Friday, June 15, 2007

What to do, what to do...

I just deleted a bunch of typing I did that would have been a long post about my frustration with the baseball team Sammy's on... I decided eh, not worth reading. You're welcome.

Cutting to the chase, I can't decide whether or not to go watch Sammy's 2nd baseball game at 8am tomorrow morning or to go to Space Studios and work on pottery. On the one hand, I want to support Sammy and he likes it when I go to his games, but I get so tense that I end up mouthing off, and that's not good. On the other hand, I really love doing the pottery... Kev told me to go to pottery but he only said that because he didn't like what I was saying during the ride home from the 1st game this evening.

As for pottery, I have 2 large items that are done with bisque firing. One, which I call my crazy-quilt pot, I have already started glazing. On this pot I put 2 handles, and I have since decided that I truly don't like the handles. I have also decided that I'm probably not happy with the glazing I've done... so it sits on my shelf at the studio gathering dust. I would like to explore ways to get rid of the handle that remains on it and somehow make the pot work, but I think first I must wash off all the glaze I've already applied, and that seems so wasteful. But at the same time, finishing it as it is will result in something I don't like... and that also seems wasteful.

The other item is a large version of my triangle vase. I like how it has turned out after the bisque firing, but I cannot decide how to finish it, how to glaze it. I have gone through many ideas in my head, and I think that's the problem. Too many from which to choose. It also doesn't help that I recently picked up a very cool book at Barnes & Noble, in the cheap book section, called "Decorative Ornament," by Owen Jones, "more than 2,350 historic designs and patterns" and they aren't kidding. There are a lot of illustrations. This book: is a magnificant new edition of his classic "The Grammar of Ornament" that was first published in 1856. Each chapter covers different area of ornament... Ch. 1 Ornament of Savage Tribes, 2 Egyptian Ornament, 3 Assyrian & Persian, 4 Greek, 5 Pompeian, 6 Roman, 7 Byzantine, 8 Arabian, 9 Turkish, 10 Moresque, 11 Persian, 12 Indian, 13 Hindoo, 14 Chinese, 15 Celtic, 16 Medieaval, 17 Renaissance, 18 Elizabethan, 19 Italian and 20 Leaves & Flowers from Nature. Now, doesn't that list make you wish you could look at this book? So now I have even more ideas for my triangle pot. Cannot decide... so I will just have to wait... it'll come to me sometime.

I also have a very large item, that's in 2 pieces... it's a pedestal for a potted plant in my herb garden, a rose-scented geranium. The 2 pieces currently in one of the kilns drying and getting ready to be bisque fired. I still haven't decided how to glaze that yet, either.

I also finished a large coil pot, and I think I know how I would like to glaze it. Also finished a five-sided slab pot, which I'm calling my "senses" pot, and I know exactly how I want to glaze it; I can't wait until it's done with drying and bisque firing to get started on it. Fingers are itching.

I'm still working on a "greenwoman" mask that I'm making for my sister, Kathy, to go with her "greenman" mask that she has hanging on the wall of her shed, along with about 4 or 5 other masks. I'm finding this project particularly difficult, I think because I'm making it specifically for my sister, not just creating something out of the blue, so to speak. Because anything else I do, if someone doesn't like it, who cares, I'm just doing it for me... but this is for Kathy, so it's important that she likes it. (And she reads my blog, so if you end up hating it, Kathy, you HAVE to tell me.) Oh, the pressure!

Although, I did have someone who saw me working on it the other evening tell me that she liked it... and I had no idea at the time exactly who this person was, otherwise I probably would have freaked out...

The other evening, I decided on the spur of the moment to go ahead and drive over to Space Studios to see if I could work on some pottery. They close between 4pm & 6pm for the dinner break, so I couldn't call first... I just drove over and got there at 5:50pm. Mine was the only car in the parking lot, so I sat there with my windows down & looked through my "Decorative Ornament" book while I waited. A minute or so later, this really old, faded pink small compact car drove up and parked.

