Thursday, July 28, 2011

Buried Treasure

Seth has the annual Buried Treasure online collaboration going on. Go here to see what I'm talking about. The guy is a Creative Maniac! I am in awe of the work he produces, not to mention he's a nice guy. Enjoy his blog, it's a treat. 

Here's the text of the original post. Notice the mention of the weather, not that we can possibly even remember what it's like to be anything under 100 degrees in Texas.

More Baby Pots and Pancakes
January 21, 2011

Baby Pots because Baby, it's cold outside!

I am an oatmeal fan and a pancake fan so I really enjoy cold weather as an excuse to have those for breakfast. Not both at the same time until now because Susan has found a recipe for oatmeal pancakes that are even lighter and puffier than the Bisquick Melt-In-Your Mouth ones (recipe on the box) we've been making. Up until now she only tolerated oatmeal in cookies but these pancakes have won her over.

Oatmeal Pancakes
Mix in a bowl:
1/4 c. flour
1 c. quick-cooking oats (the 1-minute kind)
1 T. sugar
1/2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
a dash of salt
optional: 1/4 t. cinnamon (we don't opt)

Mix in another bowl:
1 c. nonfat buttermilk
1 large egg
2 T. melted butter

Add the wet stuff to the dry and stir just until mixed.
Cook on your lightly oiled (or not, if teflon) pancake griddle or in a pan, turning when tops are covered with bubbles. These might looked browner when done than normal pancakes.

If you are of the decadent type you can do what we do: Fry up Jimmy Dean breakfast sausage. Crumble it into little pieces. Sprinkle them on the pancakes before you flip them over to finish cooking. When you serve them, serve them sausage-side up because then there are all the little spots to trap the syrup.

If you have extra pancakes left over they will reheat (about 10-20 seconds) in the microwave the next morning. If you are like us, there won't be any left over and after breakfast you'll just go lie on the floor for an hour or so.

For the record, I can cook and I can make these all by myself.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Jessica Dupuis and My Jessica Book

Thousands and thousands and thousands of tiny ceramic shards, all carefully adhered to a backing. When we go to Houston we always stop by the Center for Contemporary Craft. Resident artists work in studios there and part of their "job" is to have open studio hours. This lets us go in and talk to the artists, to ask them what they are working on, the processes they use to make their art, the inspirations they have.

On my last visit I was lucky enough to visit with Jessica Dupuis, the artist of the piece above (detail at top)   and the creator of the in-process work shown (below).  Jessica shared ideas with me and encouraged me to try what I was thinking about:  A ceramic book.  Susan is always making books of one sort or another so I thought I'd surprise her with a book I made. 

It hasn't been glazed yet because I'm not sure what to do about that. In the meantime, it's a really fragile piece, although Jessica swears her pieces hold up well enough to be shipped to gallery and museum shows. Take a look at more of her work here.  Thanks again, Jessica, for all your advice. Susan loved the book.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Black and White

He has black underglaze on parts of him and graphite pencil marks. I'm not sure what will happen with the white unglazed areas. If I don't do anything to them with this particular clay they have a tendency to look chalky.

I'm back to making more heads again, which was originally a starting point for me. Sometimes art just pushes you around in a big circle.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Guys and Dolls

Last summer I took a class from Lisa Renner (here and here) and was not, for a change, the only guy in the class. Gary Smith was also in the class and he is the artist who created the piece above. Below is a detail showing how meticulous his work is and further down is the picture I took of his piece at the end of the class. Lisa provides more information and assistance than you can possibly absorb in one day so most of us put the finishing touches on our pieces when we got home.

Obviously Gary is a much more skilled artist than I am when it comes to mixed media (my piece, Ricky, is shown below).  I guess I could challenge him to a ceramics smack-down but I'm not sure I could win that!  Although I relish being the only guy in most classes, Gary is an enjoyable classmate and is more than willing to stand back and watch me (unsuccessfully) try to be the Alpha Dog.

Just like I benefit from the atmosphere around Susan, I think Gary benefits from the atmosphere around his wife, Jeanie Thorn. We are both pretty lucky guys. And we make Dolls!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Summer Colors

I'm working again with heads (about 4" high) but this time I'm focusing on color. Right now I'm liking purple, chartreuse, cinnamon and black.  We'll see how far I can go with those colors. This head needs a little more work, maybe just a clear matte glaze but then again I might just accidentally screw him up. Oh well.

Our friend, Maria, has a knack for growing anything, regardless of the weather. She brought us the okra and yellow cherry/pear tomatoes. I cooked them with some onion, and red cherry tomatos and then tossed them with chili butter and capellini. And bacon. Of course.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Dancing As Fast As I Can

These pieces all need to have a glaze picked out, then the glaze applied and then they need to be fired. The stack on the right contains test tiles. I hate test tiles. I also hate it when my glaze choice doesn't even look like it was in the same planet than what I planned. Or even in the same universe. I hate it when Susan tells me a glaze looks really cool and then I can't ever duplicate it again because I was just winging it. Hence, test tiles.

