Wednesday, August 18, 2021

We are here

 There's been some changes lately...

As many of you know, Ivin and I now live in Cookeville TN.  Our son and soon to be daughter-in-law live in Nashville and we made the decision to be closer to them, but in a more manageable sized town.  We are renting while getting to know the neighborhoods and nearby towns.

The move. Well, 30 years in one place, plus a pottery studio- there was some work to do.  We got rid of a lot of stuff, and somehow found we still have a lot of stuff after moving into a rental house with several hundred less square feet and no basement. 

Pottery is on hold until I find a place to work.  Riverside Artists Gallery, the co-op gallery in Marietta, Ohio was a great help by taking the pottery I had left.  I did find a very talented ceramic artist with shop/studio in Cookeville.  Marilee Hall teaches some workshops so I put my name in for the next one and am looking forward to getting my hands dirty again.  I kept my wheel and tools, but that's about it. And, after all that cleaning out, I am committed to not being a glaze hoarder again.

We are exploring the area and learning our way around.  Shopping is comparable to when the stores back in Marietta decided to rearrange the aisles- the stores we were familiar with there have different lay outs here. And I haven't nailed down my "usual" parking spot for these stores so I have to beep the car to find it. 

Hair salons:  I learned if they offer eyelash extensions they are out of my price range.  I found one that doesn't. 

Several very scenic state parks are nearby, so that's great. I think the state parks have a waterfall competition.  I plan to make a list of waterfall hikes to tick off.  I do miss just walking out the door to get to the network of wooded trails in Marietta, though.  Luckily, the neighborhood here is very walkable.

Of course we miss our Marietta friends too.  Christopher and Jenna aren't there, but it's a great town. We'll be back to visit from time to time.    

Friday, November 6, 2020

eyes glazed over

 The title is not a reference to anything political going on right now, rather it is the reaction I see when I try to explain the process/timing involved with the start to finish for these decal transfer mugs. I absorb new information better by reading than by listening, so here is a short rundown on the decal transfer mugs:

  1. The newly made mugs must dry before the bisque firing. I monitor the drying, making sure the handles do not dry before the rest of the mug by covering on and off with cloth and plastic sheets. The bisque firing is a partial firing used to make the clay strong but still porous so the mugs absorb glaze and also hold up to the glazing process. Bisque temperature reads as 1899 degrees F on my kiln, or approximately cone 05. 
  2. Once bisque fired, the mugs are glazed, loaded in the kiln with whatever other pottery is going in, and fired to a higher temperature.  In my case I glaze fire to cone 6 which reads as 2169 degrees F on my kiln.
  3.  Apply the decal images to the glaze fired mug.  The laser printer I print images with uses an ink which contains iron oxide which fuses with the glaze when fired.  
  4. Here's where a lot of the extra wait comes in: These decals fire to bisque temperature.  I find it works out best to just use the top shelf of the kiln for anything with the decal images.  That leaves two thirds of the kiln to fill.  Obviously I want to get the most out of a kiln firing so I am not wasting electricity by heating empty space, so I pause everything and go back to step 1, making more pots (greenware), and waiting for them to dry.

That's about it.  Below are some mugs from the last bisque firing.  The rest of the pots in that kiln load have been glazed and are now firing in the kiln behind the mugs.   

It is quite the hodge podge of images.  This firing happened just before going out of town last week and I decided to use whatever images I had left that were already printed instead of taking the time to make up new sheets.
In the picture below you can see the temperature readout on the kiln.  I still use Pyrometric cones, as the temperature in the top of the kiln is usually different from the bottom, and, especially with glaze, I want to know what I'm getting.
I will have these mugs at River City Farmer's Market, Marietta Ohio tomorrow morning, and hope your eyes are not glazed over.

Thursday, August 20, 2020

River City Farmer's Market has a new place

 As some of you already know, the River City Farmer's Market in Marietta, Ohio has a new location. Still on Saturday mornings, from 8:00 - 12:00, the market is now located on the part of Butler Street between Second and Third Streets. Here's a nice write-up by a local online magazine, Clutch MOV:

So far it's looking like this is going to be a great location. A lot more people are showing up to shop and being downtown close to the stores is a plus for everyone.  As this is an outdoor market (we used to have access to a building), we'll just have to see what happens past October. Right now the plans are that the street will be closed off every Saturday morning through October for the market.

I think this increase in customer traffic is creating a good problem for many of the vendors, like being completely out of mugs, for instance.  The two mugs pictured in the Clutch MOV article were my last two and they sold later that day!  So that is what I am in the middle of right now.  I saw it coming, but while puttering around making other stuff I didn't realize it was coming that fast.  I have lots of pottery sitting on the shelves to glaze and fire but decided to do a little mug catch-up first.

The mug above is almost dry greenware.  Note accidental watermelon vine in the background which is now taking over the driveway. Will soon be dodging watermelons while backing up.

It takes awhile to go from making a mug to seeing a finished product- there's drying to bisque firing to glazing/decorating to glaze firing to decal applying to yet another firing. The mug below is here no more. It sold a while ago, but is an example of what I have planned for some of the new mugs.

