Wednesday, December 28, 2011

finding simplicity

photo from blog post January 1, 2011

Carefully thinking about my word for the year 2012.
 As I walked along the beach trying to find my special rock.
Already losing focus on my chosen 2011 word of the year.

 I have a list of words rolling in my head.
 I like the sound of ephemeral. 
It's very transitory, though.  It may not last through a year.

Back in the studio I start to clean.  Out with the old, the broken, the undone.
Save just a song.
Check. Check. Check. Double check.
Clean slate.  Ready.  Get Set............

perhaps this is it
I know this is it
plain and simple

s i m p l i c i t y.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Seeing the lights

Shores Acres located on a bluff along the Pacific coast.  The low roaring sound is the ocean.  It is a beautiful garden by day and there's a sunset viewing house (when it's cold and windy.)  We stayed in a yurt at the nearby Sunset Beach State Park.  Night lights are always amazing and magical.  We stumbled onto this when I messed up reservations and we had no where to sleep for one night.  Years ago we camped in this area in early spring and visited the gardens. We stopped our travels to see the lights....

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Wintery Night and one red shoe


While on the Oregon coast we ran into Portland for a few days. Just a quick peek into the Museum of Contemporary Crafts in Portland.  Check out the yellow platter by Ken Ferguson in the slide show. Also Lucie Rie and Peter Voulkos bowls.  There's more info about this exhibit at their website.

 and then.........

Brisk walk up a slope to Powell's Books to check out shelves and shelves of books---new ones, old ones, used ones, used up ones, paper or hard bound.  Dumb ones, dull ones, visual candy tomes, too cheap, too expensive, not my cup of tea ones. I draw in a deep breath, fill my lungs with that particular perfume that books have and Nooks do not.  I know just where to go, which floor first to explore. The first time I walked into Powell's City of Books I wandered (in a daze) up to a cavenous  room and pulled out an used copy of  Italo Calvino's If on a Winter's Night a Traveler.   That's when I began to really think about fate and faith and coincidences.  How uncanny, how silly and how wonderfully wonderful.  To find myself in this treasureland, reading titles as though landmarks and finally finding Italo Calvino tucked in one of the twelve foot stacks in the designated Blue Room. 

                                                             and now........

“In the shop window you have promptly identified the cover with the title you were looking for. Following this visual trail, you have forced your way through the shop past the thick barricade of Books You Haven't Read, which are frowning at you from the tables and shelves, trying to cow you...And thus you pass the outer girdle of ramparts, but then you are attacked by the infantry of Books That If You Had More Than One Life You Would Certainly Also Read But Unfortunately Your Days Are Numbered. With a rapid maneuver you bypass them and move into the phalanxes of the Books You Mean To Read But There Are Others You Must Read First, the Books Too Expensive Now And You'll Wait Till They're Remaindered, the Books ditto When They Come Out in Paperback, Books You Can Borrow From Somebody, Books That Everybody's Read So It's As If You Had Read Them, Too. ”
                                             from Italo Calvino's  If on a Winter's Night a Traveler  

Saturday, December 3, 2011

coasting along

We were coasting along the Oregon Coast the past week.  We plan on spending some time in Portland and Seattle.  So far it is a wonderfully relaxing and thoughtful car trip, camping on the coast in yurts!  More later.

Now shall I walk
or shall I ride?
"Ride," Pleasure said:
"Walk," Joy replied.
~W.H. Davies

sneak peak:
Museum of Contemporary Crafts in Portland

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Oh my, it's December already!

Finding a face for rabbit ears hat.  Somehow the rabbit ears hat I made for one small head ending looking perfect on this little head.  This one had a large red wing blackbird, but once all done it just didn't look right.  Rimming the edge and epoxied into the ears with copper tape was perfect.  I love how the copper looks more late autumn-wintry than gold leaf. Also reminds me of the old copper rabbit ears antennae for television sets. Receiving information, visuals and the world.  Absorbing it all in through those copper ears. 

"I don't see much sense in that," said Rabbit
"No," said Pooh humbly, "there isn't. But there was going to be when I began it. It's just that something happened to it along the way."

~from Winnie the Pooh
A.A. Milne

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Fourteen Thousand Six Hundred Days

Even after all this time,
The sun never says to the earth,
"You owe me."
Look what happens with
A love like that.
It lights the whole sky.

 ~ Hafiz of Persia

to my true love
on our 14,600th day

Monday, November 21, 2011

Non Pearish fruit

I promise.  Last of the fruits.  For this year.

