Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Inner Landscapes and the Holly Wreath

I do an awful lot of thinking and dreaming about things in the past and the future - the timelessness of the rocks and the hills - all the people who have existed there. I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape - the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn't show.                         
~Andrew Wyeth

backyard thicket of  redwoods, pines, firs and surprisingly--- holly!

Landscapes have been on my mind.   There are the landscapes one finds in Rolvaag's Giants in the Earth and Ivan Doig's English Creek  (and recently read, Hannah Kent's Burial Rites)---harsh, brutal reality of living with the land and how its raw beauty seeps into one's heart---giving it a meaning and memory worth fighting to keep.  Of  sorrow, of place and yes, even desire and want.  There are the measured and layered urban landscapes of  Wayne Thiebaud's paintings, the contrasts of light and shadow in Ansel Adam's photographs and even the contemporary, visually delight of David Hockney's IPad sketches.  Then there are the more private landscapes of one's own thoughts and hearth.
big green mat for visiting grand-dog, Flynn, who is having  a grand time outside

my brave and oldest son trimmed a holly tree for us

and made a beautiful wreath

My son wanted to add more holly to my wreath, but I liked the wonky twiggy look.  He made a fuller one for his own house and family.  I thought every one was outside when I took these photos, but I spied a pair of zorii at the foot of the loft ladder.   My oldest grandson, who towers over me, was up in the loft.  He peeked over the railing and in his quiet way said that he liked this house very much.


In the meanwhile,  100 cups  have sold through, as well as a few wall pieces and two sculptural pieces---large blackbirds. I am finishing up some wall boxes---just for fun and the Tiny Show opening in January.  The above is #2: Soaking Shore Birds

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Chanterelles and Shore Birds

After the rains last week,  I went out to forage for some mushrooms on our property.  I was so delighted to find chanterelles were up in abundance---YUM!  We have white and the golden ones.  We have quite a few edible mushrooms---boletes, honey, candycaps (and oysters sometimes on the old, dying alders.)  We sauteed the chanterelles in a bit of butter and ate them as a snack.  If it wasn't so cold I would have done some outdoor sketches. In the meanwhile,  I have some sculptural work I need to start now that all the cups were tagged and shipped out. 

making tags
Below is a quick video of my favorite cup (that I kept) from the one hundred that I did finished.  What I like about this piece is the faux soda flashing on it---which is hard to see in this video---it is more rusty satiny in person.  The terra sig I used has soda ash so maybe with the other pieces a bit of flashing happened. (There's small magic happening in that kiln.) Currently, I am using earthenware cups to paint my interpretation of shore birds that I see daily.  The earthenware cups are bisqued with a thin layer of terra sigillata.  With some sumi-e brushes I quickly paint in the bird and whatever else that comes to mind.  Sometimes I can scratch through the black engobe.  No transparent glaze necessary.  Fired to cone 6.


This is a godwit with its upward curved beak holding an olive branch.  Peace.

Monday, November 30, 2015

The Immensity of Single Day

"A merging of two people is an impossibility, and where it seems to exist, it is a hemming-in, a mutual consent that robs one party or both parties of their fullest freedom and development. But once the realization is accepted that even between the closest people infinite distances exist, a marvelous living side-by-side can grow up for them, if they succeed in loving the expanse between them, which gives them the possibility of always seeing each other as a whole and before an immense sky.”
                                                                     ―Rainer Maria Rilke from Letters to a Young Poet

Celebrating 16070.6568 Single Days of Adventure and Marital Bliss :) with Herr R.
and standing

"...whole and before an immense sky"

(photo by Herr R.)


Thursday, November 26, 2015

A Gathering A Sharing and Gifts of Gratitude

"Thanks, gracias,

you travel and return,

you  rise 

and descend.

It is understood, you don't

permeate everything,

but where the word of thanksgiving

appears like a tiny petal,

proud fists hide

and a penny's worth of a smile appears.

