Saturday, June 30, 2007

Broken Big Bad Boy

I promise myself that the next post will be a happy one! This is my big bad broken boy. Somebody suggested 2 part epoxy to repair, which I did but I am not very happy with my glueing. Nevertheless, I dug out several other broken raku pieces that I just couldn't part with and glued them together also.
Raku is the perfect vehicle for non-attachment exercises. I worked for many hours on this piece, babied it along as it dried, checked on it, smoothing out or roughing up key areas. The bisque firing, the glazing, all of it. Funny it should be just a plain old white plastic bucket falling from a distance that would break it after all it has been through! Once it came through the raku firing I heaved a sigh of relief. So; the big traumatic things I get through and it's the little things that catch me off guard that do me in!

Thursday, June 28, 2007


Originally uploaded by Brian Searle
This is where I want my work to head as I return to throwing; functional, loose, drop dead beautiful! If I live long enough!

A Sad Fish Tale

My 24 + " fish went into the kiln head first and survived the bisque firing!

I unloaded it a couple of days ago and glazed it with raku glazes.

Yesterday was raku day.

Loaded the kiln, loaded the metal garbage cans with combustible material, fired it up and we were cookin'.

It took nearly an hour to reach temperature since the it was in the first firing of the day...

Into the garbage can it went and stayed there for about 1/2 hour until it was time to remove it for the next batch of ware to be placed into the reduction atmosphere.

Cleaned it up with a scouring brush and carefully placed it on a table. Turned my back to wash my hands, as I returned into the room a big bucket jumped off the shelf and smashed into it and broke it into 4 pieces. WAH, WAH, WAH!!!

So, off to the hardware store for some 2 part epoxy to glue it together, it won't show I guess. So, you break it, you buy it applies most of all to me in this case. It will go on nicely on my deck.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Just Another Day at the Beach.

Well, this is a fine kettle of fish. I unloaded a kiln with several fish today, this one is my favorite. It is so glossy and rich colored! I hung it on a leather cord with one of my handmade beads. It swims up the wall because of the placement of the holes for hanging. I like it thay way.
My war/death mask is drying, not quite ready to bisque fire yet.
Class situation is wonderful, very few students so there is plenty of room to spread out and get things accomplished! Tomorrow I will throw some coffee mugs because everyone in the family likes new coffee mugs!

Friday, June 22, 2007

Back to Bold for a While.

Off to war I go. My death mask is under construction.

Way back in 1984 I was bold enough to construct a special box filled with clay and lie my Vaselined and shower- capped head into it and let fellow students and an instructor that was younger than me pour plaster over my head, leaving an opening around my nostrils to breathe. It was scary in there as the plaster heated up and started to set. I remember that someone held my hand. I was under the plaster for what seemed like hours but I think it was about 30 minutes. I used the mold for a project in a design class but mainly it sits in a corner in my work area which is outside of my house, it was covered with miscellaneous clay trappings; plastic sheeting, nets, canvas, etc. So after some correspondence yesterday I became inspired and dug it out. A black widow had made it's home there, um, I didn't just return it to the wild. Sorry but it was in my personal space...

I couldn't help but relive some of 1984, it is better to be in 2007 than 1984. When I complete my writing here I will be working some more on my mask, the nose isn't right and I am deciding if I should just let it go, after all, does that matter?

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Still in School, Still Learning...

See the little indentation near the rim of this little soap dish? I made this in the 2nd grade and I can still remember how I couldn't make it right. I overworked this trying to make it right and finally had to quit. (Hmmm, now the Barbie Manifesto is starting to make sense)... My mother used this soap dish in her bathroom until she died. It is now mine. For all the things my mother threw away it seems funny that this is one thing she would keep. Who knew that so many years down the road I would touch clay nearly every day? Thanks mom. All is forgiven about my missing pogo stick.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Firing the Fish and The Maui Fish

I saw this fish in a gallery in Maui, it is made of quarters and what appears to be paper currency. I was so fascinated with it I asked to take a picture of it, so here it is. Personally I don't understand any symbolism by the use of money except perhaps the cost of ahi at some of the local restaurants.