Out of this pink car stepped a very tanned woman. She looked to be older than me, so I was thinking around 50 or so. Long black hair, some gray in it, kinda wild. Wearing a black tank top, baggy navy blue sweat pants and a tattoo on her left shoulder, a kind of black spiral lines design. She was looking like she had already been working on pottery or some other art project. Old, stained up clothing is pretty common there, though, since once you discover red clay and some glazes don't come out in the wash, you tend to wear old clothes for pottery work. I was sitting there myself in an old shirt covered in red clay swipes from the evening before...

So anyway, this woman walks up to the door and tries to open it. It's locked, and she turns to me and asked, "aren't they open?" I replied something along the lines of how they will open again at 6pm, and someone should be arriving any minute. We talked for just a moment, then she walked over to the pines behind the building, set her stuff down on one of the picnic tables and walked the short, pretty path they have there, looking around.

In a few minutes, the owners, Kathy & Steve, drove up, and we all went inside. I started working, and learned from their conversation with the woman, whose named I learned was Lauren, that she was there to try working in clay. She hadn't done so before, so Kathy worked with her. Kathy is multi-talented... being not only an accomplished artist in drawing portraits, but also in clay, hand-building masks and making pots and other items... but also being a good teacher. Being able to do something with artistic skill like Kathy has is a God-given talent, but being able to teach someone... also a God-given talent.

I've watched Kathy work, and I am always impressed... not only with what she produces, but with how she does it. I've tried to do certain things that I've seen her do, and it's the same old story how the expert makes it look so easy, but when you try it yourself you realize that it just ain't all that easy. I think that's one of the reasons why I like working with clay so much. It's like golf to me... that one great shot is what makes you wanna play more. Finding that one thing with clay that feels good and turns out well makes me wanna try more stuff. And I like getting my hands all covered in clay. Fun, I tell ya, fun.

So anyway, Lauren begins working with red clay. Kathy is working with her, and Lauren has a plaster face mold with her. It's her face. Lauren begins making a mask. She's working at the table across from me, while Steve is working with clay at the table next to me. He is also new to clay. It was turning into a super interesting evening, with those 2 clay newbies, and with what they were each creating.

Conversation through the evening was also very interesting. Lauren is an artist, and I learn she is in town because she was awarded a fellowship. She is from Tucson, Arizona, and drove her pink car cross-country.

While we all talked, I watched her work. Watching each other do their thing with clay is what everyone does there, and folks talk with each other about their work and the work they see others doing. That is also a nice part of going to Space Studios. But watching Lauren work was different. For one thing, she was very fast, and seemed very sure. For not having worked in clay before, you would not have known. What she made was striking and beautiful and different and kind of odd, but not at all odd... it was cool. I would love to see that piece completely finished, after the firing, and to see how she glazes, or doesn't glaze it. I hope I get to see it.

Lauren and I have some very different viewpoints, which is what made the conversation interesting, but we also have some viewpoints in common. Her perspective definitely comes from a life led very differently from mine. Like I've already said, the conversation was interesting. I don't think I've met anyone quite like her before. I'm more of a practical person, and I would call myself "creative" but not "artistic"... though I could not easily explain to you what exactly I mean by that differentiation. You either know what I mean or you don't, I guess. Lauren is clearly an artist.

So interesting was the evening, that I Googled her. I knew only her first name, that she worked in leather masks and had received the Alden B. Dow fellowship. Lauren Raines was pretty easy to find on the 'net, as she's a well-known artist. She has a web site, and she mentions the fellowship and her project for it, and she's writing a blog about it. How cool is that!

And I was able to see her work for the evening and talk with her about Tucson, deserts, Wal-Mart, Nebraska, being a morning person vs. a night person, Northwood & pingpong tables, Sedona and Connecticut...

How cool is that!


  1. weeeiirrrddd. i was just sitting at the blogger homepage looking at recently updated blogs that were flashing up and whose did i see? yours! so i thought i'd leave you a comment and tell you about it.

  2. Wow... the chance of that happening again is nil to no. I like it that you saw it!
    Thanks for bringing Sammy home after his swim tonight, Mike. I loves you soooo much!
    ~Auntie J.