Friday, October 29, 2010

Where is Hartford?

I've spent a bit of time this week trying to answer this question. I admit my sense of place 'out east' is a little weak on the geography side. I know where New York City, Boston, Philadelphia, and even Albany are. But that's really about it. When we travel we generally go west. So I just don't know a whole lot about the east.

I know that Hartford is the capitol of the state of Connecticut, has a metropolitan population of around 1,200,000, is about 400 years old, and so on. It's long, long way from W TX. But why my sudden interest in Hartford? Well, my daughter and her fiance are in a car driving there right now as I type.

They are not on holiday. They are moving. Sort of. This autumn my daughter's fiance was told that his department was being out sourced and to plan on being unemployed in February. Two weeks ago they were told that their jobs would be finished in a week's time. Derek was a graphic designer for the Wichita Eagle  for 6 years and like so much of the newspaper industry, whatever jobs can be outsourced have been. There are no graphic design jobs in Wichita. He knows. He was laid off for a while last year.

Sarah has taken a 3 month traveling nurse job in Hartford. They'll decide later if they will stay. It's a big decision. But Wichita, where they live and own a house, has been hit pretty hard by the recession. When the recession first hit, the aerospace industry alone lost just under 7000 jobs literally over night. That's a lot of people to absorb back into the work force in a city of 350,000. So up sticks it is and off they go. I'm a little sad because they will be so far away. On the other hand I am so excited that they will get this new experience, a fresh start. They are young and now is the time for them. Oh, and Sarah and I are planning a little mummy and daughter trip to New York. I love New York.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Calling You!

 Call to Create is a new event to inspire you to create art jewelry featuring handmade components. As an incentive, Barbara Lewis of Painting With Fire Artwear, is offering a set of her fabulous enameled beads. Not these exact beads. You'll have to head on over to Love My Art Jewelry to find out more. Barbara has written a lovely and inspiring post to introduce the call to create. It's all about honouring our creative selves and our talents. It's definitely worth reading!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Thank you and the Sale!

Thank you so much for joining us on the Beads of Clay open studio tour! I do hope you've had fun and that you've enjoyed meeting some of the wonderful Beads of Clay artists.

I'm having a 15% discount in my Etsy shop form now until midnight. Just put BOC in the notes to sellers and check out as usual. I'll refund you your 15% through PayPal and everything will ship on Monday.

I'd love to have you join me on my blog. You can get regular updates on my life in the studio by the clicking the follow me on the right.

Not yet a follower of the Beads of Clay blog? Then hop on over to the BOC blog by clicking the BOC pic on the right.

From our House to Yours - BOC Open Studio

We love autumn in our family. The weather gets cooler. Halloween is still a favourite even though our children are grown and starting families of their own. We look forward to Thanksgiving and Christmas and family get togethers. And that always involves at least one traditional sit down meal. Every time we get together I ask the same question. 'What should we have for dinner?' And lately, I get exactly the same answer and it's not even anything I cook. They want Peter's brined and smoked turkey breast. And don't forget the special sauce, Mum.

For quite a few years Peter has been honing his outdoor cooking skills. He has as many grills as I have kilns! Stephen Reichland of BBQ University was quite the inspiration for him. I think he owns all of Reichland's cookbooks. He may even own more cookbooks than I do, and all of them are grilling books.

Coffee-Molasses Turkey

For the Brine:

½ cup hot espresso (or strong coffee)
½ cup molasses
6 T coarse salt (kosher or sea)
3 T Dijon mustard
1 T black peppercorns

For the Turkey:

1 bone-in turkey breast (about 5 lbs)
Espresso barbecue sauce (optional)


1 cup wood chips/chunks (preferably sassafras or hickory), soaked for 1 hour in water to cover, then drained.

Serves 8-10

1) Make the brine: Combine espresso, molasses, salt, mustard, and peppercorns with 6 cups water in a large bowl and whisk until the salt dissolves. Let the mixture cool to room temperature.

2) Rinse the turkey breast under cold running water, then drain and blot dry with paper towels. Lay the turkey breast, skin side down, on a cutting board. Cut out the breastbone and cut the breast in half. Using poultry shears or large knife, trim off & discard any ribs, flaps of skin, or excess fat. Place the breast halves in a large heavy-duty resealable plastic bag and add the brine. Seal the bag and place it in a large deep bowl in the refrigerator. Let the breast brine for 16-24 hours.

3) Set up the grill for indirect cooking and preheat to medium.

4) When ready to cook, drain the brine from the turkey and discard the brine. Place the breast halves, skin side up, in the center of the grill grate, over the drip pan and away from the heat. Cover the grill and cook the turkey until cooked through, about 1 ¼ to 1 ½ hours. To test for doneness, use an instant-read meat thermometer; the internal temperature should be about 170 F. With a charcoal grill, you’ll need to add 12 fresh coals to each side after an hour.

