Sunday, December 30, 2007

Wonky Looking Minigama

It's good to take photographs as I go along; I didn't see just how wonky this minigama was looking. I read The Girl With the Pearl Earring and how he took photos of his work to see them with new eyes. My husband helped me today too since I couldn't decide how big some things should be and was it time to start building inward??? I see I made some pretty big errors but they won't affect the performance of the kiln - just wasted space. As I look at the picture here it makes me sort of worried that it will fail somehow.
I plan to bisque fire it first to cone 04 and then it should be ready to use. I hope to fire a small item in the chamber using either charcoal or wood or possibly a combination of the two. I'll get some cinder blocks to place it on and fire it with some friends while we are doing a raku firing probably.
I can see the flue area in the back is just waaaaay too big and that I made the front of the kiln too large too. As heavy as it is going to be.....I cannot dream of ever leaving in behind if I should move. Never say never, but OMG - I hope that *someone* would fire it and at the very least take pictures for me to see. Josh, who has left a couple of comments in the previous post said he did this. Nearly makes me cry to think of it!

Friday, December 28, 2007

My Minigama Continues

My Minigama Continues
Originally uploaded by sheilasthings
The walls are still growing. I've decided that I am making the walls too thick. What made me think they should be super thick? So, I am thinning them out as much as I can. My progress is so slow, the weather is chilly and overcast. It feels like a supreme effort to go outside and work in the cold. Oh, to have a studio. Wait a minute, I do have one it just looks like a greenhouse and the heat isn't turned on....
I am thinking about how I'll finish the outside, this should be fun!

The teapot exhibit at the de Young Museum was outstanding, outstanding, outstanding!!! What talent; I was in awe. One process I am always drawn to is unglazed porcelain decorated with black underglazes; as if it was used as a sheet of paper and the black looks like charcoal....there was a teapot there that had been decorated like that. Mmmm, nice. And I am a real sucker for the workhorse type of teapot, big and sturdy, no nonsense kind of guys. There were a couple of them too.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Minigama 1

I have now used 25# of clay and I will open the next bag soon. Today is cold and my greenhouse hasn't warmed up enough to refine my walls but I did want to use the end of that bag of clay. Coil building isn't my favorite method of handbuilding - not much instant gratification there. But so it goes...

I am impatient so this can be my exercise in patience.

I didn't have my little minigama book with me and I busily built up wall when I realized I must create a flue in the back. I can't make the kiln any longer than it is right now since I plan to fire it in an electric kiln and I must be sure it fits into it. So I will add a wall inside of the first wall and cut the flue out later.
Off to the de Young museum to see the teapot collection!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Let The Minigama Begin!!!

MyMinigama 002
Originally uploaded by sheilasthings
Yesterday I started to make my minigama. It will be a little wood (or charcoal) fired kiln; big enough for just one sake cup. I think a sake cup must be the size of a wine goblet. I purchased a book that was translated from Japanese to English by a nice Japanese person that I think speaks English as a second language. But I have always had trouble following directions anyway. Thank goodness the pictures that have been drawn explain it - well, most of it.
The book begins by letting me know right away that the dimensions are approximate; whew for that!!! I am wondering if the firebox area is going to be too big - will the fire draw properly......
This clay I am using is amazing, I am not dainty and it just loves me back anyway. I don't remember how to spell it but it is something like Tokie Raku Sculpture Clay from Leslie Ceramics in Berkeley. Tiffany Schmerier said it would be the best clay for what I am attempting. Er, not attempting - what I am making (who was that power of positive thinking guy?).

Saturday, December 22, 2007

The moon over the ocean 5 a.m. 12/22/2007

So, this morning my husband was kind enough to awaken me to see the moon with him. Pretty big, huh? I took about 20 photos this little camera can't possibly do it justice.
Today is colder than it has been for some time now and bad weather is coming our way I think. Makes it more like Christmas anyway. One year it was so warm on Christmas day you coulda run nekked on the beach; not 2007.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Finger Pointing

Time to remember that people that run around pointing their fingers at others are really just avoiding looking at their own shortcomings. Who has time for self examination when we are so busy saying how wrong, bad or mistaken other groups or individuals or governments are....

Time to remember this for myself as well.

