Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year!

From all of us:  Have a very Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Peep, Peep, Peep

These little birds were made with a different type of clay and have a different type of surface design and a different type of glaze on them.

Susan really liked them. So naturally I sold them at the Student Art Sale. I may not be getting lucky for another decade.

Or at least until I make some more for her.

We had a quiet Christmas and contributed to Amazon's profit for the year. How could you ever go wrong with books? The latest Netflix have been The Way Way Back - an A for the movie but an A+ for Toni Collette's acting, and Looper - an A+ for an incredibly imaginative movie that still has us confused.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Happy Whatever-You-Want-It-To-Be Holiday

Have a happy holiday season. After all, as doofus as I look, I'm happy.

It would be nice to think that this is the last Christmas any troops have to be at the Kabul, Afghanistan, airport for their dinner. It would be nice to think that these troops will be eating next year's Christmas dinner at home, with real silverware and dishes.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Yes, I'm Still Here

Here's the deal: We went to New York City and Washington DC for Thanksgiving (actually, we came home on Thanksgiving Day). It was a short 3 days in NYC (including travel), one day on Amtrak to DC (with a long nap when we arrived) and 4 days in DC. When we got home we took a lot more naps. The good news is we got to see a lot of good museum shows, the bad news is that we moved so fast we didn't take any time to visit with our good friends (you know who you are!) in NYC or DC.

But, as you can see from the picture above, I did visit with one of my favorites. Susan likes to catch photos of me pondering art (below is by Al Held, above by Modigliani).

So where has the blog been in the meantime? We came home to Susan having a sudden, earlier than planned, deadline of December 18 to have eight (8!) previously promised Toddler quilts made - all pieced, quilted, edges bound and finally photo-ed.  A Toddler quilt is one that is about 36-40 wide and about 45-50 inches long -- big enough to be a cover but not so big they trip on it when they drag it around. Sewing and nothing else, definitely not the blog, consumed her days while I did dishes and kept thread and pins picked up off the floor.

Below are the fronts and then the backs (you can  match them up because she scrambled the order!).  Sometimes when she is finished she likes the back better than the front. 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Street Art and Yarn Bombing

This wall is near Whole foods and is topped off by railroad tracks. It has been a canvas for graffiti artists many times, giving it a nice varied background. These stay in place about a week or two before the city paints them over.

Susan told me (and I believe her because her authority comes from her grandmother who taught her how to knit, crochet, quilt, sew and play canasta) that these were crocheted into place. Way cool. The barrier (ha!) is supposed to keep people away from the graffiti wall.  As if. I missed seeing the previous display but from the amount of paint below the wall it must have had a lot of pink in it.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Sad Guys, Happy Guys

Two new happy Mousies, right? Wrong -- look harder.

When little Mousies are being raku fired in a hot kiln and fall onto each other they will pull the glaze off each other where they touched. Sad mousies. I'd be a lot sadder if I was trying to make a living doing this stuff. As it is, the only damage, other than the mousies, is to my ego.  I was quite sure I had the Kiln Goddess on my side. How could I have forgotten how fickle some women (No, not you, Susan) are?

My little hedgehogs are actually whistles, a feat I have been working on for weeks. I read several articles about how to make ceramic whistles and watched some YouTube videos on it and finally can get it right. These guys still need to be fired.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving, 2013

Our military in Afghanistan takes a timeout for a Happy Thanksgiving Day dinner. But they stay armed. Regardless of your political leanings, be thankful that they have volunteered to serve their country, regardless of their own political leanings.  [Photo: Omar Sobhani]

Visit with family and friends, eat too much, pretend to watch football on TV while you take a long nap and ignore the urge to buy things you don't really need, no matter how cheap they are, on a day when you don't need to be shopping.

From your mostly-vegetarian Blog Wrangler: Happy Squash Day.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Smokey Joe and the Boys

More Potato Heads. Remember, these guys are just about 2-3 inches high.

When I take a walk in my neighborhood I visit with Smokey Joe. He's a sucker for attention and I like having a 5-minute chance to have a pet, without having to pay vet bills or buy food or clean a cat pan!  You can thank Zappos for my new lime green shoes. Do these photos count as my first Selfies?


Thursday, November 21, 2013

Painting Birds

The school semester is almost over and we've had to quit doing "wet" work and the kilns are crowded with last-minute work. Last week I had some birds with some fantastic glazes on them fired. But that day the Kiln Goddess was not smiling at me. Another student's piece blew up in the kiln and that ruined my work. I can't get mad about it because we've all had our problems and it was just my turn to get the hickey.

Susan reminded me that I could use acrylic paints on my bisque fired pieces and they would still be interesting. I fought the idea - they are ceramics and have to be glazed! She ignored me and reminded me we had painted the little ceramic books we made a few years back and they looked great. I fought the idea.

I was testing out color combinations and had a lot of paints on the table. She went into my studio, got a bird, brought him back out, and grabbed my brush and slapped acid yellow paint on him before I could stop her. Damn, why is she always right!?!?

Next time I'll also put gloves on when I paint because she is right when she says the piece has to be worked around in my hand while I add colors to it. Otherwise, it won't look like patina.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Still Painting

The question from Robyn at ArtPropelled was about the little paintings I'm making:  They are small canvases from Michaels, very cheap on sale. The previous ones were about 2x3 inches, the ones above are 4x4, below are 5x7, the last ones are 4x4 but only a half inch thick, not one inch like the ones above.  I like painting around the edges so I'll probably always look for the fatter canvases in the future, regardless of cost.