~Pablo Neruda, from Odes to Gratitude

Happy Thanksgiving


Monday, October 12, 2015

Fresh from the kiln

 GA 23 with 3% copper carbonate, a dot of Blue Midnight ( clear with Mason stain cobalt)

 clear transparent formulated to fit on porcelain (no crazing)
interior is same clear with 3% Burnt Umber

ClayPlanet's Icelia Porcelain and  Laguna's Frost Porcelain
left: brushed on Rusty Bronze, inside Robin Egg Blue (Chun base wt Mason Stain)
right:  thin dip into Rusty Bronze outside only, dried then full dipped into Robin Blue
light rutile spray on rim

  All cone 6.

Over the last three months I tested different clay bodies and base glazes. I still use GA-23, Leitson's Chun,  20 x 5 Clear (Tony Hansen) with different colorants.  I also found a very clear, craze-free glaze that fits porcelain nicely.  I made up 4,000 grams of it to dip my little sgraffito cups.  All glazes I keep at 1:3-1:4 density.  The clear I dip for the count of  "one-one thousand."  The others at 3 seconds.  The GA-23 runs if it touches any gloss glaze. It can be tricky, but when it works it is sweet.  Lovely opal runs, but be aware.  It also likes beige stoneware better than iron rich clay.

I found that although I like how lovely Laguna's Frost feels and looks, it is just too unpredictable.  It looks very fancy with its translucent body and wily, talc-y ways.  It teases and cheats with s-cracks no matter how careful you compress it with loving attention.  Icelia by ClayPlanet, on the other hand, is a bit gray (kind of like me) and groggy (again, like me.)  It is not sensitive or tender. There are no surprises---no light shines through---but it is strong and reliable.  Nothing magical.  That's left to the glazes, the kiln and clumsy me ;)

Now for a very fuzzy video:

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

quiet emerald morning

 this little unfinished face serenely greets me in the morning
sketching on chalkboard is the best fun
 finished beanies
terra cotta cup with emerald and white glaze
red art sigillata


Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Rise and Shine

Sunrise at Ten Mile Beach

Sunrise around here comes over the coastal range and through the second growth redwoods, bishop pines, alders and tan oaks. The eastern view here does not get high praise or invoke romantic notions.  Not many will drag out beach chairs to face east and in our case, Mt. Baldy, in the dark and wait in great anticipation for not so showy sunrise on a dewy morn. 

Pt. Cabrillo Lighthouse (taken from Mendocino Headlands)

Very few go down to the beach to witness the morning sun sneak its way overhead either. It is hard to turn your back on that wild and restless ocean to face east and the sparse view of coastal homes. The ocean can be a bit jealous anyway and send a sneaker wave to snap you out of your rising sun worship. 

eastern view of sea grasses

While musing about en plein air, I looked across the ocean to see the sun has blushed the clouds grapefruit pink. And all I could do with a 5" x 7" canvas board, one brush and a few tubes of paint, was quickly, without a care, without my hat, dabbed a picture and with great humbleness, turned and bowed to the morning sun. 

Morning has broken like the first morning...
...Mine is the sunlight,
Mine is the morning,
Born of the one light
Eden saw play;
Praise with elation,
Praise every morning,
God’s re-creation
Of the new day.

written by the poet Eleanor Farjeon (and famously sung by Cat Stevens)

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Ahh tumn...carving wood

autumn morning--collection of various things found on walks

All summer we have gone up the coast, down the coast, inland and back. We built sand castles, made sandy fishtails on our giggling grand-children's legs (yes, their legs were giggling :)   Eating candy cap mushroom ice cream at Cowlick's and watching the boys' eyebrows go up in amazement that mushrooms could taste so good.  We waded in a stream, once a river, showing kids how to patiently wait and simply look with no expectations.  Then to finally see little minnows swimming about--so magically appearing that the six year old gleefully whispered look!look, MoMo--the invisible fish are there and there and there...hello...hello.  Is that how mermaids look when they are first born?