The Bob Dylan PBS program I recently watched has me all Bob Dylan feeling again, like I am back in 1965....please, no. But it did have its moments even if it was a confusing time.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

How My mp3 Player Changed My Life

I am the happy owner of a new mp3 player. What a revelation. No one told me how much better they are than the little radio things I have been using. WOW. I am in my own world, no one exists except me. Me, me, me..... I know now what the big deal is. Mine is a Sansa and it works great, I could even figure it out after playing with it for a while. Off to Napster now for my free trial and to get some music. Woo-hooo this baby boomer says!

In the meantime, here is one of my fish,he has swum off to a new home, I will miss him! He has been a large presence in my life. I think maybe he has special connections with all things - see how the scales form the eternity symbol?

Friday, December 7, 2007

Looks Like a Mavericks Day

Along the coast the waves are huge today, I wonder if it is Mavericks time yet.... Last year I forgot all about it but I was on Hiway 1 and the crowds were incredible! Lined up all along the highway and it's a good walk into the Mavericks spot. I went there a few year back but not on Mavericks surf competition day, there is a NASA tracking station right there and they don't want you messing with their territory. It isn't really a problem since the path is well traveled to Mavericks. So last year I thought that this year I would make the trek to watch the big waves. I mean people come from all over the world; word goes out that its going to happen and these crazy surfers hop on planes and make their way here. If it was today, well, I missed it again!

I am not a surfer but I live in a community that gets up in the morning checking the waves and maybe making a few runs before they head to work. Wet suits hang on porches and surf boards stick out of windows - heading to the beach.

I found some superb photos of past Mavericks contests here:

I think this clip on watch looks really like a party in itself.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Telemarketers Nightmare

I wonder how that telemarketer I just talked to will tell the story. He asked, "Is Mr. So and So home" - my husband, I said, "No, he isn't here". So then he says, "Is this Mrs. So and So?" and I said, "No, I'm not home either". We hung up. I have been cracking myself up over that one.

Hey, I am sure having fun playing around with making these ceramic rattles! I fired it in a primitive sawdust firing after decorating it and bisque firing...Looks kind of mysterious and old I think. I had a hard time decorating it since I didn't have the perfect beads. I don't even know what the perfect beads are, but I will know once I see them.

Christmas is sneaking up on me.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Falling for Peace Cranes

Another artist that I have been looking at; Nancy McNally: localcolorist. Her peace cranes are eye candy, I think I will be purchasing some for stocking- stuffers and for myself too. Imakefish says, "Check it out".

We are having a potters sale at my community college, I have been making so many different things - I'll put some of them into the the clip-on watches, even though they are mine, I really think they are cool...I don't wear a watch since they bother my wrists. I put these on my purse or belt loop.
Next years goals are to build a small wood burning kiln and to hone skills on the wheel and design skills at the same time by pursuing the art of making teapots. I have found that if I put something into my blog I feel accountable. I am not putting into my blog that I will lose 10 pounds - even though I would like that!!!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

A List of Things to NOT Do....

I looked at a list of things I was going to do from a few weeks ago. And now I am wondering if I should make a list of things to NOT do. Some of the things on my list I have decided against.

1. Do not make soap dishes, buy wooden ones instead (should the buy part go on a new to do list?)

2. Do not go to any mall-type store unless forced at gunpoint until after January 5th, 2008.

3. Do not turn on Christmas lights until after December 1st, 2007.

4. Do not start new hobbies until you are done with the other 1,000+ projects you have started.

Gee, not to do are harder than to-do I guess...

This handsome man is Nels Uranus Hanson (Hallstenson), he is my Grand Uncle. Born 17 May, 1864, married 1888 in Sheyenne, Eddy County, North Dakota, died 1902 in Two Harbors, Minnesota. He married a woman named Martha Hanson and after he died she remarried a man by the name of Warner. Mr. Richard Warner sent me some information about Nels a few years ago and I will post the history soon.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Time for Tinfoil Hats

Another little bird trivet...sitting in an orange tree!!

