Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Post-Christmas Bliss

Oh it feels so good today -- to finally be back in the everyday routine! I am a creature of habit, to a fault. I fair best in a daily routine of predictability -- it allows my mind to relax and my nerves to still, and I create better work, and more work, in the studio. Chaos and stress simply shut me down and make me miserable. This is why, I freely admit, this time of year has a undertone of unpleasantness for me, even though I try to drown it out with eggnog and Christmas cookies. While there are elements I welcome, of course, I find much of it to be a jarring jolt to my nice Hobbit-like existence.

Now some may think my life is boring, but I disagree -- a life spent creating in a happy studio is anything
but boring! I maintain there are more thrills and euphoria in creative discovery and achievement than anything found with a parachute or ticket! There's also mounting evidence that "happy hormones" are triggered during the creative process, ultimately creating a positive feedback loop -- the more the brain becomes "crystalized" for creativity, the more these hormones are produced and are released. The downside is, however, that the less it creates (for whatever reason), the more...how shall we say?..."perturbed" it becomes. This is perhaps why myself (and many of my arty friends) become more "difficult" (as politely euphemized by hubby and family members) when I'm prohibited from full mental immersion in the studio on a regular and undisturbed basis. In a sense, I'm a creative junkie denied her fix, and the longer I'm forced to go without it, the more "difficult" I become. Aptly at this year's Mayhem, Lesli Kathman presented us with t-shirts that pretty much sum up the attitude of our loved ones when we're too long kept from our creative impulses (above). Bingo.

Likewise, a common trait I've found with all folks with creativity in their blood is a natural need to create -- it's as automatic and essential as breathing. While this often is an odd concept to non-creative types, its inherent wisdom to arty brains, just like the natural instinct to run from things with big claws and teeth. It's automatic. The only retirement for an artist is death.

Anyway, in the want to create happy mutual vibes, here are some of my favorite things lately I'd like to share when you have a spare moment -- happy exploring!

www.zooborns.com (From Joan Berkwitz -- that baby beluga and those baby hippos kill me. And OMGosh -- the turtle and aardvark! The giraffes!)

http://www.cuteoverload.com/ (From Lesli Kathman -- check out the Pocket Pets!)

http://www.mincingmockingbird.com/ (From Melissa Gaulding and Tara Cobbs -- I wish I could turn this guy's sardonic, but endearing, work into wallpaper for my house.)

http://www.opacity.us/ (From Joan, again -- I have a love for old abandoned places -- poignant, serene and still.)

"Go placidly amidst the noise and haste? -- Oh I don't think so!" ~ Crow T. Robot


Saturday, December 27, 2008

Holy Frostbite Batman!

We've hit record snowfall here in Boise...we must have nearly one foot at our house...and it's sticking! It's supposed to snow through 'till Monday, weather cold enough to keep it all next week (brrrrr!), then more snow predicted next weekend. It's crazy time! The roads are treacherous, but it's very beautiful, I must admit. Big, fluffy fat snowflakes falling all day long inspire the want for hot cocoa, a thick fuzzy blanket, a Muppet movie, and a warm rattie snuggled close...well, at least for me! Poor Hubby, though -- he has to shovel the driveway and walkway every day, but well, I guess it works off the hedonistic feasting we've been doing lately!

Here are a couple of shots over the last two days:

My first Beef Wellington was a smash hit! My favorite part, however, were the big crusty, doughy ends filled with wild mushroom puree -- yum! :While I got lots of fabulous gifts, Hubby got me toe socks! I love toe socks. Now I can wear my beloved flip-flops throughout the house and ceramic studio even in these cold months! The poor man ventured all over town trying to find a good assortment, and boy did he achieve his goal! These are my current favorites (I'm wearing them right now!):Here's the view of Christmas evening from my parent's back patio, with the winter sun setting:
And for those who are curious -- here's the product of that mold I made (below). In keeping with the Rune Horse series, this is my first "Runedeer" ornament, with stars on the top part, and snowflakes on the bottom part (cuz he's flying). I'm going to redesign the original clay plaque for the tile press method (these initial ones were slipcast), which means I'll have to modify the delicate lines of the snowflakes, and perhaps the stars as well. I plan to come out with a new Runedeer every Christmas, and perhaps expand into a whole series of "Runic" Christmas animals. Fun! I'm thinking of offering two of these slipcast Runedeer at auction as 100% benefits for some charities I support, so stay tuned.

