Thursday, January 28, 2010

Tracey's got me thinking...

I'm following a whole new list of blogs thanks to Meredith and the Clay and Blogs: Telling a Story exhibit coming up this fall. So I spend a bit more time at the computer reading blogs by other potters who are also spending a bit more time at the computer writing. This time of year finds a lot of us slower to start, more reluctant to get our hands cold and wet.

Yesterday I cleaned up the glazing mess and wedged some clay. Sometimes, I can rationalize my way out of working. I could throw cylinders today, but if I do, then I have to be able to work on them day after tomorrow and the forecast is snow and the kids will be out of school, so I'll get interrupted too often and the whole thing will dry too fast, and it will all be wasted, so my time would be better spent elsewhere. Like finding a better way of keeping my pieces wet or catching up on reruns of The West Wing.

I was reading Tracey Broome's blog this morning, and she got me thinking. She makes sculpture and some functional pots, too, but is never happy with the functional ware. I do the same thing. I'll be in the studio, looking over the shelves of work when it hits me that no one can actually use any of my pieces. So, I'll sit down at the wheel and throw some bowls, reminding myself that it's good to have some around to donate for Empty Bowls. I do throw cups for the Studio Tours simply because I can't stand the idea of using throw away cups for the cider and wine that I serve. I sell them cheap because they don't really match and are thrown too thin or have a rim that dribbles. When I tell people that I am a potter (not clay artist or ceramist), they immediately ask about dinner plates or soup mugs. I reply that I really don't make that sort of work because I don't enjoy it, and there are so many other folks who do it so much better than I ever could. I will talk about the artists who are represented in my own cupboard, why I like this potter's mugs or that one's bowls. Then these folks take a look at my work and try to figure out exactly what it's for. I feel compelled to be forthcoming about its lack of a specific function or else suggest some farfetched possible uses. Umm, one customer said she was going to use it for flatware...

I am completely content with not making traditionally functional pottery. I will still make bowls, not only because I believe in Empty Bowls and it feels good to donate, but because I really like trimming. I will still make cups for the Studio Tours twice a year, unless I have enough leftovers from the previous Tour. And I will continue to take suggestions from friendly folks as to how to use my pots. Lauren Bellero calls them "Room Jewelry".

Monday, January 25, 2010

Look What I Found in the Studio

I haven't posted in a while because I haven't been doing much. This time of year is tough. The studio is cold, Jay has been working 60 hour weeks, a flurry or two will keep the kids home from school and as often happens, one of them is sick.
Today, I was planning on braving the chill and getting some pots thrown, as well as cleaning up from I the only one who HATES cleaning up after glazing? I am usually so tired and completely put it out of my head. Anyway, Ben started running a fever yesterday so studio work was out. I got the laundry done instead. But who wants to read about that?

As some of you know, we bought this beautiful piece of property with a somewhat less than pristine house. I'm not sure who is guilty of the modifications, but we are determined to fix them. We have plenty of "what were they thinking" moments and are occasionally stopped in our tracks. Whenever studio news seems to be running dry, I think I'll visit the spots in my house that make me scratch my head.

I love my studio. It was in pretty good shape when we moved in. We took down some shelves that were rotted, and Jay replaced a sill plate and sistered up some floor joists. We knocked down walls and removed the window screens that divided the studio from the rest of the basement.

What I can't seem to get rid of is the built-in, fold-down ironing board. I assume that Jo Lydia needed the ironing board to press her doilies.
However, I am stumped as to how she was able to iron. When one attempts to fold the ironing board down, it hits an intake duct for the furnace. I have been unsuccessful in removing all of the nuts, and it's not really in the way, so I just live with it.
The notes are from Ben. Following my instructions not to be disturbed, he would drop notes for me through the "vent", which is simply a rectangular hole in the floor, I suppose where some ductwork was going to go.

It didn't.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Nothing Like Watching Cynthia and John Demo to Get You Going

Well, a little heater would help, but...

Last night's Clay Club meeting was held at Cynthia Bringle's studio. We always have great food and last night was no exception. John Hartom brought a couple of pizzas from Pizzart in Spruce Pine. The Pesto pizza was divine.

We discussed a few business items and then Cynthia did a throwing demo for us. She really makes it look easy. John Britt followed with some "backwards" pots, throwing a few bowls from uncentered lumps of clay and generally just messing around with them.

I haven't been to a meeting since September and haven't made any new work since November, so my mind has not been on clay as much as usual. But any time I watch someone working with clay, I take home a new idea or two. John's method has got me thinking about braving the cold and trying something out.

I just might hijack that kerosene heater after all.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Are They Kidding?

I just got my copy of the Yancey Common Times Journal and above the fold reads the headline: Council calls for alcohol vote. Can you believe it? The article goes on to say that grocery sales in Yancey County are down 6 1/2 % since Spruce Pine started alcohol sales. Duh.

Sounds like Yancey County wants a piece of that action. Burnsville is one of only three WNC towns, and Yancey is one of only two dry counties in NC where the sale of alcohol is illegal. Perhaps soon, we'll be joining the rest of the state on what some fear is a fast ride to hell. I'll drink to that!