Thanksgiving week is official over at my house....not that I was here much.
My grandson wants to be an astronaut and he talks about quantum theories and things like that to me. He is 10. So of course I told him about my ride into outer space dream and asked him what he thought. The gist of it is that he thought that maybe aliens had invaded my mind and they were transporting me to some other place. He had seen something like this in an episode of Sponge Bob Squarepants (a cartoon character for anyone unfamiliar with him)....just in case I forget he is 10 year old!

Just as I suspected; those aliens again. Off to make my tinfoil hat, it must need a few more layers since these are very powerful aliens.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Odd Dreams and Vertigo

I went into space lastnight, I was in a space capsule of some kind and whoooosh, lift-off! It wasn't what I thought it would be like until gravity lost its pull, I liked that feeling. Then I woke up and I had vertigo. That is all I wanted to say today. That and now I am sort of stumbling around like a drunk; nothing to be done for it.
I made this little pitcher recently; it's so simple.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

This Girl in Oakland

At the end of my walk, this view is my reward.

I started reading a blog by this potter in Oakland and I thought that I was in some kind of time warp or a reality blip....I don't remember writing this in my blog, these are my thoughts and who is this young girl at the wheel? Being well over 50 I can call her a girl I think....or am I being too politcially incorrect? Anyway, her work is so nice and her thoughts are so open and honest and like mine that I made a connection with this blogger. I RSS'd her shop so I can keep up with her pottery obsession. Her name is Whitney and I hope you can go visit her blog and buy some of her beautiful pottery. Be patient though because she has to go find styrofoam peanuts......don't I know THAT feeling!

So, lastnight it rained a lot. I keep telling my husband about the new gutters being filled with roofing rocks. Gotta find someone to clean the gutters - winter is coming and it will rain again.

I spent an hour or two looking at teapot books filled with odd, exciting, beautiful, gross, dainty, sturdy, wonderful teapots. It filled my head with ideas but in the end the ones I love the most are the straightforward sturdy workhorse teapot. In the coming year, 2008 I will make a goal to make x number of teapots; I haven't decided how many yet. I do know that the more I make the better they will become so maybe I will set some extreme number (for me) like - 50 teapots, I haven't decided. My back and hands will scream at me but I would rather wear them out making pots than washing dishes....

Saturday, November 10, 2007

A Book I Really Want to Read

This is one of my favorite beads, it is called a djore bead, I don't know what that means. Must be Buddhist. The handworked silver is attached to the bead, it is also an old bead. The material is called copal, a resinous substance from someplace near Tibet.

Ok, usually I am pretty happy to get a book like this at the library but I am a self-confessing to-do list junkie. I like to make lists and gleefully cross off the items as I accomplish them. Sometimes I will do something that is not on my list; like buy gas for the car or get the oil changed, something, anything and, if it isn't on my list I will add it and then cross it off. My sister taught me that one. My daughter likes to make lists too I think. I know that my grandson, now 10 years old likes to make them. He said to me one day, "Grandma, remind me to get my homework signed by my mom when we get home". The list junkie in me jumped in and told him, "You should write that down so that you remember". His face lit up as he got out the paper and golf stub pencil. On his paper he wrote: Note to Self.

The odd thing is this; why am I interested in someone elses list? Probably because I am eternally nosy (I like to call it curious in polite company)...

Monday, November 5, 2007

Time to Make Pots for Orchids!

A friend brought me orchids and I am crazy for them. I don't know how to care for them although the last one I had lasted for many years and I neglected it and it bloomed and I abused it some more and it just kept on rewarding me for my bad behavior. I think I have a good location with the right light which probably saved me. I will try to do better this time. They are so beautiful, and 2 of them have vanilla scents - ooooooh, aaaaaah!

I will of course have to make them their own special clay pots.

Also, I need to remember to make soap dishes. I bought all these yummy smelling handmade soaps and I would like to put them into nice handmade soap dishes too.

Things to do:

Make teapots

Make orchid pots

Make soap dishes

I am taking orders from family and friends for teapots. it will take a while to make each one of course so this could be a bigger project than I am ready for. Luckily I didn't get a huge response right away, I may get sick of making teapots before the orders are filled, ya know what I mean?