I've done test tiles before, carefully and methodically. And never was able to recreate the test tile glaze again, regardless of what I wrote down. Maybe the Kiln Goddess doesn't like me.

Nahhh. No way. Which reminds me, my high school reunion is this fall  -- don't ask me which one. Susan has absolutely no interest in going with me because 1) she didn't got to my high school and 2) she went to 3 different high schools in 4 years and thinks reunions are dumb. She's made me promise to be on my best behavior. Best Behavior means that when a woman comes up to me and starts chatting about our high school days I do not say to her "Did we date?"

All the raku pieces have to wait until our burn ban is lifted which will be after it rains a lot which, based on the way our summer weather is going, might not be in my lifetime.

(small symbol in center of bottom bar will let you eliminate any screen notations)

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Pointing Out

Remember those antlers I got from my barber, Kervin? Here is where they might be going. The head is just bisque fired so far and the antler piece will be glued on after final glazing. What will the final glazing look like? Beats me.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Julie Guyot and Me

No, I didn't make the cup shown above, Julie Guyot did and I bought it from her. We went to the Renegade Craft Fair here in Austin earlier in May because Susan thought I would see some examples of jewelry that I might like to try making. Instead, I found Julie. 

First of all, the Renegade Craft Fair was WAY better than I thought it would be and we're looking forward to going again. Check their website to see if one is coming to your area. And as far as it being "craft", take a look at what Julie thinks about that. Second, I rarely buy anyone else's art art because our house is getting full of S-T-U-F-F, both other artists and Susan and mine. We are trying to de-acquisition, not acquisition -- face it people, none of our stuff is going to fit in our coffins.

I made a deal with Julie: If she would tell me how she shaped the cup, I would buy one. It was an easy offer for me because both Susan and I really were attracted to her work. She just laughed and told me she'd tell me how even if I didn't buy one and she'd even draw me a template. I know there is a lot of website/blog talk about copying and stealing ideas but so far I've been fortunate enough to find people who are more than willing to talk to me about their work and the techniques they use and how they create their specific "trademark" pieces. Maybe it's because ceramic artists know that no matter how much you tell someone, it's still up to the Kiln God/Goddess to decide what the final result will be.

I drew off a lot of her templates on paper and tried to determine how the shapes would go. I redrew her template in the size I wanted and then tried making some of cups using her shaping techniques. [Note to Julie - Not fair! You made it sound easy.] Two results are shown below. I like the wonky-ness of the cups but I'm not sure about the glaze. It is a soda firing technique I did for the first time.

Thanks Julie, for taking the time to give me advice and making me feel like a "real" artist.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Happy Birthday, Gigi!

I grew up with two brothers but was lucky enough to marry a woman who had a brother and a sister. That meant I acquired a sister-in-law, Gigi. She's really smart and has all sorts of degrees to confirm that and best of all, she thinks everything I make is terrific.

Gigi works in a cubicle and we all know that those cubicle workers seem to find the best sorts of funny stuff to mail around - on their break, of course. Here are some items she passed along to us. If you want to see more in the series just google the title.

What Artists Do If Given Wire and Household Objects
(and too much time on their hands)

Susan speaks: Her real name is Linda Jean but at age 3 when she came along I wasn't up to saying all that. "Gigi" was what I could say and that became her family name. Only family calls her that and it still seems odd when other people, including her husband!, call her Linda. The picture above was from 1960, Disneyland. The first picture below is from Arlington, Virginia, and includes my brother and Mom. Dad was always the photographer and Gigi has inherited his photographic eye.  The bottom picture is from Ann Arbor, Michigan, back in the dark ages when I had no grey hair. I have no idea what we were doing dressed alike but it must have seemed like a good idea at the time.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Remembering on the 4th of July

Re-enlistment ceremony, Kabul, Afghanistan

The 4th of July is our Independence Day, when we celebrate our 1776 Declaration of Independence, which includes this statement:
We hold these truths to be self-evident,
that all men are created equal,
that they are endowed by their Creator with
certain unalienable Rights,
that among these are
Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Make sure you mentally do a little editing to get this phrase correct:
 that all men and women are created equal,

Our military armed forces serve to protect our independence, and women serve in our armed forces, in both support and combat positions. So far, while serving in our armed forces, 111 women have died in Iraq and 28 have died in Afghanistan. We like to have lots of parades on the Fourth of July and I hope your parade includes a section for military veterans, especially the women.

Please remember also those who served and are no longer with us, among them Captain James Clifford McKittrick and Captain Barry L. Brown.
Captain Barry Lynn Brown, Killed in Action, Vietnam, May 5, 1968