Monday, October 1, 2012

My Own Worst Enemy

I know these pictures would instantly qualify me for an episode of my own on hoarders, but let me at least  try to defend myself.

When I was rearranging everything in the front room of the studio, here and here, everything that wasn't part of that studio re-do was put ( dumped) back here in the pottery rooms until I would have a chance to go through it all.
That chance hasn't arrived yet. 
So pretty much everything I need to use is buried under piles of stuff.
The shot above is what you would see as soon as you enter the back door of the studio.
You have to be very agile as you walk through for fear of falling or breaking a leg!

To the right, behind the section of countertop is my slab roller.

Ray had originally built me a wonderful work island out of 2 rows of base cabinets back to back and covered the top with formica, very easy to work with clay and cleanup.
It too is buried under all you see here, clay, tools, molds, boxes, templates etc.
The rolling carts hold other tools which had to move from their spot in the front studio during the redo.
Looking to the back wall you can see the big commercial stainless steel sinks, one section is filled with a tool caddy and buckets and various other clay paraphenalia.

When I began working in ceramics, I did a lot of slip casting with molds which I taught myself.
I really liked working with the vintage molds and doing assemblage of different pieces to come up with originals.  I viewed clay as my canvas, i was more interested in the decoration end of it than the forming end of it.
I have a wheel but don't use it, preferring slab construction and I couldn't see myself becoming a production potter. Nowadays my shoulder and back wouldn't allow it.
So the biggest obstacle to my being able to reorganize and work in here is my sizable collection of molds, some 3000+  most of which are no longer available as just about every ceramic company has gone out of business and sold the master blocks overseas to companies who now use them to make finished ware.
I would love to get a storage building to house them in, we got a quote for a pole building but having to put a new metal roof on this building this year has shot that idea, too much to afford in one year.
My husband said just get rid of them.    Silly boy.
Over the years I have donated hundreds to the school programs along with various other supplies.
The ones on the shelves lining the walls aren't the problem. The ones all over the floor and countertops that can't fit on the shelves are the problem!
Although, if I had the shelving free i could put slips and glazes on those eliminating my need for other storage shelving and units around, freeing up a lot of space.

The kiln room hasn't been spared either. Originally this shelving unit was for overflow of molds and to dry greenware.
The top of my large Skutt kiln has a big tray of doll arms and legs and the other smaller kiln has one of my containers of candy and ice cream molds ( I used them for clay)

The built in shelving which holds my pug mill is filled to the brim under and over.

So here's why I said I am my own worst enemy.
I have discovered that if I am unable to be doing what I want to do, be it jewelry, pottery, art of any kind, due to work or other obligations, I find that I will order supplies for said venture instead.
I guess it must make me feel like I am doing SOMETHING.
Getting closer in some way.
Collecting everything, hunting and gathering for the day when i can get to do it all.
Surrounding myself with all the supplies.
I will take a class and get excited about a new technique and gather all the new tools and supplies needed for it.  I have such high hopes.
The problem is, it is actually preventing me from actually being able to do what i want to do. A sort of self sabotage if you will.
This realization came to me recently as I looked around at all this STUFF!
Price tags come with all this stuff, which keeps me having to work which keeps me from being in my studio. DUH!

Last year I mentioned having an epiphany that woke me in the middle of the night, it involved getting back to clay. So I ordered new clays to work with, got some new drywall boards, cut them and taped the edges, made some molds, investigated new glazes,  and then winter came and we left for Florida and that was the end of that.

Upon coming home we were catapulted back to the real world and our crazy work schedule.
So here I am a full year after getting those boards taped and supplies bought and I still haven't done a thing with clay. Pathetic isn't it?

This is my work table at the studio. The pieces you see here were the last ones I was working on before my precious grandson was born in June of 2008.
The slab plates and trenchers, blank slates waiting to be given life.
The vintage birds with cutout backs were going to become pincushions complete with a strawberry filled with emery ( which i might add took me a long time to find) hanging from their beaks.
The small tiles pressed from a wonderful collection of springerle molds.
This makes me sad everytime i see them sitting on this table.

So now you can see why in my last post I said this wasn't a simple fix.
I have been living vicariously through other peoples' blogs when they are setting up a new studio or beginning a new venture.
Spending too much time here disappearing down the rabbit hole.
Wishing I had more space, more time, more....
Enough is quite enough, as I imagine Mary Poppins saying.
It's time I got back .
 I'm not quite sure how and where to start, but begin I must.
My creative soul depends on it!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

So What Am I Missing??

My studio.

