Thursday, May 29, 2014

About that pottery

So I picked up my last batch of fired pieces on Wednesday.  Anyone who has ever played with clay  knows that sometimes what comes out of the kiln is not what you expected or hoped for.  Of course that can lead to wow moments and happy accidents.  Or falling in love with a particular glaze.  Or trying desperately to remember how you did what you did so you can repeat it.  Other times there can be some disappointment.  Too many coats of glaze.  Too much shrinkage while baking in the kiln.  Poor color choice mixtures.  Not having carved deep enough.

Upon seeing my pieces, I felt both elation & chagrin.  Tim reminded me that this my first true class.  "Don't be so hard on yourself."  Funny enough, my teacher said the same thing many times in our class.  She told us that teaching kids is sometimes much more enjoyable than teaching adults because kids rarely disapprove of what they've made.  They're just happy to play and be creative.  Adults, on the other hand, look for perfection and have very high expectations of themselves before the first class even starts.  Oh, how true.  As grownups we just need to lighten up sometimes, don't we?  

Well, I'm going to see what I can make with all of these pottery pieces, good or bad, pretty or so-so.  The plan is to do some embellishing with beads and wire and who knows what else.  Wish me luck.

I went a little crazy with lace, rubber stamps, sgraffito carving & polka dots

Isn't the birdie heart kinda cute?

The red & blue hearts were fun to make & the spearmint glaze rectangle makes me think of carpets

I rolled lace onto the clay when it was wet & later stained it with underglaze

This little guy is perhaps my favorite

Sunday, May 25, 2014

More "just because" photos

I was thinking of making this a Thursday tradition - posting a group of photos without description or explanation (unless, of course, they are not my photographs).  Then I realized I might not be able to keep that appointment every week.  So I've decided to do this whenever the mood strikes.  Any day of the week, anything that happens to be in mind. 

Sunday, May 18, 2014


Back in March I signed up for an eight-week pottery class.  I had been wanting to do this for years and years.  We all made ashtrays for our parents with coiled clay in grade school, didn't we?  I think I may have made a hot dog and an impression of my hand at some point too.

I took a low key class at a community center in 2007, but it was more of a "come ask me if you need help, make whatever the heck you want" type of class.  Our teacher had been making pottery for decades and was still excited to introduce people to the medium.  I made some pendants and some wax resist leaf plaques.  Naive stuff but a few things I liked enough to display in my house.

Aspen leaf imprint
Oak & manzanita leaf imprints
This current class was described as a beginner / intermediate class.  I could learn how to throw on a wheel, hand build, under glaze, glaze, use tools, flatten clay on a slab roller, carve, etc.  For me, this was not an inexpensive prospect, but I paid the fee and eagerly awaited the first class.  I was not disappointed.  Our instructor is awesome!  I have learned the basics, and I'm a little fearful that without hiding my credit card, I will be tempted to scan the Dick Blick catalog in my house and order a kiln on-line!  This has got to be one of the coolest mediums I have ever worked with.  I am in love with it.  I found myself daydreaming the other day about a studio in a red barn on a piece of property in the country where I would churn out ceramic piece after ceramic piece and make a living as a potter.  This, despite the fact that I couldn't make a single bowl or cup on the kick wheel with even a hint of symmetry!  My very supportive and kind teacher said "that is just your style.  I like it.  Embrace it."  Vanessa, I adore you!

I have an open studio this afternon and one full class next week before this comes to an end.  I will be able to pick up my final pieces toward the end of the month, and I am really looking forward to it.  If you come back around June 1st, I should have more photos to post.  Below is what I've finished so far.  Remember, I am a beginner.
Green carved flower bowl
Blue carved bowl (my favorite so far)
The poppy bowl
The asymmetrical, sea shell-wannabe bowl

