Archive for October, 2009

Man, That Dude Is A Total Pothead…

October 31, 2009

dad

I was coming home from running some errands yesterday and Mom snapped this picture of me wearing my new hat. Actually, there’s a store in town called the Spice Merchant that Sofia and I go. I like it because it has tons of spices, teas and teapots and Sofia likes it because the owner, Linda, gives her a tea mint whenever we go in. Anyway, she asked me to put some pieces there and see how they do over the holidays and she asked me to make one of those little “table tents?”, you know a piece of paper folded in the middle to set by the pots with a statement, a picture and “Made in Kentucky” on it. I don’t have any good pictures of myself mostly because I don’t have Sofia’s photogenic-ness (photogenicity?) but also because I’m the only one in the house that doesn’t struggle with the focus of the camera. In addition, I’ve made the mistake in the past of posing in a studio setting and they always come out looking stodgy. Some of my friends refer to the picture of me that’s on the AKAR site as “the child molester” picture. Anyway I didn’t use the one above because at best it seemed a bit obtuse and at worst the racially oversensitive might think I was making fun of the Asian workers that built our railroads. Here’s the one I did use and Linda giggled and said it was cute so that’s probably a good indication of how it will be received…

dad

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And People Think I Decorate Too Much…

October 30, 2009

I have to restate that I’m not much for holidays… that being said Halloween is the least unpleasant for me and of course now that I’m a Dad of a 4 year old the fun is watching the bug have fun. I can tell from some comments that some may thing me more clever than I really am by suggesting that I concocted the tale in the previous two posts like a Halloween zealot might do… but I didn’t and I have nothing more to report and hopefully will not have anything more to report. As far as what I can do, I have no idea as no one has seen any foul play, we’re just putting two and two together. Remaining vigilant is all I can do at this point. There is a street near my home named Hillcrest which is a mere 3 blocks long and it is the location of a certain Halloween insanity that runs amok every year now. Not sure how long ago it started but it seems to grow every year. The people on this street go all out for Halloween decorations much like some neighborhoods get a bit carried away with xmas decorations if you live in the city. The participation rate is unbelievably high and I’ve often said in recent years that probably many people don’t (or do) buy houses here because of the felt obligation to participate. Two years ago we took Sofia in a stroller over there on Halloween and the police had closed off the streets and we literally could barely move in the crowd. Last weekend and the weekend before I took Sofia over during the day and here’s what we saw… this first house, the owner was out front and I asked him how long it took him to prepare each year. He said 6 weeks, to which I said… you mean 6 weekends, Saturdays and Sundays? He said, no, all day, everyday…

hillcrest

Six weeks… all I could think was that if I were him, I’d dread mid-September and decry how quickly it came around. He actually built a false, rickety facade to his house that matches the house proper… where does he store all this stuff? I don’t even have closet space at my house. Here’s some more…

hillcrest

hillcrest

hillcrest

Here’s a closeup of the previous house’s front yard toilet to hell… the light was too bright out but there’s actually a pump in the commode that pumps red liquid out of the skeleton’s mouth.

hillcrest

Here’s a plane crashing into a house…

hillcrest

Someone had the alien abduction theme…

hillcrest

Here’s one of Sofia’s favorites… the pirate skeleton has a motion detector in it and when she got close it started dancing and singing a perverted version of Rick James’ “Superfreak”.

hillcrest

This other person has a stage built off of his house with 4 of the same type of automatons as the pirate. His theme is disco and when we went a couple years ago disco music plays loudly and these 4 “robotic” dancers go all night long…

hillcrest

Finally, here’s pumpkin butt, another of Sofia’s favorites. She kept yelling from the other side of the road, there’s punkin’ butt, there’s punkin’ butt.

hillcrest

The Mad Curmudgeon/Mystery Deepens…

October 29, 2009

Last night while I was making dinner two things happened, one funny and one strange. I was cutting up vegetables with my favorite big 12″ knife and I had my reading glasses on because I got tired of cutting my fingers. Sunglasses started jumping on the front screen door and barking. The neighbor’s cats have taken to sleeping on the porch and I figured it would be either a cat or a squirrel. It was a squirrel, so I squeezed out the door and the squirrel hardly moved… I clapped and made a loud noise to scare it and it only retreated 2 steps down. I tried again and it only went to the sidewalk right in front of the first step so I ran down the steps and chased it yelling to the end of the sidewalk where it leaped onto the dogwood tree. I looked up just in time to see a guy slowly riding his bicycle by and trying not to laugh… only then did I think of what my neighbors might be thinking of the knife-wielding, bespectacled codger out chasing squirrels in his front yard. Only minutes later a young couple knocked and I headed out again. At first I thought that they might be evangelists and was gonna take my knife for effect but decided I had better not. I squeezed out again and they were new neighbors that live across the alley in back of the house. I have a large pile of bricks out there from the “chimney to nowhere” I removed last summer when adding on to the studio and they were wondering if I’d be willing to part with them. After I said they could help themselves, I blurted out… “did you see that puppy in the alley yesterday?”. The young woman said, “what puppy?, a little tan one?”. Halfway through her answer I said… “the dead one”, and followed quickly with “yes, it was tan”. She immediately looked horrified and I felt like maybe I shouldn’t have said anything. Then she went on to say that the night before Mom found the puppy, that her “neighbor?” had brought the puppy to her home wanting to know if they wanted it and that “there was something wrong with him (the neighbor not the dog)”. This is where I have to have a bit of a back story as I have lived here for 19 years and in a previous life with my ex there was a teenage boy who lived in one of those houses that we were unsure what was going on with… only that he couldn’t speak very well. He was kinda like the character Bo Radley in “To Kill A Mockingbird” but not in a good way. What I remember mostly was that he would skulk up and down the street in front of our house on his bike (if one can skulk on a bicycle) and if I got in the car to go somewhere without my ex, he would be at the front door trying to get her to let him in within seconds of my rounding the turn. It got so that when I left I would merely ride around the block and come back down the same street and he would see me and tear off from my porch and get on his bike and ride as fast as he could. For a good period, he was not around and I hadn’t given it much thought only that I have seen him recently, still riding his bike around town except by my calculations he has to be around 35 or so. This morning when I told Mom that when I went to get the puppy it was gone (see previous post), she mentioned that as she was chasing our dog down the alley, she had seen this guy (we’ve talked about him before) near our fence and I had dismissed it as a coincidence. So… what? Bo Radley found/got/stole/something a puppy and offered it to his new neighbors, then the following morning the puppy is no more in the alley and cold, meaning it had been there probably through the night. Who knows what really happened but I’m very uncomfortable about a something-wrong-with guy who kills animals in close proximity. All in time for Halloween too. Gonna have to think about this some more.

