Tuesday, September 30, 2008

My Poor Boy

Strong chemical-smelling ooze

My poor Doris Lindner resin "Top Secret" is oozing. Before my husband and I workout in the living room in the morning I move the big boy from his shelf in the china cabinet. He is a large, solid cast resin and he wobbles just slightly when we run and do jumping jacks. For about four months now I moved him without seeing any issues. Today, there was oozing.

I'm not sure what I'm going to do with this piece. I'm just glad I never sold him. I took off his bows and wiped down his ribbon. The problem seems to be coming from where I glued the bows. I used Zap A Gap and baking soda. I'd hate to think that this combination of products on top of resin causes reactions. Nothing else has gone bad on the horse. I'll wait, watch and see.

It's days like this that make me want to just forget resin completely and turn all my attention to china and china painting. The only thing that can harm china is crazing (and some people like this effect) or a fall. Once the piece has been created and painted its good forever.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Teapot Take Two

New Teapot (close up)

Hopefully, I got the teapot right this time. I've been working for several days straight just trying to get my teapot finished and ready for the fall outing and I think I correctly fixed the spout issues and the lid problem.

The spout itself was very basic and rather chunky and unappealing so I spruced it up a bit by shaving down the shape to be more feminine and added a goldfish. The fish was a last minute "a-ha" moment and I just ran with it. I believe it helped distribute the weight of the spout better. Before, all the weight seemed to be on the bottom portion. Which, I will confess, I really struggled with. I pulled a straight spout and then flared out the bottom portion a bit but cutting that shape on an angle and getting it to sit properly against the pot was truly a challenge. I still feel like I fumbled my way through that one. I'm going to try and make another teapot this week and I want to attach the spout better and in a more beautiful way. With each one I'm sure it will get easier.

Overall, the spout on both teapots (this one and the first one) proved to be the most difficult part of this project. And, I did test this new one in the leather hard stage to see if it would hold the proper amount of water. It does, but I didn't let the water sit fully in the pot and I didn't pour. I'll leave the real tests for after the firing. Wish me luck. ;)

Friday, September 26, 2008

Rain, rain...YEAH!

Button Boxes now for sale
$18 each ppd (in USA)

All have SOLD!
Thank you so much!!!

I served pancakes and waffles today cause it's raining and we are celebrating. Ok, well, I am the only one happy about the rain. LOL My husband and son both gave a collective sigh when they heard the rain come down a bit harder while we were all snuggling in a group hug this morning. Rain...hubby...my son and the rain beating on the pavement cleaning the city free of its grime. A perfect start to a morning! After 18 years of getting to know me my husband has come to just accept the fact that rain makes me giddy and happy.

Hopefully the rain won't distract me too much today. Between the housework I put off all week and the many projects I am involved in my head is in overdrive this morning. Overdrive is not necessarily good cause the gears sometimes get all gunked up and confused. I've had to write down everything I need to accomplish today on paper. It's the only way I can keep things in order and running smoothly. If given the chance I WILL just stare out the window and into the rain for the whole day.

One major "to do" is the sale of my little Halloween mice boxes today. I really like the way they turned out and I am selling them this morning. (First come, first serve) If you like any you can email me at studiodanza@optonline.net. Please be sure you visit the Danza Ceramics News Group if you need more information and please join in order to hear about future offerings. My personal favorite out of this batch is the little ghost mouse. He looks sorta sad and mushy about trick or treating. For some reason that is striking a chord with me.

Another major to do, besides get the dust bunnies under control here in the living room, is make more headway on the new teapot I am making for my church's fall outing. I threw the bowl portion, the spout and the lid. The bowl trimmed up perfectly yesterday, but the lid left me frustrated. No matter how I trimmed the rims I couldn't get the lid to sit perfectly on the top of the bowl. That is an important aspect to a teapot. Can't have tea spilling out from a lid that shimmies. This is how I solved the problem:

Pretty, but not functional.

So I cut off the handle.

Turned it upside down...

...and WALLA! It now sits perfectly!

It has a Japanese feel now. I can't help but see a fish tail coming out from the very center of the lid. I suspect I'm going to run fully with the water/fish theme. Such a theme would certainly make the tea cups much more interesting in the end. This has been the most challenging project for me to date. I haven't even gotten to the glaze stage which is the most difficult stage for me.

Well, those dust bunnies never disappear on their own, so I'm off (with another fresh cup of coffee in hand) to disrupt their little party. I'll leave you with a little Garbage. It's the song that has been in my head all morning. :)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

150 lbs Later

Newest porcelain pieces

One hundred and fifty pounds was about the amount of clay I started off with when I purchased my little Shimpo wheel. After all that clay had been thrown and fired I am now just starting to get pieces that I am truly and sincerely happy with.