Jay Needs a Blog Title Please...

Heading off May 2008

Some of you know that my husband is an adventure motorcyclist. He and a friend rode part of the Trans-America Trail in 2008. They started in Jellico, TN and made it just over the Oklahoma border. We had just moved, and Jay's job did not afford him enough time off to go any further.
Home after 2 weeks away
Last summer, he was put in charge of a pretty big project which involved him being away from home for some time as well as working lots of long hours. He was rewarded with an extra week of vacation as well as some comp time. So he and his riding buddy have been contemplating finishing up the trail. They would take up where they left off and ride to the coast of Oregon.

In no way do we feel the need to ask each other for permission to do the things we want, but he did me the courtesy of explaining that if he were to go, he would be gone for 4 weeks, from the last week of May through the third week of June. That means, he'd be gone for all the end-of-year school programs. And he'll be gone for the TRAC Studio Tour and the frenzied couple of weeks leading up to the Tour. I'm a capable woman. I can do it alone. I might need a mini-vacation afterwards.

I told him to go for it. On one condition. He must blog about the trip. He's all for it. He appreciates the community of artists that I have found through blogging. Although we know it's not a requirement, he is a good writer, and he is passionate about riding. He's so excited that it's going to be 50 degrees on Friday so he can ride his motorcycle to work, no matter that the day will start in the 20's.

The KLR's winter home

He needs a blog title. Any ideas?

Monday, January 11, 2010

Bad Kitty

All in all, Tinkerbell is a pretty cool cat. She's the stray that we've adopted from our neighbor, who has been away for some time.

The pros:
She is extremely affectionate
No litter box
She requires minimal care and attention

The cons:
The *snacks* she brings into the basement
The undesirable *bits* leftover from said snacks left here and there

As is her custom, she meowed yesterday morning to be let upstairs. Once we saw her, we immediately noticed that the right side of her face was very swollen, and she did not want to be held and petted. We suspected an abcess of some sort, but had to wait until this morning to get her to the vet. Sure enough, she had gotten into a tussle with another animal, got bit and developed an infection. Since we weren't sure exactly when her last round of shots was, they just gave her boosters for everything and dewormed her as well. $218 later, she is on the mend, but definitely looks worse for the wear. Poor kitty.

What I've Been Up To When I Haven't Been Shovelling

I seem to have an unhealthy obsession with this driveway and all this damn snow and ice. I have been hauling groceries, luggage and pottery up the hill and forcing the kids to walk down the hill to ride to school (on those few days that they have actually gone to school). I'm not allowed to use the pickaxe, so Jay suggested the sledge hammer. It does and adequate job, but is not quite as satisfying to swing. Hopefully, the warmer temps later this week will assist me in my endeavors. Then I will gripe no more.

I wanted to post a couple of pictures from our holiday vacation. My father-in-law occasionally sings with some folks at a place called Sarge's Shack. They convinced Allison to get up in front and sing a few songs with them. She did a fine job and made her Grandpa very proud.

He's practicing on some new songs so they can sing some together the next time we visit.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Clay and Blogs: Telling a Story

Several weeks ago I was contacted by Meredith Heywood of Whynot Pottery inviting me to join an exhibit she was trying to put together about potters who are also bloggers. Please read her latest blog entry describing the journey she's been on and how the idea for this show came about.

I'm excited to be involved in this exhibit. Keep reading for updates.

Clay and Blogs: Telling a Story
Opening reception will be held at the Campbell House in Moore county
from 6-8 pm
October 1st, 2010
Exhibition comes down on November 1st, 2010

Working Harder, Not Smarter

A week after the December 18 snowstorm, Christmas Eve brought sleet and freezing rain. We decided to leave a day early to visit the in-laws in Tennessee. We thought that surely the snow and ice would be gone by the time we returned 5 days later.
We we half right. The snow on the driveway was indeed mostly gone, however the ice was now 3-4" thick in places. Jay had thrown his back out shovelling on Christmas Eve, and was still sleeping on a heating pad and swallowing handfuls of Ibuprofen. I decided to take matters into my own hands.My tool of choice was one of my favorites, and one I thought would be perfect for chipping the accumulated ice: my pickaxe. It did the trick, but after a couple of hours, my arms were so sore that I thought I'd need a straw to enjoy my New Year's Eve beverages. The pickaxe also left little chinks in the asphalt driveway, about which Jay was not pleased.
Jay is able to get the vehicles up and down the driveway, but I am not. So I threw a tantrum, insisting we park at the bottom whenever the forecast called for snow, so as not to pack down any more frozen precipitation, thus making it easier to clear and giving us a snowball's chance in Hell of ever parking at the house this winter. I got my way but am feeling pretty guilty, as Tuesday's snow never materialized, and Jay has had to walk both ways in the dark and beastly cold.

At least it's not uphill both ways.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Knoxville Arts and Culture Alliance Exhibit

The reception for the Exhibit is Friday January 8 from 5-8 pm. The weather forecast is calling for more frigid weather and snow, so chances are that I cannot make it. I'm bummed out since this is the first juried show I've entered in a very long time, and I'm pretty excited about my work these days.

If you're in Knoxville, check out the show!