Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Sometimes I make pots

It's true. I really do make pots. See right up there in my banner it says 'maker of pots....' The truth is, I make pots quite often. You just don't see them very often. This little selection just came out of the kiln yesterday. Most of this kiln load will be headed off to the monthly art market. Some of them are destined for a trunk show where my seconds go. And some, sigh, will go straight to the bin. You probably recognize the Victorian lock pattern. It will be making it's debut in August on a series of square trays.

The thing I'm most excited about here is the pattern on the top of the vase. It's from a old wood batik stamp, either Indonesian or Indian. Like the Victorian lock, I've had this stamp for a long time. In fact it used to be 'decor.' But as with many things in our house, it's been pressed into service in the studio. Need a butter knife? Check the studio. I have a wondefully tolerant family.

What I'm not so excited about are most of the glazes I used. But there is a small kiln of tests going right now. Unfortunately, I won't be able to see the results for a week. We're off to Portland tomorrow to visit my long time friend, Susan, who I haven't seen in 10 years. I'm excited! And I know I'll be just a little sad to leave her behind in Portland. But that kiln load will be waiting for me as a bit of a surprise (hopefully not too much of a surprise).

Have a fantastic week!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Silver Parrot and Marguerite Daisies

A little while ago, Kelly at Silver Parrot Designs sent me this photo of this very summery, very bright necklace she made using my daisy connectors and pendant. She said it was a gift. In fact that gift was for her mother. What a lucky Mom! But there is a story here. Her mother is a member of the PEO Sisterhood, along with her grandmother, aunt, and well just about all of the important women in her mother's life. The PEO Sisterhood is a women's charitable organisation that in particular promotes women's education and attainment through a variety of programs. Their symbol is the marguerite daisy and Kelly actively searches out daisies for her Mom. I couldn't be more pleased to have those little porcelain daisies go to such a special gift.

And of course life is full of coincidences. As it turns out my mother-in-law was a member of PEO. I had no idea. And...PEO was founded at Iowa Weslyan College. Guess what. Both Peter and I grew up in Iowa (oh so many moons ago). See we are all connected in so many little ways. I think that is just grand.

As for Kelly, she's a busy girl. She's a mom, she works, she designs and makes jewelry, she blogs, she has her own website....She just opened a new Etsy shop. So why don't you go on over and check it out, maybe even give her a heart. And by all means don't pass up her blog. Not only does Kelly share her designs and beady pics and favs, she gives a little insight into her daily life with a 5 year old. Like the story of the tooth fairy. After being caught twice sneaking into her son's room to deliver the goods, she announced that the tooth fairy had sent her a message. "please leave your tooth outside the door so that I won't wake you in the night." It worked! Truly inspired and only slightly devious. I promise you'll be entertained so don't miss her blog.

Kelly, thanks so much for using my beads in such a special way!!!!!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

It's sooooo quiet!

Barbeque for 40, a trip to Carslband Caves, lasagne, carrot cake, TexMex, raspberry cream filled brownies, countless hours of intense board games, a son, a neice, a nephew, a brother, a sister, a brother -in-law. ...... Laughter...... 6 days.

It is so quiet here now.

I'll be joining Alice here on the sofa shortly for a little rest. Tomorrow, I'll be back in the studio. Meanwhile, I will hold close each precious moment that Peter and I were able to spend with our family who all live so far away.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Waking Beauty Designs

The lovely Kristin at Waking Beauty Designs made this beautiful necklace with a porcelain pendant of mine. I adore this necklace and it's very vintage, very romantic feel. Kristin incorporated vintage chain and lace, white opal chips, fresh water pearls, and vintage swarovski chain. I love the lyrical feel of this piece. It flows seamlessly from one element to the next. I'd tell you to go over and snap this one up in her Etsy shop, but somebody already did ....just after I talked to Kristin. But you should go have a little look around. Kristin does beautiful work and it's worth looking at what she has available.
I love seeing what people do with my pendants. It's often surprising. It's always inspiring. Thanks so much Kristin for making a little bit of inspiring magic!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

I like blue

I like blue, and apparently green, and a touch of lavender. Really, this is a complete surprise to me as I actually favour black, at least in clothing. Not the best choice in this 100F+ climate. I digress....This is a little sampling that came out of my kiln this morning. These pieces were patterned with vintage brass filigree stampings. The other thing i'm suprprised by, other than my colour choices, is how much I love the very romantic, feminine pattern of these. They are delicate and just a bit subtle, a little like soft fragrance.

