Archive for May, 2009

All Hell’s Breakin’ Loose…

May 31, 2009

Well, maybe not but it sounded like that. I thought that when Mom and Sofia were out of town that I’d get to sleep in and get lots of work done and do everything I don’t have time to do… duh! Sunglasses wakes me up at 6:30/7:00 and I start thinking while half asleep… “I better let her out or I will be punished by her leaving a mess on the floor.” So I drag my ass out of bed and go down and open the back door and come back upstairs and try (unsuccessfully) to go back to sleep. All of a sudden I hear this strange noise through my stupor and get up and look out the window and Sunglasses is under my sweet gum tree and two bluebirds are freaking out, making loud bluebird screams and dive bombing the pup. She, of course, is oblivious and I watch for a half a minute and they actually are touching her back as they dive down at her and it hits me that she has somehow gotten hold of their baby. So I hurriedly dress, put on my shoes with the orthotics and hobble downstairs through the little gathering piles of debris that the dog has made by chewing up stuff. I head out to see if I can save the little baby bluebird but it’s too late and the adults are diving at me. So I drag the dog in the house and go to inspect but the poor little thing’s a goner and I brave the gauntlet and put it over the fence so when I let Sunglasses back out she can’t get it… in my mind, I’m not enabling her bloodlust but I think she just likes to chew things that move. So I guess I get up early again. The hydrangea are starting to bloom…

hydrangea

Yesterday I was blissfully putting handles on cups and decided to try something different. These bulbous cups were just begging me to lop off parts so I did it on the one in the middle but after a while, I didn’t really like it all that much. I guess I’ll mull it over for a while and maybe figure out something similar that is interesting. Who knows, once it shrinks and gets a glaze, I might be looking at it some day and think… why didn’t I make more of these?, doubt it though.

greenware

Not Drunk, But In My Cups…

May 30, 2009

One expression I’ve always loved is “I’m in my cups” or “he’s in his cups” which means intoxicated and now that I make cups it’s taken on another meaning that may or may not be as much fun. I’m slowly banging away at cups to fill all the little spaces in the coming kilnloads. Unfortunately, no new pictures of fresh greenware, so I’m going nostalgic again and posting a couple of older pieces that I did manage to have pictures of…

bluebowl

bluebowl_detail

vaseSunglasses, our new dog, was really laid back the first day we had her here and we thought… well, maybe she’s a bit restrained because they had spayed her the day before. Well… duh! She’s got enough puppy energy to sell back to the power company. I came home from beers two nights ago to find a little present on the floor of my studio (maybe a comment on the work?) and when I went upstairs, there were 6 of my shoes… two complete pairs and two odd ones with the soles out of two also. There were also some stuffed animals, building blocks and the tv remote. Fortunately, none had been destroyed beyond recognition. I’ve been taking her for walks and am heading out to do so soon but this plantar fasciitis stricken older dude cannot wear a puppy out… not even close. Sofia’s at the beach (I miss her terribly) so she can’t hold up her end in wearing the pup out, so I guess I’ll just try to keep her from chewing everything until they get back.

Top Ten List & Beer…

May 29, 2009

I found out recently that Carole Epp of Musing About Mud fame assembled a list of Top 10 Ceramics Blogs for blogs.com and unbelievably to me, I made the list. Thank you Carole, I’m flattered that you chose me for the list. If you have arrived here from blogs.com, welcome and click around if you like. There are a bunch of pictures of ceramics at the links on the top of the right column. Here’s some cups I’ve been working on…

greenware

So last night my friend Andy and I went to Shelbyville, KY about a 40 minute drive from here to check out Sergio’s World Beers tavern. The reason for the trek was that Sergio’s boasts over 800 different beers on the beer menu with about a dozen on tap. I’ve been to a place in southern Indiana with a couple hundred but this was completely unreal. Of course, if you can only drink about 3 beers anyway, you might wonder what good is a selection of over 800… well, I never claimed that it makes sense. So there were just tons of beers I had never heard of, breweries that I’d never heard of and beers from countries that… well, I had heard of them but never had seen beer from there (Bosnia-Herzegovina and Namibia?). So my second choice was a stout that was on tap (sorry, can’t remember the name) and as Sergio set it down on the table he said “now that’s 23%” and I said “alcohol?” (like a dumbass) and he said, “yep”. I thought 12 or 13% was high. We had heard that Sergio was moving and we spent some time trying to talk him into moving to Louisville. Not only was he open to it, he was actively looking to move here but apparently the rent situation here in Louisville is quite a jump from Shelbyville. So we’re crossing our fingers as it would be dreamy to take a little stroll in my neighborhood to the tavern with 800+ beers. Well, it was a very informal atmosphere with hundreds of bottles and tap handles lining all the walls and windows and we had a great time.

