Tuesday, November 30, 2010
As I have been busy in the studio these past few days, I've thought a lot of what I wrote about last time. I wonder why things are so different than when I was a child. Now, I never have considered that I had an idyllic childhood, although it wasn't bad, but we always made a point to get together with family back then and we seemed to enjoy it. Honestly, I think. Or maybe that is just how I remember it but we had large gatherings with all our cousins and aunts and uncles. We had the holidays in the winter and family reunions for the summer. Huge affairs so much so that we constructed tables outside under the enormous, ancient canopy of oaks that stand between Mama's house and my grandmother's old house. It offered some relief from our heat. Or, if it wasn't that, we had Sunday afternoon. That was the day for visiting friends or them visiting us. We would all pile in the car and just take off and this was a common practise for everybody. Generally if you rode by someone's house you'd see them outside if they were home (and not out visiting someone else) because back then, people went outside and did stuff. Or they'd just be sittin' on the the porch drinking ice tea and relaxing. We'd stay and talk for a while, usually the kids playing in the yard and everybody enjoyed it. I remember I always enjoyed visiting my Aunt Minnie and Uncle Leonard from my Dad's side of the family. Leonard was Daddy's stepbrother. They had a very neat little farm house with a crystal clear, albeit shallow, creek that ran right alongside the driveway. I thought it was wonderful. Usually, if we went on Sunday, their son Sonny and his wife Sharon would be there too. They were two of those immensely irritating people that just smiled and laughed all time. They never seemed down. And Minnie and Leonard were kind people who would share the fruit from the trees in their back yard and anything else they had if you needed it. They've been gone for some time now and the last time I saw Sonny and Sharon was at my Daddy's funeral seven years ago. They were still smiling.
Of course, much of the reason that these things have faded into the past is simply logistics. Most of my family is dead. I have two uncles left and one aunt. The cousins are mostly all still there but they are spread all over. I have had several 'friend' me on Facebook but then they won't speak to me unless I ask them. I guess they just wanted to see if I was in prison yet. It seems to me that it is more than just not having stuff in common. It seems people's whole attitude has changed. I thought for a while that maybe my family began unraveling after my oldest brother decided to punch his own ticket but I'm not sure that's it. I don't believe we blame each other for that. Maybe our family just wasn't as close as we would have liked to believe. And actually, I do have several things in common with my siblings. My sister and I agree wholeheartedly on natural living and all that. They have chickens and raise a big garden and she makes lots of their stuff. In fact, Rosemary usually gives me several quarts of tomatoes she has canned each year because I haven't gotten that far yet. My brother and I both enjoy art and writing. He has published several books. Yet, they scoff at my refusal to take prescription drugs. They can't for the life of them seem to understand why I won't throw myself into a boatload of debt to finish this house all at once. When my BIL found out I don't shop at Wal-Mart he actually became incensed. I had never seen him get so mad. And of course, Rosemary is pissed that I am seeing Jack. Now, that is no indication of anything wrong with Jack. Rosemary generally despises anyone I date. She finds some flaw in virtually everyone so I just brush it off.
But all of that aside, it just seems that there is a pervading shadow of inconvenience when we get together. It's just all going through the motions and when everybody feels they have done the family thing for long enough we all take off for our respective houses. I wonder is it like that for others? Has technology and our society's attitude changed so much? You know, they have these stupid Wii things now where people can play tennis on TV, inside, instead of actually going outside and actually playing tennis. For real. We substitute a fake game for something that would be fairly easy to do for real. Has all our life become the same way? We email or text or post on Facebook and convince ourselves that we are 'keeping in touch', maintaining a real relationship with our loved ones but find it near to impossible to actually make time to go see them in the flesh. Has a plastic, simulated online persona become preferable to actually standing in front of the person? We peep at each other through the computer screen but shy away from actually seeing the person in the flesh. And people say, oh, we are so busy. I use that excuse myself. Busy doing what? When I was a child and in my region, people often had to raise a garden and animals to get by. It wasn't a fashionable thing or a social statement. Hell, they needed to eat and there is not much that is more important than feeding your family. And yet, we made time to go see people and we seemed to enjoy it.
Now, I enjoy the Internet as much as the next person and I will readily admit to working too much at times and the good ol' days weren't always good as I heard Billy Joel sing once. But I can't help but wonder why, in this time when we have so many technological advantages at our disposal, designed to get and keep us in contact with other people, that we seem to fall further and further out of real contact. Have we swallowed the bilge that advertisers and corporate America has been feeding us for so long, that we actually believe that we need their cellphones, their Ipads, their whatever, in order to have a life? Or is it just me?
