Sunday, January 31, 2010

Nice, very Nice

Gerry and Wesley sledding again today!


This is the road in front of our house. We have talked about what a good road it would be for sledding since we moved here five years ago. Finally got a snow worthy of trying it out. Gerry and Wes went sledding yesterday while I made cookies and soup. I grew up on the beach remember? I don't do cold! I took Hollis' advise and started a series of coil pots last night, these are going to be orb-ish I think. At least that's where they are going right now. When I make coil pots they tend to get a life of their own and I just go along with it. I dropped off the Raku sculpture and the large coil jar at the Artscenter on Friday and actually brought myself to put a price on them. It's so hard to part with freshly made pots. . Anyone got a box made yet?! Let's see them!!!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Milk Sandwiches

There was a mad dash to the grocery for everyone today for bread and milk. Apparently southerners like to eat milk sandwiches when a snow storm is coming! There is always such a grocery store panic, I swear I think the news media does this to increase sales or something! The produce bins were nearly empty, but there was plenty of bread and milk, they know to stock up for these supplies. The woman in front of me had six boxes of toasted oats cereal in her cart. Really, is that necessary? She maybe should have got some laxatives to go with that purchase! Photo above: where I would rather be right now, Ocracoke on the Outer Banks in June, yes!!!! Just imagine it, ahhhhh..................
Here is a little project du jour that I am planning for my pottery sampler class that starts next week, and is filling up, yay. Easy peasy but instantly gratifying for beginners as well as those who are not so beginner, that would be me. I love to build things like this when I have less energy, feels like a major accomplishment in my day. I picked up the planter above at AC Moore craft store for $3 the other day for a template.
traced it out on an old fed ex envelope, recycle when you can....
lightly score the folds so that it will bend easily and place it on a clay slab. Trace around the template with a cutting implement to cut the slab out and flip the slab and cardboard all at once so that the slab is now sitting on top of the cardboard. Make sure the side you scored is on the bottom. Cut each edge at a 45 degree angle, then you just fold it up. I use pretty wet slabs which makes my life more difficult in some ways, firmer slabs are best I suppose but I never have firm slabs and when I do use them they crack on me. If your slabs are wet like mine, just touch the clay gingerly, you'll get used to it, but there is no need for slip and score like this. With firmer slabs, do slip and score. Add a tiny coil inside at each corner so the box doesn't fall apart when fired, trust me, it will.
I found this bike gear on campus the other day while walking around. I hardly ever see what's around me because I am always looking on the ground for treasure. Me and a friend of mine used to walk through bars looking on the ground and could easily come home with an extra $20. Anyway, it looked like a box handle to me. I like it! Mixed media, cool.....
Last I paddle the edges when firmed up a bit to get them super straight, and I use a sure form to make the lid match up really well, then I put rubber bands around, because the ends of the lid will curl up. I'm sure most of you will skip this post, because you are mostly more brilliant than I am, but there may be some lurkers that absolutely need to make a box, so there ya go, an easy way to do it! Raku fire for this one! You have to get those seams strongly sealed for Raku. I didn't believe it when I was told to do so, and I watched all four sides of the first box I ever made fall off all at once. I'm sure I will have some snow pics for the blog this weekend. It is supposed to start this evening and snow all through tomorrow. Summer, summer summer summer............