Don’t Go To The Podiatrist With Dog Poop On Your Shoes…

May 28, 2009

I understand that when it comes to imparting wisdom (not intelligence) to my child, i really can only come up with very few things worthy of her remembering that she won’t figure out for herself and it be better that she figures out for herself. Other examples might be… “don’t use your hand as a hammer” (one of my personal faves and a difficult one to stick to), “if your new friend doesn’t smile and/or laugh alot, run away” and “people will only change when they want to change”. So yesterday, I had just tweeted (can’t believe the words have come forth from my keyboard) that I was going to the studio to throw some cups when I realized that I had forgotten all about my appointment with the podiatrist for my plantar fasciitis (haven’t been able to walk without pain since February). So I hurriedly took a shower and put on some clean socks. I have to wear the same shoes I always wear because they are the ones with the expensive orthotics in the soles. I got done with some time to spare and heard Sunglasses barking because Mom decided to mow the lawn with the electric lawnmower. I had put up a makeshift barricade to keep the dog from sniffing around near the bee hive because I didn’t want the guard bees to come after her. Mom says, “If I move the barricade will you mow near the hive?” I say…”sure”. I don’t help move the barricade because I’m trying not to get sweaty before I leave and by time it’s moved I’m in a hurry because I’m running a little late. So I take the lawnmower over to the aforementioned area to gingerly mow around the hive and voila, stepped in the new pup’s business which is in the vicinity. When I realize what I’ve done and instinctively yell out “shite!”, Sofia asks what happened and I said that I just stepped in the dog poop and have to go to the doctor’s. Now I’m not much for political correctness, which ear the earring is in, wearing clothes with logos on them, arcane rules of etiquette (my favorite one to ridicule here in KY is not wearing white or ecru colored pants after Labor Day and before Memorial Day), or which hairdo is in or out but I definitely believe in the basics… please, thank you, may I, nice to meet you, etc. That being said you can imagine how happy I was to have a tidbit of wisdom just appear from the ether and roll off my lips… you don’t go to the podiatrist with dog poop on your shoes! So at 51, I managed to add one more pearl to the three others it took my whole life to accrue. Nowhere in this talk of wisdom is an explanation as to how within a matter of months, this very curmudgeon took his new camera to the podiatrist’s office to take pics of the injections in his feet to give this little paragraph some visual validation. You gotta wonder…

injectionleft

injectionright

You can probably imagine the look of suspicion when the doc asked “what’s the camera for?” and my reply… “I wanted to take a picture of the injection.” I guess I secretly was hoping that this conversation would be much longer where he asked what I would use them for and I would give him my blog address and he would be blown away by my pots and decide to take pottery in exchange for the money I owe him but he just dropped it and I thought I ought to quit while I was ahead. Before the doctor had gotten into the office I was thinking that the little 15 x 15 of a room I was sitting in was not too long ago a meadow or a stand of trees or a farm and not being a big fan of suburban sprawl tried to convince myself that if the sprawl hadn’t happened, I would be getting the very same treatment nearer to the city’s downtown. I was also trying to read the poster on the door with my camera’s zoom lens because I certainly couldn’t read it from where I was sitting and the chair was elevated so high that I really couldn’t get down with my bare feet without making my condition worse. I only include this picture because of the statement on the bottom of the poster… “Ask your doctor to examine your feet today.” I mean if you’re reading it, most likely you’re in the foot doctor’s office already… how’s he gonna get away without checking your feet? Not to mention, if your feet looked like the pictures on the poster (which reminded me of the David Sedaris story where he compared his mom’s toenails to the bits of doritos left in the bottom of the bag), it seems you would have had the inclination to have them looked at by someone already.