Anyhoo -- that's Duncan Celedon Crackle glaze on the piece, with directional spray of a brown underglaze underneath -- a really lovely combination! Celedon Crackle is my favorite glaze by far because I love glassy glazes best, and the crackle effect and cool greenish tinge, that pool so beautifully in the recesses, win me over every time. I'd like to develop a purply crackle, a bluish crackle and perhaps a goldish crackle by mixing various glazes together with clear crackle -- wish me luck!
And I just had to share with you the gift Laurie Jo Jensen sent me for Christmas. Needless to say -- I went BANANAS. Truly. Ape. Crazy. BANANAS.
I hope your Christmas (and these 12 days of Christmas!) are blissful and wonderful, too -- though perhaps not so chilly and buried in snow!

"Flying is learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss." ~Douglas Adams


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Yuletide Juju

Phew -- all the gifts are finished, wrapped and under the tree, or in the mail. What a whirlwind two weeks -- can you believe Christmas is nearly here? Where do the hours go? Into some swirling, peppermint-striped Christmas vortex like something out of a Tim Burton film?

Went grocery shopping today for the feast -- it was a madhouse. I've never had to orbit the parking lot for ten minutes to find a space! They were so swamped, and were sold out of so many items, it was unreal. Thankfully, I got what I needed for our fabulous menu tomorrow evening -- beef wellington taking the center stage! I hope your menus are amply indulgent and scrumptious!

It's a chilly silver day here, with rows of sparkling icicles adorning our eaves and powdery snow wafting like winter whispers through the crisp air. Magical!

I gaze at my little Charmkins, curled up, cozy and snug, snoozing away, unaware of the feast they'll wallow in tomorrow. They've been bewildered by the mad rush I've been in lately, and will be grateful for some quiet, gooshy time with me now that things have settled into that euphoric Christmas eye in the middle of the holiday storm.

I'm wishing you all the very best for the Holidays -- you have my warmest wishes and most gooey ratty holiday juju! Travel safe and stay warm -- and may tomorrow bring you many big hugs, hearty laughter and full bellies!

"What is Christmas? It is tenderness for the past, courage for the present, hope for the future. It is a fervent wish that every cup may overflow with blessings rich and eternal, and that every path may lead to peace." ~Agnes M. Pharo


Saturday, December 20, 2008

Winner Notified!

I drew the winning name this morning, and she was notified!

Thank you so much for stopping in at Musings!


Friday, December 19, 2008

Holiday Chill n' Cheer

Brrrrr....it's been quite a winter already here in Boise! This past week we've had snow snow snow, and then more snow. With more snow on the way. We're hitting record lows, too, with double-digits with little minus signs in front of them. Yow. "Thank you God for furnaces, thank you God for furnaces...." It's the little things in life....that keep you alive!

Btw, that's the sun in the picture [above], not the moon!

I have a love-hate relationship with this time of year.
While I relish the change of seasons, for they remind me of the bigger things in life, and it is certainly beautiful, I have a pronounced aversion to being cold. Maybe because I'm a July-baby, or because of my freakishly low blood pressure, or maybe because I was a lizard in a past life [grin] -- I adore heat. Crank it up and break the knob off! Ironically, however, Hubby says I constantly feel like a "Sarah-cicle," and that if I were a dog, I'd definitely be healthy (with my cold nose). So I stay indoors during winter, as you can well imagine, which means I get a whole heckuva lot done in the studio, as I hunker down and cocoon myself in a euphoria of artistic weavings. There's something about this time of year that turns my mind inward, and more focused on creative things. So while it may be freakin' freezin' out there, the fires of creativity are roarin' hot in my studio!

Anyway, I thought I'd do something special this year (and I hope to make it an annual thing) in the spirit of the season, and as a "thank you" to all of you who allow me to do this artistic nutiness for a living -- I'm having a Christmas giveaway to those on my lists, and subscribers to this blog!

Those on my resin list will be entered into a lottery for this piece:
Every once and a while, Randy, my resin-caster extraordinaire, sends me the decapitated heads of my sculptures, which I love since I can use them for all sorts of ideas. So here, we have a Tango head adorned with beady goodness. I'm a hopeless sucker for a beautiful glass bead!

Those on my bronze list will go into the pot for this piece:
This is the smallest of my current line of Rune Horses, but which happens to be my favorite design. It struck me how white glaze on the terra cotta looked like a frosted ginger cookie, which seemed especially apropos for Christmas!

Likewise, those on my ceramic giftware list will be lotteried for:
This is the mid-size piece in my current Rune Horse series, the first one I sculpted and which inspired the set! It does strike me now how much of a resemblance it bears to my Taboo sculpture!