If you give a man a fish he will eat for a day, if you teach a man to fish he'll feed himself for a lifetime. True or not there is an element of truth...

Continue the fish story: If the fish you made is now dry and you have signed it and there are no sharp edges it can be fired. I fire to cone 04. This is called the bisque firing. After the kiln has cooled the fish can now be glazed. Check the glaze you purchased or made - to see what cone it is designed to be fired at - pay attention to the zeroes..if there is a zero in front of the number it means something, there is a huge difference between 04 and 4. Get a book on ceramics and study about this if so inclined but be aware of a difference! Glaze your fish as desired, I nearly always use at least 3 coats of glaze because I do not like a glaze-starved look on a fish, makes it look sickly I think. Fire to the cone stated on the jar of glaze. After experimenting with the process a few times you can get bold and try over firing a bit for different results.

I am looking forward to raku firing in a few weeks, always dramatic and risky. One year all of my raku pieces broke in the raku firings because I bisque fired to a higher temperature to make the pieces stronger (I thought) but they just crumbled when removed from the kiln because a raku firing requires an open bodied clay - not one fired to maturity. I need to remember this sorry and sad disaster.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Texturing and Drying the Fish. Plus an Art Tile

OK, this is obviously not a fish. This is a small tile I have re-glazed and re-fired multiple times. I like the rich colors, kind of like a crude art tile....

Now, the fish needs some scales so you can roll up little balls of clay - a lot of them - and apply them one at a time for a lot of textured scales. Another option is to incise lines into the clay, one could also use any number of materials (netting, etc.) for an interesting body texture. Be sure to put gills and a mouth on the fish too. Then drape it over some wadded up paper towels to make the fish look lively. I use straws to punch out 2 holes near the dorsal fin; later I use leather or wire to string through the holes to hang the fish. If you are not going to hang the fish up you don't need to do that of course. Once the fish is draped leave it alone until it becomes leather hard, that is when you can carefully handle it but it is not yet dry. This is a good time to gently remove any rough or sharp edges. They may not be sharp now but when fired, those rough spots can become lethal! This is also a good time to sign your fish. Gently put the fish back on the shelf and leave it alone until it is completely dry.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Let's Make a Fish

This is a photo of part of the process I go through in making the fish. This one was rolled out of a slab of clay and cut out freehand - aiming for a salmon....right now it is about 18" long.

I don't have a studio but I do have a workplace out in back. Of course it leaks when it rains and recently it has lost a vital element. Plastic is going to be my best friend for a while I think. Anyway, I feel fortunate that I have a place that I can mess up and walk away from without guilt.
Next week I begin taking a 6 week class at the local community college; there is a core group of advanced students that show up for classes from time to time. This is a low fire and raku class; I have a list of things to make, I may even throw again (on the wheel).....would be great to make a few nice raku platters with dragonflies.

Monday, June 11, 2007

My Barbie Manifesto Ends

After doing all that I could, I enjoyed a respite from crusading and then I went to the mailbox to find the above letter.
To say I was happy would be an understatement. Some people thought it was a feeble effort on the part of Mattel and that I should not be content. But I was. To questions like, "Well, you're not going to let them get off so easy are you?", my answer (after a seconds pause) was, "Yes, I have accomplished my goal".
I am finished with the Barbie Manifesto even if it is a much more condensed version than I had in mind when I started. Thank you to my friend; I am now finished with my Barbie Manifesto.
Now I can go make things.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Barbie Manifesto Nears Completion

Above are the messages I found inside the packages.

How could they just ignore my concerns? Were they evil? One day I decided to go straight to the top of the company. On February 9, 2004 I mailed my letter of complaint stating on one page my complaint and that someone must be held accountable (I don't know where I put that letter or I would bore you with that too). It was mailed certified and registered and everything else I could do with it to assure myself that it was received. I addressed it to: Mr. R. Eckert, C.E.O., Mattel, etc., etc. I enclosed the blown up images with the messages also ~ for their convenience of course.

There! I could honestly say that I had done all that I could.

