Friday, August 31, 2012

Ain't nobody got time for that....

I love this woman, I want to be her best friend!!!
Sweet Brown.......
Happy weekend, everybody. I'm putting my blinders on and getting to work. I'll stay out of trouble that way :)

Remember Me As You Pass By.....

 In the late 19th century, the rural southeast part of the U.S. had a rich tradition of using ceramic grave markers in the small cemeteries. I love these markers and what they represent. I bought this small book at the NCPC the other day and have enjoyed reading it. There are a few potters around here that make pieces in the tradition of these markers, not to be used specifically for a grave, but to pay homage to the tradition of the marker. In the book, there are some markers that have been made for pets, cremation ashes or as a tribute to a friend that has passed. They are very profound and wonderful pieces of pottery.
 The one on the left is owned by a friend of mine. I will let her speak up if she wants to....
 If you love pottery, I urge you to see this show, if you can. It is really wonderful and the folks at the NCPC have done a great job, as they always do.
 Of course, it's hard to go to Seagrove without coming home with a piece of pottery. Mark and Meredith Heywood at Whynot have been blogging recently about these cups they made for a local brewery. You might remember me posting awhile back about not liking to drink beer from ceramic. After I saw these mugs, I thought maybe I would give it another go. Well, I think I have changed my mind. First of all the last time I tried, I was drinking from a tea bowl, so that was stupid, no wonder I didn't like it! But last night I went out on the porch with my new mug and a can of beer (do not like drinking from a can, that's for sure!) and it was quite a treat. I like the way the cold beer caused the clay to sweat and beads of water trailed down the side of the mug. It was so pretty in the afternoon light, so not only did I have the enjoyment of holding a well made mug, it was a visual experience as well. This is a perfect mug for beer and will be used every evening around 5pm!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Honest Pots

 When I went to see the pottery show at the Greenhill Center in Greensboro I knew before I got there that it was going to be a mind fuck, and I was right. Don't get me wrong, there were some very nice pots there and I enjoyed looking at them all, but it totally screwed my head up for weeks. It took going to Seagrove this week to get my head back where it belongs. So much of the pottery that is being made right now is charming enough I suppose, but it makes me feel much the same way I feel when I go into a department store. There are racks and racks of clothes with so many dodahs on them you can't find the simple black t shirt you love to wear, or a good old pair of Levi's 501 jeans. Give me a classic form, simply adorned and honestly made. I like really cool sculpture and very artsy pots if the art is good, like my friend Laura, but for the most part, if there is a bunch of decoration on the pot, I can't see the form, and that is the thing I love. The form of a well made pot. That's not what I make of course, I wish it was, but for some reason I feel compelled right now to make these barns and houses. I did fall madly in love with the grave marker in the above photo, and if I did start to think about making pots for real on the wheel again, this might be something that I would like to make. Of course there is a huge demand for clay grave markers these days...... but I had a hard time pulling myself away from this piece. I bought a book about them, I'll try to post more about this later.
 As I walked around the NC Pottery Center, my mind started to calm down, my shoulders were a little less tight and I felt a sigh come from my entire body. What is it about the simple pottery of Seagrove that has this effect on me? It always has, there is some sort of magic for me there that I don't get from any other pottery.
 There are so many beautiful pieces in this show. I didn't take nearly enough photos and I apologize for the pottery I left out, there isn't a bad piece to be seen here. I saw one of Tom Gray's platters on display(not in the show itself, but in another part of the center) and it reminded me again of when I was at the Greenhill show. Among all the glitz and glitter, his very simple but impeccably made platter was one of the things that stood out in my mind. It didn't really fit with what seemed to be a theme of highly decorated pottery, but it was honest and well crafted and obviously made by a potter that had been at it for a long time and knew his craft.
 Another potter that knows his craft, and in my opinion makes some of the very finest pottery anywhere is Matt Jones. There were several pieces of his in the show and they are exquisite. His form and decoration are spot on.
 Simple, elegant, beautiful........
 This little setting made my heart go pitter patter and the plates were warped, love that! So humble and yet somehow elegant in their simplicity.