Then those on my ceramic sculpture list will be popped into the hat for this piece:
The biggest of the Rune Horses! If it were a cookie, it would be quite a mouthful! I love the terra cotta clay -- it looks so cozy and "homey."

And, finally, those of you here who subscribe to my blog will be entered into a lottery for the whole set...
I am truly blessed to be able to make a living at my passion, and to be able to share it with so many of you! 'Tis the season for remembering what's good about our lives, and I can say with a happy heart that my life is brimming with great things, like you!

Thank you!

"Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all others." ~Cicero


Saturday, December 6, 2008

Babies babies babies!

Now that I'm over that darned bug that kept me planted on the sofa within a wall of tissue boxes, I'm back up and running, desperately playing catch-up from the lost week (and with Christmas just around the corner! GACK). Anyway, it appears that Fate gave us some early Christmas presents this year, in the form of baby fish! They say the sign of a healthy tank is reproducing fish, however, that wasn't our intention -- we were told all our Platys were males, but that fact was proven swimmingly false when we spotted four tiny fry hiding amongst the rocks. I have to admit, they were darned cute. They looked like swimming eyeballs. They've grown quite a bit already and are becoming progressively bold. The tiniest one has a black tail, which I've named "Black Tip," who is my personal favorite. While all the other fish avoid the cleaning tube (we use to change out the water), Black Tip must always investigate. He (she?), being particularly pugnacious, explored just a hair too close this last time and ended up being sucked into the tube and into the holding tub! We scooped him out with a net and plopped him back in the tank, no worse for wear. You could almost hear him bellow to the others, "You haven't lived until you've shot the tube! What a rush, dude!" As cute as they are, this does present a problem: We cannot identify which are the males or females (no matter what online sources advise), but we are assuming that the two really fat ones are the females, with bellies full of eggs. So now we must get another tank to separate them because I simply won't allow any of our babies to meet ill-fated ends for the sake of population control. We really like the new BiOrb or BiUbe -- it's like the Mac version of a fish tank. Mindlessly easy to set up, clean and run, a 9 year old could do it. No complicated filter systems or biochemical degrees necessary! It's quiet and it looks beautiful, too!

Speaking of babies:
How they've grown! Their heads are now as big as they were when they were wee munchkins! So here are the "Three Amigos" (albeit in a fuzzy shot)! I like how their tails are looped and Wuzzle's bleary-eyes are peering at the camera. When I dive into rat motifs in earnest, these fellas offer no dearth of design inspiration, but when they aren't eating or sleeping, they're running amok and it's difficult to get a decent photo to use as future reference. To me, happiness is an armful of little squirming rattie bodies, silky-soft, hot (like hot-water bottles!), gooey, whiskered and you can feel their little heart-beats going a mile a minute in their little chests.

Speaking of inspiration, Lynn Fraley and myself are off to my rat vet's annual Christmas studio sale tomorrow! She works in fused glass and hand-built clay, in fun animal motifs and crazy people characters, often integrating the two together. So fun! I always find wonderful stuff at her sale for friends, family....and myself! Her studio is amazing, too -- a big airy room with big windows on three sides. And her kiln is huuuuge -- you could fit two people in there! Fabulous! I'm going to teach her about pressing tiles, and she's going to teach me how to do hand-built animals...can't wait! She's a great egg, and during my rattie's check-ups, we always yak about animals, clay and the general mayhem that is art and inspiration. When she can, she stops by for Mayhem, too.

Then tomorrow night, Hubby, Mom, my cousin, Greg, and myself are off to the annual Christmas concert held at the Ann Morrison Center nestled inside the campus of our local college (Boise State University -- GO BRONCOS!), put on by the BSU Music Department. Now I must admit -- I completely forgot about this date, and now I have to re-juggle my schedule this weekend that was originally intent on packing Stormys for shipment on Monday, while also catching up in the studio! But after the deflated Christmas last year due to my back surgery, we're going to go full tilt this year as a "do over" -- and Mom is making sure we don't let things "slide," either. She's already put up a festive wreath outside, and Christmas bells on our door. I also must admit that have a tendency to neglect putting up Christmas decorations in favor of using that time for studio work (even though I have boxes full of them!). Plus I think of all the work involved with putting them away -- blorg! But I don't think Mom is going to let me get away with that this year .

However, I did get into the Christmas spirit unusually early already (I'm the type that usually gets whipped into a holiday panic two weeks prior) -- our local Barnes & Noble is having a Christmas children's book drive and I donated The Tale of Despereaux (of course). I can't wait for the movie! Giving kids the gift of reading great stories is a great way to kick off Christmas!

