Monday, March 29, 2010

Lord Have Mercy

I am working with Hidden Voices on a project focusing on homelessness. I just spent the day with six of the rudest, most disrespectful, angriest teenage boys and girls I have ever met. They did not want to be there. It was Spring Break and they were ordered by the court to be with us for the afternoon. Ordered there because of things like hitting teachers, going after another student with a knife, drugs, you know the usual things seventeen year olds are doing to pass time in school (not!). I forget there are kids like this out there. My kid wants to be with me, she has respect for others, compassion and goals. What is going to happen to these kids? I loved them, they are so raw and honest, and so sad in so many ways. What is WRONG with parents. Teach you children well, people!!!!!!! So anyway, our project with them was to build a "house" that told us who they are, past in the attic, present in the middle and future on the ground floor. It's really interesting to watch this process, and I'm sure these kids are going to be on my mind for awhile now. Here is the thing, a lot of the community service they have to do is cleaning, picking up trash in ditches, things that are punishment because of what they did, like being ordered there by the court, because a teacher pressed charges, because they got hit. Well, wouldn't you press charges? These are kids.Why can't they be shown a better way, instead of making them do something that is just going to piss them off more, teach them about something better to strive towards, something they might actually like to do and want to do more of. This system we have is so F'd up. Here is a bit more about the project, the show will be April 9 at the Artscenter in Carrboro if you want to come. No charge but kind donations are welcome! You can go to Hidden to read more about the project:

Home Is Not One Story debuts in April 2010, with writings, photography, performances, and video created by members of these communities, as well as a digital audio and print tour, exhibit, public video display, and school curriculum guide for implementing a focus on home and homelessness.
Home Is Not One Story is a community-based project highlighting stories from those who have experienced homelessness in North Carolina. The project gives voice to residents who have experienced episodic, as well as chronic, homelessness. Whether we call it housing displacement, housing crisis, or housing transition, homelessness can deprive us of the basic physical and emotional space needed to create and sustain personal dignity. Home Is Not One Story explores the challenges faced by those in transient housing, including motels and campgrounds; the chronically homeless; those escaping domestic and family violence; homeless women veterans; families in long-term shelter housing; foster children and young adults in and aging out of the support system; immigrants and refugees; LGBTQ teens in housing crisis; and the “hidden” homeless, who find shelter where they can but who lack a stable residence. These individuals and families have much to communicate about identity, place, and access. They have much to teach us about survival, flexibility, and the power of home. They have much to say.

Creative friends

What better way to spend a rainy Sunday than with a very talented friend playing with glazes! I went out to my friend Laura's studio yesterday to experiment with some glazes. Laura's place is like a candy store for potters. She has glazes, underglazes, glaze pens, grafitto paper, overglaze watercolors, engobes, glass, paper, images, creative work all around, you name it, she has it. I spent the day painting some of her amazing glaze palette on some litte test bowls, painting with some underglazes and grafitto paper, which I love! and got a lesson on mono printing which I also love! Have any of you done any mono printing? It has my head spinning! I want to print on everything now!!!! The above photo is a box tile that I painted with underglaze and graffito paper, crappy photo, should have snapped it from the side so that you could see that it is a box, oh well, you get the idea don't you?
These are a couple of small trays with underglazes and I used stamps with an underglaze stamp pad, the coolest thing ever!
This cup has a commercial wood ash with a commercial black in the carving that was applied then washed off. I'll be interested to see how the commercial glaze works out, I haven't used them before and the application is way different than what I am used to. It was fun to play with all of this stuff. I wish I could open a place where all these things were available to people to play with. What fun would that be!! Thanks Laura for a great day!! I'll be firing all of this stuff and some bisque and some Raku this week if the rains let up. How many times have we all said that this past year?!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Saturday ramblings

