Monday, June 29, 2009

6 Feet of Heaven

But we did have to go to that other place for a little while.

As you might recall, Saturday was the big day of emptying the spare room, other wise known as the abyss. Clear plan of action in hand, every last thing except for big furniture was dutifully moved out and into the dining room. And after much cleaning, dusting, scrubbing, and very few harsh words, we moved back in the things that were meant to stay, moved to better homes the things that were not, and threw out an amazing amount of stuff. Where does it all come from? We've only lived here 4 years. Do I have a hoarding disease?

I had actually forgotten that this is a huge room for an old house. I had forgotten how much work we did getting this room habitable in the first place. It once sported red checked wall paper and raised medalion paper on the ceiling. It had horrid cracks in the walls. It was hideous.

The new and improved arrangement has a small 'office' space. I even got a new book case that is dedicated to all my art books. I have never had my very own book case. I didn't even know I needed my very own book case. It even still has room for more books. Amazon here I come!

There is even a sitting area (also the guest bedroom). I love this little nest. It's great place to read, sketch, nap. The storage shelves are waiting for me to come up with a clever way to use a canvas painters drop cloth to hide all of the things I couldn't part with.

The 6 feet of heaven! This will become my metal clay studio. I have never had such a purpose designed work space. There's a small shipping station on wheels. My art market stuff fits nicely under the table. Heaps of storage!

I actually put a little thought into how I work. I deeply dislike rummaging through large containers of things. When I have to do that I end up leaving things laying around because I dislike even more having to pack everything away. I work in a very small space and spread out to each side. I like things close at hand. I don't like getting up to find something. It interupts my focus to do that. If I need it, I need it now.

The penny dropped. Put it all in shallow trays, just the things that are related to a particular task. Put it all right there within arms reach. Two shoe racks, two shelves bull dog clipped together, 16 plastic bins, 3 cookie sheets later and, voila! I am Ms Super Duper Organized. There is even empty storage space (Rest assured, Ms Hoarder will take care of that quick smart).

And I just have to give credit where credit is due. My sweetie spent all day Saturday into the evening and part of Sunday on this project. I really did not have the stamina, patience, or motivation to get this done on my own. I would have cried. I would have crawled into bed with a book. Thanks Petey!

And just in case you are wondering. Miss Alice has settled in nicely to the new digs. She did however mention that in her 18 months of living with us she was completely unaware of the existence of this sofa.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Friday is a good thing, right?

I thought I'd lure you in with a photo of the trumpet vine. The cardinals and humming birds love this plant. Me? Not so much. It has taken over. It has to go. But it was a welcome bright spot and break from what I was doing today.

You see, I have this room which is called the study, the spare room, the alternative studio. Spare rooms are bad. Especially when it is so easy to close the door on them. The fairies, elves, brownies, have yet to arrive to help me in my desparate plight to transform this space into livable quarters for some of the many family that are coming in July...all at one time.

This is what the space transformation looks like at the end of the day. It is dangerous in there. There are things everywhere. The dogs will not go in there. But I have a plan.

Inspired by an account by Crafty Chica in the recent "studios" magazine, I am moving everything out. I am cleaning thouroughly. We are talking clean, Mr Clean, sparkling clean. Then nothing is going back in that does not have a specific home. I will be ruthless.

And then, my spare room, office, alternative studio will look like the cover of the magazine. Dream big, right?

But it is Friday. And in our house that means pizza. Home made pizza. OK, home assembled. And possibly a margarita. It is after all 100 F here today.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Home Sweet Home

2,220.86 miles, 36 hours driving, 9 days, and 3 major storms, we are home. It was wonderful to see family and catch up. I haven't been back to my childhood home since my dad died a year and a half ago. I even bumped into a childhood friend that I haven't seen in more than 20 years. We are all bigger, not just the kids.

And green. I had forgotten how green Iowa is in June. Not just any old green either. But a million zillion shades of luscious greens. Greens I would love to bottle up and decant when I need a little pick me up.

But it is nice to be home again.

It seems like six months since I've worked in the studio. Just what was I up to? I'm sure there is a list somewhere. I'm also sure that the list has not been thrown away as I see no evidence that the fairies have been in to clean up my studio. You just can not get reliable fairies these days.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Look what Lynn made!

Yesterday Lynn sent me photos of these earings she made using some little green porcelain charms I sent her while ago. She paired them with verdigris keys from Patina Queen and her antiqued brass ear wires that are integrated into the design of the earings and strung with beads. Doesn't this all work well together? This is fun pair of eaings that you can find over in her Lynn Davis etsy shop. Oh and there is a whole raft of pewter and glass beauties that have my mouth watering.

