Thursday, March 26, 2009


This is one piece I'm taking to the Tucson Art Museum Artisan's Sale March 27-29th.

Although it looks like it has three different glazes, it's just two.

I made it in a class and truly have no clue about the they were using.

I just layered them to test the reaction and drizzled the lighter one over the body of the vase for a fourth effect.

The orchids are the only kind I can grow--plastic.

It's definitely a one-off.

My work will be in the Southern Arizona Clay Association booth.

Hope to see you there!

Saturday, March 21, 2009


I don't know if I have a style.

When I was college, I definitely had a style. Anyone could pick out my pots.
I have one surviving piece from that time. (Not the jar on the left, by the way) It was the first cup I ever threw. Nothing special, just a handle-less brown-glazed cup with incised marks around the body. Nice little trimmed foot. (I love trimming.)

But there was an enormous gap between then and the time I picked up clay once again-- a whole lifetime, nearly.

Since then, I have been bombarded with information and influences. Workshops, publications, museum displays, shows, other clay artists.

Everything goes into the hopper and gets stirred and sifted, rolled out and baked.

Sorta like when I was taking Fortran.

You took Fortran?
Yes. It was the first computer class I ever took.

What? What an awful way to start!
I know!

How did you do it?
I don't know. I made an A, though--my one college credit in computer science.

WHY did you do it?
Because when I was in college, I wanted to take computer classes and I was told that I needed to have all kinds of math first. (I hated math, although I did pass a required college algebra class pretty easily.)

The computer classes were in the Science Department and it was a very exclusive thing. They had a death lock on who could enter them. I was given a list of all the math classes I would need to take before I could even think of getting into the beginning class. So, I gave it a pass. Turns out I was a natural for programming. They should have looked at my language capabilities. But then, at that time, all things computer were within the purview of the engineering types.

Much later when I took Fortran, I would write code, poke it into the (then) clunky computer and wait........the computer would make all kinds of rather charming noises (I like to think of it as little mice feet running all over the 'pins'.)

The monitor would display the message: "Compiling" while it crunched away.

That's the way I feel when I'm in these in-between, sensory-overload periods......I feel like I should have "Compiling" running in a light-banner across my forehead.

It becomes a quiet mulling of ideas, a mental doodle, a continual, winding sojourn through your own mind-forest.

Sometimes I fear it because of the inactivity. I punch myself in the ribs and think, "I shouldn't be doing this, I should be out there in the studio working." But the worst thought is, "What if I can't create anymore. What if the well just runs dry and there's no more."

It's like being an opera tenor. Their voices are so fragile that at any time, any place, they could lose it all--the voice could go, never to be recaptured. All over.

Creativity for me is not a smooth track, a steadily flowing river. It is torrent and and stillness; raging flood and and draught.

Intellectually, I know the quiet is just as important as the intensity of working. But the quiet still worries me. I feel guilty within it-- like I'm playing hokey. Am I just being creatively lazy?

That's when I need to go out and clean the studio. Or read Ceramics Monthly. Or write about it in my blog.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

How the Internet Ate my Brain

(Unfortunately, this product is no longer available or I would have bought it.)

Used to be, I would go to the dictionary to look up a word. Now I use Google.

If I wanted information, I had two sets of encyclopedia, a bookshelf full of reference books. Ditto on going to Google.

Used to be, I would look up a recipe to find how to use up leftovers or cook whatever. Now I can find more recipes on the web than I need. With any number of variations of one dish.

Used to be, I would turn on my disc player or the radio to hear my favorite music, now I listen on my iPod, my computer, and I'm looking for an iPod-playing radio to hear NPR. (Although I have iPod-ed my favorites programs already.)

Used to be, I would go to the library or a bookstore (I still do, thank God.) to find a book to read. Now I order from the web, have days of books loaded into my iPod. So I save my eyes from reading in bed with dim light. (My hearing will go next.)

Used to be, I would take slides of my work, package up the cartridge, mail it and wait, get them back, check them in a viewer, label and file them in notebook pages. Now I have 3000 jpegs slowing down my computer speed, waiting to be off-loaded onto discs. But I can call them up, export them, copy them, move them around, index them, look at them on a whim.

Used to be, I would write letters to friends or call them occasionally. Now I don't write except at Christmas. But now, along with old friends, I have new friends all of which I will never meet, more than likely, but what friends they are! I've 'known' them for about, oh, maybe 12-15 years. Some I have met in the flesh, but most are cyber friends from discussion groups. And in many ways, I prefer it that way.

They are purely cerebral friendships. Just minds talking to minds. The only thing I miss about discussion group friends is not getting the little nuances of tone of voice, subtle facial expressions and body language--those things in real conversations that give you more meaningful clues. The cyber frriends I have actually met and talked to in real time, however, I feel I understand more fully when I read their emails.

What I like about the email arrangement is that I don't have to answer right away like a conversation in real time. I have more time to think about it before I shoot off my mouth. (Although I AM rather fast at a smart-ass answer, I have to say.)

There's a manegable time-lag. I can send or receive email at my convenience. So when I'm on chasing a clay inspiration, on a cooking jag, want to finish the last part of a book or have declared a cleaning jihad, I can expect to get at it or to luxuriate in unbroken time with no interruptions until I'm ready to be civil again.

(One of the horrors of my many and varied jobs was always the phone. THE PHONE! insistent, unrelenting, and usually the source of another problem on the other end that had to be taken care of RIGHT NOW.......There were days when I considered the knee-hole section of my desk a very inviting location.)

I have an antique Nokia 3588i that I rarely turn on. In my mind, it's for calling OUT only. Like, in an emergency. Like a flat tire. No gas. Forgot my purse. Forgot my shopping list. Things like that.

Besides, I have G-mail/cell phone account.

Call and leave me a message.

I'll get back to you.


Sunday, March 8, 2009

The Backward Cup

This is my trick mug.

I say trick, but really, it works well.

One day I was pondering handles. I wondered what makes a good handle? I picked up several of my own mugs and the ones I had collected and held them, closing my eyes.

I realized that most of the contact of the handle was registering at the top and bottom of the loop. At least, that's how it felt when I was holding the cup.

(I never could 'get' the thumb-stop thing. I guess it works if you hold your mug like a lumberjack--elbows out.)

So I wondered. What if you made a handle that was only the contact points?

I love to take it to shows and offer it to someone, handle facing toward them.

The reactions are extremely varied.

Most people refuse to take it by the handle, fearing they will drop it.

Most will wrap their fingers around the opposite side and then, maybe try the handle. Many people will not ever try to hold or test the handle preferring to hook their hand under the top and rest the bottom against their little finger or between their third finger and little finger.

A lot are surprised. And puzzled. Those that do hold the cup as if the handle was a full arc find that even though they know the center is gone, there is a 'ghost' center or full loop sensation anyway.

It makes me wonder what the dividing line is between those people who believe their eyes and those who believe their physical sensation.


Of course, the inside of the mug is a regular mug--I wouldn't put the rest of the handle inside. Too obvious. After all, a joke is funny at first, but gets old really fast. This way, the mug remains intriguing.