I am trying to finish up a glaze load so I can switch out my display at the Fayette County, Georgia library. Time is against me. Or maybe it's life instead of time. Or maybe both. Any which way you look at it, lots of things are happening and there seems to be a conspiracy to keep me out of the studio!!!

I suppose it's my own fault if truth be known. There are so many wonderful things to do in life and there is so little time to do them.

Still it's frustrating not to be able to get to the studio. My day is always perfect if I can find time to get out there.

By the way, my hummingbirds finally took off for warmer places.



Yesterday I was at an art's event where some of my work was being showcased (along with a LOT of other artists!). I was generally pleased with the comments by those viewing my pieces, although I didn't sell any.

I have one piece that I am very attached to and just love. Why, I don't know, but something in the colors and the shape or combination thereof fits my idea of nice. Someone was talking to me about my work, giving compliments and then told me they were talking with another artist and the two of them had agreed it would be a much better piece without the additions. I explained why there were there but didn't say what went through my mind, which was that I liked them.

Everyone has their own ideas of art and what is good. It didn't offend me that the person offered their opinion, although it might offend some. I appreciate constructive critism, even if I don't decide to act on it.

Some people are purists when it comes to pottery. They don't want to marry various materials. I'm like that with nuts. I love to eat them... alone. Put them in a batch of brownies and the brownies are ruined. I'm a brownie purist . Some folks want the pottery to shine for what it is and feel that additions detract.

I'm a potter, a crafter and an artist. I like mixing and matching various materials. Some pots would look horrible with additions, and some might think some of the additions on a few of my pieces are horrible.

If you're going to be an artist and show your work to the public, you're going to have to learn tolerance. Everyone has an opinion, everyone has different tastes, you're not going to please everyone (in some cases, you might only please a few people). If you are pleasing yourself with what you're creating, and you're willing to grow and learn, you'll sooner or later find a market for your work.


Special Piece for a Special Person

I'm working on a piece in honor of a special friend, Jim Steinbach, who died last week. The old saying that you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone is somewhat true in Jim's case. We always appreciated so many things about him, knew he was a very special person. However, somehow when you lose someone it all gets pulled together and you see the person as a whole rather than splinters. It was amazing how all the people at the various services and get-togethers all had pretty much the same picture of Jim. Says a lot for his consistency.

Some of my pieces take days, some take weeks, some I roll out in an hour (not counting the drying, firing, glazing and re-firing times ;-). This one is still rolling around in my mind. I'm still not settled on his entire essense so it's hard to form a shape in my mind. I think probably I'll end up staring at a block of clay someday soon, thinking about him and how much he has meant to Greg & I. I'm thinking this is going to be one of my longer productions as there was nothing simple about Jim other than his single-mindedness when he tackled a project! Guess I better block out some time if I'm going to pursue this with that same dogged spirit...

All I really know about this piece is that it better be perfection at its finest! Like all of us, Jim wasn't perfect, but he knew what perfection looked like and he strove to do it right. I'll strive to make something that will honor his memory in some form and I'll shoot for perfection.

I don't know that I'll want to give it to anyone as it will be my own personal memorial for Jim. I do think though that I just might have to make it a trio of pieces - one for his wife, Ellen, and one for Fayette Senior Services. Oops, I bet his church, St. Matthews might want one, too. Hmmm... I am assuming a lot in thinking that they'll all like my work! Maybe I'll just stick with a piece that Greg & I can look at!


Lucky Bamboo

I'm going to be making some pots for lucky bamboo. I found a great place that sells the bamboo, liked it, bought some, potted it, then found out it's considered "lucky." Here's what I've found out about it thus far:

It's luckier to get it as a gift.
It's a feng shui MUST.
Different numbers of stalks bring different kinds of luck:
• 2 stalks = love
• 3 or 6 stalks = happiness
• 5 or 7 stalks = health
• 8 stalks = wealth
• 9 stalks = general good fortune
• 21 stalks = blessings
(Note: I picked up 3 stalks, but they weren't a gift - wonder if this negates some of the luck? Since I'll be buying them and putting them in my pots for others to give as gifts, will I have blessings galore?)

