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Thursday, July 31, 2008

Land & Sea

Have I mentioned how much I love working at the ArtsCenter?! I am so lucky that I found this place when we first moved to Chapel Hill. I had left a job with the Charlotte Rep that I truly loved and left a clay studio, Clayworks, that I also loved, because Gerry got this job with the Associated Press, his lifelong dream job. I had no idea what I would do. I walked in to the ArtsCenter and these people welcomed me with open arms. This is one of the greatest groups I have ever worked with, honestly!This painting is one of my all time favorite things any of my campers has ever made. It is such a joyful picture. The assignment was to bring in a favorite stuffed animal and paint it's portrait.
Here is my new best friend. My kids this week were 4 and 5 and so very talented. We learned about Arctic animals and made igloos and arctic animals out of clay. Of course the day we did this I forgot my camera. We made pinch pot animal bowls out of clay, again forgot my camera. I did remember by the time we started painting and here are some of the great examples:
This is the scenery for the show the kids will perform on Friday. I let them create this all by themselves. Usually if I get in there and start painting, I get carried away and it doesn't look like a little camper did it anymore! I really have to restrain myself.
We learned the art of Japanese Gyotaku fish printing. We used a rubber fish instead of the traditional method of using a real one, too stinky for these campers.
My daughter and her best friend came in and face painted today.

And the BEST counselor EVER!!!!! Wesley.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Swallow's Nest

Alan From Argyll Pottery had a great photo of a swallows nest on his blog and it reminded me of Adrian Arleo. I was fortunate to work as the studio assistant during her sculpture workshop here in January and she told the story of these swallows that she watched build a nest over her door and it gave her the idea for a unique surface texture. She watched how they built up the layers and then tried to duplicate it. She did a demo of this technique for us and it was the most tedious and time consuming thing . Adrian is one of the most methodical and patient clay artists I have ever seen. Her workshops are so full of information, even though I will never attempt a sculpture as large and detailed as hers, I came away with much inspiration and some great ideas to try. This is one of Adrian's pieces using the nest texture
here is Alan's swallows nest
This is Adrian beginning an armature demo at Claymakers
She later used the legs to demo several different surface textures she uses. The very top is the nest technique
A close up of a test tile with the swallows nest texture.

Second week of camp, I will try and post some photos later in the week. Today we made igloos and polar bears. Tomorrow pinch pot bowls with animal heads. I have a much larger group this week, one little guy doesn't speak English, but he gave it a good try today anyway.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Castles and jugs and puppets............

This week I am creating Myths, Legends and Adventures with 4 and 5 year olds from 8:30 am -1pm, I grab some lunch and head to Playmakers for tech on The Music Man, a cast of 40 kids, and then I get home around 11pm and crash. That has been my schedule all week and I will never do a show and an art camp at the same time again, never, ever, ever! I'm not doing clay everyday at camp like I usually do, because I am having to coordinate firings with the other ceramics camp, and the kilns need a break, so we are doing some painting and collage as well.We talked about knights and castles this week and here are some of the castles the kids made waiting for firing.
This has been one of the best camps I have done at the ArtsCenter, and I am so happy to be back there for summer camp. It is a great place to work, full of joyful people that love what they do. The facility is by no means state of the art, and we could use so many things, but somehow it works anyway, and I have a great time there.
My studio assistants taking a painting break
This is a combination of my class and James' class waiting to fire. Sadly, the slab roller has to make do as a work table during the kid's camps because we have limited space for the mass production kids are so capable of.
James Ward is the official kid's ceramic teacher at the ArtsCenter. He does it with the most grace and patience of any of us. James was recently at Penland and Michael Kline had posted one of his beautiful pots from the wood firing. James has to be one of the kindest people I have ever met. He loaded all of my kid's stuff for me after he taught his kid's class and then an adult class the other night, just so I could have my stuff out of bisque by Friday. This is a one week camp so no time for glazing. We use acrylic paints on the bisque and then I spray the pieces with an acrylic sealer to make it shiny. Below are some face jugs from James' camp. He has been doing these for a couple of years, but I never grow tired of seeing them. The kids make them so fun.

And Last but certainly not least is Mark Warren, who returned with James from Penland to live in Chapel Hill for awhile. Mark is a wood worker, but created some fabulous clay puppets with the kids. He is a great new addition to the studio! Very happy to have him around. Mark was in the work study with James at Penland. I'll try to post camp happenings each week. I'm not sure yet about posting photos of the kids, so until I am clear about that, I will just photograph their work.


Sunday, July 20, 2008

Brown bowls and blueberries




Well, here are some of the miserable tests I have been moaning about. Many went in the trash but I am keeping these around for lessons learned. After I ate out of the brown bowl with blueberries I actually liked it and will probably find that it is one of my favorites one day. So, the photos are quick snaps. Would you ever guess that I live with a professional photographer? Cobbler's family and all that.......
Lesson learned: iron clay body with amber celedon, if you want it right with iron clay use white slip. Otherwise embrace brown bowl with iron specks.


