Archive for January, 2010

Maneating Giraffe…

January 31, 2010

I turned on the computer today to browser problems… it wouldn’t leave the page that it was currently on. Eventually, I opened a different browser and it did the same thing. I managed to get it to work but I’m not sure how, mostly just by fiddling with it or else whatever was wrong was temporary and now has been fixed but I don’t like computer problems because they can be very expensive. I keep thinking that I might have my first virus in 5 years. Sugar was feeling a bit better yesterday and when we were downstairs doing a puzzle on the kitchen table she started doing one of her favorite things… posing hypothetical questions. Yesterday it was, what are Mom and I gonna get you for your birthday? I said you can just give me a hug and she said, you’re gonna get that anyway… I mean what are we going to get you like we got something for Mom for xmas. I said whatever you like and she said, I think we should get you a boy doll. I said, you think I need a boy doll? She said, well it could play games with my dolls. I said, what if I get tired of the boy doll? She said, I could probably still play with it. Then she said, oh I know, we could get you a fluffy shirt. I said, do I need a fluffy shirt? She said, yes, you can turn it inside out and the fluff will be on the inside and keep you warm. I said, do you mean a furry shirt and she said yes. Then she said, I know what we can get you… potstickers! I said, potstickers?, the food? She said no!, pot… stickers and walked over to the cupboard where she had pasted a sticker from one of her coloring books and pointed to it and said, stickers like these with pots on them. I said, oh, where do you get pot stickers? She said, well we can just cut out pot shapes from a piece of paper and tape them to the walls in your studio. This is kinda what I did yesterday and will probably do more of today. It’s currently 10 degrees. While I was at the computer yesterday morning Sofia came to me growling with this lion mask on…

I took a picture and she came back still growling with a giraffe mask so apparently any mask calls for a menacing pose…

Then of course, dad had to put on the pig mask, I think the reading glasses combined with not showing my teeth keeps it from being so frightening like that terrible giraffe was…

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Squaresville, Man…

January 30, 2010

I went into the studio yesterday to work on those vases and it was really cold again. After a couple hours, I couldn’t take it anymore so I dragged everything upstairs again to finish the rest of the day in relative warmth. Here’s the vases that I posted yesterday, I got a comment from my local potter friend, Maggie, saying to leave them the way they were but I had already done what I suggested…

I guess only time will tell. We woke this morning with a good 3-4 inches of snow and it’s still coming down like a fine dust. I think Sofia had the worst of it yesterday and she’s on the mend but probably won’t be herself until Monday. The coughing and sneezing… I thought it would never stop. I spent some hours putting little squares on some beer glasses and the bug sat next to me practicing her computer skills doing online jigsaw puzzles…

Colds Of Winter…

January 29, 2010

Well, up most of the night with the little bug… she’s a coughing, sneezing machine. I didn’t get much sleep so probably skip the computer shenanigans and head straight to the studio so I can get something done before the fatigue sets in. I don’t see how I’m gonna be able to dodge catching whatever this crud is that she’s gotten. It’s colder than a well digger’s ass again. I put together some funky vases yesterday again… maybe I will add some adornment today, not sure. Here’s a black and white shot…

Bug days tomorrow and Sunday and then it’s February… damn, that 1/12 of the year went fast! J.D. Salinger passed yesterday. My favorite short story was “For Esme – With Love and Squalor”. At one point I wanted to name Sofia Esme but I lost the battle when it became apparent that Esme was short for Esmeralda. Those names all cycle anyway, who knows, in 20 years Esmeralda, Bertha, and Dorothy will be the most popular names again.

Someone’s Been Productive…

January 28, 2010

I’ve been trying to get some throwing done this week and it’s cold in the morning but by afternoon it’s fine. The lure of the music, the clay and hanging out with her dad has made my studio companion spend a lot of time over the last couple days making her tiles and stuff. I get a big kick out of it because I really don’t monitor her activity except to keep her from getting into things she shouldn’t like black slip or whatever else… she just stands at the banding wheel cutting slices off of a block of clay and singing. She’s coming down with something (which I hate) and when I came up to go to bed last night, it sounded like Darth Vader was in her bunkbed… major congestion. I really really really don’t want to catch this but a part of me knows that I will. Anyway, here’s some of Sofia’s new tiles…

Before I got out the wet clay for her she piddled for quite some time and kept bringing me these little rubber banded collections of dry clay that was lying around. They all had writing and drawings on them with a regular pencil and I didn’t have the heart to tell her that the rubber bands and the pencil work would not make it through the firing because she was having so much fun.

