Sunday, November 29, 2009

So many cranberries.....

So little time......

If your household is at all like mine, right now you are probably staring at a large container of cranberry sauce left over from the Thanksgiving feast. We love cranberry sauce. Thanksgiving wouldn’t be the same without it. But a little goes a long ways and there is always way too much. So it usually sits there quietly in the fridge until it just really has to go.

This year I said things would be different. I figured if those folks over at Ocean Spray can make cranapple juice, I can make cranapple crisp. What I like about making a fruit crisp is that it does not tax my non-existent pastry skills the way a pie does. It doesn’t require a lot of exact measuring, a bonus for the pastry challenged. And even if the crisp isn’t perfect, it can always be fixed up with a generous dose of vanilla ice cream.

So here’s what I did:

3 huge Granny Smith apples, peeled, sliced and coated with 1 Tbsp flour, mixed with about 1 ¾ cups of homemade cranberry sauce, spread in an 8x8 greased baking pan

Topped with ½ cup old fashioned oatmeal, ½ cup flour, ¾ cup brown sugar, ½ stick softened butter, ½ tsp cinnamon, all mixed together until it was crumbly.

Baked at 375F for about 30 minutes until bubbly on the bottom and golden on the top.

Ocean Spray, move over.....Hot out of the oven, with a generous dose of vanilla ice cream, this was seriously delish! Quite frankly we were suffering from desert withdrawal so it was necessary for our mental well being. And all those antioxdents had to be good for us. In fact this was so good I am thinking of making cranberry sauce specifically so we can have this crisp whenever we want. A big step indeed for the woman who does not make desert, not ever. (that’s what the bakery section of the grocery store is for).

Hope you've all had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday. And if it wasn't Thanksgiving for you, then I hope it was a great weekend.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Robotogami and the Birthday Boy

It’s funny to me that when I ask my son what he’d like for a home cooked birthday dinner, we both know that the answer will be lasagna. But it is a little ritual we go through each time we have the opportunity to celebrate his birthday. Last night we had a late birthday celebration and the fine opportunity to relive Cole’s childhood Transformer days. I do believe that he may have owned every version of Transformer available. It was a passion. In fact I am quite enamored of those small vehicles that become either heroes or villains.

A couple of weeks ago we were at the art market hosted by Tornado Gallery each month. Their current exhibit was of sculpture by Dustin Wallace. He’s a draftsman, machinist by day and an artist by night. Dustin creates these incredible transformer like sculptures with movable parts that have all hand machined gears inside and water jet cut parts. Among these were these little flat copper “Robotogami” pieces. They come flat and are cut from a single sheet of metal with small hinge points so that you can fold them into a 3 dimensional sculpture posed to your own liking. Perfect gift for the transformer loving son.

Cole’s eyes sparkled as he bent the robot into shape, got out my jewelry pliers to refine the hands and other points to his liking. And in that moment we were transported back to his childhood days of endless construction of young dreams. I think it’s the holiday season coming up that is making me so nostalgic. But I do love these magic moments.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Butterflies and Pinks

One of the things I promised myself when I had finished the shows, was dedicated time to work on some designs that have been floating around in the back of my mind. Well, today I woke up feeling the best I have all week, looked at the dining room chaos, and said to myself, " no sense in wasting this positive good feeling on organizing." I love Japanese kimono textiles and the rich patterns that many of them are decorated with. I have this book of Japanese textile designs and several of them have been nagging me for years to translate them into bas relief ceramic design.

So I sat down and 'plucked' elements out of 3 textile patterns and arranged them in a way that felt right to me. Many of my designs start like the sketch above. No, I'm not going to make black butterflies. What I do is 'black' in the major elements, scan to my computer, reverse colour, and then add detail later. I am sure there are more efficient ways to do this but I like using my markers and mechanical pencils. It feels like my ancient days of drafting when I studied landscape architecture. I'm not entirely sure which parts of this particular design will be made into jewelry components. That will come later, days, maybe even weeks from now. Eventually, the design will be made into a model, probably several, and cast to make pendants. It may even be abandoned. Today it was just so very nice to sit down and sketch. The dining room can wait till tomorrow. In fact it is my experience that chaos will always patiently wait for you to attend to it.

Have a happy weekend all!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Thanksgiving Treasures - Tesori Trovati

Such a great pleasure I had when I received my earrings from the secret Thanksgiving Treasures swap hosted by Leslie at Bei Mondi. You see I have been a long time admirer of the designs by the talented Erin Prais-Hintz of Tesori Trovati. I was over the moon when I saw the return address, and even more so when I opened the package. Inside, beautifully packaged was this pair of earrings that I absolutely adore.

These earrings,called 'Singin’ the Blues,' are made of aged brass earwires and chain, Swarovski Montana Blue sapphire crystals and faceted peacock pearls. They are light as a feather and both the crystal and the pearls catch the light and sparkle as you move in a way that a photo doesn't come close to capturing. I love these!

Thank you so much, Erin! These are perfect. And be sure to check Erin's wonderful blog where she shares her designs, inspiration, and observations of life. Definitely worth a read.

Last but not least, thank you Leslie for organizing this very fun exchange and letting all get to know each other a bit more. I've truly enjoyed this.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Tiny birds

One of the last things I made for the shows last weekend were these tiny little porcelain birds. I've been playing with the idea off and on since spring. But being the skillful procrastinator that I am, I put them off until just a couple of days before they absolutely had to be ready. I'm not entirely sure what happens to me sometimes. 'Cute' is not really something most people associate with my work. But, you know, these are getting pretty close. Just so you know, I've opted to label them as sweet. I'm actually feeling a little obsession coming on with these. Rolling small lumps of clay, pinching and poking them into tiny birds is quite therapeutic.

