Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Last Weekend

A moment captured early in the day
at one of the last big parties of the summer season

The last weekend of a glorious summer. My studio will be closed for the Labor Day weekend. See you all next week. Have a safe and happy Labor Day Weekend.

"What held the ripe green apple to the stem,
and held the clustered acorns to the oak,
grew old and weary, till at last it broke
and Fall began to drum a requiem.
The weeping willow tore her tattered hem
and shed gold tears when colder winds awoke
to sing the Agnus Dei. Cricket-croak
and locust-song were counterpoint to them.
And now, the owl unfurls its dappled wings
and soars below the moon. Beneath a leaf,
a cautious but ambitious rodent gains
the confidence to venture out, which brings
about catastrophe, albeit brief,
as autumn picks through summer’s sere remains."

--Vaughn Fritts

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Inspiration is...

The cherry on top of a great weekend

Inspiration is:

~ A really awesome sleepover weekend with friends and family in NJ.
~ Eating excellent BBQ and enjoying fine red wine.
~ Jumping into a ice cold pool with my niece Madeline at 10 PM and laughing.
~ Huddling near the fire in PJs after the ice cold swim. Marshmallows toasting.
~ Watching my son run up and down a huge manicured lawn.
~ Having my son sleep in the bed with me and my husband.
~ Talking about my love of ceramics to new people.
~ Finding new life for porcelain pieces that didn't quite make the grade.
~ Lighting a tealight in one of those porcelain pieces and watching it glow from the inside out.

New horsehair pottery pieces

Friday, August 22, 2008

Honestly Trying...

Embrace me

I have been honestly trying to embrace the chores of the house because when things are well kept in my every day life my art life seems to flourish. When things are a wreck I seem to have a hard time creating cause the house is on my mind. Some days I feel victorious with completing the chores, but other days the tasks defeat me. My mind just wanders aimlessly onto art. Even when I make art take a seat and tell it to "hush up" there is something out there just pulling it back to the front of the class.

Today I woke up and set out to accomplish much around the house. It has been two weeks since my son enjoyed an afternoon nap. That means from morning till dusk my house is strewn with toys. Although it is a delight to watch and help him play there is never a short spell during the day where I can let the house take a breather from being a wreck. This "no napping" has been a very big adjustment for me, but today I was determined to clean and get things in gear before we go away for another weekend of fun in the sun and bbqs. All was going well until the mail came. Bills, bills, junk, junk, junk.....and then WAMMO!

LIttle man in the vessel how you tempt me

A gorgeous vessel on an American Fund brochure. "Unearthing Possibilities..." Oh yeah...I think my house is gonna stay dirty for a little while longer. It's time for both me and my son to play with clay. Even if we only roll it around, such a sign is hard to resist for me. Let the dust bunnies have their fun today. I'm off to play.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Sentimental Days

Riding with my sister-in-law

The later part of this week has been a sentimental one. I finally made the move to disassemble the old Mac I own. Slowly going through the programs and lingering files made me recall how I built a small business upon this rugged machine. I found old jpgs and long forgotten pastel tutorials. I learned Photoshop, Illustrator, Quark and GoLive on this one machine. So it was with a bit of sadness that I began to unplug each part from the harddrive this afternoon. This machine was such a huge part of my life that throwing it to the curb seemed like a big injustice so, I called our church and asked if the school needed a Mac. I am pleased to report that it is being welcomed with HUGE open arms. It will go on to teach children the wonders of Photoshop and Illustrator. A wonderful retirement for a good ol friend.

Off into the sunset

This week I also went for my first horseback ride in over 4 years. It was with anxiousness and much nervousness that I put my butt back in the saddle. In my earlier days I would have been rather upset that the ride today, for my niece's sweet 16 party, was a "follow the leader" type excursion, but for the place that I am at in my life right now (aka: nervous mom), following the herd was just what I needed. Today's ride was just enough thrill mixed in with a touch of relaxation. I'm dying to go back.

So, that is where I have been. My mind stuck on sentimental days while I wait for a box load of art supplies to arrive and the season of fall to begin shortly.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Just Hangin'

Caterpillar hangin' out in Brooklyn

This past weekend was about hangin' out. Hangin' with family and hangin' out with friends pool side. After a busy week house wise and studio wise (especially dealing with the new spray formula) a weekend of not thinking about work was a nice diversion.