Carving porcelain is so much easier than wood.  Still there is something about making a simple wood spoon.  Back in the B.C. (before clay) I carved in stone and wood.  Wood carving was mainly for woodblock printing and scroll work, never a thought to carve a spoon.  It was time, this summer, when half the studio was packed up and moved and stored. My hands needed to make something light, something that took time and quiet reflection.

walnut scrap
far left spoon first one carved (white alder)
I wanted to just carve with my own strength, no assistance from power tools.  I used a coping saw to cut out a free form shape.  Small chisels to take away chunks.  A hook blade and spoon gouge to form the bowl---scraping little curls---the sound---musical notes that tell me that the blade is sharp and true.  It takes time, stopping to strop the knives and stretching fingers.  After a bit of practice, it was time for larger spoon.  A piece of walnut, a gift from Herr (ah, he knows the way to this woman's heart!)  When the spoon was done, it needed a bit of sanding and finally some wood butter to make it satiny smooth.  It's big but light in weight.  Just like a mermaid's heart.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Getting down to work

Sometimes inspiration is hard work.  Sometimes it strikes in the most unlikely places.  Sometimes it seems elusive.  Other times it sneaks up behind you.  The one thing that is constant is that it's there, somewhere, right in front of you or inside you and at your fingertips.  Inspiration is the blue sky, the dense fog, shimmering heat, the breeze from the sea, laughter riding over the wind and birds chattering in the trees.  It is the sound of a jet going over head, the roaring of a crowd at a baseball game and the creaking of  playground swings going higher and higher with delight.  Inspiration comes in many guises and surprises.  It never fails.  It is love of making, the need to go on and see where it takes you.  I find more and more I can not chase it nor wish for it.  For me, inspiration comes with making when I feel the least inspired to do so.  It is in the work.

packing day

Friday, August 14, 2015

The Between-ness of Work

two of three demonstration pieces

Finishing up some demo pieces...the unfinished torso will eventually have one thousand flowers.  These floral themed torsos take a bit of time, but so satisfying when done.  There is this meditative quality when making each flower and carefulness attaching each. It slows one down and thoughts are without words. The density, depth and profusion of glossy blooms brightly contrasts against the earthiness of the red clay body and satiny terra sigillata.  It gives a feeling of a field of wildflowers on a hot, shimmering summer day--such untamed, deep and earthy beauty. I wanted to convey that a feeling of being surrounded and captive in that moment---a between-ness.  
Charlene Doiron Reinhart 
Between Heaven and Earth

coiled-built ceramic, terra sigillata, engobes, glazes
18" x 9" x 6" 
Our life is a faint tracing on the surface of mystery, like the idle curved tunnels of leaf miners on the face of a leaf. We must somehow take a wider view, look at the whole landscape, really see it, and describe what's going on here. Then we can at least wail the right question into the swaddling band of darkness, or, if it comes to that, choir the proper praise.
Read more at: http://www.azquotes.com/quote/399519
Our life is a faint tracing on the surface of mystery, like the idle curved tunnels of leaf miners on the face of a leaf. We must somehow take a wider view, look at the whole landscape, really see it, and describe what's going on here. Then we can at least wail the right question into the swaddling band of darkness, or, if it comes to that, choir the proper praise.
Read more at: http://www.azquotes.com/quote/399519
Our life is a faint tracing on the surface of mystery, like the idle curved tunnels of leaf miners on the face of a leaf. We must somehow take a wider view, look at the whole landscape, really see it, and describe what's going on here. Then we can at least wail the right question into the swaddling band of darkness, or, if it comes to that, choir the proper praise.
Read more at: http://www.azquotes.com/quote/399519

Monday, August 3, 2015

The Burden of Nothing and Lightness of Many, Many Things

"Her drama was a drama not of heaviness but of lightness. What fell to her lot was not the burden, but the unbearable lightness of being." ― Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being

Cache, coil-built ceramic, porcelain parts, terra sigillata, slips, glazes, silk-screen porcelain, twine


