Thursday, November 30, 2006

starting the new year, early

Yesterday I took my computer to Diana’s to show her my pictures from our trip to New Mexico. She is so dear—she probably had lots more important things to do but she made me feel like visiting with me was all she had to do in the world! After the picture show we visited a bit about the status of my clay work. And after a good deal of discussion we determined that 1) I need to change clay, 2) I should give up worrying about having my clay vitrified at ^6, and 3) I might try using Black Jack clay! Lots of big decisions.

After our visit I have made a couple of decisions. I called Black Jack and have determined to drive to East Texas next week to pick up my first load of clay. I had been attracted to using Black Jack clay way back in the beginning of my clay life but had been disuaded by consideratins of trouble—it is not sold in San Antonio—and somthing I was told at Armadillo (don't remember what was said!) And because I thought I wanted to use a white clay. It was attractive to me just because it is from East Texas—near where I was born and near my mother's home where I spent a good deal of time the first 8 years of my life. Diana said it is a wonderful clay to throw. And Tony Clennell was so impressed with it when he visited Texas he brought bags of it to the San Antonio workshop to give to folk who might consider using it. So I'm going to give it a try.

I also decided to enroll in Diana's class next semester at Southwest School of Art and Craft. Taking the classes at SAAC keeps me grounded in a certain sense. I have good guidance readily available and a supportive community to be part of. The downside to taking the classes, for me, is having to pack up my equipment each week to take downtown and then unpack when I get home to work, and it seems that we cover so much territory in the classes that it can become superficial for me—I need more time to work on the various parts. However, the way Diana described what we will be doing makes the class sound more focused—tighter.

The workshop at Santa Fe Clay was very stimulating and I am eager to begin working on some of the design techniques we were shown. But the first step is a lot of PRACTICE! Practice using my brushes on newspaper, practice drawing simple forms, practice trailing slip. I also need to do some work developing slip. I think the big problem I’ve had with slip trailing is not getting the right consistency. I also want to practice using the air brush for spraying glazes. Lots of practice!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

holiday in New Mexico

We went to New Mexico last week. I had enrolled in a workshop in Santa Fe and we decided to make a holiday of the trip and extend our stay through Thanksgiving.

To start it off the workshop was great! I had worried that perhaps I had been foolish in thinking it would be worth the trouble and expense it cost. But actually it was so much more than I imagined when I first read about it. The instructor, Betsy Williams, is a graduate of
St. John’s College in Santa Fe. She spent 5 years as an apprentice in Japan. Then returned to New Mexico where she built her home (herself) and her wood firing kiln—which took 2 years to complete. Her focus in this workshop was decorating ware with traditional Japanese techniques—it was very inspiring and I am itching to get into the studio and practice/learn to apply some of what she demonstrated this weekend.

The minute the workshop was over Sunday afternoon we took off north to visit our friends, Johanne and Carl, who live outside Penasco, just south of Taos in the mountains. They, too, built their own home with their own hands. Carl is an incredible wood worker and made all the furniture (tables, chairs, stools, cabinets—kitchen and bath—doors, chests-of-drawers (3), and gorgeous head-board for their bed. Each piece is a work of art—beautiful work. He has also made doors and cabinets for neighbors’ homes—as well as furniture that he sells at the local studio tour each year. They had just returned from a month in Peru—and had wonderful tales to tell of that trip.

On Tuesday they took us to visit a potter friend, Shel Neymark, and his wife, Liz. They, too, built their home and guest house with their own 2 hands! Shel made all the tile work in the house—gorgeous! As well as floor and table lamps and wall sconces! They have Carl’s cabinetry in the bath and the kitchen and Carl's doors throughout their house. They are living in the guest house right now and renting out the main house—but the renter was out of town so we got to see it, too. And Shel's studio with his wonderful ceramic floor lamps and a whimiscal coffee service!