I have worked with earthenware white, earthenware mocha, stoneware and the ever evasive porcelain. My preference of clay still stands with porcelain. It's smoothness is intoxicating. It's gorgeous even in the bisque state and it glazes up flawlessly. And the most thrilling aspect to making porcelain pottery is if you add a tea light inside the vessel, it will glow. No other clay has captured my attention and heart like porcelain. Porcelain and I are a good match.

One of the first from my wheel

I searched the blog this morning for a photo of one of the very first vessels I pulled from my new wheel and felt so thrilled to show off. I have to laugh now. Its so wonky! I was so proud to show it off though. I'll be excited to see where my pottery making adventures take me in the NEXT few months! It's an exciting time in the studio.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

But Can It Pour?

Pretty Little Tea Pot

Why....YES! A resounding, YES! It CAN pour.....umm, all over the place!

My heart raced when I opened the kiln this morning to find that my little tea pot for two had fired perfectly. The stoneware was the perfect tan color it was suppose to be (if overfired it turns pinkish). I was surprised by how much it had shrunk though. Not a big deal. I would just label this offering at the fall outing raffle table as "Tea Therapy For One" and not "Tea For Two".

The holes in the handle sections looked small. They too shrunk in the firing process.

Note to self: "Make bigger holes next time".

Despite the small hole issue, the lid fit perfectly. I mean, it was brilliant! All my work this past summer struggling to make lidded vessels paid off. This one fit without any shimmy.

But the most important part was yet to be tested. Would it pour? And it did. It dribbled almost instantly since the shape of my spout was incorrect. It went out and not out and up. The UP part was the part I didn't think to research. I have tea almost every night from a pretty porcelain tea pot and never once thought to LOOK at how the spout was designed. My tea pot can't even be filled half way. Once the water hits the beginning of the spout the water naturally fills that cavity too and that cavity is just straight so the water fills it and comes right out.

:: Sigh::

Good Morning Tea Pot!

You know who saw this issue before the piece when it was in the drying stage? My sister-in-law the homemaker who is always going on about something in the kitchen or household. We've come to listen with half an ear when the Sunday dinner table discussions start. I'm ashamed to say that I gave her half an ear when I showed her the piece in the leather hard stage. The moment she saw the piece she said, "That is beautiful but the water is going to spill out from the spout." HAHA....ok, I thought. She was the first person I thought of this morning when water dribbled all over my PJ's.

BIG note to self: "Don't ignore April and let her review and critique the next teapot before firing."

Reluctantly I drag my butt back to the drawing board. I have no idea if I can make another in time for this outing in early October.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Cool Morning Hot Kiln

Lids fresh from the kiln

The morning brought a chill into the house. Days like this make us want to stay indoors and cuddle up in front of the TV with a good movie on like Monsters, Inc. or Nemo while homemade chicken soup simmers on the stove. Chicken soup is definitely on the menu today as are some type of yummy tasting and smelling cookies. So comforting.

The kiln will also be on today. I haven't decided which items will go in to cook. Perhaps I'll finish the horsehair porcelain pieces. Or maybe I can get my tea pot to the bisque state. The tea cups that went along with the pot both cracked which put a damper on that project. I do need to finish it though as I am donating it to support our annual church fall outing. It will be the first time I will be presenting my pottery work in person to the public. I'm rather nervous and excited about this new adventure.

Little ones around a bracelet

So, with much enthusiasm and energy I head on off into the soothing morning sun to grocery shop. A necessary evil of a household. Afterwards, I'll make my soup and then settle into my thoughts on which items get to visit the kiln.
Perhaps I'll just finish adding some critters to the porcelain bracelet I forgot I had in my storage closet. Wearable critters! I love the idea!

Enjoy the fall sun!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Happy Fall!

Three little leaves

Happy Fall everyone!

Three little leaves were just waiting to greet my camera today. We don't really get a lot of color during the fall season here in Brooklyn. Vibrant yellow is about the extent of the display, but it is still very pretty because the yellow is a sunny, happy yellow. It's as if the leaves are going out with a huge smile on their faces.