Saturday, November 27, 2010
I hope everyone out there had a great holiday and got to enjoy it with those of your choosing. Of course, I went up to visit family. That went about like normal. Not really much interaction with anybody but Mama. I wonder sometimes why we really get together but I guess everybody feels obligated. I did get to visit with my niece Katie and her boyfriend, who just recently graduated from firefighter school.
Since we were at Mama's house I took a lot of my tools and did some remodeling on her back porch and installed a new screen door. Jack came over and reworked her raised bed that she grows veggies in and installed new edging along the back walkway. He was a great help and we got a lot done. I just find that I have fewer and fewer things in common lately with my family. And they seem to find my lifestyle completely bizarre and unnecessary. Oh well, whatcha going to do? I just go on about my business and have a good time. And it makes me even more grateful I have such a nice place to come home to and to have found someone who sees things the way I do for the most part.
*Allison Kraus and Union Station
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
So, anyway, Jack finished the cold frame and got it in place and on it's foundation. He had the idea to put it up on block or stone in order to save the wood from having a lot of contact with the ground. I just happen to have all these bluestone curbs that came off an old job and they worked out perfect. I had been trying to find some use for them for about 3 years now. Now, I know there are gaps between the stones and those will be filled with concrete. I wasn't so lucky that they worked out to the same dimension as the frame and I didn't want to cut any of them, but it won't take much to dry pack some mortar in the holes and seal it up.
This is a shot of the inside and as you can see, I haven't filled it with soil yet. Hope to do that soon. The soil level will come up just above the stone. That will give me about 6 inches of fresh dirt and we also tilled the ground before we set the frame, so it will be good and loose down to around 12 inches. After the dirt is in I think I will have a bout 12 inches of head space in the back. The frame is 8 feet by about 2 feet. I couldn't find any suitable old storm doors or windows to make the top out of, so I just broke down and bought this piece of clear polycarbonate. It seems sturdy. That was the only thing that cost me a little money. All of the lumber, hinges etc. I or Jack had already. Well, he did also go buy these little metal plates you hammer onto joints. He felt it needed some reinforcement so, since it was his project, I let him go to it and make it the way he wanted. As a result, I think I could also use the coldframe as a bomb shelter. lol! But at least it is sturdy.
I hope everyone here in the States has a great Thanksgiving and that we all truly see all we have to be thankful for. I hope you are able to thoroughly enjoy the bounty brought forth by the earth in your area.
Across the gathering stillness
simply this: "For all that we have received,
dear God, make us truly grateful."
~ Lynn Ungar ~
Monday, November 22, 2010
So, the prices are as follows, although what I have shown here is not all of the pieces that I produce. For example, I don't have any current photos of my casserole dishes.
Starting at the top left and going clockwise are; pie plates, dinnerware set w/ plates and bowls, vase, dessert bowls, serving (left) and mixing (right) bowls, mugs and small condiment bowls.
dinner plate (9.5” dia.) $24. ea.
lunch plate (7.5” dia.) 12.
soup bowl (2.5” x 5.5”) 12.
salad bowl (1.75” x 8.5”) 14.
dessert bowl (2.5”x 4.5”) 9.
mug (10 oz.) 12.
large mug (14 oz.) 15.
sm. condiment bowl (2-3” dia.) 3.
serving or mixing bowls / 3 sizes
1 qt., 1.75 qt. & 2.5 qt. $16., 24. & 40.
casserole with lid / 3 sizes
1 qt., 1.75 qt. & 2.5 qt. $30., 45. & 70.
pie plate (10” dia. @ top rim) $27.
I have included a couple of close-ups so you can see some of the little impressions and details I put in the pieces. You can request certain impressions (like this shell) but please allow for some variations in placement and size.
All dimensions given in the list are approximate but I do tend to follow them rather closely. All work is dishwasher, microwave and oven safe, although you must be aware that stoneware will become very hot in a microwave, so handle with care. Do NOT, however, place any piece on the eye of a stove or place frozen food in it and then put the piece in a hot oven.
These are some of the colors available, starting from the top left and going clockwise, Earth Red, Robin's Egg Blue, Oatmeal and Slate Blue. The Slate is a satin finish and the Robin's Egg is a gloss. I do also have a dark brown and black.
This is an example of the seashell detail and oatmeal splashed on the interior of the Earth Red. I will add to this list as I get photos of the other stuff I make.
Thanks for all the interest. I also usually offer two-fer deals and or a small discount for sets of things: like if you wanted a set of 6 dessert bowls. And I will ship according to what you tell me, either Parcel Post or Priority. Usually the Priority Flat Rate is the best deal.
Sunday, November 21, 2010
But the rest came out very nice and so I am encouraged and looking forward to creating more work.
