Thursday, June 30, 2011

the good grandmother

NOT a studio day today--planning that for tomorrow!

This afternoon/evening our grandchildren, Reed and Jack, came for a visit while their mom and dad had dinner out. So here is a picture of the good grandmother:

That's me behind the camera with a glass of wine in her other hand! Seriously, Jim is a grand grandfather! He is wonderful with the boys--they bring out the best in him! Fun watching 'all the boys" at play!

These little guys are expecting a baby sister in August--though their mom is not sure she will make it till then! We are excited about the coming of this little girl. She will be the 5th grandchild and second girl since the very first grandchild, Lauren, 17 years ago. I always expected and wanted a daughter--I had 5 sons! Me who grew up in a house full of females! So Lauren was a very special delivery as will be this little girl. Not to disparage our three dear grandsons--what fun they are, what energy they have and what boundless enthusiasm!

Monday, June 27, 2011

not a studio day

Jim and I spent today trying to define our wishes for the kitchen renovation. Lots of details to address--and agree on. Jim is really a champ. He has said that he wants me to have what I want in the new kitchen. He has said it over and over again--so I know he really means it. Yet he can't help bringing up points I have overlooked or not thought through very well or for which he has a better (different) idea. Of course, my first reaction is defensive. But usually he has observed something that I do need to consider or reconsider! I have gotten a bid for the cabinets from a 'big box' and we have contacted a custom cabinet maker to get a bid from also. So we have a pretty firm plan for the overall project.

Today we had Diana Kersey, my ceramics teacher, over to discuss having her do a ceramic 'back splash' on the wall behind the range--and maybe behind the sink too, if funds stretch that far. Diana does architectural ceramic work and has created some some wonderful work. Most recently she put up her first public work on a bridge here in San Antonio. We are really excited about having her create something great for our new kitchen. We did do our homework and had a proposal for the image theme for the work that I am very enthusiastic about.

I did go out to the studio for a little while today. I trimmed the 3rd bowl and played around with the 3 bowls on the the 4 pedestal bases. I'm trying to keep them moist so I can add more sprigs, attach bowls to bases and cover with slip. I shot a few photos but they were not great and will do better tomorrow or the next day. Diana asked to see the studio and I showed her my "Tony assignment" work. She had a good suggestion: she said I should measure the width of the bowls and compare to the width of the top of the bases and do the same for the height of the bowl compared to the height of the bowl. I was surprised when I was playing around with the various combinations that the shortest base looked really good with the bowls--which I never expected! I thought it was much too short to work with any of the bases. That was what prompted Diana's suggestion that I make those measurement comparisons. So a little addendum to Tony's assignments.
The photo does not do justice to the differences. Better later!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

another day

Another bowl.

And four bases.

And another 16 test tiles. I was hoping someone might have a suggestion for an easier way to produce 200 test tiles! Sixteen a day will take 11 days to make 200. And I'm sure I won't be able to be in the studio for 11 consecutive days. In fact, I've decided I need to dedicate 2 or 3 days a week to 'studio days' and try to honor that and let the other 4 or 5 days be 'family' days. It does not work to go out for a short time. When I get back things have 'over dried' and have to be recycled. So planning on a couple studio days with no work 'left over' for later is how I need to think about it. The other days I need to focus on family and household activities.

I was touched by Jen Mecca's post today. She is a strong lady to be able to meet her children's special needs, enjoy family life and still make time to pursue her art. Lovely lady, lovely art!

Saturday, June 25, 2011


"Sometimes our flame goes out, but is blown again into instant flame by an encounter with another human being." - Albert Schweitzer

Wednesday and Thursday were devoted to helping Kenny get a new TV and getting it installed and running. Nothing of that was simple or easy! Seemed like we do one part and get it running only to have another problem pop up. Finally after a second visit from our "Time Warner" repair guy today all is well and Kenny has a big smile on his face!

Friday I had a doctor's appointment and then went downtown to get clay (low fire, red) and look for a die to make test tiles from my extruder. No die.

And each afternoon through yesterday, Lauren (my granddaughter) came over for help making her little-bitty bikini!

Yesterday I tried to figure out how I would make 200 test tiles....And I threw 2 compote bowls (4 pounds each). I let the rims get too dry while having supper so I covered with a wet cloth and plastic.

