Tuesday, December 29, 2009
I made "heart attack", "heart of steel", "cut to the heart", "twisted heart" and others... I plan to get out there again Thursday and improve on the designs, expand on the ideas. I'm not exactly sure they'll be suitable for Valentine's Day giving, but maybe I'll try a few more traditional offerings. I'm not a very traditional type person.
Tomorrow, Wednesday, no clay. I'm taking my three nieces shopping for Christmas and to lunch. Looking forward to seeing them (and my sister). I'll slip out to the studio for a few minutes though, have a few pieces that are under plastic, drying slowly that I need to check on.
I also made a couple of vases today. If you've read my previous blogs you know I'm just not the kind of person who can do one thing over and over, even if there's some variation. I had enough of hearts after a while, took a break and tried something else new. I like the way one piece turned out. I think I'll do a few more in the same line. It's sharper and more linear than some of the work I've posted on any of the slides you've seen (assuming you've looked at my work on Facebook and / or my website).
I have a tendency to do things you're not supposed to do when working with clay. When I first started playing with clay my mentor would tell me I couldn't do something or other... I'd do it anyway, knowing what I wanted. Knowing that what I wanted to do wasn't supposed to work made it a challenge.
I made some interesting "mistakes" that I still own and like. Quite possibly someone teaching art would turn up their nose at some of them! I won an award from a group of artists and instructors for a piece one year. At the next show the judge, a college art instructor, sneered at the piece... Turned out if it wasn't wheel thrown she didn't like anyone's pottery, but still it shows that art truly is a personal experience.
One of the beautiful things about pottery, or any art for that matter, is that it continues on long after a person leaves this earth. Looking at artistic creations tells you a lot about the person, their soul, their spirit. Given the names I gave to pieces of my heart series I have to wonder what it'll tell people about me!!! Nyahhh, ha, ha, ha, he, he... twisted she must be...
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Sitting in my office, which is a converted sun room, I can see my studio. It beckons... but today it will sit silent, all alone. Well, all alone except any wildlife that wanders by! Today is my volunteer day at the Clothes Less Traveled, a thrift store. I'm on the Board of this fantastic non-profit. I love that we're recycling other people's stuff, then taking the dollars earned and giving to local charities... One of the most fun things in the world is to give! I volunteer once a month, usually end up sorting through donations (and buying more stuff that I don't need ;-). I get some great things for the studio in there at great prices, too.
Anyway, back to my morning 'cause I hafta get outta here soon:
I caught some action from the corner of my eye as I was playing with my Hummingbird Facebook account. A deer scampered across the yard. Grayer than normal, maybe they do that during the winter cold? Usually they're a nice tannish-brown. I guess the change is natures way of helping them to blend in? or maybe it's a thicker coat for the cold?
I grabbed my camera and popped a few photos of the deer, then glance toward the studio and saw three more. My movement in the window spooked them, two jumped into the woods, one froze in the middle of the yard.
I once got within a foot or two of a deer with a camera while hiking in the mountains. They freeze thinking you won't see them. Ha.
Thought I'd share my morning photos. Both of these were taken through my office windows (double paned with an outside screen, surprised I was able to get anything at all... especially since only the rain washes the things!).
My studio is in the background of one of the shots... that makes this have something to do with pottery, right? Oh, and those rocks behind the tree behind the deer? That's the beginning of my pottery rock garden mentioned in a previous blog.
Friday, December 18, 2009
The first year we moved here my studio was still under construction so I spent most of my time getting the home settled. I was delighted when I saw my first deer wandering across the yard, nipping at the trees, nibbling on the grass. I'd sit up some nights just to see if they'd cross the yard.
Then I saw my first wild turkeys! Wow, that was very cool.
Over the years I've enjoyed watching the turkeys grow, gotten kind of used to their habits and noises. They're pretty stupid birds in many ways. If I walk slow, they'll ignore me. If I make a sudden move they may run at me or run away. Many times I've stood near them for long enough to have wacked 'em all if so inclined (I'm not, I don't eat meat so prefer to watch ;-).
Being a want-to-be-good-photographer, I've taken quite a few photos over the years, popped some YouTube videos out there for the world to enjoy.