Beatrice (one of my readers) had mentioned having great difficulty finding handmade mugs with good handles and I find I must brag on my handles just a little. I am constantly amazed at some of the god-awful, uncomfortable, awkward mugs and handles some potter produce and some even seem to think the more elaborate the handle, the better it is. I find that to be just the opposite. A mug must feel right, be comfortable in the hand and not harbor any more weight than is necessary in order to be a really good mug. I think most potters just don't want to take the time to learn how to pull a good handle basically, and so create these monstrosities that end up being way too big to fit right. The handle must fit close to the body in order for the mug to be balanced correctly. And I really hate these stupid handles sculpted to look like tree limbs or some asinine crap like that. If you can't pull a decent handle just leave the damn thing off and don't try to cover up that fact with some artsy-fartsy tentacle sticking out there.
Okay, so I'm off my soap box for now. So, ya'll tell me what ya'll think of this glaze. It is a new one I have mixed up but I think it is a little too much on it's own. I used a tan, ash glaze on the exterior and I think the two colors go well together; I guess. I think a slightly darker brown on the outside would look better. Oh, I realize the picture here does not really show the outside well but you can see a little of the color on the rim.
Now I just need to throw like hell and try to produce a good bit of stuff for Christmas. I believe I may try to have a Studio Open House for Christmas and invite some of my former customers and all.
Saturday, November 20, 2010
Do any of you sprout seeds and if so, which are your favorites??
The cabbage and broccoli are doing good. This is cabbage in the front, broccoli in the background. If all my cabbage plants do well I may try my hand at some homemade kraut this year.
I finally got around to planting my garlic today but it's still regularly in the 60's and 70's here, so I think they will be fine. I believe I planted somewhere around 50-60 cloves. These are planted on about 4-6 inch centers, which some might say is a little close, but hey, what the heck. I need to pack stuff in where I can. I added some bone meal and more compost to the area so I'm hoping these really do well. I go through a good bit of garlic with cooking and pickling, especially with Jack here now.
We also discovered a bit of a surprise in the garden today. We were out there prepping the area for the cold frame and Jack asked me why I had not picked all the fruit before the last cold spell. I said what??? There wasn't any fruit growing in the garden. Oh, yes there was too. He went over to this one overgrown little spot, which I thought was the remnants of a cucumber vine. He pulled back the dead grass and low and behold, there were scads of these things on the ground!
I had to laugh in amazement. Back in the summer I had bought an African Horned Melon from the grocery store and upon getting it home, discovered it really wasn't that good. So, I ditched the remains in the garden for compost. I never thought about it seeding itself. But wow, did it ever! There were probably a dozen or more of these bizarre and very prickly fruits. Unfortunately, they really are not very good. Mostly seed and a rather bland taste. They are cool to look at though. However, they do turn bright yellow when ripe and I thought they would be good for self defense. You sock somebody in the head with one of these babies and it would probably get their attention. The thorns on them are very sharp.
So, tomorrow morning I get to open the kiln on a glaze firing, so ya'll keep your fingers crossed for me. It would really be nice to have a great firing.
Friday, November 19, 2010
I have also been throwing as regularly as I can, in between all the other stuff I've been doing. This is the bisque load that came out this morning. I spent most all day today glazing and getting ready to fire again tomorrow. I felt like I was really making some progress but as I was cleaning up this evening and putting the glazes away, I came to a very discouraging realization. I have two glazes, a slate blue and an oatmeal, that look almost identical in their liquid states and.....yes, I had mixed them up, thinking that I had glazed certain pieces in one color when in fact, it was the other color. Now, had these only been glazed in that one color, it wouldn't be much of a big deal. But no, I like to mix colors and double dip some stuff for effect. So, the secondary colors I used, that go well with one glaze, don't necessarily go with the other glaze. And it goes on and on. One glaze must be applied thinly etc. Blah, blah, blah. Bottom line, I get to wash all that glaze off the pieces in question and start over. Damn.
So, anyway, other things are going well. Jack is experimenting with sprouting seeds for eating and I'll show that soon. He is also building the coldframe for me. He kinda fusses about actually building anything for me because I think, he thinks, I'm going to criticize his work, seeing that I am a carpenter, but as long as it holds together and looks halfway reasonable, I am okay with it.
And I think he came up with a good idea for the foundation of the coldframe.
Monday, November 15, 2010
I read today that one of Birmingham's oldest and best known art galleries, that specialized in Alabama artists, is going out of business citing the worsening economy. This will be the second one this year as another well-known and long time gallery went out months ago. Several artists I know personally that used to be able to support themselves solely on their art, have had to pick up other jobs this year. And these are really talented people, not half-ass 'artists' painting ducks with ribbons around their necks or some crap. Helluva time to be launching a new art business. Of course, mine isn't all new. I still have something of a clientele. And the Internet lets artists reach many, many more people. But....things are still very shaky and all reports I read indicate things may get worse with food costs going way up. I went grocery shopping today and was shocked to see what coffee is now going for.
