Thursday, July 30, 2009

More Little Things...

Above is a blessed new addition to our home -- a water dispenser. Now one may wonder why I would consider such a thing "blessed," and you have cause to be mildly concerned. Our tap water is fine, but Hubby hates the taste of it, so rather than buy billions of cursed little water bottles (that inevitably end up all over the house, half-drunk), we decided to buy big water bottles that stay put! It's worked beautifully! But the real -- and unexpected -- bonus was...oh...wait...we need some back story first... case you don't know, anyone who knows me knows that me and that character trait called "patience" are mutually exclusive. I...well...I simply don't have any. Instant gratification. Instant results. Nanoseconds are too long. One would think I'd have piles of it, considering the kind of work that I do, but really -- it's why I work in acrylics and color pencil (instantly dry!) and epoxy clay (work fast!). It's why treats, such as chocolate, don't last five minutes with me, though Hubby can make his chocolate bar last all week -- unbearable! That's eons! How is that even possible?! Is he living in a time dilation field?! Hubby calls me "Veruca Salt" when my impatience begins to show..."Now! Now! Now!"...which tends to happen quite a bit when my Mac works "too slow." Now granted -- anyone else would say my computer is lightening fast, but that's still not fast enough for me. To me, the speed of light is the lower end of my expectation.

So, with that in mind, I love green tea. I drink it every evening. Yet it was always a kind of excruciating torture, too -- waiting (ugh -- waiting!) for the water to boil in the kettle took f.o.r.e.v.e.r. And when you drank your kettle, you had to do it all over again. One might as well wait for the continents to shift! So I started to heat my water in the microwave -- still to long. A whopping 1.30 minutes! Argh! It was totally unacceptable, but I had to live with it.

But blessed be! -- this divine water dispenser has an automatic hot water nozzle. YES. INSTANT HOT WATER. INSTANTLY. IN AN INSTANT. As in NOW. To say I was thrilled at this discovery is like saying rats and horses like food. And so a new peace has descended on our household as I'm able to INSTANTLY steep my green tea. Now to figure out how to get it to steep FASTER....

Anyway...given this character flaw of mine, you now might wonder why I'm dabbling in ceramics, especially "fiddly" ceramics such as realistic horse sculptures. The way I see it, ceramics came into my life for a reason -- to teach me the meaning and value of patience. You can't rush anything about the medium since it works in its own time and on its own terms. So it's not only been a learning curve with new skills and materials, but in learning a new life lesson.

And it hasn't been an easy lesson.

The one "quick" thing about it, though, are claybody customs -- when you alter the casting in its greenware (unfired) state to create a one-of-a-kind piece. Now THIS is instant gratification! That's what I'm talking about, baby! Which is perhaps why claybodying is my favorite aspect of this material. are some claybody customs I created recently:

Claybody Brownie, destined to be glazed by Joan Berkwitz.

Claybody Brownie, destined to be glazed by Lesli Kathman.
(You can see how Brownie originally looked here.)

Claybody Limerick (I think -- I can't remember), destined to be glazed and live with me -- the first horse I've created for myself in over ten years! You can see more pix of him here. I think I'm going to glaze him a few-spot varnish roan. If I can build up the courage.

And finally -- a bisque Bjorn! After all the false starts and mistakes...

When Sonya was here during JuneFest, she claybodied one of her fun Bjorn medallions:

It really is amazing how a new doo can change the piece!

And I also got a chance to claybody a Bjorn, too -- although far more extensively cuz well...I get carried away. The clay works so well for resculpting!

I'm going to glaze this piece myself, though I don't know what color yet. Very nervous about it!

I also was able to glaze a couple of Bjorns, too -- all by myself, with no hand-holding from Joanie or Lesli!

This guy is going to live with Joanie.

This guy is going to live with Lesli.
And you can see another pic of each here.

Aaaaaand...unexpectedly...I made some first timid steps back into my studio today. Starting to feel a rekindling of creativity. Ironically enough, it began to smolder as I worked on the images for an article I wrote for the Summer 09 issue of The Boat, the RESS newsletter, about painting conventions. I was using images of my older paintjobs to illustrate certain points and using images of real horses as examples -- when all of a sudden, I got the urge to paint and sculpt again. So meekly I stepped into my studio, grabbed the Haffie mare, did some dremeling on her, and I'm about to lay down some epoxy for some finishing touches. So here's another sneek peek:

She's still wet from her post-dremel bath!

