Monday, January 17, 2011

now, after the holidays

We've had a longer holiday season than most. Ours began with the celebration of Kenny's 50th birthday the week before Thanksgiving. Then there came Thanksgiving and then Christmas and finally my 74th birthday celebrated last Monday with a visit from my sister Catherine and her husband Wayne who live in Maine. Tomorrow Catherine returns home to Kennebunkport and I plan to be in the studio for the first time since these holidays began so long ago!

I have not touched clay in so long it will be like starting all over. And I am really not sure where or how to begin again. I've spent a lot of time before this break working with earthenware clay but I think I am about to return to my BlackJack clay which I fire to ^6. It is sold as a ^6 to ^10 clay--which I know does not exist! I have considered firing it a little higher--it is not vitrified at ^6 and vases do weep if left standing with water for a length of time. But to change the firing temperature will also require adjusting the glazes I've used--or be willing to accept the change the higher temperature will cause in the glazes. Actually, my vases weep that were fired to ^10 at the craft center when I was taking classes there. So maybe I should just give up making vases! I am not satisfied with what I've been able to do painting designs on my pots and that might be best done in the majolica style--which is low fire again. I think I need to satisfy that quest before moving on. So you see I'm not at all clear about what I am going to do nor what I want to do.

The most exciting thing in my ceramics life right now is a new book I bought for myself--as a birthday present.

I heard Robert Piepenburg speak at NCECA several years ago and was very moved by his presentation. I have another book he wrote--a very small book that left me wanting more. When I saw the ad for this new book I was very eager to get it. Because it was written by him but also because I've been wishing for some instruction about 'ceramic design'. I expected this to be something of a 'how-to' book, but it isn't. I'm half way through reading it and have just come to the discussion of the 'elements of design'. The book is very inspirational, just as his talk was years ago. For me, it is a treasure. But it has not been easy reading. He is dealing with intangibles: design, spirit, and love. The essentials of life and art. But not easy to define and I have to re-read parts to be sure I am understanding his words in the way he is using them. It does make me eager to get back into the studio and see how reading the book may affect what I do with the clay.

When Jim and I were in Oaxaca for my niece's wedding last August we saw a rug/tapestry on the wall of a small shop and fell in love with it. After much discussion, consideration, and some haggling we bought the rug. Not until this January did we manage to get it up on the wall. We are delighted.
And so my new year begins!


Ron said...

Hi Gay. Happy Belated Birthday!! And to Kenny too!
Glad to hear you'll be getting some time in the studio soon. It's been a slow start here too. I finally feel like I am barely off to a roll.
I don't know if I ever told you, but Sarah did visit your sister's shop when she was in Maine. I think your sis was out but I think Sarah may have left word with the person minding the shop.
That rug looks beautiful hanging there in your home.
Andrew is making some earthenware pots these days. He's got a new blog just in case you didn't know...
Well that's all for now.

Tracey Broome said...

I think we are all off to a slow start and by the way there was a
misprint in your post, you said you were 74! That cannot be true!!!! you look so young, good for you for being so young at heart too. Happy belated birthday to you and to Kenny.

Vicki Wenderlich said...

Love the tapestry, it looks great where you put it!

Anonymous said...

Hi Gay. Happy belated birthday to you and Kenny. I just turned 48 myself. Aquarius! That makes sense ;-) I just got back in the studio for the first time in a year and a half! Little steps. I make it in about one day a week or two depending on chemo schedule. I threw some mugs the other day. Woo hoo. Throwing will be a bit of a challenge. neuropathy in my hands esp. my fingertips makes it hard to know where I am. I also hand build so I will have fun either way. I use a ^6-10 clay called half and half. Half stoneware, half porcelain. I really like it. My hand built stuff are a series of vases with river scenes on one side and the ocean on the other done with some three dimensionality in the waves etc. The white body clay does well at ^6 and 10. My vases don't leak at ^6 electric which is what I do the brighter ocean stuff, (done with underglazes and are more colorful) It also looks great in ^10 soda fire. even flashes and the glazes are brighter due to the lighter, less iron body.

Sounds like you had a good but busy holiday! Love the rug! No wonder you fell in love with it. I am really looking forward to NCECA. Hope you can make it but don't worry either way and no hurry to make a decision. Stay well, be happy, good potting.

love rr