More honest pots at Whynot. Look at the glaze on this thing!

Living here in Chapel Hill, I am exposed to a different type of pottery. A few years ago, I became a pottery snob and thought the pots down in Seagrove were simple and plain and boring. Long before I moved to Chapel Hill, Seagrove was a little piece of heaven in my mind. I don't know what caused me to drift away from the pots I loved from my childhood. Perhaps it was the gallery and artist persuasion that goes on around here, you are told who is "a big artist" and who is making the "collectible work" and the shows in the galleries keep featuring the same things and you forget the lineage of pottery in North Carolina because you are too busy falling over all of the stuff certain people tell you to like ( as a friend of mine so clearly pointed out recently).  I love pottery, most all of it. There is a gigantic variety of pottery in this state and many many wonderful potters. Too many to mention. But the pottery I love the very most is the pottery that I started touching as a child. The pots in my grandmother's house that she bought at Jugtown and Cole Pottery. I have those pots now, they are plain and simple, made by plain and simple folks that worked hard and made an honest living. The old Seagrove pottery is what nourishes my soul and that's why I keep going back down there......

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Getting my Seagrove fix

 Every year around this time I start getting a craving for Seagrove. I love to go in the fall when there is a slight chill in the air, and if it's a little rainy all the better. But I ran out of clay and my pal Susan needed supplies so we headed down to Seagrove today for clay, chemicals and lunch.
 The guys are Starworks are so great and they loaded up Susan's bad ass truck with a bed full of clay. No excuses for not working now!
 Meredith Heywood from Whynot Pottery drove over to the Seagrove Family Restaurant and met us for lunch.(this is the menu, so fun!) Then she took us to see the exhibit at the North Carolina Pottery Center. If you haven't seen the pots on display right now, you really should go. It's worth the trip and quite an opportunity to see some wonderful pots from private collections. Go now!!!

 We all had chicken pie and creamed potatoes. I had corn, they had green beans and slaw. And we had hushpuppies with mustard, like Susan taught me to eat them! Is this the south or what?! This is why I never want to live anywhere else. No one else understands this kind of cooking! For $7 I had more food than I could finish and it was yummy yummy!
 We went back over to Meredith's place and checked out what they had going on at the pottery.
 Poor Mark, left to do all that work while Meredith lunched and toured the pottery center with us. But he does good work :)
I have lots of photos of beautiful pottery, so I will spread it out a bit. Thanks Susan and M&M for a really great day!!!! More later....... stay tuned.......
PS: Susan has a great post on her blog too, check it out here!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Who has time to make pottery?!

 I thought that when Wesley went back to school I would have time to get back in the studio. Hmmm...
She went back for one week, Gerry went away to cover a golf tournament and I got six pieces built. Gerry came home, Wesley only has classes on Tuesday and Thursday so she came home, and I have achieved nothing since the six pieces I built when I had time to myself. But I have done other things.
We went rock climbing one day and put up a top rope, not bad for a couple of 50 year olds! Gerry still has the strongest legs of anybody I know! and I actually remember how to belay.