This year I was thrilled when Mama turkey first wandered across the yard with eight baby chicks. Off and on she brought them back to enjoy whatever it is they seem to like in our yard. Then they stopped coming. The latter half of the summer I wondered if they were OK, kept an eye peeled for them.
A week or so ago they finally came back, pretty much fully grown I'd guess, but still all together. That in itself is an accomplishment. We have foxes and human predators in the area. Most of the homes around here are on 5-acre or larger lots, all of us back up to wetlands and wooded areas that hopefully will never be developed. I hear guns off and on so know that "my" turkeys sometimes end up on someones dinner table.
For a number of years I had turkeys that would hang out on the front porch of my studio. I'd look up and see one or sometimes two on the porch peering through the glass doors. If you go to my website, www.hummingbird-hollow.com, you can see a photo of one looking through the door. I always knew I'd had a visitor or two by the amount of turkey poop waiting for me...
It's a great feeling to be enjoying myself in the studio while also enjoying whatever wildlife happens to end up outside one of the windows. I keep hummingbird feeders around the place, regular bird feeders, plus try to keep flowers and plants growing (but the deer seem to feel that most of my stuff is their personal smorgasbord...). I have chipmunks, squirrels, a couple of foxes and who knows what else. It can get kind of spooky at night when the automatic lights go on and I hear scrambling noises outside the window.
Given that I love to incorporate nature into my work, it's fantastic to have so much of the best of nature around me while I'm creating. Don't know how life could get any better... well, take I that back immediately as I guess I could come up with a huge, long, long list of ways to make it better if I thought about it for a second! However, life is good and I'm grateful for all the blessings.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Yep, the bowl, the pot, the blasted thing won.
If you read my earlier post you know I was wrestling with a bowl, refiring, fixing, tweaking, refiring, etc., etc... 'cause stubborn me just refused to admit defeat.
I liked the design.
I liked the colors... at least some color incarnations... the color scheme has stayed roughly the same, but boy have the actual colors gone through a few transformations! Light one time, matte another, marbled, dark, you name it, I think I hit every variation possible in the turquoise / aqua family!
I finally pushed the silly thing past the limit of reasonableness and while it didn't blow up, the glaze rebelled completely.
It popped open into wide gashing, sharp holes exposing the raw clay! Yes, I went way overboard on this contest of wills.
It's so bad I can't even put it in my pottery garden. What's a pottery garden? Mine is a rock garden where I add my failures, pieces of my work that break and other found items from the yard.
I live on a 5-acre place that spits up all kinds of interesting things each time it rains. I'm just outside Atlanta, nowhere near the ocean, and the ground delivers beautiful seashells! I've found ancient shaving cans, cool pieces of metal and other interesting objects. I have a nice pile of glass going, and I'm saving all the broken tile to make a path in front of the studio.
I put the smaller "found" items in the garden along with my pottery, pop in a flower or plant of some sort and plant to let it go where it wants. I just started it at the beginning of this year so I expect to have fun over the next few years as I add things.
I dug up all the rocks from the yard, which is full of quartz, mica and granite pieces.
Next year I'll take a photo and share it with you, assuming it's worthy of sharing.
I suppose I could bury the pot in the ground so the outside edges, where the huge gashes are would be underground, but at this point I think the bowl is cursed. It wanted to die a long time ago.
The photo shows it in my trash can. Looking at the photo you really can't see how bad the glaze has popped and peeled off. The color is more of a dark turquoise than black, and it has lighter marbled bits which show as a light blue or white in the photo. The color of the clay is showing through around the fluted edges.
The outside is where I had fun with this one when I initially made it. There are horizontal and vertical strips on the outside. The horizontal end in a petal at the bottom curve. Ah well, I am going to do it again as I like the design, the flow, the curves... but I'm using a different clay. I think a lack of grog in the clay might have contributed to the inability to curve without cracking.
I'm going to do it again, despite losing this contest of wills.