Friday, November 2, 2007

Here I Go Again - Teapot 2

Attempt two. I have thrown 2 lids; even though they are both capable of fitting this pot I think that the larger one is the right one for this vessel. The spout is kind of "iffy" I think. Tiffany suggested that I make one side of the spout smoother for pouring. Well, not smoother, I can't explain. After this has dried a little more I can trim the bottom of the body and attach the spout and the handle and set the lid into place to dry. When I set the lid into place the pot and the lid dry together and make for a better fit. I guess that the spouts have excellent memories and like to "unwind" from their throwing so we'll see. Once into the fire any number of surprising things can happen!
There are such a number of elements that go into a teapot that it makes for an excellent test; not only of throwing ability but design and lastly; creativity. I have teapots in my head now that are not entirely functional but that are just plain fun!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Teapot Carving

Happy Halloween. Instead of carving a pumpkin I am carving on my teapot. You see it was a bit heavier than I wanted. When I threw it I quit when I got to the point that the lid opening fit the lid that I threw. My clay is much more forgiving than I give it credit for and I could have pushed it some more. But I didn't. I quit when I got worried...

So I have a rather heavy pot. I am carving in it hoping that it will lighten up a bit. It will dry and get somewhat lighter also. I am trying to not be too hard on myself since after all, this is my first teapot...

I am very happy with the way the handle went on, I pulled it this morning and placed it in front of the heater vent so I could apply it to the teapot before I had to leave the house. YAY!

Caution, Teapot in Progress

Yesterday I started my teapot journey. I am so happy with my first attempt. I threw it kind of like the man, Tim, in the Utube video. First the lid (which is backward from the way I usually make lids)...then the spout and then the body. I must apply the handle today. I couldn't leave it alone this morning; as I removed the plastic from it I bumped the handle on the lid and made a boo-boo. I get angry at my own impatience! Now it will be ugly and all of that. Well, that's not so, it is a perfectly fine teapot so far....

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Samantha Phillips Gould

One of my interests is genealogy. I have traced my family back to pre-Revolutionary days following my mothers line. A cousin of my mothers in Montana had done quite a lot of research and had given it to my mother. Well, mom was a sharing person and she gave some to her sisters and didn't keep it all intact. I got a few pages and pieced a lot together and did a ton of research on my own. The intenet has so much misinformation that I couldn't trust it and did a lot of work at Sutro Library and spent a lot of money sending for copies of original documents.
This gravemarker is my 3rd great grandmother, wife of Nathan Gould whose father fought in the Revolutionary War as a private while in Massachusetts. My sister was interested in joining Colonial Dames and I supplied the proof for her. Some member mailed the documents that I supplied and she is a member now. I am hoping she will send me the copies of the paperwork that she submitted. I have asked her to do this, she is pretty busy though. I'll remind her in a week or so....
What I need right now is solid proof that Elijah Phillips (b. 14 Feb. 1759) in Ashfiled, Franklin Co., Mass., and Cynthia Goodwin (b.1766) in W. Hartford, CT had a daughter named Samantha - the same one mentioned here! Well, I would also like to have documentation on Cynthia Goodwins father, Uriah; he comes from a long line of Goodwins in Hartford starting with Ozeas...Ozeas was born in England and died and is buried in CT. He died 3 April 1683.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Carpenter in Need

Well, this is a departure for me. I read about KIVA, this organization that lends to extremely small businesses. Well, KIVA oversees the loans, indivuduals lend in $25.00 increments.

I want to lend to all of them of course, but what really got me was the man that wants to be a carpenter and needs money for tools and wood; just the essentials. He wants to make things. YAY - here is a person I connect with big time. So, anyway, I just wanted to plug something on my blog, not for myself but for some one else for a change. His name is Sisson and he lives in Togo. He needs $600.00, I hope he gets his carpentry business going and that he makes lots and lots of whatever he likes to make.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Teapot Throwing

Since one of my goals is to make a teapot before December I thought I would look up how other people do it! Well, this guys throws pretty fast so I am saving it on my blog to review. I can throw all of the pieces that go into the teapot, so theoretically I can make a teapot...
After watching this I wonder why I made this goal to make a teapot.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

All By Myself

One thing I like about my blog is that I can just ramble on and get my thoughts down. No one interrupts me and says I am wrong or that I shouldn't say that or that what I wrote wasn't very nice or anything at all. No one even says I am brilliant. That is one thing I like.