Sometimes a piece doesn't get a photo shoot.  This piece was the last piece out of the studio and nearly didn't make it to the gallery.  We had already packed the photography equipment.  I quickly took a couple of photos on top of an old desk.  The twigs wrapped around the head.  On top there's a rolled up piece of "paper" tied with twine.  There's the usual arrangement of rocks and a fortune cookie, couple of leaves.  The glaze I used on some the twigs is a simple one:

 Peeling Paint (cone 08-01)
 Gerstley Borate        80%
 Titanium Dioxide     20%

Toothpaste consistency.
The titanium dioxide I have fires yellow.  I mean yell-ow. Some of the twigs have this glaze with a topping of burnt umber wash to tone it down. In some areas I used a crawl glaze:

Crawl (06-01)
Magnesium Carbonate   33.3  (33)
Borax                              26.7  (27)
Gerstley Borate              33.3  (34)
Silica                               6.7   (7)  (it doesn't add up to 100%, but it works for me)

I freshly make this crawl glaze.  I make up a batch of 100 grams, stir it up and leave it dry.  When I need to make up a small amount---I stir it up take out 2 tablespoons and add water.  Let sit couple of hours then apply.

In this application I used it thin instead of the normal thick. It looks more crackledly (is that even a word?) than crawl over the red art sigillata.  It makes my artist's eye sing "I just got a feeling deep inside of me..."


I started this post in July and can not believe it is now August.  During the month many, many things happened.  Just the everyday things that happen to all of us one time or another.  Yesterday, I did an artist's talk and demo at the Healdsburg Center for the Arts.  It was such a welcoming, delightful and visual interaction with art lovers.  I could feel their thoughtful energy.  I feel that writing this blog and all of you that have left comments---such lovely, friendly comments---I felt as if each of you were sitting right there and so inspired me to share the best of all us.  So I want to thank you, my blogger friends, who inspire and give me a bearable "lightness of being."

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Wonder's Key

Wonder's Key
19" x 6" x 2"
Ceramic, terra sigillata, underglazes, glazes
23kt gold leaf

my laptop's keyboard went kaput--this is the second one keyboard
i have a portable keyboard on top of this one
i keep hitting the enter key instead of shift (the arrows keep getting in the way, too)
so i decided i am done
with trying
to capitalize

and now will count my blessings instead

Tuesday, June 23, 2015


White Bird, Green Boot
22" x 6" x 4"
ceramic, terra sigillata, engobes, glazes

We are having warm days, no fog.  Perfect for painting walls.  Of remembering, too.  I have a kerchief wrapped around my hair to protect it from splattering paint. Instead my face is freckled in neutral hues of grays, greens and mocha. Herr laughs when he sees me.  I hear a dove fluttered outside the window, making squeaky noises, landing clumsy at the bird feeder. Then smiling, head shaking, Herr admonishes me for not wearing shoes climbing up a ladder.  You must wear shoes, Momo, for your safety.  All I can find are garden boots and one brown sock.  We are moving soon and things are not in their usual place. 

Storyteller was sold to travelers from Australia.  It is a good feeling to know that this piece will journey to a faraway land and become a part of someone's home and story. 

Monday, June 22, 2015

Hue and Cry over Purple

To Market To Market...
Painting over my purple wall.
Using an old brush and primer
Have to have a last hoorah
Before the promised priming

Now the wall is a finished
    a quiet neutral hue
No one would ever know
there once was a giant bird here
shouting in purple delight

this artist
that painting large
was more fun
than priming any wall.
(and a plain wall more marketable than one of my

Off I go to neutralize
more things...back tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Point of Intersection in a Storyteller's Journey

It all started with a key found without a lock.
and dreams of a white fox (or puppy?)


 There are toes.  Fancy free with black polish.

And a bowl with a bit of 23 kt. gold leaf.
It doesn't look shiny in this photo, but it is very shiny in person.
Like spun gold.
Oh, I mustn't forget to mention the hat.  Why a silly hat?  
It completed the look. And she insisted. 
X marks the spot . Or is it a dot?
Meanings apparent and left up to you.
the past, the present and future combined 
Storyteller's Journey


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