Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Along came a spider

The other morning, I was out with the dogs, sitting quietly on my deck, and saw this. Quite exquisite in all of its spiny arachnid glory. About the size of quarter. But the problem is I am an arachniphobe. Like truly, horribly petrified of spiders. And this baby was sitting over my doorway back into the house. It was hard to summon up the courage to go back in. Just ask my family. There are spider stories galore.

One story that lives on and gets recited way too often is the spider and the shower story. A long time ago we lived in an old old house and the only shower was in the basement. It was a pretty primitive arrangement. I went down for my nightly shower and when I was toweling off there was this huge black spider on the floor. It followed me, I screamed, it followed me every time I backed away. And then I heard giggling. Seems my oh too clever 10 year old son had attached a plastic spider to my towel with fishing line. In hind sight this is a pretty good joke and he lives to tell the story-- every year at about this time.

I really met my match spiderwise, in Australia. There we had the Huntsman. An enormous but quite benign spider, human wise. These are huge spiders, about the size of the palm of my hand in Adelaide. The first time I saw these shortly after I moved I was vaguely fascinated but not so much that I wanted to hang around very long. In Melbourne, where they were smaller (not much), they frequently made a home of our house. I patiently learned to scoop them up with a broom and release them outdoors. These spiders were fantastic for insect control so I actually took good care of them.

Every year at about this time I think about incorporating a spider or two into design. Halloween and all. But it's not going to happen this year. That spiny beauty up there in the first photo has put me off yet again. I know all of you spiders out there have a wonderful niche in the eco system, but I'm sorry, I still don't like you very much. I'm trying, but I'm not there yet.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Room for one more acorn?

I first made acorns last year as little charms to celebrate my Texas red oak tree blessing me with the first acorn in my five years in this home. It’s a gorgeous tree and so healthy now, but wasn’t always. You can read about that here. A lot of my design inspiration occurs rather spontaneously from the life around me.

This year I decided to make little acorn beads. Just because that tree is still alive and beautiful. Another tribute to the tree that graces my front garden. But can the world really embrace another acorn bead?

Lately, as I read blogs, and I read a lot of blogs, I’ve been reading about other artist’s experience with copyright and copying. I don’t tend to get into that sort of thing on my blog. But it makes me quite sad to see people trying to capitalize on the hard work of others by blatantly lifting design and selling it as their own. Tisk, tisk…bad…. and shame on you.

In this day and age of instant communication over the internet we are bombarded with images and ideas. Sometimes it’s hard to know whether what you are doing is in the least bit original, something that comes from you. So I started to question myself and my little acorn beads. Did I unconsciously make beads that were someone else’s idea? It horrifies me to think that I may have. But those images that are so readily available sink into my subconscious mind and just might come out in my own design. And after all, there really is only so many ways to make an acorn.

So I did a quick Etsy search on handmade acorn beads and charms. This wasn’t as easy as I imagined! To my absolute delight, interpretation of the acorn is wonderfully diverse. Here’s just a small sample.

From left to right and top to bottom:
Wool, polymer, silver, clay! All beautiful, all unique.

Please, join me tomorrow on the Beads of Clay blog, where I’m looking at how Mary Harding made a museum trip and turned that into her own inspiration for design.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Little Acorns

Where did the week go? I know part of mine went to making a few tiny little acorn beads and what seems like hundreds of other pieces over the past couple of days. Sometimes the work just flows that way and it feels good to just go with it. These little guys are getting glazed tomorrow and popped in the kiln over night. I've got a bazillion glaze samples going in there too. I love seeing new glazes. A whole world of potential gets opened up.

This is the moon last night as it peeked through the clouds and the branches of the pecan tree. I just happened to catch it as I went out to load the bisque kiln. Any sooner or later and I would have missed it. It surprised  me with it's bright intensity and made me smile.

I'm off to finish up todays work and fire a few more pieces for tomorrow's glaze kiln. Happy weekend everyone!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Not One Photo!

We are back and tired and happy! The wedding was beautiful and I was too busy wiping tears of joy from my eyes to remember to take any photos at all. There are lots of photos out there of the wedding, just not any on my camera. I'll have some to show you later.  The only photo I have is of the necklace I borrowed from myself to wear for the wedding. It's headed off to a show in November so I have to give it back.