Here is another tile. I won't post all of them. But it's interesting to see them on my computer screen as if they are part of the story.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Plaster Mold

Well, tonight I poured a mold of a tile I made. It will be a couple of days before it is all set up enough to remove it from the plaster and inspect the mold. My tile is the 3 dragonfly design that I have hand painted using underglazes like the one in the picture. Have I shown this tile on my blog before? Probably, oh well, here it is again....
I like doing the 3 intertwined image designs, I don't know why. I look for them; so far all I have found is the dragonfly and I have a fish one I like too. My box of 50 bisque tiles is gone now so I can quit making them for a while.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Get Rich Quick

I got a pyramid letter in the mail and it tells me it is legal. I send $1.00 to the 6 people listed on the page and in turn mail 200 copies, etc., etc. This man, Dick Hollman says he has never failed to make $800,000.00 each mailing. Wow! I am thinking about sending the nice lady that mailed me this pyramid letter a sympathy card because I am not going to send her or anyone else on the list $1.00. I thought this went out of style in the 1950's. Guess not.

I am making tiles like crazy. I gotta let up or I'll start to hate them. A woman that takes ceramics classes with me said she is sick of her project. It is nearly finished and it will be beautiful but I know how she feels. I hope to sell these tiles for $25.00 - placed into a nice trivet even!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

How About Some Nice Green Onions?

Well, what is this? Green onions. I was in the mood to watercolor and I went to the market in Weirton, WV and I was looking for some nice colorful vegetables or fruit to paint. Honestly, how I ended up with green onions I don't know. Maybe I ate the strawberries on the way home...
I like to play with watercolors and I insist upon good heavy paper. I paint my picture and then I destroy it when I am done. I do have just a few; these onions are one of them.
My friend has started taking oil painting classes and she painted an outstanding pear. I haven't tried oils before but just looking at her pear and thinking about art on paper or canvas has me thinking it is time to break out the watercolors again. I bet they are all dried up and I would need new ones. Maybe it's best to stick with the clay.
I do wish my friend would start a blog and put her creations on the blog so we could just hop on over and see what the other one is doing!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Sam's Castle

This blue pitcher was thrown on my potters wheel and fired to stoneware temperature, it hold over 7 cups of liquid.

Everyone calls it The Castle or Sam's Castle. It is near me on the hill, actually, my place sits below the walls. Yes, there are great big walls all around it and no one can get in easily. There are numerous tales about it and some of them just have to be true I figure.

If I climb around out in back and dig in the dirt for a while I will uncover old broken bottles and plates and eeek - bones too. I like to think they are just animal bones....but, mowahaaaa, who knows for sure? (My tribute to Halloween).

Sam, who was the last owner of the castle is dead now. He didn't live in the castle full time, he lived in San Francisco. He worked in the old theaters; painting and refurbishing. Theaters and movies sets too I think. So he liked to collect the odd things being thrown out. Like a suit of armor; like that. He bought the castle and furnished it with his odds and ends. The outside is much more impressive than the inside; it really isn't all that wonderful inside.

Anyway I met Sam and his wife Mary at a dinner party; there were about 10 of us there and Sam was asked something about his castle and this is the story that came out.

Sam was single and he bought this castle and it had almost nowhere to park. Nearby was a small plot of land that he wanted to purchase so he could have a parking lot. He contacted the woman that owned this parcel asking to buy it but she refused to sell, she said she wouldn't sell to him because he was in the Mob. Well, he and his girlfriend were pretty serious and marriage was in the works. Before they married, his girlfriend, Mary approached the woman to buy the parcel of land near the castle and the owner happily sold it to her. Mary and Sam got married and had their place to park. They all lived happily ever after. The End.

The hostess at the dinner party said, "Sam, is this true? That you were in the Mob?" Sam just smiled at her and said, "Well, what do "you" think?"