I managed to get a bunch of bowls made with the splishy splashy slip on them…

Squirrelly Decisions…

January 26, 2010

I was sitting there last week looking at this bowl and trying to decide whether this was gonna be one that was decorated on the inside or the outside. This is usually an easy decision but even though I feel pressed for time and have miles to go before I sleep I decided… to do both inside and out. Sometimes I feel like a sucker for punishment but in the end I think the bowl will come out more like what I want and I guess that’s the bottom line for now. So here’s the bowl in question, inside/outside/both…

After finishing that on Friday, I figured I’d had enough of the shellac for a while and got back on the wheel yesterday and man, is that thing ever quiet! Dreamy. I happened to see Sunglasses (Dingus) looking out the window like she was about to burst at the seams and there was a squirrel trying to get a partially full jar of peanut butter up the tree to its nest. That rodent was probably in hawg heaven… talk about hitting paydirt. I tried to get a pic of it with it on its head but he dropped it and ran. Damn city squirrels…

Oh and by the way, can you tell that I watched the game… my apologies to Minnesota.

Playoffs/Club 52/Wee Towns…

January 24, 2010

I am not a sports fan anymore and never really was much of one… I usually watch the super bowl, world series, a bit of the NCAA basketball tournament and when Jordan was still playing some of those playoffs too. I am currently unable to work up any enthusiasm for much of any of it. All that aside, when I was 10 years old and I still hung out with my cousin Rand, who brews all the beer, a friend of his father went to see the Minnesota Vikings play in their first playoff game, I believe, and he brought back a souvenir football that was really signed by the whole team including the great Joe Kapp. This was all we needed for the Vikings to be the team we cheered for and I did cheer for them until well after my college years. If you are a Vikings fan, then you know that that is the equivalent of being a Boston Red Sox fan (at least until recently) because they have reached the playoffs 26 times and have yet to win a superbowl. For the last 15 or 20 years, I totally ignore the NFL season and late in the season if the Vikings have a good record, I might tune in. This has become a joke with a friend of mine that it is in fact my viewing over the years that has jinxed this team and if they’re doing well and they lose suddenly, the next time he sees me, he’ll say… you watched the game didn’t you? So inasmuch as I can cheer for anyone, I guess I’m for the Vikes today and maybe they’ll reach the superbowl again and of course, if they lose, I take full responsibility. Sofia has been “building” lately and “making towns” as she calls them, here’s a little tailgate party around a campfire just in time for the game…

The diversity around this campfire is indicative of the diversity of her entire towns… with Winnie, Tigger, Smurf, California Raisin, Homey, Mickey and a Turkey. Here’s her town…

Friday night was the second installment of Club 52 and we met at another pub for brews. Here’s the birthday boy, Jeff, in the first pic and then Al and Ray in the second picture…

Jeff grew up her in KY but only moved back a few years ago. He taught ceramics in Arizona in Tempe until he moved back. I wish I had some pictures of some of his pieces but I don’t… he did, however, give me this last year which instead of being about throwing off the hump, he called it “Ride the hump potter boy”…

Yesterday, Sofia wanted to “build” again, so we decided to build a little town in the bookcase, here’s that town…

