Saturday, December 29, 2007

Holidays

Sorry to have been MIA for a few weeks.

So the holidays are over (except for New Year's and this is one holiday that I love). But more on that in a few days.

Mom traveled over from Durham to spend a few days here to celebrate the holidays. Pouncer, her cat, was lucky to come along. And he made himself useful. Mom and I decided to do a puzzle...1000 pieces while she was visiting, I love puzzles. So decadent, luxurious to just sit there and the only thing to think about is finding that next piece.
So like any cat, Pouncer thought he could really help out, as he is doing here...he needs to get really close though to see the pieces. Mom doesn't seem to mind!!

And I received a lovely teapot set from Mom that she brought back from her travels overseas - the set is from Vietnam. It is beautiful...Here is a photo.

Mom brought back many fun things from her trip, silk scarves, fabric, coconut carved little forks and spoons, ceramic ladle, bracelet, all from the far east. Very fun!
I also received a shimpo banding wheel from my Dad and Joan...which will be a great tool in the studio. and it is the blue round item in this photo. I am getting to take the slab of clay and place it on the half bowl to start the bottom of the next large letter pot I am creating. And I think the shimpo banding wheels are made in Taiwan!! The Asian christmas does not end here.....Today, my first day back to the studio since before Christmas -no wonder I have felt so out of sorts!!-- I to my surprise found gifts on my shelf, with a Poinsettia (that the studio Manager, Julie, was watering for me...) that one of my studio buddies had left, but really great friend, and among all the little surprises....a brush from China...beautiful!
So that ends the Asian part of the christmas...but then there is the Secret Santa part....so who are you????? Look at this lovely dragonfly ( I love dragonflies) Thank you, whoever you are.

So that wraps up (ha) christmas....more to follow tomorrow...work I made today. Close ups of the letter pots (someone asked in a post awhile back) and who knows what else!!!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Holiday blues

After reading Ron Philbeck's post the other day about Keri Smith and her book, Wreck this Journal, I was so inspired, I ordered it online. Today I received it!! (Among two other of her works: Lving out Loud and Guerilla Art Kit).

I had a good day. Work is going well, I really like Chamber Music at St Peters and being their Executive Director. I feel inspired and passionate about the mission.
And after work I met someone at the studio and they purchased a piece of my work. One of the Letter pots...my favorite one actually. (Am I sad that it is gone? I am just thinking about this right now???) hmmm.

And I have this list of things I will do every night this week in a feeble attempt to participate in the holidays since I have not done much aside from purchase a poinsetta, wreath and 12" xmas tree oh and a christmas cactus. Which was great, because my grandma, (My mom's mom) used to grow them. And I could hear her say: "I just place it outside in the summer under a tree and forget about it, so it gets the right light (or maybe she threw it in a closet?) so that it will bloom come December." (All these traditions for those who have left--it is nice though.

So on list for Monday (yesterday): Make Pizelles and order Grandma and Grandpa's Gift. Jimmy and I used to order together every year for their gift, meat from Omaha steaks. So I like keeping the tradition going. Yesterday was my brother's birthday and it is my new tradition to make pizelles on his birthday....that was really nice in fact. Today I would pick up pottery from the studio to bring home for gifts (now you have an idea of what you are getting many of you reading!!) and I would pack them up ready to mail tomorrow.

But I arrived home and was just in a foul mood. My legs and feet were ice when I touched them, I wanted out of my work clothes I felt disconnected from pottery and creative outlets--all this holiday list stuff I had for every night and I entered into a full blown pity party listing all the ills of my current life. How did I get here? So I shifted from any present wrapping and opened my new book: Wreck this Journal.

I completed several pages...wondering if it was ok to do more than one at once? ha Just laughing because there are no rules...so I decided I could continue doing what I wanted until I felt better.

So I did a couple, skipped a few..(one involved coffee and that would not happen until the morning. And one involved hands--get them dirty make prints...which I am excited to do because my hands are always on the wheels of my wheelchair and therefore get really dirty--although luckily not in my house...!!)

so then I did the Color the Entire Page exercise, and that is when I felt better. And here is my color that is somewhere inside me, around me?? even if I didn't feel it earlier!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Partipating in shows fairs and the like

So we took down the Mount Holly Show on Saturday with the SueBoo team, including Sue and her fiance, Steve. Who had NEVER met me, but was helping. Scoring points with the fiance!!! But it was so nice of Steve to help. Here are some photos of Sue and Steve loading their car...
Sue acting like it soo heavy!!!
Sue and Steve----my blurry photos...they were in action..no stopping the team...

Almost loaded and ready to go...The show was great. I sold several pieces and felt great about the response to my work. A real treat. But it is a LOT of physical lifting, wrapping, unpacking, unwrapping to get all the work around. A lot to think about.