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Saying Goodbye

It's sometimes difficult to know when to stop something. Especially if you keep thinking it is a good thing that you need. Then a good/bad thing happens and your decision is practically made on its own. I was part of a group and suddenly people behind the scenes starting coming up with really terrific new rules. I do mean they were good and they needed to be put into place. All of a sudden -bam- in your face, no explanations, no discussion, just a few people pulling strings and making executive decisions for everyone. Sad to go but when I look at it, it wasn't getting me anywhere really anyway. Oh, sure there were a few laughs but it was a waste of time and energy on the whole. They are a nice group of people and I wish them well. I feel kind of free today.
This is some Afghan Jade I purchased about a year ago. I've used quite a bit of it already. It wasn't costly and I just love the way it looks and feels. Just for fun I put this string on my neck and was told I looked like Betty Flintstone!! I have combined the stones with red coral and it looks great.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Thinking About Pottery

I like to make these small, narrow butter dishes, the same as I like to make fish. This particular one has a crackled glaze which means you shouldn't use it for wet food - only dry food. Wet food can get into the cracks and bacteria can form even when you think they are clean. So don't eat wet stuff from pottery with cracks in the glaze.

Yesterday the thought popped into my head that I haven't made any baskets for a while. Ceramic baskets that is. I throw almost any shape pot and add a big handle across the top. Some are short and fat and others look very strong and vertical. Others are just happy ones. I think I will make some baskets.

The gas kiln is nearly full, it will be fired next Thursday probably. Then it will be a few days before it can be opened. Those are impatient days.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

The Tile I Made During Magical Times

This is my fish tile. I made it last week and got it out of the kiln a couple of days ago. I talked to my hair lady today, she colors me and cuts and encourages me to make things. What we talked about was going legal - you know like getting a business license and a tax id number and being a responsible adult conducting business in a professional manner.
I felt like throwing myself on the ground and kicking and screaming; I admit it, I don't want to grow up and do it right. It is not paying what is due the government that irks me, it is keeping track of things spent and did I really make any money, because the answer is probably NO. I just want to make things and I'd think I'd rather give them away than keep track of expenses. Sure, I'll gladly pay taxes on what piddling amount I make just don't make me grow up....

Monday, October 1, 2007

Nine One One

Sometimes I dream of calling 911. I have never called 911 yet I am quite sure that if I should need to that my phone line will be dead or I cannot even find the phone and if the phone is found and the line is working that no one will answer; EVER or I will be put on hold and no one will come on the line...EVER.

I am probably thinking about these dreams because there was something in the Sunday paper - the Parade thing which I rarely even look had an article about when you should call 911 or when you should NOT call 911. Of course, I had to take a look. Funny none of the situations mentioned men with knives awakening you and horrible things happening. I did learn that if someone is poisoned you should call only if there is difficult breathing or a person is just seems like a good time to call anyway but apparently it's not...
Today I am putting some of my fish on display at Fog City Java. Fish and this other thing I made that I don't know what to call. You see, I have several books in the Griffin and Sabine series of books. I saw one at the library sale so I bought it just because I like them so much and on the way home I started to think about liberating the story from its binding. Setting it free if you like! I ran with it....I made 4 panels of the story. I know it is weird.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Raku Fish on Driftwood

Raku Fish on Driftwood
Originally uploaded by sheilasthings
I painted a tile while she did her homework and the house was quiet. The kind of quiet with a quality of quietness I have only experienced in childhood when time slowed down. We sat across the table from one another each absorbed in our own world and it was good. I felt magic in the air, a quiet magic that I didn't understand but it just happened; that quiet magic.
Later I heard how the magic had affected her and how her internal screaming had stopped for a while.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Making Pitchers More Fun

So, I want to make my work looser and "more fun"; ... more fun, more fun, need more fun. In my attempt to throw off-kilter work I realized that it doesn't feel so good;... must feel good, must feel good. Instead I have put little feet on things so they sit a bit lopsided, hmmm, now they look like some type of ritual vessels. The feet are too tall usually, too tall or just too big in general. I kind of like them but I missed the mark that I was aiming for. As I made my latest pitcher (since the previous one worked out so nicely, haha, lol and all that), it occured to me: "I WILL PUT A FISH HANDLE ON IT!" This is my first try at this type of fun and it worked, the handle doesn't look like one could handle it easily but, one would be wrong. It works just great. If only my photography could do it justice.

Henry David Thoreau quote: "Men have become tools of their tools."

Wow, how long has this been going on?