Hold That Train…

January 22, 2010

My curiosity about musical taste is entering another generation. In the past few years as my friends’ kids get to be in their teen years, I’m always intrigued and sometimes surprised by what they’ve chosen when mining for gold in previous generations’ music. My fascination stems from the idea that’s firmly lodged in my head that my generation’s (I claim the 60’s but it was really the early 70’s) music was a sharp, distinct break from what came before and although there were nostalgic tv shows like “Happy Days”, we were not nostalgic for the music of the 50’s or earlier and it wasn’t until I was in college that I allowed myself to go back there. The irony is that there was outrageously great music in the 50’s and before and really at all times, it just wasn’t what was presented to us as youngsters. The great music of the 50’s wasn’t so much Bill Haley and the Comets and “How Much Is That Doggie In The Window” (although “The Ballad Of Davy Crockett” still appeals to me as kitsch and a reminder of the repression of the times), it was Miles, Coltrane and Brubeck. So now when nephews and friends’ kids decide they really like old Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Doors etc., I think to myself… well, of course they do, it holds up extremely well. I’ve given in to the nostalgia lately a bit by getting CD’s from the library of old rock and roll from my youth because I’m not willing to pay money for the 3rd format change of the same music (LP, cassette tape, and now CD… never owned an 8 track). Some of this holds up really well and some I just listen to once and think, what was I thinking? For example, love that old Stevie Wonder but Grand Funk Railroad just doesn’t do it for me anymore. So on to Sofia… when she was 3, when we were in the car, she had to listen to a particular song on a Counting Crows CD. Every time the part in the song “Goodnight Elizabeth” where Adam goes, “… set myself on fire and walk out on the wire once again”, she would turn and stare out the window and mouth the words. Of course, we were amused and after playing the song about 500 times, not so much… but the explanation of her affection for the song probably had more to do with our neighbor’s name being Elizabeth than anything else. When she was 4 and much to her grandmother’s dismay, it was Ani DiFranco in the car with the crazy guitar and the song “Gravel” where she says, “fight, fight, fight”. She’s 5 now and has been going through a Third Eye Blind phase and yesterday while accompanying me on my work couch, she came in with a CD and asked if I would play it… Lil’ Ed and the Blues Imperials. I said, “you really like this one?” and she said yeah. I said, “why’s that?” and she strummed her air guitar and said… “the guitar, the guitar” and started dancing around. She also wanted me to point out on the CD jacket which one was Lil’ Ed, here’s a pic of him with his trademark fez…

Now, Lil’ Ed is pure, hard-driving westside Chicago blues. His calling card is the beautiful, captivating and definitely low down greasy slide guitar. So I pop in the CD and Sofia comes in and dances like she’s on fire for a couple minutes and then sits down with me. She usually asks me about the lyrics which can be pretty entertaining discussions in themselves because she doesn’t quite get what a metaphor is yet. In the first song called “Hold That Train”, toward the end Lil’ Ed says… “next stop, Chicago” and Sofia says, why did he say Chicago? I say… I think he lives in Chicago. She says, maybe he will come to your show in Chicago. I say, well, I don’t know but maybe. She says, well, if you see him at your show, tell him your daughter really likes his music. I say, will do. See you there Lil’ Ed…

Here’s some more in progress shots…

Earl Grey On A Gray Day…

January 21, 2010

In a rare occurrence, Mom grabbed the camera and took a couple pictures. As it turns out the wee dog-ravaged love seat that I appropriated for the studio is the absolute most popular place in the whole house. I guess Mom thought it was cute or funny and went and got the camera. This is where I’ve been for days and usually as soon as I sit down the dog comes in and a bit later the bug comes in and they have a little tiff to jockey for position… and there they sit. It seems obvious to point out that as well as being tedious, my activity requires a somewhat steady hand and trying to maintain said hand with the bug squirming, jumping, getting a new magic marker, jostling the dog, craning to look out the window, etc. is akin to attempting to drink coffee on a trampoline. But I like the company so that’s what we do (notice that dad has 4 shirts and a neckwarmer on and the bug has one thin shirt and bare feet)…

After drawing for about an hour, Sofia was out of activities that could be done on the couch while trying to be still. I said, let’s have some tea. So I made some Earl Grey in my Joel cup and Sofia had already decided that Matt’s cup that I got Tuesday was hers (she decided this because she thinks that any mail that arrives in a box is for her) so I made her some chamomile tea in Matt’s cup. We sat on the love seat waiting for the tea to cool enough to drink and when she picked up Matt’s cup the first thing she said was… I like this handle, it has a little bump for your thumb. After that she kept holding it with her thumb against the bump and saying, I really like this cup. When she finished her tea, she asked if she could share my tea and I poured half of my Earl Grey in her mug. She liked the Earl Grey and for the next hour and a half periodically went to the kitchen to get Mom to brew her 4 more cups of tea which she drank while I worked (there were several pee breaks in there as you may well imagine). Her we are and this is her fake smile…

