Wednesday, January 30, 2008

What not to wear at the studio

Yesterday during the kiln unload, I stopped by in my work clothes, which are not good choices in the studio. by the time I left I was covered in clay dust from the floor. I am terribly messy as my hands push the wheels and the wheels touch the floor. So everything I touch is covered with a fine light brown dust. A photo of me admiring the new skull, and a photo of Becky and Sue--the Great Kiln Unloaders!!

See Sue's hand covered in clay...I know she wanted to put her hand right on my jacket...but she held back!!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Kiln UNloaded

My faithful and since the first kiln, unloaders, Susan and Becky were there to see the new creations and help with the physical work of unloading the kiln. It is always a great pleasure to see each new layer revealed as we work our way down to the bottom. So here are the photos.
Here's Becky behind one of the new Dia de los Muertos skulls...the one that lost its back during the drying process. But now we get to see this awesome birthday girl's lovely eyes peeping out! (Today is Becky's bday!!)

And here is a skull with its back on....ready to hang on the wall. And Susan unloading.... I caught her unawares...thus her surprised look.
One of the shelves.....
A large Grieving Vessel...trying a new surface... And the new smaller skulls...which I love and think are my best yet. Not sure why I keep to these colors...thinking about trying some others....
And a wild experiment with this bowl. First I thought it was a green slip that I made...and here it is blue...and it was a surface designe that looked I just played around and this is my wild pot.

On to the keep on the schedule of one kiln a month.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Round pots and cat

Both are sweet and full. The pots are multiplying on my dining room table and I just love this latest series -

And my full round cat, as compared to her sister and shrinking cat. This is her latest favorite place. And it is perfect because I can get to the back of the chair and she is at the perfect height for me seated, so I can cuddle right up to her. We both love it.

Although I am pretty sure she does not like having her photo taken!! And the kiln is cooling off right tomorrow..

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Kiln Loaded

Between yesterday and today I completed glazing my pieces so I was ready to load by 12p today. First time I made my kiln on time- actually before the date. I am starting to Understand the time needed for glazing my work and get into a rhythm ...Julie is my kiln loader, and she had time today vs. tomorrow and is flexible so she could help me. yea!!! So it is firing away now and will be ready to unload Tuesday evening. Very exciting. Here are a few photos of the work that is in the kiln right now.

The plates.....before glazing.

A close up view...
The plates after glazing
Another close up view after glazing...
And the Day of the Dead skulls..and the large wall pieces I am working on...another view below....

I have decided to call the plates and cups, pots with the writing on them, Grieving Vessels. I love this for several reasons. One, that is what they are about and what inspired their creation. But I love the word vessel for its quality to hold and travel. The idea that these vessels can hold grief, where I can carry it to new places, transform it, or hold it there indefinitely: whatever is needed at the time. The vessel - connoting a ship or travel- and therefore is the idea that grief can take me somewhere. That I do not have to remain in grief...but instead could actually travel, hopefully, to a healing place/space. And also, that I can still move even though there is grief. So these vessels are a space for all these possibilities. I can feel hope. Or like I said, just to hold grief for me until ready to sail.

I also want to keep the idea of memory , communication in the idea of these vessels....I am sure it all fits....just figuring it out...

I am just starting to articulate the ideas around this name- and these vessels...but I love the name and understanding why I am making them (I think, who knows!) is filled with layers of meaning and healing for me. I am sure over time the name and these vessels will continue to reveal themselves to me.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Little pots and cats

I spent much of the weekend at the studio glazing the day of the dead skulls......forgot the photos again. I have three new wall hangings for this series that I am excited about. but still left to glaze by the 28th are 5-7 vessels and about 15 or so hopefully they will not take nearly as long as the skulls.

At home, a photo of a few pinched pots- I believe I will be calling these Grieving Pots or Vessels or cups something like that....I like it better than letter pot...I just love the shape of both of these vessels. I like the fingermarks, there is a certain rhythm to them on the surface. I like the rims and overall shape. Something about the curve and fullness. soothing. comforting to me.
And my little shrinking kitty, Euphrates. My clay production has slowed a bit as I do not go to the studio during the week right now so I can be home and spend time with her. She has dropped probably 10-11 pounds the past two months. She used to be 18lbs....very tiny except for her liver cyst. So we just take it day by day--as long as she is not suffering, eats, drinks, comes out of the rooms, etc....but here is a picture of her.

Monday, January 14, 2008


I am driving to work leaving my neighborhood. Every morning at the same time the two canadian geese are hanging out at the edge of the parking lot on the grass. I think of them, as they are probably mating, getting ready for the spring (even thought mid-january I do not think we should thinking about stuff like that..with 60 degree weather it is inevitable) But every day there they are. Both of them. In the same place too. I can't help but think, when they landed in that very same place there was more grass there last year. I know that the parking lot was paved over the summer and there is less grass, less place for the water to soak in and get to the roots of the trees, there. I can't help but think of these things. BTW The closest we are getting to pottery tonight is the dirt and possibly clay under there--the newly paved parking lot .