Today was especially good as our friends came for a visit. It was nice to just watch our children play together and enjoy the warmth of the sun in the cool pool. I'm glad for the day today. I am rejuvenated beyond words. Seeing the children smiling and having fun was just what I needed. I am ready to take on whatever this week brings me. That means (maybe) dealing with the whole mess of sprays I ordered last Friday. And I mean, I ordered everything on the market in North America that was matte. One spray out of that entire order just has to work like the Citadel sprays. I'm staying positive.

Hedgie #22

I was also happy to forget today that the very last hedgehog from the "Hedgie the Hedgehog" run is currently up at auction and his run is now officially coming to a close. I'm really sorta sad to see the last one leave me. I learned so much about moldmaking, producing porcelain figurines and custom glazing in this run that a sweet spot will always remain with me whenever I think of Hedgie. If you are curious you can catch the very last hedgehog on eBay.

So with that, I'm off to pick a few tomatoes from my garden. They have been small but plentiful and amazingly delicious this year. Perfect little sandwich tomatoes that cut perfectly without much sliminess. Eating them straight off the vine while they are still warm from the sun is my favorite way to eat them. Mmmm....

Friday, August 15, 2008

End of the Week

Breyer's "Newsworthy" getting new clothes

The most frequent saying I heard this week right after putting my son down for his afternoon nap was, "Mommy, I'm all done with my nap!" I believe my afternoon studio sessions are now a thing of the past. It's with sadness that I am seeing them go. Not only was the afternoon nap a refreshing quiet time for myself, it was a rejuvenating time for my son. No naps means a cranky little person right around 5 P.M. and that has been the most difficult aspect of this new period in our lives to deal with as he was never really cranky or fussy. Now, like clockwork, 5 P.M. rolls around and he cranks out.

My husband was away on business for part of the week so I did get to spend time in the studio at night. I wanted to start a ton of horses. On the work bench were Vixen, Imp, Newsworthy, an EJ and the new Fraley Rayne, but I only had time for Newsworthy and Rayne. I'm struggling with both horses. I'd love to tell you that my mind was/is focused on pastel painting, but that would be a little white lie. It isn't. My mind is off on clay. Bad matte spray is not helping with my focus either. Between my mind wandering (badly) on the pottery wheel and this awful batch of spray, I'm hoping I can finish both pieces soon because both are really lovely and have wonderful promise in the performance show ring.

Lynn Fraley's "Rayne" resin

For over 8 years I have successfully used the Citadel Varnish products on my work. Every so often they would change the formula for their matte spray. In some instances it made it better, but this last change, which I was told was a "super green" change, has completely ruined the product. There is no more tooth which is rendering a terrible application and worse, the product leaves a white film on the horse. It's a powdery look that is totally undesirable.

I'm all for going green to an extent, but leave some things be! I mean honestly, the car shops along McDonald Ave. here in Brooklyn spew more toxins in the air than a hobby spray can ever will. You literally get HIGH walking down that street! I have to wonder if they have gone "super green". Sure doesn't smell like it.

Large bowl in porcelain.
Too large for my kiln I fear

So now I am on a hunt for a new matte spray and have decided to just jump in and try a bunch. I just need one with a little bit of tooth so the pastels will stick. My work, for the most part, is mixed media. Once I have the base color down in pastels I hit the acrylics and have taken a liking to transparent layering with Liquitex acrylics. Of course, Testors is the old matte spray stand by and I do have a few cans in the house, but I honestly don't like this product as much as the Citadel and I am determined to find a larger replacement. For the upcoming weekend though, I think I'll just hang with my pottery wheel. It's become a more reliable and cherished friend.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Clay Day

Working with some clay

I knew my camera had video capabilities on it, but I didn't realize how much video it could capture in one sitting. Six minutes seems like a long time, but I guess its not when you're pulling some clay. I wound up closing up the upper portion of this vessel (which I didn't get on film) and I managed to cut a lid out cleanly.