Tenmoku, Amber Celedon and Shino over white slip, don't like the shino/slip combo at all. I like Shino better on iron clay body. I think I might epoxy these bowls on the board and hang up on a tree somewhere, might be kinda fun. I think they would look great with shells or rocks or bird's nests in them. I know it seems like a big waste of clay to make bowls for test tiles but I am a visual learner and those little tiles show me nothing. I find something to do with all of this eventually. So, there are more bisque bowls on my shelves and other glazes to experiment with.
Tenmoku and Amber Celedon combo, strange but interesting in the light


Joanne's Matte White, never used this before, it has a wonderful feel to it. A little boring on it's own though.

Question: Is anyone out there firing Earthenware in a gas kiln at 04? Claymakers has a really nice Amber glaze that I would like to continue using but soon I will have a gas kiln. I got an email from John Britt today with a supply list for the kiln workshop. I am going to be a sucky teacher the next two weeks of camp, because my mind is so preoccupied with getting up to John's place. It's like waiting for Christmas!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Bonafide Perplexity

I love that phrase and it is exactly how I feel right now. Wesley found that phrase in an old book by Carlos Castenadas . Did anyone ever read the teachings of Don Juan in college or high school?
Anyway, yesterday, I worked at Claymakers in the morning, the sink flooded the floor and I was the first to find it so I got to mop it up. This makes the third week in a row I have come in to a flooded floor. The rain did it the last two times, this time the sink. Got a kiln loaded, recycled some clay and headed out to shop for props. Yesterday my search was for a 1912 bicycle, a pitch fork and a key to the handcuffs we have and can't get opened. How many people in one day can comment on being kinky when you have a set of handcuffs with you anyway!
Also gutted some old books to make fake books for the bookshelves in the library scene and made a twelve foot banner that read, River City Iowa, July 4, 1912. What a pain in the you know what that was. Lettering is not my thing. Then I had to put together a lesson plan for my summer camp class that starts Monday. Myths, Legends and Adventures. We are making Medusa heads, castles, Aztec rattles and on and on and on. Kindergarten and first grade. I have no clue about classroom control so this is going to be a crazy crazy week.
So last night I had to be at the theater for tech. We open Thursday. All the while this is going on I am wondering about the pots that finally got fired in the gas kiln at Claymakers. Picked them up yesterday. Whenever I pick up test pieces, I ride home with them in the front seat of the car and look at them on the way home. Pick them up at each stoplight and ponder the question "what was I thinking". Same is true this time. Also wondering why the amber celedon looked like baby poop with pits. It is a beautiful glaze and it was not beautiful on my dishes. I used Aurora and I am thinking that it must have been the iron in the clay and the glaze didn't like that. I also tested tenmoku on a couple of bowls and I guess I need to get used to the orange that breaks through randomly. I like the dark brown better. I was really ready to smash everything at the studio when I picked it all up, but some of it is settling with me now. These were all test bowls at least, because I am not that familiar with Claymakers glazes and I am not set up here yet to start doing my own tests. All in all, I hate them every one! I trimmed the feet too thin, there was one rim I liked a lot so I will keep that up, and the glazes all pretty much suck. So, back to the, again, never ending quest for a bowl that makes me smile. It ain't happening so far. I am wondering also why I like everything that I hand build and like nothing that I throw. I am being so critical with my thrown pieces, feeling every little bump and not liking the trimming, not liking the glazes. Not really liking pottery today. My brain is fried and I have way to many things in the air. I also think this weather is so oppressive when you are driving around in Chapel Hill where the city planners never once thought about the traffic getting around in the town. I actually had to go to Walmart today to find some American flags, because you know there are going to be American flags at Walmart, probably made in China!!!! People should not ever have to shop at Walmart.
So on that happy note, I am going to the frig and grab a Bud Light and sit my butt on the porch and drink it. Then I am going to get another one!! Happy Weekend everyone. I'll try to post some pictures of my not too lovely bowls in the next couple of days.

Later....... we ate some blueberries out of the baby poop brown bowl and I actually like it now. The brown somehow enhanced the color of the blueberries, so then I put some grilled new potatoes in another one, and, well that one looked good too. Lord!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

There is hope for the future, sort of.....

