Saturday, February 28, 2009

I Killed It!

This is proof I have really been cookin in the studio.
I killed my thermocouple.

Pieces of thermocouple

Another view

My kiln is fully manual so it can still run without it and at this point I have fired so many times over the past 2 years that I know the time tables in my head. I can visualize the amount of wares in the kiln and set the kiln and know pretty much how long it will take for the kiln to reach the desired temp. Every setting is adjusted manually which means that I normally only fire when I don't have to be out of the house. If I forget to adjust the temps or shut the kiln off it overcooks and everything inside gets ruined. Earthware horses look particularly oozy at the legs when this happens. LOL

Friday, February 27, 2009

Fast Week

Custom glazing a porcelain rattie

Where did the week go? The only good thing about weeks flying past me is that pretty soon I'll be pool side with my son. Spring and summer are my favorite times of the year and I'm anxious to be loungin' in the dog days of summer. Until then however, there is ALOT going on here. I went around and just took a few snap shots of the projects on the front burner.

Front and center is "Listen". I'm just so jazzed that this six part mold is working nicely for me and that the porcelain fired beautifully. No cracks or holes in the clay. It all fired up well. The best part about this cone 6 porcelain is painting it. It is so creamy and smooth that I can begin applying custom glaze right on the bisque. The bisque takes the paint well and leaves the sculpture in a semi gloss state which is very lovely on the eyes. Not too matte and not overly glossy. It's very exciting.

Peekin' inside the kiln this morning

As you can see, both "Listen" and "Brownie" made it in the kiln this morning for another firing. I'm fairly sure that this will be the next to last firing for the Brownie. After a few more touch up's here and there, he'll be ready for sale.

Also on the front burners is a Fraley "Bram" and of course little "Jellibaby" (hidin' in the background there). I put aside the Warhammer sprays and welcomed Testor's Dull Coat back in my studio. Hopefully my order won't take too long. The Bram is actually ready for oils and acrylics, but the Jellibaby will need the Testors. I'm literally lost without matte spray.

Workbench full of projects

Sleepy Bunny now molded

Lastly, the Sleep Little Bunny is reproducing itself in silicone right now, which is the first step in making earthenware bunnies. Now that I know how to make a six part mold, the bunny's two part one is a cake walk. So, I'll make as many bunnies as I possibly can, or until I want to put a pick through my brain. He (and she) will be offered just like the Sleep Little Mouse. Each one will be different and very affordable. It's going to be a very exciting project. I can't wait to have little bisques in my hand.

Well, have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

You Get An F!

Comparison of matte sprays
New spray on left. Old spray on right.


You get an F!

I'm tired of your company changing the formula on your products. There was a time where I'd pay $6 for your matte varnish and it was the best and most incredible truly matte varnish out there. It was so matte it made Testor's Dull Coat look shiny! Slowly over the years the price increased. I didn't mind because the product was fantastic. No other spray came close to your excellence.

Then you started changing the formula. Every time I placed an order the price would go up and the formula would change. The very last time I ordered late in 2008 I cringed at the recent price change. $10 was quite a bit for a can of spray, but the new formula was actually fast drying and super matte with very little odor. The "very little odor" was a plus, I must admit. Sometimes change is good.

But you guys get a big FAT RED BLARING F! You changed the formula YET AGAIN and now you've gone so far off the deep end with change that the fixative isn't even MATTE any longer! IT'S SUPER GLOSSY! Now at $15 a can I must not only give you guys an F, but I must take my hard earned money else where and will.

Testors....can you forgive me for leaving you?

Now...this stress level I'm experiencing is dangerous. Time for some Pop Tart therapy.

Sleepy Bunny getting molded

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Out To Lunch

"Jellibaby" bisque

I've been out to lunch this week. Between various deadlines and meetings the week has pretty much slipped past me without so much as a mention on the blog, but a good amount of work was completed so far. I believe it's best to just show you what has transpired in the studio from late last week and keep chit chat to a minimum.

