Category Archives: Uncategorized

Victorian House Bird Feeders

There’s been quite a building boom going on here at C McDonough Designs.  I received  a commission to build one of my Victorian House bird feeders with a bright turquoise roof, porch and shutters and yellow/green windows.



As any potter will tell you never make just one!!!  There are three reasons for this rule.

1: one is the height of hubris, the kiss of death and just plain silly!!




2: If it’s a tall item, you’ll need other tall items to fill the shelf.


3: You will eventually sell another one so be prepared!!


Puppies are a great help in the studio, dog hair is the best sweeping compound EVER!


Opening glaze kilns is one of the most satisfying part of my job, I love shiny things!!DSC_6951

Tufted Titmice like black oil sunflower seeds.


Any photo on my blog is taken by me and can be ordered as a print or a note card.

Barn Swallows nesting on the front porch

The nest is in the upper right hand corner.


About two days after a pair of Barn Swallows successfully fledged a brood of four babies from their usual nest spot in the attic of the grainery, they got busy building a new nest on the front porch.  They started building on June 15.




they collect mud and plant

fibers to build with


every 10-15 minutes another bit was added





DSC_6068 as you can see it was hot outside and you might also see a reflection of the glass as I did my documenting in air conditioned comfortDSC_6073






it is a two birdie job from sun up to sun downDSC_6084

finally on or about June 19-20 (solstice time) eggs were laid and sitting ensuedDSC_6227

EUREKA the feeding begins July 17  I hope you enjoyed your down time MomDSC_6233 DSC_6237 DSC_6239 DSC_6250 DSC_6251 DSC_6253

Looking like some pretty angry birds there are four but it’s hard to get a good group shot with all the jostling  I kept the cats away with some well placed glasses of water

and then there were three…

DSC_6284 and then there were two…DSC_6288 and then they came back for visits for a few days..

DSC_6293hope to see you all next year…….

If you would like a cd of the pictures in this or any other post for a screen saver contact me.


Stonehenge, a circle of enormous stones brought to that spot by people working with stone and wood tools.  Two different types of stone, one for the posts and one for the lintels.  Knobs carved into the uprights and holes carved into the cross stones to hold them in place.





Not much is known about the people who built it but we can surmise that they were well organized and had the time and desire to build a place that was concerned with the passage of the sun.  Early peoples were much more acquainted with the changes of the moon and sun cycles and the effects on their everyday lives.


the following is an excerpt from wikipedia, there is a lot more info there




“Stonehenge evolved in several construction phases spanning at least 1,500 years. There is evidence of large-scale construction on and around the monument that perhaps extends the landscape’s time frame to 6,500 years.  It is in the middle of the most dense complex of Neolithic and Bronze Age monuments in England, including several hundred burial mounds.[1]


The surrounding circular earth bank and ditch, which constitute the earliest phase of the monument, have been dated to about 3100 BC.



Evidence of the second phase is no longer visible. The number of postholes dating to the early 3rd millennium BC suggest that some form of timber structure was built within the enclosure during this period.


Archaeological excavation has indicated that around 2600 BC, the builders abandoned timber in favor of stone and dug two concentric arrays of holes  in the centre of the site. These stone sockets are only partly known (hence on present evidence are sometimes described as forming ‘crescents’); however, they could be the remains of a double ring.


The north-eastern entrance was widened at this time, with the result that it precisely matched the direction of the midsummer sunrise and midwinter sunset of the period. This phase of the monument was abandoned unfinished, however; the small standing stones were apparently removed and the holes purposefully backfilled. Even so, the monument appears to have eclipsed the site at Avebury in importance towards the end of this phase.


During the next major phase of activity, 30 enormous OligoceneMiocene sarsen stones (shown grey on the plan) were brought to the site. They may have come from a quarry, around 25 miles (40 km) north of Stonehenge on the Marlborough Downs, or they may have been collected from a “litter” of sarsens on thechalk downs, closer to hand. The stones were dressed and fashioned with mortise and tenon joints before 30 were erected as a 33 metres (108 ft) diameter circle of standing stones, with a ring of 30 lintel stones resting on top. The lintels were fitted to one another using another woodworking method, the tongue and groove joint”

the guides were very well informed and they worked for peanuts!!!