I don't know about you, but as a kid (and even now), I never cared about Santa or the Elves. They were something I completely ignored. Boring. For me, Christmas was all about the marvelous reindeer and the Christmas mouse! I've always been entranced by the reindeer, and this year's ornament is of a reindeer theme. While sculpting it, I actually decided to create a new reindeer ornament every year to fulfill this seasonal yen. Hey, one must follow a childhood vision!

"Dasher: Hey, what’s that reindeer doing with Santa’s sled?
Prancer: Oh, he’s just Vixen the broken seat."


Monday, November 24, 2008

What a Difference a Day Makes!

Well, first of all -- here are those natches I neglected to gouge into the first piece before the second pour, in case you were confused before. The second pour went great, and now my mold is drying in the oven. The oven isn't on, it's just a drier place than the cold garage -- I just have to remember that it's in there before turning on preheat! Oh, the stink of those rubber bands could put me off Thanksgiving altogether! And again, the plugs worked perfectly! Buck-a-wah!

I have to restore the original clay (it got damaged demolding it), and then pour a rubber master mold of it. Now I should have done that before casting the plaster mold, but I'm pressed for time with Christmas around the corner, and the plaster needs to dry before I can cast from it. This way I can make minor changes, too, to ease production and to make the castings from this mold special in their rarity (a plaster cast will yield only about 30 castings).

Anyhoo -- onto the real subject of this post...it was bound to happen. I could watch it creep up each year, really. Like a train wreck in slow motion -- I ran out of shelf space for my books! Some people collect baseball cards. Some people collect bottle caps. Some people even collect rubber bands. I collect horse picture books and equine anatomy books. It's like an addiction. My friend, Tina, gave me a joke gift -- a teeensy tiny miniature horse book, about 1 x 1 inches, because, she told me, that even though I seem to have every horse book ever printed, I certainly do not have this one! And well...she was right! I should belong to Horse Book Anonymous. "Hi, I'm Sarah, and I'm a horse bookaholic,"....Hi, Sarah." One would think, "
Geez, ya weirdo, do you really need all those books?" And my answer is, "Heck yeah!"

I truly use each and every one in some fashion, at some point. Aside from the inspiration, each image offers a different insight into the movement, physics, spirit and anatomy of this beautiful animal, and also a new take on the human perception of him, too. Likewise, each anatomy book has a different perspective, or some fascinating morsel of information the others lack -- no anatomy book can be taken at face value, or regarded in seclusion. I have reams of horse magazine and calendar clippings organized into binders according to motion that I'm constantly using for reference, as well. Besides hours of life study, these things are an essential supplement to anatomy books because, we have to remember, anatomy books are depictions of dead horses! An artist needs to be well-versed not only in anatomy, but in the eccentric nature of the flesh and physics, the play of motion and emotion, the energy of the moment and immediacy, and the profundity and soul of the individual, otherwise she risks a kind of lifeless sculptural formula that seems to sap all that is sublime and energizing about this animal. But when your shelves are stacked disasters, being able to access these resources becomes, well, tiresome.

So we took a trip to an office supply store on Saturday for a bigger, taller bookshelf for my picture books, and Hubby put it together that night (what a trooper!). Now, you know when you start something, and about a quarter of the way through, you realize that what you thought was a "quickie chore" is actually a waaaaay bigger project than you anticipated? After the 8th load of lead-like books piled onto the bed, I realized, "Crimony! I'm going to be at this all day!" And so it was -- load after load of books and binders were piled on our bed, so heavy I thought it would snap through the floor boards!

It didn't end there, though. I decided (of course) to rearrange my studio somewhat so I could use that discarded shelf in the studio rather than moving it into the storage barn, which meant pulling everything out and on top of of all my cabinets and shelves (of course), cleaning them, moving things around, and then piling everything back in. It didn't end there, however! I decided I needed to clean my entire studio, too. It was like a car out of "park," rolling ever-faster down a steep hill. Hey, it needed cleaning, but after a full day of heavy lifting and moving big, cumbersome cabinets, it probably wasn't the best idea. But when you're plowing forward, you have to keep going! Suffice to say, I was completely pooped Sunday evening. Happily though, my back was fine, but boy my arms and legs! (I'm still feeling it today!) I was in bed, snoozing away by 9pm -- super early for me! It was well worth it though --- My horse books....

