Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Peace, Love and Joy in Porcelain, Paper and Glitter

Caritas abundat in omnia,
de imis excellentissima super sidera,
Atque amantissima in omnia,
quia summo Regi osculum pacis dedit. 

~Hildegard von Bingen from the chant "Caritas Abundat"

Charity abounds in all things,
from the depths to high above the highest stars,
And is most loving to all,
for to the High King she has given the kiss of peace. 
~Hildegard von Bingen from the chant  "Caritas Abundat"


Monday, December 15, 2014

Comfort Food and Second Life Pottery

 “Never put off till tomorrow what may be done day after tomorrow just as well."
Mark Twain

My studio needs cleaning.  Well,  it always needs cleaning.  What I am trying to say (and avoid) that it needs a thoroughly good, break it up, massive tossing sort of cleaning.  Not a philosophic sort of cleaning which I tend to do (what does it all mean?)  It is surprising what is out there.  Under shelves, inside drawers.  Hidden pottery.  Ceramic hoarding at it's best.  Although I have been told, in comforting tones, that my studio is not the worst seen. Or did they mean it has seen worst? Heavens! I think. It can not be or have been.....worst than this?  

There are pots that need a second firing, little porcelain birds and terra-cotta animals long forgotten, saved for future projects. A wooden candy box filled with broken, mismatched hands and underfired hearts.  Completed cups not quite perfect, seconds now and shelved for years with regret or rue. They didn't even make it into my kitchen cupboards or a life of wabi-sabi-ness. I look at it all with disbelief and then, a hypnotic stare.  Is there a chance of revival or renewal? Can it be salvaged or saved as if a great sin or a greater sin to even try.  It doesn't change the fact that I will need to move the entire mess in a couple of months 200 miles northwest of here. Then I begin to think of new beginnings, of fresh thoughts and of exciting possibilities if only, only if, I don't hesitate. The decision is made.  I find a hammer and a trash bin...
instant gratification-ochazuke for breakfast
..but first I need a little breakfast of comfort food in some second life pottery.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Porcelain Raindrops

"Last night
the rain
spoke to me
slowly, saying,
what joy
to come falling
out of the brisk cloud,
to be happy again
in a new way
on the earth!"

Mary Oliver

Lately I have spent my days working quietly and quickly, moving from one project to another.  Many things have happened and many things not.  I did, however, managed to do a little throwing of cups and bowls.  And drops. Wheel-thrown porcelain drops.  All the while wishing for a little rain.

With water, porcelain and a spinning wheel I made rain drops, then snow drops and finally a few tear drops.  They all look the same, I know.  They are little prayers for rain. Dreams and wishes for a wet winter. It's the context and in certain moments, the content that changes.

Lots of little prayers, little wishes and little dreams coming true....

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Brushing away into Terra Cotta Days

Nearly done with things for the holiday markets. The last two months have had a roller coaster feeling.  Life decisions.  Lack of movement. Too much movement. Things breaking down and up.  Even my laptop is off to my son's again to replace the keyboard.  I have borrowed Herr's, but mainly use my tablet.  Now the tablet is mischievously uncooperative.  I think it always was, it just showing some attitude now that the laptop is getting a facelift. 

fresh from the kiln--the plain ones will get a layer of glaze
New brushes are dreamy.  Especially good ones.  Gotta love a beautifully made brush loaded with color, it gives such a feeling of lightness and touch. I have an under-fired glazed plate that I practice on.  It helps loosen my wrists so the elegant brush becomes an extension of my fingertips.  I can wipe the stain away and try different things. 


Today it is cloudy and it sprinkled some wet stuff onto my deck.  Such a tease those naughty clouds. It stopped as soon as it started.  It has been an arid year.  The trees are stressed and brood with crackled leaves.  Evergreens shed pine needles as if crying for rain.  Abandoned and twiggy nests, no longer hidden by green foliage, sway in the wind. I can finally see the robin's nest high in the sycamore, no longer a secret abode. I think of pumpkin farms instead of pots or sculptures.  Or a trip to the see the changing colors in the foothills of the Sierra---wedging clay can wait. Day dreaming of mud puddles with wonder and hope.  Rain or no rain, I still love these terra-cotta days filled with leafy madness.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

All that's left of September's Clay

No matter what the work you are doing, be always ready to drop it. And plan it, so as to be able to leave it.  
                                                                                                                            ~Leo Tolstoy

It's the last day of September already.  Around here it was a very hectic month.  Every day something popped up and changed all our plans.  Things that kept me from the studio.  Long hours waiting, away from my clay. 

I covered up the porcelain cups I had thrown earlier in the month, all waiting for handles.  For some it is too late---they will remain without handles---but not without hope. Porcelain takes care and a bit of patience.  It makes you slow down and take note.  It changes the rhythm, the timing of the studio.  It is nearly as palpable as the season's changing light. Autumn is here now.  It did not wait for me to catch up with summer's bright plans. I try to keep to a schedule, but the planet has its own to keep. 