Well on to Halloween preparations. We decided to carve the pumpkin last night and let Sofia draw the design that I would cut out…

sofia_pumpkin

Next came the gutting of said pumpkin and you can tell by the look on Sofia’s face that her participation in this step of the process didn’t last long so Dad scraped the insides out for about 15 minutes.

sofia_pumpkin

I’m not too sure of the structural integrity of our jack-o-lantern this year but decided to try and remain faithful to the drawing Sofia had made… I think it came out fine.

sofia_pumpkin

Mysterious Goings On…

October 28, 2009

Yesterday Mom and Sofia were getting ready to take Sunglasses for a walk and Sofia let Sunglasses out the front door before Mom could get a leash on her. This is usually bad because she just runs away and doesn’t respond to calls as she criss-crosses the city streets. Anyway, she caught up with the dog in the alley behind our house and wrestled her to the back door, which was locked. I ran downstairs when I heard her knocking and upon entry she said almost crying… there’s a dead puppy in the alley. I asked where and she said it was right between the fence to our yard and the alley. I went out to investigate and sure enough a little pup was there so I reached down to see if maybe it might still be breathing but it was cold and had blood on its nose. I looked around and there was no one in sight so decided to get a trashbag and put it in our trashcan because the alley is the route that Sofia and Mom take the dog on and I didn’t want Sofia to see it. I went in the house and got a trashbag and returned (total time, maybe 45 seconds)… no dog. I again looked up and down the alley, in the neighboring yards, all around and not the slightest movement anywhere. I cannot imagine who would have come up during my brief trip to get a bag, seen the dog, and picked it up and taken it away. Oh well, mystery unsolved. Here’s some pics I took yesterday of one of the bowls I’m delivering to a show over in Indiana…

bowl

bowl

bowl

Here’s a bowl of Ig’s that is one of my favorites from his collection. I’ve always loved this bowl ever since he first got it, it’s about 6-7 inches in diameter. I believe that it was found in the ocean which accounts for the matte finish… it almost looks as though it’s been lightly sandblasted.

ig bowl

ig bowl

Iowa Trip (Day 4)…

October 27, 2009

Day 4 was my final day in Iowa if I don’t count the following day that only included driving home. But the night before after everyone left, I noticed a large electrical device on the counter in the kitchen and asked Ig what it was… it was an electric rechargeable corkscrew, just what everyone needs. After I got done kidding Ig about how he might save some money on his kickboxing workout class if he’d go ahead and open his wine with a manual corkscrew he said, ah, the damn thing’s got a piece of cork stuck up inside it. After all the wine we had, this seemed like the perfect project as Ig tidied up the kitchen. My first attempts were merely jamming things down inside and trying to pierce the cork piece with metal objects. I was nonplussed at the difficulty and then I noticed six screws holding it together. After fishing around for a wee screwdriver, the screws were unscrewed. We were drinking more wine, talking and seconds before the last screw came out I said… hope there’s no springs in here, followed quickly by… why would this thing have springs? And of course there were and after removing the cork and trying to re-situate the damn thing’s innards, I could only get it almost closed. I inserted 2 of the screws thinking that the screws would get it to close the rest of the way and this was correct except that as it seated it shorted something inside and would only work in one direction (it toggled back and forth between uncork and cork). I disassembled it again and tried to find the bare or unattached wire but to no avail. Here’s how it looked when I left…

corkscrew

Ig had a meeting in the morning and I made my morning drink (not alcoholic though it sounded that way when I reread it) and decided to see if I had gotten any email. The dsl was acting snarky and whilst futzing with it I knocked my full drink over completely inundating the keyboard on his computer. The panicky cleanup of that prevented me from getting an action shot so no pics. Sorry Ig, what a klutzy houseguest… talk about a bull in the china shop. Ig got home about noon and we were off to A-Dong again to get some 14C. I guess I need to say what 14C is because apparently I inadvertently created a mystery and I’m afraid those that have been curious will be let down. 14C is merely a vegetable soup with rice noodles much like Pho but without any meat in it. The broth is very good and I took a shine to it years ago when I was trying to make it myself at home. I made it last night in fact but mine doesn’t taste like theirs. Post lunch we returned home to hang this painting that I had seen sticking out from behind the door of Ig’s studio…

jules

This painting is by Jules Kirschenbaum who, before he passed away, was the head of the painting department at Drake where Ig now teaches painting and is the chair. The painting is owned by Tom, who also teaches at Drake (Art History I think) and was one of the dinner attendees from the night before. This painting is unfinished and is really something to see. From talking to Ig and seeing several of Jules’ paintings, I’ve come to believe that he is way under-appreciated as an American painter although he has a painting in the Hirschorn Museum in Washington D.C. and that he is a painter’s painter. The paintings I’ve seen in person are sublime and I’ve been assured and believe that Jules was one of very few people that knew color, light and how to see to the extent needed to execute said paintings. So Tom’s going to Venice to live for part of the year I believe and said to Ig… instead of storing it in the basement, maybe you’d like to hang it at your home. First, we unwrap, then measure and then it’s hung…