Keep in mind that in the "before" shot, there are books stacked behind what you see! And yes, books spilled out on the floor was typical since there just wasn't any more room! Now my anatomy books...
My newly cleaned painting station (below, which you may remember from my very first blog post! On there is an old commission on a lovely Brioso I'm painting for nth time -- I finally have the technique down to pull this color off how I want it):
...and sculpting station (below):

The two cabinets together (below, the left one holds my reference binders, and the right one holds my anatomy books...the TV is constantly playing Mystery Science Theater, and the dedicated microwave is for heating clay to soften it for sculpting)...

After a good vacuum, phew...a clean, newly functional studio, ready to be destroyed again by the ravages of creativity!

"I've got a great ambition to die of exhaustion rather than boredom." ~Thomas Carlyle


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Eureka....and DOH!

I had two moments today, one of "I RULE!" elation and one of...well...let me say that if I'd had a fork in my hand, I'd be in the emergency room right now with it stuck in my forehead (Joanie and Lesli -- prepare to chuckle).

OK...let me backtrack a bit...I hate hate hate gouging out pour holes from plaster molds. I probably hate it more than prepping resin sculptures for painting. It's messy, tedious and it hurts my hands something fierce. While Sonya was here, we cogitated ways to get around it, and she came up with some grand solutions that, frankly, went over my head. She has waaaay more casting experience than I do, and gave me perhaps a bit too much credit in the grey cell department. To be quite honest, I'm a bit of an idiot, and one fated to learn through turgid failure (as you'll see in a moment)..."And so...I flail!" should be my motto.

Anyway, I had to figure out a way to short-cut around gouging pour holes, when an idea popped in my head (much to my surprise)...the "eureka" moment. Now I knew that what I was about to do was either alarmingly stupid, or would save me heaps of hassle -- the potential pay-off was just to great for me not to try. Public humiliation on a grand scale or easy street? Hey -- it's a fair wager.
So forging ahead, I used some craft clay that I use for claying up, and rolled a blunted cone on a flat surface (in this case, a kitchen tile I bought at a DIY store): Then I stuck a toothpick in the end, being careful not to distort my thingamagig: I made two of them and poked them into the back of my oil clay ornament, already stuck in the first pouring. I pre-poked holes into the back of the ornament, since that clay is much harder than the gooshy craft clay (being careful not to be too aggressive and poke through and damage the inner side of the front piece). Once in, I gave them a little twist back and forth to make sure that joining was snug, and I made sure they were upright, too:
I proceeded as usual:
Now...those of you experienced in making plaster molds for slip-casting will notice I've done something remarkably silly...the "doh!" part: I've neglected to make keys in my first pour! Keys are natches that the second pour oozes into to create a male-female lock that makes sure the mold is aligned and locked tight when the two sides are joined together for pouring. I was so fixated on my contraption, and making sure I'd soaped this puppy before pouring (I nearly forgot again!), that this essential step just plain slipped my mind. Again, hosing up in spectacular ways is my best teacher...sad, but true. Anyway...I make the pour (because I hadn't realized the key thing yet):
Everything seemed to work just fine! I was concerned the cones would move or dislodge, but nope...they stayed as sturdy as concrete, even when I tapped the table to ease air bubbles up to the surface. And I guess Fate was kind to me...this pour was pretty bad, even by my own lame standards. It set up way faster than I expected (or I got sorely distracted and lost track of time and texture, which is what probably happened, let's face it), and I apparently didn't mix it as well as I should have (there were lumps in it!), so I had to rush the pour. Afterwards, I didn't expect this section would be a keeper, but that's fine. I can do another, and it did prove that these cones would stay put even in a ramshackle, hasty pour.

So I let it set and off I go grocery shopping, wondering if my diabolical plan would work. I come home to find the plaster set, I pop off all the stuff, pop the two parts apart (phew! I did soap enough!) and out popped the cones, as easy as pie! I swear I heard the trumpeting of angels...seriously:
The cones are in such pristine condition, that I can simply use them again for my re-do! I'd hoped it would work, but I never dreamed it would work this good!No more dang pour hole carving! Whaaaaa-hooooooo!

Now I wonder if various rubber cones could be poured as permanent "templates" (there's always extra rubber in a pour!), or if simply remaking ones in clay may be a better option. Hmmm. I also wonder how I can factor this into a rubber master mold. Oy.

"The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds the most discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' (I found it!), but 'That's funny.'" ~Isaac Asimov


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A Good Day

It's been a good day today. Though a week late, I finally was able to get to mold-making for ceramic slip-casting, starting with my new Christmas ornament. That's the first piece poured and curing in the photo, above. My trusty handyman made those wonderful clear plexiglass mold boards for me, according to Joan Berkwitz's specifications.