"Embrace"  sold
Lightness and Pluck waiting for their next adventure in the kiln

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Ten Minutes of Clay and Play

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

Back soon.  In the meanwhile check out the Strange and Curious Little Things Gallery up above.  

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

In the pink with Rutile Sun

Dahlias in bloom at the Mendocino County Botanical Gardens-photo by CDR

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”
Anais Nin 


Inspired by sea anemones, dahlias and grasses.  Guided by the Anais Nin quote.

I took a risk on this piece.  I glazed it with a satin white.  My intent was to leave it all unglazed.  I rarely glaze an entire sculptural piece.  I mainly use terra sigs or engobes with small areas of shiny glazes.  Lots of color.  Lots of texture.  However, it needed a hard glaze to insure that the tendrils stayed put.

Reluctant at first, I began to open up to the process of brushing on layers of white satin glaze. While it dried I stained a terra cotta figure laying next to it with rutile. I returned to this piece and forgot I had a brush full of rutile in my hand. One stroke onto the white surface without thinking. Oh no!  Now I wasn't going to wipe it off and start again. I didn't have the time. After a few anxious moments, I went with it.  


When I opened the kiln I thought of sunshine and my grassy meadow drying out in the summer heat.  I was surprised by the intensity of the yellows.  Just a little Rutile, Mason Stain 6440 and Red Art slip mixed with some white satin glaze. Peachy salmon tones here and there from the Red Art, goldenrod yellow from the Rutile.  Bright, confident  primary yellows peeking out.  All this from a mistake--a little mishap and a decision to go with it.  

trial wall pieces done with colored porcelain clay, terra cotta and basalt clay, stoneware

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Embracing my inner clay

You can't just turn on creativity like a faucet. You have to be in the right mood.
What mood is that?
Last-minute panic.

 Calvin and Hobbes
Bill Watterson

Some days I think I am giving up clay. I can go a long time thinking about it. Planning for it. Agonizing over it.  Dreaming about it.  Having a deadline changes everything. Next thing I know I am rolling coils. Embracing my inner clay. What's a person to do?

12" x 5" x 3"
Ceramic, terra sigillata, texture glazes, oxide stains, 24k gold leaf

See her in person at the Pence Gallery in Davis, California
preview and silent bidding begins
 August 30-September 20, 2014
(they will take a bid via phone and ship, too)

detail of back

Artists don’t get down to work until the pain of working is exceeded by the pain of not working.
sculptor Stephen De Staebler

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Finding a Home in Clay

This piece originally had a squirrel, but I had a dream about a fox.  In the early morning I made this little fox and replaced the squirrel. Then I had to replace the head.  The face didn't look right.  Didn't feel right. New arms were made.  It was necessary.  Only the original torso/legs remained.  I saved the discarded arms, head and squirrel in a damp box.  I still have something in mind for them.  It was just I had to do this. I had to get this one done now I thought.  It was a last minute piece. 

As Fox Stories dried on the deck I noticed the pattern of dappled light.  It looked as though there were clouds and blue skies across the torso. I wanted to capture a sense of time and place. Of a summer day, of woods and fields.  Of home and connection. 

Fox Stories 
(from series: Seeking Shelter, Finding Home)
 12" x 5" x 3"
Ceramic, multi-fired
terra sigillata, slips, glazes, round head iron pins

The person who bought this piece told me what inspired her to take Fox Stories home.  She had seen a news clip about a woman who found a pup in a nearby wooded area.  This woman thought it was a dog abandoned, hurt and left to starve.  She took it home and gave it care.  Fed this orphan food and love.  Turns out it was not a dog after all, but a fox!  This news clip interested the art lover.  When she saw Fox Stories she had to have it. She felt a connection. I told her about how this piece came about, its story of making and how it changed.  How a fox came to me in a dream. Two stories and a little fox.  One of needing shelter and another of finding home.

wild asters and sea grasses

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Seeking Shelter, Finding Home

Storyteller's Creed:
I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge.
That myth is more potent than history.
That dreams are more powerful than facts.
That hope always triumphs over experience.
That laughter is the only cure for grief.
And I believe that love is stronger than death.
~from All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten 
by Robert Fulghum

No matter how many birdhouses we have had, I have yet to see a bird take up residence in one of these man-made shelters.  At first we worked out the ones best suited for the neighborhood flock.  Added a few enticements.  Bird feeders, bird baths, etc.  They ate the seeds and bathe.  Then went to work building their own open air homes.  I knew we were doing this all wrong. Thinking and caring about it too much.  Hoping to find one morning wonder in a box. 