  I noticed Wesley's fish that she has had since first grade was looking tattered, so I got out some patchwork materials and mended it while she was home
 embroidery thread I have had since high school when I used to embroider anything that a needle could pass through
 Good as new. Her best friend in 1st grade had one of these and it kept bad dreams away. Wesley was having really scary dreams at the time so his mom made one for her too, and the bad dreams went away. She still has it and I love it so much for all that it represents. I hope it will last forever.....
 I also realized that she didn't have a pot holder for her room. We got a small hot plate and an electric kettle for her dorm room so she can do minimal cooking, but things get very hot on that hot plate. This loom was my mom's when she was a little girl and it makes the greatest pot holders. So I got it out and made one yesterday.
 The loops are from the original bag she had with the loom. Ta da!
 I have also started a sketchbook swap with Wes. I made this and sent it to her the first week she was at school. I thought it would be fun for us to share what's going on during the year, and then look back at what we sketched, wrote or collaged. I made it very quickly, didn't want to get too precious with it. I want it to be spontaneous. I even left the sloppy writing I did on the first page. I really should tidy up the writing a bit, but it was early in the day when I did this and I was a bit scattered mentally....
I used tea bags that Wesley saved for me last year at school, They make the greatest aged look pages. I just used a little matte medium to adhere the paper. Hopefully this will evolve into a beautiful book of this second year of film school for her!
.... like I said, who has time for pottery making?! Not to mention I am out of clay. So I will get clay tomorrow and hopefully get back to work on Wednesday. I did finish a commission but I'm still waiting for it to dry so I can fire it and I have another commission coming up. So things move slowly, but life is full and wonderful. Who could ask for more.....

Monday, August 27, 2012

Knowing what's important

Wesley put this peaceful buddha in my car the morning we left for Bonnaroo a few years ago. She didn't want to listen to me and Gerry in the car fussing all the way. You know how that goes, road trip with a male and female that are both stubborn and strong willed....  "where are we going to eat?", "why did you let me miss that exit?", "will you slow down, we are all going to die!", "why don't you stop and ask someone where we are?"... and so on. It worked and has stayed in my car since that trip.
One of the bands we saw at Bonnaroo was Band of Horses and they became one of our favorite bands. They were in Raleigh last night. I came downstairs yesterday morning and Gerry was printing tickets out for the concert. I love spur of the moment decision making. Wesley came home from school for a few days, so last night we went to see them along with My Morning Jacket.
 The ampitheater is in the middle of downtown Raleigh, sort of a small and intimate venue, just perfect for a concert like this. Band of Horses is a really chill band from South Carolina and My Morning Jacket is probably a band best enjoyed with mind altering drugs, but I don't do that anymore, so I watched the light show that accompanied their mind altering music and I still felt like I was possibly tripping and would maybe have a seizure at any moment. It was one of the best light productions I think I have ever seen, to go along with some very great music. Wes said that she heard that My Morning Jacket played for four hours at Bonnaroo and they went on at 11:30pm. I can just imagine what that must have been like.....  anyway, it was great to be at a concert with my kid on a cool Sunday evening. The train track runs right by the pavilion, so every now and then a train would roar by. It was a dreamy night :)
 On the way home the other night, Gerry and I saw a complete rainbow across the road. The light in the sky was most unusual, nature's own light show. Meredith over at Whynot blog posted some of the same sky pictures from that night. I missed getting photos of the rest of the sky since I was freaking on this rainbow.The left corner of the rainbow appears to be right over the location of our house in this photo.
We also went for a little rock climbing with Wesley recently, I'll post more about that tomorrow, don't want to bore you too much, all at once :)  oh and I had my first sale in my Big Cartel shop, more about that too!!!!
Life is good. Gerry doesn't get a lot of free time, but when he does, he knows what's important. Getting out in nature and going to see good music. If it's not fun, why bother doing it?! Here's a little taste of Band of Horses, enjoy.....

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Supper with the boys

 Hollis Engley, Michael Hunt and Brandon Phillips that is
 I made the BEST red lentil soup for supper last night, but it tasted even better in three of my favorite bowls.
 Wesley came home from school for the weekend, the weather hinting the tiniest bit that fall is close and it just felt like a soup day. Nourish my child and welcome cooler weather. Soup, salad, some nine grain bread and the table set with beautiful pots. What, can you tell me, is better than this!?
Check this out: hello Pamela. My friend Laura is in Vermont having an art fest with a two week residency at the Vermont Studio Center and who does she meet? This lovely lady that bought one of my pieces at Lark and Key in Charlotte! Is it the very smallest world ever or what!?!? Laura emailed this photo to me yesterday. HA!
How does that happen, so weird. Nice to meet you Pamela :)

