Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Winter Blues

When the weather is nice, Alex and I hike a lot. We love to get out into the woods and explore with our kids. We are the kind of people who turn over rocks, pick up bugs or snakes, and end up on all fours repeatedly! We love to take photos of everything; it is not uncommon for us to return from a hike of a mile or two and realize we have taken 200 pictures!

Right not it is in the teens outside and hiking is not on our agenda. However, it is nice to go through pictures from last summer and fall and find little gems we might not have noticed before. It gives me something to look forward to in the spring and helps to take the edge off the cabin fever.

This picture of a duck was taken not far from out house. It was late winter or early spring. I remember we saw Canada Geese that had goslings that day. It was cool but still. I was most interested in snapping pictures of the geese who were not enthused at being subjects of my photos. Then we hiked on a little farther and stumbled across this lone mallard. When I snapped the photo I didn't think it would be anything special. I got home and put it ono the computer and I could see every tree reflected in that murky water - I knew it was the prize of the day.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Creator's Block

At almost any given time, I am working on a project. Very few days go by that find my hands idle. Sometimes I just wake up with a picture in my head and I have to make it real right away. Other times, the ideas come so fast that I have to write it all down so I won't forget something before I have a chance to make it.

But this week I didn't want to make anything. I have a half-finished painting that is just waiting for the brush. I have jewelry to assemble. I have a ceramic lamp just barely started that I cannot seem to tackle. I've been wanting to get out the polymer clay, but I have no idea what I want to do with it. I'm just stuck. I do have my catalog of jottings that I always keep going, but nothing is really calling my name. Nothing really needs to be made.

Until yesterday. I have been thinking about making some ceramics pendants, but it's been so cold and it's hard when I can't keep my feet warm to put my hands in cold, damp clay. However, I got an email regarding the glaze test tiles from someone asking if I had considered selling them as pendants. They are too big to use as pendants and we reference them all the time but they are beautiful little sculptures in their own right. I knew it was time to get my hands in the clay in spite of the cold and get some pendants made. I sat down and made 45 pendants and 15 beads! It was lovely!

I also was inspired to carve 12 new stamps to use on future pendants! Handcarving stamps is a tedious process, but if we get something we like, we can use it forever!

Hallelujah! The block has been broken!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Catching Up

One of the places I really struggle as an artist is in documenting my work. I get so caught up in what I am making, I let it go without ever photographing it or noting how and why I made it. Sometimes I forget the process I might have used that makes something special. Sometimes I just can't remember what it is I've been doing.

This weekend, I decided to try to go around the house and photograph everything I have missed documenting over the past few months. Everywhere I turned there was something else that needed to be caught by the camera. I felt like I really accomplished a major task, but I am still thinking of things that have escaped being photographed.

The monster and bulldog dolls were little boredom busters that I created while sitting in front of the tv. Alex and I made half a dozen over the course of about a week and then the urge passed and we moved on to other creations. We are holding on to these two dolls and a third that our youngest son sleeps with. The bulldog is made from a wool sweater that went through the wash and the monster is made from some polartec, left over from baby buntings I made a few years ago.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Nursery Art

About a year ago I started painting with children in mind. This painting is for a friend of mine who is expecting her third child. She has a boy who just turned four, a daughter in heaven, and soon we will be joined by the younger boy. I wanted to welcome little Jerryd and celebrate his birth, but I also wanted to remember Grace. Grace had such an impact on me and my family and she still does. Alex and I held her the day she was born and felt her spirit still heavy in the room. I cannot begin to explain all that Grace taught me in those moments and all that her mother taught me in the months that followed. I think of her often and I am grateful for her presence in our lives and her footprint on our hearts.

Stoneware Drums

Alex has been constructing drums for a show this fall. He throws most drums in two pieces and then joins the parts together while they are still maleable. Today there are at least seven drums in the works!

Alex uses stoneware clay to craft his drums, which makes them durable and gives a great booming sound. A lot of ceramic drums are made from earthenware, which is much more fragile. He uses both traditional knotting systems and tuning pegs when he strings the heads on the drums. The knotting systems are beautiful, but drummers who aren't familiar with the system usually prefer tuning pegs to adjust the tightness of the drum head.

We are testing new glazes before we begin glazing the drums pictured above. This process is time consuming because we added in 11 new glazes at once and we want to test how the glazes react when they are butted up against each other, when they are layered, and how they stand alone. I was once a math whiz, but I can't figure out how many possibilities there are!