Saturday, May 29, 2010

Can You Get the Phone?

No, I haven't heard from Jay since Wednesday evening. He and Bruce are/were headed towards the Rocky Mountains, and although I'm not at all certain of the route, Jay was pretty certain cell coverage would be spotty or non-existent.

In the meantime, I got a call from the TRAC gallery in Spruce Pine asking me to bring another piece for the Studio Tour Exhibit. It seems that someone came in yesterday and bought several pieces out of the exhibit. I don't even have a proper photograph of the basket that sold. I am going to buy the right bulbs today, so I can put to use all of the tips I learned in my photo class a couple of weeks ago.

I've got 9 new baskets drying, so I grabbed the little one above to replace the sold piece. They had also sold out of my heart bowls, and I'm nearly out of those at home too. I have 30 or 40 going into this next kiln load, but it's a cone 6 and they really like the cone 10 glazes. That's another learning curve: finding the right pace to work.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Trans-America Trail Update

Leg One of the trip was from our house to Jay's folks' house in TN. They loaded the bike in the back of Don's truck and headed for OK. They met up with Bruce around noon Sunday and started on their way. I joked with my MIL that it was every mother's dream to leave their kid by the side of a dirt road and drive off. She said they did stop the truck and take the time to say goodbye.

They set up camp Sunday night at the north end of Oologah Lake, OK.

Monday night, the guys made it to Alabaster Caverns State Park, OK. Jay ended up spending 2 hours in the campground bathroom due to a tornado warning in the county.

New Mexico State Line

By Tuesday, they blew through the OK panhandle, cut the corner of NM and made it to Trinidad, CO for the night. Lots sand in OK, and NM was "most amazing". Jay blew a fuse, didn't have a replacement, and had to bump start for half the day until they found a town. He called me at 1 am eastern and talked to me for half an hour. Even though he was exhausted (and a bit drunk), I could hear the exhiliration in his voice.

Colorado, Day 4

Wednesday was a short day. They got off the road a little after noon mountain time and camped in Lathrop State Park. The cell signal was good, so the kids and I got to talk with Jay for a while.

From here on out, it will be a toss of the dice if he'll be able to call when they stop for the day. He'll send text messages along the way to our home email. I send a text every time I go into town (no cell signal at the house). Allison is getting practice as I drive her to school. I bought a new Tracfone with a camera so I can send photos, but haven't figured out how to activate it yet.

Ben really misses his Dad, but he's got a sleepover with a friend this weekend to help distract him. I'm not making any new work until after the Studio Tour, so I'll have more time for the kids. Jay's only been gone a week. We have 3 to go.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Immediate Danger Has Passed

I have a homeowner's insurance quote from a carrier that doesn't care about the kiln! I'm still going to move it outside, but now I can take my time and plan it right. Whew.

What I Missed Out On in Middle School

I was a dorky, scrawny, flat-chested middle-schooler with bad hair. I had some good friends (who are now Facebook friends), but I was unpopular. I was smart, but not as smart as my older sister (Dr. Lynne, the college professor). I excelled at Art and Home Ec. That's funnier than you know.

I didn't make the cheerleading squad, for which I am now eternally grateful as I would not have met some of the best friends I've ever had who all would have shunned and pitied me. I didn't have Nikes when EVERYONE was wearing Nikes. I had really bad hair, curly that wouldn't "feather" if I'd been part bird.

I also didn't have regular dental visits, and thus when I turned 18, I had to have 4 fillings and my wisdom teeth removed in short order. I also didn't have braces.
Fast forward to January 2010, when I start to suffer some significant jaw pain. I honestly thought I had hit my head sledding, because I went from being pain-free one day to not being able to bite my toast the next. After 6 weeks, I mention the pain to my dentist who proceeds to take some of the most unflattering photos and molds of my mouth. He refers me to an orthodontist who does the same, even charging the same to analyze the photos and molds.

All of this culminates in my getting braces yesterday at age 43 to correct a malaligned bit. They are slightly uncomfortable and turn eating into a chore. Maybe I'll be able to drop those extra 20 pounds. I can't eat popcorn which is one of my favorite things to eat. I have to learn to talk without spitting. I will worry that my morning latte will stain my teeth, leaving a white dot on each one after the braces come off. I wonder if people will think I am vain.