I Got Royal Mail…

January 20, 2010

I was zoning out, doodling in my studio yesterday and jammin’ to “Giant Steps” (Coltrane) wondering when the mail was gonna get here. I took a break around two to stretch my cramped side and back… I looked out on the porch and there was this wee box sitting next to the mailbox. I brought the unassuming parcel in the studio and got really excited when I read that it contained Royal Mail as I’ve never received anything royal in my life (unless you count the royal pain in the ass dog we adopted) and am confident that royalty’s and my paths have ne’er crossed…

Oooh boy and it went through customs too (it’s from Grande-Bretagne!)…

Well, it was my secret santa from across the Atlantic… Matt Grimmitt!, and he sent me a beautiful slipware mug. Thank you very much Matt, this is my first international piece of clay. Check it out..

Matt Grimmitt is a wonderful slipware potter from England who literally has clay running in his blood as one of his ancestors a few generations back worked along side one of the biggies in the long English ceramics tradition. When I started my blog in February last year, Matt’s blog was one of the first that I followed and at the time had the catchy title of “Pots For the Kitchen From the Kitchen”… if you have a hankerin’ you can check out his work and other goings on at his new blog. Matt’s partner Antonia (Tiggy) also has a blog and she makes handmade soaps. So after a couple shots of my gift, I brewed up some Earl Grey and broke in my new mug and I must say that I really enjoyed the heft of it… it feels very good in my hand…

Thanks again Matt. In other affairs, I’m trying to make peace with the demon dog, Dingus. So I invited her in to lie next to me while I was painting on my greenware…

Aww, isn’t she precious? Actually, no, she isn’t… yet. Just when I thought we were making headway, she got up and instead of getting a drink from her dog bowl (which I checked and was full of water) she went in the bathroom and drank out of the commode (I guess she always checks there first). Then she came back in got up on the seat next to me and tried to lick my face. Aaaw, isn’t that cute?… trying to kiss dad with her fresh toilet mouth. We’re working on it.

The Squeaky Wheel Gets The Grease…

January 19, 2010

Or in this case the greased wheel is kept from getting the squeak. I decided to move my resist stuff back down to the studio yesterday because it was gonna be sunny and 52 and the sun never peaked out and the temp never got past 40 or 41. No problem though, I was gonna skip the decorating and do some throwing on my recently refurbished and exceedingly quiet whisper wheel but changed horses in the middle of the stream. I did get that silicone grease applied around the axle…

I had a bit of touchup with shellac and once I started, I just kept going and never got back to the wheel. Got quite a bit of tedious work done though, here’s three views of the same bowl with 2 coats of resist but not etched the second time yet…

Here’s another beer glass sans the big handprint but ready to bisque…

Gonna try for another long full day today, which is shorthand for not spending too much time on the computer and not checking email every once in a while and not checking facebook every once in a while or tweets… never thought it would be that difficult.

Where Have All The Drive-Ins Gone…

January 17, 2010

Last summer, we had this great idea… let’s get Sofia’s sleeping bag, make a grocery bag full of popcorn, a gallon of refreshing libation and head to the drive-in. Mom said, where’s a drive-in anyway. I said I think there’s two, one in the south end and one over in southern Indiana. Up to google and within minutes it’s whittled down to one… it’s in southern Indiana but it’s about a 40 minute drive. I go to their website and click around and discover they went out of business 2 months earlier. My memories of the drive-in with our family and then later when we were all just trying not to get arrested are some of the best. I saw “Blazing Saddles” there and “Young Frankenstein” and “Dirty Mary and Crazy Larry” and when we went with my dad we saw “True Grit” and “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly” and James Bond movies… this was before Roger Moore who was far from convincing even to a young’n and always reminded me of Buddy Ebsen in “Barnaby Jones” or Jimmy Carter in “The White House”, oh, right that wasn’t a tv show… but Buddy and Roger were codgers and they would run after 20 year old criminals and then kick their asses, please! I know, older reference lost on younger readers but remember that Cannon detective dude on “Cannon” (same era as “Barnaby Jones”)? That guy was pushing 300 lbs. but they would have him chase down a criminal in his 20’s and not even be breathing heavily. But I digress, I was busy at the computer the other day and the bug is behind me on the not-white-anymore carpet humming her little made up songs… she interrupts me and says, come look at the movies. So in the doorway on one side of the hall is this (the audience)…