poster

Pot Sketches 2009…

May 27, 2009

Sofia and I were drawing yesterday and she said before we started… “I’m gonna draw pots today.” These are particularly interesting to me because I always look at them and think that if I could only replicate them in 3 dimensions and keep the certainty of line and uninhibited nature of how it’s drawn that I would actually have something. Of course when the people are added and the scale becomes clear, I realize that a two story kiln would be needed or the piece would have to be scaled down (and we all know what happens when we try to scale something up or down and retain its freshness. Anyway both drawings are of pots that are so big, ladders are leaning against them so the girls and boy can work on their particular area. In the first one two girls are standing on the shoulder of the pot and the boy is not helping but is riding a dog. The second drawing has a little girl inside the pot working on it…

drawing

drawing

Since I’m in the greenware phase (never ending), here’s an older cup with a funkadelic handle…

cup

Delicate Foot…

May 26, 2009

Well, everyone is doing the video thing and I thought I’d give it a try… it was kind of a no-go with my old camera but here I am with the new one. There’s a small learning curb so I apologize ahead of time. The first video I shot was of me throwing and to my surprise it was 20 minutes long and I didn’t mention in a previous post that while downloading, because it was taking so long, I forgot and looked over at the camera as I gotten in the habit of doing, saw the light was still on and thought… “I’m running down the batteries”. In this case I always just reach over and unplug the camera from the computer, which I did, and interrupted the download. I tried to salvage but it wouldn’t let me and I lost the video. The next day I did the video in this post and thought because I was trimming that it would be shorter and it is but it’s still 8 and a half minutes. I’m coming to the painful conclusion that I work slowly… damn! So you’ve been forwarned, it’s long. Next I tried to attach to the post and it wouldn’t let me attach an .avi or a .mov, maybe it’s a wordpress thing? There was music playing in the original and when I saved it as a .mov (quicktime), I sped it up so it was only about 2 or 3 minutes but it sped up the music and I couldn’t get rid of the audio. Next I decided I had to upload to youtube and post it that way. On youtube you can assign music to replace whatever the audio is and I did that but it only plays for a couple minutes and then it’s silent. So here ya go… a long video of not throwing but trimming with some irish music for a couple minutes and then silence.

I also took a short one of the new pup, Sunglasses… she’s such a cutie and is already part of the family. Sofia cried because she wouldn’t get into bed with her.

Astilbe Makin’ Cups…

May 25, 2009

Astilbe trainin’ the new pup and Astilbe waitin’ for the rain to stop (not really). It has rained alot but the garden is booming and the new crop of squirrels have their beady little eyes trained on my new avocado squash plants thinking, won’t it be great to pick each and every squash a day or two before it’s ripe and bring it high up in the tree, take a bite, spit it out and throw what’s left to the ground. I don’t know, maybe squirrels don’t really think that way… I may be projecting. Well, here’s the Astilbe in bloom, we planted a bunch of these “shade” plants and then my tree died and our shade garden was converted to a full sun garden… this one survived…

astilbe

Here’s some cups, my operation was interrupted by my two day stint with the little bug so I’m trying to keep them moist (arcilla mojada)…

greenware

Sunglasses is a sweet dog and we’ve already gotten to the point where we’re not really worried about her and Sofia being together. I’m closely monitoring the situation but I’m feeling much more relaxed as Sunglasses doesn’t seem aggressive with people in the slightest bit… it’s clear she’s no watchdog and that suits me fine. She is chewing on stuff (mostly Sofia’s toys) but nothing serious… yet. Only one accident so far and we’re used to that as our previous pup, Butchie, who was very old had incontinence issues for the last two years. I wished I had my camera with me yesterday as we were in the backyard and she was walking around with a small ball peen hammer in her mouth. She also has taken cantaloupe rinds and buried them in the sandbox, then later dug them up and brought them in the house along with some sand covered matchbox cars and seashells.