Monday, December 14, 2009
ArtFire has the benefit of having a free basic set up without too many bells and whistles so I can dip my toe into the water without laying out any cash. I like the no-contract, month-to-month bit if I do decide to upgrade. Set up was extremely easy, although I still haven't found where to add my Twitter, Facebook and blog links... they don't have a problem with linking to your website, blogs, etc. per their documentation.
Another thing I liked about it, although I can't imagine ever getting to reap the rewards, is a program where you get 12 friends to sign up and you get your upgraded account for free. The catch is that they have to sign up immediately for the paying account (only around $12 a month, flat fee, no percentages of sales, etc. from what I saw when I glanced through details). If they convert later, like I will if it seems beneficial, then it doesn't count toward the 12... Almost everyone I know would probably start out with the free Basic account, then upgrade. However, I'm going to pop the link on here, on my sidebar and on my website, see what happens.
Either way, if I sell something fairly fast then I'll upgrade. If I don't, I'll probably wander over to Etsy. I'm not sure my work is a fit at either of the two, will just have to see. Maybe as I get a bigger following people will check to see if I'm there.
Mentioning Etsy reminded me of something else about ArtFire --- you can import all your listings from Etsy into ArtFire. To my way of thinking, why wouldn't someone on Etsy want to be on ArtFire also?
I can't give you traffic estimates, didn't check. I do know that I popped my first bowl out there and had three looks by the time I got around to checking the next morning. Haven't looked to see if I've had more.
So, on to the grand ArtFire experiment...
My preference is to stay strictly in galleries, not sure if by having my work on-line that I'm diluting my strength or improving it or if it's a wash.
I'm also considering hiring someone to represent me to new galleries. I know it's probably better to do the work myself as I'm passionate about it and can answer detailed questions, so will see. I guess if I paid someone they'd be passionate about selling it, too! In this economy any time I put the word "hire" or "job" in a statement someone inevitably wants to know if I'll consider them.
I'm appreciative that my work continues to sell, despite the economy! I am very appreciative of those who love my art, those who keep coming back to buy more for their homes, offices, and friends. It's such a wonderful craft.
Register on ArtFire.com
Sunday, December 13, 2009
It all started with an idea for a bowl that moved sideways and upward. I wanted a nice smooth sectioned bowl that I'll have to photograph and show you... if it survives.
I was working with a new clay that unfortunately didn't quite lend itself to doing what I wanted it to do. I love working with red clays, this one is a tan clay. My students got a kick out of listening to me fussing at it and about it as I attempted to make it meld to my vision... After tweaking, letting it sit, coming back and playing some more, I finally made the bowl and it looked fairly close to what I intended. It only took a few weeks of working on it off and on between projects, which is already more time than I typically spend on a project, but it had already become a challenge, a duel.
I covered it and left it to dry very, very slowly.
I checked on it periodically and for the first few days of very drying it seemed to be holding up. Then I saw the crack forming. Yarrgggg... after all that work I was determined to make it work.
I tweaked, used some paper clay mix, tweaked some more and once again left it to dry.
It formed another crack in another place. I knew the top was pulling the thing down some, but I kept it in a full support while it dried, it shouldn't have been splitting. I've since learned that it's more the clay than anything else. (Side note: I adapted to the clay, made some other pieces, all cracked during firing or during the drying process so I only make flat, non-curved pieces with it now. I won't be buying the clay again after I finish the batch.)
Finally I had a finished pot, no cracks, ready to fire. I picked it up and broke off one of the pieces. I won't share my reaction... needless to say, I fixed it again. It's not visible, in fact the places I fixed are probably the strongest part of the bowl!
Luckily all that happened before bisque firing.
All seemed well through the bisque process.
Then came the glazing...
The clay absorbs glaze like a sponge. I checked to be sure I'd fired to the correct temp. I had. It's just a porous clay.
I thought though that my problems were at an end, couldn't wait to see the finished piece. Of course, the glaze crawled, didn't adhere to spots, and the colors weren't consistent.
I should have tossed the piece, but I had to0 much invested in it at that point.
I re-glazed and re-fired.
I re-glazed and re-fired.
I re-glazed and re-fired.
Somewhere in the re-glazing and re-firing I lost count.