Isn't this a lucky girl? Wesley with her Uncle Scott and her dad at the Jolly Roger on Okracoke Island. Wes has really great uncles, as I did. My uncle Charlie passed away too soon, from a broken heart given to him by a cheating wife that he loved dearly. Charlie was a great influence on my life with art. He was a great artist, self taught, painted with oils. He lived with my grandmother for a very long time and when we would come to visit my grandmother there was a chance his easel was set up in the bedroom with a painting in progress. I am lucky enough to have a painting he did of my grandmother's house and a painting he did of me and Wesley on the beach. Anyway, this rambling came about because of a photo on Peter's blog of a railroad track. It brought back memories of the train that passed by my grandmother's house and then I started thinking of how fortunate I was to have had a place like that when I was a child, then I started looking at pictures of Wesley when she was younger and thinking how lucky she has been with an absolutely charmed childhood. It's funny how a photo or a song or a smell can evoke memories of childhood and send you into a state of melancholy so quickly. What sparks a childhood memory for you? For me, it's things like blue Ford pickup trucks like the one my dad drove, a Hank Williams song, the smell of the ocean, sand in my bed, homemade tomato soup, the smell of an oil burning heater, the sound of a train whistle, so many things.......
I have a bisque kiln going today, it is a lovely Carolina blue day today, I'm watching this great cooking program on UNC's public television station called Cooking with History and the neighbor's chickens are on my back porch eating my cat's food. Bliss! This is what happens when you have a manual bisque kiln you have to babysit :)

Friday, March 26, 2010

Tea anyone?

I made a bunch of tea bowls this week but they are in the kiln to bisque and I forgot to photograph them, sorry. Also, made some tea caddies, I'm thinking the house boxes will be a cool box for loose tea. What goes better with Raku than tea accessories!

Sad loss

Sadly, the courthouse in Pittsboro burned last night. This building was built in 1881 and had many historic artifacts and antiques that were destroyed in the fire. If you google Pittsboro courthouse fire, there are lots of videos and photos up. I couldn't get anything to load on blogger this morning so you will have to search without me! What a sad loss for the town. This historic landmark was the center of Pittsboro.

Thursday, March 25, 2010


I snapped a picture of this over in Hillsborough the other day. I love these old shacks that are all over the place in Chatham County and Orange County. The colors remind me of the French earthenware that Doug Fitch saw while in France. If you haven't read Doug's blog about his trip, go read it!! If only I could get glaze colors like that!
I have had these gourds in my house for the longest time, they were my grandmothers and hung in her kitchen for as long as I can remember. They now hang in my kitchen and I look at them all the time thinking they would make a great form for a pot. When I saw the Jane Wheeler pot that was on my last post I decided to give it a try. Today, I worked on a couple of small ones to see how they could be made in a larger size, not as easy as I thought it would be. I was, of course, impatient, and the tall neck kept sinking into the round part because the clay was too soft. I finally waited for the clay to set up and got these two made.
I'm going to put a white crawl raku glaze on them and see what happens. I think they might be kinda funky! The blue bowl in the background was an eathenware test failure, but it looks pretty good in this photo :) up close it's a mess though. I should go back and give that some more time, but it was driving me nuts with the pin holes and the slip not behaving and my pots melting whine whine..... watching Judy Shreve getting better and better results with her tests is giving me a new perspective on testing and patience. I never stick with any of it long enough to work it out. I get aggrevated and move on. May be time to go back and revisit some things with fresh eyes...... patience grasshopper!!!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Nice work

This is my favorite piece of pottery right now. Do you think Jane Wheeler would mind if I tried to make a similar one? I just love everything about it, the crawl glaze, the shape, the torn edge, just perfect!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Little Boxes

I made some boxes today and had this song in my head the whole time. Glued some of my bones and coral to this altar that I smoke fired, kinda cool. Don't like cone 6 and I knew this.... the firing was fine, easy, no pinholes except for one cup that I knew was going to have them. But the glazes I used were some from the Artscenter, boring, predictable, the firing was predictable, ho hum, yawn. I did try one commercial glaze that Laura gave me but I put it on too thick and it was yellow instead of brown and looked really bad. Didn't really feel like snapping a bunch of pics, putting them on my computer and then downloading to blogger, so you just have to trust me that there was nothing there interesting or useful for you to see:) It was a useful firing in that it answered some questions for me, taught me a little more about my kiln and no great loss as there were only about 15 pieces in there that were made for testing.
In my head with the Little Boxes song, were thoughts of shinos once again. I think I am getting this kiln figured out and maybe I should try a ^9 shino firing with some cups. I just love shinos and think of them frequently. For now, I gotta get some Shakori inventory going. Working next week on that.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Happy warm day!