I hope the umbrella is not a prediction of what the weather will be at the market this Saturday!

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Billy the cat

Billy and Red were foundlings.  As in, two tiny things tumbling down a brushy hillside, mewing, they found us. Ivin and I were out looking at land for sale and heading back to the car.  There were no houses nearby to explain the presence of two tiny kittens.  They’d obviously been dumped.  I scooped them up and said I’d take them to the animal shelter Monday.  At home I found they had not been weaned.  Bottle feeding ensued. This was Friday.  Monday evening, Ivin home from work, I said I couldn’t take them to the shelter until the one’s eye infection (Red, not yet named) cleared up because no one would adopt him looking like that. Right.

We were surprised to realize, about a year ago, that Billy and Red were considered elderly in cat years.  At a vet visit for Red I remember looking at the lifespan chart for cats and they were at the end of it.  

 We lost Billy in May.  She had her little talents and peculiarities, just like people.  Soon after she died I wrote a few of these down.  I have past and present tense a little mixed up.  At that time we were still expecting to see her around the corner.


The light jiggles down the hall, reflected from the CD I hold. Billy follows the moving spot of light, intent on understanding this alien encounter and ready to take action, if necessary.

Billy has a mean right hook, so rapid the movement becomes a blur.  Ask Red who, despite being twice her size, has received the occasional ear boxing just for being Red.

The only thing that foils Billy is foil. Also, thunderstorms.

Her cat superpower faded as she aged, but was incredible when she still had it:  running full bore up the stairs landing, springing on all fours against the wall, making a 180 in mid air, then a dash up the rest of the staircase.

 Her bedtime ritual, usually, was to curl up on my chest for a purr-fest.  This intention was signaled by first jumping up on the book I was reading.

Upstairs had been her domain. (Downstairs is Red’s).  But the last year or so she’d ventured more and more into the downstairs territory.  Her status as a non lap cat even changed, but only for Ivin, who was favored with her presence when he sat at the table.  Perhaps, he being the main tuna salad maker, she thought there was a chance of a treat.

A tummy rub was her daily medication.  She insisted.

She was my clay table buddy, jumping up with grace and settling down for a good purr, ever diligent in observing whether or not  a jar with soaking brushes or an open slurry bucket were left unattended.  Unapproved water sources were her vice.

You know what it's like if you've had a pet. They leave their prints behind.🐾

Friday, February 14, 2020

ten minutes of sunshine

We had about 10 minutes of sun this afternoon so the pottery came out for a photo session.  These are a few mugs from the last firing.
 These mugs will be going to River City Farmer's Market tomorrow.
Also making the narrow window of natural light were a few birds and a moon.  Actually, the first couple of pictures below are earlier in the process on one of our all-rain days. Most of the time I do not stop to take pictures of the process because, for one, my hands are a mess so I don't want to touch my phone/camera.  Bigger reason is I just get engrossed in what I'm making.
 Its a bird.  I approach bird making three different ways:  1) Form by making two pinch pots which are put together for the body.  2) For smaller birds I may form a solid shape then hollow it out with trimming tools -or any tool I can find that works!  3) Make it on the wheel then alter the heck out of it.  This is what you see here, only I left out a lot of steps. Above is how the bird looks after being formed on the wheel. Below is the start of altering the shape.
 Take away some clay, add some clay, slip the seams, make a really big mess, repeat.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Welcome to Narnia, the levy, and the hernia

Things are running behind in the pottery area and I'm just going with it.  It started with the levy. No, it started when the Local Artists Show was cancelled. No, it started because we are trying to fix up the house for the eventuality of downsizing.

Ivin has been doing most of this downsizing work by himself. Then a levy to build a new school, concentrating all the grades in one area- basically across the street from us with the possibility of taking part of our front yard as a turning lane, was going on the ballot. So when the LAS show was cancelled, rather than applying for another, I became motivated to dive into the fixer upper business.

My first move was to fix up a guest bedroom- the former drum, um, studio/mancave which used to be our son's bedroom. In the meantime we've had a queen size bed, aka shin knocker, in the smallest bedroom which is smaller than a lot of people's bathrooms.  So logically, the bed should be moved to the larger former drum studio/mancave/empty nest bedroom.  Also logically, I thought I should clean some stuff out of that room first.  Welcome to Narnia, the black hole, or diagraming sentences in Mrs. Middendorf's 10nth grade English class.  Was it Middendorf or Middledorf?

The experience brought back a memory of the interminably long sentence Mrs. Middendorf (?) assigned me to decode on the black board.  Not that I remember the sentence, but I remember that the compound something or other stretched the entire 3 blackboards while I worked with the class looking on behind me.  I'm pretty sure they were in awe or maybe just glad it was me, not them. This was like that, without the awe.  The books, the vintage clothing, but especially the frames- I had some frames stored in one of the closets.  While pondering what to do with them I decided to look at some artwork sitting in my own closet which I had put off framing. So now I had a new crusade: get this stuff framed. This meant some frames needed painted, then a trip to the craft supply store for backing board, then there was artwork that I couldn't match up with a frame, so might as well go out and buy new ones.  Yes.  That was a couple of trips.  Then there was a painting I did in college.  I made the frame for that.  You could tell.  I'm not going to go into this one except to say it involved grinding glass- me grinding glass.
This is Michelle with a new, improved frame. Oil pastel and oil paint on paper. She was one of several people at school who sat for me. I can find several things about it that I wish I had done differently, but still like it- obviously since I've kept it all these years.
  I haven't actually hung any of the newly framed/re-framed art, and there is still some WWI and WWII music I thought would be cool to frame (belonged to mother and grandmother), but was sidetracked by The Hernia.