This sculpture sits on the back deck near the door to my pottery studio.
We renovated an old store starting from the ground up, literally, having the building jacked up and having a new foundation built under it, back in the late 90's.
Then we had the siding, windows, doors and roof done.
Then for one Christmas I asked for a set of stairs to reach the second floor as we had torn down the outside stairs which used to lead to the upstairs apartment when doing the siding.
Then we completely finished the inside and I moved my studio in late 2001-into early 2002.

Standing on the front sidewalk of my house looking towards the corner where my studio sits.
I used to head down there in the early morning, coffee cup in hand, full of excitement over what I would accomplish that day.
I miss those days terribly.

In 2007, after we found broken headlight glass on the corner by the deck, we decided to build a substantial raised bed flower garden to slow anyone who might get into an accident on the corner and go careening into the building. It worked , as a fews years ago that very thing happened, busting the end off the raised bed and doing some damage to the deck.
(Had we known at the time that the state was going to come in and take so much road frontage for a turn lane, we would have had the building moved back a ways when we had it up on the house moving jacks.)

When I would go down in the mornings, I would water the planters and admire all the flowers and plants taking hold.
It was my happy place. A place of peace and contentment.

Sadly, this is how my garden looked this year. Neglected.
We boarded up the huge front windows late last year when hurricane Irene was barreling towards us and since I haven't been in there to work anyway, we just left it up this year.

Last year I did plant a row of hibiscus along the west side where the red tipped photinias all succumbed to some disease and died off. Funny thing, the ones on the east side all survived and are about 10-12 feet tall!
This year we also had to replace the roof, the one seen here was damaged in Irene and when we went to replace the missing shingles, found they were not in good shape overall and we had a metal roof put on.

Believe it or not, those hibiscus are 3+ feet tall !

This year, the oak leaf hydrangea that I planted a few years ago outdid itself in full bloom!
As you can see, the planters never got replanted this year.

I miss stacking the kiln with the annual patriotic Fire-Works pieces and firing them on the 4th of July

I miss rushing the kiln opening to just sneak a peek inside.
Every potter I know likens a kiln opening to Christmas morning and that feeling never fades!

I miss designing and drawing and carving the clay

All of this work was done totally freehand.
Sitting here it's hard for me to even remember how I did it all.
I miss the knowledge and honed skills I had then.

I miss the feeling of the clay in my hands.
Taking the slab from the roller and draping it over a mold I made from plaster or one my father turned on the lathe for me, smoothing it with my hands to conform to the shape, trimming and finishing and waiting until it was leatherhard to remove from the mold, then covering it in slip and quickly carving the design through ( sgraffito) before coloring with oxides and glazing.

The reason I haven't been back is complicated.
Back in 2008, when my daughter was about to have her second child, our grandson, we knew we couldn't handle 2 young ones in the office at the restaurant. Our granddaughter was just 19 months old and used to come and stay up there with my daughter while she worked in the office full time. Ray and I wouldn't have to be up there all the time. I usually would go in early when I had to and then head to the studio. Many days I wouldn't have to go in until the evening and I would just head to the studio for the day to work.

So when she left to stay home with the 2 babies, Ray and I divided her responsibilites between us instead of putting someone else up there in case she wanted to return one day. This now meant we were putting in full days and nights there.
My world changed entirely.

Now pottery is not something you can start and walk away from for days on end before finishing, so I switched gears and started down the path of jewelry making instead.

I had a good start already, I began with a fused glass class in 2004 which quickly led to an earrings class to learn the basics of wire wrapping and fabrication and I was on my way. 

But a couple of years ago I started to feel like I was losing my way. I wasn't sure what I was doing anymore or even why. I was losing my authentic self.
I started this blog as a way to work through it all and hopefully find my muse again and with it my direction and passion.

Don't get me wrong, I love making jewelry, working with metals, seeing an idea come to fruition, but something is missing.

The blogosphere has been speaking to me in bits and pieces of posts from many artists talking of passion and following it.
Remember your childhood and what you loved spending your time doing?
What wakes you in the middle of the night with a new idea?
Gets you going first thing in the morning running to the studio to work out the idea?
What medium could you not give up or do without?
The answers kept bringing me back to clay.
I am missing clay.

In my next post I'll address why this isn't a simple fix.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Time Flies

Time flies when you're having fun they say.
I guess it's true because Ray and I just celebrated our 32nd anniversary on friday the 21st.

32 years. 
We had hoped to getaway this year, it was the whole reason I didn't plan to go to Artbliss, but as life would have it, some things have come up that prevented us from getting away just yet.

So we decided to just take a day and head on up to Ocean City and enjoy the beautiful weather, get some boardwalk food and relax.