Firstly, I'm excited about the wonderful opportunity Addi Velasquez has given me to paint up one of her gorgeous new "Jellibaby" foals. Putting gesso on this drooly bisque for cold painting was probably the hardest thing I had to do this week. Now that I know how to china paint I really have to have good reason to cold paint a bisque and not china paint it. This baby has a good reason to get gessoed though. She is going to be a little starlet. Do stay tuned!

I really couldn't stop staring at Jellibaby. She has little baby hair on her belly and a beautiful face. I was just in awe of the sculpting detail and found myself wanting to dive back into Ophelia my own pony sculpt which really needs alot of work and help, and the first order of business was chopping off her head. I chopped it off, put it down and then walked away. I'm now aware that I'm totally in over my head with this one. Only time and stronger observation can help now.


Bay commission

On a happier note though, I'm thrilled to have completed a Mini Scarlett this week and was able to fire the very first porcelain rattie sculpture. "Listen" came out lovely and the porcelain is just so beautiful. If I can streamline the actual mold pouring I'll really be in the game here. Right now the "Listen" mold is taking a long time to produce. I believe it's because I'm nervous about knocking pieces of her off and having to back peddle. I hate moving backwards. Until I find a more suitable method to pouring I'm going at a very slow snail's pace.

First views of "Listen" in porcelain

"Listen" ready for china painting

Friday, February 20, 2009

New Life!

Sleepy Little Bunny

There is nothing as beautiful and precious as new life! I want to send out a very hearty congratulations today to our cousins Jane and Kevin on the birth of their second son Luke. He is finally here and we all can't wait to meet our new little cousin!!!!


So snug

Speaking of new life I guess I've had babies on the brain. I took my son to him the Museum of Natural History yesterday for the first time. He is no longer a toddler, but a little boy able to appreciate the dinosaurs and the displays and I was taken back by the fact that those baby days are truly gone. As my son is getting older now I find myself reminiscing all those days changing diapers and cooing. What an opportunity God has given me. It has been truly and utterly beautiful. It is hard to believe it has been almost four years since his birth.

I guess it's no surprise with all this new life thinking that some of that has filtered into two new sculptures I am working on. I wanted to share them with you. Both have been made for the "Sleepy" line I started with "Sleepy Little Mouse". The first I am calling "Sleepy Little Bunny" and he is just a little squirt of a thing that can be held in the hand. I have a few more adjustments on him and then I'll start making him in earthenware and painting them up. I think that I need to freshen up on bunny colors!

"Sleep Little Puppy" too sleepy
to hold his head up

"Sleepy Little Puppy" is a pudge!

"Sleepy Little Puppy" from the top

The second sculpture came out of no where. I normally don't have puppies on the brain but this image flashed into my head when I grabbed a clump of wax and one thing led to another which led to another baby sculpt. This is "Sleepy Little Puppy". No special breed. Your typical mushy, playful mutt. The round thing in front of him is a ball.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Tails, Brownies and Lace

Another view of the "Listen" sculpture

As suspected, the tail on "Listen" has produced problems. A few minutes before I finished cleaning up the very first rattie sculpt I nicked the tail and of course, the tip fell off. Because of this occurrence I have decided to rethink the design of her tail. Each rattie will get a rolled out "coil" tail. I will do all that by hand. It will save time and ALOT of frustration. Also, I'll be able to tuck the coil form closer to the body which will make production and shipping so much easier.

I have been keeping at least one piece from the runs that I produce and so this broken tail rattie will remain in my collection. I fired her up with the broken tail yesterday and will glue everything back in the end once she is all painted. I will add a bit of a cloth strip (like a band aid) to the broken area and I believe it will look very cute.

I pulled her out of the kiln late, late last night and I was pleased to find that everything fired beautiful. She is much smaller than I originally anticipated but that porcelain is magnificent! So gorgeous and so much detail. Now...time to order the wooden bases that will finish off each and every rattie.

