Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Renewable Gifts

This is one of many irises blooming in the front bed. My former neighbor, Chuck, gave me about 4 cuttings from his garden several years ago. I stuck them by the mailbox, and they have spread out, forming this lovely circle of purple. The four have become about 12 to 15 plants. This year they are stunning and very fragrant. I love getting a gift that keeps on giving in larger quantities every year. That's abundance!
Today will be a finish day. I threw some large platters and bowls that are waiting to be trimmed and decorated, as well as some covered boxes that will need to be trimmed, providing they are dry enough.
I have managed to throw a lot of the reclaim clay, making some flower containers, tumblers, etc. Some of it was very wet, so I imagine I will have lots of shrinkage. Things will seem much smaller than when first thrown. I'm getting geared up for the two shows I will be in mid May. Pots to trim before I sleep and all that good stuff.......have a great day, and smell the irises!

First pottery piece

This is the first piece of pottery I ever bought. Back in Louisiana at a student art sale, maybe 1978 to 1979, at LSU, probably spring, when they would have these sales on campus, and people would lay their wares out on blankets. I remember selling some of my pen and ink and watercolors like that. Anyway, this is signed Austin on the bottom, is a porcelain, hefty, big mug. I still use it and it has just a tiny little chip at the front bottom. Likely holds about 16 oz.--for those of us who nurse their tea for several hours, maybe even warming in the microwave when stone cold. I don't know what I would have paid for it, but I am guessing $8 to $10. Pretty nice value for being 30 years old!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Brown bowls

Today I will get to open the kiln and see the magic (hopefully it's magic and not tragic) and then fire again if my ailing elements will endure another firing.

I have been attempting to clean up and recycle some of the old clay at the studio. I have a very low tech way of dumping the scraps in a bucket and filling with water, then bagging it in a pillow case until it is no longer slimy. Of course this means lots of buckets with clay in varying stages. Today will be brown bowl day. I have quite a bit of this stuff that I need to throw and bowls are the easiest, so... small bowls, big bowls, batter bowls, dog bowls, etc. I do love bowls and they make nice fillers to ensure a tightly packed kiln. Hmmm....maybe a few cylinders for the odd spaces are needed as well. Ok, a bowl and cylinder day!

On the home front, lots of beautiful irises and some very sweet little lily of the valley in the front and side beds. Gosh, they are both so fragrant!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Organ transplants and making a difference

Jim and I will be going to the Transplant Games in Pennsylvania this summer. He is a kidney transplant recipient from 2003, with his younger sister donating one of her kidneys to him after we had done hemodialysis for 9 months. Needless to say, she is one of our biggest heroes, because her gift of a kidney enabled Jim to return to a normal life.

I say "we" because I trained to be his dialysis assistant in a program at the local dialysis unit, learning how to run and clean the machine, what to do in an emergency and how to insert the needles and monitor the machine and his vital signs during the dialysis session. We had a dialysis machine in our home, which meant that we could keep a somewhat normal schedule--he continued to work during the day and I had my clay studio at home then. Every other evening we would do the 4 hour session.

You can learn about organ transplantation and how it affects all of us and how you can help by becoming an organ donor, either as a living organ donor or as a deceased organ donor, dedicating any organs to giving life to others after you are done living in your body. Jim will be participating in the transplant games, swimming (he was a collegiate swimmer for LSU, long distance), along with other transplant recipients. His friend, Brian, had a heart transplant, and others on the North Carolina team have had kidney, lung, liver and pancreas transplants. Their stories are amazing and some of these team members are very young. Some are runners, bicyclers, golfers. basketball players, etc. They compete against other state teams from across the nation.

Visit to find out more about it.

Claymatters Demo

Hey, the Gaston Day Art event was very nice. Got to see some artist friends that I haven't seen in a while. The kids' art was really great, too.
Enjoyed doing a demo for the Claymatters group in Charlotte on Sunday. I didn't fling anything off the wheel or do anything too embarassing. Bobbie Black, my good potter friend, was there from up in Lake Norman. Of course I had told her I would talk about her if she didn't show, so it wasn't like she had a choice. We're registered for the Utilitarian Clay Conference in Sept. and I am looking forward to it. Haven't ever been and it will be nice to be in Gatlinburg during the fall. Today I am glazing and finishing orders, deciding if I will remake some carved pieces, teaching my class and sorting out what to make next. I had started on goblets because that is what I demoed for the clay group and I did some matching plates. I need to create some dinnerware, so I will throw some in the white clay. There, decided! Off to the wheel.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Furry clay friends

Some promised shots of the clay animals I have been working on. I was trying to figure what animals might logically be on the roof of a house/hut. So you have Mr. Owl and the Crow eating Corn. I think it probably should have been the Cow eating Corn, but that was too much of a stretch for me. The bottom shot is of the beehive cloches and the gaggle of knitting huts. I couldn't get a good image of the Face-Off between the Cat and the Bird. I haven't mastered the macro feature on my camera.
Tonight is the opening reception for the event at Gaston Day School Art Weekend. I get to deck out in "dressy casual", probably the wrong description for a potter, since this means clean jeans and shirt for me most of the time. Hope it all goes well. Jen Mecca and her husband will be there, and hopefully some more artists that I know. Maybe some photos will follow...... Have a great Friday!

Studio photos by me

I've been trying to get a one page sampler of work together that I could mail out, showing work that I normally keep in the studio for purposes of ordering. These are a few shots I made this week, trying to supplement the professional photos I have had done. Because I make so many different pieces and I reserve the professional time for the more elaborate work, I don't have a lot of images of the everyday, workhorse pots. So these are : wine goblet/chalice and paten (the plate that the host or bread for communion is placed on), textured leaf bowls and brie bakers or wine coasters.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

New Music in the car

Got the new Counting Crows cd this weekend, so that will be driving music for awhile. I also heard a song on the station from Gaston College called Listening to Levon and was almost positive that it was by Marc Cohn. He's a long time favorite of mine and I didn't recognize the lyrics so figured he must have a new cd out. Yes indeed he does! Then I had to check out James Taylor and his son, Ben Taylor to see if they were releasing new work, so a lot of time was absorbed looking at websites.