Saturday, May 17, 2014


I started this blog in February to participate in Lori's Bead Soup Blog Party and to put my voice out there in the internet universe.  I was scared to do this.  More than anything, I was afraid to post about the things I make.  I wrote about travel and nature, not my jewelry.  Then along came the reveal day for the 8th Bead Soup Blog Party, and as soon as the comments started rolling in, I felt myself letting go of some fear.  (Namely, the "I'm not good enough" fear.)  What was it about mostly strangers sending wonderful messages full of kind words that turned my thinking around?  They are my peers - they make jewelry too.  They make beautiful, creative things AND they bothered to tell me that I have talent, that I have a good eye for color, that I make gorgeous things.  It has been an incredible and humbling experience to read these comments.  While I know that I have to believe in myself (as we all should), boy is it nice to have other women artists provide reassurance!

So, THANK YOU to everyone who has commented on my jewelry.  THANK YOU to ever single person who took the time to visit, peruse and give an opinion or ask a question.  I believe that Lori Anderson is an inspiration to so many of us, and I am so grateful to her for creating a forum to both show off our creativity and support one another.  This blog hop is a haven of wonderful.  It really is.

Please enjoy the roses.  
These photos were taken last June at the Volksgarten in Vienna, Austria.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Bead Soup Blog Party Reveal Day

Good morning one and all.  Welcome to my little corner of the 8th Bead Soup Blog Party.  Thanks so much to Lori Anderson and her assistants for putting this whole shebang together!  My mind whirls at the logistics behind organizing this, and I am grateful for the time they have put into making this happen.  I am also honored to be part of something that involves hundreds of jewelry artists from around the globe.  Enjoy looking at the variety of creativity via this list of participants on Lori's blog.  I suspect I'll be drinking lots of tea and perusing for hours this weekend.

As a reminder, my partner is Kitty Bozzini of Stinky Dog Beads.  This is the wonderful bead soup Kitty sent to me (you may see it in more detail here):

Below are the pieces I made from my bead soup with a little help from my own stash.

Bracelet made from brass chain, clasp & headpins, Lucite flowers, Czech glass rounds & seed beads
The large brass chain came from Kitty, and the rest came from my own beads & findings.  As soon as I saw the chain she sent, I knew I wanted to make a spring-themed bracelet with it.  I have had the large blue Lucite flowers for years.  I thought it was about time I put them to use after picking up the other Lucite flowers at a recent bead show.

Earrings made of Czech glass, copper wire and brass lever back ear wires

I got a little loosey goosey with the wire wrapping at the top of these earrings but decided to keep it that way once I tried them on.  I like the way they dangle and how kinetic they are - lots of movement when worn.  Really liking the mossy earth tones of these glass beads.  

Necklace with lapis lazuli chain & chips, owl charm, faceted labradorite, silver spacers & Czech glass
Not sure I'm all together satisfied with my design on this one.  I like the combination of blue, silver and grey, but I feel there is something slightly off about it.  This might be a future redo.  It does remind me of the South Pole - the color of the labradorite pendant and the deep blue chunky glass bead especially.  They make me think of the weeks of twilight before the sun fully dips below the horizon and winter moves in with months and months of darkness, aside from auroras and moonlight.  I do miss the winter sky at the bottom of the planet.  Not so much the temps of - 70 F or colder, however.

Stacked pendant necklace using Czech glass, magnesite, clay round, painted clay bead, turquoise and cording from Kitty's package
This was a fun one to make.  It's a little funky, and the beads are some of my favorite colors.  The length of the cording makes the placement of the pendant adjustable; it can be worn as a choker or near matinee length.  I tied the ends together in knots so that they simply slide over the cord to easily put it on and play with the length.  I wonder if Kitty thought I would incorporate what she used to hold my bead soup package together as part of a necklace.  The clay disc feels rustic and looks like it could be a wheel from a child's toy so I wanted to find a way to use it. 