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

My Friend Who Makes Her Own Shoes

At lunch the other day I was visiting with Mary Loomis and she is so talented in so many ways that I almost forgot that she makes her own shoes! The last time we talked we were discussing an upcoming Gem and Jewelry show at the San Mateo County fairgrounds. The time before that we talked about her skills with gold filled wire and what she makes and how she does it and all of that. So when she mentioned her updated website and the sales of her book I was stunned, well, not "stunned" but I felt like, Oh, yeah....

I bought her book a few years ago and it is on my list of things to do: Make shoes! I think that one may stay on the list a while but isn't it amazing the things that we make??

Meanwhile, back at the beach another tile has found its way onto my blog. This is made using a technique called cuerda seca. I doubt that I will make another one, it was time consuming and messy. The black lines use a petroleum based product that is messy and difficult to control. I do like the tile very much but I'm not sure it was worth the effort...

Friday, September 21, 2007

Steinbeck in My Head

Yesterday a women's club thing that I belong to had a speaker that photographed Steinbeck country which is just a ways down the highway from me but a million years away. So Steinbeck has been stuck in my head. I once decided I would scour the 2nd hand stores and find all of the Steinbeck 1st editions. For a while I even thought I had one but I was too new of a collector and didn't know any better. The presentation yesterday has me wanting to re-read Steinbeck and go hang out in Steinbeck country but Steinbeck country is no longer Steinbeck country so it has to be in his books and in my head.
I am adding little feet to mugs that I make. I used some push-molds I made from old buttons, they almost look too big; I'll try a few more. They were glazed yesterday and carefully placed into the big gas kiln.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

My Oops Pitcher

Pitchers are kind of fun to make and they are so functional. Last summer someone requested a pitcher for Christmas this year. I guess they know they have to ask well in advance - and they most certainly do!!! So I make multiple pitchers hoping for a really good one. The pouring spout tore on this one so I added a leaf thinking that would solve the problem plus it would make it dressed up. Half of the problem was solved. Unfortunately it doesn't pour, the water runs around the edges of the leaf, grrr. It's still a nice form even though it doesn't pour perfectly and the glaze ran too much.

I am afraid to look outside this morning, I can hear wind gusting and it feels like rain. My greenhouse is still not fixed.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Why I Like C.S. Lewis

I once said to someone that C.S. Lewis was really great. Now, I do like him but when I uttered these words I was thinking about one of his books where he said that he didn't like signing hymns because he just didn't like them or something very close to that. Well, I don't sing so hot and my throat hurts going thru 8 verses of "whatever" and it makes me snicker when the man behind me bellows off key trying to harmonize.
I just wanted to say that. Plus I like having something in common with C.S. Lewis because he says things like this: "It's so much easier to pray for a bore than to go and see one."

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Asking For Help

Enough of the whining about how I want to do more fun things on my blog, like put in all the toys. That is not actually true; I want it to look uncluttered BUT I have been craving the ability to make little click-on words.

Why is it so hard to ask for help? For me it meant, what if I was told and I still couldn't do it! The person that sells these wonderful retro style cards at Pepperinapress kindly told me how to do it. Why do I feel so smarty-pants? Because I can follow directions? Well, yes, following directions can be a challenge for some of us. Thank you so much for taking the time to help out a fellow blogger! Here is her blog too. She and I are in agreement about our blogs, we like to write about not only our work or hobby but about our lives too. Blog on!
There are signs all over the studio at the local community college where I enroll from time to time. This one I posted here was new, I don't know who put it up but it reminds me of kindergarten. These kind of signs really shouldn't NEED to be tacked up but thinking back I guess they do. One year I made a ton of extremely thin porcelain pieces which I spent a lot of time decorating. Before the pieces are fired they are called greenware and they can be very fragile. Time after time people would pick up my pieces and break them. Very sad for me. It is one of the drawbacks of using a public institution. I have had to incorporate that into my thinking or, or, I don't know how else I would come to peace with broken work.