My son's wedding went off without any major glitches. Some minor ones, like his step mom driving away with the wedding license before it was signed. And then after retrieving that he realized that the keys to their car were also in her hand bag. But not before she had driven away again. Oh, and the person who sets up for weddings had a family emergency so nothing was set up. But despite a few surprises, everything was beautiful and we have the great pleasure of adding Tammy and her daughter to our family.

Now it's back to something of a normal routine in the studio until the next wedding rolls around in February. We are having something of an over full basket of happiness this year. My daughter is getting married on Valentines day. But this one is much easier. She's running away with her sweetie to Las Vegas and getting married by Elvis.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Is it autumn yet?

I unloaded the kiln last Friday and think I am definitely in an autumn mood by the looks of what came out. Funny thing, it is still reasonably warm here but I feel like when it gets below 90F it's getting kind of cool. I am so ready for crisp fall days but that's another month off for us. But the mornings are beautiful right now.

I've closed up the Etsy shop for a week. That wedding is only 5 days away. We pretty much have everything in place. We even have a groom now! My son got in from Afghanistan yesterday morning. He phoned from Wichita and his happiness just bubbled over. I could hear Tammy and Alyssa in the background laughing and giggling. They are such a happy family. I'll see them on Wednesday. I can hardly wait!

See you next week. Oh, guess what I'll have photos of?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Joys & Sorrow

I sometimes think that sorrow fits along side of joy to remind us to cherish those times when we are happy and all is right with the world. That's my soon to be daughter in law and that's the first look at the wedding dress when she was trying them on a month ago.  Doesn't she look happy?  It's safe to post a photo now. My son left Afghanistan sometime last night. He may be in Germany by now, maybe not. But he's on his way home for two weeks and in time for the wedding. It's coming up so fast. Just a week from Saturday. We had such a wonderful time last weekend with Tammy and her daughter finalizing wedding plans. Miss Alyssa, who is nearly 3, has my husband completely wrapped around her little finger. It was an absolute joy to see them together playing catch and escaping the pillow monster.

I got a phone call this afternoon from my mom's friend. He and his wife take such good care of her. It's a blessing to have people like them in our lives when we live so far away. He takes mom to her doctors appointments an hour away from where they live. Seems that they've discontinued mom's cancer treatment. It's not working anymore. It all looked so promising just 2 months ago when the metastases that had recurred were gone after 6 months of treatments. A PET scan sometime in the next week will tell us more.

Mom was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer 8 years ago at about this same time of year.  The outlook was not good. But some radiation treatment and a new cancer drug and a year later all of the metastases had gone. She was cancer free for 7 years. She's had quite a good run.

Now we will wait and see.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Two pounds of clay, four ounces of M&Ms, and one storm

That's 65 buttons I made today. I think I hate buttons now. They are part of a large order and all nestled in the kiln. Initially, I amused myself by counting the number of times I jabbed the centers with a wooden tool. 28 on average. By the 25th button I was rewarding myself with a third cup of coffee. By the 35th button, it was one peanut M&M every 5 buttons.  By the 42nd button, it was eat as many of those M&Ms as you like, LeAnn, just get those danged buttons done. By the 60th button I was dreaming of a gin and tonic, which I am rewarding myself with right now.

During the midst of this button making session, we had an awful storm come up, hail, high winds. Not too many big branches down, but lots of little ones. But the saddest thing about this storm is realizing how deaf my old dog Bob is getting. He used to be my early warning system. He could hear a storm hours before it got here.  Not now. He laid out on the deck right up until the rain started even though it had started thundering a good half hour before. The young dog, Alice, was laying under my work table panting away. But not old Bob. But then he is over 10 now, and for a big dog that translates into something like 88 years old. Something is bound to break down on him at this age. He still can run like a pup though!

We are off tomorrow for Wichita to do the final wedding things. I can hardly believe my son's wedding is only 15 days away! Everything has fallen into place in such a beautiful way. We have the dress, we have a place, we have an officiant, we have bridesmaids, we have groomsmen, we have a wedding liscence, flowers, cake, and food. We have just about everything except the groom.

I talked to my son this morning. Hearing your child so excited and happy about his wedding is one of the most wonderful things a mother can experience. He talks about family, his own family, what they want to do, plans they have. It's even more remarkable given that he's in the middle of a war zone. He's counting down the days until he leaves Afghanistan for mid tour leave. As of now that will be September 8th. It's a kind of complicated trip and takes 3-4 days to get home. All of us are excited to see him, but no one more than Tammy.

Have a great and wonderful weekend everyone!