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Lovin' what you make

OK, I'm sober tonight but I think I'm high on smoke fumes! WHAT A DAY! Glorious blue skies, warm weather, there's a full moon a comin' and I had one of the best firing days since I got this kiln!!! YAY!!!! My soul searching last night was greatly beneficial as were the words of wisdom from all of you faithful bloggers, whom I love to hear from! LOOK AT THAT POT ABOVE! Is that not a beautiful thing. Did you read my friend Laura's comment on the last post? She said when you make what you love the energy comes through, no truer words, girl. I loved every moment of making this coil pot, from rolling the coils, to building it, burnishing it, applying the terra sig, and today firing it. It was sooooo much fun to watch it transform from a bright orange pumpkin jar to this wonderful primitive smokey thing. Can you tell I'm happy?!
The pot is 16" and about 7 lbs. very light. I fired it with sawdust from the last set I worked on, isn't that cool? and Thai basil stalks from my garden last summer, and lemon rind from the lemonade I made Gerry for his kidney stone. Magic potion, you should have smelled it firing, it was like I was having a barbeque or something :) and then I polished it with olive oil.
and this is one of the sweetest bowls I have ever made. Now this is the kind of bowl I love but what do you do with it? I burnished it with terra sig then raku fired it with a slight reduction. It is the cutest thing! It's very tiny.
She turned out pretty good too, although I wish I had spent a little more time on the wrap, it could have more detail I think. But she raku fired beautifully, nothing fell off or blew up. Very hard thing to photograph, Gerry is not going to be happy when ask him to shoot this one for me!

and this pendant I have been wanting to make for myself forever, homage to Georgia O'keefe I think. I remember the first time I saw one of her paintings in a gallery in Washington DC, I almost hyperventilated I was so overcome. I may have cried, don't remember. Well, good day, as you can probably tell. Today was the first day Wesley didn't seem like she had Mono since October and Gerry has gone for 24 hours with no pain, so all is well with our world. Thank you thank you for all the words of wisdom, comfort and thanks to those of you that also do not brush your hair, care about new outfits from Nordstrom, and can't be bothered with discussing the latest sports stats. I Love you guys!! XOXOX

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Red Wine Musings......

