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."

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