The kids have been kind. They just tell me I look so different. Then Ben gets that gleam in his eye and wonders aloud if a Magnetix will stick. And so it goes that I become a science experiment.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

First Bisque in the Evenheat Oval

I test fired this kiln earlier this spring, but hadn't loaded up a bisque until today. I can't find the 24" half-rounds that I need anywhere, even online, so I'm making due with my 21" halves and staggering my 21" full shelves in the middle. I know it's not very efficient. I've got a lot of dead space. But this kiln is huge. I can't believe how much work I can fit inside!

It's the most cockamamie arrangement I've ever loaded, but I can fit two large baskets in. Hopefully these will be in the Clay and Blogs: Telling a Story exhibit in October. I'm happy to get them into the bisque without incident. I can be a bit of a bull in my own china shop sometimes.

The bottom of the kiln and where the 2 full rounds overlap. Clever, eh?

I've got 2 baskets that won't fit on a 21" shelf. Stupid question: Can I use my ultra-heavy gas kiln shelves in the electric kiln?

Friday, May 21, 2010

Positive Squared

Taking a break from whining about my insurance woes, to blog about a friend who has some actual problems. Shawn is a friend of mine from way back in middle school. Actually, he was my first boyfriend in 7th grade. It lasted about a month, and we were too shy to even hold hands. I cried in school when he broke up with me. How humilating. Didn't middle school suck? More on middle school next week.

Shawn is a talented musician as well as an all around nice guy. This kind of thing could happen to anyone.

Copied from Shahin's website:

"On January 23, 2010, Shahin (Shawn) Sharifi underwent emergency surgery to remove a serious staph infection from his cervical spine. A spinal epidural abscess had left him paralyzed from the chest down. The surgery was successful; however Shawn remained paralyzed. Six weeks later, he was finally able to wiggle his toes, and had regained strength in his upper body. He has since regained some conscious movement and strength in his legs. His surgeon says that now that movement has returned, there is no limit to how far he can recover. Shawn is determined to kick this paralysis in the ass.

"In spite of this extreme life-changing event, Shawn has maintained an incredibly positive attitude. In fact, his mantra after the surgery inspired the name of this benefit concert: Positive². Positive Thought Combined with Positive Action Brings About Positive Results.

"Our goal with Positive² is to spread this message, and raise funds to help Shawn adapt to his new, unexpected life. 100% of proceeds will go toward hospital bills, intensive physical therapy, lost income and home renovations to aid Shawn in his daily activities. They will also be used to establish an education fund for Shawn's new career path."

I can't be in Virginia for the benefit Saturday, so I donated a basket as well as a couple of wine sets for the silent auction. If you've ever felt the urge to help someone in need, maybe you'll feel like helping my friend. If not, that's okay. Just let yourself be inspired by his drive and courage.

Going, Going, Gone

New saddlebags, bought this morning

24,317 miles in 5 years

I am officially a single Mom for the next 4 weeks. This afternoon Jay left on his motorcycle adventure: finishing the TransAmerica Trail that he and his riding buddy Bruce started 2 years ago. He will ride to his parents place in Pulaski, TN today, change to his knobby tires and load the bike in his Dad's truck. Saturday, they'll head west, winding up in Natural Falls State Park in Oklahoma by Sunday, where he will meet Bruce.

Since the TAT is off-road, Jay's not sure he'll be able to check in daily, but as soon as I know where he is, you'll know. We have a wall map from his last trip which the kids and I will update as often as we can.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Moving the Kilns

After 3 weeks of searching for a homeowner's insurance policy, it seems that the sticking point is the kiln inside the house. It's a totally stupid place for a kiln. We knew it the first time we fired it. We also knew that the odds were better for a mouse chewing through electrical wires to start a fire than the kiln. However, we are not issuing insurance policies.

So, I am back to the idea of moving the kiln outside. I know I need a concrete pad. I'll call Bailey to get the specs. I'm pretty sure I can move it through the doors with a forklift. Gas and electricity need to be run. I have no idea what this will cost or how to choose where to put it. My current policy will not be renewed after June 12, so I either have to get it moved in 3 weeks or shutter the business until I can get it moved. I can't fire until I get a policy, so I guess I'm de facto shut down anyway.