Thankfully, it's time to make pumpkin pies.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and voice by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving.
~from Abraham Lincoln's Proclamation for Thanksgiving Day, 1863

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Real food, Real clay

There are only ten minutes in the life of a pear when it is perfect to eat.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

one real, two ceramic pears

Here luxuriant trees are always in their prime
pomegranates and pears, and apples glowing red...
from Aristotle's Garden of Alcinous

seedless and with seeds

100% natural clay and fruit with no waxy exteriors

 between persimmon and precision.   
How to choose

persimmons. This is precision.
Ripe ones are soft and brown-spotted.   
Sniff the bottoms. The sweet one
will be fragrant. How to eat:
put the knife away, lay down newspaper.   
Peel the skin tenderly, not to tear the meat.   
Chew the skin, suck it,
and swallow. Now, eat
the meat of the fruit,
so sweet,
all of it, to the heart.   
~poet Li-Young Lee 

Real ceramic fruit with no acrylic additives

Friday, November 11, 2011

Kaki, hoshigaki and clay

Hoshigaki in the making at a Japanese-American farm

We went up to Otow Orchards (located in the Sierra foothills) to see persimmons peeled, tied by the stem with twine and hung in the sun to dry.  Massaged daily for six weeks the end product looks fuzzy white and taste a little like mochi.  The ninety-two year old grandmother was there peeling persimmons with the warming sun on her back. The dangling persimmons reminded me of lanterns or pendulum bobs.  It was a beautiful sight.  My mom loves hoshigaki as much as I love fuyu persimmons.

white porcelain, orange terra sigillata and real persimmons

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

little things in full circle

In a rush to get these in the kiln, small bits got lost or forgotten or misjudged.  Although small and seemingly insignificant, these small accents complete the piece.  The hanging basket on the far left figure needs more contrast against the dark body.  I had made it out of terra cotta and it is barely thimble-size.  I wanted it left bare and with a turquoise glaze inside.  I did remember to put holes in it as I intend to thread it with waxed linen twine so it would hang freely from the mitten hand.  So my options are:
  • add red glaze on outside of the bowl with a gold leaf interior
  • stain it with RIO with turquoise glaze (less contrast)
  • making another bowl out of porcelain and leaving it white  
The next piece turned out fine except I forgot the tiny yellow bird on the knee.  While I'm at it, I think I will add some crawl glaze to the ankles and darken the toes. It is hard to see the headdress, but I used a metallic black that came out silvery gray blue.  It is really lovely and shimmers like a crown. Luckily the head is separate so I will not put it back in the kiln and risk losing that shimmer. 

The far right piece is done and ready to go to the gallery.  Here it hangs on my studio wall, out of the way for now.  Checking out the rest of the clay mess. 


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

edging along in clay

Feeling a little bit edgy about the holiday markets.  So much left to do. One thing after another pushed my studio timeline so that it is wavy instead of straight.  I guess wavy is better than broken.


There is this bowl.  A very small bowl.  A very simple bowl that I love.  It was a test bowl for a creamy, buttery glaze on reddish earthenware.  I learned a lot of different things with this bowl. It has made its own history.  I used the glaze on some simple slab plates for displaying my ceramic pears.  They were sold together with great success. Something functional with something non-functional. What a pair!


We keep missing the point, despite divine intervention from our patron saints.  On the well-paved road to life, we're hunched over the wheel, traveling at a high rate of speed, following the red taillights of the cars in front of us hell-bent on some distant destination.  Life is not up ahead of us in the windshield; nor is it behind us in the rearview mirror.  It's here and now, in the car, on the road as we go, fast or slow.

                                  ~from Seeds by Richard Horan

That brick of clay I had couple of weeks has soften enough for me to wedge into 1 pound balls.  My tabletop and rolling pin is my slab roller of only choice.  I slam the clay onto the table a couple of times until about 1" thick and then I use the rolling pin to get it down to about 1/2".  It's pretty effective for what I want to do.  I wanted to have some thick slightly curved, scalloped plates. Really edgy.

In the meanwhile, the kiln is cooling and I need to figure out how to get the red on the pomegranate.  I layered on some terra sig at leather-hard stage and buffed.  It is a little purplish, but will make a good foundation for later after bisque firing to a soft cone 010. 

After that I will add the reds and some orange tones, buff and fire.  If that doesn't work----out comes the pigments and wax!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Weighing in on clay

This is pear week.  These hang on the wall.  I just had to weigh them.  I am pricing them per pound.  $24.00 per pound  : - ) .  Although I know some will think---real pears are cheaper.  These won't rot.  Guaranteed.  When they are done (they need poaching in the kiln) I will hang them in groups, take photos and post them.

After that off they go to the Pence Gallery for the holiday market.  By that time I may come to my senses and price them accordingly. 

Keeping with the pear theme......I've started some small paintings of pears waiting for the kiln to cool down.