Future’s So Bright I Gotta Wear…

May 24, 2009

Sunglasses, yep, that’s the name Sofia picked for our new pup… doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue but I’m sure it will end up being abbreviated somehow. The potential list of names was virtually any noun within her field of vision but I did like Lilac and Couscous… ultimately she went for something that made sense. We picked her up at 9:30, brought her home, let her explore the house and back yard for a couple hours and took her for a short walk. Sofia was beside herself for hours. So far, Sunglasses is a totally laid back dog… this is good as far as I’m concerned. We had to go get groceries after having her here for about 6 hours and my car is a veritable greenhouse with no AC, so we left her at home. I imagined that when we got back there would be torn furniture, tipped over trash, other types of messes on the floor, etc. but when we got home she was sitting on the little couch in the foyer waiting and nothing was amiss. Here’s the two playing tug o’ war

sofia

Sunglasses didn’t really like the squeaky toy we got her as much as the rope toy. Sofia was a bit disappointed by this and thought maybe a little show and tell might help…

sofia

Eventually, Sofia was convinced to sacrafice one of her stuffed animals so that other stuffed animals may live.

sunglasses

Trying To Get A Handle On Things…

May 22, 2009

Making cups and pulling handles. Someone has ordered multiple cups and now I’m making twice as many because I have never been very good at making the same thing over and over. Anyway, will probably make cups for a week or so… they sell well and fill up all those little places in the kiln. Here’s some handles drying…

handles

Fortunately, the cups on order do not have handles like this cup from a year or so ago. I used to refer to these handles as “question mark” handles… they take a long time compared to just attaching a handle and have a tendency to split at the joints occasionally but sometimes I get a bit carried away.

cup

Tomorrow’s the big day… our new pup will be delivered to the area via what I call the underground railroad of dog delivery. Apparently dog rescue people from all over the country volunteer to tackle the transportation issue by driving a particular pet their “leg” of the journey, it’s amazing really and these people do it only for the love of animals. Sofia is excited and I’m sure tomorrow will be a whirlwind for us and the dog too.

Beasties In The Mail…

May 21, 2009

A package arrived yesterday addressed to Sofia and what do you thing was in there? Ceramics from our buddy Gary up in central NY. One piece was a little blue bowl with a hippo and yippee, now we have a pair of those which will reduce the wear and tear on the first one that has to be used at almost every meal. Also there was a pencil in the package with a little clay piggie on the end and of course Sofia really dug that too. In fact the piggie, now named “piggie O” has been having conversations with the new hippo, named “tugg” periodically. Thanks Gary… here’s some pics…

sofia

sofia

sofia

Gotta See A Man About A Dog…

May 20, 2009

Actually, I had to see an animal shelter about a dog. Yesterday I drove 70 miles to check out a pup at a rescue facility in Clark County… same place I went to get my bees. It is very difficult to leave the facility with only one dog which is one reason I tried to do my search to rescue a dog online. I didn’t bring the little one with me because I didn’t want to have to say no when she decided on several dogs instead of one but I did adopt a dog. I don’t have the dog yet because once someone commits to adopt it, they take it to the vet the next day and give it all the necessary shots, heartworm treatment, neuter, etc. I think we will get the dog on Saturday and although Sofia’s gonna name it, she has informed us that she will not name it until she sees it… how logical is that? I hoping against hope that she settles for something unique like eyeglasses or kitchen table and not the standard fare for dog names but regardless once we’re all in love with the dog it will hardly matter. Here’s the best shot of her but since she was so excited to get out of the cages, she couldn’t stand stil for even a second…

newdoggie

So yesterday was a wash and need to get to the studio today. Here’s and old cup picture…

cup

Unformed Frontal Lobe…

May 19, 2009

Apparently modern neuroscience has determined that the complete formation of a human’s frontal lobe doesn’t happen until they are in their mid to late 20’s. Since the frontal lobe is largely if not totally responsible for judgment, this explains why teens and early 20’s make questionable decisions especially when viewed in retrospect. Very few of us have escaped these questionable judgments, such as experimentation with controlled substances, not using condoms, driving under the influence, etc. but it is relatively rare to have visually proof that some of things actually happened which allows parents to pretend that they were not nearly as mischievous as their children. Below is a photograph of me and a couple college buddies in grad school in Carbondale, Illinois. One of Carbondale’s claims to fame is it’s annual Halloween blowout. It started long before we got there and grew and grew… on Halloween night the small town was literally inundated with thousands and thousands of partying students dressed in costumes. Along with the students, other young people from an ever-widening radius would descend on the town, mostly to revel in the debauchery and inebriation. Unfortunately, many came expressly to seek out and assault others that they thought were of a sexual orientation different from their own, which leads me to the picture. What kind of unformed frontal lobe would it require to make the judgment to go out into these conditions experimenting with controlled substances, drinking alcohol and dressed as women? Well there you have it, I do remember some close calls but we did survive and it’s not like we were rushing a machine gun nest with only a dagger in our teeth. I always found the picture hilarious mostly because my friend Matt (now a lawyer in Houston), refused to shave his moustache for the adventure and he kept his watch on which I believe made him even more noticeable… love the PBR too. Anyway here’s proof of the neuroscientist’s theory…