5) Transfer the breast halves to a cutting board and let them rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Carve hot or let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until serving. Serve with the Espresso Molasses Barbecue Sauce.

Don't forget the special sauce!

Espresso Molasses Barbecue Sauce

¾ cup espresso or strong brewed coffee
¾ cup ketchup
6 T heavy (whipping) cream
½ cup honey
½ cup Dijon mustard
¼ cup firmly packed brown sugar, or more to taste
3 T cider vinegar, or more to taste.
3 T Worcestershire sauce
1 T Tabasco or your favorite hot sauce, or more (or less) to taste
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

Makes about 3 ¼ cups

1) Combine the espresso, ketchup, cream, honey, mustard, brown sugar, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, and Tabasco sauce with 3 T water in a large, heavy, nonreactive saucepan. Gradually bring to a boil over medium-high heat.

2) Reduce the heat to medium and let the sauce simmer gently until thick and richly flavored, 6-10 minutes. Taste for seasoning, adding more brown sugar, vinegar and/or Tabasco as needed, and season with salt and pepper to taste. If necessary, add a little more water to thin and mellow the sauce. The sauce can be served hot or at room temperature and may be refrigerated, covered, for up to a week. Bring it up to room temperature and stir to recombine before serving.

This really is a very yummy recipe. We just add sides like garlic mashed potatoes, home made bread, corn bread stuffing, salad, green beans. And we gather round the grill while it's cooking and share time together.

I hope you all have a wonderful autumn with your family and friends. This is such a special time of year to share surrounded by the people you love.

Winner, 2nd Give Away!

   Congratulatuons! Marcie Abney is getting the little birdy and egss. Please email me your address and I'll get these right out to you.

Thanks everyone for stopping by the give aways!

Next up at 4:30 pm EST, I'd like to share some of our family holiday traditions with you. So please stop back.

2nd Give Away - BOC open studio

The winner is getting 2 speckled egg beads and one spotted coral bitty birds. Just leave a comment and come back at 4:15 pm EST to see who's the lucky one.

You can check out the other give aways by clicking the BOC open studio link at the right.

Come on in to my Studio- BOC Open Studio

I've made a few changes this year to the studio. Last year most of the work was done in that 1920's garage you see up there. Now it just houses equipment and clay. I've still got four kilns, but that big one you see is going away soon. I just don't need it now that I'm not making large scale pottery. Most of the work gets fired in the medium size kiln and then there is the slab roller. I love my slab roller! There is just something wonderful about putting a piece of clay through it and having it come out in one perfect thickness.

I've moved into and completely taken over the study/guest bedroom. It's like my dragon's lair. All of the clay forming and glazing gets done on one 6 foot table. The second table in there is for metal and jewelry work. That's Peter up there looking very pleased with himself after helping me to organize the metal work table. Those little acorns are all ready for glazing and on the table is a batch ready to go into the kiln for the final firing.

I love this cozy little space!

If you've been around my blog at all, you've probably already met Alice. There's old camera shy Bob as well but he pretty much does his own thing each day. What you might not know about Alice is that she is a constant presence in my studio, really anywhere I am. You see, she came home with us 3 years ago when she was 8 weeks old on the day that my son deployed to Iraq. She spent the first 3 months of her life sitting in my lap. We're wonderfully attached to each other. She loves the little indoor studio space too. She's got her sofa and best of all it's air conditioned in summer and heated in winter. Alice is a dog who is totally commited to comfort.

Up at 4pm EST is the second give away! Be sure to hop around see everyone else's studio too. Just click the BOC open studo link at the right to find everyone.

Winner, 1st Give Away!

Congratulations!    Boot-C  is the winner of the mix of blue and green beads. Please email me your address and I'll get these beads right out to you.

I'll be giving you a little tour of the studio in a couple of minutes. So please come back.

1st Give Away

Hi, again! It's time for the first give-away of the BOC open studio event. The winner will get a mix of porcelain beads in blues and greens. Everyone's favourite colours, no? So just leave a comment and I'll anounce the winner at 3 pm EST.

Be sure to check out all of the other give aways happening right now. Just click the BOC Open Studio up there on the right to find the links.

Welcome to Summers Studio and the BOC Open Studio!

Hi there. I’m LeAnn. I’m so happy you’ve stopped by for the second annual Beads of Clay Bloggers Open Studio. We’re about as live as you can get here in blog land. So feel free to ask questions or make comments. I’m going to be here till 5pm EST and I’d love to chat.

So just what do I do?