Then, to top it all off, they have a cave in the side of the mountain behind their house! A friend suggested that for $2000 and 2 months he could carve out a guest house in the side of the mountain—and they took him up on the offer—it took 6 months—don’t know about the dollars! It can’t be described—carved into the side of the mountain (sandstone) with gothic type ceilings there are 4 or 5 rooms—depends on how you count the spaces. An entry hall, main room with 2 story high ceiling, kitchenette, bathroom with gorgeous tile work, meditation room, and upstairs (!) a bed room with overhead carving! Shel is also a musician (as is Carl) and has all manner of musical instruments there because of the incredible acoustics. The ‘cave’ has electricity and running water! There are three of the 'seats' you see Jim enjoying below. The next picture is of the bath tub! Of course, those are Shel's tiles!

Wednesday Johanne and Carl left to celebrate Thanksgiving with their family and turned their house over to us. Wednesday we made our trip to Taos. A nice day—but nothing to compare to our experiences in Penasco! Thursday we spent there at Johanne and Carl’s—in retreat!

Then made the LONG trip home on Friday. We left Penasco about 8:00 am and arrived in San Antonio about 11:00 pm! A couple of detours along the way made for a very LONG day in the car.

Hope your holiday was especially nice, too!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Empty Bowls

Sunday, November 12, 2006 San Antonio Potters Guild presented "Empty Bowls 2006" on the grounds of the Southwest School of Art and Craft. SAPG members donated over 1000 bowls to raise funds for SAMMinisteries--a local program to feed and provide temporary housing for the homeless. It was a georgeous day and we were overwhelmed by the community turn-out--we ran out of bowls--the first time in our 7 years of sponsoring Empty Bowls. For $15 the patrons select one of the bowls and then are given bread and their choice of one the fabulous soups provided by some of San Antonio's finest restraunts. It is a good deal--there are many beautiful bowls to select from and at $15 each a terrific bargin.

I was serving as a cashier. At one point a woman paying for her bowl athe next cashier's station said, "Gay Judson". I looked over expecting to see an old friend but I did not recognize her. Then she exclaimed that she had just bought one of my bowls and was excited to meet the potter. Well, we had a good laugh over her enthusiasm. Then she asked if I would sign her pot. I pointed out that the pot was signed on the bottom. But she wanted it signed with a pen--so she could show that she had met the potter! We laughed and sent her on her way--long lines forming behind her. In a few minutes she was back with a Sharpie pen and a photographer! The photographer was my dear teacher, Diana Kersey, who was getting as big a kick out of this as we were. So I signed her pot and Diana took the picture. Very flattering to an immature potter!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

just right, sometimes

Well, sometimes things come out just right! And that is how I feel about this little handled bowl.

Sheila Clennell is responsible for my success. She put out a wonderful DVD on making cane handles. Then yesterday when I was trying my hand at the process I encountered real problems. I sent an SOS note to Sheila and she responded immediately and told me what the problem was--I had the wrong material--and how to solve it! I am so pleased with the result that I plan to make a few more before the guild sale in December.

I took the newly handled bowl filled with chocolate-covered-maraschino-cherry chocolate cookies to a dinner gathering honoring a friend of ours visiting from San Francisco. The bowl was the perfect container for the cookies! What fun.

At the dinner party I met a couple, new to San Antonio, who are both potters. Not professional potters but very accomplished potters. Each has had full time occupations as well as raising a family which have limited the time available for clay work. But now 'she' is retired and is spending her free time taking classes at Southwest School of Art and Craft. He is still working so does not have a lot of 'free' time but is already a very accomplished craftsman. They both had the opportunity to study under Charles Counts in the '70s. 'He' was telling me what a philosopher Counts was and how they enjoyed getting into philosophical discussions starting from consideration of the various meanings of 'centering'--building on the same concepts M C Richards developed so well, perhaps. I really enjoyed the encounter and look forward to more ceramic exchanges.