So, as summer officially leaves today I smile and greet fall and all the wonderful days ahead of us in the studio and of course with family. Mmm...I think this calls for some pumpkin cookies or pie or something yummy like that. Or, perhaps my little mice should be baking up a storm in my sketcbook. Mmm..either way, bring on fall.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

All About The Bump

Main event at the baby shower

What a beautiful belly! When everyone was snapping away at the mom-to-be holding up her presents, I couldn't help it, I had to take a picture of cousin Nadia's baby bump at her shower. It was a most perfect round shape with the most delightful black and blue patterned dress draped ever so lightly over it. I'm feeling inspired to draw critters with baby bumps now.

Mama mouse taking a break

Inspiration has been taking me down many different paths recently. It's been a fast and furious ride that has me rather confused. Where are we going? Perhaps we can slow down a little?

The urge to revisit the children's stories I had created years ago and submitted several times to many different publishers has been strong as of late. In an urge to quiet my muse (and ultimately show her that this book writing adventure was a stupid idea from the very beginning in the 1990s) I dusted off one story in particular about a little mouse who doesn't quite fit in.

The story really stunk. During my many submissions to major publishers I received pretty much the same critique, but in a gentler way. Revisiting it for a few minutes the other day brought back a few images that had been tucked away deep in the folds of my brain. This morning I can't stop trying to bring them out in my sketchbook with my trusty old "good luck" drawing pencil. Reading the words aloud brought on some editing which made parts flow better, which ultimately made me stop and rethink my journey with this story.

Baby mouse wonders how many brothers
and sisters she will have soon.

I probably should have left well enough alone and honestly tried to, but something just won't let me. It's plaguing me during the day and even at night. Ever dream about being somewhere or doing something really fun only to find in the morning when you wake that it was all not real? That happens to me with art. I draw or paint the most amazing pieces in my dreams and wake to find the images aren't real yet which then plagues me the rest of the day till I pick up a pencil and try to bring the images to fruition.

This children's story has been that way of late. It's in the background drumming on and getting louder the more I ignore it. What can an artist do but grab a drum and join in? I guess my personal advice to myself as my muse whizzes me along on this weird journey as of late is to hang on and hang on TIGHT!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Chilly Air

The chilly air this morning sent my mind wandering on pumpkin patches, falling leaves, and the delights of trick or treating. I pulled out a few porcelain button boxes and let my imagination go wild. Just my thoughts of Halloween, a few mice and many costumes later and I present to you some fun new china painted pieces. Well, they still need color, but here they are before their first kiln firing.

Little ones ready
for a night of trick or treat

I love this time of year and as my son pours over a costume magazine trying to decide who he will be this year, I gaze over our family schedule and remind myself its going to be another crazy, busy season! But oh, what fun we will have. I love fall!

Quick sketches for the boxes

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Inspired by...

Inspiration is flowing. Must be the cool weather we are having. I feel rather renewed. Guess I was getting tired of all that sun and fun of summer. So, what is inspiring me?

An Oil Painting

Oil by Richard Stone Reeves

A few years ago my friend Daniella gave me a huge book of racing horses painted by Richard Stone Reeves. She was always thoughtfully looking out for good horse books for me. I have to be honest in saying that I hadn't really, REALLY looked at this book until recently. When I did sit down to study the oil paintings I was enthralled with their richness. I love the way Mr. Reeves handles the dappling effect in this particular painting. Those dapples were a jump start for me to start painting a Stone Chips model in dappled grey. I am very inspired.

Holes In The Rat

"Listen" mold getting another look

After casting my rattie sculpture "Listen" I became discouraged. There were many air holes in the silicone and a part of her ear was missing. I have been inspired to revisit these issues and get "Listen" into plaster without fail. My idea of adding small amounts of silicone to the air holes in order to hide them and make a more perfect piece to cast worked. I am very inspired.

Lastly, I am inspired to wish my best friend from home Abbi (aka: Icky Penny) a very happy birthday today! Happy Birthday chica!! I miss you!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008



Sometimes when I complete a horse I just sit and daydream about him. This newly painted guy would be amazing waiting for me in a stable stall. The little gold plaque on his stable door would read, "Domino Roll". Oh, how I would love to own a real horse like this.....sigh.

Day dreaming is fun.

Freshly painted Appaloosa for sale

Monday, September 15, 2008

A Monday Peek

A little peek inside my upper floor studio. This is where I paint and draw anything that needs a steady hand and careful eye. It's also very quiet in this little part of the house. I have been spending some time up here trying to forget about the botched attempts at ocarinas. I'll revisit the clay whistle, but not for a few days I think. I'm enjoying the detail work on these pieces. So what are you working on this week?

Rayne resin in chestnut

Another view of Rayne

Making more tweaks on Galina

China painted paper weight

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Sweet Toot Where Art Thou?