I'm not sure this is the kind of project I can supervise on my own, but Jay leaves tomorrow for 4 weeks. The Studio Tour is in 3 weeks. I am feeling pretty screwed right now. And it's all my fault for being honest. I'll be neither the Cravens nor Blue Rock Studio were up front about the kiln.

I'm trying to look at the bright side. With the kilns outside, I could move my studio into the carport, freeing up the entire basement to eventually be finished for living space, and maybe even a guest room. I'd love to have natural light in the studio and not have to shlep clay and pots up and down the stairs.

Stay tuned for developments.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Digital Photo Workshop

I learned how to better work my camera at yesterday's workshop with John Britt and Joy Tanner. I learned that my colors are not true because I have not matched my camera settings to my light source. I learned that glossy glazes are a pain in the ass to photograph.
I can't say I was able to apply any of that knowledge to my computer or my photo software. I had an abundance of troubles simply getting the images off of the SD card. My card reader is messed up and will only read any card once. Then I have to reboot. We have multiple cameras, so I have two software programs, one of which I have never used. All of the images showed up there, but then I couldn't figure out how to do anything with them.
Eventually I managed to get the images I wanted onto the correct program and was able to email them to John so he could post them to the Clay Club blog.
The top images are the new ones. The bottom ones are my originals. Once I take new ones with my set up at home, I think the difference will be remarkable. I'll post some before and after shots in a couple of weeks.

I think I can figure all this out. First I have to decide which camera to use. My old Fujifilm has more features, but is only 3.2 megapixels. The other camera is a Kodak EasyShare which is 10 megapixels but lacks as many white balance options.

Then we discovered photographing my baskets presents quite a challenge. I have multiple hot spots and for some reason, even with Joy's camera and Joy taking the photo, the far rim isn't in focus. Bah.

Being able to photograph your own work is an important skill to have. John and Joy really know what they're talking about. John even gave us the skinny on being a juror and how quickly a piece can be rejected just because of the poor quality of the photo. They do these workshops a few times a year, and it is well worth the time and money.
Plus, they both love to cook, and lunch was delicious. They posted their recipes on the Clay Club blog.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

It Shouldn't Be This Complicated

A couple of weeks ago, I spent an inordinate amount of time scheduling my studio time, juggling both cone 10 and cone 6 work. I had worked everything out to the last day I could work wet in cone 10 to the day when I would fire the cone 6 glaze load. All of this jockeying was so that I'd have plenty of work in time for the TRAC Studio Tour.

One week of nursing sick children can really throw me off of my game.

fever at 3 pm Thursday
Early this morning, getting back into bed after 3 am "Mommy" duty, I realized that the only cone 10 work I have finished are the 3 large baskets above. The cone 10 work I would have made this week and next would never have been enough to fill the glaze kiln anyway. I have plenty of cone 6 work, much of ready to be bisqued.

So I decided to stop berating myself for not getting it all done. Without having to worry about glaze firing two loads, I can relax and enjoy the next week and a half with Jay before he leaves on his month-long motorcycle trip. He still hasn't come up with a blog title. Any ideas?

I'm not sure why I felt that I needed to have both sets of work going. I guess I wanted to have pieces in all of my favorite glazes some of which are cone 6 and some are cone 10. I suppose the touring masses will have to do without my wine bottle coasters in black, speckled white and shino.

Two large cone 6 baskets

Perhaps at some point in the future, I will narrow my glazes down and simplify my studio life. But I'm not quite ready to do that just yet.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

While the Cat is Away, the Mouse will Play Lumberjack.

Then she'll think better of it realizing that she'd have to use the chainsaw over her head. Instead wee mousie embraces the wussie-girl that she is and call her neighbor, Paul Bunyan to help cut up the tree that fell across the driveway.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Garden is Starting to Bloom

My favorite daffodils are finished blooming as are the few tulips I've found. I took this photo last weekend after it rained overnight. I like the way the drops held onto the edge of the drooping petal.

The wisteria covers the porch at the far end of the house. It looks so gorgeous, especially now that I have pulled most of the poison ivy out of it. We have to wait until the bees are finished to retrieve the badminton birdie lost up there.

The azaleas are looking pretty. The white flowers in the foreground are on a small tree which a customer told me is a "Snowball". The flower "balls" are clusters of flowers like a hydrangea.

I think this one is called a "Flame Azalea". It is right outside of Allison's window.