Today they were ready to put sprigs on. I put sprigs on the inside and outside. On one bowl I put sprigs in 5 spots on the rim, on the other I put them in 3 spots. This afternoon I trimmed the bottoms.

I pushed the sprig spots in a bit on the 3-sprig piece--but because it was already so dry I did not push it too far!

I also made 16 test tiles. It might faster and easier to throw them but I am extruding a 2 3/4" wide strip of clay, cutting into 5 1/2" lengths. Cutting out a wedge of the clay at the 3" mark, rolling a MKM design across the upper portion of the piece, then folding at that cut part to make an 'L'. I am marking each piece with "LR" (for Longhorn Red clay) and GJ. (I'm marking the tiles because I will also make some in ^6.)

Tomorrow I plan to throw the bases for these 2 compotes; make another set of tiles; and, maybe make a couple more compote bowls.

I have not mixed up the glaze tests yet, nor the slip.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


On my way out to the studio, but first I want to respond to Ron's comment (uh oh, that is how it all goes bad, "before I go out to the studio I will…" But I WILL go out as soon as I finish this short post! : )

Tony is studying low fire these days. They may move into an urban setting for their retirement years and that precludes wood firing! And he says he is becoming attracted to the glazes and color opportunities of low fire. So we did a lot of looking at earthenware pieces in the Asian collection. I've been doing a bit of earthenware work lately (focused on baking pieces for my own kitchen) but thinking I'd get back into ^6 soon. After the visits with Tony I'm thinking of doing a bit more investigation of the low-fire work.

Of my work that is around the house Tony was most attracted to and complimentary of this piece:

So he outlined some explorations for me to pursue based on it. This was done in ^6 but he is suggesting I work in ^04 for now. First assignment was to make the same bowl--same size--but change the height of the pedestal base: taller, shorter. Make 5 of these variations.

Then he suggested playing around with the placement of the sprigs:
The split rim should be opened up more. Then try sprigs on the outside also; then only on the outside; then push the rim in toward the center at the sprig points to form a scalloped or flower shape.

The same changes with the sprigs on the base. But also try putting the sprigs high up on the pedestal, not at the base.

He also gave me some glazes to test and he proposed that I cover the test bowls with white slip and then 'load' the sprigs with colored glaze that runs down the inside of the bowl, same idea with the sprigs placed high on the pedestal.

Well, that is the short version of my assignment list! So I'm off to the studio to get started--I picked up another box of low fire clay yesterday so I'm ready to get to work.

Note: Apologies for the poor quality photos. I'm using my iPhone for these--not wanting to take the time to get out a real camera and set up for better photos. Sorry.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


That's me--Absent With Out Leave. For a long time. Lots of quilt feelings. I'm going to give it another try at becoming again a regular blogger.
For some reason, unknown to me, I've not been potting. So if I'm not potting what is there to blog about? But I want to pot (and blog) but just can't make myself get out to the studio and stay there long enough to accomplish any work. I've tried all the tried and try 'tricks' to get back to work: clean the studio; look through all my wonderful ceramic books; visit our wonderful museum's collection of Asian ceramics. I have also availed myself of wonderfully stimulating events: NCECA in Tampa Bay, Florida with my friend Rachelle, which is very stimulating; then I went to Shelby, NC, to meet Ron Philbeck, Doug Fintch, and Hannah MacAndrews--long time blogging buddies who I loved getting to meet (and see their secrets demonstrated); and this last weekend I attended a workshop with Tony Clennell. These were all wonderful experiences. But they did not lead me back to the studio. But I think I have finally found the key back to the studio.
At the workshop Tony shared an analysis of the work of several of the students. He used those pieces to help us see the strengths and weaknesses of the pieces and how to make them more successful. This was a powerful lesson--and very stimulating. Later, when he talked about my pieces, he also suggested some exercises I might do to improve my work. He gave me quite a list of things to do! I have prepared a list of the work he assigned me and I intend to begin tomorrow working through that list! So I have a direction and a challenge!
While Tony was in town I arranged for us to visit the studio of my teacher, Diana Kersey, and to see a wonderful 'public works' project she had just installed on the bridge on Mulberry. It was a real treat for Tony and me to see her work and hear her description of the process she followed to make the work.
The next post will report my success in getting on to the path Tony laid out for me to lead me back into my ceramic work--or there will be no more posts. Keep your fingers crossed for me!