halloweengirls

Bug With A Bug…

May 18, 2009

Absolutely gorgeous day in the ‘hood yesterday and we were accompanied by my good friend Andy. Of course, we had to make sure that Andy got a tour of the munchkin’s favorite haunts and that ultimately culminated in a trip to the dead tree with the beetles. I brought my camera this time… there’s actually a setting named “kids and pets” (which is just another way of naming the previous “sports” setting). Unfortunately, this new setting will not let me switch to “macro” in the “kids and pets” setting so in order to get macro, the camera needs to be set to another setting that doesn’t have a fast shutter speed… results are blurry pics either way and trying to get a picture of Sofia holding a beetle was near impossible because she cannot be still ever. Here’s the best one…

sofia_beetle

Here’s a pic with the macro and a still hand…

macro

A friend of mine happened to be walking by and as I tried to take her picture she grabbed the camera and had us stand for some pictures. This is a great example of Sofia posing…

trio

And following in a long line of rose sniffers, the newest generation…

sofia

Stop, You’re Killing Me…

May 17, 2009

I took my new camera to the ballet recital but alas, things didn’t go as planned. They did allow pictures to be taken but someone refused to dance… she takes after her father I guess. “I did a quick step two step and a bossanova… pink sylvester and a rudy valentino.” Anyway, there’s always baby pictures and the title of the post applies to this one…

sofia

Here’s an older vase…

vase

Inclement Saturday…

May 16, 2009

So what’s new? Still fiddling with this new camera… I decided to shoot a video of throwing a pot yesterday. I’ve seen some here and there on blogs and thought I’d try. I had no idea how slow I throw. The video was 20 minutes long… the “hangle” wasn’t right neither, music I had on was too loud and when I was downloading it to the computer, it was taking so long that I forgot and absent-mindedly unplugged it while it was still downloading. Oh well, who wants to watch a 20 minute video anyway? Here’s a pic of my backyard from my new addition’s big window…

backyard

Some splattery bowls…

greenware

Last but not least, the little bug’s magna doodle this morning. She calls it a manga doodle though… check out those hats.

magnadoodle

So it’s a big day later as we have the first ballet recital, not sure if they allow cameras. When I took her to ballet class 2 weeks ago, there was a sign that said not to take pictures so we’ll see.

Yankee Go Home…

May 15, 2009

Growing up in central New York and going off to college in Kentucky and later in southern Illinois can be a bit of a culture shock. At Murray, my first student aid job was as a custodian in one of the buildings on campus with 3 lovable “good ol’ boys”. They were between 50 and 65 years old and I was a continual source of amazement to them. They were not impressed with me in any way… more like a curiosity. They thought it strange that would come to school to major in art, that I wouldn’t share my romantic adventures, that I never had real moonshine (they cured me of that) and finally, that I made sculpture. I, on the other hand, was amused by their interchanging the word sculpture with sculptor( I have since noticed this with many other words like saying ideal when one means idea) and that it seemed that this affectation was not confined to the three men I worked with. I spent some late summers in the tobacco fields making extra money and the tobacco farmers used the same phrase during breaks when people are shooting the breeze. Inevitably there would be a point in the conversation where they would ask… “now, what d’ya do there at the college?” and after I mentioned that I made sculpture someone would always look at me sideways like I must be pulling their leg and say something like… “so yer a sculpture eh?” This continued into graduate school and when I had my MFA exhibition, the name of my show was obvious to me. Here’s my MFA show poster…