Oh my I am poetic tonight. It must be, the now 40 or more people, that will arrive at my house Saturday night for a birthday celebration. A major birthday. One of those with a rather large number in the front and a zero behind. Not mine, mind you. But all of the preparation does have my head in a bit of a spin. Perhaps that's where the need to create things with a softness comes in. Who knows?
Happy weekend!
PS. I have just been told that 5 is not a rather large number. It is an in between number. A middle number, just kind of average.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Playing with Copper Clay

Six little copper clay pieces fresh from the kiln. Well not actually fresh. I got after them with a wire brush straight away as I had not one jot of patience to photo and show you what they look like fresh. These are pieces that have only been cleaned. There's no patina on them and I am quite liking the surface as it is. The copper has a very mellow glow to it fresh like this. I'm going to hang onto them for a few weeks to see how they change now that they're in the air. I'm quite chuffed with how these came out, especially after my last disastrous firing.

All but the piece in the top left of the photo were made in press molds. That top left one was made by rolling out clay, pressing it on to a texture plate, and then cutting it out. A few notes on the experience:

1) This clay had been in the fridge opened for about 6 weeks. It came out of the fridge just as fresh and workable as when I put it in. To store it, I wrapped it in plastic wrap which I carefully smoothed all of the wrinkles out of. I then wrapped it in another layer and popped the whole thing into a zip lock bag and squeezed out the air. I then put the whole works into the smallest Rubber Maid container I could find. Maybe that's storage over kill, but the clay came out fresh and moist without any tiny speck of oxidation on it.

2) My experience is that copper clay is a lot easier to work with than the bronze clay, so far. The copper is smooth as butter and the bronze is a bit grainier. I've only used the moist clay and have not tried the powdered clay. I'm just too lazy to mix up the powdered form.

3) I cut off just the amount of clay that I thought I'd need for each piece. The rest I wrapped and put into the container which was kept in a little ice bath. That's a Cool Tools tip, I believe. The last time I just left the unused portion out on the table wrapped. The ice bath worked pretty well to keep the clay workable compared to last time.

4) I sprayed the off cuts of clay with distilled water and wrapped them up in plastic for a few minutes to rehydrate. They got pretty mushy in there but I followed Cindy's advise and rolled them in between sheets of plastic. Great tip! The clay freshened up like magick! I could roll the fresh off the block clay without plastic on a plastic cutting surface. I did use a little dab of olive oil on my fingers and the work surface. Kneading the fresh clay to condition wasn't too bad. Actually a lot easier than wedging porecelain.

5) The largest piece started out as a 1.5" disk. One of the problems with copper clay,bronze too, is that it can warp and needs to be dried quickly. I have a dehydrator that I used for my pieces and the none of them including the large piece warped. No flipping the pieces as they dry evenly top and bottom. Not even the large piece warped at all.

6) I fired the kiln exactly according to the package instructions. Ten o'clock pm, kiln on, off to bed. Lovely, to wake up to cool , finished pieces!

7) 21.4% shrinkage. So prepare to work large with this stuff.

The package of bronze in the fridge is next. You know there are several strange studio things stored in the fridge. I've a house full of family staying this weekend. For that matter, 30 or so people coming for a B-Day party. Do you think anyone will notice this stuff? Hope nobody eats any of it. I'm thinking maybe I should hide it all in the back of the fridge. Nobody goes there. The back of the fridge is always the most dangerous fridge zone.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Art Market and Give Away

Where has the time gone? It seems like Saturday was yesterday. But here it is Tuesday already. But first that give away. My friend Sharon, at Livewire Jewelry, is having a give away to celebrate her first publication! Sharon is giving away the necklace that was published in Bead Trends July 2009. It's a beautiful necklace that features ceramic beads from Gaea and her own wonderful wire work. So give that link up there a click and have a look. Not only is Sharon celebrating, she's giving this necklace away as a thank you for the support she's recieved from all of us out here in blogland. How incredibly cool is that! Sharon herself is one of the most supportive bloggers I know. Not only does she generously share her artistic journey with us, she sprinkles thoughtful comments and support on our blogs. The thanks go to you, Sharon.

That photo up there is of the monthly Downtown Art Market last Saturday, where despite the 100 degree weather, lots of people came down to look around, shop, and just have a good time. The first Art Market was in May and we started with 18 vendors and 200 visitors. Just 3 months later we are 36 vendors with a crowd of 600. I am just tickled pink, not just for myself, but for our community. Like so many places, the downtown area is a dead zone, with much of the shopping moved out to strip malls. This market in its own small way is contributing to that sense of community that once made downtowns every where so alive. Larry, Jennifer, and Tony you all have done a fabulous job of making this happen. Thank you!!!!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

It is HOT!!!!!

No not the buttons. They are an unusual coulour combination requested by a friend. It's not a combination that would come naturally to me. But it's kind of growing on me. And that bright stripe of orange sherbet kind of makes me think of the weather today. Sizzling hot!