The middle photo shows how I've used painters' blue tape to mark off the white squares. The ones in the first photo wound up having blue painted on in some areas just because I liked the way the blue of the tape looked. The next step will be to add lots of details -- dots, lines, marks, etc. I'll know when I've added enough when Susan says "You had better quit that now because you are one paint stroke away from Wretched Excess." I should listen to her because I'm in her space but I probably won't.

By the way, if you've never seen ArtPropelled, go there now and prepare to spend a lot of time in awe of the great blog Robyn has created.

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Zen of the Painting Groove

I've been glazing some of my Potato Head people with underglazes lately. This means that the color I put down is essentially the color you see in the end. As you can see, I've carefully labeled my bottles of glaze on the tops so I can easily pull them out of the drawer amd spread them out all over my table.
After I've been quietly doing this glaze painting for a day or so Susan will come into the room and say, "You've been too quiet lately. Don't tell me you've gotten into the Zen of your painting groove again!"
Well, yes. Sometimes I need to get back to painting on canvas or working on my maps or something less physical than slapping clay around because clay is clay, not a canvas. So Susan will push and shove and shame me into putting my artistic whims into the appropriate medium. As punishment for her, I take over her studio space (the dining room), which works out OK this week because she's sewing (in the bedroom).

The blue tape is painters' tape.

This is just the first phase, I'll get into my painting groove and they'll get more paint applied to them. These guys are real small but I'll soon be moving up to larger sizes.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Remember: Veterans Day, November 11, 2013

It's Veterans Day. You get a break from work, maybe a break from school, and lots of sales to shop at. Just remember that this is what veterans saw on D-Day, June 6, 1944, on the beaches at Normandy.

Thanks to our government, this is what the few remaining veterans of D-Day, most in wheelchairs, saw at the World War II Memorial in Washington DC last month.

Wait, you ask, if the park was shut down, how did they get in? Gee, do you really think after surviving D-Day they would let a barricade stop them? They didn't.  But, you ask, how could the government be so stupid as to shut down something like a memorial to war veterans?  Easy. Only 89 of 435 House members have served either on active duty or in the reserves. In the 100-member Senate, only 19 are veterans.

I served in Vietnam. I came home.

Barry Brown didn't come home.

James Clifford McKittrick is still MIA.

Part of John Jones came home.

Please remember that there are still men and women serving in the armed forces. I hope they come hope so you can honor them on Veterans Day.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

One Potato, Two Potato

More little Potato Head guys. I like the way the screws and nails get a beat-up look from the kiln firing. We took 3 days off and went to Houston for the International Quilt Festival. Some really great quilts and interesting vendors but overall (as Susan summed it up) "underwhelming".

The heavy rains that blasted through Central Texas last week managed to slide far enough to the east to avoid raising the level of any of our lakes. The main impact is that the rice farmers to the southeast need the lake water for their crops so it becomes a tug-of-war between the farmers and the people upstream who want the water for their lawns, farms .... and drinking. Although everything looks pretty now that it's been watered, it's too late for a lot of trees with long-term drought damage. As if we thought we could bargain with Mother Nature!

Just for the record, it's not always about me. Susan also makes art:

Friday, November 1, 2013

Here's Looking At You, Kid

He's about dinner plate size. The yellow is not what I wanted it to be, I was hoping it would be a  sort of ochre that wasn't so neon looking.  Pick any one of these?

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Them Mousies

Love to eat them mousies...
Mousies what I love to eat!
Bite they little heads off,
Nibble on they tiny feet!
Many thanks to B. Kliban.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Potato Heads

This Potato Head is half done, he'll get more marks and glaze eventually. These two (below) are finished. They are all about 2-3 inches high.

My latest test tiles. I keep making them so I'll know what effect glazes and underglazes will have. Then I'll totally ignore them and do something different, something I've never done before. And I won't document what I did. That will be the piece that Susan says, "Perfect glaze! Do some more like that." And of course I never can. Life is never boring in my studio.

Our latest Netflix picks:  Moscow, Belgium for great acting although we thought the story could have had smoother transitions between scenes. Amazing how "real" the European actors and actresses look compared to our American movies where everyone is botoxed, buffed and siliconed to the nth degree. I gave it a 5-star rating, Susan gave it a 4-star. Side Effects seemed bland for the first half and then the story started twisting and turning and wound up being something definitely different from what we though it would be. Great acting, we both gave it 5 stars.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Sad Birdies

Look pretty good, don't they? This picture and the next two were taken by a fellow classmate, Bernie, who has a big honker of a camera. So you think all went well? Right now the Kiln Goddess is laughing her head off.

For starters, notice the small spot on the back of the dark bird below? Somehow the glaze just skipped that spot -- an air bubble? Or did the Kiln goddess spit on it?

Below is a really interesting sort of pink glaze and sheen effect I'll never be able to create again because I have no idea how it happened. Take a close look at the bottom of that bird. See that clunky spot under it? That's a bad bird butt.

Here's a quick shot I took of all the birds from that particular firing.

So you politely ask "Why are they sad?"

They are sad because I screwed up their butts. First, I like to make the birds rattle (they are hollow) so I put BBs in them. Because the birds are hollow I have to make a small hole in the bottom so air can escape. This firing was high-fire for these special glazes, not low-fire which is what I usually do. Much to my dismay (and huge learning experience) the BBs melted this time and flowed out the air hole and made a mess on the bottom of the birds. To make thinks worse, my glazes ran more than I expected and flowed over. AND, even though Susan has warned me a hundred times, some of the birds' butts weren't exactly flat so they fell over in the firing and messed up the glaze.

Out of 17 birds, 8 were a BB disaster, 3 tip over all the time, and 3 had a lousy glaze job. Three are OK. And you thought making art was easy!