Since I have to wait until each piece cures before I can soap and pour the next, I'm working on Boat articles for the Winter 09 issue in the interim. In particular, I finished the technical section of a photography article, and LO! -- I finally understand all that "stuff"! Histograms, apertures, shutter speeds -- Oh my! I also now understand lots more settings on my camera -- "Wow! I didn't know I could do that?!" Long overdue learning, that's for sure.

One of the best aspects of writing for The Boat is that this forces me to sit my hinder down and spend the time it takes to learn something enough in order to write about it. And much to my glee, that photo (above) was taken with the knowledge gleaned from four days worth of research using only my newly-learned aperture and shutter speed settings on my camera -- no complicated lights or contraptions! Now I'm working on Part II of my hoof series, and I was able to organize my thoughts and information, which in many regards, is the hardest part of writing anything. Lots of tremendous learning there, as well.

Learning creates its own high, it's own addiction. Once you get caught up in that whirlwind of positive feedback, it's impossible to stop. It's like crack for a curious mind. Perhaps that's one of the reasons why I love realistic sculpture so much -- there's so much you have to know to create a convincing piece, but there's also so much you have to keep learning to create a responsible piece. So many bits of information are interdisciplinary, as well, allowing your mind to bounce between fields like Tigger on speed. I think that keeps me humble as an artist, and lover of horses. The world truly is a big place full of big, wonderful ideas!

Speaking of education, Hubby is meeting with some classmates today to prepare for The Big Final (Scary) Presentation this week. When he gets home, he'll grill up some beast for himself, and some shrimp for me. We'll watch a movie together, with the Charmkins running amok on The Rat Couch, and then I'll go to bed and sleep soundly -- eager to wake up tomorrow for more mold-making and learning in my own in-house classroom.

Christmas seems months from now, though that little voice nags at me, "It's right around the corner, you dang fool!," but I'll ignore it for now and keep moseying along with these pleasing brain waves. Hopefully this mold will be a good one and I can start casting ornaments next week!

"The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands, but in seeing with new eyes." ~Marcel Proust


Monday, November 10, 2008

Fire and Ice

Ah yes -- back in the ceramics studio now that the weather is chillin' out, but more importantly, because I cleaned it! Well, at least got it to some semblance of ordered disarray rather than the utter pandemonium it was a week ago. I mean, even me -- duly noted for perhaps not the tidiest of studio habits -- has a degree of pride.

Winter is definitely on its way and we have intermittent snow on the mountains (teasing us for -- hopefully -- the dumping to come). Little Maury has been firing away, with Big Al soon to be close behind. I'm making molds this week of a new Christmas ornament (non-horse) which I plan to slip-cast in porcelain! I'm very excited about this and I hope it all turns out OK. Porcelain is another kettle of fish entirely and the potential for me to hose it up in spectacular ways is well...practically a sure bet. I'm up for the challenge though! I'm also re-pouring the mold on Sonya Johnson's Bjorn relief sculpture after the complete flub-up I made during her visit in June. I've started work in earnest on tile designs for Sir Squish as well, and using up Chavant Hard like mad. All this between new sculptures, paint jobs and the Winter 09 issue of The Boat. Who has time for the holidays? Gads.

Anyhoo, the piece pictured above is a (long overdue) gift to someone who saved my hiney with The Boat, so off that'll go this week.

These two pieces (above) are the awards for my Clinky Classic Challenge Class.

These two pieces, my new Jumper plaque (top) and WB plaque (bottom), are glazed bisque destined to be china painted by Cheryl Farrens of FireHorse Designs as donations to her Appaloosa rescue efforts. I'm working to get some bisques of these two pieces finished for sale here soon, plus a couple of realistically glazed ones I'm working on to get these skills under my belt better (and before I tackle a bisque Pixie, Dafydd or Stormwatch!). These two pieces also are going to be cast in resin soon by Laf'nBear Studio's Barry Moore, so stay tuned.

Revealing the dolt that I am, I actually completely forgot about these two plaques until I cleaned up the ceramic studio! Argh! I need to chow down on the ginkgo biloba like kid on Halloween night! Slowly but surely, I'm turning into the weirdo absent-minded artist the family will begin to speak of only discreetly, or as Hubby would say, "Slowly?" OK -- copy that! I own it!