It's always a treat to see what people make from the things I make. These earings are no exception. In fact this is an extra special treat. Lynn, like me, makes a lot of components that other's use. It's hard to find time to make jewelry when your focus is elsewhere. As Lynn herself said, it is quite a lot of fun when you do get make jewelry. So it's pretty special to me to see some of my parts in her earings!

Also, be sure to check out ExpeditionD! I was just over there poking around to see what's new. In addition to all her other wonderful things, there are some fine silver coins and charms that really nice.

Now I'm off to pack. We're leaving for that long 16 hour trip home to our families tomorrow. We'll be stopping to see our daughter in Wichita for the night. Miss Wiggle Bottom and Bob are getting baths right now. They are very excited about the trip. Not so much about the baths.

I'll be checking in on all of you from time to time. Even my 85 year old mother has internet. Although I think she uses the computer mostly for playing solitaire. Says it keeps her mind sharp. Might be something to that.

Have a great week everyone!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Downtown Art Market

Remembered the camera, too busy to take much for photos. But I did capture my 'assistant' up there with my little 4 foot long table. Now that I'm looking at this photo, it looks like somebody didn't get the table cloth centered very well. Must have been the studio assistant. I'm sure I could not possibly have missed this.
This is the second of the new monthly art market and it's shaping up to be a really wonderful community event. It's fun! I met a two talented sisters, one doing fabulous digital collage, the other making upcycled bags and bright fun children's things, especially for boys. A quilter and a knitter who I could talk buttons and fiber with. One person was gathering details to compile a list of local artists that will be housed in the art center here. How cool is that?
One of my favourite things was a woman who came by my table, looked at some square plates, and then carried one over to a soap maker to find the perfect bar to fit the plate. I guess what I'm really enjoying most about this is the very non-competitive and completely supportive attitude of the artists at the art market. So refreshing and so good for everyone.
So we are home, we are hot, we neeeed showers. It was a hot humid day. It was like Mississippi. We are not used to that. We are tired and off to order pizza and set in front of the telly with a video. We don't even care what video. We do care about the blessing of air conditioning. What a marvelous invention.

Friday, June 12, 2009

5 New Colours

Well they are not really new colours but new ways with old glazes. These are all pendants from that Victorian lock pattern I have. I never seem to find an end to the combination of patterns and pieces that can be taken from that lock. Now it seems there are endless ways of combining colours on the pieces. That lock is becoming somewhat of an obsession I think.
One of the things I love about the blog community is the new ideas and inspiration that is generated. Sometimes I just get stuck in my own little world and then you all give me a little poke. Most of the time you probably don't even know that you've given me new ways of thinking. I'm very grateful for those nudges. I'd especially like to thank Katie and Marie for pushing me in new directions with the colours on these.
Katie of Katies Blog saw a coral pendant and the coral spiral square beads and thought ummm, that might look nice as a background for daisies. She was right! The daisy buttons, beads, and connectors I made are fresh and summery. I thought maybe it might work as a background for the floral pendants and I must say I'm pleased. Marie of Skye Jewels looked at a button I have in deep green and blue green background and asked about the floral pendants in that combination. And another winner, I think.
And between the two of them they pushed me into thinking of other glazes I had and how they might be layered and manipulated. Thanks Katie and Marie!
I'm off to get ready for the Art Market tomorrow. This time I'm definitely going to get photos. I have a list. The camera is on it. Now I just need to locate that list.
Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

When it rains, it pours

That's looking out my front door yesterday during the morning thunderstorm. Out here they say that we get 18 inches of rain a year and you should be here on the day we get it. Well yesterday was definitely a "when it rains, it pours" day.

When it rains it pours, seems a little like a metaphor for my life right now. In a good way mind you.... Downtown Art Market Saturday, Wine and Clay Festival all weekend, Studio Tour application due, trip north to visit family on Monday.... Kiln is firing for the second time this week. Ahhhh, it's been a busy few days.

Monday, June 8, 2009


These little round center hole buttons are part of a custom order. A special request for buttons that are being used in some mysterious way as closures on bracelets. They are about exactly the size of a Life Saver, but not nearly as tasty. This was fun, the buyer just said give me some sort of buttons like this in colours in this range. I like these. They are giving me some ideas. Not clearly formed ideas mind you.

One of the colours she asked for was grey. Well I don't really have a grey. But I do have a 'black' that on stoneware comes out some where close to black. Risky, never tried it on porcelain. But nothing ventured, nothing gained. I love the new colour. It's sort of a charcoal and where it pools it has a very rich speckeled, green to blue. I'm definitely going to work with some larger pieces to see how this works. Not sure just what yet.