showposter

showposter

Camera Obscura…

May 14, 2009

The digital version. My new camera arrived yesterday and I’ve been trying to figure it out. On the good side so far, it only uses 2 batteries and my old one used 4. It’s resolution is much higher, from 4 megapixels on the old to 9 megapixels on the new. It’s digital zoom is 10x which is higher and the lcd screen is 3 inches which is bigger, plus the video shoots at 640×480. The both allow me to set a custom white balance which is essential to me to shoot ceramics. On the bad side so far (and maybe I’ll find out differently after using it more) is the old one allowed me to manually set ISO, shutter speed and F-stop and then save it. It actually had two place holders to save settings so that when you got everything the way you wanted you could just save it, download the pics and see if they were fine on the computer and if they were, just select the saved settings… now I guess I will have to remember the settings and reset them. It comes with a 32 meg card which fills up instantly, of course I knew that it would but thought I might be able to use my old large memory card in the new camera. So here’s my old camera shooting my new camera…

oldcamera

Here’s the new camera shooting the old camera…

newcamera

Hiatus…

May 13, 2009

My friend Vern, when not teaching computer graphics or making beautiful digital prints, freelances designing, manufacturing and installing signs. Some time ago he asked me to help him and I agreed… so we spent Monday and Tuesday in Indianapolis giving an apartment complex a much needed facelift. I came prepared for hard work but we had no idea what was in store. We spent all day Monday on a 28 foot ladder, first prying the old address signs off the third story of the buildings with a shovel because the previous sign installers had glopped enough silicone behind them that we could have hung a car on the sign and it wouldn’t have fallen, and then attaching the new sign over the mess created by taking the old one off. This is not an activity for codgers. On Tuesday we thought we had it made because no more ladders but the signs on posts that had to be removed were installed much the same way as the ones from the previous day. Six inch posts buried 2 and 1/2 feet into the earth with rocks and cement. Needless to say we spent most of this day wrestling with big posts with a shovel and a pickax. It reminded me of those cowboy movies where the cowboys are trying to remove stumps and fenceposts with a horse and rope… and we would have given anything for a horse and a rope. Anyway, no pics of this 2 day hiatus from pots and we’re sore and sunburned. On Sunday, Sofia and I went down to the river to see how high it was. We didn’t go to the falls of the Ohio, we went to “The Water Tower”… Sofia likes to sit on the lower rungs of the big stone tower and have a little picnic.

watertower

watertower

watertower

Home Sweet Home…

May 11, 2009

My friend Ig sent me some pictures to show me how his home renovations were proceeding. At this point the inside of the house had been completed. My reason for posting is that Ig, aside from being an exceptional painter, metalsmith, teacher, and soon to be salami and sausage maker, is also a connoisseur and collector of antique Asian ceramics and they are all over his home. Before I became a dad, I would trek annually to stay a week or so to see him and I can assure you that these pictures are typical of how the house looks all the time and they are not staged photographs like in a magazine. Because these pictures were shot so that I could tell how the renovation has changed the house, the shots do not necessarily showcase the ceramics in a way that will allow the viewer to examine them. Needless to say, Ig is not a slob like yours truly and you may have guessed, there are no children running around. This first picture is the living room and there are three lit cases along the stairway graduating in height… they are loaded with beautiful pots, blue and white, blanc de chine, celadon and porcelain figures. As always, clicking on the photos will show larger versions.

ig

The next picture is the same room looking away from the cabinets along the staircase. There is a beautiful large jar on the left and a hefty and relatively large celadon bowl on the carved wooden table.

ig

This picture (below) shows the dining room from the living room. This has a better view of the large vase and the giant water jar in the right corner of the room. It also shows a pretty good shot of one of Ig’s still life paintings and part of the dining room table that I made back in my woodworking days… I traded the table for my prized possession which is a large painting that hangs in my dining room.

ig

Last but not least is a picture of a small area that opens off of the dining room where the back porch used to be. There’s another large water jar on the left and a beautiful black jar a little farther into the room that’s not as big but is dreamy. Against the wall is a shrine with porcelain and nice jar underneath and another big jar in the corner.

ig

Live At The Hollywood Burl…

May 10, 2009

The Beetles! Sofia and I were on one of our weekly weekend neighborhood adventures when we were diverted because of a mire to a gazebo behind a gardening center that’s only open on weekdays. Next to the gazebo was a very large decaying sycamore log (probably 3 feet in diameter) and we pulled some of the harder exterior off and discovered a dozen or so nice shiny beetles (about an inch and 1/2 long). Since I was sans camera, I had to find this picture online. They were pretty friendly little guys with relatively large mandibles but not interested in biting us when we let them crawl up our arms.

beetle

Here’s another nostalgic pic of an older bowl…

bowl