Pan Learns Music

"Limber-limbed, lazy god, stretched on the rock,
Where is sweet Echo, and where is your flock?
What are you making here? "Listen," said Pan, --
"Out of a river-reed music for man!"
~ Henry Van Dyke

Failed attempts at ocarinas this weekend
(Yes the ones in the back felt the wrath of my fist)

Everything came to a halt the moment I read this week's collection of the "Ceramic Arts Daily" articles. One word stirred up emotion and longing in me and since reading the word "Ocarina" I have been on a rapturous quest to make and play my own hand made clay ocarinas.

I have always wanted to learn an instrument. Growing up it was something I couldn't have. Either there wasn't enough money or there weren't any music teachers were we lived. Most of the time mom just said, "NO" without any further explanations. I remember trying every which way to get those lessons. It just never happened. Many, many years later I still long to learn an instrument and up until this past weekend never knew I could turn mud INTO music right here in my studio! Of course, this is easier said than done and I am frustrated because I can't get my creations to make one TOOT let alone proper notes, but I press on. My mind is literally consumed with thought about fipples and sound holes right now.

My muse is off on such a wild tangent. I'm not even going to try and figure this one out. I'm just goin' with the flow and hopefully (soon) the flow will bring on a sweet toot from within the hollow mud.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

In 1992

Skyline from the past

In 1992 I had to take a black and white photography class at Pratt. Believe it or not, I dreaded this class. I disliked spending the money on the camera, the darkroom equipment and the film. I hated taking photos and I dreaded taking my new fully manual Pentax camera outside my dorm room even more. The class was a requirement for all illustration students and at least two rolls of film that semester had to be devoted to something revolving around the city. So, a group of us students headed out to the promenade in Brooklyn to capture the Manhattan skyline.

The day was cold and I was miserable. I wish I weren't so disgruntled that day because years later on the seventh anniversary of 9-11 I am fully appreciating this one and only photograph of the NYC skyline I bothered to take that day...no, wait...it was the one and only skyline shot I believe I have ever taken and kept. I took one once with my digital camera as we zoomed past the towers along the parkway, but I threw it in the trash cause I thought the shot was boring and honestly, I took the towers for granted. Yep, I remember not wanting to take this one and only photo that day cause it was such a trite shot. I knew my teacher wouldn't even give it the time of day and so I didn't bother. I would give anything to be able to take this shot again today in the year 2008. I wish with all my might I could really do that. I wish...

My prayers today go out to all the families and their loved ones who perished on that terrible day. God Bless America.
Never forget.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Deadline Day

Odin coming in to proof read

It's a day of deadlines today. I have two major deadlines due and I stayed up late last night in order to make some serious headway on the one. I'm very happy I did this cause I was able to hand in the JAH project this morning and there is nothing like the feeling of handing in your project early in the day.

My Little Odin kept me company as I typed my thoughts away last night. Please don't flinch! Odin is the sweetest, most gentle rattie I have ever had the pleasure of enjoying my studio space with. I have actually been spending more time with he and his cage mate Toby. I have hit a brick wall with the molding of "Listen" my rattie sculpt and I am trying to excite myself into figuring out how to solve my mold making problems on this rat sculpture. The desire to see the piece in porcelain must outweight my timidness with pottery plaster and mold making. Who cares if I screw it up? Just do it! Right? Well, once the other deadline is over and done I have promised myself that my rattie sculpt "Listen" will get my full attention this week. I'm sending positive vibes out into the universe.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Lost In The Clay

Pottery section in the studio

My day yesterday was full of pottery. I completely got lost in the clay. I pulled quite a few nice pieces which I hope to decorate with horsehair. I've pretty much used up all my porcelain clay and only have the stoneware left. Up until yesterday I had a strong dislike for this clay. It is hard to use and rough on the hands because of all the grog in it. Surprisingly I enjoyed pulling pieces with it yesterday. My favorite part was pulling off the hump. I managed to pull two tea cups, a lid and a spout for a tea set. I'm very excited about the tea set. You can see in many pieces in the photo above.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

"French Duo"

"French Duo"
RESS summer contest medallion in mixed media
click for larger image

I woke to find the results of the RESS summer medallion contest waiting in my inbox. I received a fifth place, which for this contest was last. Still, I had alot of fun painting the piece and I have another limited edition Sarah Minkeiwicz-Bruenig resin sculpture added to my collection.