The other little experiment actually happened before the kiln. I don't make a lot of beads. They are quite fiddly and require the right attitude. I've been wanting to make some little squared off textured beads and finally the penny dropped on just how to do it. Now you bead makers out their are probably having a little chuckle, "took you long enough, LeAnn." Oh well, what can I say. Sometimes I am just a tad slow. But I'm happy enough with these as prototypes. I can see them in pairs for earings, with spacers top and bottom.

The bottom glaze is an old glaze re-invented for porcelain. I've been secretly testing it for a while now. It is almost there. Maybe next time?

Meanwhile, it is another 100 degree day here. Not much got done in the studio past noon. I love air conditioning!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

The Glove

The glove showed up briefly this morning on the foot of our bed. Note that this is on... not at, as on the floor near the bed. It then appeared on the bench. It is worse for wear. I will be getting new garden gloves. Miss Wiggle Bottom and Bob now both deny any knowledge of how this glove went missing in the first place. Let alone how the glove mysteriously made a brief appearance on our bed. I'm still betting that Miss Wiggle Bottom knows a lot more than she is admitting too.
Meanwhile, it is 98 degrees, windy, and I've spent the day in the studio that is only cooled via fan. The kiln is firing. There are experiments out there. Hopefully, I will have some interesting things tomorrow. Hopefully, they will not be too interesting.

Friday, June 5, 2009

The mystery of the missing glove

This Alice, aka Miss Wiggle Bottom.

This is my garden glove. Usually they come in pairs. Indeed I had a pair. And the pair I had were completely intact in the fingertips.

This is my studio. A lot of work has been done here over the past couple of days.
I think that these three seemingly unrelated photos have something in common. What do you think, Miss Marple?

This is Bob, our early warning storm alert system. He denies any knowledge of the mystery of the missing glove. "I was in the closet for hours, mam. I was trying to keep you from harm, mam."
Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

How many kilns are too many?

Do you remember these? They are early experiments with copper and bronze clay. I actually really liked working with the raw material but it's clear that my tiny kiln is not up to snuff when it comes to the demanding firing schedule they require. So I held my breath, counted to 10, and clicked the add to shopping cart and bought one of these.

It was the free shipping that pushed me over the edge. Seriously. Not to mention the really lovely people at New Mexico Clay. I've bought supplies from them for several years. I love them. You actually get to talk to real people and if you order something from them and they have a question, they phone you. An actual real person phones you and clears things up. How much better does it get?
So in a couple of days, I'm going to be in digital, programmable heaven. But the real question here is " are 4 kilns too many?" I fear I have one of those collector mental disorders. You know, like the harmless lonely old woman on the block who has 50 cats. Where will it go? When I am old and lonely will I be talking to 50 kilns?
Meanwhile, as I ponder this, I am waiting for yet another storm to roll through. My early warning system, Bob, tucked his tail between his legs, and headed for the closet about an hour ago. I'm thinking we are probably about 30 minutes off another big one.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Not quite forgotten

Some time ago I asked for suggestions of what colours to use on the barnacle/sea things pendants and one suggestion took me a little by surprise. Lynn suggested sand, greens, and salmon colours. I did in fact follow up on that a bit later. I couldn't quite figure out how it might work. And then when I had done a piece, I wasn't quite sure. I had to live with it a little bit. But now I've looked it over again and I love the subtle colours. It reminds me of the colouring of a conch shell. Maybe it is that summer is now here. Maybe it is just memories. Thanks, Lynn, I'm seeing new things here.

And this seemingly unrelated prop is something that the colours Lynn suggested made me remember. This is a piece of drift wood I picked up in Costa Rica so many years ago that we didn't think much about 'pillage' of the natural environment. It's a root of some sort that has grown around all of these now sea tumbled stones. But rest assured this was actually picked up in the aftermath of a major earthquake and a gulf hurricane. We were there before the debris could be cleared. Not an exotic holiday, just research in my former academic life. I have not had the opportunity to visit this beautiful country since. More's the loss. Costa Rica is one of the finest places I've ever had the great fortune to spend time in.

Monday, June 1, 2009

The big barnacle pot

Finally, after months of sitting in my studio just waiting for me to commit to a finish, the first in a series of work with a marine fossil theme is done. Complete, finished, no going back and it actually feels good. Rarely do I pull a piece like this out of the kiln and feel good. Usually I have to live with it for a while. And sometimes I just take a hammer to it after a while. But this time it feels right. It's not that there aren't things I'd do differently. It's more that I can see my way forward. For me that's always a nice thing. And tomorrow I'll work again with some larger forms.