Monday, December 21, 2009

holiday party

We had family members--Jim's brothers with mates, his parents and my boys with mates--over yesterday afternoon. I did a bit of cooking--just hors d'oeuvres--for the party and we were inspired to do a bit of holiday decorating outside as well as inside. We have not put up a tree for several years but do have some other decorations to pull out of storage. And we use lots of candles, too.

As I was putting out food yesterday in various of my ceramic wares I thought of taking some pictures--but got busy and forgot to do so once the food was in the 'pots'. It really was fun seeing the tables set with my own work--food and pots! That really is what drives me: making it myself. Just like a two-year old! I never out grew my "I want to do it myself" stage!

Happy Holidays!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

in working condition

The last couple firings have not gone so well. One clearly my fault as I made a mistake as I programed the kiln. But still not firing well. I discussed the problem with a guy at Armadillo Clay in Austin last week. As I described the history--I had only fired the new elements 32 times--he suggested that it might be a faulty relay instead of bad elements. I called a repair person I had not used before--Tony, our trusted and capable repair person had retired--and she came over and checked the kiln and agreed that it probably was the relays. We ordered relays from Austin--none available in San Antonio--and she replaced the relays on Friday evening. Today I loaded a bisque firing and it is climbing right on up the scale!

I watched over Linda's shoulder as she replaced the relays and I think I could do it next time. Of course the secret is knowing what the problem is--more than knowing how to replace parts! So far I have participated in replacing the elements and now overseen replacing the relays. Sometime back Jim and I replaced the thermocouple. Maybe I am on my way to a new career. NOT. I'd rather make pots than fix kilns!

Yesterday Jim brought in an old kitchen cabinet to install the used extruder I bought sometime back. The extruder came on a nice metal stand--but it needed to be attached to the floor as it wanted to topple over whenever I pulled down on the extruder level. Now it is happily installed on the cabinet and very secure when I pull the lever down to extrude from a big pug of clay.

PS The bisque firing has completed without a flaw. So now I face a day--or more--of glazing--my least favorite part of potting!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Hey, Tracey...

I think these candlesticks, made by Suze Lindsay, look like they came right off the stage of "Lion King"! Can't imagine getting any closer to recreating the spirit of LK in clay. In a way, it is a shame that I have them and can see the relation to the stage production because now my mind is locked on these pieces as best shot.

They live on the dining room table next to the wonderful Chupicuaro (circa 100 BC) my father-in-law gave us which he collected years ago in Mexico--when it was still legal to bring this work into the US. I love the pairing of these pieces--separated by 2000 years in age yet with the same spirit. Or so it seems to me.

Unfortunately, not the best picture.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

what a day this has been...

Up at 5 am to get Kenny to the clinic by 6:00. He was having a 'test run' of the effectiveness of baclofen injections into his spinal column to relieve his extreme spasticity. This has become so bad that he suffers muscular convulsions whenever he tires to use his legs (standing and walking) and lately even in his hands. So that is a long story but hopefully there is some help on the horizon. That was the beginning of the day.

Then I had a long-ago-established date with my 5 years old grandson, Reed, to attend the local stage performance of Disney's 'Lion King'. I looked forward to it because I knew that Reed was very fond of the 'Lion King' DVD and it would be fun to take him to that. I was not prepared for how much I enjoyed the program. It is so attractive! I wanted all my loved ones to get to see it, too!

As I sat with Kenny at the clinic this morning I was reading a ceramic book I had just purchased: "Ceramic Design Course" by AnthonyQuinn. An interesting book--pushing me to take a broader look at my 'creations'. He talks about collecting pictures and text that appeal and creating 'mood scenes' from those collections and, from that, developing an idea(s) for ceramic creations. He also pushes sketching your ideas for new projects--which I am trying to due currently. (Of course, I've left out way too much of the book to be fair to it.) BUT, here is the connecting link, during "LIon King" I kept thinking how I might incorporate or take inspiration from the performance for a piece from the scenes I was was watching! It was so beautiful and so incredibly creative! Hats off to Disney!

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

a good day in the studio

Yesterday was a good day in the studio--except for the backache I went to bed with! Probably too good a day after a while out of the studio! But it felt really good to get some work done.

I started off working on a dinner plate that I have been asked to make a set of for a friend. I want to make one (or some) to show her before I get too far into the project. And I want to see if I can really make a set (~16) that are similar in size, design, weight, etc! The first one I made I added slip on the rim to make it into a sort of test tile. I painted slip onto the rim--two different colored slips--and left a section unslipped. Then I will apply the glaze that she thinks she wants and see the effect of the slip.

I made 4 more of the same plate--and will do that again today--to see how similar I can make them, After that, when I was tired of throwing plates, I made a vase that I like a lot.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

what a difference a day makes

Today Kenny got up on his own and into the shower. That is great news! I was afraid he had taken a big backward step--but it looks like I was just trying to go too fast! A great feeling of relief--you may feel it all the way over there!

Yesterday it was still colder in the studio than I wanted it to be. So I gathered up my brush collection and a sketch pad and played with brushes for a while. I want to be able to 'make marks' on some of my work but need a lot of practice first. I've collected some brushes--some made for me by a friend, some I bought for a majolica class, some I just bought with this project in mind.

I just played around with the brushes, making marks on coarse paper. I took a brush and 'doodled' with it making different kinds of strokes then made a note of which brush produced those marks. I went through my whole collection--now I have a reference for which brush does the best job of which kind of marks.

Then I tried copying a painting from a China painting book I have. Lots of fun. Maybe even helpful in moving me along the path of 'making marks'!

Friday, December 04, 2009

that's the way it is

Kenny has been sick since the night before Thanksgiving. He is feeling better now but his poor body is not functioning very well. He is very stiff--hard to raise his head, stretch out his arms, or take even a step or two. Very rigid spasticity has always been a problem for him (from his cerebral palsy) but this is so much worse. Next week he will undergo a test to see if injections into his spinal cord might help reduce the spasticity. If not, his life and ours are in for a big change. He is in his wheel-chair all the time now, not able to walk at all even with help.

On Thursday, a couple friends and I drove to Austin to attend a 3 hour lecture on working with ^6 glazes. We were very disappointed. It was really just a 3 hour presentation on a new line of commercial ^6 glazes--for which we paid $20 to attend, not to mention the 3 hour drive over and back.

This morning I went out early to the studio to turn on the heater. I am eager to get back to work. But when I went out again in a couple hours it was still too cold to work out there. We were told we might get snow today--crazy since most of our days lately have been in the 70's and it was not expected to freeze today. But apparently the snow missed us and hit Houston instead. I was not sorry about missing the snow--but I was sorry I could not work today. Maybe tomorrow.

Pretty gloomy post--sorry--but that is the way it is right now!