I started out as a potter and still make a limited line of plates, as metal clay jewelry components and etched brass and copper. But mostly I make porcelain pendants, beads, and buttons. Somewhere along the line I became enamored of small tiny pieces of art and there you have it…. beads! I love texture and most of my designs have some textural element to them. I think most of that has to do with how much I love seeing glazes pool and puddle in the low spots and break across the ridges. Lately, I’ve been returning to my childhood and have begun sculpting a series of birds, owls, and things that remind me of the little treasures I would come across growing up in the rural Midwest.

Here’s a few photos of some of the autumn inspired beads I’ve been working on lately.

Be sure to hop around to the other studios participating in this event. You can find them by clicking the Beads of Clay Open Studio announcement up there on the right.

And do come back! I'll be having the first give-away at 2:45 pm EST.

Everything in my Etsy shop is 15% of from now until midnight EST. Just enter BOC in the notes to seller, check out as usual and I'll refund your purchase through PayPal.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Thinking Upside Down

 These are new little plates and dishes that I designed last week. I have this wonderful Dover Coloring Book of traditional Japanese designs. I like looking through it and pulling out different elements from the drawings and rearranging them for pieces made in clay. Sometimes I make stamps, sometimes I create texture plates. This one was a little different because I wanted raised flowers. Hence the thinking upside down.
 I made a texture plate that I use to get the design onto a slab of clay that is then formed into a plate or dish. So the whole thing gets carved into a slab of clay. But while I'm doing this I have to think upside down. The parts that are carved in become raised in the final design and everything on the left becomes right when I pull the slab of clay off the pattern. It's a little tedious and I never know just exactly how it will turn out.

My thoughts go something like this. Will those flowers be too high? Too low? Will the leaves look like they are behind the flowers in the background. How will I glaze this? Is this a waste of time? Why am I designing new plates right now when I have a mountain of work to do? What shall we have for dinner? It's really quite a meditative process to go through. Full of deep thought and revelation.
 I am particularly pleased with how the glaze came out on this. It was a pleasant surprise because I used some glazes that look down right ugly on my porcelain. These plates are made out of stoneware and the darker clay muted the colours into nice earthy blends. I'm already thinking about pulling some of the pieces of this design into a series of pendants and beads. I think I might just bend my self imposed porcelain rule and make them out of stoneware. A leap for me. I like my porcelain. I like my routine. This is a little like living on the edge. Only without the risk.
Alice insisted that I show you a photo of her thinking upside down. She spends quite a lot of time in this position. But just between you and me, Alice isn't really thinking. She's not a very bright dog and doesn't spend a lot of time thinking. She gets by in life completely on her looks and sweet disposition.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Winner and Even More Chances to Win Cool Things

Twenty seven names went into Alice's dish. I know there are only 26 comments but one intrepid player emailed me when blogger burped and wouldn't let her comment.  No way to photo document the selection as Alice was in a frenzy trying to choose the most promising tasty piece of paper. Everything was done in one huge blur and even old Bob got in on the action. Slips of paper flew everywhere.

But in the end she presented me with the one she liked best. Congratualations Lori of Pretty Things! Alice loves you! And she has since eaten your slip of paper. I'll get that copy of Bead Trends and the toggle clasp right out to you.

I really do wish I could hand out little gifts everyday. But there is another massive give away coming up on Sunday during the Beads of Clay online Open Studio. All of us will be having sales and give aways. And you get to have a little peak into our studios and even chat with us 'live.' So head over to BOC and check what's up for the party!  We had a fantabulous time last year. I hope you'll join us.

By the way, Alice is becoming demanding. She says she's had cameos in the last couple of blog posts. Now she wants a full length feature post. Dogs, can't live with them, can't live without them.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Lazy Blogger

I've got my feet up right now and Alice is helping me to relax.  I make myself a little deal. You will blog on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Or least that's the plan. Well I woke up this morning and realized it was Thursday. How did that happen? And I look back and see that last week wasn't so hot for blogging either.

Truth is, it's been a bit hectic around here. I love autumn but along with it comes this frenzy of getting ready for studio tour which happens in three weeks or so. Not in my studio, thank heavens, but just down the street from me at a print maker's studio. Oh and it just so happens to coincide with my monthly art market. So I set up for two shows on the same day and my sweetie takes on one of them. So long story short, I think I lost a day this week because I'm cranking out a ton of stuff and just completly lost track of time.

Let me give you a little tour of the last couple of days.

I etched a big pile of brass and copper. All of the pounding on the dapping block was quite therapeutic. I got to use these very cool, perfectly sized eyelets that I found over at Volcano Arts. Love that extra special little touch. These are all waiting for me to get motivated to put some patina on them.

At some point I got motivated to organize my clay/glaze area. It was time. Did you know that if you make an organized system you can actually put things away when you are done? Yes, Mom, I get it now. It may have taken me decades but you were right. A place for everything and everything in its place. But I have no gaurantees to just how long this will last. But the four feet of clear workspace was awfully nice to sit down and glaze on today.