Brownie slowly coming to finish

My gal "Pixie" also
getting china painted

The ratties and rodents have been overpowering the studio it's true, but in the process of all this production I have totally enjoyed the diversion both Brownie and Pixie have given me these past two weeks. Well, ok, Pixie has been here for a while now. I started her and then got really scared about putting her in the kiln to fire on the work I had done. Once I saw how Brownie fired I decided to pop Pixie in and I was so pleased to find that her color is even richer than Brownie's. Now, to remember how I did that on her. LOL

Ceramic creamer for sale

I also had some time to finally glaze a few pieces that were waiting on my bisque shelf. I have been having fun experimenting with lace and stamps. I have a ton of stuff for sale. If interested in seeing the entire selection please hop on over to my NEWS group and view the "photo" section. There is stuff there from $5 to $22. (Pssst...Mother's Day will be here before we know it!) Any questions or comments can be directed to me personally at:

Have a great day everyone! It's gonna be near 50ยบ here today! Wooo hooo!!!

Monday, February 16, 2009


Drying porcelain

I'm all excited today. The very first rat sculpture is together (only took 4 hours) and is drying. Despite the length of time it took to assemble her and clean her up I'm beaming and am really excited at the prospect of many little ratties waiting in line to be painted.

I fear my original plan of 25-30 pieces may have to be shortened considerably. That amount will be unrealistic with the overall length of time this piece is taking to put together. Perhaps once I clean a few more I'll get into a rhythm, but basically that long tail (which isn't tucked onto her or laying on a base) is causing issues. One swipe and it falls off. So, extra care is being taken with each seam line I remove. I'm going super slow. That tail will remain a problem even during the loading of the kiln, the painting of the piece, and it will continue to be an issue when shipping. Although it looks great I will reconsider tail positions in my next pieces.

Sunday, February 15, 2009


Porcelain mouse bracelet I'm keeping
for me 'cause's so cute!

Ok, so today I received my first return ever. It's been nearly a decade since I started painting horses for a living and I got the dreaded "I need to return this cause I don't like him" letter this afternoon. Sorta took me off guard. Yes, this news most definitely pushed me into a new reality here. I feel dirty. Eewww..

One great thing about being a part of a huge Italian family is that we talk business all the time and I never, ever, EVER consider the money placed on a horse or any other item bought from my studio mine till I get that positive confirmation. I learned that from all those Sunday afternoon talks. I have coverage. Hell...not to sound snobby, but here goes.....I really don't need the job. I do this out of sheer love of doing so hearing that someone doesn't like their purchase sorta hits the heart even more 'cause the piece and the final prep of shipping were done out of love.

It's ok though. My interest in resin and plastic is totally waning. Anyone who takes the time to read this blog can see it. It's all "china, china, china, china, some horse talk, china...."

The resin market is completely fickle and unpredictable. Not that I can't handle that, its just tiresome and counter productive to the creative energy that flows within to try and figure out what will be hot and what won't. It's become tiresome to bring something to full LSQ too. I'm slowly coming to the realization that I'm not fitting into this mold any longer. Im falling into the "let the muse go man," ideal. Im sure other artists out there are feeling the same way they are just not expressing it.

It is at times like this I am happy for the china work. It spans the globe and every taste. From horse collector to regular woman to even man. Everyone likes a nicely made piece of china and with "Listen's" release just right around the corner it is fruitless for me to get wrapped up in feeling icky about a return. It happens and I am happy to be able to satisfy my customers. Always happy to make them happy even if it means I have to tuck my tail between my legs and wonder wtheck? It's ok. Its cool.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Bisque Day

Some bisques I've started painting

So, last night I poured and put together the very first "Listen' sculpture. I was a nervous wreck the entire time. After about two hours I had one rattie together.


I had no idea putting porcelain pieces together would be so time consuming. Of course, the last piece I created (Hedgie) was more simple in design than "Listen". Hopefully the firing process with "Listen" will be as stress free and seamless and Hedgie's was. Of course, only two ratties will fit in my kiln at one time. She wound up being much larger than any other sculpture I've made.

Brownie getting the
first layer of china paints

Because there is a size issue I thought about pouring a few in earthenware, which is a lower fire clay and will require less time firing, but decided late last night that I really think I want the entire "Listen" run to be in fine porcelain. I just love porcelain. I love the way it looks...feels and acts when I'm working with it. I also prefer to paint it once it is fired.