The last time I re-glazed I included it in a batch of red pieces, which fire at a cone lower than the the glazes on the bowl called for, but I figured with all the glaze firings it wouldn't matter.
The glaze bubbled and didn't have time to settle so now it has these ugly big broken bubbles in places.
I'm firing it one more time at the correct temps. I'm going to hold the temp at the end and make sure the kiln cools slow to give the glaze time to settle.
If it doesn't turn out this time, it's going into my pottery garden... where it should have gone weeks and weeks ago, along with the entire batch of clay.
However, recently I decided to experiment some with the reds that have been languishing.
Reds can be finicky. Part of the reason I haven't done much with them (aside from liking my earth and ocean glazes) is that the reds I use can't be fired the same way I normally fire. I have to get a big enough batch of work going to justify firing up the kiln. I haven't been in a red mood ;-)
Now I've found a whole group of my glazes that seem to work well being fired with the reds, although a few I had in the batch will need to be fired again so I won't be including them in the future!
The red glazes can't be close to other colors, they need a lot of oxygen and they have to be fired fast. Normally I fire slow and add a holding time at the end. Sometimes I ramp up slowly, depending on the glazes and clays.
I've been trying to figure out what the new color scheme reminds me of since pulling the first pieces out of the kiln. It was driving me batty as I looked at them on the shelf with the lights hitting the colors.
At my last show a number of us talked about the subject at different times. Everyone seemed to like the colors, but no one helped.
As I sat here to write this it hit me... remember when you were a kid how you'd take multi-colored crayons and cover a piece of paper? then you'd cover it entirely with black paint or maybe a black crayon? then etch through to make a really cool (or so we thought) picture?
Voila. That's my new pots. Of course, with these I've etched away a lot of the black paint!
You'll see hints of purple, green and lots of red in the new color scheme. I'm going to play with using some blues and other colors, but want the red and black to be the predominate colors that catch the eye.
The problem with these colors is that I'm not really sure how many people have color schemes that work with such strong colors. Howeve, as with most of my work, I make it like I want it and then hope others like what I created, too.
These pieces would make nice accent items, and as with most of my work, look best with lights hitting them, sunlight being the best.
On a side note, I remember when we were looking for a new house a few years back. We found one that was decorated in rooster. As in roosters that peck on the ground and make lots of noise if they're not pictures on a wall. Loved the house, but didn't care for a house that didn't seem to have a room without roosters. Even though the owners wanted to sell, they wouldn't repaint or sell to anyone who didn't like / love their roosters. I guess my new pieces would have worked pretty well with all the black and red roosters!
I think I'm gonna call the new group crayon resist
Thursday, December 10, 2009
At first I thought I had lost whatever clay-soaked brain cells were left and that I'd already set a page up and forgotten... but nope, I can still lay claim to some form of sanity! Some cheap, cheesy you-know-what stole my logo.
Yep, took it, copied it, pasted it, deleted the word "studio" and voila, he had a logo. Some guy in Mystic, Connecticut is putting together a new development named Hummingbird Hollow. From doing a search I gather he's pulled back the request from the city council for now, possibly due to the economy, who knows.
He had a fan page on Facebook for the development. I became a fan just so I could post a message, then let my friends (on my main Facebook account) know about the duplicity, the theft. Within a few days he'd taken the page down.
However, I'm keeping an eye on him, doing periodic searches to make sure he creates his own stinkin' logo in the future. I kinda hope that maybe he's simply someone who has a large piece of property that he's wanting to develop and maybe he just didn't think when setting up the fan page on Facebook. Maybe when I brought it to his attention, that ended the problem. I hope so.
I used to be a graphic designer, create logos. I made my logo, created it from scratch and have many hours and designs to prove it.
I've already talked to my lawyer, and contacted the state to find out what the next step will be if he continues to use my copyrighted work...
I'm sharing this with you mainly to suggest that 1) you trademark if you can afford it and 2) you do periodic searches on the Internet for your business name to make sure it's yours.
If you had a designer create your logo, make sure you have documentation with the time frame as that could be important. Throw it in a file and hang onto the info.
I'm sure there are lots of other things you could and should do... if you have an attorney they're your best bet (albeit the most expensive route) for protecting your creative work.