I really would have liked you to see how I've been making these lidded vessels. The part where you stick a razor into this perfectly formed cylindrical shape is a trip! I hold my breath, stick it in and pray for the best. Today I had a successful cut. I'll try it again tomorrow and see what I can capture on film. I'll try and remember not to poke around at the beginning stages. Its a bad habit I have, especially when I'm pulling porcelain (which this was) and I always try and make sure my first pulls are nice and smooth and slow. I've really wreaked alot of pottery pulling up too fast. In time the process will be even more smooth for me.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Exploring the Lidded Vessel

My inspiration

For many years I admired this pretty porcelain dish in my mother's bathroom. It always had crazing. It always had that awful crack. Still, I secretly always wanted it for my own and when my mother grew tired of it and chunked it in the basement (aka: the dungeon of no return) I asked her if I could claim it as my own.

This piece has followed me through my single life, my married life and it continues to maintain a position of importance on top of my china cabinet. I never understood the appeal, aside from the fact that it was porcelain. Earlier in the summer I finally think I figured out why I was always so enamored with it. It's a lidded vessel.

For the past two months I have made it a point to explore lidded vessels and the push to do so came when I was admiring this piece for the millionth time. I guess you can always find inspiration even in the things you know so well. The way the lid sits on the base fascinates me. There is very little shimmy when you hold the base. The lid fits perfectly.

Lidded vessels just pulled

Bisque fired vessels with lids

Getting a lid to fit perfectly is not an easy task and I have had many false starts. The pieces that did come out well I am rather proud of and hope to match just the right glaze to these pieces in the next two weeks. There is no rhyme or reason for the shapes. I just let the ball of clay go as it wants. The actual lid is made by building a vessel up and then closing the very top of the vessel. You visualize where the lid will go then stick a razor in the clay while the wheel is moving and hope for the best. Im still getting the hang of this part, but all around, its been a fascinating exploration and most importantly a fun one.

Friday, August 8, 2008


Slackin' off with Facebook

Ok, I admit it. I've been slackin'. Every so often my mind just wants to be left alone. Alone to play and do things other than art. I will admit to playing a bit on the pottery wheel this week, but for the most part I was beyond frustrated with my attempts and just resigned myself to the fact that I needed to let my mind wander on silly things Facebook Horse Racing!!! It has been fun just doing nothing but wasting time. I strongly believe that a little bit of time wasted isn't really wasted time at all.

Ahh, very refreshing!

It's like a vacation for your mind. Oh, a bit of pool time helps the mind wander as well. The last weeks of summer are finding me pretty much attached to the pool with my son. To think that in another six weeks or so the weather will start to change, the pool will be closed and summer will officially be over makes my mind wander onto better thoughts.

Well, I'll catch you guys and gals over the weekend. I'll be sure to share some of the pottery that DID come out well. Off to see how my cyber horsie is doing.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Boxes and Busy weeks

Donation to the Meows & Minis show

It's only been two days into the new week and so far its been a very busy one. Breyer's new "Newsworthy" model arrived yesterday. I'm very excited about this one and am searching for the perfect color to repaint him in. Also, Sarah Mink's "Vixen" and "Imp" also arrived over the weekend. Both are even more impressive in person and I am very torn about sales. I think I'd like these two to stay with my Taboo in my own china cabinet. They are going to be wonderful to paint and I'll be starting them probably tomorrow.

I was asked to donate to the Meows & Minis live show. Although I'm not much of a cat person, I must admit I do enjoy watching the animal and drawing them and jumped on the opportunity to draw some cats on porcelain. The image above shows the finished product. A pretty 3 1/2" porcelain box with a fun cat design. I'm curious to see how it is received. It's really the first of my china painting that is being offered to the public. Eek!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Twenty Nine

In my childhood bedroom with my QHF

Twenty nine years ago today I received my very first Breyer. My grandmother returned from a day trip to NYC and purchased the most gorgeous play horses I had never seen from "the big Woolworth's" in Manhattan. Little did I know twenty nine years later I'd still be collecting AND still have the ones I received that day. I never thought I'd be working with Breyer in some fashion nor did I ever think I'd still be enjoying my love of the horse in the form of a little plastic (and now resin) horse statue for this long. Thank you Gramma!

Christmas 1981 and the big haul.