Long necklace made with glass flower button/clasp made by Kitty, Unicorne beads glass dagger & spacers, faceted seed beads, all manner of glass beads, lampwork rondelles, clay tile & a few plastic flowers
When I was finally finished with this one (at the last possible minute mind you), I said out loud "this might be my favorite necklace that I've ever made."  It's nothing complicated - it's the beads!  I love the color combination of blue and green.  I like the variety of shapes and types of beads, and I think the glass flower button Kitty made is simply spectacular.  It makes me want to get back to learning lampwork.  I made the two at the top of the photo during a class a few years ago.  While they are not very symmetrical or delicate or even what I intended, they were fun to make and add even more color.  I wish the photo was better, but the little door on the battery compartment of my camera is not latching properly.  It's very frustrating to take photos this way, and I finally just had to stop trying.  Forgive me if it makes you question if your eyes are just tired or if my picture is blurry!

I had another necklace designed and laid out to be strung but simply ran out of time.  Kitty was so generous with the soup she sent that I have enough beads to make many more pieces of jewelry.  I'll be sure to post those creations as I make them.

What I sent to Kitty:

I had St. Patrick's Day and a trip to Prague in mind when I chose her bead soup bits & pieces.  When I dug out the postcard to send along with it, I saw that it matched the soup very well.  Funny how that worked out.  Please visit her blog to see what she has created. 

 Happy blog hopping!  

Tuesday, May 6, 2014


I took two geology classes in college that gave me an appreciation for the character of the land around me.  I learned how giant boulders found their homes in the middle of flat farmland to stand solitary among grass and crops.  I came to understand why earthquakes happen, how volcanoes work and through what process mountain chains are formed.  Words like erosion and eddy and oxbow and meander were added to my vocabulary.  I thoroughly enjoyed the classes and our rather eccentric teacher who loved to tell us how his cats reacted to tremors.  

Most of all, it added to my knowledge and enjoyment of landscapes.  I certainly can't remember everything I learned.  After all, college was more years ago than I may want to publicly admit.  But I do remember enough to recognize some geological features and how they were formed.  In thinking of landscapes, I thought I would post a few photos of the view outside our living room windows.  I promise you, we absolutely recognize how blessed we are to live in such a beautiful place.

A few days ago
June of last year

Friday, May 2, 2014

Friday evening musings

I spent a half hour earlier today looking at birds in our backyard.  Magpies, yellow-headed blackbirds, sparrows, robins.  Our cat is really liking the scenery these days.  I believe she might be thankful that Tim's weeding efforts stir the bugs which in turn attract the birds.  Several hundred yards away from our house, there is a green hillside where we are also seeing a small herd of pronghorn most evenings.  They graze and move along.  We're hoping to see some fawns soon.  

Magpie with a mouse

Yellow-headed blackbird
The sights and sounds of nature have fascinated me for as long as I can remember.  My older sister and I spent many weekends at my grandparents' house when we were young.  They lived on an acre or so, and we thought of this as "the country."  We saw deer in their yard.  I watched caterpillars crawl along the bark on their apple trees, mesmerized by their dots and stripes and furry-looking bodies.  We found robin's nests on occasion, and we laughed at my grandfather every time he raised his fist in anger at the rabbits in his garden.  I once found a walking stick and was absolutely gobsmacked that such a critter actually existed.  

We often spent week-long vacations in the Adirondacks during our summer breaks.  My mom and her best friend would rent a rather dilapidated but cozy cabin in Speculator, a small town on Lake Pleasant.  Those weeks positively sealed the deal on my love of the outdoors.  Between ogling mallard ducklings, collecting snails and swimming in water clear enough to see fish, I couldn't get enough time in each day to take in everything.  I was hooked.

I will forever be grateful that I was exposed to nature starting at a young age.  It has led to a lifelong passion for simply being outside.  Tim and I may take a drive this weekend to look for wildlife and some scenery that is new to us.
Penny's view from our bedroom window
By the way, the jewelry blog hop I am due to be part of was postponed by a week.  The reveal of what I've made will be next Saturday, May 10th.  To be honest, I am happy to have the extra week to tweak and photograph.  Please stop by next weekend to see what I've managed to create with some lovely gifted beads.  

Hope you have a great weekend.