jules

jules

jules

Here’s three detail shots moving left to right…

jules

jules

jules

After hanging the painting, our friend Sarah came over and they made fun of the other people in their kick boxing class for lack of enthusiasm which was funny. Then we went to a photoshoot. Ig has 5 friends (2 of the 5 make a couple) and they meet periodically to swap soup. Every week (I think), they all make a big batch of soup and decant it into 4 one quart containers and meet at a bar for a drink. There, each person brings 4 identical quarts of soup and leaves with 4 different quarts. This has come to be known amongst the group as their “sou-wap”. After mentioning this to someone that works at the magazine that covers all things Des Moines (like our very own Louisville magazine), they were asked if they’d be up for an article and because one of the group, Edwina, was moving back to California to be near her Mom, the photo shoot for the magazine was moved up and that’s where we went. Here’s the group posing for the shot for the magazine. The funny thing was that the art director for the shoot mentioned that usually when they try to take shots like this and the group is supposed to act as though they’re talking at a party and it’s time to shoot, the group kinda freezes up because they are unaccustomed to pretending to talk but that this group wouldn’t stop yakking even after the shots were all taken. Sorry about the quality as I was trying to take the pic surreptitiously so as to not bother the real photographer that was there but I liked this one the best of the ones I took because it looks like Frank is saying to Steve, the host, … how’d you like a knuckle sandwich?

photoshoot

Anyway it was fun and the wine flowed again. Later we went to a brew pub and had dinner. In the morning I hit the road… end of trip.

Iowa Trip (Day 3)…

October 26, 2009

On day 3 Ig had to go in for a meeting so I read in the morning and when he got back around noon we went to A-Dong and I had another delicious 14C. Little did I know whilst enjoying that 14C the culinary treat that awaited us later that day. We went and got some groceries and decided to go to a matinee. There was only one movie that started early enough for us to get back in time for Ig to prepare dinner. So my first movie in the theater in a very long time was not worth mentioning but there were a couple previews that looked like they might be good. We got home and while Ig started preparing for a small dinner party, which was the highlight of the trip for me, I ran around the house taking pictures of… pottery. These are just impromptu shots of the pieces in their natural setting so some leave a bit to be desired as far as lighting and crispness. I will probably pepper future posts with some of these shots but today… two Ming Dynasty celadon bowls, this first one is quite large, really heavy (I’d guess it’s 15 or 16 inches diameter) and has a subtle sgraffito design around the rim and on the inside…

ming

ming

Here’s a shot of the bottom which i found interesting because they apparently used a thrown ring to elevate the piece and allow them to glaze the foot. You can see a the remnants of said ring in a wee circle of glass in the middle of the bare section…

ming

Ig has assured me that the value, although substantial, would be significantly more if it weren’t for this white mark in the inside which looks to me like someone handled the dried, glazed but unfired piece with either another white glaze on their fingers or some other contaminant. Still it’s a beautiful piece…

ming

This bowl is the sole piece sitting on a bowl stand in the middle of an unbelievable carved table. I would say the table is about 7 or 8 feet long and 3 and 1/2 wide probably 15″ high. I shot the carved top on either side of the bowl (sorry about the shadow of the camera)…

tabletop

tabletop

Here’s another Ming bowl, slightly smaller with a sweet floral sgraffito design on the interior. After that a similar shot of the bottom which really shows a beautiful crackled celadon…

ming

ming

After running around the house, intermittently checking on the roasting red peppers (my small contribution) and interrupting Ig to ask about pots (all of which I’ve almost totally forgotten), my Pavlovian response was starting to kick in as the house filled with the aromas of garlic, onions and mushrooms… here’s the soup.

soup

Here’s a shot of the set table awaiting the guests. This gratuitous shot’s table isn’t all that impressive compared to the previous shots of the other table but it’s a table that I made in my woodworking days and traded Ig for a large painting he did that is my prize possession.

table

The guests, Loulou and Mark and Tom, arrived around 6:30 and unfortunately had to leave before midnight because of everyone having to work the next day. Although Ig has known all of us for many years, I had met Tom before only once and have become fast friends with Mark and Loulou over the past 4 years or so and have seen them on my last few visits to Des Moines. The dinner consisted of roasted red pepper soup followed by portobello mushroom ravioli with a 3 mushroom sauce, then ended with a tasty insalata. Ig really outdid himself and we all drank wine, ate and partook in sparkling conversation that ended… All Too Soon as Duke Elllington would say. After dinner I started thinking about how and when I was going to manage another trip and how much fun it would have been to have had Sofia dine with us. A testament to the wonderful company was that it never once occurred to me to grab the camera and snap a pic.

Iowa Trip (Day 2)…

October 25, 2009

Tuesday, the second day of my trip, we headed down to the recently completed Des Moines Sculpture Garden after getting up late, getting some java and going to lunch at A-Dong.

adong

I’ve been eating at A-Dong for years and really love the 14C on the menu with some jasmine iced tea. Ig thinks it’s funny because I insisted on eating there all 3 days I was in town and I always get 14C. He’s been acting like he is much more adventurous getting all kinds of different items on the menu but let slip this time that he is merely going back and forth between two different items and I’m so absorbed in what I’m eating that I just never noticed. After lunch we headed to the sculpture garden.

ig

Apparently a couple named Pappajohn (no relation to the Louisville pizza mogul), who collected outdoor sculpture for many years gave it to the city and they constructed this sculpture garden that takes up a city block near the downtown. When Ig mentioned checking it out, I had no idea that it would be as large as it is and have as many pieces (there’s 19 artists represented). Here’s the di Suvero that stands in the corner of the park…

sculpture

Here’s another very large piece and I’m so far out of the sculpture loop now that I didn’t recognize the name when I read it and cannot remember it now.