"To forget is the great secret of strong creative natures; to forget is the way nature herself who knows no past and who at every hour begins the mysteries of her untiring labors afresh." ~Honore de Balzac


Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Wooot! Voting has its perks! To avoid the long lines at our precinct today, we voted early then toodled off to get our treats. A breakfast of champions: Caffeine, carbs, sugar and fat -- I should be a mad woman today in the studio! I was impressed, too -- when my name was announced that I voted when I cast my ballot, the gentleman actually said my last name correctly! It's a historic first!

However, Bixy was nonplussed. His ratty Super Funtime was delayed
this morning for voting, which in his not-so-humble-opinion is an outrage. But now he's rampaging about on the rat couch, just a hair grumpy, but getting over it in the glory of shredding ratty blankets and tissue boxes with unusual zeal.

I dislike politics and try very hard to tune it all out. However, I enjoy watching our systems at work and it makes me verklempt to see the record turn-outs. So however you vote -- just get out there and vote!

As for myself on this blustery, grey day in Boise, I'll be workin' in the studio and trying to keep today's political madness to a minimum. I need to finish up some projects and get new ones started in earnest (Christmas is right around the corner -- BLORG), and by golly -- my ceramic studio needs a good clean. But today the winning vote for Top Priority goes to finishing up my challenge awards for Clinky Classic in December. They should go into a glaze fire tonight and I'll pop pix up here for a peek. Thank you, Kristina, for this opportunity! VIVA LA CLINKY!

"Don't ask for what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive." ~ Howard Thurman


Thursday, October 30, 2008

Jeepers Creepers!

Yep -- you guessed it! That's us as TweedleDee and TweedleDum at the Halloween Party last Saturday night! I couldn't find a Godzilla (or similar) costume, and the Thing 1 and Thing 2 costumes were already rented, so this was the next best thing. I have to say that Hubby looked so cute! Watching him saunter around in that costume was hysterical. And the beard! Ha ha ha ha! We even won a "major award" with our rented threads: "Overall Funniest Costume"! The gift basket was full of great stuff! The Pop Rocks were especially enjoyed. I haven't had those in...well...decades!

We had a great time, but oy....we got in at 4am! Sometimes I think I'm getting too old for this kind of thing. It took all of Sunday just to recuperate, and a bit of Monday, too. The "more seasoned" bikers would say I'm a total wuss and, well, they'd be right! It was worth it, though. Seeing everyone's costumes was a blast and the company was a hoot! And I ate enough homemade Rice Krispy Treats to gag a goat. Love that stuff.

I remember as a kid loving Halloween. My parents didn't allow too many sweets in the house, so all that candy in one night was for me, in a word, nirvana. I remember cramming piece after piece in my mouth all night -- feeling sick, then doing it all again. Self control? Responsible rationing? Nah! There's no fun in that! So as you venture out this weekend to carouse for Halloween, have a fabulous time! Laugh a lot and be safe! Wallow in that candy! If you have melted chocolate on your fingers, you're eating it too slow!

Oh and hey -- after you safari to your precinct to cast your vote on Tuesday, check out your local Krispy Kreme! Whoo hoo! Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream also is handing out a treat for voters! Exercising your right to vote and your right to induce insulin shock! What could be sweeter?

"Once in a young lifetime one should be allowed to have as much sweetness as one can possibly want and hold." ~ Judith Olney


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Still Bewildered...

How in the world did we get to October so fast? What the?...am I the only one who's thinking the little time gnomes are crankin' on their gears faster each year? Me thinks we need a Time Summit. I demand more hours in a day!

Anyhoo -- Hubby and I have to go down to the local The Costume Shop to ferret out some costumes to wear to the annual biker Halloween party held at our friends' house this weekend. Last year I went as a gorilla, in a big, black, furry gorilla suit. I'd expected the weather to be the usual chilly October kind, so I thought -- "Hey great! I can be costumed and stay warm all in one go!" But it unfortunately ended up quite warm! So there I was -- in a big, black, furry sauna. It was fun though -- no one could guess who I was, which was half the fun! This year, I want to go as Godzilla, or something like him, and I suspect the night will be properly chilly at a predicted 42˚. I hope I can get something with eyes that light up red or green with big teeth. It's funny!

I'm well aware of the holidaze around the corner. I usually have mixed feelings about this time of year -- while I enjoy the change of seasons and the idea of hunkering down for the welcomed hibernation (read: eagerly-anticipated intense work in the studio), the distraction of the "stuff" involved during this time of year is alternately wonderful and distracting (read: a bit frustrating at times). I've yet to master balancing my desire to spin that grindstone in the studio with the distraction of the festivities, and I find myself on a rollercoaster of "yes!"...."no!"...."can't wait!"...."dang it!" until Jan 2. Hey, what can I say -- I'm an admitted workaholic. I tested as a Bernese Mountain Dog in the quiz, "What Dog are You?". Not bringing the ideas in my head into existence is kinda like not breathing. It's uncomfortable to hold my breath for long. Creative apnea can cause me to "freak out," as my Hubby puts it.