It will be a while before the ratties will be ready to be painted so until then I've started painting a few other bisques. Painting all those non horse items like the boxes and espresso sets really gave me some good practice. It feels great to be painting horses in china paints again. The paint is just flowing exactly how I want it to. Yeah!

Layering color down the back

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Slowly uncovering the very first rattie
from the plaster mold.

RAT! RAT! RAT!!!!! That word, screamed on the top of my lungs this morning was the most precious sounding scream! It signified the official production of the "Listen" rattie sculpture in porcelain!!!

WOOO HOOO!!!!!!!!

Top view of the "Listen" mold

Today I checked on the plaster mold to find that it had dried fully and was ready for the first "pour and pitch" test run. The very first piece poured is always filled with bits of plaster and is considered the test. The first piece poured beautiful (even the pour hole looks nice) and the first piece came out of it's plaster mold easy. That means I created the multi part mold just right! I'm feeling rather proud. (Lesli, you are a wonderful teacher! Thank you!!!)

The tail will need some clean up
but it came out smoothly and cleanly.

Every part of "Listen" came out well except the ears. I totally lost the ears in this casting, but figure I can make them individually as I go along which will be fun since I can slip in a few dumbo ratties in the run. The dumbos are my personal favorite. Now, I need a plaster "wet box" to hold all these extra parts before I attach them and will try and make that today before I pour any more ratties. It's a most exciting time in the studio! I'm so thrilled to share the unveiling with you all! Yeah!!!!

I can't wait to see a few of these guys lined up
and waiting for china paint!!!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Sales Day

Valentine's Day Button Boxes

Today is a day of sales here in the studio. I've been preparing many pieces in time for Valentine's Day.

I am so pleased with the response to my hand drawn pieces because I really love the fact that I can marry my love of illustrating and playing with porcelain. It is also a bonus that I can draw little mice and ratties to my heart's content and those images will always be safe under the glaze. I just love that part. Most of my illustrations from years ago have started to deteriorate. The paper either wasn't archival or the mixture of mediums started to fight with one another on the illustration boards. It's very sad to see all that work turning awful colors or fading right on the paper. Such is the life of an illustrator. We create for the moment. We draw and paint for publication. It needs to look good at that moment. Worry about what happens later.

Espresso set.
Currently for sale.

Espresso set .
Currently for sale.

The sets above will be auctioned off tonight. (Please be sure to join my news group for more info). I know a few people will be upset that the button boxes sold so quickly and were offered the way they were. I felt that four auctions were just too much for me and not everyone likes to wait for an auction to end. I also like the fact that these OOAK pieces are rare and snagging them might be fun for collectors. It makes them truly special and more valuable, I believe. The market isn't being flooded and the collectors have something truly special in their china collections.

If you missed out, have no fear! You know me; I'm always working away on something and I'm on a mouse and rattie jag right now. I can't stop drawing the little critters. I purchased so many different blank porcelain pieces from the distributor that my hands itch when I go into my storage room.

First Spring Dance
(I love her chunky thighs!)

Right off the bat I can tell you that I'm having a blast working on some mini plates (they stand on their own. ADORABLE!) and I'm working on a tiny clock. Little mice dancing and scampering on a clock with tutus and jumpers on? What could be cuter? Ohh, wait....a baby hedgehog with his tum-tum exposed in my "Harriet" sculpture. (The lump in the very back transformed into another baby hedgie). Yes....been working on that too over the weekend.'s an explosion of cuteness here. I guess you could say that with the warm weather we experienced this past weekend here in NYC I have spring on the brain!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Inspiration at the Dinner Dance

Every year my church has a huge function in support of the school. It's a rather posh affair with lots of dancing and music and an all around good time with family and friends. Every year we look forward to this event and this year we REALLY were looking forward to it because we have all been sick and out of it since December it seems. Thankfully, everyone seems to have recovered from all the illnesses and we all had a fantastic time last night.

