Scotch Saturday: Balvenie 14yr Caribbean Cask

Scotch Saturday – Weekly on JDB, because whisky is a fantastical, magical creation. My own odd obsession is cask finishing. Unlike American bourbon, which by law can only be aged in new oak barrels, Scotch is often aged in used barrels. Most commonly, Scotch makers use casks that previously held sherry, a sweet fortified wine. Over time, that flavor comes back out of the oak, adding depth and smoothness to scotch. Less often there are more exotic options…  Like RUM!

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My writing process

Drilling the pot - Joshua David Bennett

I’m grateful to Kevin Ikenberry, who introduced me to Superstars,  for tagging me in this blog tour on writing process.  To see Kevin’s entry into this blog tour, visit the link above.  You’ll also find links to previous tours on these thought-provoking questions.  

What are you working on now?

I’ve just finished a fantasy novel that evokes both Caribbean and Aztec themes. Seacaster is the story of a young man at war with the magic coursing through his veins.  Transformed by magic and enslaved on a distant island, Fike must choose between saving the girl who is his last link to home, or saving the last of his humanity. Fike signs aboard a merchant ship to make a new name for himself and impress Tiyan, the captain’s daughter.  Days from port, they are enslaved by pirates who expose Fike to a magic that begins to change him into living

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The Instant Gratification Monkey and the Dark Playground

Go and read this right now. Why procrastinators procrastinate. This is the best article about procrastination I’ve ever seen, and the follow up post on How to beat it is just as good. What is so powerful is that the author ruthlessly NAMES the issues and gives you a whole new vocab to use when dealing with your own procrastination.  Highly recommended.

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Our pottery class is in the books. While I still plan to make quite a bit more, I won’t have direct access to a wheel or kilns any more. This year has been a grand experiment with slipcasting, and been learning through a lot of failures what NOT to do. But, I came back from the Philippines to some of my final product!

Slipcast cups - Joshua David Bennett

From left to right – Clear Maroon, Weathered Bronze, Cappuccino Mist, Floating Blue, Bamboo exterior with Toffee interior.

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The master book of all plots


  Plotto by William Wallace Cook - Image by Joshua David Bennett That was how the Boston Globe announced the publication of Plotto in 1928. The author, William Wallace Cook, was an astonishingly prolific writer. In his best year, he pushed out 54 dime novels. When he finally retired from writing fiction he turned to real life, clipping directly from the headlines, distilling the stories onto cards. His idea was to write a plot generator so that others could follow his suit, using the seeds of stories in this book to mass manufacture their own works. And people did. Erle Stanley Gardner, the man behind Perry Mason, used Plotto. So did a a young Hitchcock, just starting into his directing career.   I picked up the book a few years

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Pseudoscience: Today’s books are less emotional

Owned by CBS Studios

The New York Times is reporting that our books have gotten “less emotional” over the last century.  They quote a study on fiction published since 1900, and summarize: researchers at three British universities tracked the use of “mood” words sorted into six main categories: anger, disgust, fear, joy, sadness and surprise. The researchers identified a “clear decrease” in overall use of mood words over the 20th century, with only words relating to fear increasing in the last several decades. The study also concludes Brits are less emotional than Americans (yay for stereotypes!) and that fiction overall is in a “sad” period now, and has been since the 1970s.

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Not perfect, but functional

As I mentioned in the last post, with pottery you have lots of ways to screw up your piece.  With the two cups below, I discovered one more of those ways.

Finished Cups - Joshua David Bennett

#1 – Great White glaze with Sapphire rim.
#2 – Weathered Bronze with white interior.

These are cups that I’ve been slipcasting from a mold I made.  I’ve been using Laguna White Star slip to make the cups, and have loved how sturdy they are when they pop out of the mold. Now, a lot of things “bisque fire” at the same temperature.  This is the first firing, the one before you start glazing it.  Then, your glaze firings can be all over the place.  Here is where I got confused.  My clay was labeled for glazing at something

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Centering the clay - Joshua David Bennett

Center. Get it on the wheel, get it moving fast and put a lot of pressure on it. You want to make sure that you get balance, because the next steps will fall apart if you wobble here.

Drilling the pot - Joshua David Bennett

Drill into the piece, creating the central structure.

Lifting - Joshua David Bennett

Lift. Make decisions about shape and function.

Greenware - Joshua David Bennett

First firing. Your first glimpse of how the piece reacts to heat. Potential for cracking or shrinking.

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