Monday, November 26, 2007

They Say The Apple Doesn't Fall Far.

I had my 20 th high school reunion this weekend. What a wild walk back in time it was for me to see old classmates. I really cant believe its been 20 years since we graduated. I had a great, GREAT time! I'm so glad a few fellow classmates went through all the trouble to put such a lovely event together for us.

Of course, before making the trip into PA I had to do a bit of shopping for the affair. I normally hate shopping. It takes away from creative time and I always seem to walk out of the dressing rooms far from relaxed. I'm not a clothing hound, nor do I die over want for a shoe, but shoe shopping is much less stressful than clothing and I actually feel inspired by the designs of shoes. The color and material combinations seem to find their way home into my studio. This time around I was smitten with a little Calvin Klein number with a big ol red buckle. One size left and it was, to my surprise, my size. It was totally meant to be! They will carry me through the holiday and my mind has been racing on the chunky square shape and hot red color ever since the purchase. How this will transpire into my studio this time around remains to be seen.

What I truly found odd and uncanny about the pull to buy this pump was that apparently my mother had the same urge months ago to purchase her "red buckle" shoe. I was so taken back by the sight of her pulling this shoe out to show me that yes, I had to photograph them together.

They say the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Boy, they ain't kiddin.

Our "red buckle" shoes

Monday, November 12, 2007

The First Hedgie!

The First Clay Hedgie

About a week ago I placed my "Hedgie" mold in the laundry room to dry. It's very toasty warm in there and I was happy to discover that the plaster mold had dried already.

This morning I decided to pour the first mold. The first one always gets thrown away. That copy is normally filled with plaster chips and doesn't necessarily want to come out of the mold too easily. I usually paw the first ones out cause I know that until the mold is used a handful of times there is always a slight struggle with the clay. I don't like to waste time.

Today I really struggled. The problem I suspected with "Hedgie's" mold came to fruition. It was molded incorrectly. Good lesson learned here. It should have been cut horizontally not vertically. One half of "Hedgie" came apart from the plaster smoothly, the other didn't want to budge. It was literally suctioned in there. So, I took a hacksaw to the mold!

Even though the hacking damaged a small portion of the actual plaster, it worked. I can get "Hedgie" out more easily now. Unfortunately, I fear that a porcelain "Hedgie" may not be a reality. There is just too much pushing and pulling of the clay for me to use clay as finicky as porcelain. One move in the wrong direction and that clay apparently stays the way it was pushed. No worries though, I believe "Hedgie" will be really spectacular in earthenware. There will be quite a bit of clean up since the seams are pretty wonkin' on him. I also lost a bit of detail on his left hand side. Im not sure why. It looks as if the wax melted as the plaster was drying. That is very odd. I think for larger pieces that are full of detail Ill really need to take a silicone mold first. All of these factors are actually making "Hedgie's" run a very limited run now. Maybe Ill pour 10? I don't really know. Ill see if he can hold my interest that long.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Now You See Him....

Now you see him:

Original sculpt of a hedgehog in wax.

Now you dont:

"Plastered Hedgie"
Hedgie getting molded.

Hedgie, my little hedgehog sculpt was subject to the molding box this afternoon. Making the box was less stressful than normal. The mold box glued up in no time. Plaster mixed up perfectly. My only concern this time around? His little pudgie body gave me some trouble when I went to pull the original out of the plaster mold. I really had to struggle to get it out. Im hoping its not going to be a problem when it comes to pouring ceramic molds. I'm determined to get a few good castings from this mold. I'll band saw the sucker if I have to to get the right results! LOL

Its been pretty hectic in the studio. One hectic issue has been photography. I was assigned to another JAH cover and decided to hold the entire shoot outdoors. The set up is taking me a fairly long time to produce. There is a stream and lots of trees and an abundance of brush. All of that layering took time. Last night it rained and a good portion of my set up was destroyed. Hopefully resetting things up wont be much of a hassle.

Another busy issue within the studio has been the separation of my sculpture and ceramic art from the model horse site. I've decided it was not only time to tidy up this area of my site, but it would make more sense to take it all away from the model horse stuff. The easiest way to do it was to make a brand new website. The big unveiling will happen (hopefully) around Thanksgiving or so. Hopefully! I still have the galleries to design and those are the most involved of the pages.

Lastly, today was the very first day my son wanted to stay down in the studio with me. After taking care of all the animals on the property he wandered into the studio (we have to pass it to get outside through the basement) and he wanted to stay. Usually he wants to rush upstairs and play, but today he wanted to draw and I welcomed his company. Im scrambling trying to make more room so we can fit a little desk or something down here for him. The world of clay and finger painting awaits us! There is no time to loose! :)

Friday, October 19, 2007

Of Rain and All Things Wet

Sleepy Little Mouse all packaged and ready for his new home.

Its a gloomy, rainy, glorious day here. We love the rain. Today is even more special since my son decided it was time to let go of diapers. Potty training so far today has been fantastic and Im feeling rather proud. He's doing extremely well. Because of this new development in the house I decided to stay home. No Post Office visit or stroll. I figured it was best to stay within quick reach of a potty.