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
I just checked Facebook and I'm up to 85 friends already (thank you very much)! I'm on the hunt for good arts friends, plus friends from home and family who support the arts (or me!).
This blog is a test to see how it's all working... I've connected everything before on my political sites and my business sites, but it's been a while. I had to go searching through old memories to find the names of aps. One of my personalities is a computer geek. My multiple personalities also have multiple personalities.
Need to run out to the studio soon to check for damage. Had some nasty stuff running through the area last night, saw on one of my twitter accounts that areas of Georgia had storm damage. Doesn't look bad out the window, but we're in a heavily wooded area so there's a good chance we have limbs down. My studio sits in a little "hollow" surrounded by trees.
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Susan Norton www.thepaintedthread.com. I met Susan recently at an event at Beyond the Door in Senoia (a very cool place). I saw one of her wall hangings and started drooling. She had another there also that I almost grabbed, but had to sell some of mine first to be able to justify. I had to invite her to join me for my annual show! When I saw all of her work displayed yesterday I was truly in awe. Talent, an eye for color, great composition, and, and, and... there's some of her work on the website I posted, but not enough to give you an idea of how talented this beautiful lady is! She's someone I hope to get to know a lot better and expect to find that we'll become great friends.
Gail Jensen, www.studiogg.com. Helena Marette (I'll tell you about her in a minute) came to my house for a small get-together and, special and giving person that she is, brought me a gift of these very useful and lovely glass dip markers (you have to go to Gail's website to see what I'm talking about). After that sort-of introduction, I saw one of her guitars at the Dogwood Gallery in Tyrone. Loved it. So, when Helena suggested that she join us for the show, I had to say yes. She didn't get to bring a lot as she'd been on vacation. While I didn't get to see much of her work, I did get a chance to get to spend a little, little time with her (we were all non-stop last night, not much of a chance to visit). I can't wait to see the ornament she's making for me and to get to know her a bit better!
Helena Marette. Sad to say, I don't know if Helena has a website and the two of us have been friends for quite some time! I'm going to hafta ask the question. Helena and I are art friends and political friends. She is a lovely soul, someone anyone would be proud to call friend. I love her work. Yesterday she brought some of her jewelry and it walked out the door... actually, it was worn out the door! She is an extremely talented person with a big heart, and is someone I value as a friend and fellow artist.
Fiona Dennis, artist. Unfortunately Fiona was ill, but she did manage to bring her fantabulous paintings to the show. I "met" Fiona initially through a mutual friend. When I popped over to her website and looked at her paintings I fell in love with her vibrant colors and subject choices. She has contributed two chairs to the annual Chair-ity Event here in Fayette County which benefits The Children's Village at Christian City. Beautiful chairs, my favorite being the Mermaid Chair she put together this year! I'll try to share some of her work with you at some point.
Donna Rosser, www.thebarefootphotographer.com Donna and I have been friends for quite some time. She brought a few of her note cards and her cookbook to display but had a conflict that night so she wasn't able to participate fully. I would love to have had some of her photos to display! She is an award-winning photographer and a good friend. I'd write more, but I'm beginning to fizzle out, still in wind-down-from-non-stop-prep-and show-itis
So much talent in one house yesterday! I do so appreciate having such talented friends and very much loved having them share their art yesterday.
I'd also like to give a BIG thank you to Belinda Fitch, owner of the Hollingsworth House and MC Events (catering). I have been so impressed with her big heart, giving so much to help the kids at Christian City (and I'm sure many other charitable groups!). She walks the walk.
While I had a wonderful time these past few days, I could live without the sun-up to sun-down set up, break down, packing, unpacking, clean up, whine, whine, whine
I am very happy with sales over the past few days. More importantly, I'm very happy with those who fell in love with a piece or two or three of my work and just had to take it home! I discovered a very long time ago that I love to create and I love to be appreciated. Money is what supports my habit, praise is what feeds my soul (along with the creation of a piece, I think I'd shrivel up and blow away if I couldn't do something artistically creative).
