Thursday, October 23, 2008

cold, inspiration, and the pursuit of the white squirrel

I'm always amazed at the suddenness of fall in North Carolina. It will be 85 degrees for an eternity, then wham! It's freezing and breezy without warning, usually right before Halloween. Although, there have been a few where I've been handing out treats barefoot. This past week or so, the cold has come upon us with a snap, forcing me to drag out the space heater and fill buckets with hot water to try to stave off the inevitable chapped knuckles. My studio is unheated, uninsulated, and very charming with it's open rafters and visible daylight at the join of the roof and the walls. It's excellent to hear bird songs in. A bit worrisome when I think of trying to fire up the kiln when it's that cold, though.

I'm a girl that gets into her groove and stays there a long time. I find shapes I like, designs I like, and stick with them with very subtle evolutions. Lately though, I've been getting new ideas and inspiration like crazy. The latest few have come zinging in from etsy, since I bucked up and joined their clay group (clap clap clap). I'm also not good at joining things, so this is a big step. They have all of these events and challenges which just make my brain go nuts. I'm not used to being challenged, but I like it. Not going to try a holiday pitcher, seeing as I can pull of neither holiday nor pitcher effectively. The valentine's vase has really set me going, though. I actually tried to alter a form last night. Note to self: practice altering forms. You suck at it. Good try, keep going. I've got to go get to it again now that Wren's asleep. I actually have deadlines to meet right now and must turn out some mugs for galleries asap. My work, cut out for me:

One of the more interesting wildlife in our neighborhood are the tribe of white squirrels. They're the only ones I've ever seen in this area, and looking at them one cannot imagine how they can survive predators being so visible. One has taken up residence in our yard and I cannot for the life of me get a good picture of him. Actually, due to six huge pecan trees in our yard, most of the squirrels in the world are either camping out or living with us. Here's a sad attempt at capturing his likeness:

Must run, either to paint mugs or a set of butterfly wings. Or both...

Friday, October 10, 2008

new respect

I definitely have a new respect for photographers, web designers, and those who have the kind of brain that understands computer talk this week. Seeing as how my help went to the beach this week, I got the kiln loaded (packed slam full, you may say) and decided to work on some technical things.

The first was to redesign my web page. The first one had a great concept, but was, how shall we say, technically challenged. I did it in Publisher, a great program with which to design brochures and fliers. Websites though? Perhaps not. Ian wanted me to try Dreamweaver, which was great but completely user unfriendly. I use the stumble blindly around mashing buttons form of learning new software. Dreamweaver is not suitable for this kind of thinking. Frontpage, however, was designed specifically for this dunderheaded technique. I managed to recreate my original idea and it turned out fabulous-ish. If I say so myself. There's one picture that's gone awol, but I'll find it and slap it back in. Later.

I also needed new pictures of my pots, both for my website and for etsy. Ian suggested that I make a light box so I would have a controlled environment to shoot. Great idea. I could have it in the studio, so I could shoot things right after they come out of the kiln. I'd use the same lighting and background, so they'd all look the same. Brilliant. I found instructions on how to do this really effectively online at So I made my version, set up some clamp lights, and took a bazillion pictures. I ran inside, downloaded them, and sat down to a bunch of yellow pictures. Gross. I called photographer friend Jeff McCullough, who pointed out that most digital cameras have an auto correct feature, instead of buying fancy light bulbs. Upon the first attempt of stumbling and mashing buttons (oh yes, this technique spans all technology in my life) I found a tungsten setting. Mashed it and POOF! Instant daylight in the camera. No more yellow. Ha Ha! So I set to work taking many many pictures of many many pots at every different angles. Wow. Photography is hard work. Get up, move pot, sit down, look through, move camera, take picture, repeat ad nauseum. I was sweating by the end of it and my body was tired in about three different major areas. But boy, were my brain and eyes satisfied! And the light box is going to be so useful! Yay!

Sunday, October 5, 2008


Okay, a lot has been going on and this poor little blog has been woefully neglected. I will make up for it now, but no pictures until new batteries arrive.

Let's start with Garden Grove. We showed up and it was a very cool garden center in Huntersville, tent already set up and everyone else in place. I think we were a little late, but they were very understanding. It was awesome to see Dean again and admire his new work and his great new workshop. You have to go visit him out there, his work has only gotten more incredible. Good to see his wife, Karin, and their two little ones as well. They were so calm and well behaved. I can't imagine Wren lasting through a long day like that. Which reminds me, that was the first day that I had been away from her for more than a few hours. It was good for both of us. The day was great, very relaxed, nice people to talk to plenty of wine and cheese thanks to Shelton Vineyard and the cheese shop in Huntersville. Couldn't have asked for a better start back! Talking to Dean, I was reminded to contact Drew at Wooden Stone to set up a meeting.

I had met Drew before he opened the gallery, at a Blowing Rock show, and we had never quite gotten together. Actually, my insecurities got the better of me and I thought he wasn't interested. But, I gave him a call, set up a meeting and went out there last week. Wow! What a place. I was almost intimidated to bring my work out. It was very positive, though, and I'm making lots of mugs and platters for him as we speak. It's nice to have that kind of person to deal with, he asked questions that I had never thought about, made observations that caused me to really think about my work and process, and best of all, he made me want to try new things. Better things. Really exciting things. I can't wait to start playing around.

Etsy brought another good surprise with an e-mail from Anne at the Green Goat in Salisbury. I met with her the week after the Garden Grove show, and had a really nice meeting. She was very cool, and had a great space that was part gallery, part yoga studio (the Blue Ewe). She didn't roll her eyes at Wren's antics, was fun to talk to, and had a very good vibe. I'm looking forward to working with her as well.

I'm trying to re-work my website right now with a different program and it's turning out really well! All I need right now is new pottery shots and I'll be about ready to launch it. Which means I need to go get materials to make a light box. Ian pointed out that we need something to put together so that we can just click pictures as soon as I make things and not have a lot of setting up and drama. Good point. I'll let you know how that works out... oh. And navigation. The program I'm using is trying to think a little too much for me as far as navigation goes, so I've got to figure out how to sneak around it's formatting. Hmm...

I can't resist adding some Wren news. It's been fun being able to take her out to the studio once in awhile and let her poke at clay piles. She likes to put tiny little pinches together, piling them on top of each other until there's a big mound. We had family clay time last week, with Ian making grotesques, Wren pinching and piling, and me throwing. I'm trying to convince Ian to collaborate with me on some pieces and add his little gremlins, but he is balking now that I've actually thrown something for him to try. Hmph. Wren surprised us all last night with the discovery of a bean in her nose. We had been planting them last week after watching PBS, and apparently she went back and "planted" one in her nose. Let me tell you, a dried pinto bean becomes a different creature once it's been a nose for three days. I thought she had a head cold! The emergency room handled it with good humor, a nose hook, and plenty of manpower. Poor Wren!