We are not talking about ordinary hot. No sir. It is stinking, unbearable, makes me cross, hot. It is 106F today. Not even the dogs will go outside. Haven't been out since 11am. They have strategically positioned themselves under a ceiling fan with an AC vent that blows on them. In the middle of our bed. These are above average, almost smart dogs. This is where I should be.

This is not a clay studio day. It is far too hot out there. Nothing in the world could convince me to go out there. So what's a girl to do? Inspired by that hot stripe of orange on those buttons, I got out my thrift store hand bag an slapped on a little pop of colour in honour of this sizzling hot day. This button was made from one of the new texture plates that I made from a sea shell. And soaking in the ocean is where I'd really like to be right now. I'm trying to mentally transport myself there right now. I'm pretty sure there is a tall cold fruity drink of some sort involved. Ah, yes, the picture is getting clearer. It's a resort, there are beach side chairs, there are waiters bring me drinks.....It is not 106F.
OK back now. I think I'll go out and fry some eggs on the front walk.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Hot out of the kiln

Hot! Well hot in West Texas. We're at 103F and I have no idea how to judge hot out of the kiln. I do know it was a short studio day. My brain turned to butter about noon. These are a few of the new textured pieces that came out of the kiln this morning. I must say that I'm rather pleased with the potential here. I am a bit dissapointed that some part of me censored one of the new textures. I have no idea why my brain shut that off. Oh well. Next time.

These are a couple of sample pieces from glazes I didn't think would work. I've got a few pendants waiting to be fired in these glazes tomorrow night. These were a happy surprise. I like these. Sometimes, I really enjoy a surprise.

And finally, the 'what was I thinking glaze.' Well I'm still not sure. This morning I loved it. This afternoon I hated it. This evening I'm neutral to loathing. It's very olive drabby, non descript grey. It could work. I'm just not sure how.
Time to find a cool place without a hot computer in my lap.
Cheers, LeAnn

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Gates of ....

Well I'm inclined to believe it might be the gates of that less desirable place. The kiln is loaded, it is firing, it is hot as h-e-double hockey sticks. I could have gotten more in this kiln but my brain melted about 5 pm and my will power was in seriously diminshed supply about 4 pm. It's mid 90F here which means out in the studio it is about 1058 degrees. No AC. Yuk. Tomorrow we're gonna break 100F. So I'm off to do a bit more work tonight while it is still 'cool.'
But stay tuned for the big reveal. There is all sorts of new things in there. New textures, new glazes, including a what was I thinking glaze.
Hope you all stay cool!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Back Yard Chemistry

What is that man doing in my back yard? No, he's not testing the pool water. We don't have one of those but given the hot weather it would be nice. That is Peter testing the specific gravity (or something like that) of his latest batch of beer. It's a porter I'm told. Very nice I'm sure. But give me a glass of shiraz. Beer makes me burp! But a man's got to have a hobby. And there is a beer brewing brother coming into town soon. The competition is stiff and we have to have some of the good stuff on hand.

Meanwhile, I'm doing my own back yard chemistry. New glazes, new pieces. It always amazes me that something that looks so uninteresting in it's unfired state can come out all shiny, and hopefully nice. I'm never sure what the proper invocation is when I fire a kiln. But, may the kiln gods be with me tomorrow night. The proof is in the pudding, so they say. Wednesday will be pudding time.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Not just a pretty package

Last night Peter came home with this lovely package from Japan. It was a gift from a student of Japanese descent who had just returned from a family visit. Isn't it beautiful? It actually came with lovely chocolate brown wrapping on the outside that has since disappeared.

Neatly nestled inside are Japanese sweets, a sort of pastry stuffed with different types of bean paste and fruit (I think). Very yummy!

But even the inside was nicely packaged. A lightly embossed paper wrapped over the goodies, covered with a card, which I think is probably a buisiness card. Packaged beautifully inside and out. This was a treat to open, not just because it came from Japan and was therefor somewhat exotic. It was an experience....opening this package was something to savour. Great care, even in this commercial product, went into packaging the sweets.

This made me think about my own packaging of things I send out. Does it show care? Maybe. Is it an experience? Probably not. At least not in the same sense that opening this package was. This package made me realize that as a Westerner, I am so conditioned to the bottom line, the expediency of doing things, the hustle and bustle of daily life that I forget to just savour the moment.

This box of sweets was not just a pretty package.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

New Textures, New Things

Busy day playing with the new texture plates I made yesterday. Here's a little peak at what's coming up. There are lots of them. I have a vague and blurry notion of what these might look like finished. It's after 9 pm. I'm tired. Where did the day go?

Night all!