I'm probably going to regret sitting down at this computer in the morning when I read this, and shouldn't blog after many glasses of red wine, but what the hell...... I had a meeting with a group of women from Wesley's school for the silent auction fundraiser we do in conjunction with Art In The Woods. (this is clever because her school's name is Woods Charter School). I am on this committee mostly because I bring the red wine (not really, I just have talented artist friends that give donations). I am a bit off from the rest of these women. Example: they all have great hair styles, cute sweaters, cute shoes and husbands with mostly 9-5 jobs as lawyers and such. My husband shoots pictures for a living and I make pottery. Tonight, I walked in with a green and black paid wool shirt, jeans and boots, later in the evening I noticed that I had some glaze on my shirt because I was glazing a sculpture when I realized it was time to leave for the meeting, I'm not sure I brushed my hair today and have not cut it in a very long time because I don't have time or $$ for hair salons, I just braid it. I feel like such a misfit around these Chapel Hill moms, (and I still act like I'm about 12) but these women are very cool and funny and smart and I enjoy talking with them although I live in a very different world. For instance, the mom who hosted the meeting at her house tonight would not let her daughter have a brownie before going to bed. Hell, Wesley could eat the f'ing brownie in her bed if she wanted to, who cares, it's chocolate!!!!! It's important! Two of them mentioned tonight that they had taken pottery classes before and could not get it, sigh.....anyway, my point is, this is one of the reasons I love talking to all of you in this blog world. You get that I don't think about brushing my hair because my pots are leather hard now and need to be trimmed, and I have to bisque today because I have to do a firing this week for a show deadline, and on and on... you guys get it!! It was fun to be with these very different women tonight, our one common bond being our children and our participation in their lives. But I felt as I almost always do, the one on the outside looking in, I have always felt that way. Is this how most artists feel, or just adult kids of dysfunctional upbringings. I wonder......
So, other news, Gerry passed that godforsaken kidney stone, a demon looking thing with little spikes, he is much better. Yesterday, he told me to lock up the guns (keep in mind that we only have a BB gun that belonged to his grandfather) but he was heavily influenced by Percocet and in severe pain and wanted to end it all. Today, he was back at work. Amazing that this tiny little kidney stone could cause so much agony. Take my advise everybody, start drinking lots and lots of water and lay off of the sodas. He drank over 32 oz. of Dr. Pepper the day this started, a caffeine addict if there ever was one. It's not worth it, trust me.
And my last thoughts: the cups....... I hate them. They were in the bisque that I fired yesterday and as usual, I only like my functional stuff when it is leather hard. WTF! Love the big pot and am going to put it in a sawdust firing tomorrow, I like my sculpture, I like the stuff that serves no purpose. I don't like the cups, the bowls. Do I just need to pay attention to this and make stuff that no one can do anything with except look at it and go Wow isn't that pretty? You can't eat from it or drink from it, but you can dust it and look at it when you walk in to the room and appreciate it. I don't know.... this drives me crazy, people suffering all over the world and I am compelled to make art that does nothing. And the vases I made all sold. That just blows me away. We have no extra money, but there are people that will walk in to a gallery and buy one of my vases that are not that cheap and what do they do with it I wonder. I would love to meet the person that bought that crazy vase with the sculptures on it. I loved that vase, but never imagined that someone else would. But I sent one of my sweet little stars that I love to Meredith and it made her smile, so that's something. Maybe I'm just here to make people smile. Hmmmm, there could be worse things I guess. Here is what happens: I make cups and bowls, fuck them up with glaze. I make coil pots, vases, sculptures, decorative pieces and they always turn out the way I want them to. what is this telling me? I like making cups and bowls, I just wish I could find that one magic glaze that would make them alright and get on with it, then I could get that done quickly and spend time on coil pots and Raku. does this make sense? or do I just quit wasting my time and forget cups and bowls? I am sick of the quest for a glaze I like. The glazes I tend to like either don't sell well or they aren't functional or they are cone 10 and since I have this glorious non cone 10 kiln, I'm not going down that road right now!
It's just so confusing, isn't it? I envy the potters that have a particular style and they crank it out. and the potters that find these eloquent and metaphorical reasons for their pottery and express their views on their pottery as if writing for academia. I can't make two of the same thing to save my life, every day there is something different I want to make or try or test. I can't write an artist statement (I can't even read most of them) or write a philosophcal reason for what I do. I just do this, there is no reason for it, I just want to do it so I do. I have a few things that I like to make over and over and I make a lot of them, but there are so many other things I want to do as well. Of course there are clay artists out there that do make one or two of a thing and then move on. My friend Laura Farrow makes these amazing sculptures that are one of a kind and I truly love her work, so maybe it's ok to make a vase that you won't make again, and it's ok to move to the next thing and the next thing and the next thing. Maybe I don't have to make a dozen blue mugs (although I wish I could). I have a bunch of stuff glazed today that will be Raku fired tomorrow, so we will see how that goes, and then I need to figure out what to do with the mugs, clear glaze? 04? ^6? shard pile? ............. I'll just think about that tomorrow I guess. If you have an amazing glaze recipe that's just lying around that you think I would love, feel free to share! I'll test anything!
"It's all lessons, mate" (to quote our good friend Stuart from England, I love this saying!) and you know my head is going to hurt tomorrow from this bottle of wine......................

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Eternal Optimism

I finally got some sleep last night. Going for 48 hours without sleep and hanging out at a hospital for 7 hours somehow allows your body to collapse at 9pm and sleep for 10 straight hours. Bliss! I got lovely mail yesterday that I didn't find until this morning. Yesterday was a complete distraction. Carole Epp from Musing About Mud blog (see my sidebar) sent me this wonderful cup as a blog contest prize and I am having some Chai tea in it as I type. Also, my friend and Raku student, Charlotte sent me this beautiful card made from a photo she shot. She is making some great cards with her photography. Such a great idea, I have got to start doing that. Carole, I love the cup!!!
I got my kiln loaded yesterday afternoon, believe it or not, and I made a great pot of soup, sort of Meredith Heywood style. Threw in whatever I had on hand. Isn't this swiss chard crazy?! So the soup: Italian style canned tomatoes, mushrooms, lentils, corn, butter beans, fingerling potatoes, swiss chard, garlic, vegetable broth, olive oil, hot sauce and onion. Soooo good with fresh loaf of sourdough bread. Gerry is in a lot of pain today and pretty spaced out on Percecet. I'm babysitting a bisque that I am firing verrrrry slowly to see if I can solve the pinholes. Also trying a 10 minute hold at 1100 degrees. Fingers crossed, the big terra sig pot is in there.........
Soooo, considering the day we had with the kidney thing, I had a good day (not so for Gerry) except for feeling helpless that I can't stop pain. Hopefully this thing will pass soon because Gerry leaves for the Olympics in less than two weeks. YIKES!!!!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Brief interruption