In the doorway across the hall is this (the movie)…

I ask her a bunch of questions and go back to sit down and she says, wait you didn’t see the parking lot…

We had a great day yesterday. It was 55 and on the way to the Red Pooper, I started singing, I… can’t… drive… 55. Not sure why this stuck but Sofia sang it all through lunch and beyond. We had a long pleasant walk with the demon dog who I think is slowly being renamed Dingus. I’ve used so many epithets in frustration like dolt, doofus, dingleberry, satan, goofball, goofus, sunblaster, doltus, etc. and somehow have somewhat affectionately landed on Dingus. So when we’re playing with her, I throw the rubber chew toy and say Dingus Badingus, go get your thingus and this plays very well with a 5 year old… big yucks every time. Anyway, later we went for a longer walk with oranges in my pockets and had one at the softball field. Then on to the railroad tracks, the reservoir and the fountain at the natatorium and then all the way back home. Sofia stopped to pet this woman’s old dog and while she was playing with the dog and rolling down the hill getting muddy, this woman that I had never met before tried to convince me that I should send Sofia to a private catholic school. I kept trying to be diplomatic and say things like… well, Mom and I were both raised catholic but we aren’t catholic now. Unfortunately, this didn’t sink in and she kept up until she was convinced that Sofia wasn’t going to catholic school even though she just happened to be having dinner that evening with the kindergarten teacher at the catholic school she was recommending. Then she immediately switched to montessori schools… a disciplinarian no doubt. Anyway, home for dinner and it was a great day all round.

Bring Out Your Dead…

January 16, 2010

On Thursday, my friend here in town that keeps bees called me around dinner time and told me that because it was pretty warm out he looked in his hive and all his bees were dead. From what he described this is what had happened to me last year and when spring came I found the same apian remains in the bottom of my hive. So yesterday it was 55 here and I went out to see if I might spot some life. I gingerly stepped over the soggy, muddy minefield of dog poop and when I got to the hive… bees! They are alive, at least some of them and at least so far. There are a lot of dead ones by the portal and I’m not sure if they just died there of if there’s some house cleaning going on as the girls do bring out the dead…

Anyway, this news was as good as I could have hoped for relating to bees. I cleaned the dead out of the doorway and the bottom of the feeder, went and got some corn syrup, cleaned the feeder itself and gave them some syrup. In my mind I figured what’s more unhealthy than corn syrup… maybe high fructose corn syrup and what store popped into my head… Walmart. Ironically, I go to the corn syrup section and all they have is “Lite” corn syrup and I thought… what, Walmart’s gone healthy now? Not only was it “Lite” but it had vanilla flavoring… I’m not sure they realize that they are definitely going to lose their beekeeping customers. So the good news is the bees are alive! I got a solid 9 hours of work in yesterday and met up with Jeff Campana for beers and talked clay for some time. Today and tomorrow are dad and bug days and we’re off in about an hour.