I must have misread the contest instructions as I had no idea I was suppose to name the piece. If I had named it it would have been titled: "French Duo" as the color and treatment were inspired by Rosa Bonheur's painting "The Horse Fair" which hangs at the Met. The hind quarters on the horse in the forefront of that painting have always intrigued me. The dapples are amazing and that horse in particular was the sole inspiration for my color choice on this medallion.

Ah well, I still had fun and it was really cool to see how other artists interpreted this piece. And since it is rare for me to actually finish a piece for MYSELF I am happily placing this piece in the china cabinet this morning to enjoy.

Speaking of the morning....my boys are off on an adventure so I'm alone and free to play on the pottery wheel as long as I like. So...without further adieu....I'm off to play with clay.

Friday, September 5, 2008


Newsworthy pony and Rayne in progress

It's fairly quiet here today. We enjoyed the pool one more time. The storm is on its way. You can feel the wind picking up as the day goes on. My windchimes are going crazy on the porch. I really love their sound.

I promised myself some time on the wheel today after taking some quick shots of my JAH horse in progress and the Newsworthy and Rayne resins. I was happy to be pulling some stoneware clay. I normally hate this clay, but today it didn't feel so bad in my hands. My hands are now very torn up from all the grog in the clay, but I made two pretty vessels so it was worth it.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Summer Moved On

A sculpture by Becky Turner
painted in mixed media by me.

The very last days of this incredible summer are still with us, but only for a week or two more. Today we watched as weather reports predicted a hurricane tomorrow. Although hurricanes are never as bad here as they are in the southern states, a hurricane-like storm would really mean the official end to summer and swimming.

The water today had a chill to it. The chill of autumn slowly setting in. Francesco and I swam anyway. By next week the pool will probably be closed for good. Summer is by far my most favorite time of the year and I approach its ending with much sadness. I'm savoring the last days.

I tried to pull some pottery this week, but my mind is wandering terribly on other things like the last days of summer and two models I have been concentrating very hard on. One model capturing my interest is a Newsworthy model in bay tobiano and the other is a Rayne resin in chestnut. I had anticipated selling both, but the Newsworthy has become a guinea pig of sorts as I try to find a new matte spray that rivals the Citadel formula. Sadly nothing (so far) comes close.

The Rayne was scheduled for sale this week too, but the more I work on him the more I and am struck with thoughts of a warmblood horse I used to ride down at the barn and I think he may be staying in my own personal collection. Rayne in chestnut looks strikingly similar to that horse. His name slips me at the moment. I honestly didn't have a love affair with the beast. He was unmanageable once we went out of eye sight of the barn. I hated when they would bring him down the isle for me to ride. He was cranky. He was slow and tripped even at a walk, but he had the most beautiful chestnut coat I had ever seen. I've been trying to recreate that beautiful chestnut coat on Rayne as I experiment with some water soluble oils. They have been fun to work with and they are helping to ease the end of a good summer. I'm trying to look forward to cooler days spent at the third floor studio desk playing with rich, enticing color but memories of summer linger.

Love his voice.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


A quick snapshot of me and my brother JJ

When I was younger I couldn't stand my little brother. He seemed so fragile and whiny to me. I always thought my parents liked him best. Overhearing how my father was excited to finally get his boy really put the mischievous wheels in motion for me. Rotten apples, aluminum cans and even smooshy caterpillars were all used as ammo for one little blond moving target. My arm then was dead on.

As the years went by we became closer and a true friendship started to evolve. One annual ritual we both adored was our family trip to Dorney Park. With picnic baskets galore and the hibachi we always made our way through a welcoming Alfundo past the big turn on the Journey To The Center of The Earth ride where we plopped all our food and belongings on colorful picnic tables near the last dip of the "big yellow" roller coaster. Every few minutes we delighted in watching the passengers scream as the coaster cars came zooming past us. Once in a while we'd find some lost change from coaster patron pockets which was quickly used on skeet ball in the arcade.

Detail of one of the beautiful rides
at Knobles Park

Over the years this park lost its charm. It's very commercial now and is no longer the Dorney of my childhood. It was a loss for us and my heart sinks every time I think of my son not being able to enjoy the amusement park my brother and I once loved as children.

Recently, my parents found a new park to visit and for two years now we have enjoyed the sounds, sights and yummy delights of Knobles Park. It is a family run park that has captured the days of old. This past weekend my brother and I got to relive our childhood together while watching my son enjoy his first amusement park rides. We both agreed that although the memories of Dorney linger with sadness, new memories are a treasure too and I'm so very glad we had this past Labor Day Weekend to share with one another. I walk away with amazing new memories and can't wait till next summer when we can enjoy all the fun stuff Knobles has to offer again. Love you J.