At the studio we listen to a jazz station most of the time. I've got several old radios and they're all tuned to that station as you go from the gallery into the studio. It's nice and unpredictable and pretty good background for looking at artwork, or making things. I know a lot of people listen to audio books or watch movies, but I get too involved in the story line and find myself not making pottery, so I tend to separate these activities from one another. The exception has been to carve pottery when watching a movie, but it can't be a suspense-filled story or the pot sits unattended with tool in hand, clay crumbles scattered about and me riveted to the plot.

On the home front, Spence, my son, has got a new cd with his band, Tides of Man. He called this past week and was sitting with 1000 of them in the band studio, enjoying the physical manifestation of their long, hard work. He did the artwork for the cover and is very pleased. If you are in the Tampa Bay area or Clearwater, FL, check out their venues/events. He is supposed to send us some, so I will have copies for sale in the studio for fans in the area!

Small animals on pots

Yesterday was throwing class and finishing of the work I made over the weekend. I have been making these containers for knitters to store their works in progress, thread, needles, etc. Some are shaped like the dome or bell-shaped garden containers (I think they were known as cloches) that you would put over tender young plants in the spring to protect from the last freeze. Since we had this bout of chilly weather I have been thinking about making some for the garden too.
The others were covered boxes with a space to contain the knitting needles on the side. Anyhoo, threw 7 of the cloches and 5 boxes and took most of yesterday to trim and finish them. Much longer than I had anticipated. On the lids of these boxes I have been putting small animals, much like they are sitting on the roof of a house. Since my friend Ron makes things with birds, turtles and such, I was trying to stay away from images that he uses. I have been doing mostly bees but took a swing at a cat watching a bird, and an owl. Will try to post images later.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Wisteria and rain

The fragrance of wisteria has been in the air at the studio for several days. My neighbor has several old, tall pines and they are well wrapped up in wisteria vines. Since the weather has been moderate, I've been able to open the back door and it just wafts into the throwing area. I am visited yearly by carpenter bees, who are trying to bore through my shed roof and supports and make a swiss cheese sculpture. We have an agreement that I will leave them alone if they stay out of the studio, but last year several got trapped indoors and refused to leave. Apparently they were attracted by the fluorescent lighting. Over a period of days I found their little carcasses in bowls, on the floor and on the table. Maybe this generation has learned to avoid the great white lights!
I have been working on carved pieces. On Thursday I threw most of the day. Friday was nice enough that I left work out to firm up for trimming under the shed roof. So yesterday morning and evening was carving. I have specific shapes and images for some orders and I make several, then choose the best. This has left me with extra bowls and vase forms so I used the wisteria as an image. This piece will not have the usual totally carved background and I want to experiment with some purple commercial glazes as highlights on the wisteria blossoms. I have a nice blue and red and you would think you could just mix and get a wonderful purple. The glory and surprise of glazing chemistry does not guarantee such a result. I will try another experiment, varying the ratio of the blue and red to see if I can get closer than I have in the past. More trials!
Here are some shots of a few of the other carved pieces. I am working on leaves on the bowls and pomegranites on the vases. Well have lots more lots on music, movies, pottery, etc. but will post later. Work is calling.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

A Walk in the Woods

I've been trying to do the exercise thing by walking in the neighborhood. Today I took a side trip into the woods. My kids grew up here, making forts, golf courses, clubs, trails, camping out and generally enjoyed free time in these woods. They are a small strip of land between the neighborhood and a pipeline with woods and cow pastures beyond. I encountered some of the large holes (3 to 4 feet by about 5 feet wide and 30" deep) that they painstaking labored over, sneaking hoes and pick axes and shovels out of various garages, usually never returning them. I know it was great fun for them and they would come home covered in dirt and sweating mightily. Of course, the parents became alarmed when these creations filled with water after the rains and some effort was made to cover them over again. I guess the kids' vision was stronger than parental worry, because nature has restored the holes.

The fallen trees are still there, just more of them. A faint trace of the bike trails remains. All the dead Christmas trees and lawn cutting piles are still moldering. Just the kids have gone.

I walked down the pipeline and discovered a great deal of wild violets and visited the old shack across the pipeline. It is still standing but ivy is now encroaching enough that I couldn't get near it. Someone has taken to piling dead limbs at the entrance. Probably another adult attempt to keep the kids safe from harm. I remember my own wandering when I was in middle school, living in Alabama. There were fields and woods and blackberry bushes and I went places and never told my mom because I knew she would forbid it if she knew. But that was part of the adventure. Hope you have an adventure today. Live larger!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Back in the clay groove

It was very nice to get back in the studio and get things going. The weather for the open house was very English--drizzling rain and a bit on the cold side. Suited me fine, having been in Florida where the temperature was in the high seventies and humidity setting in for a 9 month stay. I met some lively new folks, which is always nice! Thanks for coming out.
I have been working on finishing gallery orders and then still have some individual commissions to complete for May.
Got a lovely new book by Emmanuel Cooper, "Ten Thousand Years of Ceramics" or "Ten Thousand Years of Pottery"--can't remember exact title. Anyhoo, it contains all the cultural pots I am interested in: Persian, Micene, South American, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, etc. I had a hard time choosing, as I had a book gift card from my birthday back in January. I must have spent about 3 hours online trying to decide! But it was worth the wait. Check it out if you get a chance.