We laid some mulch down in the yard and this fool had a blast out in the warm sun today rolling around in it. Loving this warm weekend! I fired a ^6 today, so stay tuned for more profanity and irritation :) just kidding, I'm not expecting much, this is just a small test of some glaze color combinations, I'm sure there will be pinholes, so I'm ready for it.
I'm sure many of you have this book, but it has become my bible. If you don't have it and you are mixing your own glazes and firing your own kiln, go get it! I read back over my firing log, and I guess I was trying to get some dinner going between 5pm and 6pm the day I fired my last bisque because I didn't check the kiln at the very crucial 1100 degree mark and the kiln went on to 1450 without me and without a soak. I also shut it down at 1700 because I had some terra sig burnished pots and I have read to not fire them so hot. Well, I should have thought about firing the things that were not burnished in a different load, and I should stop being so impatient to shut the thing down, because I'm sure that is where the problem lies. According to Mr. Hopper, I didn't fire the bisque hot enough, and to prove it, I broke open a couple of the pin hole pieces and sure enough there was a distinct dark layer of carbon present. I broke open a piece from a successful firing and it was solid white inside. That firing had a soak at 1100 degrees and fired around 1800 so I know what went wrong and how to correct it, I think!
I worked outside doing some hand building today, just could not stay inside on such an amazing day. Awhile back my friend Barbara McKenzie talked me in to going to Asheboro to see a woman that was selling a bunch of ceramic molds. Barbara has this idea to gather some molds from the 60's and Raku fire some funky ashtrays and vases and things. Well, this lady had a bunch of molds that were more like Santas, rabbits, turkeys, and stuff that you would see at a yard sale. Not a lot for us to choose from, but I did pick this mold up and forgot about it until I cleaned up last week. I made some little dishes with it today and then put white terra sig on them. I think I like them. Not sure I like the stamp though, I may just leave them plain. They are quick and easy and perfect for those that don't want to spend a lot of $$ at a festival.
my cat was not amused by any of the goings on around here today and basically slept through the whole thing. I like to call her my decorative accessory, she looks great laying around here!
I am watching UNC TV while typing this and they are doing a story on Ben Owen down in Seagrove. Bless his heart, he is being so nice to this lady that is interviewing him, and she is getting on my last nerve! She shows up at a pottery in black slacks and a cute little pink jacket to see a wood kiln firing and a potter throwing on the wheel. The anchor in the studio is even worse. She actually suggested that you could hang one of his pots that had small decorative loops on the sides. Wouldn't you just love to walk in to someone's house and see a vase that cost hundreds of dollars swinging on a chain from the ceiling! Most of my friends are artists so I forget how little the majority of people out there really know about how art is created. Sad.......
Oh well, have a great rest of the weekend, Wesley's school mates shared some vile cold thing with her so I am taking care of her this weekend. She has had a rough year with the Mono and colds. Hopefully now that it's warm, she will get back on track.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

They're back..................

One good thing is that the house/box above looks great with them. I couldn't have gotten this effect if I had tried. Peter, this is your white raku glaze and the copper, love it!
But just look at these pinholes, I have never seen anything like this. If I had been smart I would have written down the clay body I used, but no, I have some Starworks white clay, some Highwater Raku and White Sculpture clay. No idea which is which. So I don't know if it has anything to do with the clay. I slow bisqued, washed everything well, sieved the glaze, blah blah blah, I don't know, it's 50/50 every stinking time with this, WTF!
So, a dozen trays like this, shard pile...............and I have a bunch of stuff out of this bisque for a cone 6, just guess how that's going to go. Crap! Should I try to re bisque and burn out the nasty?
and then in the smoke firing, I got this beauty. This is the coil pot I made at Starworks with Hitomi. Very nice! I am just about to stick everything in a pit and fire it the old fashioned way. I must be reincarnated from some Native American potter, the more primitive the making, the better results I get. Go figure.................
This spring forward on the time is killing me, I cannot get my head together in the mornings, I am becoming more and more nocturnal. So, it's 6pm and I am just getting started, oh yeah....