Going to spend some time with Wes and Gerry today. I'm out of clay, so I'll be heading to Starworks  on Wednesday with a side trip to visit Meredith at Whynot. Monday I am going to check out a local gym. More about that later.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Don't Judge Me

I get an email from the NC Arts Council every month with postings for shows that invite you to apply with, of course, an entry fee. I have entered these shows in the past, some I have been juried in to and others  I have been turned down for.  A couple of years ago, I entered a show, got in and sold all three pieces. I was very happy to be in this show. There were some amazing pieces in it and I couldn't believe I was actually there. It was one of the first juried shows I got in to. I applied for that same show this year, with way better pieces and was turned down yesterday. The pieces I submitted this time both won prizes in the NC Landscape Show. Go figure....   I also applied for the Piedmont Craftsmen Show, a very similar show to the Carolina Designer Craftsmen Show, which I am a member of. Many of the artists in the Carolina Designer Craftsmen show are also in the Piedmont Craftsmen show, but I got turned down. Again, I paid a fee to apply.
This paying a fee to apply for a show thing is bullshit, and I am no longer going to participate. I have been invited to be in five shows this past year, all great shows, beautiful galleries and I am honored to have been invited. I didn't have to pay anyone to be invited to these shows. I paid a fee to apply to four shows, got in two of them. So I am out $75 plus the time it took to put together the application and submit the photographs. If I applied to all the shows that were on the last arts council email, all of which I would like to apply to and I could probably do well in, I would be sending in about $200 with no guarantee that the juror will like my work. And I would get that miserable email telling me they didn't like me :(
And that is what it all comes down to. Whether a person likes your work. Well, if you like my work, I want you to BUY it, I don't want you judging me and then deciding I'm just not quite the IN girl this month. And let's face it, there is a bit of a "club" here in NC with pottery shows. Paying to apply for a show and then getting turned down just sucks and I don't enjoy opening up that email that starts by saying, I regret to inform you.....  Ok, so I regret to inform YOU, but you can have your pay to enter shows. I'm not interested in beating my poor little fragile ego up anymore. I hate the emotional roller coaster of selling and showing my work. From now on, I am making work, putting in my Big Cartel shop, doing the fall shows, maybe a spring show if I can find a decent one, and making beautiful pieces for the galleries that support what I do and sell my work. Done, done, done with the jury thing. If you have a gallery, and want to have a show that includes my work, by all means invite me, I will say YES! But there will be no more applications being filled out on this computer, what a waste of my time. Not to mention the time it takes me to convince myself that my work is good and I don't suck. What is it about those rejection letters, they just send your mind into a downward spiral of self doubt. Well, I know my work is good, I continue to grow my sales each year and I get lots of compliments from people whose opinion matters to me. I'm just so tired of those moments when I start comparing myself to other artists that I know are better than me and then wondering what I'm even doing all this for. I do it for moments like last week, when I finished the barn with the wooden spool and I sat back all warm and fuzzy with a big stupid grin on my face. And when it's finished and someone falls in love with it, this will have all been worth it!  So, SCREW juried shows that you have to pay to apply to!!!!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Big Cartel

Clearly, I have been spending some time on the computer. There have been some things I have needed to do, and I am out of clay, so this seemed like a good time to do some housekeeping. I have added a new shop at Big Cartel. I really didn't care so much for Etsy, I may go back to it, but I want to see how this works. Lark and Key has my work in their Big Cartel shop and I like the format. It seems to be all about the visuals for me doesn't it? Etsy just seems so meemaw to me for some reason....
So we'll see how this goes. I am doing the free shop right now just to try it out. You can only post five items with the free shop, so it's a tiny store until I see how bored I get with it all. It was easy peasey to set up, unlike my past experience with Etsy, although I have heard that has been cleaned up a bit.
Go check it out and tell me what you think. I have a link on the right side of my blog to my shop and to Lark and Key's shop. I am considering moving away from galleries more and working harder to sell my own stuff. I have about $8000 out to galleries now and some are selling my work, some are not. I may just stick with the ones that are selling, wouldn't that make sense?!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Tumblr.... Follow me......