I guess I'm still going to give it a try though. If I can get my garden in full production mode that will help a lot, to produce much of my own food. Heck, I might could grow enough of some things to sell a little and getting some chickens will help a great deal also. Jack cut down a couple of damaged trees for me to make way for a chicken coop and yard and even cleaned up the area, taking the wood to the splitting area and hauling off the limbs. For a city boy not used to such work, he sure is working awfully hard. He's taken to the chainsaw and axe very well, even though he loves to complain that I'm a slave driver. We've been looking over some coop designs lately and now I need to go through my accumulated materials and just see what I've got that could be used for the chickens. Let me just say their coop is probably going to be quite 'eclectic'. But fun!
Well, off to bed now. It's rainy and cool here tonight, so perfect snugly sleeping weather.
Sunday, November 14, 2010
I know many people despise the ol' dillers but I don't mind them; same with the moles that lots of people drive themselves crazy trying to run off. They do make little holes or mounds here and there but I've never had them destroy many plants like a lot of people claim they do. An occasional veggie victim here and there but to me, the pests they eat are worth a few uprooted plants on a rare occasion. Most everyone else around me has horrible problems with Japanese beetles and such but I rarely see more than a handful around my house and I can pick them off by hand and squash them. And now that I know the 'dillers eat yellowjacket nests, well, they are greatly welcome to root around a little. I had a heckuva time trying to eradicate one nest last year the the bees had dug right in the middle of a trail I frequent to the spring. I tried several bombs and sprays and don't know that I really succeeded but these ol' possums on a half shell made short work of them it seems! Saves me money and aggravation. The only thing better would be if they would eat fire ants too! I think Nature itself will often provide for it's own control and management if we would just let it, no chemicals needed.
Friday, November 12, 2010
I also got 3 perennial flowers (the yellow ones, upper right) for $2.00 each and 6" mums for $.25. Yes, twenty-five cents each. Now, yes, these look kinda ragged and the flowers are faded but I plant them and mulch them good for the winter and next year they come up fine. The red one in the front is one I got on special last year. It grew well over the summer and bloomed like crazy this fall. Now, I know you can't eat mums and a lot of people prefer to focus on food-producing crops right now but I think we all need some pretty things to look at too.
The rest of this is just a few more gratuitous fall foliage shots. Some of the maples around here are so beautiful this year. This is one right off from the deck and I can't wait until it's bigger.
I'm still throwing and trying to be productive around here and hopefully I will have more to show ya'll lately. It seems like I have 20 million projects going on and just need to finish one! Well, time to get going. Hope the weather is as great for you all as it is here.
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
The figs have been mulched heavily and put to bed. They had fruit this year but it never ripened. I hope that changes next year. I love fresh figs.
The lavender has been weeded, given a haircut and new starts transplanted. The two plants on the far left are the cuttings I took off the first plant and sprouted using the willow water. I would have had three more had I not been lazy and made sure they didn't dry out when they were just getting started.
Much produce has been dried and put up. Here is apples, if I can stop munching on them, onions, lemon zest and more of those dang cayenne peppers. Oh, and some new lavender cuttings soaking in new willow water.
And I even started throwing again. Not a huge start but I am making progress. It's getting time to really kick it in high gear though.
I am feeling better at times but am still having down times. Last night was rough but I am optimistic that things will continue to improve overall.
Sunday, November 07, 2010
And the winner is Hermit Jim!!! And yes, in case anybody is wondering, Jim's name only went in the pot once, just like everybody else! So, email me at email@example.com Jim with your info and address and I'll send the CDs on to you. Congratulations!
In other news I have been getting a little done around here and hope to have some pictures to show of it soon. I've been doing some major organizing and working in my clay studio in order to get that stuff going again. I should be able to start throwing again this week.
I've also gotten some work done in the garden with a few crops planted for fall and winter. Jack has been a great help around here chopping wood and doing the worst of the clean up in the garden, amongst other things. It really makes a big difference to have a second pair of hands I'll tell you. It makes the day go more enjoyable and you can often actually tell you got some stuff done at the end of the day.
Tuesday, November 02, 2010
So, all of that to say that I might lay low for a day or two. I had to take some pain meds and I always get loopy and sleepy when I take something like that. But if I don't answer comments or so I'm still okay...just sleeping or resting.
However, "I'll be back." I said that with my best Arnold voice. And hopefully I'll be back better than ever and really show ya'll some work getting done!