I took my daughter and her friends to the Warped Tour in Charlotte Monday. We got there around noon and stayed until it closed down.Great weather, no rain, not too hot. There were seven stages and over fifty bands, lots of band merchandise, and food vendors charging way too much for food and water. Beer was $10, water was $5, and a hot dog was $6. So ridiculous! Anyway, we had a great time, heard some good music, made some new friends. At one point, I came up on my group sitting and chatting with this Obama campaigner, discussing politics. Keep in mind, these are 15 year olds.
There were kids there promoting environmental issues, breast cancer awareness, and other great social issues. I saw no LSD trips, no drunks, no one doing anything crazy or stupid.............not at all like a concert I would have been at when I was 15! Where were the war protesters, where was that familiar concert smell of pot?It was strange, these kids were actually there to see the bands. I asked one police officer if anyone had gotten into trouble during the day, and he said "not one!" Imagine that. So, if you are a parent and your kids want to go to the Warped Tour next year, go for it. I think most just dropped their kids off, but I wanted to see the bands. If you like, there is a "reverse daycare" tent for parents, AC and TV.
Of course, I did come up on my daughter and 2 friends going into the Trojan Condom booth, oh well. And then there was this girl in the photo below. Thank God I didn't bring her, she got the band Say Anything to sign her breasts. How would I explain that to her mom? To the bands credit, they held the sharpie as far away as possible while signing. Really funny to watch their faces! I just wonder if she will bathe again?


















I will get back to pottery at some point, I swear. I just have to get my kid back in school, get this play over with, write a grant, and finish up four weeks of summer camp at the ArtsCenter. Oh yeah, then there is John Britt's kiln workshop, got to build the thing since I have a grant now,and I am going to Arrowmont for the Clay Conference. One more thing, Gerry started clearing land this weekend to build me a small studio beside the house.
Hmmmm, maybe October?

Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Cat's Cradle




Last night we went to the Cat's Cradle to see The Moaners and Langhorne Slim. What a great show! If you are in Asheville tonight Langhorne Slim will be at the Grey Eagle. Check out the band's myspace sites for concert dates. If they are in your area, definitely check them out, these are two really good live bands, fantastic drummers and really strong vocals.They should tour together, they compliment each other well. We are so lucky to have The Cat's Cradle ten minutes from our house. They book some amazing musicians. The show was all ages, so we brought Wesley and her best friend whose mom is the lead singer for The Moaners. It must be interesting to be a 15 year old in a club and see your mom up on stage playing her guitar and just rocking the place. Monday I am taking Wes and some friends to the Warped Tour in Charlotte. This should prove to be crazy, none of the other parents would agree to take them, so I guess I win as the coolest mom. Actually, I am a pretty cool mom!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Why I love the Theater

The construction for The Music Man is coming along great. Neil designed a very ambitious set. This is a very phony baloney life I have, and sometimes I think that I am contributing nothing worthwhile to society. But the theater does make people smile, sometimes it makes them think and for just a while you can escape from this crazy world we are living in. Anyway, that's my story and I'm sticking to it!
This is the model that is created before construction starts, below is the scene shop and a piece of the set getting the finishing touches
And of course, my very favorite thing in the theater, the prop room. Every prop room ought to have a stuffed cat and some shackles, don't you think? It always amazes me what you can find in prop storage. Right now, I am trying to locate a 1912 camera with tripod and flash. Not looking too good so far. I made the 1912 newspapers and comic book today, they turned out pretty good. My pottery wheel taunts me every time I walk by it, I'll be back soon, I promise!

Thursday, July 3, 2008



Besides pottery, it seems that many of us talk about our kids and our pets a lot on our blogs. It's funny how much we all have in common. I was reading Brandon Phillips blog this morning. Like him I am a huge fan of the Legend of Zelda game and I too had to take a heeler mix dog to a shelter because she got too aggressive. I have her son Tyler, an Australian Shepard mix and he is the kindest dog I have ever owned. Callie, my cat is a snob and only gives about 10 seconds of affection at a time. It's all about food and sleep for her. But she keeps the mice away. And then there is my beautiful rock star Wesley. What can I say, she is a keeper!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

GO HEELS!
If you are not a Carolina Tarheel fan I apologize for this photo, but after all, I do live in Chapel Hill and my husband was photographing Michael Jordan when he was in school here. Yes, I am a fan. Gerry stays unbiased because he has to photograph all of the teams every year.
I managed to get in a couple of days of throwing even with having to go in to the Theater. I got up at 6am this morning to drive to Claymakers and glaze all the bisque from last week. Hope there is a gas firing soon!
I set a little goal to make some sets just to keep my head organized. Well, best laid plans, and all that.............
I made three's and nothing the same, so I am changing the rules about sets of 4 and everything matching. Now it is mismatched sets of three for me. Maybe it's because I hand built one of a kind things for so long, or it's from making one of something for a demo, but I can't seem to get sets in my head. I make three of something and then I am ready to move on. Needless to say, production pottery is not in the stars for me.
Three bowls, three mugs and then the little one from the leftover clay at the end. Yes, I do have shelves but they are upstairs and I haven't set anything up down here so I just line it all up on the porch railing while I work. It's kinda fun to look at everything lined up around me while I'm working.

And then I switched to ones. I may be crazy to make a cake plate for gas firing but the clay is Aurora and I have had good luck with hand building and Raku with this clay. Not a lot of warping so I am hoping it won't slump. I made the base big and chunky so, that may be enough support. We'll see, it might be back to the Earthenware for this one. The little stick people are for Jen Mecca. I am loving the plates she has on her blog!
And then it all got ugly............................