It felt pretty good to be finished, I was weary. I have skipped a lot of the little daily things I did; so repetitive and boring....One person told me that going to war like this was like firing a cannon across a wall and hoping that it hit but I might never see the result. Ha - what was he thinking? I wasn't about to quit after shooting cannons.

I learned some valuable lessons in my Crusade to make it right, the kind we all have to learn by ourselves. And it doesn't have to do with fighting Corporate American greed. It has more to do with righteous indignation and how to give it up.

In March I heard back.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Orchids in Hawaii and Raku Fish Resolutions

Isn't it beautiful? When I create I aim for beauty. Who can outdo this?

Makes me wonder what the heck am I doing?

So, I am supposed to be finishing up this Barbie Manifesto that plagued me for so many months. Another day.

Today I resolve to work on my tiles and to make some fish. People ask me if I am finished with the fish making. The way they ask makes me wonder, do they want me to stop? Sometimes they ask me why I make them. Because I like to make them. Are they symbolic? Well, sure they are, but I just make them because I like to do it. I once put together a small display of fish and loaves and it was suggested to me that I should put it on my blog. If you don't know the story about fishes and loaves, it is in the Bible and it is an amazing story on more than one level. So I will make some 3D fish, new ones - I will make them this summer. I resolve to make 3D raku fired fish and post it here by August 2, 2007.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Will The Barbie Manifesto End?

Tile from the kiln unloaded on June 6th, 2007.

Good friends are hard to find. My mother told me when I was a girl that she could count her good friends on one hand. I am not sure that she said good friends or just friends. If a friend isn't a good one then I suppose they are just a close acquaintance.

The point is that a friend asked me when I was going to be done with the Barbie Manifesto and I think I frowned, I asked her what did she mean, "Done with it"? You know, "DONE WITH IT" is what she meant. "Oh, well, in a week or so I thought." I think she said, "I see, then you are DONE WITH it?" Only she didn't yell. So, of course I have been thinking about being done. The energy I used up on my crusade was not a total waste of energy although I did put quite a bit of angst into it, and re-telling the story could also do that so I resolve to be done with it and be done with it for good. Well, I am going to try.

The woman I talked about earlier; Jean Kilbourne was interested and she asked me to fax to her the images of the weight loss books I found in the Barbie package. She was appalled and advised me that I could possibly enlist support from some of the groups that advise on eating disorders. Well, I sure did that and they too were appalled and said I should contact so and so or this other person. So what happened over and over again was that the people that were appalled were appalled but I didn't find anyone willing to say that they were going to join my crusade. I told everyone I could think of about this message in the Movie Star Barbie doll packages, I made copies of the little books, I enlarged them so that others with eyes like mine could also see the subliminal words. When I didn't show my proof people started to treat me like I was just imagining things; maybe they even avoided me, it was getting there.

Shall I take a photo of the enlarged image and show it on this blog of mine? You see, I also went through a stage of paranoia during this and I really don't want that back. It was a horrid and terrifying thing to experience.

I have been told that Einstein said that 'Insanity is the act of doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results'. So if he is right and I think he is...why do that?

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Maybe Men Didn't Get It!

This morning I unloaded my kiln, this is one of my handpainted tiles.

I now return to My Barbie Manifesto.

I have been given hope by NBC in San Jose; they called me and we set up an appointment for someone to come to interview me. A man with a camera came to the house to ask me some questions about the whole situation. He took pictures of the Movie Star Barbie books and under his camera the messages really popped out, he let me look through the lens but not touch the camera. One thing he asked me was something like...."And what is so wrong with this?" Well, I felt like a deer in the headlights - just stunned; didn't everyone see it my way? Later I thought that maybe men didn't understand what was going on here and that is why he would ask such a silly question. Maybe men didn't get it. Ultimately they did nothing with the story, the last I heard they were out looking for a Movie Star Barbie of their own. I emailed them asking them once more if they were going to do anything with the information but I never heard back....

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Poetry Kind of Day

Pernilla Vick Hanson, b.7 Oct, 1877, Norway, m. 1894, Minnewauken, ND,
d.29 May, 1956, Bismarck, ND. My grandmother.

