Friday, September 28, 2007

It happened again---Another flying dream. Well, sort of.......More like a Sliding/Swimming/Hanging On dream.

So, I'm in my ratty nightgown; the one I decided to cut up into rags yesterday. (I always appear in something awful. I'm usually trying to hold onto a towel or some other tat that just barely covers me.) Ane I'm barefoot. (Why IS that? Does it mean, "Now pay attention: You're standing on Holy Ground. This is a Message!)

I'm with "Himself" who is saying, "We Have to go to this meeting in a theater. It's okay", he says, "Don't worry, it'll be casual".

It's afternoon. I'm carrying a really long spear-like thing with an ornately pointy end on it. It flexes like a pole-vaulter's pole. I have no idea what I think I'm going to do with it--maybe keep everyone at bay, I don't know........"Himself" is walking straight from the house to this place and I'm dawdling along a high bank. Obviously, I don'twannago.

We get there and it's a freakin' opera house. Absolutely lush inside. Everybody's dressed up! I'm coerced to sit down in a seat on the the aisle, in the middle of the place, of course. I try to become invisible by slouching down, pulling the neck up on the awful nightgown. Then my Schnauzer-child, Barker, trots in and lays down in the middle of the aisle. He's capturing everyone's attention and so am I. Somehow, I manage to slink out.

The next thing I know, I'm back on the cliff enjoying the sunshine. I've lost the pole. (Is there a message here?) Suddenly I pitch forward face first into a pathway made of very tan, very slick clay. I begin to slide, slide, slide at increasing velocity just on the edge of a grassy cliff. Doesn't matter if the path goes down or up, I seem to be pulled along. It's fast and scary, but Boy, I'm having Fun.

I'm passing vegetation and things and people who are waving and smiling. I see that the slick path ends ahead of me above an area full of boats and piers. I shoot off the cliff and land in the water, but Hey, no problem, I'm able to make swimming movements and just skim along on the surface. Its like swimming on one of those moving walkways in the airport--I'm moving normally; everything else is just whizzing by.

Suddenly I landland smack on a shore (on my feet, mind you). It's a riverbank somewhere in the deep south. There's a big square house with verandas all around. The air is sweet, warm and balmy. The Spanish moss is swaying in the breeze. I walk into the yard and the family who lives in the house seems to know me. I'm invited inside. They all talk in a soft southern drawl.

I go into the living room and see that the wall between it and the kitchen is open slats with books stacked sideways up against the wall so high that it is bowing inward toward the living room. (Do I need to take some books to the used bookstore again?)

I look up and see above the room that a large screened-in porch on the second floor with antique silver, ornate pressed-metal tile lining the floor, walls and ceiling. The glare is awful. They are very proud of it. It's horrible. They tell me it's where they spend most of their time. I suggest they might install one of those glass folding-door walls so they could enjoy it even when it's raining. (What am I doing giving advice to these people?!)

They ask me why I've come, (Probably because of the advice) and I say I'm waiting for the big, orange trucks. (Where did that come from?--I detest and avoid orange having had to live with an orange kitchen for two years. Two Years!) They say one is due by any minute, so I go out into the yard and stand by the road to wait for it.

Sure enough, here one comes rolling up the road. It's equipped with hand-grips at the top in the back and I miraculously leap up and hook my hands into the slots as it goes by. We fly away down a narrow, tree-lined dusty road through the swamps and by huge stretches of water and I'm just loving it. Whooping it up just like a cowboy. Yee-HA! Just flying in the breeze like some kinda' flag.

When I wake up, I'm feeling exhilarated, just as I am after a regular, self-propelled flying dream.

Well, guess I'll just wait here for the big clay slide to take me to that big 'ole orange truuuk ride.

(Should never have eaten mushrooms and watched "My Name is Earl".)

Uh, did I remember to put the trash out last night?

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Sometimes ya just gotta do something tedious.

I really don't know why.

I learned how to do this technique when I took a class from Galina Rein, a Russian artist who emigrated to Seattle several years ago. It's basically forming tiny flowers and design elements with the fingers and attaching them to a basic form. I use cast-off dental tools to attach the tiny components. This topper is about 4 1/2 inches tall.

After the class I went nuts making porcelain Christmas tree ornaments, light string-pull endings, pins, earrings, and wedding cake toppers.

The second topper pictured has two components. It is a bell and base. The bottom of the bell is slightly out of round so that it sits on top of the base and, by twisting it, seats onto the holders so that it becomes one unit.

I experimented with texturing the base with a needle tool. I rather like it, but it needs more experimenting.

This piece stands about 5 inches tall.

They take FOREVER to make.
They can't dry out AT ALL.
I don't know why I make them; nobody could afford one, I'd have to charge so much for it.

After make one of these, I gotta go sling some glaze or something.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Images and Ideas

I carry notebooks with me everywhere I go. You never know when creative lightening will strike.