We later found out it was Sunfest weekend, where they set up 4 huge big tops in the inlet parking  and fill them with music, food and artists and crafters from all over.

The place was packed, the line to Thrashers french fries was so long we avoided it altogether opting instead for some pizza and then later some Kohrs Bros. frozen custard. I got the fall flavor, cinnamon and Ray stuck with his favorite vanilla/ orange swirl.

You practically had to inherit a spot on a bench to sit and people watch for awhile while eating, and we paid a ridiculous amout to park ($25.)
But the day was indeed gorgeous
and we were together
and really, that's all that matters!

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Connecting Threads

Yesterday marked the start of what I hope will be a long relationship with sewing by my granddaughter.

2 weeks ago we ventured to Hobby Lobby where we purchased several fabrics to go along with patterns we had purchased previously.
Little bites when they are this young ( 2 months shy of 6)
One trip to pick out patterns, one trip to pick out fabrics and then another day to actually sew.
Too much at once and they get overwhelmed and lose interest.

She had the most fun picking out and handing me the pearlized pins first picking favorite colors and then making repeating patterns . I taught her that the strawberry was for sharpening the pins, so I now have VERY sharp pins thankyouverymuch!

She sat on my lap as we sewed, her little hand guiding the fabric under the presser foot.
After the first seam was stitched she beamed and said "that's so cool!" (the seed is planted!)

When the top of the dress was completed she giggled.

When it started to look like this, I think she lost heart for a few brief moments, preferring to hand me pins again and collect them back from me as I removed them to sew.

As soon as it was completed she had to try it on and then we went to show everyone.

My daughter said she wore it to school today and I can't wait to hear how it went.

Pattern, fabrics and notions - approx. $20.
2 hour project - 3 1/2 hours
"I love you Nanny" hugs , a memory made and that sense of accomplishment on the precious face you see here- Priceless!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

The Passing Of The Torch - A Tribute to My Grandmother

Vivian Brown Roberts  June 8, 1914- August 25, 2012

Last Saturday my paternal grandmother passed away at the age of 98.
We all went to New Jersey on  Wednesday for her funeral service and to say our final farewells.
She was the eldest of 4 children and the last one to pass away.
She suffered a debilitating stroke in Nov of 2002 but really didn't start to decline until 5-6 years later.
In these photos,  our last visit together, she had just had surgery for a skin cancer on her nose.
Pictured are 5 generations
Vivian Brown Roberts
Edgar Roberts
Laura Roberts Twiford
Lindsay Twiford Fuller
Savannah Fuller

This was 5 years ago and she had started to become confused about knowing who everyone was and not as engaged, and everyone commented how lucid she was that day, responding to our granddaughter Savannah and making the connection between me, my daughter and granddaughter.
It was a happy memory and one I will cherish.

My grandmother had a large influence on me in many ways.
While I can only ever remember her teaching me a few things, it was more what I always saw her doing that made me who I am today.
First of all, her and my grandfather lived in the same house most of their life. It is where my father and aunts were raised and where we stayed as children when being cared for by her.
She was a good homemaker and always cooked.
There were many family celebrations in that house, lots of wedding and baby showers, my Aunt's wedding reception, birthday's and holidays.
At Christmas, they always had a huge real tree going to the 12 foot ceiling, filled with handmade, antique and vintage family ornaments and real leaded tinsel that got hung and then carefully put away again for the next year. My grandfather would setup the train around the tree complete with village and figures which would keep us young children entertained while the grownups visited.
There was a walkin pantry in the kitchen that always seemed to me to be a magical place but not one we were allowed to go into very often.
The attic was too, but it was a rare occurrence to get up there.
It is where he died in 1995 and where she was cared for my Aunt for the past 10 years until her death last week.
Their house is filled with family heirlooms, antiques, collections, family history and many handmade items by both.
They saved everything.
Except, my father will tell you quickly, some of his things, such as a comic book collection of untold value. He also tells me there are baby food jars in the basement from when I was a baby.

My grandfather was a woodworker, creating pieces on a lathe ( as my father does now), restoring furniture and making wooden toys for some of the grandkids. He kept accurate records of the family tree and always shared stories of all the connections.
I have a candle stand and blanket rack both of which he made from a cherry tree out back that we used to pick cherries from and a quilt frame he built for me when I was embarking on my quilting career.