sculpture

Next is a beautiful and rather large Deborah Butterfield piece. There are two of her pieces near each other and this is the bigger and the one I liked better. It is cast metal of wooden driftwood-like pieces and painted afterward to look like wood again.

sculpture

This next bronze is a Willem de Kooning which I didn’t recognize because I only thought of de Kooning as a painter but there it is, a monumental bronze piece…

sculpture

Next… Sol Lewitt

sculpture

These last two have something in common with the large head that Ig’s standing inside, which is that I’ve forgotten who did them. They are the two that Sofia likes the best…

sculpture

sculpture

There was also a really nice Martin Puryear piece but it wasn’t huge and there was a busload of kids surrounding it. As he’s one of my faves I intended going back to get a shot but forgot by time we had seen everything. After that we went to the large Asian Market and stocked up on some ingredients that I have trouble finding here in Louisville (that doesn’t mean they’re not here, just that I haven’t found them yet). Later Ig cooked a great dinner and we drank vino til pretty late.

Iowa Trip (Day 1)…

October 24, 2009

On day 1 of my Iowa travelogue which was last Monday the main activity for the day was driving to Iowa in which I made very good time, leaving at 9 here and arriving at AKAR gallery in Iowa City around 3:30. Of course the time had changed from eastern to central so it’s always a bit surprising on arrival. Anyway I delivered my pots and met Cliff who does the photography and is the face behind their Facebook and Twitter presence online. He was very nice and gave me a quick tour of their photography area which made me envious of the setup he had to work with. Sanjay and Jigna, who really love pots, were not there because they have moved the architecture part of their business to another location. After leaving the pots downstairs I wandered around and took some pictures… the gallery is not huge but there are tons of pots by many of our favorite potters.

AKAR

AKAR

AKAR

And then there were the yunomis… a whole wall of them.

AKAR

The fun part was seeing pots that I’d seen many pictures of but never had the opportunity to see in person like these beauties of Michael Kline, they were up high so I didn’t get to pick them up though…

AKAR

Then I turned around and saw these Jeff Campana pieces…

AKAR

Here’s a huge John Glick platter…

AKAR

I really liked this one too…

AKAR

After this short visit, I hit the road again and made it to Des Moines in another hour or so. I stayed at my very good friend Ig’s house, which had been renovated since the last time I visited. We ate good food, drank wine and had good conversation for the next 3 days as we had much to catch up on. I used to visit every year around October and haven’t been able to since the bug was born but I think a 2 year hiatus is too long. While I was there, we were talking about our eyesight woes since we both do a lot of up close work and need strong reading glasses. When Ig started teaching at Drake, he was a metalsmithing professor and has long since given up the metalsmithing for painting so he gave me these jeweler’s glasses that have magnifying glasses in them. Of course as soon as Sofia saw them she had to give them a test drive.

sofia

Cold Snap…

October 18, 2009

Another fun weekend… Friday we went to the Kentucky Museum of Arts and Crafts openings of two related but separate shows which I and a couple others happened to have pieces in both because one was a show of people whose work is in the KMAC gift shop and the other was a show of the Louisville Clay Club. It was fun as openings go and I meant to take a bunch of pictures but we ran into people and started talking and then had to leave to pick up the bug. I took one picture of a fellow Louisville potter, Sebastion Moh, he makes the sweetest little teacups and here’s two (I apologize for the photo)…

sebastion

Dolita, another member of the clay club who also runs the clay club’s blog, posted a slideshow of the work that was in the show and it is here if you’re interested. That evening the temperature dipped and we decided to turn the heat on. When I got up the house was still cold. The burners come on and the exhaust fan but apparently the blower is kaput. I spent the morning playing phone tag with a couple furnace repair places and they wanted 140.00 to come take a look and this would not be applied to the cost of repairs. I guess I should take heart in the fact that it had been so long since I had one of these guys out to the house that I missed the prices going from 40.00 to 140.00, of course they said that this was because it’s the weekend and the weekday price drops dramatically to a mere 80.00/90.00. I decided it wasn’t all that cold and am waiting. The problem of course is that I’m hitting the road early Monday and cannot hang around all day for furnace people. Fortunately, it’s supposed to be rather temperate next week. In addition to this rigmarole, Sofia and I had our Dad and Sofia lunch at the Red Pooper where Sofia constantly talked about poop, pee, throwup and diarrhea. She’s been singing the do-re-mi song from the Sound of Music lately and substituting these words at all the fortuitous intervals and I have learned that throwupy is an adjective, as in throwupy hair. Fortunately the patrons of the Red Pooper are directly from China and don’t speak English very well so maybe they haven’t learned all those words yet. Then the bug went to her cousin’s birthday party and me and my very best friend, Keith, went to dinner and then to see the Louisville Orchestra play Shostakovich. The opening piece was a Haydn symphony. The Louisville Orchestra is quite well known internationally for playing modern pieces and some of these can be quite esoteric. My belief is that they always pepper their concerts with a nice romantic piece so as not to have the audience have to stretch the whole time. I’m glad they do because I love all the Beethoven, Mozart, Tschaikovsky, and in this case Papa Haydn. Anyway the Shostakovich was really great! The conductor took a minute in the beginning to explain the context of the piece by illuminating the life of Shostakovich as it related to the rise and eventually death of Stalin. He was subject to Stalin’s whims during his reign and this had a somewhat perverse affect on him as it did many artists of the era. It was a no holds barred performance and was really great and the seats I won were the best seats I’ve ever had at a concert… row E, fifth row back, dead center. So I’m Iowa bound and will be off the grid for this week (not sure if I can post from Ig’s or even if I want to). Here’s one of the pieces I’m delivering (it’s a large bowl for me at 12″ diameter and about 7″ tall), I took a couple pictures on Friday but the lights were a bit off so the color is a touch off…

bowl

SAYANARA

Le Fenêtre Est Plastique-asized…

October 16, 2009

Before I get to the fenêtre, I hurried down to the dungeon this morning to open the kiln, sitting comfortably at 155 degrees and had a wee peek in. It seems that my worrying was happily much ado about nothing…

kilnload

I went ahead and unloaded and brought everything upstairs to look at them under the bright light that is part of the fan over the stove. I have to take some photos today and sort through everything and pack up what I’m taking with me on my trip. Here’s a bunch of yunomis sitting on the counter for Mom and Sofia’s perusal.