Monday, December 10, 2007

I am so lucky as Sunday was a day spent at the studio for a full 5.5 hours. It was so nice to be in the space and energy of the place. And while Sundays are nomally pretty quiet, yesterday was different with many potters getting gifts ready for Christmas, so it was fun to connect again with this favorite community.

I find the time a place and space to process. Feelings maybe I was not fully tuned in with or aware of, come to the surface. Good, bad, sad, mad...the whole shebang. So I am sitting listening to my iPod and focusing on cutting the surface I am working on, and next thing I know I am crying. Suddenly sad-- where does it come from? I am always so taken aback by these moments. Anyway, yesterday I was missing my brother. His birthday is December 17, which is next week. So around these times- holidays, anniversaries, etc...times when we were most likely to be together, I find myself feeling it. It is in this way that I feel pottery just saves me. First I get the space to have the feelings rise to the surface, while doing something I just adore, and second, I am immediately renewed because of what I am doing. AND, having worked with clay for over 4 years, I am gaining an understanding of letting things just BE because they are. Not having to DO anything with it. Which serves me greatly when I feel sadness, because I can just let it BE. It comes, it goes. Like a wave....and Eckhert Tolle taught me to really experience it....what does it feel like to be sad...pay attention to those feelings.

next thing I know, I am back working on my clay. Adding a foot to my new little wavy plates. Sorry I forgot to take pictures...to follow soon!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Mount Holly show

Here is a great photo of Lee and Ruth, who was the organizer for the show.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Mount Holly Opening Night

Tonight was the opening and it went very well. there was a steady stream of people viewing all the work. A lot of woodworking, painting, photography. I think there were only three ceramicists. So a nice blend of work. I look forward to tomorrow. And I sold several pieces which is great. I had no idea how my work would be received as this is an entirely new audience for me. Even Mount Holly's Mayor purchased a piece that his wife liked!! As promised here are photos of the set up...more coming tomorrow of the event manager--Ruth!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Setting up work in Mount Holly

And here I go again, next sale. What I find is preparing for the sale takes up the whole week. And I also find myself thinking about getting my hands in clay....especially watching the pieces go, knowing I need to make more. Thinking about new places I want to explore. Pieces I want to do more of.....So tonight, rock stars Lee and Sue helped me set up. And they are Rock Stars, (my teacher Amy Sanders always says this) and it is just so appropriate here.

So I had almost nothing for display-- borrowed shelving from a fellow potter Ralph Mellow, and Lee brought tables, tons of material - black, felt, silky and colors!, boxes and baskets- which saved me!!! It looks soooo good. AND Lee brought a little table to use just for sitting at tonight..like a desk. Awesome!! I have a few preliminary photos of the beginning....but more will be on the way because Lee took some GREAT shots of the set up.
Look at Lee carrying in the shelving!!

And Sue untying the shelving...

Lee, Sue and Judy---Judy works with Lee, and she is the one who let us know it was happening, and I should participate. Thank you Judy!!

One table set up --not finished yet. Check back later for a slideshow of the set up, photography by the talented Lee. She really took some neat artistic shots!

Many other artists were setting up too...beautiful work....paintings, photography, and many others on the way. I can't wait to see it all set up Friday night.


And while these past two weeks have been so hectic just in the clay world, ALSO this is my last week at the Red Cross. So I am tying up loose ends....had to buy a new computer to give back the one I am using from the REd Cross, getting files in order for the next person, planning my goodbye party, AND getting ready to go to Chamber Music at St. Peter's ....tomorrow is the First Tuesday Concert and they are introducing me to the audience. So I had to prepare the speech. Anyway, just a side note to this crazy time. Oh yea, and it is December....holiday madness. Right, I am supposed to shop and bake and all that jazz!!! Yowzaaa.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Sale!

Thank you to everyone who came out to the sale tonight. It was PACKED!!! Lots of pots and vessels were moving along to new homes. It was so fun to share the space, work and process with friends and new friends. Special mention to Red Cross friends, Courtney, Farah, and Rick. But there were so many friends who came out to visit! Thank you to all. A fellow potter said to his audience, thank you for your support and allowing us to continue our exploration and passion in clay. I feel the same way!

Here is a photo with Courtney, Farah and myself!


And some pottery friends Liz, Terry and Liesel.

Some of the Dia de los Muertos work was captivating to some people who are interested in commissioning some pieces!! Very fun!

If you missed it, there is still tomorrow.....

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Clayworks sale tomorrow

Friday, November 30 6-9 p and December 1, 10-3p. If you can, come on by. I saw some of the work today and it is awesome. You will not be disappointed. I am thinking of all the pieces I want to buy from the other artists.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Kiln unloaded

So many great pieces came out of the kiln today. The color was a lot deeper than I am used to...not sure why, seemed like the firing was hotter than usual. The work was in a different kiln..so that could be the difference. Here is a slide show!!