Practically Balmy And Definitely Busy…

January 15, 2010

Gonna be 45 degrees today. Once I started counted pieces and timing firings and trying to estimate how long it will take to decorate said pieces, a little panic set in. This is when working at home presents a challenge that working in a separate studio does not. I decided to skip the online thing yesterday and just get up and decorate. I was sitting here at this table painting resist before 8 with my Earl Grey and thinking how much I was gonna get done. I started to hear the shopvac at about 9 interrupting my serene Mozart wafting from the IMac. I thought, well Mom’s just vacuuming but then I heard another machine. I go downstairs and Mom is bringing in a rented rug cleaner and the only carpet in the house is the one under my feet. Mom has an ongoing war with the formerly white carpet that my ex-wife insisted on putting in almost 20 years ago (I lost that battle of common sense under the false premise that compromise would ensure a long and happy union… doh!). Sofia spilled something on it two years ago and it looks like someone spilled a large bucket of iron oxide stain on it. Mom thinks that bigger rug cleaners will work where smaller ones failed and I keep telling her that deciding it’s not a problem is a more effective route. Anyway, I have to vacate the upstairs because the rented cleaner is due back by 1:30… so I went to the bank and the hardware store for some silicone grease (thanks for the heads up Soubriquet) and that was the second place I went to. The first thing they ask is… what do you need it for? which translates to… I’ve never heard of that and I want to suggest using something else so that I can go back to daydreaming about quitting time. After lunch I set back at it with a damp but still wet carpet under my feet and a hour or so in, Sofia’s two cousins come in (Mom picks them up from school twice a week so I knew this was gonna happen). The three of them come upstairs and pandemonium ensues with little girl arguments and screaming and one of the cousins kept making this strange choking sound and even though I realized that she was entertaining the other two, every time I heard it, I felt like one might not be joking this time. They left around 5 and about 6 we ate dinner and I came back up around 7 to work and at 7:30 I had Sofia’s bedtime ritual which is me reading to her from 7:30 to 8-ish. Then downstairs to allow her to fall asleep… I never got back to it. Not complaining, merely trying to illustrate the difficulty of working in the house. Something happens like this everyday to a greater or lesser degree. Here’s some greenware I’ve been working on…

Long In The Tooth…

January 13, 2010

Big thanks to everyone that wished me and Jeff well on the upcoming exhibition… it really is amazing! It’s kinda crazy when I think about how I’ve only been doing this blog for less than a year and virtually didn’t know any of you just that short time ago. I guess mentioning this support will no doubt be part of whatever I write for the blogging show as to why I blog. Anyway, thanks… and I feel the pressure. Last weekend with the bug I woke disheveled and caught a glimpse of the old dude in the mirror and thought… looking a bit long in the tooth. Maybe it’s the unruly white beard… duh, ya think? I said to Sofia, I think I’m gonna shave and she just said ok and kept on playing. So I decided to get a laugh (maybe) out of her and shaved off one side and left the other alone…

When she saw it her eyes lit up and I could see those little gears in there turning. Apparently what she was thinking was along the lines of, hey, I didn’t realize this was an option. We had our little fun and we took a couple flattering pictures with my beat up reading glasses and then I said, ok, I’m gonna finish shaving. She practically begged me to leave it that way and I told her Mom wouldn’t go anywhere with me if I left it like that. She seemed to think that was an acceptable downside of having a half-shaven dad. Well, it’s supposed to be a high of 36 today, finally peaking above freezing… hurray, we can do a load of laundry. The advantage of a long sub freezing cold spell is that now that it’s above freezing again, the studio seems almost balmy even though it’s in the high 50’s in there. It’s practically spring-ish and tomorrow I’d almost be convinced that spring was coming early if it weren’t for the hangle of the sun. So here’s another beer glass with custom handprint…

Earth Disguised…

January 12, 2010

The best news that I got over the holidays, at least ceramics-wise, came from my buddy Jeff Campana. He was invited to do a visiting artist workshop at Terra Incognito Gallery in Chicago and there was to be a two-person show that coincides with this workshop. Jeff and I had been talking over the last months about doing a show together… the concept centering around our propensity to execute very tedious decorative processes. Anyway, I believe Jeff’s part was a done deal and he emailed me one day and said that if I was interested, he would like to propose that the other person in the two-person show be me. I was absolutely interested and he suggested it and Terra Incognito said yes. So we will have a show together from April 3 – May 8. Needless to say, I’m very excited and have very much work to do to get ready… glad my wheel is fixed! Here’s a bowl that I’ve committed to the show…