Got home around 6am this morning from the hospital. Gerry had a kidney stone attack him around 10pm last night and we rushed him to the emergency room, where we sat until the wee hours of this morning. Poor Wesley had just gotten home from a gig at a bar in Raleigh that was doing a church/spiritual uplifting service, (they paid them very well!). I kept humming that song in my head "Always look on the bright side of life, da dum, da dum, da dum, da dum." Know that one? It's a strange world in the hospital around 4am when I am usually just falling asleep. Lots of drama in the ER, Wesley was taking notes for future writings, we saw the insides of our man, kidneys, bladder, liver, intestines, all very interesting..... They shot him up with morphine and attached IV's and there we sat waiting for tests to come back. Plans today were to load a kiln, but plans right now are to go back to bed. Ger is drugged up pretty good and sleeping, Wes stayed home from school and I am eating chocolate, what else! So the photos are from an English class journal that Wesley's teacher assigned. This thing is so cool and I love that they are doing this. It gets passed to a different person every weekend and they journal in it. She let me read it and there are some wonderful things in there. The future is bright! There were lots of Thoreau and Emerson quotes, scraps of paper mementos, poems, and random thoughts. Lots of fun to read. I love this teacher! So, I may or may not post for the next few days, depending on if anything happens besides giving out drugs and checking pee for passing stones. You gotta love nurses, how do they do it! God bless them every one!!!! (and the docs, of course).

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Terra Sig

I put terra sig on my big pot today, I decided to sawdust fire it since I won't be able to lift it out of my raku kiln. Forethought would have been good when I was building this thing! Then I thought, hmmmm..... what if I put terra sig on my mugs since I still haven't figured out what to do with them, and then I thought what about some underglaze and some stain..... and before I knew it I had a bunch of cups ready to go into the bisque! I think I like where this is going. I used to be a set designer and one of the things I regularly got stuck doing was faux finishing walls, floors, furniture. Staining these cups felt a lot like that and then a little light went off and I thought, why haven't I tried to apply that to pottery before? It's so simple, it's what I know! Let's hope the firing doesn't take this patina away too much, I really like them like they are, but sadly bone dry pottery won't hold liquids :)
Looks like a pumkin doesn't it!
LOVE this!

and then there is Mick! I have had this poster since I was in High School. Can you believe that! Anyway, he is in my studio and I had my camera so I thought I would snap a pic for ya!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Just a few things.....

Yesterday Gerry brought a package up to my studio after the mail came. I was all excited thinking I had gotten one of these mugs that everyone keeps getting in the mail from all over the world or the cup I won from Musing blog, and then he said "Wait, why is my name on the package?" So we both open it and there is a card inside from Hollis Engley saying that this is Gerrys' very own cup since the first cup I got from him is like a get in line for the cup thing around here. Gerry is very excited to have his own cup and loves it very much Hollis! It was very kind of you to think of him and he has already put it to good use. And a nice treat for him as well. It's been a rough week. He started out the first of the week with vertigo/inner ear thing (Meredith I know you can relate) and then Wednesday night at the Duke/NC State game the students rushed the court at the end of the game and Gerry's leg got hurt pretty bad as thousands of drunk screaming students trampled the media that was there doing their job. So thank you for the wonderful addition to our growing collection of pottery!!!!!!
Remember this vase? I got a check from the NC Craft Gallery yesterday for it and several other vases that I had there on consignment. Sarah offers 60% to artists for consignment work and sends a check on the 15th of the month, so it is a fair deal and I love working with her. Sadly I forgot to take good photos of this vase before I took it to the gallery.
and last thing, if you haven't seen Kyle Carpenter's blog about this guest book, scoot on over there and check it out. I think there are going to be a bunch of artists out there wanting to do this book. It is brilliant! He also has some great photos of decoration work today. Thanks for sharing Kyle! Well, it's a cold rainy morning here, where did that little summer go that we were having?
I'm off to burnish that big 'ol coil pot. I realized last night that I can't raku fire it in my kiln. First of all there is no way I can lift it with my tongs and second it won't fit through the opening of my kiln. Sooooo, it is a sawdust firing for this puppy. Should be pretty cool though, and if not, well you know from my past experience that I am familiar with loss, so no big deal, I'll just make another...........peace, dudes!!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Coiling day two