I spent some time pampering old Bob. Doesn't he look like an ambulance chaser should be talking him into a huge law suit? What you can't see is the big shaved spot on his bum. He's got allergies and when that happens he gets a shot of steroid, a round of antibiotics, and benadryl. Miserable old boy and he just can't leave the itches alone.

Alice loves to have her photo taken. She is such a princess. She heard the camera come on when I was taking photos of Bob (who hates the camera). You can see her in the background in Bob's photo running up to make sure she doesn't miss a photo shoot.

OK, off my bum to make chili and then head back to the studio. No rest for the wicked, idle hands are the devil's play ground and all of that other wisdom Mom passed on.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Bead Trends & A Give Away!

My first published piece of jewelry came out in this months Bead Trends. I'm sort of tickled pink, especially because I don't really think of my self as a jewelry maker. But they had a call for jewelry made with art beads and I thought, what the heck. I make beads. Might as well give it a try.

This is the piece that was published. It's got one of my porcelain and bronze branch toggle clasps. It was quite exciting to see how it was photographed in Bead Trends. I love the beautiful photographs in that magazine. The staging and lighting is always superb.

So to celebrate, I'm having a giveaway! I've got a copy of the October issue of Bead Trends that really needs a home and I've got one toggle clasp like the one on my bracelet to go with it. All you have to do is leave a comment on this post by Sunday at midnight. I'll mail this out anywhere in the world that the USPS goes. I'll get out the ole random number generator and announce a winner on Monday. And if I can't get that to work I'll have Alice pick a name from her dog dish. She loves paper. She'd love to pick a name.

And if one give away on a Monday isn't enough. Check this one out.

Mary Jane is celebrating her birthday today by giving away this beautiful pair of earings at Love My Art Jewelry. I want these for myself, but it will be OK if you win. So go check them out here.  I love Mary Jane's work!  You can see more on her blog and I highly recommend following her if you don't already. Not only does she make beautiful jewelry using her own hand made components, she writes about her thoughts and inspiration in a beautiful way as well.

Happy Birthday MJ!!!!!

I'm heading back into the studio to finish up a few bits and pieces. But after that I am settling down to an evening catching up on all of your blogs.  Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, October 4, 2010


This little bangle was born yesterday in a fit of procrastination. I was cleaning up my work bench when I ran across a little etched piece that I never used because I didn't like it. Well the patina solutions were all sitting there, and then there was the wire that was spilling out of drawers, all the tools were out. I just kind of shoved things to one side and that mess really didn't seem so bad if I was actually making something.

But seriously, my studio looked like those episodes of hoarders. You know the ones, where things are packed nearly to the ceiling. Where it looks dangerous. Well this is what my metal/jewelry table looked like. We're not even getting into what the clay and glaze area looks like.

Disgusting! I was wasting so much time looking for things. So even though it wasn't on my list, this mess just had to get cleaned up, at least a wee bit. Enter Sweet Pete, who I think mostly was tired of hearing foul words coming from here. I was really quite beside myself with trying to figure out where to start. It had just gotten so bad and I had so many excuses for doing other things. Not much later we had the workbench sorted! It's much easier to do this with a little support and encouragement.

Look at that! Six feet of organized space. There are a few things to sort through. I'll get to them. Really! But now I've got a patina/hot work station, an area to do cold metal work like wiring. My tools are handy and easy to put away. I even cleaned up after myself today.

It feels so much better and peaceful. And it was so easy to ignore the rest of the studio since I had my back to it all day.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Playing with patina and Miss Fickle Media

OK, I haven't been playing with Miss Fickle Media. She lives to far away. Dang. But I've been playing with patina on etched brass and copper over the last couple of days. Many thanks to Shannon of Miss Fickle Media for publishing an ebook that leads you through the process. She's been experimenting with patinas for nearly two years, and this book of hers, Colour Drenched Metal, is well worth it if you want to a great resource for patina on metal. She guides you through the types of patinas, application, safety, and everything you might need to set up a patina station in your studio. What can I say? It is just a fantastic book! Shannon even has patina solutions in her Etsy shop.

I decided to jump right in and start layering patinas. My preferance at this time was to go with transparent patinas and I gotta say it's a steep learning curve. Look at those pieces up there. They've got their patina on but they are kind of dry and crusty looking. Not really what I was after, except for colour.

Here are those pieces with sealer on. Whew, much better. And they feel good too. One of the things I'm finding is that I want to go after this process like a mad scientist. I can just see myself opening a whole new note book of tests. A lot like I do with glazing ceramics. This could become addictive.

I'm off to First Friday now. It's been a long time since I've gone on First Friday rather than 'done' First Friday. I'm very excited because I'm going to see glass art at the gallery where I do my monthly art market. There's a new hot glass studio opening there and I just can not wait to see the glass furnace. I love fire! I love hot glass!

Have a lovely weekend!