My grandmother was a needlearts woman.
She knitted, crocheted, did crewel, needlepoint, embroidery, hand hooked punch needle rugs and made exquisite quilts.
I used to love to go over when the big quilting frame was setup with a new quilt she would be finishing. I loved to see how the different fabrics were put together to create such beauty.
One such quilt she was working on right before I got married. It was the pattern North Carolina Lily, in pinks and greens with feather plumes for the quilting stitches, all of my favorites, my husband is from N.C and I just KNEW this was going to be for us. But sadly it wasn't, as a matter of fact i do not have a quilt from my grandmother and no one seems to know what became of that quilt once finished.

She sewed most of her clothes and even made my junior cotillion gown.
She liked crafts of all varieties, from making orange and clove pomanders at the holidays to painting plaster houses, handrolling paper strips into beads, making bread dough flowers, fancy Easter eggs and christmas ornaments.
For years it seemed to me she was always learning to do something new and fun.
Whenever she came to babysit, she always had a project with her to keep busy.
She never went to a class, on a retreat or sold her work.
She just enjoyed what she did and made gifts for everyone.
I have a beautiful afghan, some flannel blankets and clothes from when my children were born.

She was an avid gardener and took great pride in her yard, bushes and flowers.
She enjoyed nature and watching the birds at her feeders.
And she loved jewelry, especially heirloom pieces and fine handmade pieces and old southwest.

She tried when I was younger, to teach me to knit, I wanted to make myself a scarf, I quit when it was large enough for a barbie blanket. Still have it.
She also taught me to do macrame when it was cool the first time around, in the early 70's, that i took to, making a belt complete with wooden beads, bracelets and a few other things, wish I still had those.
She gave me my first piece of real jewelry, a gold birthstone ring with a pink tourmaline stone in it when I was about 7, still have that, and she gave me my first silver charm bracelet and would add charms when they went away, mostly of sealife, still have that.

They provided me with my nursing education and even helped Ray and I with a loan to help cover the down payment when we purchased the restaurant 27 years ago.
Education, hard work, saving and stability were very important to them.

In looking back , it is very apparent to me how much they influenced who I became.
Now I guess it's my turn, to carry on the traditions and hopefully influence my grandchildren in positive ways, sharing my skills and knowledge, fueling their creativity.

I have saved everything, continue on a path of lifelong learning, am living in our house 29 years this year,
I hopefully provided my children with a good education and stable home, sharing family history and the importance of all these values.

I have a huge walkin pantry that all the kids, from my own children to nephews and granchildren are very much allowed to go into and treat themselves, I pull old toys out of the attic for them to play with and I have encouraged them to dabble and try everything I have ever learned to do.
I made everyone in my family at one time or another a quilt as a gift, now it's on to the grandchildren.
As we speak, i have patterns for making some clothes with my granddaughter.

While it wasn't their way to openly demonstrate a lot of affection or to tell you how they felt, I'd like to think they saw and knew these things were important to me,
and hopefully I made them proud.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

I Heart Macro - Aerial View

Can't you just see the outline of some volcanic island chain, with the blue waters reflecting the sky and clouds and wind currents?

Or some undersea adventure with all the aquatic life around?

A strand of micro worlds

All woven together into a universe of sorts

I sat down yesterday with instructions in hand and created my first Kumihimo necklace with boro glass drops and hand dyed silk ribbons that I picked up last weekend at Beadfest Philly.

The rain stopped long enough for me to take it outside and get a few shots to do this post and link up with all the I heart macro goodness over at Studio Waterstone.
Head on over to see what everyone else is focusing on this morning.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

I Heart Macro - Pony Swim

Last week marked the 87th annual Pony Swim and auction here on Chincoteague Island.
For all those who live here it is a tradition we are happy to see come and then go as it brings with it a large congregation of tourists which makes for one of the busiest, most demanding weeks of the year if you are in business, as we are.
Last year I posted about the Pony Auction here.

So on Monday, our day off, I ventured out to the pool for a little R&R and this is the first thing I saw when I got into the water.
A Pony shaped leaf.
I took a picture of it as it lay underwater, (see below) but it was really hard to get into focus as the water kept rippling, so I gently raised it up onto the edge of the pool for this shot.
The veins in the leaf coincide perfectly with the outline of the horse head don't you think?

It's amazing what you can see when you take the time to notice and really look. That's why i love I Heart Macro.
Head on over to Studio Waterstone and see what everyone else focused on this week!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

I Heart Macro- My Cup Runneth Over

Believe it or not, I tried to do this post 2 weeks ago for I heart Macro Sunday over at Studio Waterstone and due to a whole lot of technical difficulties, am just getting it done today!

Don't you just love the architectural details on this handle?

The handle  belongs to this beautiful, well loved , silverplated cup that was gifted to me 2 weeks ago.