Also, this lucky plant is poisonous. It's not really bamboo, it's Dracaena Sanderia. If you get huge stalks and have pets, beware. Your best bet would be to stick with smaller versions that can sit up on shelves.

The lucky bamboo does best with low, indirect light.

It loves water but it doesn't like the chemicals most folks have in their water so use filtered water or rain water. If neither of those options work for you put tap water in a container and let it sit out for at least 24 hours so the chemicals disperse. You may also want to try your dirty aquarium water - the bamboo loves the organisms that the fish don't particulary care for!

Change the water every week or so.

If you'd like curly bamboo (it's naturally straight) you can train it but it is slow going. If you're not a patient person, pay a few extra dollars and buy it. If you'd like to do it yourself, block the light on three sides (a cardboard box with one side cut out works great) or put it in an area where there is a stronger bit of light in one direction with very low light on the other sides. After a while the bamboo will start to turn toward the light at the top. Turn it a bit to give it a "curl." Keep doing that until it curls and curls.

It's a very easy plant to care for but it can develope problems. There are great sources on the Inernet (search words that seem to work best are lucky bamboo container grow).

Once I have a few pots completed with bamboo I'll pop some photos onto the website and will put them on here.


Trapped in the Studio!

Yep, I was trapped in the studio.

Yesterday after working for quite some time in the studio (time slips away when I'm down there!), I realized I need a bathroom break. Fortunately, there isn't a bathroom in the studio or I'd never leave!

Luckily I looked up before opening the door (they are glass) and saw the family of deer hanging out in front of the porch.

Ooops, I was trapped!

The mama deer had been hurt, probably hit by a car, at some point. Her hindquarter was scarred with a crosshatch of large streaks and she limped. I had seen her right after the accident when it was a fairly fresh wound and she was holding her leg up, not letting it touch the ground. Her two little ones at that time still had their spots.

Now she is walking, albeit not as steadily as before the accident. It looks like she's probably in a bit of pain judging by the way she only touches the leg lightly on the ground when she moves. Imagine having to go through life with bones that weren't set properly. Ouch!

The two little ones are bigger but they still have a way to go before they'll rival mama in size.

I learned something new - deer eat birdseed. Greg (my husband) says they'll eat almost anything, but I was surprised to see one of the little ones feasting on some birdseed I had dumped out of a feeder because it got a little wet. The pile of seed kept him eating and kept me waiting.

I knew they usually didn't stay long in one place having watched them often in our back yard. This time the birdseed kept them around for much longer than I wanted. I know I could have tapped on the window or opened the door and they'd have taken off. I doubt it would have stopped them from coming back permanently.

However, even though I had to walk fast to get to the house once they finally left, I wouldn't interrupt their trek across the yard. I marvel at the adaptability of deer. Yes, they can be pesky and will eat anything I plant around the studio, even it it's not something they like! Yes, I've hit a deer while driving and it was not a pleasurable experience. But I love having them in the yard (ticks and all) and figure there were deer running around these woods long before there were houses and people so it's good to let them have free reign whenever possible.

Photos: The photos are not the deer I'm writing about today. The photo was taken a few days ago from my driveway. However, that is my studio down in the 'hollow.'


Ya gotta be humble...

...and you have to have thick skin.

You've probably been to a show of some sort where you didn't like something. A painting you thought your 2-year old nephew could have painted, a piece of pottery that had what you thought were gaudy colors, a play that was chocked full of bad acting, an off-key piano or singer... there's something out there you have judged harshly at some point.

Chances are you didn't hide your feelings and voiced them in some way. Curled lip, cutting comment, rolled eyes... or maybe just a low whisper to your companion.

With art beauty is in the eye of the creator and some beholders. However, regardless of how you might feel about the art or the artist, most put a part of their soul into whatever they create. Most are always slightly holding their breath on some level, hoping their creation will be loved or at least appreciated.

You might think it's the ugliest sound, painting or sculpture in the world while another thinks it is fabulous. Every artist lives not just to create, but also to have other appreciate their creation.

That cutting remark made in low tones to your neighbor, if heard by the artist, can negate every positive comment received that show. Intellectually we all know that our work is open to critic, and we're probably our own worst critics. But it can still hurt.