Monday, March 15, 2010

March Madness

Here is the AP photo team from the ACC tournament in Greensboro this past weekend.
Jim Bounds, Gerry Broome, Mike Stewart(photo editor and Gerry's new boss), Chuck Burton, Wesley Broome and me.
Gerry has been shooting this tournament for about twenty years now, and when I can I go along and work as a runner. It's a great time and I get to see a lot of old friends that I don't see very often. The photographers that come to the tournament are some of the best around and it's impressive to be in the arena with them and watch them work.
Wesley was Gerry's runner and back up shooter. Her photo of ESPN's Erin Andrews was quite timely, the creeper that was arrested filming her is due in court today and Wesley's pictures are all over the internet today.
I was Chuck's runner, and this is where I sat for four days from noon until 11pm with the college bands placed right behind me. Very loud, very crowded.
Gerry coming in to the media center after a game, just a small portion of what he was carrying around to cover this event.
My husband and daughter are in there somewhere. This is right after Duke won the championship, see why it's called March Madness?!
there they are............
Glad to be home, I have a kiln to unload, unpacking to do, clothes to wash, we need groceries, blogs to check in with, emails to return, ahhhh.....back to reality! It was great to see old friends, work with Gerry's fantastic new boss and be with my family at such a cool event, but I really like being in my quiet house right now!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Did you miss me?!

I'm home from a crazy week at the ACC tournament, I have lots of fun pictures and we had a great time. The best thing that happened was that Wesley shot some great pics of the ESPN girl, Erin Andrews, (remember the creep that shot film of her in her hotel room?) and the editor put her pics on the wire. Wesley now has photo credits with the AP. What 16 year old do you know that can say that!!! You can see some photos from the tournament including Wesley's pics on this Georgia Tech blog. I think they did a nice job:

right now I'm tired and going to bed, will get some photos up tomorrow and tell you how great the photographers in NC are :)

Monday PS: I googled Wesley Broome Erin Andrews this morning and everyone has picked up Wesley's photos, YAY!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

ACC Tournament

Wesley and I are off to Greensboro to work with Gerry at the ACC Tournament this weekend. I'm not taking a computer, so I'll talk to you guys when I get back. I would say "Go Heels" but I think they already went somewhere. What a sad season those boys have had! Oh well.....
Happy Blogging everyone.

Monday, March 8, 2010


"Too often we decide to follow a path that is not really our own, one that others have set for us.We forget that whichever way we go the price is the same. In both cases we will pass through difficult and happy moments, hours of solitude and many complex situations. But when we are living our dream, the difficulties we encounter make sense.
I believe it is better to live a dream rather than to simply dream it. The dream is the start of something greater, something that impels us to make daring decisions. And it's true that the person who pursues a dream takes many risks, but the person who does not, runs risks that are even greater."

Paulo Coelho

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Faces/Time at Claymakers

Claymakers presents Faces/Time, New Works by Laura Farrow
I was out at Laura's studio today and snapped a few pics so you could have a sneak peek of the show. Laura is one of the most talented artists I know. I always come home from her studio inspired and I almost always come home with a borrowed book, some new glaze idea, some new surface treatment, and a head full of new ideas I want to try. Wesley and I met Laura a few years ago when we visited her studio during the Orange County Studio Tour. After we left her studio we went to several others and many were a great disappointment after the quality of Laura's work. She sets the bar pretty high. Today we sat out in the yard in the warmest sunshine and just talked about how we work, why we work, etc. I think it is so important for artists to visit with other artists just to confirm that your brain isn't the only one cranking the way it is. It was so assuring to me to hear someone else agree with me that they can't stay on task for very long and have to be pushed by deadlines, and all the other things that roll around in your brain when you spend way to much time alone in the studio. I feel very lucky to have such brilliant artists for friends. I thought I would spend the month while Gerry was away working in my studio and getting so much done, but instead I found myself visiting with many of my very talented artist friends, just having coffee or lunch and gathering information and inspiration. At first I felt like I was wasting a lot of time that I should have been using for work, but it has given me a new enthusiasm for my work and has helped me sort out many things that I was questioning. Here are some of Laura's newest pieces, enjoy!