If you have been reading my blog for awhile, you know how I feel about Facebook.... yawn. Its fine if you want to do facebook, I'm not criticizing anyone for that, it's just not for me. The fact that every person has basically the very same look is sort of odd, I just find the whole format less than interesting, my mind starts to wander whenever I try to look at someone's facebook, I don't know, it's hard to explain...
I noticed over the summer that Wesley was doing a lot of surfing on the internet and frequently showing me great images and using other images she found for sketches in her sketchbook. I asked her one day where all this was coming from and she said Tumblr. I have a few tumblr sites that I like a lot and look at frequently. I used to only read pottery blogs, but since so many of the interesting ones went over to the facebook quickies, I started looking for other interesting things. Blogs have sort of replaced my TV time at night because I hate the programming on TV now. I like reading blogs, especially other potters, there are some fiber artists that I enjoy, and there are a few other random blogs that I like a lot. But tumblr is fun. I like images and with tumblr I can just scroll through endless images that are creative and interesting. I tried pinterest and that's ok too, but there is something about tumblr that seems to hold my interest more than other social media outlets. I found this quote on one person's site that pretty much sums up why I probably like this format: (sorry, I forgot where I got it)

"Constant daydreamers feel at home here. That dictates the demographics a bit: users that are young enough to have time for constant daydreaming, or the castoffs, eccentrics, artists, thinkers, weirdos, self obsessed, over sensitive, lonely, hungry, diluted, under employed, self conscious, and strange, who have found some way to carve a high functioning inner life from the demands of a more ‘linear’ world."

Yep, that's me. So, I have decided to give it a try. I want a place that is easier to navigate images and not do a lot of writing. I'll keep my blog, but use it more for process and words, and then post images of my finished work or other random images I like on tumblr. It was really easy to set up and the dashboard is fun, so we shall see how this goes.

When I was in the "real world" working, I was a young person (girl) working in a world of mostly older white guys. Whenever any of them wanted to look forward to the next "trend", they looked to what the 19-24 year old artistic kids were doing.  Wesley is in this demographic and she is looking at tumblr way more than she is looking at facebook, she doesn't tweet or blog. She's a smart girl, so I think I will probably like doing tumblr. At least for awhile..... do you have any tumblr sites you like?

I also have brown ones...

 It was fun to see the blue shoes on other blogs yesterday. Do you have brown ones? haha! Is there anything more classic than a pair of Chucks? I used to get a new pair of those cream colored ones every year before school started and I wore them out. These were over $50 in the adult section of the shoe store, but I went to the kids section where they were $30 and found a pair that fit. These are my new favorite shoes, so comfy for Converse, they have a little more padding than the adults. Love them!

Really good studio day. I LOVE this piece!! The wooden spool and darning needle have such a beautiful patina, well used by someone long ago I imagine. Wouldn't it be great to know who used these tools that were so important not that long ago..... I only got two pieces made, this one and another one like it that is a commission. That one will have a bird's nest with the wool from Anna Branner. I'm moving slowly and thoughtfully and that doesn't bother me. I have decided that I will make what I can at a pace that doesn't rush the work and if that means fewer pieces, well it will just have to be that way. I can't mass produce these things and I shouldn't. They are starting to hold more and more precious items and those items should be honored. Like this wooden spool. I will have a hard time parting with this one..... I was thinking it might be fun to sell this with the basket, but that would up the price and people don't seem to have any money these days. Damn this economy anyway!

 I kept seeing this flash of red outside my studio window and walked down the path to see what it was. Can it be? The leaves are already starting to turn. Is fall just around the corner?!? What I would give for a glaze like this.......