The Hernia and I have been co-existing for several years.  It was annoying, but manageable, then eventually became more annoying and less manageable- to the point where I scheduled an appointment to talk about surgery.  Tip:  I found out you can move up an appointment by several weeks when you find yourself in the emergency room!  I managed to avoid emergency surgery, but got that hernia situation taken care of in outpatient surgery about a week later.  Glad that's done, but it very much slowed me down.

In the meantime, the school levy to consolidate all the grades in our front yard did not pass, so I'm slacking in the house fixer upper area, and working more on getting pre-hernia surgery work glazed and fired.  I always seem to be running behind this time of year, but this time I have to accept that I am running behind and not catching up.

This chickadee cairn is flying away to Texas.  It is almost certain that I will not have time to make anymore cairns before Christmas.  I have a couple of crows made, and some rocks, but they are greenware at this point.  Though I enjoy making these, the whole forming, drying, bisque firing, glazing, glaze firing, putting togethering, is quite time intensive.  

Thank you to Tom Fagan for opening the market building so I could get little birdie on its way to Texas in good time for Christmas!
Cairn parts lying in waiting.

 While loading the kiln I found two mugs on the shelf near the kiln I forgot were there.  I like the contrast of white slip on the dark clay and added a little pattern with colored slip (the blue on right mug is very faint).  I was experimenting with shapes and have some roundish mugs in this style in a glaze firing right now.  The pictures I want to apply to those mugs will require yet another firing which isn't looking so likely to happen before Christmas, unfortunately.  

Firing done, just unloaded the kiln this morning.  For the gardener there are a couple of toad houses.  One on left comes with a mouse and has shiplap!  One on right has a thatched roof and a bit of floral stenciling on the side.
The owl ornaments will have branch perches (real wood) and will be wired to hang.  I have a few things at Riverside Artists Gallery as a guest artist and may bring one of the toad houses, and perhaps one or two other items to the gallery before the weekend.  They are holding an open house on Saturday, the 14nth.
The rest will go to River City Farmer's Market.
Another gardener gift possibility, these flower children will come with metal rods to push in the ground.  Definitely for the gardener who is looking forward to summer!

 Pictures from a recent hike on the trails back behind the community college near our house. We are lucky to live near several trails.  

Wishing everyone a safe and happy holiday!

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Poetry in Art 2019

Poetry in Art is an exhibit which pairs the writing of regional poets with artists.  Artwork is created for the exhibit based on the poems.
Usually I hesitate to show pictures of a piece before it becomes part of a show because I am afraid it takes away from the viewer's anticipation (for those who plan on seeing the exhibit in person).  This is particularly true of the exhibit "Poetry in Art 2019", as part of the appeal of this exhibit is the revelation of what the artist took from a poem to create his or her artwork.  It is different for each artist.  One may focus on a visual cue while another attempts to capture something less concrete- thoughts, feelings, mood.  Sometimes a poem serves as a springboard, directing the artist to a place seemingly unrelated to the writing.  Working on a project for this event is somewhat challenging, as I am never sure I am doing the poem justice.
I decided to show parts of the piece I created and attempt to explain the elements of the poem that influenced/ inspired me.
The poet who wrote the poem I chose, "Blue Moon", is Kristine Williams from Athens, Ohio.  There were plenty of visual descriptions throughout the poem.  In my first readings I was very focused on those images.
If this excerpt looks smudged and wrinkled to you, it is. It is a victim of laying on my clay table for many weeks.
While dithering with myself over the form the piece was going to take I read the poem several more times. Eventually the last few lines and the meaning they contained became more important to me than the images described in the poem. 
Whether or not I captured that meaning, I'm unsure. More likely, it pointed me in a direction only partially related to the poem.
Those lines brought to mind my grandfather who died when my mother was 13 or 14 years old.  I remember being told about him and there are some pictures, but that is all I know.  And I thought how strange it is that this man who was, by my mother's accounts, a large personality and had many friends, is truly gone to the world.  There is no one alive who knew him. 
I also thought of the little treasures we squirrel away, things forgotten in drawers, behind the cabinet, old wall paper revealed, letters written long ago- the things that have value because they are a physical reminder of someone, some happening, or a symbol of what went before. 
The name of the piece is "Remnants". 

The show will be up for a Sept.6 (Friday) soft opening 5-9 pm.  A reading of the poems will take place during another reception, Saturday, September 21, 6:30 pm to 9:00 pm, and will include an artist talk about how the poems inspired the artwork. Poems will be displayed near the corresponding artwork.

Riverside Artists Gallery
219 Second St.
Marietta, Ohio

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