Dancing is always fun and the movement is inspiring in a way that no other form of art is for me. I was, however, shocked to see that on every plate was a place card with a pretty picture on it. The pictures were drawn by the children from the school thanking us for the support. Needless to say, seeing these little gems of art was one of the highlights of the night. I totally flipped over them. I gathered as many as I could from our table. I wanted to share them with you because they are filled with so much happiness and light.

Three Little Hearts

Strong hands to tackle any problem
that might come their way
(...cause those clouds look pretty ominous)

Happy sun peeking out from the corner

You know I just love this little tree!

A very infectious smile

He's totally dancing!
(That t-shirt is a trip!)

How can you look at all
those smiles and not smile yourself?

And of course, we brought my son to the affair. He comes everywhere with us. He is truly such a fun and happy person to be around. Right now he hates having his picture taken, but I insist anyway. He'll enjoy these photos one day.

You can't see me
I'm hiding behind bread!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Last Fire

Dainty cup with original sketch

Today I fire all my Valentine's Day projects for the last time. The last fire on any project is always a nervous one. Anything can go wrong and in past cases it has. I must remember to always vent the kiln for the first 45 minutes. No ifs, ands, or butts with this rule. If I don't vent, I loose my reds and purples. In the case of most of the work in this batch I'll loose all my pretty Valentine's Day reds.

Overall I'm fairly pleased with the way my idea transformed onto the porcelain. In the past I have sketched out the mice for porcelain design, but not the actual color blocking. This time I planned it all out and I found that the entire project went more smoothly. Flying by the "seat of your pants" doesn't seem to work well with china painting. I think I'm ready to take on that tea set now. ;)

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Snow & Ladybug

Tasting the snow

The rat mold that sits in the boiler room down in the basement has been plaguing my thoughts. Did I section off the sculpture well enough? Will the ears come out? Will I be able to attach the tail? Will the porcelain slip give me issues? Was my plaster too old?

All these questions and thoughts have been bombarding me during the day. I am very excited about this sculpture. It is the first multiple mold I've made and I feel like I've just learned how to ride a bike and there is a whole world to see now. Naturally there are more mice and rat images coming out from my brain and two ideas that came to me yesterday were so strong I had to bring them out at least on paper.

Playing with her pet ladybug

The images I get in my head are fully completed pieces. I can see them in porcelain fully painted sitting on beautiful walnut or cherry wood bases. The pieces turn in my mind and I can see every angle. I've always had this ability to turn and twist things in my head. I can change colors, rearrange items, shapes, even furniture in my head. Its a handy little talent when you are bored and have to wait in line somewhere or when you have to wait for your turn at a doctor's office.

Of course these two strong images will have to wait till my JAH deadline is complete and the Idocus has been fully painted. My editor has asked me to paint him up in a roan and since that is one of my favorite colors to paint I was happy to oblige. He will be a future sales item (for those that might be wondering). He is most certainly a powerful new sculpt from Breyer. I think I may have to get another one to chop up.

Well, Idocus awaits. Shooo little mice! We'll play later.

Idocus making progress as a roan

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

In Two Weeks

Rat sculpture enclosed in plaster and Legos

In two weeks time I'll be able to pull the very first porcelain rattie sculpture. The plaster molding process went fairly seamless. The use of Legos as molding material has changed my molding experience from frustrating and confusing to enjoyable. I am now looking forward to finishing up every sculpture I started and neglected to finish for one reason or another.

"Listen" before the last few
pieces were molded around her

Monday, February 2, 2009

Time Capsule

Once and a while I let myself fall for the occasional original finish Breyer. More recently those urges have been for the animal collections Breyer has produced over the years. I had been secretly wanting the elephant produced for the bicentennial year. I happened upon it most recently for sale online in a sealed box. It was something I just couldn't pass up for my OF collection. I also couldn't resist photographing the unveiling. It felt like I was going back in time for a short spell.

Saw the light of day in 1976

No turning back once it starts to peel

Awww....the good lo days of a
plastic bagged Breyer!
I really miss those easy boxes!

My new OF and prized collector's manual.
The manual is a pure bonus!