While I'm still behind schedule with her, the mere fact that I picked her up today is nothing short of a small miracle. Just another "proof" to me that the benefits of writing articles and editing The Boat isn't such a selfless endeavor! I've been so off my game this year -- struggling with things I shouldn't be struggling with, whether in the studio, the office or just life in general. I've been a stranger in my own skin. But now, I seem to feel myself coming back, creeping back from some outer orbit as if to say, "Now, it's time."

"I have always been delighted at the prospect of a new day, a fresh try, one more start, with perhaps a bit of magic waiting somewhere behind the morning..." ~ Joseph Priestley


Wednesday, July 22, 2009


I forgot to include the bacon flowchart in my previous post! Be sure to wear your pants!

"Friends are the bacon bits in the salad bowl of life."


It's the Little Things....

Do you want perfect bacon? Sure -- we all do! And now you can!

[The bacon above is doing a kind of "synchronized baconry" thanks to Hubby's arrangement skills -- that's happy bacon!]

But for some backstory: My husband has a deep residing affection for the stuff, but gads -- do I hate cooking it! What a mess. And the fat gets atomized in the air, which causes my eyes to burn, a greasy film gets all over everything and the house reeks of it all day. Yuck. Poor Hubby would pine for the stuff, but I'd dig my heels in until...well...he started to resemble a big-eyed black velvet painting of some forlorn child.

But lo! -- it pays to have a friend who's a foodie...Sonya! She expertly pointed out, "Don't cook it on the stove top in a pan -- cook it in the oven!" Hark! The greasy cloud broke and I heard a loud HOSANNAH!

Take a baking sheet, put foil on it, then slap on those strips. For our gas stove at about 3,000 feet above sea level, we found that 425˚ for 15 minutes is just right, but tinker to see what works for you. You can cook a bunch at a time, too. But no more mess!
No more wiping and scrubbing a greasy grody ooooky pan, or wiping up greasy mess from your stove top. And no more curled strips or uncooked ruffled fatty areas. And no stink in the house! Just perfectly cooked, flat bacon. Then let the fat cool on the foil, and toss! Praise be! Thank you, Sonya! Anyway, just thought I'd share. It's the little things in life that can make such a difference.

Along those lines, I've been terribly remiss in posting to this blog, I know. But I've been working through a bought of troubling depression brought on by Eppie's passing. Somehow finding enthusiasm to do most anything was like trying to squeeze dried oil paint out of the tube. I haven't worked one minute in the studio since returning from back East. I just couldn't muster up the will or enthusiasm. It's been terrible. I can't remember when I've felt this kind of creative desert. The Haffie mare has been peering at me from the studio, but I couldn't even pick her up. So I've been focusing on the Summer 2009 issue of The Boat, and finishing up some articles and illustrations for it. It's more cerebral than emotional (like art is) so I can circumvent my depression a bit better with that sort of thing.

However...leave it to Pixar and good ol' Mom to cast a bright light into a dark mood! If you do anything this weekend, make sure seeing the Pixar movie "Up" is on your schedule. I'm serious. Go. You are going to love it. Personally, I just don't know how Pixar can keep hitting home runs with each movie. Maybe there's something magic in their coffee or they were all born under some divine planetary alignment. You wonder, "How can they come up with this stuff -- so well done and better all the time? HOW?" All I can come up with is "genius" and "magic." It's a perfect film. You'll cry, you'll laugh, you'll root for the heroes! You're marvel at the imagination in the script and the beauty of the film. You'll appreciate the messages and the core sweetness of the human soul in it, too. The movie has such heart and it's so original. It's movies like this that remind you why movie making is worthwhile.


I was charmed! And when that Dobie started talking in that voice, I completely lost it in the theater. I can't remember when I laughed that hard -- and had to hold it in (for the sake of the other viewers!). What a brilliant take on the typical talking-animal found in so many movies. Again, genius. Mom particularly busted up during the sword fight, with all the "aging body" issues coming into play.

Anyway -- now I can say that my depression has started to lift, thanks to a day with Pixar and Mom. I can finally start looking "up" from the dark hole I was in. I have lots to post in the upcoming week (it really stacked up), and for the first time in weeks...I want to get to work again. Me thinks tomorrow, I shall restart work on Ms. Haffie...

"No one else but you can rise up
You know what to do, got to get up
No more looking down, look up
Come and claim your crown, got to get up, got to get up"
~ Lyrics from "Got to Get Up" by Siouxsie and the Banshees

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