So those ducks are wondering where all that grass is. Then I think about what that would mean for us. So we leave for a couple months for a trip. Return and head to our nearest Harris Teeter. Except it is no longer there. Hmm that is weird. Must have closed down. Head to the next closest one. Hmm that one is closed too. I am not really panicking yet. Just weird that there would be two closed down. Get to third one. It is MOBBED. Everyone is there picking over the shelves, all in one place, more than I have ever seen.

Maybe ducks do not have this same awareness that we have. But I can't imagine that they don't notice that there is less grass than when they landed a year prior. And then made a nest. I bet some even give up on a site. I mean these guys are HUNGRY. So that is all they are thinking about. they are smart and so they fly to that other site...and now there are houses on it now, and even though there is grass, these people come out and chase them away. Yikes, how am I going to make a home???

yea, that is just the start to my day. I can't help but think about that...I hope those ducks are ok and can make a family on my neighborhood pond.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Bisque kiln loaded

I was able to load 7 Dia de lost Muertos skulls, many many little plates, a square plate, two large bowls, several maybe 7 small pinched mugs and vessels, plus three large Dia de lost Muertos Wall Hangings. I am using a new clay that will be functional at cone I am curious to find out if I like it with the process I use.

I am signing up for a glaze kiln in two weeks so I will have time to prepare the pieces when they come out on Tuesday.

And I am thinking I would like to complete a full cycle each month: make enough work to load a kiln, bisque kiln, glaze the work, fire glaze kiln. Start over. I am interested to find out what the rhythm feels like by having a schedule like this. We will see, and if it is too much, maybe something like every 6 weeks...

Friday, January 11, 2008

Clay is talking to me

No I am not crazy, but like the other night, thoughts pop up as I am working with the clay about the parallels to life...

So tonight I was smoothing over an early crack in the clay. I know from pinching out many of these forms, that I will see that crack again as I continue to work the clay and it expands, grows thinner and larger. And every so often, the crack will show up again. I smooth it over. And depending how deep the crack is, I have to really smooth it a lot. Or just a little for a small crack. Working around and around the clay. Crack. Smooth. Pinch pinch pinch, ...repeat until finished.

And sometimes I leave those lines and sometimes I smooth them out. But in the very early stages I always smooth it out because it will tear open the entire form if I do not (but it would be fun to let it be and see what happens....another time)

Ok, so the parallel.

So when I smoothed out that crack and knew later I would see it again, I thought about my life and the cracks in it. On the brink of turning 40, and having more life experience behind me...I am realizing that cracks I thought I had taken care of years ago...reappear from time to time for smoothing over.

When that first happened in my life, I remember feeling so upset about it. I felt I had taken care of that "issue" So to have to work on it again...I felt like I had failed in some way. As I did not fully take care it the first time around.

I don't feel that way anymore, I realize that my stuff comes up again, and I get to smooth it over--not in a bad way, but like a healing way.

I just love realizing and experiencing it physically with clay. And how gentle it can be, that smoothing over. Loving really. And that it happens!!! ... In clay too. clay is a great teacher, let me tell you!!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Clay and People

I am working with a new clay body..pinching out my familiar forms; the Dia de los Muertos Skulls and letter pots (which I may be changing the name- soon). I find working with this new clay that I have to have more patience. The point when I am used to taking certain steps--like when I start to refine the rim on a letter pot, or really accentuate the body to the shape I like--with this new clay I find it is not ready for me to do those steps. If I push it, it starts to collapse, lose shape or other unwanted responses. So I have to wait and let it dry out more. The forms waiting to dry because they are not ready for the refining touches yet....

Anyway, as I was working with the clay tonight I realized a clay body is like a person. With each one you have to treat it somewhat differently. A different relationship is formed. And as I interact, I have to be aware and responsive to how the person is reacting against me. If I treat someone like the other person I know, they might not respond well. Just some thoughts on a warm Wednesday evening.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Happy New Year

The ending of the second day of the new year. It is my favorite holiday. I like the clean slate, the clear line in the sand. I really take time to think about what I am letting go of so I don't bring it with me and think about what I will welcome into my life the next year.

I don't know how you picture the calendar year in your head, but I bet you picture it. Mine starts in January, and in linear fashion progresses one month after the other to December in a line to the right, until I have to go all the way back to the left to start the new year in January. So I have a visual feeling of starting over too.

The most prominent thought I have this New Year is letting go. I want to go through everthing, closets, shelves, drawers, etc and pile up stuff I no longer need and bring it elsewhere out of my house. Same for my interior mind. Clean out those thoughts I no longer need. I really liked Jen
Mecca's blog and one of her hopes: her butt gets smaller. that one works for me too! Not that any of you can see my butt..

So the other day--Saturday? I was at the studio again after the bulk of the holidays had passed and it was soooo good to be there. I spent more time talking I think. But it was a good thing to do. Just being in the environment and community. Here are some of the potters at the wheel that day.

It is a great time to enjoy each other's company and lose yourself in the clay. Soon...detail of the letter pots, as I promised.

Happy New Year everyone.