Odd things I was thinking about this morning.... How difficult it can be doing things on my own, not asking for help; like turning mattresses over, big things like that, and how incredibly simple it is when I work with another person. So suddenly I see it doesn't apply just to the big, heavy mattresses I am coping with but the simple little click-on things in life too.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Little Yellow Bird on a Branch

Little bird on a branch
Originally uploaded by sheilasthings
This little bird looks like it is ready to fly off because it sees me!
There is something about this tile that is not quite right to my eye. There seems to be too much blue and it is; well, just too much do-nothing blue. Other eyes see things I don't. So perhaps someone will come along and see - a lake - the wind - or whatever they see. This one was destined for the holiday boutique sale in Half Moon Bay. After I put it into a nice frame the look of it may change and it will be ok to sell....

Today MAY be the day I start looking for someone to fix the window in the greenhouse. Winter WILL come and then I will be sorry, like the grasshopper that played all summer, eh? Finding help is hard, I'm not even talking about "good help" like I have heard it said. No, just someone that will return a phone call or show up when they say they will or even at all. I have an electrician that is not cheap but oh, so worth it, he comes on time and does a professional job. My plumber is good too; if he runs late, he calls me! If he can't come, he says so. My father could fix anything, I am like that; I like to work with my hands too. Oh, sure, I can fix it but sometimes it LOOKS like I fixed it myself. So, I will let the professionals earn their living too!!

My grandchildren saw the sewing machine sitting on the kitchen table and ran over to it and wanted to sew. I found some scraps of fabric and gave them a sewing lesson. My grandson made a pouch, I gave him some handmade ceramic beads to put on the ends of the pull-string and he had a "magicians pouch". He told grandpa, "I know I'm not supposed to like doing that but I do." My husband told me this sometime later. Note to self: Tell him he comes by it honestly, he likes to make things with his hands and it's ok.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Playing with fire

Playing with fire
Originally uploaded by sheilasthings
Sawdust firing was successful, well, sort of. I learned from it and I think that counts. I buried the little pot in the sawdust and started the fire. Had I left a portion of the pot uncovered I might have had a more interesting result. As is it, I got a very black pot that I like very much. None of the neighbors complained or called the fire department or the police either!

Friday, September 7, 2007

Friday, September 7th, 2007

I have been in a space I don't want to be in...and I want to get back to a space I was in once before for a very long time. I don't know if it is possible. Ok, here is what I was doing when I was in that space. Lots of long walks in the sand all the way to the end of my own particular stretch of beach. I didn't want to do it today but I did it anyway.

What a good morning it was! This time I brought my camera and took waaaay too many pictures. Pictures of (I think) a sea lion, lots of dead things, the birds, fishermen, the ocean breaking thru the rocks. One problem is that I end up finding things and stuffing my pockets; pretty rocks, interesting wood, beach glass, and today I found a mean looking fishing lure! Sometimes there are tennis balls and golf balls, and of course there is always trash, cigarette lighters, plastic, beer cans, odd bits and pieces of who-knows-what. I got inventive out of neccessity today, I put the cute little rocks into a plastic bag I found and tied it up with some great new rope that washed in and tied that onto a cool piece of driftwood; I felt like a hobo!

I treated myself to a cup of coffee after my walk and took some rotten boards to the recycle yard and dropped a package at the post office - things like that.

Yesterday I visited a young woman in the hospital. She called me before I left home in August, she was in distress. We talked a while in August and I told her she should call me when I returned in September. I was sad to hear her say she was being kept in the hospital and didn't know when they'd let her go home! What can I do? What can I say? I think I have said it all, guess I'll just listen since I'm not much of an orator.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

More Secrets

Oh good, more secrets to not tell. I am so blessed with secrets! This one is also safe since I am at the beach and they are in Tennessee. I'll let you know when it's safe to let this one out of the bag. The other secret may never be safe to let will eventually be known and I will not say, "Oh, I knew that from the start", or "Yes, so and so told me because I didn't (don't) have any friends to repeat it to". Well, never mind that.

So, I tried to photograph this tile, my Buddy (um, hahaha) gave me a light box, no a light something or other to photograph things in, but it still has the reflection. I must be doing something wrong.

Today, I glazed 2 covered containers, 1 small pitcher and 1 funky baking dish casserole. I used the compressor and sprayed them with cone 10 glazes. It will be months before the huge gas kiln gets filled up, so I won't get to see them for a while. The covered containers are going to be a coppery green, and so is the pitcher. The funky baking dish will be a golden Amber - I also over-sprayed the green with a dusting of the amber. What will it look like I wonder?