Thursday, September 23, 2010

Am I Really Cut Out For This?

I am the new PTO Chairperson for Ben's school. He's in 5th grade, so this is the last year I'll be able to volunteer in this capacity. I really don't mind volunteering at school. At our charter school in Monroe, I was the Library Volunteer Coordinator as well as Book Fair Chair. I have volunteered for the past two years shelving books for our part-time librarian. What can I say? I love books.

So back to this PTO gig. As happy as I am to be involved, I really hope that I am able to take it as seriously as I should. But, how did I get here? I mean, this is the same person who threw a Tupperware Party that no one came to. And when Allison was a baby, I resorted to taking out an ad in the local paper to find a playgroup. And the only Mom who answered the ad turned out to be a bit high strung. Jay thought she was psychotic. We moved.

I have come to the realization that there isn't much "O"rganization in the PTO. "O" stands for "Oh my goodness" the room just emptied when I asked for some help. "Oh, you schools are looking for another handout from local businesses". "Oh crap, where did I put that memo?"

A few individuals do most of the work. I am in charge of pulling off the year's big fundraiser in a few weeks, and I'm feeling a little pressure here. I already have prehypertension, and I'm not sure this is good for my health.

You may have noticed that I have a hard enough time organizing and motivating myself, much less trying to rally a parent base that may or may not have the time nor the inclination to get involved. It's a shame because I just heard some study that shows that a child's success in school has a direct correlation to the parents' involvement.

So my plan is to enlist a parent in each grade to put together a parent/grandparent contact list for a directory (if the Principal approves) and have said parent contact other parents and assign tasks. We have only one class per grade so this is not a lot of parents, so not a lot of phone calls.

I always tell my kids that many hands make light work. Do you think the parents will swallow that line? My kids don't.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

I Really Am a Glass-Half-Full Type of Gal

I'm not sure what the glass is half full of though. Perhaps it should be half full of prune juice to get things going around here. Or wine, but half a glass of wine is not nearly enough to excuse my lack of time-management skills. Any pictures accompanying this post should be of boxes: you know, the boxes that should have been shipped before now. Instead, here are the larger vases.

I had planned on hand-delivering my basket for the Carolina's Got Art! exhibit, but misread the delivery instructions until Saturday morning: no one available to accept work on Sunday. At least I didn't make the long drive to Charlotte to find this out. However, this did result in a quite expensive packing and shipping charge, and the box still didn't arrive on time.

Then, Michael Kline was going to deliver our pots for the Clay and Blogs: Telling a Story exhibit while he was in Seagrove this past weekend. Only he found himself in the middle of a firing cycle and cancelled the trip. No problem. I hadn't decided on which pieces to send. I still would have had to box everything up, and I don't have enough boxes or packing materials around the house.

So tomorrow, I head to the Post Office to procure some packing materials, no doubt paying a premium price for my failure to properly plan. Unless there is a shipping store around here. After needing $30 worth of packing peanuts and an $11 outer box (I had the inner box already), perhaps it's worth paying someone to do the whole thing. I don't ship often, and packing up those baskets makes me pretty nervous.
My poor planning was evident in the studio today as well. Not only had I run out of suitably soft clay, I drank a cup of caffeinated coffee which rendered me unable to throw anyway. Tomorrow is another day.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Carolina's Got Art!

I was notified this week that my blue basket was selected to be in the Carolina's Got Art! Exhibition sponsored by the Elder Gallery in Charlotte, NC. The show opens October 1, 2010 and will run through October 30, 2010. After that it will be travelling throughout North and South Carolina for the next year. Those locations have not yet been announced.

Unfortunately, I will be unable to make the opening reception on October 1 due to another engagement, notably the opening of Clay and Blogs: Telling a Story at the Moore County Arts Council. I'll be able to stop by and see the exhibit Saturday. Never has my social calendar been so full!
In other news, I invested in new signs for the studio. The old signs were fashioned using wood panels that I found lying around and the largest stencils that I could find. After nearly 2 years, it was time for an upgrade.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Going Under the Knife

When I decided to make some more functional work last week, I zeroed in on bowls and bottles. The bowls have proven a bit problematic. I've lost 4 to cracking so far, even though the dehumidifier is off and I've kept them covered.

The bottles are small, but a decent start. I like making little wine carafes. I tried cutting the tops of some at an angle and quickly decided that I hated them.

Rather than try to salvage them, I decided to just experiment, using some texture and paddling some, and yes, a little cutting. Most of my attempts fall short of anything worthwhile, however, some of the more daring cuts resulted in something exciting. So I threw another set of bottles/cylinders, this time with no bottom. I'm really digging some of these.

Then yesterday, I threw these 3-5 lb cylinders, which is a lot of clay for me. I'll see if I can pull the same idea off a little larger in scale.
You'll have to excuse my awkward segue here to another almost related topic. I ran across an old article entitled "Is Glaze Dead?", and although I haven't had time to reread it, just the title has me rethinking my surfaces. I've said it before. I LOVE glaze. And certain glazes really love my baskets, but will these new vases be engaging enough with glaze alone? How else can I treat the surfaces? Some of them have an interesting enough shape that almost begs for some sort of deliberate decoration, but I've never decorated my pots before.

I guess some trial and error experimenting is in order.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Back in the Studio this Week

After a week or two of monkeying around with photos and trying to enter shows, this week I cried "Uncle!" and descended the stairs to the studio. Two bags of Henry Pope's brick hard Ellen Buff had been soaking for several weeks (or perhaps months) and were more than ready to be wedged, weighed and thrown.

In case you don't know the story, sometime last year Henry posted on the Clay Club blog that he had 800 lbs of cone 4-6 Ellen Buff to give away. This was shortly after I decided to start firing some cone 6 reduction, so I called and made arrangements to pick the clay up. As it turned out, he had nearly 1400 lbs, and all of it was solid as a rock. Blissfully ignorant that the Ford is a half-ton truck, I loaded all the clay and made my way up the mountain.

I prefer not to have to soak clay to a slurry only to have to dry it out on plaster bats, so I just slake the clay down by pouring a cup of water into the bag, resealing and kicking it over every few days until all the water is absorbed. It works pretty well, resulting in clay soft enough to slice and mix with fresh reclaim.

Anyway, I have grown a little weary of trying to explain what function my baskets serve. Currently they enrich my life with their beauty, and while you certainly could, I wouldn't fill them with salad. So I have decided to make some work that is undeniably functional: bowls and sake sets. Don't worry your pretty little heads, I will indeed be cutting them, at least a little bit.

The photos I've been working on are twofold. I am taking some classes through Appalachian Women Entrepreneurs about Etsy and increasing my online presence. One suggestion was to take Etsy photos with props. I tried, but to me they feel contrived, and I really prefer the more formal photos. Then I tried to set up an online portfolio on Call For Entry and found that I am unable to size my photos the way they require. I tried the two photo software programs I own plus Picnik. CaFE wants photos 1920 x 1920, which means they can have the balck bars top and bottom if your image is not that high. I can't seem to get those black bars on, so I have no portfolio there. I think I'm going to have to buy Photoshop Elements or something similar unless any of my faithful readers knows how to do this for free.
So I am closing with a coffee mug that my beloved Nana gave me from which I drank some caffeinated coffee today. I love this mug. For the 1986-1987 school year, it sat in my rented locker at Radford University, alongside my immersion heater and my box of Cream of Chicken Cup O' Soup.