Pubs Pubs Pubs

The first six days in England we stayed at a pub, The Fox and Goose, there was a beautiful garden spot between the hotel and the pub.  This made life super simple at the beginning and the end of each day.

the garden at the Fox & Goose

the garden at the Fox & Goose






I already covered day one so let’s get on with day two, three, four, I lost count…

look a PUB

look a PUB



This one was near the Tower of London


The Sherlock Holmes Pub where I had Bangers and Mash!!! and BEER

The Sherlock Holmes Pub where I had Bangers and Mash!!! and BEER


The Sherlock Holmes was down an alley. we did our best totry one of each

we did our best to try one of each






We spent three days in Salisbury, a very picturesque place with lots of PUBS!!!

The Mill with a lovely river in front/back

The Mill with a lovely river in front/back

The Kings Head Inn, I think we'll head inn for a BEER

The Kings Head Inn, I think we’ll head inn for a BEER

the Lazy Cow, known for it's burgers and BEER!

the Lazy Cow, known for it’s burgers and BEER!

the Ox Row Inn, didn't know oxen could row!!

the Ox Row Inn, didn’t know oxen could row!!

Bill's a Pub with BEER!

Bill’s a Pub with BEER!

the New Inn looks pretty olde

the New Inn looks pretty olde


































Back to the big city of London which is like New York in that is is a collection of boroughs in a mega city.

A Friend at Hand

A Friend at Hand

"Friend at Hand Pub"

“Friend at Hand Pub”


Another Pub down an alley

A Friend at Hand indeed!




There was a dog on the sign,

We couldn’t resist.

The mysterious woman in blue is my traveling companion, Wendy.  She’s in charge of finding our way but she became a believer in my  ability to find a pub.




Merry olde England the pubs and pagans tour


the Fox & Goose Pub/hotel


Just returned from Merry Olde England on the pubs and pagans tour.  We stayed at the Fox and Goose in Wembly , London for the first 6 days, we tried to get the most from our London passes,  I’m sure the travel card was worth it.  TRAVEL TIP  the tube has many flights of steps at every stop.  Get at least three maps of your destination(one could be wrong)  Better yet book a ride from the airport and just look for the guy with a sign of your name. Or hump your luggage in a brain dead state and ask every one along the way for a place they’ve never heard of.

the breakfast place

the breakfast place

the guys at the breakfast placeThe coffee shop up the hill

Full of good intel on what to see and when the soccer games were happening nearby.


We did the London Bridge Experience and built up a powerful thirst, this pub was under the bridge and a great place to ride out the ten minute storm.  The “Shard” was struck by lightning while we sipped in cozy comfort.

under the London Brodge

under the London Bridge

cozy seats

cozy seats

the bar

the bar






I went up top to discover that the London Bridge is NOT the Tower Bridge.

London Bridge with Brit

London Bridge with Brit

one view from London Bridge, a PUB!

one view from London Bridge, a PUB!

Tower Bridge from London Bridge somewhat down the Thames

Tower Bridge from London Bridge somewhat down river






So we had a long list of sights to see and ended up meandering through a market, sipping beverages and nibbling tapas.


entering the market

entering the market


so many things to see so little time

colorful booth

colorful booth

Stay tuned for day two!!


Green Man a how-to-tutorial

I recently got a commission to make a Green man and I took the opportunity to document the process.

I make my green men and women using basic hand building techniques.  I start with a large lump of clay 5-6 pounds and I form a shallow bowl just like a large pinch pot, slowly pressing into the lump and squeezing until I have an oval shape that is 1/2 – 1″ thick, and the sides are 2-3″ tall.  The bowl shape is about the size of a large face.  I go large because fired clay shrinks with each firing and I want them to be on the monumental side.