yunomis

Until we can afford to replace the windows in the upstairs bedroom, I have to put plastique (<–french) over them to seal them for the winter. I've been doing this for years and really dread it for some reason. Usually I get 4 mil plastic and I always regret it because it's too flimsy and dogs and little girls poke holes in it but this year I splurged and got the 6 mil. Here's the upstairs windows…

plastic

Mom is never happy when I put this up because it assaults her idea of interior design… personally I think it lends a certain coziness to the room, in an “abandoned cabin in the woods” kind of way. But maybe next year I will be able to forego the echocardiogram I need and get that room into shape. Another reason I secretly wanted to get the thicker plastic is because my work table is covered with canvas and with a thick plastic sheet that I roll out when I’m glazing and roll away when I’m working with wet clay and the piece of plastic has been on there for 5 years and was left under the sweet gum tree last summer while I worked on the studio addition. This plastic has tannic acid stains from decaying walnuts, shellac dribbles and and the thousand natural shocks that plastic is heir to. So look at this beauty…

plastic

It’s the small things. Tonight is the simultaneous opening of two shows I’m part of at the same place with the same name. The reasons for this are partly misunderstood by me and what I do know would take too long to type and most definitely not hold anyone’s attention but regardless, Mom and I will be attending and it will be fun to see all the other ceramics. Then tomorrow… Shostakovich, Symphony #10 in E minor Opus 93.

It’s All Over But The Crying…

October 15, 2009

Hopefully not… managed to get the kiln going last night and woke this morning to this…

kilnsitter

So another hour or so and it will hit 1500 and the firing will be all over and hopefully late tomorrow I won’t be crying but happy instead of how all the yunomis and bowls came out. I’m trying not to worry about it but when I was mixing up some extra glaze to augment what I already had, I dipped a test tile halfway into each batch to see about thicknesses before pouring the two together. Later when the test tile was dry and I had cast it aside because I was only interested in testing thickness, I caught a glimpse of it out the corner of my eye, picked it up and the 2 dried samples of the same glaze were different colors… only slightly different colors but it doesn’t inspire confidence. I’m sure there are all kinds of potential reasons for this to have happened but the only way I’ll know is when I crack that kiln tomorrow. On another note, when we rescued Sunglasses from the pound I remembered having a conversation about her getting to know her new home and how it would take a certain amount of time for her to become comfortable. I came downstairs yesterday and saw her blanket on the couch and thought… where is she? she’s usually right here. Upon closer inspection I realized that she was completely under the blanket with just her snout peeking out. She heard me when I got close with the camera and yawned…

sunglasses

I guess she’s gotten to the point where she’s comfortable and it’s good to have a bone nearby so if she wakes for a chew she won’t have to exert herself too much… next to the hole that she ate in the couch before she was comfortable. Of course maybe getting under the blanket means she uncomfortable like everyone else has been for the last couple days since it’s about 50-55 degrees in the house. It kills me to put the heat on so early but the forecast doesn’t suggest that the temperature is gonna spike any again. I didn’t have time until today but I have to put plastic over the two non-insulated windows in the house before turning on the heat which I will do today. I’m thinking of getting one of those nice space heaters to manage the heat this winter… haven’t decided yet.

Memorie Italiane (part 1)…

October 14, 2009

Pretty soon, I’m making a trip to Des Moines to see my very good friend Ignatius. I started thinking about how many times we’ve gotten together since grad school and remembered Italy. In 1999, I went to Italy… this was my last trip overseas and my last time on a plane. My friend Ig was on sabbatical for the year and had rented an apartment in Firenze for 3 months, lucky Ig, and I went and stayed there for one month of the 3. We had been to Italy before when we were younger and we did it like younger people would, meaning we arrived in Milan and headed east, then south, with backpacks. We stayed a couple days in each place and were overloaded with art and ancient towns and the food… oh man the food and the vino too. Anyway, this second time we were trying to get the feeling of what it was like to live there and although we took day trips on the treno, we stayed in Firenze most of the time. Ig teaches painting and a fellow teacher who was an art history person and very familiar with Italy told us of some wonderful places to see frescoes that were off the beaten path. This was probably the best trip I ever had as we drank wine, ate all over town, walked around 8 miles a day, visited everything we could find and went shopping for food almost every day. It took me about 4 days to realize I couldn’t sleep late, drink coffee in the coffee shop that was located below the apartment and lazily head off to lunch because of the siesta that everyone takes around then but I did adjust. So before I left a friend of mine gave me some “Billy Bob” teeth as a gag and I thought they were hilarious and always anxious for a prop, took them along with us. Hard to believe but a mere 10 years ago, inexpensive digital cameras with sufficient resolution to get a print didn’t exist so we took pictures with Ig’s 35mm and got them developed there. So we went around on our business and I got Ig to take pictures of me with the teeth and I tried to look like a dolt, lost in paradise as it were. As you can see from the photo, looking like a dolt comes easy to me. Ironically, my real teeth are all crooked in a different way just not to the same degree. When I got back and the project management team I was managing at the time asked me to bring some pics from the trip to the next meeting, I brought these and they were all at sea. It was already suspicious to them that I traveled overseas with another man (oh horror of horrors) and it probably took til I got together with Mom before they could rest easy about my orientation… I really didn’t have time for that kind of nonsense. Nonetheless, looking at this picture I’m amazed at how much 10 years can do to the way you look… I was 41 and now, 10 years later, it seems that I look much more than 10 years older. Here’s a pic in the piazza with the replica of Michelangelo’s David, off to the left around the corner is the Uffizi and past that the famous Ponte Vecchio…