I once walked into a booth with a friend who made a quiet comment about how tacky the work of the artist was. I didn't particularly appreciate it either, so their quip brought a quick smile. I looked up over my friends shoulder right into the eyes of the artist.

I've never forgotten the quick wince of pain or hurt, then the cultivated shutter that he affected to mask how he felt. I felt so badly I almost bought something, but realized that would have been worse. It would have been salt in the wound to know he had to sell to someone who didn't like what they were buying.

However, when I looked at his brochure, I saw that he had been selling his works for quite some time and was fairly well known in the scheme of life. Someday I'll walk into someone's home and see one of his works on the wall and it will probably look great in the setting they've chosen.

Now I have my work on display and will be selling it. I have received many compliments and everyone in my family thinks it's the best in the world. But I know there will be some who will think it stinks. There will be some who look at it and think they can do better, and there will be some or maybe many who can do better! But these pieces of decorated clay are my babies, my creations and I have some of me tied up in every piece. I hope I never have to overhear a snide remark about my work, but I expect I will.

I'm hoping I'll develop thick skin... (truthfully, I'm really, really hoping I don't have to, but I think that falls under the category of dreaming!)

I am already humbled by those who like my work. I'm just glad there are those out there who do like it!


Mistakes are not always bad

While clay can be very forgiving in that you can smash a bad piece of wet clay back to its beginnings and start all over, it can also be a hard taskmaster.

Put too much weight in the wrong spot and everything under will collapse. That's actually how I started what I call my smash pots. I had a wonderful shape going and a design firmly in mind. I was so wrapped up in the design that I forgot that the clay had its own properties and 'mind.' About halfway through, the pot started to listen to gravity and it began slowly settling.

I usually know to give a piece some support but for some reason I must have been so single-minded that I neglected a basic and lost the shape.

My first inclination was to try to prop it up so I could continue, but as I did I saw that it wasn't structurally sound. There were weak spots and a few beginning tears that showed me it was not a good idea to try to recover the piece. I was frustrated (with myself) so I stopped the propping process and took a break. After all, the pot wasn't going anywhere.

After a bit of lunch, I came back in, looked at the pot across the room and liked it. It had a wonderful shape of its own making and thus began my smash pots.

Now I make them deliberately. Most times I let them take their own direction, sometimes I direct. Sometimes I end up completely smashing them and starting over.


Knowing when to quit

There are some pieces that just never seem to be right. I don’t have an easy time letting them go. I often add to my clay pieces, doing multi-media work. I’ll add beads, straw, yarn, glass or whatever I think needs to be used to complete an item.

Sometimes I add to a piece because it’s just not quite right. It doesn’t “feel” finished.

Sometimes I’ll re-glaze a piece two, three and even four times (that’s tops so far) trying to fix it.

Sometimes I just don’t know when to quit. A piece will come out of the kiln and it doesn’t make me happy. All I can see are the flaws. Sometimes I actually put a piece in the kiln that I’m already not happy with (sad, but true, I just can’t let go of something I’ve spent so much time on!).

However, there is a time when I need to just chuck it. I need to quit. There have been a few pieces that I played with and played with, let them sit for days or weeks or months, came back and played with some more. I’m finally learning to toss those pieces. They get a decent burial in the huge trashcan if they’ve been glazed, they go out in the yard to return to dust if they haven’t been fired.
I’m still working on this lesson



Patience is the number one lesson I am learning as a potter. It is not one of my strongest areas!

Waiting for the kiln to cool is truly a lesson in patience. Open it too soon and you stand a good chance of ruining the best work you've ever done... Crack the top to sneak a peek and hear the crack of the glaze as the cold air hits it... oops. Patience.

I've found that it's virtually impossible to see anything looking through the little peep hole, too. (That falls under the category of failed ingenuity!)

Patience is waiting for a piece to dry. Patience is getting ready to glaze and realizing you need to clean the pot first, and wait for it to dry.

Patience is having to grocery shop when you'd rather be creating.

I'm learning... so far it hasn't helped me much when it comes to waiting in lines or for the book I ordered to arrive. But I'm learning.