Mode d’Hiver…

January 10, 2010

In an ongoing series of 5 year old conversations… a recent addition. When we go to the Red Pooper, Sofia and I are usually either the first to get there or second but mostly first. I usually allow her to choose where she’d like to sit and even if someone’s there before us, she normally doesn’t choose to sit next to them. Anyway, two people were sitting at a table along the edge of the room, a young man and an older woman. When we entered, Sofia indicated that she wanted to sit at the adjacent table and I said no, we’re sitting on the opposite side of the room. No, I wanna sit there… too bad, we’re sitting over here… no, dad, I wanna sit over there… I said too bad. This goes back and forth a time or two more and changes to, why do we have to sit over here? I say, well, I don’t want to listen to their conversation and I don’t want them to have to listen to our conversation, which is true because sometimes Sofia forgets her restaurant voice and needless to say, the distance between tables gives us a bit of a buffer. Anyway, I’m just attempting to be a little considerate. So we sit where I say and by the time we’re seated, she’s moved on to other things… or has she? While I’m putting coats on chairs and moving things on the table to accommodate coloring books and markers, Sofia’s gawking at the table across the room. When I realize this, I follow her stare and realize that the young man is speech impaired and both he and the woman have been signing to each other the whole time. Sofia says to me, they haven’t said a word since we got here. I say, well yes, I know. That man cannot speak. Sofia: why not? Me: Well some people cannot speak, sometimes they’re born that way but there are other reasons. Sofia: Why can’t he? Me: I’m not sure but we have chords in our throats that vibrate and make noise, this is how we are able to talk and maybe his don’t work. Sofia: Thinks. Me: See how they are using their hands? Sofia: yeah Me: That’s how they talk to each other without using their voice. Sofia: Thinks and stares. Me: OK, now, stop staring at them. Sofia: So now we can move over there and sit at the table I said before. Me: No. Sofia: But we can’t hear them talk. Me: I know, but we’re sitting here. Sofia: You said we couldn’t sit there because you didn’t want to hear them and we can’t hear them. Me: Sofia, we are not going to move, drop it… and she did. I’m always amazed by this child lawyer routine. Anyway, even though I know it’s impossible, when we got home yesterday I tried to do a little decorating since I’m upstairs and this is where Sofia plays because it’s so cold downstairs. I didn’t get anything done to speak of but for a while I could hear her in our room contentedly singing and playing (this is one of my favorite noises). She likes to jump on the bed and look into the mirror that’s behind the dresser that’s next to the bed. After a bit I peaked in to see what she was up to today and she was modeling the latest winter fashion, I grabbed the camera and got a couple shots…

Bug Days Are Here…

January 9, 2010

Two bug days and it’s cold. Crossing my fingers that my pipes don’t freeze. Planning on Red Pooper but my car stalled yesterday and almost couldn’t get it going so adventures await. If you’re sitting around with nothing to do and want to waste time on the computer (yeah right), check this out if you have a hankerin’… www.bonomo.com. Sofia and I spent some time there and made this…

We did this one too and she thought the long flowing stringy lines looked like hair so we inserted a face for the hair…

Ergonomic Beer Drinking…

January 8, 2010

Sometimes I decry the lack of clay beer drinking vessels and even though in some fine taverns that specialize in beer there are usually nice porcelain pilsner glasses up on the shelf, I think most people, including the proprietors, feel they are for decorative purposes. It’s no mystery why really because one of the joys of a full glass of ale is the color of the brew in all its golden or amber splendor and this is most easily appreciated by looking through a glass container. Although this is probably an insurmountable problem, I started thinking that if you wanted people to drink beer out of porcelain, said porcelain would have to offer something that the glass did not and since transparency isn’t an option… maybe switch senses from visual to tactile. So here you go, a beer glass that fits your hand like a glove…

Shrinkage is going to be a problem along with the likely possibility that after firing, my reaction will be… what was I thinking? I try not to edit ideas too much on the front end. Maybe today I’ll add little bumps to the part where your hand touches to add a bit of tactile gripping power… this could serve the added ability to prevent dropping and spilling your beer as you start to get a bit tipsy. What a difference a day makes, yesterday…