Then I wait,,,when the clay is ready, and this is crucial, it’s time to start pushing, pressing, shaving and adding clay to form a face.  The clay needs to be pretty pliable but not so soft as to collapse.  The thickness of the bowl helps by giving without ripping.  How long to wait? That depends on the humidity and can be slowed by wrapping tight or loosely in plastic.  Resist the temptation to hurry the drying as this will probably just form a stiff skin on the out side making it hard to push.DSC_5402

I use photos of faces, my own face and my fingers as a ruler to rough out the proportions. I concentrate on eyes, nose and mouth since the rest will be covered by leaves.  It takes several days working a few hours each day to finish the face.  The clay is kept moist by sponging with water and wrapping in plastic during the forming phase.  This is important so the leaves will adhere properly.  It also allows for fine work at the end of the process.DSC_5418 DSC_5420


The leaves are cut from slabs of clay about 1/4″ thick.  I use real leaves collected in the fall, green leaves rot quickly but some have to be used green for example grape and paw paw because they don’t store well.  A large green man can take up to 36 leaves.

The assembly must be done on the kiln shelf because the piece can’t be moved once it is dry.  I add a coil of clay in a circle around the face to attach the leaves and give a little space for fingers to pick it up.DSC_5443 DSC_5445

After the piece is completely dry, it is bisque fired to cone 04.  The item featured here took over a week to dry because mother nature brought on the rain that week and even with fans I had to do a two day slow dry in the kiln to be sure.  Be careful drying in the kiln, you can dry out the skin and leave a bit of moisture inside leading to a spectacular explosion and a pile of shards.



still drying....

still drying….

After the bisque firing the piece can be handled, the dust washed off, and glaze or stains applied. One more firing to a higher temperature, cone 4, and then we wait,,,,,, for everything to cool off!

all fired up in the kiln

all fired up in the kiln


after the first firing

after the first firing


The Hungry Hordes are at the door

The winter of 2013-14 has been relentless.

The deer have annihilated my arborvitae and the HOLLY BUSHES, I mean, who eats those prickly things?  Hungry deer that’s who, come to think of it pine is one of their favorites, ick.  We have electric fencing but you can’t fence in everything.

four does

deer in the back yard

Turkeys have been spotted in the front yard, thanks to Xena who lit up like a christmas tree when she saw them working their way down the edge of the garden.DSC_4680

Blue Jays and Cardinals have been emptying the front porch cat dish.  I do keep five seed feeders full and two suet spots, I guess the birds prefer a meatier diet in the winter. DSC_4985






Larry does NOT find this funny!!!!


And the horses would love to see some green grass.  They are so stoic.



It was great good fun  to escape the great white north for a few days for the sunny warmth of Florida.  Eating, reading and relaxing along with staying hydrated were the only order of the day (naps optional).

Clearwater Beach

Clearwater Beach

We used a regional Airline, Allegiant, and flew nonstop from Huntington to Sanford. TRAVEL HINT; It’s almost impossible to lose luggage on a non stop flight.

After a nice visit with family it was off to the beach.  TRAVEL HINT; yes you can burn on a cloudy day under an umbrella on a WHITE sand beach.


We stayed at a lovely little place a ten minute drive from the beach and I found it on the Tampa/St Pete visitor site. TRAVEL HINT; they had a whole page of nice places with NO website!!! so they weren’t listed on any of the broker pages.

Back in town still not thrilled with the weather but refreshed and ready to ROCK & ROLL!!DSC_5174

Bacchus /Dionysus Greenman

A new Greenman has made it through the fires.  It’s been awhile since I’ve made one and I started this guy in September when I picked a variety of grape leaves.  They must be used fresh unlike oak leaves that last for years.

Detail of Bacchus

Detail of Bacchus

Bacchus is the Roman god of wine and Dionysus is the Greek god of wine.  I like wine too.  So I combined the Greenman  with a couple of gods and voila!!

The addition of grapes & curlicues completes the references to the fruit of the vine.  I finished this piece with a spray of various green stains that are fired on at stoneware temperatures.  Ready to hang indoors or outside.

To read more about the process of building a green man see the Women of Appalachia post.