I am not really a poetry person, maybe I am not smart enough to appreciate a well turned verse or see the underlying message. Like the person that says they don't know much about art but they know what they like... a poem written by Anne Sexton:


I have gone out, a possessed witch,
haunting the black air, braver at night;
dreaming evil, I have done my hitch
over the plain houses, light by light:
lonely thing, twelve‑fingered, out of mind.
A woman like that is not a woman, quite.
I have been her kind.

I have found the warm caves in the woods,
filled them with skillets, carvings, shelves,
closets, silks, innumerable goods;
fixed the suppers for the worms and the elves:
whining, rearranging the disaligned.
A woman like that is misunderstood.
I have been her kind.

I have ridden in your cart, driver,
waving my nude arms at villages going by,
learning the last bright routes, survivor,
where your flames still bite my thigh
and my ribs crack where your wheels wind.
A woman like that is not ashamed to die.
I have been her kind.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Some People Don't Know When to Quit

I am one of them. I wasn't satisfied with just making fish, things had to change, improve, get bigger, get more. So I made this whopper in 3 pieces so that it would fit into the kiln and it just barely did. I fell in love with firing red fish after my first successful firing. Tiffany told me how to glaze and fire to get good reds (they can be tricky).... Even though this one is not what a some (unenlightened) might call a perfect firing; there are some imperfections - it is the perfect fish because this is what nature is like, imperfectly perfect!

I have this one at home; I would like someone to know this by osmosis or magic and tell me, "I need this fish for my sushi restaurant or my fabulous fishing/hunting lodge in Montana or this is perfect for my fish market, may I offer you $200.00 for it?" It stores quite nicely so it is ok if no one ever says that because it is tucked away, and it doesn't smell or eat or, or, or...

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Manifesto Time Out

I saw these Tibetan beads and it was love at first sight, I have decided that I must be a collector since I have so many. The end caps are made using a method of silversmithing called repousse. The end caps are attached to the bead and they are sterling silver. A few are some other composite metal, possibly brass. I like them all. I put them together with Greek leather usually. The top photo is a bracelet where I used the 4mm Greek leather with one of the turqouise beads and the bottom one I combined the bead with AAA turquoise and seamless sterling silver and coral.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

From the Manifesto Archives

I took this picture of this tree-cactus, does anyone know the name of it?
On the road to Caliente Nevada. Been there, done that...

I used the power of cyberspace and contacted Oprah, Dr. Phil, some local PBS stations,NBC in San Jose, the journalism department of a nearby University, some feminist activists and, the list goes on. I do not have it all in a neat and tidy order, the events happened in overlapping and a haphazard way.

Here is what I got from some of them:

Your message
To: fm
Subject: Barbie
Sent: Sun, 11 Jan 2004 09:40:26 -0800
was read on Mon, 12 Jan 2004 10:52:15 -0800

Here is a hopeful reply from NBC in San Jose, CA.:



-----Original Message-----From: Sheila Loggan [mailto:***********
Sent: Friday, January 09, 2004 2:41 PMTo: news@nbc11.comSubject: Barbie Doll
Hi, I am trying to find someone that cares about this: I bought a Barbie doll and inside the package was a little pink book with Barbie image and it says Mattel 2003; ON the book is the subliminal message "Lose 10 lbs in 10 days" and "I lost 20 lbs and you can too". Mattel is not responding to my complaint. I have notified the store where I purchased the Barbie to advise them of the product they are selling. I am a small fish and feel I need help with this. Does anyone out there care???? Sincerely, Sheila ******

NBC11 seemed to be the only ones that cared and they did come through and give me hope, I will go into more detail on that later.