The extra time gave me plenty of opportunity to sit and think about how to package up my Sleepy Little mice. I have batch number two almost ready to be sold and was rather disappointed at my lame attempts at packaging batch number one up. (Apologies to the first batch of owners). I know all mice arrived safely just not in a pretty package. I like pretty packaging so it bothers me they were sent without something "special".

I decided the mice should be enclosed in a warm calico cloth, small blue ribbon with a teeny tiny hang tag and blue ribbon as a topper. Im rather thrilled with this idea and the look of it. The cloth is thick enough to keep all mice safe during transit. I wrapped up 7 mice and was hoping to wrap up the rest I fired in the kiln this morning, but alas, I pulled them out to find that their ear and tail color has totally burned away. I dont know what it is with reds, but they fire off pretty fast. Im going to have to finish up any color details on this batch and then fire the reds last and at a cooler temp. Not sure if that will help, but Ive grown very frustrated with loosing my ear and tail color for the third time.

A peek inside the kiln

Here is a quick peek into the kiln before I took everything out. I wanted to mention the traditional sized foal Im glazing in my studio news letter this morning, but I really have no idea who she is. Does anyone know who she is?

The piece came in a china body lot and I am slowly trying to bring her color up to a baby chestnut. The key with the china paints seems to be to go very slowly when building color. Everything seems to blend nicer that way. Of course, I can see 30 or more firing happening with such a method.

I really need to start experimenting with the airbrush and china paints. Honestly, I dread it. Im still hanging onto the belief that I will be able to get smooth supple application with old fashioned hand painting. I believe it just comes with practice. So, Ive been practicing on non horse subjects.

Porcelain bunny getting custom glazed

This bunny is currently the best piece I've painted free hand so far. The color is vibrant and very smooth. Even smooth along the ears. I just kept adjust the value of the original color each time it was fired. Im doing the same with the unknown china foal.

Looks like rain for the entire day. That means playing indoors and a cartoon or two and maybe adding that red back onto the mice.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Inspiration from the oddest places

Inspiration comes without warning and from the oddest of places. This summer my husband and I witnessed the most perplexing occurance. We watched as huge wasps tried to stuff Cicadas into the drainholes on our property. By the end of the one day there were SEVEN poor dead Cicadas sticking, butt up, in the drainhole. This most definitely needed clarification! According to the online research I uncovered the wasps are called "Killer Cicada Wasps" and they stun the Cicadas, burry eggs in the Cicada bodies and as the pupas emerge they feast on the cicada carcas.


I honestly couldn't get over nature taking its course and I had a real rare opporunity to examine a dead Cicada up close. The colors and design were fascinating to me. I couldn't help but touch them and decided to keep two. Something inside me said that they would be great creative fodder for future projects.

This afternoon, after I had packed up the Shah Azim and about 4 other pieces that DESPERATELY need to leave my studio, I found my mind wandering to the Cicadas and their gorgeous wings. I did the deed....carefully, (and respectfully) cut their wings free from their now hollow bodies. Yep, in the span of 3 months their bodies had started to decay and hollow out just laying in a cup in the studio.

I chose a G3 jumping horse as my work horse this time. He is slowly being turned into a flying horse. It was fun to pull out the blue and green pastels to paint him. I never get a chance to really explore those colors. They are just so harsh and the greens can really ruin a piece in a second. I'll tell ya, blue and green mixed with a bit of brown make the most luscious grey. LIke...grey for a dappled grey on an Arab or LIppy! Who KNEW?!!! Its the most amazing find today. So, this project is just continuing to inspire.

Inspiration can be found in the oddest of places! :)

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Martha Clara

This past holiday weekend we took a much needed family trip to Long Island's Martha Clara vineyard. We had such a wonderful time visiting with family, feeding the goats, petting the Percherons (they were gorgeous) running in sunflower fields and tasting yummy wine. Although I took my sketchbook with me it was my camera that I felt most comfortable with as my medium that day. I captured many wonderfully artistic shots but this is probably my most favorite photo from that weekend.

Playing at Martha Clara Vineyard

After such great weekends the studio remains quiet. I take to fixing things in the house and just cleaning up since most excursions out begin with a whirlwind of a mess left at the home base. We have never been able to leave on holiday without a stressful exit. LOL Im not sure why.

I was asked to produce another cover for JAH. I am anxiously awaiting the UPS truck and a delivery sometime this week. Got a sneak peek at the item Ill be photographing and its really a lovely piece. Something brand new. Im also excited to see the last cover in print. Im told it went off to the printers last week. That's one we will send home to mom.

My Gammon is done. Im so pleased with him too. He wanted to be an appy so I obliged. The more I worked on him the more in love I fell with his mold. The sculpture is just amazing. He would have been for sale already this week, but I had this idea to create a beautiful stone wall for him. I have the 8 pieces, unfortunately. I called in hubby to assess the problem. I believe that I need to wait 2 weeks for the plaster sections to dry thoroughly and then I have to use something called "Liquid Nails" to hold it all together properly. Im happy their is a solution in sight, but Im feeling rather impatient as I am dying to paint up that wall and pop Gammon on top of it. I know he is going to look smashing! I just cant wait to show him off.