And today…

Apparently the storm was so intense that it spun a couple of the cars around right where they sat and even blew some away. On a more serious note, about 4 o’clock I heard the strangest noises and they woke me up. They sounded like little servo motors making minute hydraulic adjustments. After considering and abandoning the ideas of aliens outside of the house readying for an abduction or a small urban tank training its turret on my house, I figured it was my imagination or that I dreamt it. Then Mom said… “did you hear that weird noise?” The noise stopped and while I waited for my next opportunity to hear it and figure out what it was, I fell asleep. This morning I looked out front and there was no evidence of aliens or tanks and I came upstairs to do this. Then I heard the noise again and Mom yelled upstairs… did you hear that? I couldn’t figure out where it was coming from and she said she couldn’t either but my best guess is that my pipes are freezing. As hard as it may be for some northerners to believe, we have not had this long of a period of sustained below freezing temperatures since I’ve lived here (19 years) and although the water line coming into the house is copper, most of the lines in the unheated basement are pvc. So, I’m bracing myself for another extremely unpleasant saga whilst hoping it doesn’t occur but the temps aren’t supposed to peak above freezing until Monday. I was thinking of just running the kiln but not sure if that would work since it would be empty. No rest for the wicked, I guess.

The Magical Blogging Potters…

January 7, 2010

I’m happy to publicly announce that there is gonna be a big show of potters that blog and I get to be in it. Meredith over at Whynot Pottery came up with this idea and has worked very hard to put it all together. Thank you Meredith for all your work! Part of this show will be either an example of each potter’s blog posting or maybe even a written explanation of why we blog or at least why we started to blog which might be different than why we continue to blog. Anyway, the show is called:

Clay and Blogs: Telling a Story
Opening reception will be held at the Campbell House in Moore county from 6-8 pm
October 1st, 2010

If you have a hankerin’, check out Meredith’s post about how the whole thing came together. Not sure but maybe I can finagle this into a wee trip to meet all these people that I feel like I know but haven’t met. Either way it smells like fun and I’m looking forward to it. I’ll probably post more details as things start to gel even more. On another unrelated note, we are experiencing the first blizzard of the year…

We were sure that Sofia’s preschool would be closed today but they said they were open and she’s there now. I hope they have milk. I sure don’t want to have to go over there in an hour or two and try to dig them out. By the way, went with plan B.

Good Things Come To Those Who Wait…

January 6, 2010

I can’t say that I was all that patient but just as I was getting ready to use Plan B, a wee knock at the door alerted us that UPS guy had left a package. Sofia was none too disappointed after getting boxes of xmas presents from distant relatives to find out it was my replacement motor for the VL-Whisper. I got a wrench and screwdriver, watched the video on the Shimpo website called “Changing the Motor on the VL-Whisper” and headed to the studio. I’d like to make more of the complexity but, like many well-designed machines, switching out the motor couldn’t have been easier… a child could have done it. Here’s a haphazard step by step, 1st take the wheelhead off and then unscrew the 4 bolts holding the top plate (this has an o-ring about 6″ in diameter that keeps water and clay from getting down to the innards (I was surprised to see some debris in there but it was mostly aluminum oxidation)…

Next, turn the wheel over and support the top so the axle is not hitting the floor and take off the protective cowl…

Then make a diagram and detach the wires…

Next, remove old motor and set it aside…

Pop the new motor in…

Attach the bolts and secure the motor in place. It looks different than the old one but I was alerted to this ahead of time by Yoshke so I wouldn’t think I had the wrong one. Looks really high tech, no? Almost looks, what’s the word?… let’s see, since our culture doesn’t care about words or dictionaries anymore (said the curmudgeon), I’m gonna go with nucular.

Stand the whole wheel back on it’s end and tighten the bolts holding the motor in place and remember, always wear a condom…

Then reattach the cover plate…

Next, set the wheel back down upside down supporting the top so the axle doesn’t hit the floor and reattach the wires (consulting the diagram made earlier)…

I made a trip to the hardware store to get some new washers that had been corroded and picked up some of those wee plastic ties that police use instead of handcuffs when there’s a big bust (at least that’s what they do in the movies). So I got to neatly tie wires in clusters just like they were before…

Next, put the protective cowl back on and flip the wheel upright, a thing of beauty is a joy forever…

Finally, voila (<-french)…

I plugged it in, pressed on the pedal and I swear you could barely hear a sound, barely a whisper. This morning I’m sending the old motor back and giving Yoshke a call. Then either face the cold studio or stick to plan B until the weather breaks.