Cindy Wimmer and her wonderful family, (hello boys!) stopped by to visit with us at our restaurant and near the end of dinner, she reached into her purse and handed me this gift, wrapped in bright pink paper.

While on their trip to Adamstown PA a few weeks prior, she spotted this and thought of me and picked it up. 
Just writing those words fills me with such gratitude for such a sweet, thoughtful friend, my cup runneth over!

As if it's even possible to be more special than that, it is engraved with my name!
The workmanship is amazing, the details of the chased flowers, all so different, you can see lily of the valley, daisies, roses, sunflowers and what I believe are forget me nots.

The hallmark on the bottom even has a set of scales, another coincidence, I am a Libra!

Thank you Cindy for such a meaningful gift but most of all for your friendship, I will treasure them both!

PS, as a result of the above macro shot, which helped me to be able to read the hallmark, I did a little investigating to find the history of this piece. I just love history and find the history of a particular piece sentimental and romantic.
Anyway, it seems Meridan B Company was the Meridan Britannia company from Meridan Ct. of 1852 which bought Rogers Bros in 1878 and later joined other firms to create the International Silver co. in 1898.
This particular piece is a child's presentation cup, in the Aesthetic style, quadruple plate which they say is the best and not done after 1900.  188 is the pattern number for the leaves and flowers and dated to mid 1800's. How very cool is that??

Friday, June 1, 2012

What A Find Day!

OK, so I know sometimes I'm behind the curve on things, Craig's List is one of those curves.
I have never been to Craig's List to search for anything.
Never really felt the need to, I seem to have no trouble at all shopping for the obscure at other venues.
For whatever reason yesterday, as I sat drinking my last cup of tea before heading to work, I decided to go to Craig's List to see what it was like and do a quick search.

Apparently it already knew where I lived and chose the Hampton Roads area for the search.
Recently I have been researching to buy a jeweler's bench ( pricey for a nice one) and thought "well, you know someone out there probably has one they are trying to get rid of, i'll try for a used one."

The very first one that popped up was this beauty.
Ok, so beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder, but I was beholding let me tell 'ya!

I love old antique pieces with a story, so much more romantic than getting a box with labeled parts and packages of screws and bolts and lock nuts etc.

I waited to call at the respectable hour of 9, found out it was still available, got the history and made immediate plans to head south to claim my treasure.

I enlisted the help of my DH on this adventure who said " You're like a kid you're so excited" and I was. I felt this need to get there NOW before it slipped through my fingers.

This bench had been the woman's late husband's who was a jeweler for over 30 years. He had it when they married and he told her it was coming with.

In his later years he was a professional art photographer. 
She was moving to Portland, OR next week.

These photos are from the ad but I will post again when she's all cleaned up and ready to go to work.
Unfortunately, the measurements were a little off and so we had to make the 2 1/2 hour drive home with the hatch of my Prius bungee corded closed.

All in all, not bad for $150. and the price of tolls and gas in a Prius!
Sweet Serendipity!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Another Skillset Added To The Toolbox

All the way home, as I was driving, I would glance at this ring on my finger gripping the steering wheel and think " I can't believe I just made that!"

I am beyond thrilled at the results of my first attempt at a ring.

I owe this new skillset to this fabulous instructor, Richard Salley.
I have taken several classes of his over the past 3 years and have loved each one. My first foray into enameling was one of his classes, I have done other metalsmithing classes and found object jewelry classes with him, each one offered new techniques to add to my toolbox.He is such a knowledgable metalsmith and willing to share all that knowledge to help each student succeed.

It was a great class, filled with so many good friends.
Bette and I shared not only shared a table but an adventure the night before which I will post about later.

Carol and Dia (below) made everyone smile with their custom made aprons which sported a transfer that read "Salley Stalkers" with a silhouette of Richard in his cowboy hat.
It is hidden here by Carol's amazing rendition of a Floral cascade enameled necklace inspired by Barbara Lewis' book.

Dia showing her amazing ring. She puts her nose to the grindstone and does amazing work and I believe was the first one to complete her ring.

Melissa, Sandi and our amazing workshop hosts, Cindy and Jeanette. Cindy had taken Richard's class the previous day and made a beautiful pendant which I hope she will post on her blog.

Sally was also my tablemate and provided some comic relief just when it was needed most!

In the end, most of us left with a completed ring. Each one an original.
(I'm sorry if I haven't identified all the rings, wasn't sure of the rest)

It was a fantastic group and I can't thank Cindy, Jeanette, Richard and Martina enough for providing this wonderful opportunity for us to learn.
Artbliss really lives up to it's name!

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