Julie made sure someone was around to help me unload!!!, and that someone was Susan. And even Greg left a a note to call in case I needed help. SOOO great not to worry about getting it unloaded.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Coordinating

Yesterday I was in the studio from 11am to 11pm getting the pieces ready for the kiln. Hopefully they will be ready on Wed evening. No photos....my camera needs new batteries. But tomorrow will have lots of photos of the new work. Right now it is cooking away....

I will be in another show in Mount Holly next week..for this one I have to provide the shelving and display tools, etc....which is a bit more demanding...packing up everything, pricing it and recording it on sheets, dropping off the stuff, setting it up....picking it up later. Lots of sweat going in....I am not convinced this is the avenue for me to get work out to the world....I like the idea of online options better.

Having to coordinate schedules with others, since I need help packing the stuff into the car, unloading the shelving units and assembling them...etc etc. I feel so vulnerable when I have to depend on others....it is one of my personal challenges using a wheelchair. I have to ask for help. No way around it , or not do certain things. But I want to do it and I want to do it myself. Arggh frustrates me. If I were walking still it would probably not be a big deal...but it seems to be my lesson. Keeps coming back for me to wrestle with it. I think I have it mastered, then I am tested, or pushed further...so here we go a little bit further into my discomfort zone...

Oh and last night was another test. Since I again took so long to glaze my stuff, Julie could not help me load the kiln last night. So she did it this morning without me. So it is getting done. But I could not help but think, if I could load the kiln by myself, it would not matter when I finished....I would just do it then. I just feel a loss of choice, flexibility. It pushes up against me,,,,nudges me and irks me just enough. Time and time again. I wonder when it won't bother me anymore?

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving Day

Happy Thanksgiving. I am visiting my father and Joan. this morning they were busy making little meatballs for soup:

And Dad built two ramps so I can get around the house when and where I want..choice. is a great thing.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Fall Leaves

I continue to gasp and oooo and ahhhh and the amazing Fall color. I drive by a tree and am astounded by the brilliant, intense, potent color on the trees. Just breathtaking. I need to remind my self to stay on the road, because I see these trees while driving through Charlotte.

On the way to work, I took my camera and captured some of the brilliant color!
The first tree I see, the Maple in my front yard. In a few days it will be blazing red.
Oh and the Cherry Tree in my front yard.... and then a few others as I drive to work.

Look at the dusty rays of sun that were caught in this photo....quite unexpected...I was very qucikly just shooting pictures, barely looking through the lens.....


I think about the seasons and how trees, at the end of their cycle, look so beautiful. Then I wish our culture would feel the same way about people. That they too are beautiful in their final years and days. That the deep lines and soft skin are beautiful to behold. What I hear too often is Stay Young, Dye Your Hair, Lift Your Skin, anything to remain young looking. I think that is part of why I like leaving the fingerprints, cracks and holes, and uneven ridges in my ceramics work. It doesn't have to be "all shiny and perfect" to be beautiful.
I learned this too when I sustained a spinal cord injury. One day I was a 21 year old walking around woman with a working body that looked pretty good. Physically fit, flexible, limber. The next day, a body that nowhere around me said looked good...no stomach muscle to hold in the stomach, pancake thighs, swollen ankles....and that is just the tip of the iceburg. I did not look at myself naked fully in a mirror for three years. NO exaggeration. The first time I looked down at my stomach while I was sitting down in a shower, I cried. I looked 5 months pregnant.
But what I came to realize after 5, 6 maybe 7 years of using a wheelchair, was that really really beauty is not the physical ....this sounds OVERUSED- but it really is a decision on the inside.
NO LIE, as soon as I made that decision, I had soooo many people tell me directly, in the grocery store, video store, on the street, friends, etc. that I was beautiful. I had never received this much or direct type of feedback before in my life. (of course the grandmas and great aunts always had said it!!) I know the feedback just affirmed my decision I had already made about myself.
so-where does this leave (leaf!) us?? ....Musings for the day!



Monday, November 19, 2007

Making glaze

I like making glaze because it is the same process as baking...exact measurments, following a recipe, mixing it all together, scraping the sides to get all the stuff. No baking it right away, but it will bake!, although at quite a bit higher temp. Cone 5 -which is the temperature I fire at -is 2232F...a little bit warmer than the oven in the kitchen!

Photos of the process: In these photos are the tools of the trade, measuring, blending through a sieve, and me being safe with a mask!!! The ingredients are not good to breath in....using silica, metals like manganese, iron oxide, cobalt oxide.....and by the way, some of the metals are heavier than they look, which surprises me when I pick them up.
