But along those lines -- many of you have cried out for more small scale sculptures, and I've heard you, loud and clear! It makes sense in this economy. So I might as well give you a sneak peek on three minis I've armatured-up in the past month -- a Criollo stallion (top) (approx. 4.5 inches at the ear), stock horse stallion (middle) (approx. 3.5 inches at the ear) and an Arab gelding (bottom) (approx. 4 inches at the ear, and who'll be on a base). These critters have been knocking around in my head for some time, so they need to finally "come out."

Many of you have wanted me to create a stock horse for some time, so surprise! Don't worry -- I'll be creating larger-sized stock horses eventually. In fact, I actually have a Stormwatch-sized QH mare in the wire armature stage, but she'll have to wait a bit. Now the Criollo might be an eyebrow-raiser, but I happen to love this breed. They kinda combine all the best components of Quarter Horses, Iberians, Morgans, Barbs and Cobs into one tidy, utilitarian package -- and they come in all sorts of colors! I definitely plan to sculpt more. This fellow is in that stance we're all familiar with -- that "holler back" stance (yes -- he's going to be whinnying!). I wanted to play around with that fun way horses hold their front end and forelegs (and the rest of their body) when in that sharply bent position -- Dar so often did it when he turned his head around from his hay feeder (mouth full of hay, munchin' away) to watch me mucking around behind him. The stock horse (middle) will have a swishy tail and a tousled long mane, rather than the trimmed short mane. I'm looking forward to sculpting his muscles. It's such a challenge not to "overdo" muscling on a stock horse and I want to see if I can properly rein it in, to create a natural look that doesn't veer into exaggeration or stylization. As for the Arab, this happy guy is obviously full of himself, like Dar was in happier days. He'll be on a base, inclining to the right a bit, as though he's about to turn. Lots of fun stuff to play up on him, too!

I actually really enjoy sculpting "minis." They're like popcorn! They're also a design challenge to try and keep everything in scale but still sturdy enough to cast well or hold up. So there you have it. A mob of minis from Mink Studios.

"As you work, the mood grows on you. There are certain images which suddenly get hold of me and I really want to do them. But it's true to say that the excitement and possibilities are in the working and obviously can only come in the working." ~Francis Bacon


Monday, October 6, 2008

Bring it ON!

Saturday was an amazing day! -- We had a big thunder and lightening storm! Whoo hooo! The sky was an looming slate grey, the rain came down in buckets, lightening flashed and popped around the sky, and thunder cracked like a whip all over our house. Just fabulous. What a show!
The gutters couldn't handle the sudden downpour, and our sidewalk got flooded (above) -- our mailbox isn't in the street! It eventually seeped down into the gutters, but it was like having a little river in our front yard for a time there. Hubby went out to check on the gutters, and danced back to the house, literally, ala "Singing in the Rain".....
Just when we thought the show was over --- CRACK BOOM! --- a huuuge thunderclap erupted right over our house and caused poor Hubby to jump! It rattled our windows! I let out a "YEAH!!!" and looked to the sky for more! There just isn't anything like a good thunderstorm.

After a storm has passed is wonderful, too -- the elemental aromas and that cool, fresh feeling to everything, with the grumbling thunder in the distance. Magical. I also love the play of color a stormy sky produces, with its dark grey tone making the vegetation "pop" with brighter colors, setting them off like jewels across the landscape....
Everything has been washed off...cleaned for the long winter sleep that's coming. The trees have started to turn and the air is becoming more crisp every day.
The change of seasons is still a delightful novelty to me, after living in California, the land of beautiful homogenous weather, for so long. Watching nature go through its cycles is still a wonder to me, and I hope it always will be. It also helps to keep me centered, reminded of the Bigger Picture, because it's so easy to get caught up in the hustle-bustle of life, especially now that the holidays are approaching.

Anyway, today I'll be packing up more Vixens and Imps for the sale on Tuesday, constructing new little white walls of wee boxes throughout the garage. I'll be listening to my tunage from my iPod dock and instead of the crackling of thunder, there'll be the cracking of my tape gun!

"Every leaf speaks bliss to me, fluttering from the autumn tree." ~Emily Bronte

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