Wednesday, December 23, 2009

It's a Wuzzle World

Wuzzle? What are you doin'?

That's Wuzzle up there, casually bruxing away while laying atop his brother, Jeepie. The hammock is supporting him, but just barely, but Jeepie doesn't seem to care. They are both big, blobby boys, refined experts at eating, sleeping, and bruxing. Horribly spoiled, these two live the Life of Riley. It's hard to believe that when I first got them, their little baby bodies were as big as their heads are now. I'm still trying to get pix of them running amok on the rat couch (I had hoped I could snap one good enough to Photoshop into a Christmas card), but they still hog the camera. So I'm stuck snapping photos of them in their cage during the day when it's sleepy time. I'll keep trying, though.

But the stamped stoneware tiles are about ready to fire! I'd thought about just plowing forward and using up all the pugs for one big fire. But it occurred to me that (1) Christmas is around the corner and well...that entails things other than tiles tiles tiles and (2) I should probably do a small batch first to see if this grandiose plan will even work, otherwise I'll just be wasting a lot of time and clay.

So I need one day to clean up the ones I had to drills holes in a bit, and to fret and recheck everything about a dozen times. And then into Big Al they go for the first stage of fire (Cone 04, or
1945˚F). My new high-fire glazes should be arriving any day now, and when they get slapped on, the tiles are again fired and brought up to Cone 5 (about 2167˚F). This is reverse to earthenware clay which is bisque fired hottest (Cone 04), and then glazed at a lower temperature (Cone 06, or 1828˚F). Something new and experimental -- I can't wait! But it'll have to wait until after Christmas -- doooh. This is worse than the anticipation of Christmas morning!

Anyway, I also ordered some bisque ornament tiles from Cowtown Ceramics, Inc. They've been wonderful to work with, so I'm really excited about getting their tiles. The interesting thing is that their tiles are cut from a clay sheet, not slip cast from plaster molds. This means they can custom-cut any shape for you for a modest set-up fee, opening up whole new pathways of creativity.

But my grand plan is to create ceramic decals from my black and white drawings (some of them “serious” and some of them fun and doodle-ish) and fire them onto these tiles as giftware. If that works, I may even have color decals produced of some of my paintings (this company was recommended by a friend). My aim is create lines of giftware that are affordable and relatively quick to produce to start diversifying and expanding my studio. In economic downtimes, I’m not one to hunker down and entrench. I see it as an opportunity to grow and explore new markets, so we’ll see what happens. It could end up being a complete waste, but unless I try it, I'll never know, right? So onward!

And speaking of "onward!"...Mom came over today to help with the KP for the German Christmas feast. We pre-prepped the rouladen and made the rumkugeln (eighty of them!), and finalized plans for the big day. To grease the proceedings, Hubby kept us well coddled with plenty of spiked eggnog and made sure ol' Bing's Christmas CD was hummin' along.

But this morning, I delivered my finished painted Christmas balls to my friend, Tina, who'll take them to her family for Christmas. Every year I paint them for her family, who kinda adopted me when I first moved here to Idaho. So for a week every year, the studio stops so I can whip them up. I also paint one for my parents, which I gave to Mom today, so now I have one more to paint -- Hubby's. I've painted a Christmas ball for him each year since we first met (1997), and I paint onto them the major things that happened to us that year. Since I don't keep a photo album, they are the only record of that year. So it's a special ritual to unpack them one by one and reminisce.
We joke that when we're close to croaking, they'll be a collection of 50+ balls and we'll need to get another tree! And then all manner of salty jokes about balls comes into play, of which I'll spare you. Anyway, I'm going to have a rather late night finishing it tonight. After Christmas, so's not to spoil the surprise, I'll post pix so you can see what I'm talkin' about.

But I also have to get up early tomorrow morning to prep food for the Christmas Eve feast with my Mother in Law here. So let's just say this entire weekend is going to be a shameless wallowing in food and libations and indulgence. We're gonna live the Wuzzle Way and be a Jeepie for each other.

PS: And btw -- those funky dried seed pods I wrote about in this blog post are called "teasles." Thank you everyone for your heads-up! What a fun name -- it fits their alien-like shape!

"It is true I gained muscular vigour, but with it a prodigious appetite, which I was compelled to indulge, and consequently increased in weight, until my kind old friend advised me to forsake the exercise." ~ William Banting

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