italy

Since I attended graduate school in sculpture, I had seen pictures of the David so many times that I wasn’t particularly excited about seeing it… I wanted to see it but figured there were lots of things that were more provocative to me. To my surprise, I was practically awestruck. There’s something about the way it’s displayed and the piece itself that defy photographs and it totally blew me away. Here’s a closeup of the teeth and I have always loved the woman to the left… a suspicious tourist from somewhere else wondering why that Chinese man is taking pictures of that poor dimwit bereft of dental work…

italy

Still glazing.

Close Call…

October 13, 2009

I’ve had some bowls that have been larger in diameter and taller too lately. Earlier I had done some bowls that had quite a bit of visual activity on the exterior but they were not as tall and I went into one of the places here locally that have my wares displayed and the bowl was down below my waist on a low shelf. The salesperson said not many people had given it much notice and I thought… well, if you want to sell it, put it high enough so you can see what’s going on without picking it up. Well, this is really my fault and not theirs because the bowl is fine in some circumstances but the work put into it goes unnoticed depending on the positioning of the piece. In short, if you’re looking down at it, it just looks like a relatively plain bowl… all this to say that I started making taller more vertical bowls so that the fact that the exterior is decorated is obvious. As a dipper (I dip my pots in glaze), this led to a situation where the amount of glaze (the puddle I’m dipping into) had to be greater to be able to submerge the taller piece. Anyway, I had saved my bigger bowls until now and last week while the kiln was firing I mixed mini batches of some glazes to augment the just slightly shallow puddles I have now. Yesterday I was rarin’ to go so I started sieving my first glaze from 3 different containers into the large plastic container with rope handles that I got just for this but that Mom uses whenever she’s doing yard work. I had the thing half full probably around 10 gallons and was sieving more when I looked over and saw the lovely fudge colored glaze seeping across the floor like the gooey fake blood that seeps from beneath a murder victim in the movies.

glazespill

I bolted up to look (it was around the back side of the container from where I was situated) and a crack was opening and 3 wee streams of glaze were spurting out on my floor. I instantly had the horrible vision of the crack being much larger and just giving way and having 10 gallons of glaze on my floor which is only bare plywood with seams to the underside that had been recently insulated. I managed to hold the flap closed and decant the glaze into smaller containers. Here’s the crack, after inspection I doubt it would have gotten bigger as it probably was the result of a rake or shovel being jammed into it.

glazespill

Off to Home Depot to get another gardening container with strap handles (one that Mom cannot use) which set me back a bit but not as long as I thought it would. The day went like that pretty much to the end, I kept brushing against things (freshly glazed things) and dinging cups by accident and dealing with my poor eyesight all day. When we were putting the bug to bed, right before the 2 stories I tell her every night, she started horsing around and rammed her head into my mouth and split my lip open. I suspect I will get into a better groove today. Mid afternoon, my brother Ken called… he’s in Lexington and coming over to see us. He had tried to warn me with email days ago but had some techie problems and tried to call me but we were having some phone problems. Ken showed up at 9:30 and we went to Sergio’s which was relatively quiet since it was later on a Monday. Here’s Sergio blissfully surrounded by beer…

sergio

We had a good 3 hours of conversation and closed the place a bit after 12 and Ken got up at 6 to drive to Lexington and have coffee with his daughter before she headed off to class and he back to New York. Here’s Ken with a Bell’s Two-Hearted Ale and that familiar happy face that beer causes.

kenny

Trailblazing…

October 12, 2009

It was a beautiful autumn weekend… high 40’s in the morning warming to a sunny 68 and breezy by late afternoon. Took the bug on a “long” hike over on the mountain bike trails in the park. We ended up by the creek throwing these large furry acorns into the overflowing water. We managed to see a uniquely Kentucky site… two men came out of the hedge along the creek with dirty wife beater t-shirts, one was very large and the other half his size but both were carrying a “cultivator” rake like this…

rake

They went immediately from the brush to their truck and returned to the base of the giant oak sans rakes but the large man had a 10 gallon gasoline can and what looked like a bag to hold a video camera whilst the other man had something cupped between his hands. The large man poured water from the gas can over the other man’s hands and then they plopped down at the base of the tree. The large man say cross-legged with a camera and the other man put his hands against the base of the trunk… holding a snake. We sneaked up and watched for about 5 minutes while the smaller man tried to pose the snake for a photograph while not letting it slither off. Sofia had questions but sometimes the end of a long line of “why’s” only confuses more than enlightens. I’m glad they weren’t killing it. By time we got back to the car, the bug was all in and ready for a beer. It’s a glazing week here and I hope to get everything ready to fire by Wednesday or Thursday. Here’s some bisque shots from the shelves, there’s some overlap…

bisque

bisque

bisque

No Rats, Just A Bug…

October 10, 2009

Didn’t hear or catch any rats last night. It’s our weekly Dad and bug days, today and tomorrow, replete with dog walking, errands and Dad and Sofia lunch at the Red Pooper. My friend Vern, the digital artist whose pictures I post occasionally (click “vern” under “categories” in the right column), is stopping by and will accompany us at lunch. Somewhere in there, we’re gonna unload the bisque and I will happily be ready to start glazing Monday. I managed a peek when we got up…

bisque

Sayanara y feliz fin de semana.