I love to see Laura's process in making these sculptures come to life. I was at a Raku fire the day Laura brought these sketches to Claymakers and presented the idea for this show. I knew then that it would be so great.
the rib cage is a symbolic catacomb and the bones below will be placed inside. Each of these sculptures have stories and Laura really thinks about who each one of them are from the very first sketch. I think that is why they have such a spirit about them. Hope all of you can get to the show if you are close by. Are you inspired to run to your studio right now? I know I am!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Weekend Plans

First of all, I have to tell you that I got a note in the mail today saying that my application to be a vendor at Shakori Hills Music Festival was accepted. YAY! and then OH NO! I don't have near enough stuff made for a four day music festival and I don't have a clue how to even survive as a vendor for four days with a bunch of stoned hippies at a music festival like this one! Those of you that have done Shakori, I will take on any and all suggestions if you are willing to share your knowledge! The BEST part of this is: if you go here-
you will see that Bella Fleck is the headliner and seven names down from Bella Fleck is COLE PARK!!!!! MY baby is on the same billing as Bella Fleck, does it get any better? The weekend of Shakori, Wesley turns 17 and her band has been asked to play there. Should be an amazing birthday weekend for her don't you think?
I just thought I would show you this scale I picked up last week at a local antique store. It is an old postal scale and weighs up to 25 lbs. just the weight of my bags of clay, how convenient.
So this weekend, I am cleaning my very messy studio and getting ready to get down to serious business of making pottery. I stopped by the NC Craft Gallery today and she has sold everything I have brought in, so I need to get her some more things and get some inventory going.
The balls are getting bigger......
and my studio is getting smaller. The bigger the pieces I make the less space I have. This top shelf will hold several long boards of cups and bowls but only two 12 lb. vases. This space makes me crazy, there is absolutely no room to work here and it's still too cold to move outside.
mess, mess, mess, everywhere!
So I'm going in there Saturday morning and not coming out until there is a clean place to work!!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

I'm just going to say it

Olympdick. There I said it. I can't claim credit for this, a friend of mine, who wishes to remain anonymous came up with this one. And it is so perfect. See these posts? They came in the mail today. I know not why. I do know that I don't have enough shelves for all of the freaking posts that have been sent to me because THEY CRACKED AND DID NOT GET REPLACED BY the big "O". And see below? That is a thermocouple I ordered because the one from Axner that is less than a year old has gone out (how long do those things last anyway) and I refuse to ever order anything from Axner again so I ordered this one from Bailey who I got my wheel from and have always had great service from. But I don't think I got the right thing, it is very long...... and the place the big O put the hole for the thermocouple in their kiln is stupid and this will be protruding all the way across one of my shelves, one of the two that aren't cracked. Oh well, I may just drill a hole in a place that I think is more appropriate and see how it goes.

Other news, I made another vase. If you have paid any attention to this blog at all you will know that I can't for the life of me make two of the same thing on the wheel. I can't throw two one pound mugs that are the same, but somehow I managed to make 2 twelve pound coil built vases that are nearly identical, made several days apart. How did I do this? I don't know!
Last little thing I have for you and then I am going to watch American Idol (I know, shut up, I like it ok?) Here are some new tools. The one on top, I found out by accident while reaching for the nearest thing to me, is perfect for sealing those corners in slab built forms like boxes. I have to put tiny coils in the corners of my boxes because they will fall apart in the Raku fire if I don't. This tool is a bone folder that it used in bookmaking and paper crafts. I love the way it feels and it also smoothes out the edges on my boxes better than any tool I have. Middle tool, I used a paddle like this at Starworks on Monday, and since Wayne wouldn't sell it to me, I came home and made my own. I had a crappy very wide paddle that I never use, so I cut an inch off of each side of it and used a wood carving set that I have to carve the grooves. I like it, not as nice as Wayne's but it will git er done. Last, they were giving these out at the Olympics apparently, Gerry came home with so much swag, it's ridiculous, but I snatched this immediately. It makes a great rib and I also used it as an anvil when paddling my coil vase today. Works great. Not sure what is is really for but it is a beautiful smooth piece of wood. Just some promo thing, guess they will never know what a great pottery tool it is :) Nice to have Gerry home, he seems to be in decompression mode, just trying to readjust to being home. He goes straight in to ACC this weekend. Class tomorrow, we are making stamps!