I finished up the coil pot I started yesterday. As with the other coil pots I have made, this one got a bit out of hand. they just seem to grow and grow. I have got to figure out how to have a shape in mind before I start instead of half way through!
I decided I didn't like where this one was going so I turned it upside down and added a rim to the bottom.
then I made a lid

added a piece of bamboo that was laying around in my studio and TA DA!
It weighs 7 lbs. finished. I cannot, no way, no how throw a 7 lb vase this tall.
this is a 3 lb vase I threw while coils dried. Now to burnish and add terra sig, day three tomorrow.
Oh and a certain someone in my house got a certain cup in the mail from a certain potter! I'll post more later about this, but let's just say Gerry was very surprised and happy with the package!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Coiling again

I worked on this coil pot most of the day today. I threw one 5 lb. vase while waiting to attach coils, and worked on a sculpture. Multi tasking, yes. I forgot how much I like making coil pots and I think they are going to work out in saggar fires. They are slow and tedious, but there is something very meditative about making them. Maybe I should call them meditation balls or something :)
Hollis Engley inspired me when he mentioned his blogger friend Maria Bosch the other day. She makes some great pit fired orbs that I really liked a lot. I think this one will get burnished and then red terra sig and sawdust firing.

I'll finish it up tomorrow, it's getting a bit unstable right now, the walls are pretty thin and as it gets taller it wants to collapse under the weight of the new coil.
Here are some of my favorite texture tools. I have had them since I took Debra Fritt's workshop at Arrowmont several years ago. I used them today on the sculpture below.
This little African is going to look so cool when I raku fire her. I figured since I was making coil pots I would finish up this sculpture I keep starting and stopping. If all goes well, I'm going to put her in the Artscenter's instructor show. Of course, now that she is dedicated to a show, she is sure to blow up or melt or something!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Sacred Space?

I enjoyed reading Ron Philbeck's blog post about thinking of his work area as a sacred space. After I read it, I thought about what my wheel looked like and had a hard time seeing it as a sacred space at that moment. See photo below and you will understand! I made a huge mess last week, trying to get back into some sort of routine and I need to be in there right now cleaning up. It does feel good when your work space has been freshly cleaned, you have warm water for the wheel, the ware boards are washed, tools are sharp and clean, and everything is in it's place. This is a rare moment for me, but I like it when it's that way.
Here are a few pictures from my pyrotechnics last week. I also need to get some good photographs made. Wesley got her driver's license last week, so I may have more time now, less taxi duties for me hopefully!

Monday, January 18, 2010


Did everyone have a nice holiday today? We started out at Sutton's Drug Store on Franklin St. for breakfast. Sutton's is one of the last remaining soda fountain/drug stores left in NC, built in 1923. Cheap, good food! The atmosphere is Carolina basketball and locals gathering for chats and great food. Then a walk around campus for some sunshine that I have not seen for awhile.
I love the prescription counter and the pharmacist with his pharmacist jacket on. so classic.
The shadow on the building is the bell tower on campus. There used to be a group that gathered there every Saturday at noon before the ball games for a "12 o'clock high". I wonder if they still do that?

There is that famous Carolina blue sky. There is a saying that if God isn't a Tarheel why is the sky Carolina Blue? It sure was today. So nice to be out in the 56 degree temps and beautiful skies. I even got in several Raku firings today. I'll post some more pics tomorrow of the pots all cleaned up
and if firing the kiln wasn't enough we built a fire and tossed on the dead Christmas tree. Do you think I have had enough flames this week? Pit firing, saggar firing, Raku and a bonfire.
Happy days! I have a picture tomorrow for Ron Philbeck too, to show you my "sacred space" pottery wheel.