Year Of The Rat…

October 9, 2009

According to the chinese zodiacal calendar (which is never wrong), last year, 2008, was the year of the rat and this year is the year of the ox and next year is the year of the tiger (not the eye of the tiger). I’ve never questioned the chinese calendar before and was always happy to see, while sipping my eggdrop soup, that I was born in the year of the dog and although there are some other more badass years like dragon, at least I wasn’t associated with the year of the rabbit, sheep, pig or RAT. As you can see by the zodiac, despite my infestation, this is the year of the ox and not the rat…

zodiac-12-cycle-chinese Anyway, last night after we put the bug to bed and settled down to watch an hour of tv in our recently rat-free home, I heard a rustling noise again… I hit mute on the remote, nothing… resumed sound and heard it again… hit mute again, nothing. Mom had been painting the windows in the dining room and had them cracked open a bit and we discussed that maybe this time it was the neighbors doing something on their back porch. Then another sonic hullabaloo from towards the kitchen and I said to Mom… I can’t believe there’s another one. I wasn’t sure but set the trap again. We went upstairs to bed after checking the bisque and as I was checking email and watching a video someone posted of some dolt blowing himself up with sulfur and magnesium and Mom called out… did you hear that noise downstairs. I said it was probably the explosion on the video I just watched and she said… no, pretty sure it was from downstairs. So down I go and lo and behold the twin of the rat from yesterday. I was shocked because I really didn’t think there could be two and up until yesterday there was no evidence to suggest even one. So in 2 days my mental characterization of our house has gone from cozy neighborhood home to urban rattrap shanty (pun intended). I didn’t take another picture, suffice to say they seemed identical in size and color. By the way, my blogging buddy, Eugene Hon in South Africa just finished a series of clay rats and has done an exhaustive research of the rat for those pieces here. Moving on but staying on the numerological theme a bit, I’ve decided not to celebrate my 200th post, which is the next one, and instead call attention to the fact that this is my 199th post today… hurray! This is a miniscule effort to break from our proclivity toward base 10 numbers with the acknowledgment of 199 being the largest prime number to date of my postings. And finally there’s the number 1749, the year that Goethe was born and the temperature of my kiln when I went into our rattrap basement this morning to check the bisque…

kilnsitter

By the way, it’s been raining for days and last night the torrents woke me twice and I figured I’d have to wade to the kiln this morning but when I descended to the basement floor, nothing but a dribble. I like that it didn’t leak but don’t like that it doesn’t make sense. The upside is that the dribble indicated the origin.

The Great White Hunter…

October 8, 2009

After a long day yesterday and putting the bug down to bed, I hurried downstairs to watch the Craft In America show. It was fun to watch although the end suggested that a second hour was to follow but it didn’t, at least where I live. Anyway, early in the show we heard a really loud rummaging sound from toward the kitchen… almost like Sunglasses had gotten a’hold of a large plastic bag of chicken wings and couldn’t get the damn bag open. I looked in the hallway and the mighty huntress was fast asleep on her couch. Not sure how she could sleep through it but there you have it. Anyway I sneaked out and turned the light on and my cat-like reflexes, which include hearing, located the noise as coming from our pantry on the floor. This pantry is only about 3′ x 3′ floor to ceiling with a door. I opened the door and a huge mouse or regular sized rat walked in no big hurry past me and went behind the refrigerator. I’m not gonna say this was a rat for two reasons… first, I really don’t like the idea that a rat was in my house and second, I don’t want to insult the professional taxonomists that might stumble upon this. I looked on wikipedia and although people generally call large mouse-like creature rats and small ones mice, it says that this really doesn’t apply to the taxonomy of the family/subfamily/genus and that the family is extremely complex. All that aside this was about 6 inches long not including the tail. Every 4 or 5 years we get a small mouse infestation and I have to get out the traps and I have one trap that’s bigger called a rattrap. I located that and loaded it up with peanut butter and put it on the floor of the pantry and went back to Craft In America, figuring that it might not work but for now I’d done my due diligence. I was raised to hunt by my dad but by time I was a senior in high school, I gave it up because I realized that I really didn’t like to kill things even though my dad’s hard and fast rule was that if you kill it, you eat it. We ate squirrel occasionally and I liked it and in the past few years when the city squirrels (there’s about 1000 on my block) wouldn’t let me grow tomatoes in my yard, I started to think my swearing off of killing animals might have been too hasty. Anyway, if a critter presents a threat to our health, then all bets are off and if I remember I’ll relate the story of shooting at mice in my kitchen with my dad’s .22 caliber pistol… I know, only in Kentucky. So this morning Sofia, Mom and Sunglasses went downstairs and I tried to remain asleep but kept hearing Mom shout Sunglasses, NO! over and over. I went down and she was trying to keep it away from the rat/mouse. I wanted to get a good picture but had to get it out of the house. Later I went out to photograph it and realized that I had nothing for scale and was too lazy to go get something so I put my foot in the shot… that’s a size 10 1/2 or 43 if you’re European…

ratmouse

Later, when I got this photo on the computer, I thought maybe I should send it to Birkenstock’s to see if they wanted to use it in an ad campaign maybe. I’m finishing up the last stragglers this morning and running a bisque tonight. Here’s some of the yunomis and the last bowl that still needs some slip…

greenware

greenware

I guess I’ll be mixing up some glazes later and I’m looking forward to dipping into the new fresh bag of non-chunky wollastonite.