I have a stack of hijacked hotel note pads beside my bed just in case I have an idea or a terrific dream in the night. At the edge of sleep the mind is free with no limits or rules. They also work well as bookmarks. I can jot down notes about what I'm reading or as a reminder to look up something in the text I want to know more about.

For example, I was riding on the Seattle ferry some days ago and watching another ferry crossing in the other direction. As it passed, I was struck by the image of the smokestack - the form, the black trim, and thought: "That would make the coolest looking covered container." I made a quick sketch. Maybe one day the sketch will become a covered vessel.

I have several standard 3-ring binders. They travel back and forth from the house to the studio. They are for design ideas; doodles. I don't want to wait to get an idea down on paper that I've thought about in the house. By the time I get to the studio, it would be gone.

I created several template pages for the binder using a simple graphic program of large circles, rectangles with rounded corners and profiles of vessels. These are for working out designs for plates, trays and thrown bodies.

I never go into a museum without a camera and a sketchbook. Some museums won't let you take photos. I can always sketch what I want to. The notebook can also be used to make notes of the photos I do take. I export the jpgs to my desktop, stack them onto a blank page by using my old Pagemaker program, print them off, cut them out individually and file them in my image file folders.

I have maintained an image file system since college. It's 4 drawers of hanging folders labeled 'pitchers' or 'cups' or 'faces'. All my inspirations are located in one central place.

When I'm working on an idea, I can take an images out of the folder and push-pin it to the bulletin board in the studio. The arrangement is always changing. The pictures serve as springboards; inspirations for forms, handles, stands, etc. to get my mind in the groove. I also keep a folder of all my paper patterns.

I dismantle all the pottery magazines I get and put the photos or articles in the files too. The system is far more accessible than digging through a pile of magazines.

The rule is: If I look at something for more than 5 or 6 seconds, it goes in the image file. I have photos of fabric, perfume bottles, landscapes, insects, anything that catches and holds my eye. It may sound like a lot of work or that the files would become unmanageable, but I purge them every once in a while. I can also sub-divide into more detailed folders such as 'lids' or 'handles', but haven't needed to yet.

It's a system that works for me.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


I live in chaos. Actually, I should say I live in the midst of chaos--Me, personally, I'm not in chaos.

There isn't a surface in my studio that isn't full of something. I have to clear out a place on the worktable to make anything. Doesn't bother me. It would drive some people crazy. And Thank God I don't have to clean it up every time I quit working. THAT would be work! Some time ago, I was comforted by seeing photos of Warren McKenzie's studio--just as messy as mine. I'm off the hook.

I also remember Paul Dresang saying in a workshop/demo that he had to clear out the 'detritus' to a 2-foot square in order to work. This is a man who makes wonderful, incredible, meticulous fool-the-eye clay pieces. Seeing his work, you would think he worked in a studio that was like a scientific lab.....

The mess functions as an index. I have shelves full of things that 'worked' and I want to be reminded of that in order to repeat it--shapes to repeat, glaze combinations that sing. What is referred to as "The Artist's Collection", as in the....

There's also things in other places that didn't work. Ideas in progress--things to do again, but with a different glaze, a form problem to solve, a piece that worked, but the glaze ran or the form cracked:

The bastard children of a good idea.

Besides, if I didn't keep them out, I'd forget them.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Perfectly Fitting Jar Lid

This jar is made on the wheel; thrown as one piece, a hollow form. After the bottom and diameter are established, then the walls are brought up and closed at the top. The walls are purposely thrown a little thicker than usual in order to accommodate the cut for the interlocking lid flange and the base lip. It's also good to make the jar a bit taller, since the lid cutting operation will take some out of the middle.

This particular jar has a 'sprout' topknot type handle. The glaze is done with a splotch of green glaze on the bisqued piece, the application of wax resist over that, then the top and base are dipped in a contrasting glaze. No matter how well matched the lid and base are, there is always the 'perfect seat' of fit. Making a decoration travel from lid to base helps to make sure the lid is returned to this optimum fit.

Below is a diagram I developed to illustrate the technique for cutting lids from closed forms. If you click on the image, you can enlarge it for easier reading. With some computers, you can click the curser on the image, hold and drag the image to the desktop, then import it into a document for reference.

If you cut the lid flange at the base of the indentation, it is possible to remove the completed lid and inner flange. Just a bit of smoothing up is needed.

The base, still attached and centered on the batt, can be trimmed on the inside to create a 'shelf' for the lid flange to rest upon.

Unfortunately, I don't have any examples to photograph of the jars I've made using this approach, I've sold them all!

It is possible to reverse the cut--make it so that the lid slips down over the bottom flange--by cutting at the top of the indentation to release the lid, then inverting the lid into the base and after securing it, cutting the inner edge, leaving the outer surface undisturbed. The outer edge of the base may need some cutting adjustment on the inner lip so that the lid slips easily over. This is an example of an early try at the reverse cut.

Once you get the hang of the cutting and a feel for the thicknesses, either way is fine, but I prefer the first method because in my experience, it gives a truer fit. It is also possible to trim the inside (or outside, if you wish) of the base to make the walls thinner.