Friday, August 28, 2009

Pretty Terracotta

Terracotta when fired

One of the best aspects of living in an Italian family IS the family. There are so many family members in our family that you don't just have one great friend, you have MANY and over the years I have grown very close to my nieces Madeline and Christina. Both are teenagers now. Full of laughter and fun. My niece Madeline loves horses. She rides every day and ever since she found me pounding down "wild" clay for production she has been fascinated. I guess you could say she has been on a personal mission to find me some clay on the beach where she rides.

Clay patties waiting to be processed

Well, last week she DID find clay on the beach and I could tell, when she retold the story of finding it and gathering it, that she had the "wild" look in her eye. She was just as excited as I was and couldn't wait for me to use it. This week, in between many other projects, I have been working the clay. Pounding it down first, then pulverizing it into a fine powder and running it through a sieve to remove rocks. Then, adding water into it again to make it clay.

I fired the first test pieces last night and at cone 04 it wasn't hot enough. This morning I pumped up the small test kiln to 2000 degrees and found our new "wild beach clay" finished. It's a truly beautiful shade of terracotta. Tough as nails and I think it may actually withstand the thermal shock of raku. raku in the rain or not to raku in the rain. Main question today. If the rain stops for just 20 minutes......

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Beach Goer

Squishing sand in the hands

It's hard to believe that summer is almost over. Just a couple more weeks and the pool will be closed and my son will be back to school. Although I've already begun to prepare for long hours in the studio working while he is learning, I look on my fridge to find a list of "to dos" we had planned this summer that are only half complete.

~ Go to the zoo. Nada
~ Go to the aquariaum. Nope
~ Go to the circus, with daddy. Negatory
~ Go to the beach. YES!


So yes, we did finally manage to go the beach this summer and that day was yesterday. It was a long 40 minute walk, but once there my son was thrilled and excited to be in the water. For me it was nerve racking. The surf was rough because of Hurricane Bill and the constant thought of him being swept away to sea was totally on my mind. Awful thought. The water was particularly dirty with tons of crud floatin in it too. Nothing I can't stand more than crud hitting my feet and legs in the water that doesn't feel like a seashell or a piece of slimy seaweed. But I hunkered down and enjoyed my son enjoying the ebb and flow of the waves. I was ill prepared for all the sand though. I hated how the sand was just up in everything, especially on my hands and between my fingers. That really freaked me out. No matter how much I tried I couldn't get the sand off my hands. Next time we bring a BIG, BIG, BIG blanket!


Francesco kept waving his arms and sand was flying. He wanted to build a sand castle but the more we dug the more "treasures" like cig butts and coffee tabs we found. The thought that people could be so careless with their garbage right ON the sand really annoyed me. Of course, what did I expect? It is a NYC beach and the one we went to was one of the cleanest around.


Contrary to me he loved the feel of the sand though and was flapping and rolling about IN it which sent lots of sand flying....IN MY DIRECTION. All I can say is it was so good to be back home. I have come to the conclusion that I will never be a good beach comber or a great castaway. I like my cushy pool and lounge chair in the sun. Ending the day with a soothing cup of coffee in my new mug and a waffle topped with whipped cream hit the spot...for both of us!

Breakfast for dinner

Of course, taking some time to enjoy the most recent raku pieces out of the new raku kiln was also a comfort. I dare say I am getting better at this raku thing. The glazes from Georgies really and truly make the difference. Such quality compared to the other commercial brands. I feel another Christmas request of, "I want more glazes from Georgies" going on my personal list for the family Kris Kringle. I know they think I'm wacky, but I just can't help myself. Forget the bags and shoes...give me glaze baby!

Latest raku pieces

Here are close ups of my two favorites from this firing. I just love that last piece. The edge has such an antique feel. Like something found at an archilogical site. Yep, I am totally hooked on raku.

Close up of the crackle piece

My favorite from this firing

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Crazy Days


It's been a crazy few weeks. I'm sneakin' in a blog post between some deadlines I've been graciously given leeway on. Phew! Thankfully that editor is cool and awesome and understanding. It's just been crazy! I know, I see another post about a BBQ and another get together (had another one this past weekend in NJ) and there are a few parties spattered about. Sounds like I'm having the life. In all honesty, these get togethers are opportunities to sell art and art has been selling and it's been fantastic especially in the current climate. Selling one's self in person is much more difficult than doing it online. You have to look good, speak well and have those business cards handy and know when to pull them out. It's an art and I'm happy to say that I'm finally very comfortable doing that and throwin about my art "pitch." It's a challenge that I like. It's hard to believe that I've run through all my cards. I'm almost out. I need to make more....but not until I complete this deadline which is now screaming at me. Better run!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

This Week's Silence

Chaney "Andalusian" custom glazed
Currently for sale.

This week's silence has been a mixture of lots of deadlines peppered with one heck of a heat wave. The computer is in the kitchen. The kitchen has no air conditioning. The best place to be in NYC during a scorcher is in a pool or under a fire hydrant. Luckily we have a pool and have been taking advantage of it every day. Unfortunately, work online gets relegated to early morning when the heat isn't so bad.

I can tell you that without a doubt it has been BUSY here! I'm juggling a ton of projects and all at once. I even pulled my wheel outside today and pulled some pottery in between swimming. It was probably the most productive and relaxing time on the wheel I have ever had. So, without any more chit chattin' here in the swealtering heat of the kitchen, I give you a few photos of what has been happening:

New pottery pulled today out
in the open air.