Dear sheila,
Thank you for your e-mail. Your message is important to us, and we will certainly read it. However, due to the volume of e-mail messages we receive every day, we cannot guarantee that you'll receive a personal response. Feel free to check out our Frequently Asked Questions for additional information.
Thanks again for writing to us, and for your interest in the show!
The Dr. Phil Staff

Dear sheila,
Thank you for your e-mail! Your message is important to us. Unfortunately, due to the volume of e-mail messages we receive every day, we cannot guarantee that you'll receive a personal response. Feel free to check out our Frequently Asked Questions for additional help.
Thanks again for writing to us!
The Staff
Dear Sheila, Thanks for your message. Can you describe the subliminal advertising in the dolls to me? Is there any way to prove it? Best wishes, Jean Kilbourne
This other email came through also:
Thanks, Sheila. Please do fax me a copy (***-***-****). Was the ad for a specific product? Best, Jean
If anyone wants to find out more about Jean Kilbourne and the work she does, this is from a Google search:
Jean Kilbourne Killing Us Softly Can't Buy My Love How Advertising Changes the Way We Think and Feel Women and Advertising Alcohol

I was starting to wake up at night and think about the whole Barbie scene and why was I the only one that was willing to fight Corporate America? I did not have a problem with Barbie dolls, I never did, I simply never understood them. My issue was not with the doll, the doll is a piece of plastic. What in the world was Mattel thinking? I wondered if maybe they had a vested interest in weight loss products or what....I wondered about a LOT of things wide awake at 3 a.m.

Friday, June 1, 2007

More Barbie Manifesto

This is another one of my fish! Unfortunately I am not the kind of potter
that documents everything - or anything for that matter so
I don't know how I got this woo-woo metallic green glaze...

Well, I have delivered my message to two stores and wow, do I feel crabby. I sense that this may be harder than I thought. I assumed that people would hear my story and jump on my bandwagon....

Wait, wait, I forgot**************************

During one of my phone calls to Mattel one of the people told me that the "little books" that I was describing were not Barbie products and must have been pushed into the package. How do I deal with that???? I did then say that they had someone sabotaging their Barbie product and it should be corrected.

At some point I call Target and they handed me off to various people not knowing what to do with my complaint. So, I emailed them eventually. Since it is my email I guess I can put it in my blog... this is a response that I got from Target on 22 January 2004:

Dear Sheila,Thank you for your e-mail regarding the packaging for the Barbie yourpurchased at Target. Allow me to apologize for the delayed response. Yourpatience is appreciated. At Target we are always looking for ways to make the Target experiencebetter for every guest. I apologize for the situation you described andappreciate the time you have taken to contact our office. In order to fully research this issue for you and respond to your concerns,I do need some additional information. Please provide the 12-digit UPC number from the Barbie package or if youhave your receipt you can also find a 9-digit item number listed there.Also, if you can provide all of the details of this "subliminal message" sowe can fully understand your concern. I look forward to hearing from you soon and thank you for being a valuedTarget guest.Sincerely,Janine OTarget Guest

and here is my response to JanineO at Target:

Dear Janine O, Thank you for your reply. I gave the Barbie as a gift before Thanksgiving so I cannot supply the box with the UPC or the receipt. I wish I could. The message was in a Movie Star Barbie on a little "book" (2 of them actually). In very small digital type printing one book said "Lose 10 lbs in 10 days" The other "book" also said "I lost 20 lbs and so can you". I bought two Barbies, one in the Bay Area at Serramonte Target and the other at a request of my 4 yr old granddaughter, hers I bought in Las Vegas. I hope this helps you. If you would like to see what I am talking about I can fax the image to you. I have the "books" here at my home. Thanks again. Sincerely, Sheila

I thought that this was a dead end and it was but Janine did respond sometime later with this nice email:

Dear Sheila,
Thank you for your e-mail providing additional information regarding the Barbie you purchased at Target.
We take pride in our products and strive to ensure that all the merchandise sold in our stores meets Target expectations for quality and outstanding value. We appreciate the time you have taken to personally bring this matter to our attention. I apologize that the product you purchased has disappointed you. Your comments and concerns with this item will be made available to our buyers for further review with the manufacturer.
I encourage you to write or call if you have future questions or concerns about the products or services at Target. We do value you as our guest and thank you again for making us aware of this matter.
Janine O
Target Guest Relations

So much for Target, I had done what I could there; time to move on.
Did I mention that this was starting to become a Crusade?