And yes, I am smiling under that mask!
Now I am ready to go next week to glaze.....

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Small world

Yesterday my mother returned from a three week trip overseas in Taiwan, Vietnam and Cambodia. It was fun to travel with her...and you can see her trip on her blog.

During her travels she visited a village that seemed to have a lot of pottery as its focus...maybe like a Seagrove? Not sure. But it was fun to see the photos of tons of clay sitting on the sidewalk, or people squatting at the wheel making work. Definitely production focused.

No pottery today for me. Although I have a load of stuff in my car that I need to get to the studio....the makings for black glaze, slip and a new clay to try out.....

Fall colors

I have not seen a fall like this since I left New York State. It was the one thing I really missed, (I did not miss the 9 months of cold or cloudy and rainy or foul weather, or the 120 or more inches of snow...) I could remember looking at trees and thinking, "I could meet my end driving and looking", I became so captivated. Well this fall is like that. Captivating. I keep ooohhh and ahhhhhing in my car as I drive around the city. Mostly the maples are the most stunning. Although this picture hardly captures the variety and drama of the color, it is what I see on my street. That crimson....yowza...

My house and tree are not as stunning as those red trees, but the maple in front is turning slowly...so soon enough I will have blazing glory!!

Then tonight, Liesel celebrated her birthday by inviting some friends to share dinner with her at the Cheesecake factory. After being told there is a 2.5 hour wait!!!!! We decided Villa Antonia was a much better idea..and had a great evening celebrating her birthday.



Friday, November 16, 2007

Pre and post bisque kiln

I spend a lot of time on my pieces for the first firing which is called bisque firing. Applying oxides, writing on them...here are some photos of the pieces before firing....

Here are the mugs with crocus martis on them, ready for me to now write many letters to Jim!
And here they are after the writing... and then the last photo...after the first firing....
I had a couple people ask me when writing on the pots, if it is the same thing over and over or different. As in any letter, the only thing that is the same is the opening, Dear....which is always Jimmy. And then the letter is different.
I just write what is on my mind. It could be the day I have had, or something on my mind. Sometimes I find myself asking him questions, and I don't like it, because he is not going to answer. So I focus again on sharing about my life and how I am feeling. I feel connected to my brother afterwards. In a physical present moment type of way. Sometimes I wonder if would he have listened to me if he were here, or sometimes I will hear him respond as if he were around....
He used to love to say to me, "you are out there" or if someone was around, "my sister, she is out there." Because I use organic products, or like acupuncture...stuff like that. I can just hear him respond at times during my letters. another great one was if I was stressing, or fretting, or upset....he would say, relax....or chill out dude. I hear that too.

Setting up gallery

Clayworks has a gallery and all the studio artists are encouraged to place work in it. That was interesting....as my work is so varied...some really distinct styles...and then making it work together on a shelf...I did not get any input and still wonder what are the considerations/choices when creating the space....

I had fun setting it up...it took longer than I thought....plus I had to price all my work...and pricing is sooo hard. It is not simply considering how much time, materials, rent, and other work in the gallery....but I think my experience. Because if I took just time, materials, rent...the pieces would be much higher, but considering other work and my experience, I feel the prices should be a bit lower.



Monday, November 12, 2007

Much to share

I have lots of photos and a great session from the studio today..but it will have to wait until tomorrow....too late tonight.

Mugs mugs mugs

Yesterday I pinched 12 mugs...I really like pinching, it is just my hands and the clay. The mugs are not perfectly round or symetrical, but to me, that is part of their beauty. And I like that part of me is left to see on the cup. The indentations of my thumb or finger. It is like a memory of how the piece came to be. Which is why I do not smooth those indentations away.I will take these to the studio today and cover them with crocus martis, which is a beautiful deep maroon color once completely fired. Then I will etch into that surface. I write letters to my brother on them. I love doing this because it keeps him physically present in my life. And he has to listen to everything I say,...just like a big sister! I will post photos of the mugs after I write on them.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Zada Jane

This new restaurant opened in Plaza Midwood, my favorite neighborhood. I had breakfast there this morning with two friends, Deb and Jan and here are some photos...I love that name, Zada Jane...

Jan was working on the beginning of a new baby blanket. And here are Deb's cute dogs, Sam and Dave. and they are funny trotting around scouting out the yard saying hello to passerbys and marking their territory.

And then it was off to the studio where I again forgot to snap a few photos of these new wall hanging Dia de los Muertos skulls I am making that I love. Tomorrow.... But here is Susan buying one of the pieces from the last kiln....bye bye to another piece.... tomorrow I have do all the pre bisque kiln prep...applying oxides and writing onto the surface. Kiln is Wed night