Tuesday, January 29, 2008

making connections

The mailman brought me a special package yesterday. It contained a catalog from an art exhibition in Austraila. The exhibition was a collection of the work of the Japanese artist, Rengetsu (1791-1875). She was raised in an well endowed family and received an exceptional education--especially in all the arts. Yet her life presented many hardships for her to overcome. Rengetsu was married twice and gave birth to several children--none of which survived infancy. When finally she found herself totally alone she became a Buddhist nun.

Here is the connection I am leading up to. To earn a little money she began making pottery--mostly for the tea ceremony--which became very popular. She was also a well respected poet, calligrapher and artist. She wrote her poems on her pottery in her unique calligraphic style. Her work reminds me of Elaine Spallone's grieving vessels. The work of both these artists is very inspiring to me. I am certain I will try my own version of this when I finally get back into my studio.

The catalog is lovely with several essays about Rengetsu and her life and photographs of her work.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

working hard

We have been sleeping in the 'new' house for week and a half. I can't believe how hard I've worked trying to 'settle in" yet it still looks like our first day here. My sister-in-law stopped by today and was amazed to learn that we had been here for a week and a half and still were in such disarray. I try to blame it on our contractor who has not finished his part of the work. But it seems to be more than that. I was slow getting ready for the move because I was trying to be very organized about my packing: eliminate every thing that we don't need to keep and have everything clearly marked so I know exactly where it goes. Yet it did not go like that. There is a pile of boxes in the living room with designations of every sort. Each room is filled to capacity with furniture and boxes in great disarray. I don't understand why. We tell ourselves that it is because the contractor has not finished his projects so we can't finish ours. We had hoped that he could be finished with the floors before we had to move but that did not work out. So there are areas we can not use for sorting out and unloading into. On the other hand, each day I think...today I can sort out one room or another...but as soon as I start there I am led into another room that needs the same attention. In the end none of them are checked off my list. If I could just clone myself into 5 parts and each part could attack one area we would get there. As it is I am not sure we will ever get settled in.

Our contractor is great. He is working as fast as he can and is so responsive to our needs. For example, the refrigerator did not fit in the space designed for a refrigerator so it was sitting in front of the window looking out to the street. Jim's solution was to take out a small, dumpy desk area and put the refrigerator there. He asked our contractor about that and immediately the desk area was gone and refrigerator was put in place and leveled! In the space designed for the refrigerator we will build shelves to overcome the inadequate cabinet space. We keep telling ourselves that it will bel great--but it is an act in process--and in the meantime we live in chaos.

The studio looks great on the outside. But on the inside it is a pile of studio paraphernalia next to lots of equipment belonging to the contractor. I tried to sort it out today but made no headway. I did clean the windows of dirt, grim and paint residue. Seems insignificant in view of all that must be done. But you gotta start somewhere! And today was a great day to do outside work--75 degrees and sunny. Starting tomorrow it will be cold and rainy and I will be happy to be inside sorting boxes. Maybe..

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

a vocabulary conundrum

When we were packing and I was trying to eliminate the non-essentials Jim would want to keep something because of its 'story'. I told him everything in our house had a story and some of which must be sacrificed anyway. Among the things we packed for our move with a story are these JUGS Jim and his grandfather found in an old still in an abandoned shack many years ago. They had been fishing and took a break to walk in the woods where they came upon the shack and found in it a large number of these jugs. They had been used for "moonshine" during the days of prohibition. These are three of the many (27?) 'little brown jugs' they brought back from their fishing trip. This is what comes to my mind when I hear someone speak of a 'jug' so I am always set back a bit when Doug Fitch calls one of his beautiful slip-ware pitchers a 'jug'. I think these simple jugs have great integrity. Their simple, strong form is very appealing. There are no markings on any of the jugs. The two in back are the same size and hold EXACTLY the same amount--just over 2 liters. The jug in the front holds about 1.5 liters. The picture does not show the size variance very well.

I thought about going through the house with my camera for this post to show you the incredible mess I have created. But it would be too depressing for you and too embarrassing for me. We are sort of stymied while waiting for the floors to be renewed and the storage area to be completed so that we can begin unpacking all that we did not eliminate. I can't set up the studio until construction is over because it is full of the worker's tools. I do have my bed set up and it is very welcoming at the end of a long day of hauling everything around. I know there is an important lesson here--hope I can learn it--Jim hopes I can learn it as well. I am amazed and grateful at how well my body has held up to the stress I have put it through.

It took us a week to move after all the packing was done. I have thought about the families that were given an hour or so to evacuate their homes ahead of fire or flood. I have wondered how I would manage if I was given only a few hours to evacuate my home! I guess it shows the extent of my attachments.

My fingers are itching to get hold of a ball of clay!

Monday, January 07, 2008

thoughts while packing

I am sure I've already told you that I think this packing is for the birds--or maybe I said something stronger--well it was not strong enough! But I'll let it go at that. A friend came to help me pack today. She left saying, "Oh, poor Gay." I told her it was karma at work--I bought it/collected it so now I have to pack it!

I had some other thoughts too. I have been an enthusiastic practitioner of several crafts through my life. The first was sewing--I've made most of my clothes since I was in high school. Then after marriage I got into cooking--a necessity but for me it became a creative expression. Then I tried my hand at several arts for brief periods until I encountered clay, which became an almost overwhelming passion. In each of these endeavors I've enjoyed collecting all the paraphernalia. Sometimes I wonder if it is the equipment and tools of the trade that attract me more than the craft. Well, you see that is what I am having to deal with now. I have everything you could use in the kitchen, I have all the sewing equipment and supplies one could imagine. And I have left-over collections of pens, inks and papers from my calligraphy affair. I have more dishes that some restaurants. And the tragedy is that I don't want to give any of up. So here I am packing up all this stuff--you would not believe how many trips I've made to buy boxes! It seems to be too late to change--so I'm stuck packing, storing, finding space for it all.

I am excited about my 'new' studio. But it is only a 2 car garage and I don't think it is going to hold all of my pottery equipment, tools and materials. I'll report in after we are settled and we can see how it is all going to fit.