Monday, August 20, 2012

Crazy Bird Lady

Much fun in the studio today. Put on my happy shoes, (hand me downs from Wesley), poured a cup of coffee, put on some tunes, ready, set, go. More bird shenanigans. I nearly stepped on a baby cardinal at the door to my studio. There he sat looking freaked out, so I bent down and picked him up and he just hopped around on my hand. I'm beginning to feel like the crazy bird lady or something. The Lowrenzo family showed up outside my studio too, all five of them. Then this cardinal's family showed up, mom, dad, brother and sister. I'm guessing he is a baby still and they had come to fetch him. So off he flew with them, then four doves showed up. I have a bird feeder outside my studio and I put some new seed in it this week that apparently all the birds in the Chapel Hill area are hearing about. It was quite a bird fest today. 

 I managed to get three houses made after all the bird drama, although it felt like a warm up or something. I fumbled around a bit until I finally got back in some sort of groove. These three are for a show I am in at Cedar Creek Gallery. It's about political commentary, so I am going to be using some photo transfers, I hope. That's the plan right now anyway. It's not like my work has a lot of room for political statement.
I also found this plate that I forgot I had. I bought it years ago at the thrift store for a class I was teaching. I made a plate with it today and forgot what a nice mold it makes. Maybe I'll make some plates.... and put a bird on them.......
Well, I have had three uninterrupted days to get back to work. Gerry is home form the golf tournament now, so the house is less quiet, but more comforting to have someone around. It was getting just a bit too quiet. I have two commissions to finish up tomorrow, so this is good. I feel like I am officially back at work!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

It takes awhile to be good

It takes awhile to be good...... I heard someone say that today and the words rang so true for me. This clay journey has been a long one and a hard one and I still feel like I have so far to go. It takes awhile....
But every now and then, I make something and I sit back and look at it and say to myself, Damn, that's a good piece!
I once had a student, a really shallow woman that wore pink Ralph Lauren sweaters and beautiful expensive leather boots to class. She also swished her very well tended long blond hair around a lot, just saying. The first class, she asked me where I would suggest she try and sell her work. I wanted to just slap her. By the end of the six weeks, I almost slapped her six times. She made the simple pinch pots and slab trays and coil pots I taught this beginner class, bought herself some peach commercial glaze and she was ready to go see some galleries. She just wasn't ready to do the work. I would be willing to bet you she isn't still making pottery.  I hope not anyway!
 Just so I don't appear to be a complete flake with my random plaster making post, here's proof that I do measure when it matters to me :) I mixed up some black terra sig today and made some small test batches of oxide washes. I wanted to test some washes all last year and just never found the time. Today I took the time to do some of those things I never seem to get to.

Chinese take out soup containers are great for mixing up test batches of glaze. Clearly we eat a lot of wonton soup around here. One little tip that I'm sure you all know but it bears repeating because sometimes I forget. Label the container and not just the lid. It's so bad when only the lid is labeled and you forget what container the lid was on. I've done this, even with knowing not to do it, I did it!
I also put some color on these little dishes. Not the best day to do this, the rain kept everything so wet. 
I don't think I'm feeling this color thing, but I had to get it out of my system. It just felt so so putting on these colors, but when I applied the black tera sig to the test tile and then burnished it? My heart went pitter patter!! Me and terra sig got something going on..... now that I got this color thing out of the way, I am going down the black and white path.... hmmm..... you gotta try on a lot of jeans to get the pair that fit just right!

I'm sticking to my rule of cleaning up at the end of the day. It makes walking in to the studio the next morning so much nicer. Here is my cleaning set up. I don't have running water and have mostly dirt around my studio, so I have this thick piece of rubber matting that keeps the mud from splashing all over me. I don't know how I would get along without plastic buckets.... thanks to the dumpster area at Whole Foods for most of these.
So, I'm back at it. I rolled out slabs today and cut out pieces for five houses, so I will get started on those first thing in the morning. Then it's gonna be house house house for the next few months!