Finally got that white crackle
glaze to crackle. So pretty.

Commission for a 25th Wedding Anniversary.
Loved painting a bird. Must do more.

Detail of one of the raku bowls

A few new raku pieces

Play date with girl next door

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Block Party!!

Swim time!

These final weekends in the summer will be packed with swimming, parties and get togethers. It's a fun time, but a busy one and yesterday was one of the first block parties we attended this summer. Basically, they shut down the street, block it off with cars and police tape and everyone on the block comes out, sets up tents, brings out a ton of food, invites friends and family and parties till 2 am or so.

The men open up the fire hydrants and the kids come out in their suits to cool off. The street is filled with adults flingin' raw eggs at each other and silly string and the kids ride their bikes and pop off those noise poppers at each other. Half way through the day a DJ sets up and blasts music. It doesn't matter what is hot on the radio now when "It Takes Two" comes out of those speaker on a Brooklyn street everyone gets up to dance!

Part of the block

Silly string!!!

Lookin to attack with string!

There is much food, dance and talk amongst the neighbors. Yesterday's block party was small with only 30 kids on the block. Some parties there are more and the parents actually hire security on either end of the street so no child is lost or stolen. This was the first year that my son really got to play and he ran around like wild. It was fun to watch.

Overall, its a positive, fun time filled with such good energy! This dude though had the MOST energy of the entire block! Dude danced/moved for over 4 hours straight! After a while we couldn't take the fact that he was the only one dancing so we all went out there, but gotta give my friend Vanessa props...she went out first. You go girl! Man, they said he wasn't coked up. His energy was natural. I so want THAT energy for my studio work!!!! Woooo baby!

You go girl!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Caught Him!

Chaney china in mulberry grey

I caught him!

Here is the Donna Chaney mulberry grey piece I was talking about yesterday. He has been a shy critter. Every time I try and take a shot of him it comes out either blurry or rotten. I know he isn't bad looking, he's actually coming along rather nice. He just doesn't like to be photographed. Its the china. It can be temper mental on film.

Today is another family party so I'll be poolside in a half an hour. I'll try and gather my thoughts for some articles I need to write and will prep a few horses in between swimming. The weekend should prove to be another busy one with a block party (I'll get photos of that as many of you probably have never seen a Brooklyn block party) and a night swim party in Long Island. That one is tonight so it's going to be a busy time right out of the starting gate.

Another shot of the Andy

Peek at my sketchbook page

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Grind

Painting on china

It was back to the grind today. Thankfully "the grind" for me is a pleasant one. I will admit that coming back to the china painting after having been away for a spell has been a tad frustrating. The best way I can describe painting on porcelain is like running on ice with high heels. If I would just learn how to relax a bit more when I'm working I'll have better results. At least, that is what I tell myself when I am painting anything other than little mice or rats running about with tutus on. There is another Chaney china being painted this week too. He was being very camera shy. I'll catch him on film tomorrow. He is almost done.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Cleaning House

Hard to resist

Whatta mug!

Isn't she cute? This is "Kiko" my dog. She is very hard to resist when she puts on that mug and I sorta feel like putting on my best beggin/pouty face too as I jump into day three of my house clean up. I am not enjoying this diversion from my art work, but my mess in the studio and within the house is just too much for me to bear so it needs to be taken care of now. I cannot work if things are a mess in my world. I should be back to work either tomorrow or the day after.

Monday, August 10, 2009

My Best Friend


My best friend from home finally got married this past weekend. It was wonderful. It was at a mansion. It was an evening of dreaming and festivities. The rest of the weekend was a blast as well. Now, its time to unpack and unwind and get back to business.

Dad giving her away

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

On This Sunny Wednesday

Sleepy Little Twins

On this sunny Wednesday I get to meet some new cousins in the family. Twins Noah and Jacob are having a party and our family has been invited. I'm excited to meet them and so is Francesco. I was inspired to draw some mice this morning. I've been using new pens which has taken away the stress that my old crow quills brought to the drawing table.

I hope your Wednesday is sunny and good too!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

What We Did Today

Raku fish sculpture


~ Took a nice long walk around the neighborhood.
~ Visited the library and took out many chapter books, including more "Henry & Mudge" books. We love those!
~ Went shopping for discounted pool stuff. Snagged goggles and a raft.
~ Ate some sushi and beef teriyaki.
~ Had a blast at the Tar Beach party.
~ And lastly, took a night swim under the full moon tonight.

It was a wonderful day.

Monday, August 3, 2009


Working the mulberry grey on a china


Ok, I really WAS working between some sun sessions and some dips in the pool. LOL The Donna Chaney bone china is making lovely progress and with the new batch of lavender oil that just arrived I can stop fretting about color and application. Without that lavender oil I feel lost. Painting on china with overglazes is sorta like running on the ice with steletos. At least, some days it sure feels that way. Lavender gives the grip needed to make color flow and bend. I hope to have a finish on this boy real soon. Maybe this week?

Workin' hard

Of course, if we get any more gorgeous days in the sun the finish on him will take longer. I mean, it is truly hard to resist the pool on sunny days. I did get a few things prepped though. Prepping is fun to do with my niece Christina by my side. We chat away, then swim...then chat some more. Before I know it, prepping is done. My son sometimes joins in but mostly he was the one that worked today. He had some great pieces today from his work session and I must photograph them so you can see. He is telling stories now with his drawings. FUN!

Now he was workin'!