I enjoy making the making of each piece so much I sometimes think it might not bother me all that much to just have a huge, huge warehouse with tons of shelves to display the end products. Then I do a show or have someone stop over to buy a creation of mine and I realize just how much I enjoy having others see and appreciate my art.
I have a good friend who now owns maybe 5 or so pieces of mine. Whenever she stops by to see my work I drop everything and just follow her around to hear her comments, to "see" through her eyes. She makes ME appreciate the finished pieces!
Back to my whining and wimping... the end result was well worth the effort, so I can't really wimp and whine too much. I had so much fun with my fellow artists at our open house and reception yesterday! Plus, I made some new friends in recent days through the Saturday show and our show yesterday. No matter how tired I might be today (a whole lot extra goes into doing your own show when you're in charge of putting the entire thing together), I would do it all again tomorrow.
I laid in bed last night working on a way to have another event before Christmas, thinking about our Spring show, reviewing the past few days to find ways to make it go better, churning through ideas on how to display my work here at home so all those who've asked to see it before Christmas can do it without it being a big production, etc., etc., etc.
If it's not raining tomorrow I'm going to unpack the boxes left from the weekend and take photos of each piece as I do. My friend Donna Rosser, The Barefoot Photographer, put together a mock-up of a photo portfolio for me a few months back. I plan to get my tush in gear and capitalize on her idea... so many plans, so little time.
So much for recovery, I guess I'm happily addicted.
Sunday, December 6, 2009
It's 24 degrees outside right now. Double brrrrr....
I have a show tomorrow at the Hollingsworth House in Fayetteville, Georgia. If I start that kiln load before 10 today then it should be ready in time to open tomorrow afternoon. Should being the operative word. If it's not, I'll have a nice load of Christmas gifts for my family, plus some stuff for sale later.
But I gotta get my butt out there to the studio.
Will I, won't I, will I, won't I???? How important are those pieces waiting to be fired? No guarantees they'll turn out anyway... and if they do, no guarantees they'll sell... But then again, they probably will turn out fine (they better as much time, glaze and kiln energy it takes!). And then again, if one sells then it could be the piece that makes it all worthwhile tomorrow night... Course, even if I fire the kiln up before ten, it might not be cooled down enough to open by tomorrow afternoon anyway... but with the cold temperatures it will cool faster than usual so...
Oh darn, this is taking up too much brain power this early in the morning. I think I'll go fix another cup of hot tea and mull it over a bit more.
Thursday, December 3, 2009
This has nothing in the world to do with my pottery... a friend sent this to me and it was so amazing I had to share. I intended just to pop over & look at it quickly to see what it was all about, but couldn't stop watching. Then, to make it even worse (time-wise), I saw another off to the side on YouTube and had to watch it, too.
The following was included in the email I rec'd from my friend:
This video shows the winner of "Ukraine’s Got Talent", Kseniya Simonova, 24, drawing a series of pictures on an illuminated sand table showing how ordinary people were affected by the German invasion during World War II. Her talent, which admittedly is a strange one, is mesmeric to watch.
The images, projected onto a large screen, moved many in the audience to tears and she won the top prize of about £75,000.
She begins by creating a scene showing a couple sitting holding hands on a bench under a starry sky, but then warplanes appear and the happy scene is obliterated.
It is replaced by a woman’s face crying, but then a baby arrives and the woman smiles again. Once again war returns and Miss Simonova throws the sand into chaos from which a young woman’s face appears.
She quickly becomes an old widow, her face wrinkled and sad, before the image turns into a monument to an Unknown Soldier.
This outdoor scene becomes framed by a window as if the viewer is looking out on the monument from within a house.
In the final scene, a mother and child appear inside and a man standing outside, with his hands pressed against the glass, saying goodbye.
The Great Patriotic War, as it is called in Ukraine, resulted in one in four of the population being killed with eight to 11 million deaths out of a population of 42 million.
Kseniya Simonova says:
"I find it difficult enough to create art using paper and pencils or paintbrushes, but using sand and fingers is beyond me. The art, especially when the war is used as the subject matter, even brings some audience members to tears. And there’s surely no bigger compliment."
Here's the second one I watched, "Don't Be Late":