It is so still and serene outside with such autumn goodness. It is hard not to run off and go for a hike somewhere.  I have a list of things I should do when I am restlessly waiting for the kiln to cool down. The biggest one is to go through all my books and sort them to either sell or give away.  Trouble with this plan I end up reading one and get only halfway done sorting.  I think after weighing all my options I will go outside--sit on my little deck and just breathe.

Friday, October 21, 2011

With clay feet I can touch the sky

Look at your feet. You are standing in the sky. When we think of the sky, we tend to look up, but the sky actually begins at the earth. We walk through it, yell into it, rake leaves, wash the dog, and drive cars in it. We breathe it deep within us. With every breath, we inhale millions of molecules of sky, heat them briefly, and then exhale them back into the world. 
                                            ~Diane Ackerman from  The Natural History of the Senses

Thinking about our five senses lately.  Beginning with feet.  I began asking myself how often does my feet make bare contact with the earth?  I know it's not a daily thing.  A month ago I wiggled my toes in wet sand along the coast.  I haven't touch the earth with my bare feet---a full month. I went outside to my postage stamp yard and took off my zories.  I stood on my sorry excuse for a lawn.  Felt alive and silly. I looked up at the sky and watched a small plane flying over head.  Standing on clay soil.  With my bare feet.
Touching the sky.


Friday, October 14, 2011

What goes up, must come down

Last weekend for Think Twice in Healdsburg Center for the Arts.  The show comes down Monday.  Many pieces found their way into art collections in the Napa Valley.  I hope these pieces will give their new homes solace, reflection and a little bit of quiet joy.

14"x 12" x 11"
coil built earthenware, porcelain parts, found objects, silkscreen transfer
multi-fired cone 06-1,  terra sigillata, oxide stains, glazes, encaustic
(from the series Words My Mother Gave Me)

Many techniques were used in Archived.  The major part was the silkscreen transfer and copier print transfer.  Inside the box is another silkscreen transfer done with ceramic ink and covered in with a watery teal-blue transparent glaze. The strip on the front was done with a laser print copy transfer using CMC, lots of water and ceramic ink.  All porcelain parts were fired separately-branches, stones, twigs, acorn, birds and paper. Very last thing was a bit of encaustic on the twigs and pod.

I made a silk-screen of a postcard with my Japanese grandfather's script.  I had to work with it in Photoshop.  First, enlarging the text which was very tiny and beautiful.  Next, grayscale and flatten several layers. Finally, onto the silkscreen.  I decided not to flip the text.  I do not read  Japanese so I thought it should be a reflection of my half/half-ness.  To read it, a mirror must be held to it.  I know that some who could read it may think---oh, this is a mistake!  Those who can't or can read it will rely on their own interpretations. A collection of bits and pieces picked up here and there.  Boxed in by nature and ancestry.  Kept and made whole.

If I keep a green bough in my heart, the singing bird will come. 

~a Chinese proverb

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

sketch here clay there

Started to do some heads this week with the intention of getting a 6 completed.  Mother Nature had other plans.  It rained.  So the clay remained damp.  Three days later they are still too damp.  I moved on to do some doodling. Six hours of back and forth.  It seems like I accomplished nothing.  But the sun is out and it is autumn. 

I'm making this face up as I go along.  That's why it appears flat.  I do not have the patience to sketch for long.  It's the feeling I am after for a larger sculpture.  When I get it then I move on to clay.  Except the clay is too wet!

I am trying.  I paddled on two more inches! Now to avoid clay and think about the full body sculpture I want to do this winter.

More doodling. 

 I wandered back out to check on the clay.  It is still very wet.  I decided to finger paint with it instead of coiling.  That worked out and felt good, too.  Something completed. Now for a walk on the shoreline.........More sketching........

a plover 

which leads me back 

When you start with a portrait and search for a pure form, a clear volume, through successive eliminations, you arrive inevitably at the egg. Likewise, starting with the egg and following the same process in reverse, one finishes with the portrait.  ~Pablo Picassso

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Unbricking a clay block

found with a rip in its bag

hard as a brick

drilling holes 

looks like a domino

placed in a 1.5 qt plastic container

pour water about 2"--- leave cheap baster on top of brick

cover with plastic/ then lid/flip when bottom is soft/baste daily

Every once in a while, one bag of clay gets a rip and somehow it's always the one way in the back.  It will take about a week for this one to get to the right pliable condition.  In the meanwhile, I worked on which  keepsake needed what done to it.  One got a nick in it so I had to carve it.  I then decided it needed a little porcelain spoon. Only 2" long with a wire stem.  It can only hold one teardrop or a pinch of salt. 

“The cure for anything is salt water - sweat, tears, or the sea.”

 Isak Dinesen

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