I'm still trying to get back into the routine of things but I am still tired. I think that might have to do with the enormous pile of plastic tubs, table drapes, props, and general chaos that is happening in my dining room right now. Making little birds is just so much more enjoyable. Reading a book, napping, anything but taking care of that mess. It's just too much like cleaning.

OK, I am going to be brave now. I am off to unpack one container. If I do one thing at a time it will be done in time for the New Year.

Monday, November 16, 2009

So Tired

I've just finished a week of 12 to 14 hour studio days, a day of set up, a night market, and 2 days of studio tour. And only one bad photo of one little part of it to show you. I am tired! I really had no idea what to expect of the studio tour. Or at least what I expected had very little to do with the reality of it. I've only ever attended the tour. I've never shown my work on the tour. It's very different from this side of the street.

Something like 5,000 people attend this local event. The way it works is that the Arts Alliance coordinates and publicizes the event and selects a juror for the show. This year 10 studios were selected as host locations and 56 artists were selected to show their work. Our location was in the home of a jeweler, and in addition to my ceramics, there was an oil painter, an acrylic painter, and two photographers. We used the entire house as our 'gallery' so there was a lot of art. I had no real understanding of just how many people mark their calenders and get out there bright and early on Saturday. You know 5,000 is just a number a multiple of 5, 5 x 1000. Numbers are an abstract concept to me. This is a pretty serious big event and I was completely unprepared for what perhaps 700 people coming through one home would be like. Overwhelming is probably an understatement. And these people are serious collectors and buyers. Which turned out a good thing for me but Mother Hubbard's cupboard was pretty bare by the end of Saturday , with another day of tour to go.

It was good though. I shared the dining room with my friend Liz and her beautiful photography, a piece of which came home with me. We laughed ( a lot). We learned together as it was her first studio tour as well. I learned to add numbers in my head (sort of). I learned that you really, really do need to bring a calculator. But lacking that, buyers will get out their mobile phones and add up numbers for you. I learned that it is good, really really good, to ocassionally step outside of your comfort zone and do something new.

I feel a little like a creation story today. And on the 10th day she rested.

Tomorrow, I will be back to my normal routine, thankful that I won't do another large show until April. Heaps of time to prepare, right?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

My heart is filled with sadness

As many of you know there was a mass shooting on Ft Hood, TX this afternoon. As some of you know our son is stationed at Ft Hood. We have gotten a text message from him that he is fine but as you can imagine very busy right now. We are grateful beyond words that he was not harmed. But our hearts are heavy with sadness for the dead, the wounded, and their families. When your child becomes a soldier the Army becomes part of your extended family. I am in a deep state of shock and almost unbearable grief with this tragedy that touches our family so closely.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Things that make me smile, part 2

Mary Jane, aka Maire Dodd, sent me this photo of a pendant she made that incorporates a few of my porcelaine beads. I actually got this photo on one of my most down with the nasty virus days. She asked 'does this make you smile'? Oh yes, indeed, it made me smile, and it still makes me smile. MJ made this piece for the fun with focals challenge hosted by Heather Powers at Humble Beads. Mary Jane said she wasn't sure what to do with the beads, wasn't sure why she had gotten the faceted glass beads, and that she was sure you must carry an inventory of beads around in your mind. And then it clicked for her and out came this focal piece. I love that! And this definitely makes me smile. And what MJ doesn't know is that this in fact is one of the first set of beads I ever made. I hung on to them for a long while and then it was time for them to find a new home. And what a lovely home they have found. Thanks Mary Jane!

If you'd like to see more of the 'fun with focals' challenge you should head over to the Flickr group. There is a lot of very innovative things happening there.

And the other thing that makes me smile all over today is that it is my son's birthday. He's 29, my first baby, and I remember his birth as if it were yesterday. I can still see him with his scrunched up beautiful new born face. Blinking at the world as if he was just not quite ready to be in it but taking that deep, deep breath and then letting out a most healthy new born, I am here, wail. What absolute beauty.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Things that make me smile

This past week has been a tough one for me. I had the distinct non-pleasure of getting a virus on top of the seasonal asthma I get at this time of year, precisely while I am getting ready for 3 events. But you know, I was thinking, while I was having my own little pity party, what makes me happy? What makes me smile? Well, top of that list is all of you out there who've stopped by to wish me well. And there are some pretty spectacular pieces of jewelry that I've had such a thrill to see over the past little while. Too many in fact for just one blog post. So I thought this is just the time to do a little series of these wonders in no particular order.
Judy, at Judith B Designs, recently posted photos of pieces she made using some of my components. I must say that I was completely gob smacked when I saw this necklace. Judy used a cornucopia of pearls, smoky quartz, and lapis to make this piece and topped it off with a vintage rhinestone drop. Stunning!

Judy incorporates pieces of vintage jewelry in many pieces of her work. I often think how much fun it would be to prowl the antique shops and flea markets with her.
Next up she used my bronze dragonfly charm paired with a bead and dropped off a leather cord. Complete simplicity and perfectly balanced. The dragonfly I make is inspired from memories of the images I saw during my years in the Asia Pacific. This necklace wholley embraces my feeling of that particular aesthetic. Makes me happy :-)

And this is the peep hole of my large kiln, about 15 minutes ago. I love the glow of the heat when the kiln when it is just about to temperature. The kiln is off now, the smaller kiln is on. This is the last 2 firings of the pots for the upcoming events. This is the last of my 12 hour studio days. That makes me very happy!