Well, tea time is over and sleep is a must.
Talk again soon

Monday, September 24, 2007

Excited about...

Bisques waiting for glaze

I'm excited about getting back to these little china pieces that have been patiently waiting for me to return after my deadlines. I should have the very last portion of my Breyer/JAH deadline in tonight. I'm very excited about this aspect of the project since this one seemed to drag. Sometimes they do that. There was alot happening outside the studio that interfered with the delicate inner workings of the studio. Sometimes that happens.

My heart is badly urning for sculpture and china painting. It's time I let it run free and let it do its thing. My rattie sculpture has been inspiring me every time I walk past it on the shelf, but I dont want to touch it till I am free of any other obligations. I did manage to steal a moment alone and found myself fiddling with more wax. It wasn't intentional and I must stop doing that as it makes more work for me. But alas, some days I see little creatures in the wax. These two buddies/love birds were caught in my last ball of wax.

"The Lovebirds"
a mouse sculpture in wax

I'm not sure how the hell I'd make a mold out of this but I have to just move forward and get this image out of my head. It's getting crowded in there with the ideas I've had of late. Very crowded. Sometimes that happens too.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Big Win for Opus!

I was so thrilled to hear that one of my Opus resin won some lovely ribbons over the weekend. At Queens City Classic "Snickerdoodle" pulled two NANs, one in Breed and one in Workmanship and then went on to win the Reserve Championship! Holy moley! That ribbon is huge laying next to him!!!! Im thrilled! I believe this particular Opus is now 3xs NAN which is awesome. I need to get my butt in gear on the rest of the artists choice series of Opus resins. Ive fallen behind here. Opus #7 should have been done months ago but alas, I think Ill wait till fall to finish him.
Photo courtesy of April Powell. Thank you April!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

This summer has been the summer of "other diversions". I've happily explored my love of mice and rats, enjoyed puttering in the garden and actually started a new sketchbook AND am keeping it up. My garden has been my labor of love though. For three years now I struggled with a huge plot and many weeds. This year, I sectioned everything out and made pathways and really organized my way though the plot. It's been wonderful to just walk though the pathway and take in the fresh smells of the tomatos, lavender and dill. I found myself headed back there while I waited for my fixatives to dry. Im excited to have my friend April come and visit from upstate. It was she who really clued me into gardening in this fashion.

The next batch of sleepy little mice are all poured, cleaned and fired. I spent some time masking off markings on them last night. I have quite a few colors in mind and the technique that I tried on Petunia is swirlin' around in my brain and dying to come out again, but on a party colored mouse. Im trying to keep each sleepy mouse unique and dont want to repeat any pattern. Im itchin to see them done and glossy.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

In Loving Memory

....of my Aunt Carol who passed away this afternoon.

I wasn't there
When you passed away,
When God took you by the hand
And said follow me this way.

I couldn't bring
Myself to see,
What horrible things
This disease had done to thee.

I'd like to remember you
The way you were.
I think this to myself,
But is it really true?

As you laid in the shadow of death
I pray you felt no fear,
God rest your soul
As you took your final breathe
And shed your last tear.

Where are you going?
What will you see?
Your pain is over,
But what about me?

You didn't show fear
While those around you wept,
My fondest memories of you,
In my heart is where they will be kept.

Ashes to Ashes
And Dust to Dust,
You have passed to a better place
And in this we must trust.

I wasn't there
When you passed away,
When God took you by the hand
And said follow me this way' -© By Victoria L. Bray

We had just found out she was diagnosed with cancer. It was aggresive and took her quickly. I was hoping to get home soon. I was going to make a point to see her no matter how she felt or how she looked because of the treatments. I feel like I haven't seen my family in ages and this year have only seen them when bad things happen.

Monday, August 20, 2007

If You Were to Visit

Not feeling too chatty today so Ill let some photos do the talking for me. These are some of the things going on around the studio and house:

My studio desk is pretty much a disaster zone right now. I've grown accustomed to it this way.

In the kitchen Im pouring more sleepy little mice. Dried slip seems to in every nook and cranny of my sink. This batch of mice will need a bit of clean up.

I've had very strong desires to sketch recently. These are just a few of my more favorite doodles from my sketchbook.

On my living room table sit a few wax sculptures. This one is currently on my mind constantly.

And lastly, my china painting station upstairs. Another disaster area I love to be in.

That is pretty much the scoop here.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

First post at the new blog

After much contemplation and aggravation I've moved the blog over to blogger from Myspace. At one point in time Myspace worked easily for my blog, but after many failed attempts at logging on I decided it was time to close shop over there. I have to say that this new blog is pretty easy to use and is definitely a lot prettier. I'll miss seeing how many people are tunnin in to view, but I guess a gal cant have it all. There are tons of stuff to tweak and fiddle with on this site. Actually, I fiddled with this blog all afternoon, Im embarrased to say. Nothing much going on in the studio right now anyway and I did have fun designing the blog header.

Well, off to tweak a few more spots on the new blog. I want that background color changed and dont know how to go about doing it. Hope the new blog is a nicer experience for viewing.