I thought about the decorative aspect of the birdhouses.  Was I seeking approval and the satisfaction of being chosen by the birds? What bird houses imply to us simply didn't apply to the birds. When I saw that Cooper's Hawk circling around a little light went on---okay.  Maybe the trees around here were a better place to roost.

We do have quite a few nests in the trees and eaves---swallows' mud nests, neatly woven ones from the Robins, some quickly made and messy ones of the cooing doves, tiny teacups spun in spider webs and lichens each holding a single 1/2" egg.  The birds around here need to prefer their own architectural foundations, to make their own custom homes.  They are forever in touch with the natural world after all.

Bird Puppet
(from Seeking Shelter, Finding Home series)
14" x 6" x 3"
Hand Built Earthenware, multi-fired cone 06-04
terra sigillata, engobes, oxide stains, glazes

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Clay myths and ceramic stories, pt. 2

Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these broken wings and learn to fly
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to arise.

  ~lyrics from Blackbird by John Lennon and Paul McCarthy

In the late spring and early summer I love to look for the red-winged blackbirds.  Such ordinary, every day birds flitting between the rushes of the salt marshes and grasses of the bay hills.  Even out in the central valley near Sacramento, where rice grows neatly in vast wet fields, one can spy them.  The males with their red and yellow epaulets are spotted easily hanging fiercely onto reeds and grass blades, ever gathering and searching...once...not long ago.
Cairn, bone dry and Within getting a critique

Noticing I hadn't seen any recently I began to wonder what happened to them?  Have I got it wrong and missed seeing them while looking for more exotic birds?  Maybe the drought changed their migratory route or seasonal timing?  Have they lost their faith in us and gone on to greener fields elsewhere?
little blackbird made of basalt clay

I thought about them as I built Cairn.  Wondering about faith and worship.  About ordinary things becoming so extraordinary present when they are gone.  Cairn sat unfinished until the cusp of summer.  My thought was to leave this piece mainly unglazed, but as the other pieces began to take form, shape and color, Cairn seemed to say, "Take care of me, now."
It was decided to keep most of the birds looking up and unglazed, but one needed to be black with red and yellow epaulets---a little warrior bird, defiantly turned and looking straight out.
Pescadero Marsh Natural Preserve (Coastal)
As Cairn cooled in the kiln, I decided to have a cup of coffee and watch the local news.  A naturalist came on and started talking about the disappearance of red-winged blackbirds in the Central Valley.  I sat dumbfounded listening...a great decline in population he said.  Perhaps pesticides killing off food source, harming the chicks.  A nearby organic farming area still had a population of blackbirds in the hundreds, but not the thousands once seen in the fields surrounding Sacramento. Not only there but all around the scruffy hills of the bay and grassy bluffs of the coast.  The only blackbird I had seen recently was one of memory and of making.  Not the wild, unfettered, now a mythical and extraordinary thing---this little warrior bird who is quietly vanishing from our ordinary, everyday life.

24" x 14" x 8"
Coiled Built ceramic with porcelain parts
terra sigillata, underglazes, oxide stains, glazes

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Clay myths and ceramic stories, pt.1


Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love. 
~Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

Porcellana Digitalus?

"Within" and "Shelter"
Don't be satisfied with stories, how things have gone with others. Unfold your own myth.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Give me shelter and a little room for clay

Right after I unloaded the kiln and took back-dropped photos of the two pieces, we were off for a week at the P.S. House (passive solar.)  I had been rushing around trying to pack, take photos of completed work, wrap up drying work, ship work, get the Jeep tuned-up, etc.  I was tired, anxious and wanting to finish up some pieces left mid-way. It would have to wait.  Besides, I thought, some time out of my tiny studio would give me a little perspective.
main work area on left with kiln room and clay storage far right
Once we got to the north coast Herr wanted to lay out the new studio.  I just wanted to wander on the coastal bluffs looking for blue-eyed grass and sea pinks. To bike out to the closed Old Haul Rd which runs alongside some pretty spectacular ocean front.  I knew it was the only way to forget, for a while, what I left undone in my garage studio by the bay.  In the end, we did a little of all.  A little room for clay, a little room for work.  Best of all---a little room for play.

My studio at its best and worst---messy.  The above photo was taken just before I loaded Menagerie in the kiln for its last firing.  There is another piece, Cairn, already in the kiln.
nearly done Shelter waiting for my return

Friday, May 30, 2014

Imagination Goggles and Teapot a go go

5" x 7"
Ceramic, terra sigillata, underglazes, glazes, wire

Off to a show at the Pence Art Gallery in Davis, California.  It was bubbled--wrapped--boxed--shipped with two other goggled heads for company.The show runs from June 1-27.  In the meanwhile the Sixth International Teapot Show at the American Museum of Ceramic Art ends June 1st.  Pear Nest Teapot was sold during the exhibit. 

Pear Nest Teapot's baby picture

waiting for first firing


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