Le Grand Experiment…

October 7, 2009

Sunday night, while trying to go to sleep and worrying that I’m getting behind on my deadline, I had an idea… would I get significantly more done on Monday if I just got up, went into the studio and didn’t even turn on the computer all day? So I did, I got up with the dog, took her out, and went directly into the studio and got to work… oh yeah, I remember this. It was cool and going to rain and I thought, it’s too early to jam so I put on the classical music station. It was really nice. So I’m sitting there with my wee paintbrush and the classical DJ is running down the schedule of what concerts are playing around town and she says… “the Louisville Orchestra will be playing Shostakovich’s 10th symphony on blah, blah, blah…” and I thought, if I weren’t a potter and had some money I’d go see that. Then she said… “we’re giving away a pair of free tickets to the seventh caller blah, blah, blah, here’s the number…” and I thought, I’m not gonna get up and call over and over to get busy signals, whatever, and I keep working and forget about it. The next piece, like many classical pieces is about 15 or 20 minutes long and I started thinking about my painting teacher at Murray State University. His name was Luke and he died in a tragic auto accident quite some time ago but in 1979 or so he introduced my to Shostakovich which was playing on a cassette tape in his very old Toyota Corona <– not a typo… at the time Toyota had Corollas, Celicas and Coronas and Luke's Corona had 300,000 miles on it. The windshield wipers didn't work and he told me about a time in a huge downpour that he took his shoelaces out of his shoes and tied one to each wiper and snaked the ends of the laces through the almost closed windows, tied the ends together and pulled side to side to get the wipers to work. Anyway, we're in his Corona driving out to the Land Between The Lakes where he had built a house from scratch, listening to Shostakovich, with my girlfriend from Quito, Ecuador. I was totalled enamored with Luke's irreverence, it was one of his main character traits and put off a lot of young students. So we went to his abode at LBL that had no bathroom (an outhouse) and no HVAC but it did have a rather large patch of cannabis 100 yards from the back door and he didn't grow this to make clothing or paper for government documents. It was an idyllic day in an idyllic setting, my girlfriend cooked some Ecuadorian thing with black beans for lunch and Luke was very funny and inspiring. … so back to yesterday, I start to rinse my wee brush to go to get a drink of water and the woman DJ says… "we didn't give away those tickets because something went wrong with the phone system, so we're gonna try again" and right as I'm walking out of the studio where the phone is attached to the wall she gives the number again and without thinking, I pick it up and dial, sure that I'll get a busy signal, hang up and head to the sink. "Hello, you're the 7th caller and you've won the Shostakovich tickets". Well I've never called a radio station in my life and now that I'm batting 1000, I will probably never again but I am going to see the orchestra play Shostakovich's 10th symphony, here's an album cover with what looks like Vladimir Putin conducting…

shostakovich

Not sure what the lesson is about changing your routine but it was a fine morning and I did get quite a bit more done than I would have. Got all the bowls and cup so far slipped…

greenware

I had a small elfin helper while I was slipping…

sofia

Then later that night we met our good friends Coco and Andy for some beers and conversation and Sofia had a great time playing with both of them, so much so, that we didn’t leave until past her bedtime and she would’ve stayed longer if we had let her. Here’s Andy and Coco with a flying fish they caught going out the door…

sofia

What Woke You Up This Morning?…

October 5, 2009

For me it was a slimy dog tongue thrust way into my left ear. Just in case, it was unpleasant and I was unable to resume sleep. It’s still feels like it’s a little wet in there even though I keep sticking my finger in my ear to check and come up dry. I will have pieces in 4 different shows for the holidays and will be taking pots down to the Kentucky Museum of Arts and Crafts (KMAC) today for one of them. So I’ll be heading out in about a half hour which means not a lot of time for all this blogging stuff today. Here’s the big bowls I have done so far, one more, then the yunomis, then put the slip on and I should have a kilnload and be able to bisque by the end of the week… hopefully sooner.

greenware

Urban Adventures…

October 4, 2009

Sofia and I had a whirlwind Saturday. After walking Sunglasses, we had our weekly lunch together at Red Pepper which Sofia likes to call Red Pooper… go figure. I took the camera because we were planning to go to the St. James Art Fair afterward. Here’s the bug picking water chestnuts out of her soup (her favorite)…

sofia

Another attraction of Red Pooper is the giant mirror there that’s the size of an entire wall that makes the dining room look much larger than it really is. Sofia likes to dance in front of it and examine every pore and hair on her face… and of course her tongue…

sofia

sofia

We decided to attempt the fair against my better judgment. One of my car’s “idiosyncracies” is that it starts to overheat if I sit at stop lights and drive in stop and go traffic. The main road to get to the fair had a detour that sent us onto the University of Louisville campus and we could see the street (3rd Street) from all the dead end parking lots on the campus but there is no through road… the result was that by time I got over to 2nd Street my car was getting close to overheating so we grabbed the first space on the street and got out to walk. So we started out by walking 7 blocks to get to where the actual booths were (there are 750 booths). St. James is just as I remembered it only moreso. It reminded me of a summer trip to Venice meaning that there are so many people crowding the sidewalks and roads that walking at a normal pace is impossible and keeping track of a 4 year old demanded handholding or carrying the entire time. John Bauman, the blogger I mentioned yesterday, has a choice booth right at the epicenter of the fair on St. James Court which is situated in what we refer to as Old Louisville. Apparently he’s been doing this particular fair for quite some time and it’s in an old neighborhood near downtown with 3 story victorian houses. We met John and his wife but fortunately he was busy with sales so we didn’t bother him for too long. Here’s the fountain directly across from his booth…

sofia

After that we found another potter friend and listened to violinists, then a guitar, flute and clarinet trio, then a very young jazz keyboardist. On the way back to the car, we heard the shouts of “free burgoo” from the yard of one of those victorian houses and I looked up to see a former employee of ours and alum of Murray State. They had made way too much burgoo and were trying to get passers by to partake. They also claimed that along with the other assortment or meats, there was venison and squirrel in it. Then we made our way back to the car… this took quite some time as Sofia had to go the whole way walking on top of the concrete barriers that keep the lawns from overtaking the sidewalks…

sofia

The car was a welcome site to me because I had seriously overdone it with my feet. They felt like someone had hammered a nail into each of my heels but it was a beautiful day and we had a good time and saw some potters, pots and listened to some live music.