomed paws. Distressing — but adorable!
…Ah! You wish to casually gnaw upon its dislocated head? Hm. I confess I am disappointed by such unorthodoxy. I thought we had discussed — and quickly dismissed — such a scenario in Slide 18 of the RPD. But you are, after all, a cat — and your rakishly spotted coat whispers a heritage of the Wild, does it not? I concede your point. Very well then, you may temporarily indulge in the habits of your rascally ancestors.
But not too much, m’kay?
And then it happened. It…
My hands are shaking. How can it be true? Am I dreaming? How could sweet Ada be capable of such an act of pure, unrefined gluttony? I never imagined that this heavenly, elevated creature of unquestioned pedigree would be capable of such… well, evil.
Look here, I take care of my cats. I train them well. Birds may be captured and killed, but their remains are not tolerated indoors. Lizard and gecko prey is evaluated on a case-by-case basis, depending on the circumstances and the level of adorableness that ensues as they parade about the house with their prize.
But eating a sick, hideous, disgusting rat? My darling, are you fucking serious? Is it not enough that I groom you, feed you? Does it not suffice that I instantly call out your name upon returning home from work, my back bent under the weight of two laptops (Dell and Mac)? Are you not satisfied by my offerings of cheese spread that you lick from my fingertips?
Is my love not enough? Will you not learn from it? From me?
It occurs to me that some readers may find my vexation excessive, that I should not be surprised at the behaviour of an animal not so far removed from a documentary set in Africa, along with all the vivid brutality of stretched sinew, bloodied muzzles and similar scenes we commonly associate with a predator capturing and devouring its prey.
You are wrong of course, because there was a second witness — and he is at least as appalled as I am.
Wah-Wah is our other cat, a blue miscreant of a Burmese, and a professional scamp. There’s nothing he won’t try, no mischief he won’t attempt, believe me. He’s the cowboy of the household.
And yet, even Wah-Wah seemed petrified as he watched, mesmerized with horror as Ada wolfed down the mashed up rodent, centimeter by mutilated centimeter. At no interval in history was there a more appalled audience. A young, quivering Vestal virgin observing a Roman gladiatorial contest for the first time could not have been more distressed than Wah-Wah and I.
Whereas I had retreated to some distance from the scene of hateful gore, I am fairly certain I saw Wah-Wah tremble. A good thing too I was sitting down at the time.
I wish I could find some kind of solace in our shared ordeal. But the magnitude of the catastrophe far outweighs any comfort offered by our shared consternation…
And as if Ada’s act of swallowing this disgusting creature was not bad enough, another thought forced its way into my fore brain. What if this unplanned dinner disagrees with her delicate constitution? I feed her only the finest prepared cutlets, carefully warmed and placed within a circle of carefully arranged Royal Canine cat pellet garnish (Active Cat mix). And… my God! Ada sleeps on our bed every night. What are the chances I wake up in the middle of the night to find my face adorned with the half-dissolved remains of dead rat, its clotted fur marinaded in cat stomach acid?
As a precaution, it may be prudent to skip the kitty dinner tonight, in the event that the half-digested rat bladder paste, kidneys and intestines disagree with the cat food I normally feed her…
Wait a second.
What is that!
Oh God in Heaven — what is that sound! It’s like the victory croak of a cacodemon, the mating call of the damned. My numbed fingers can barely depress the ivory-clad keys on my typing machine as I attempt to reproduce the terrifying utterances clattering through the sliding doors that leads into my writing salon:
Ock. Ock. Ock-ock-ock-ock. Ockkkk…uerrggrrp! Plop.
For the briefest moment I entertain the notion that a trespassing Scot had concealed himself in the hedge and choked on a piece of shortbread. But that’s just ridiculous.
The truth must be confronted. Truth is noble. Truth is pure. Well — not in this case, but you know what I mean. And I know what I heard: the signal of an unannounced regurgitation. I’d better go and…
I’m back at my mahogany desk, having dashed outside to discover the cause of the commotion — and just as Ada trotted by from the other direction, seemingly unconcerned at my distress. While she observed me from the pool edge with a certain expression of perplexity, I prowled about the garden. With every step and furtive glance I expected to come upon a scene of unparalleled hideousness: a mangled rodent corpse ejected from a rebellious stomach, a tangle of soggy remains, a tumescent lump slick with a film of rancid stomach mucus.
The strange thing is: I was ready to see it.
Instead, something worse happened: I found nothing. No signs of expelled mutilation, no evidence of partial decomposition. Not even a puddle, not the faintest trail of dribbled stomach juices. Not a goddamn thing.
What the hell am I supposed to do now? I dare not stick my finger down Ada’s throat in an attempt to extract her wholesale meal. My medical scheme won’t cover the consequences. Should I lock her outside for a night or two? Impossible! I am not that heartless. Besides, the little bitch will find a way inside.
I’ll go away. On a holiday. I’ll call my ‘mother-in-la’. She can look after Ada for a few weeks until I find a way to… well, digest the carnage I had just witnessed.
What else am I supposed to do?
Ada: I wish I’d never seen it. I’m not saying I wish it had never happened. I know you’re a cat, and apparently a very hungry one. I just didn’t want to see that. I thought we understood each other, that we had explored the interface of what is kind and good and decent, against the lurking Unterwelt of the Beast, and beastly behaviour — the creature that cannot be killed, but can be tamed.
I’m not angry, just disappointed.
Ada, I love you. I adore you. But you’ll never lick the tip of my nose again.
I decided to try build a home-made pottery kiln in my backyard. Keep in mind that the method outlined below is not a suitable substitute for an electric kiln, since you will never reach the high temperatures required for a proper firing. Any pottery you make with this method will still be fragile and susceptible to moisture, so keep any finished pieces indoors, or get them fired properly.
Be sure to check out this video by Simon Winder, which contains lots of useful information.
- Clay bricks: any old bricks will do, but clay bricks would be ideal as they provide better insulation.
- Pick and shovel: for digging a deep hole. Enlist the help of a spouse / SO as necessary.
- A large flagstone or roof tiles, for covering up the kiln once it starts burning.
- Lots of sawdust. Wood chips and small kindling will come in handy too.
Note: I recommend avoiding pine sawdust, which leaves behind a residue.
For starters, I created a few simple test pieces. If anything were to go wrong, I wouldn’t be devastated by the loss:
Two new pieces, including a mask and a tablet depicting vikings doing horrible things to other people, as was customary…
. Created in paper clay.