Saturday, December 26, 2009

Nom nom nom

Well, we here are all stuffed silly. It was fully 24 hours after our Christmas feast that I actually felt hungry again. I have no shame. Though I now know how my Well Wells feel after a feast -- only I don't have an expandable belly! And they don't have to wear pants!

And speaking of feasting, I've stuffed Big Al with the greenware tiles for their first fire today! After running out of near everything for these things, I realized when loading him that I'd quickly run out of kiln shelves, too. Each drywall sheet basically equals one big kiln shelf, and with five sheets and only two big kiln shelves, things got interesting really fast. So after the tests are done and I know if this scheme will work (or not), I'll be off to buy more big kiln shelves to create a more orderly and well-packed fire.

Because right now -- it's really dicey in there! (See Big Al, above.) I used every possible contraption to rig up a lattice work of ramshackle shelves to get them all in there. I know I may have been able to stack them on top of each other, but I didn't want to risk it with so little experience with all this, and because I want to get these out before the twelve days of Christmas are over. I also decided to switch Big Al from a medium-speed fire to a slow-speed fire just in case of warping. If there's no warping with this fire, then I'll do another test fire on medium speed, and then perhaps on high speed. If these things are going to be the most cost effective, I not only need a packed kiln with each fire, but I also need to run it at maximum speed without sacrificing quality because of the long downtime for the greenware to dry (8-10 days). So I'm very excited! My new high fire crackle glaze arrived a couple of days ago, and I'm itchin' to try them!

But as for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, they were wonderful. We had a gorgeous blue-sky Christmas Day with snow on the ground. Picture perfect! And regarding are some from our Yuletide festivities...

Our little tree. You'll be hard-pressed to find a Santa on it. Instead, our tree is loaded with animals and whimsical things. And yes -- that's Emile on top of our tree. One of these days, I really want to make that rattie angel. This isn't even a quarter of our ornaments, though. I just didn't have the time or motivation to unpack them all. Besides that keeps things fresh for next year when I use another box of ornaments. But I am ridiculous for Christmas ornaments -- glitter, sparkle, sequins and weirdness. I'm like a budgie mesmerized by a mirror.

Here's Hubby carving his famous ham for Christmas Eve dinner. Now call me crazy, but in this photo, if Hubby added 200 lbs and grew a big white beard and white head of hair -- wouldn't he look just like Santa?! Ho ho honey!

The glorious pineapple custard pie my Mother in Law made for dessert Christmas Eve.

The (now infamous) rumkugeln we made for dessert for after the Christmas meal, to stay in keeping with the German theme. A whole pound of butter, a pound of chocolate, a pound of powdered sugar and more rum than I care to admit went into the creation of these decadent dollops. All eighty of them. Oy!

Here's what we had for Christmas dinner -- rouladen, klose, spaetzle, sauerkraut and roasted asparagus. Mom insisted I get the Santa in there. She also lamented about the white plate, but the food was so good, I don't think anyone noticed! It was a fabulous meal and worth all the work. I actually was surprised the pickle kept its flavor inside the rouladen -- an unexpected taste treat! But boy -- were we full afterwards. And my Well Wells certainly enjoyed a healthy serving of spaetzle, too! They scarfed it down. They're not stupid: Carbs + Butter = GOOD.

Here's how Hubby wraps gifts, of which I fully support. Not only is it cute, but less wasteful. Gift wrap you can reuse later!

Now some of you were curious about the Christmas balls I was talking about, so here they are for this year. However, mind you, the whole premise of these paint jobs are "quick and simple." I only allow myself a few quick strokes of color to paint them, which isn't only a challenge, but also entirely refreshing from the fiddly work I do for a living. Also, I don't sketch them out and transfer them, or pre-plan them. I wing each one -- each one is completely free handed with my brush, working from photos (though the carousel horse was completely made-up and with no photos used -- an interesting challenge). So if some things look a little goofy, it's either the round angle of the ball, or my free handing. You'll also see that I lean more towards a "cartoony" look with these, just for fun. These balls actually are a really good artistic exercise in this way -- they force me to "KISS" with pigment (which forces me to make some interesting decisions about color use) and the free-handing forces my brain to pay attention, two things that feed back into my regular studio work.

This first one is for my friend Tina and her husband. It's their daughter in her Snow White costume on a carousel horse.

This one is for Tina's younger brother and his wife. Their two kids are the little bells on each side.

This one is for Tina's older brother and his wife (both a partridge in a pear tree -- though it occurred to me after I'd sent it that I may have painted either two adult hens or two adult roosters!), with four chicks to represent their four kids.

This one is for Tina's parents, and each dove represents one of their grandchildren.

This one is for my parents. Mom loves piglets, so naturally, there had to be be all manner of pink piglets on their Christmas ball.

Speaking of pigs, that's Rachel from Pike's Place Market in Seattle. This is Hubby's Christmas ball, chronicling all the major things we did this year. It took me seven hours to paint. Yow. And just when I thought I was done (at 11pm), I realized I forgot to paint in our trip to Bald Head Island and Brookgreen Gardens! ACK. Which is why they're relatively so tiny up at the top. My eyes were crossing at that point. But if you look closely, you can see lots of little baby platy fish for all the babies we had in the tank this year! Anyhoo, you can see more images of all these balls here.

I actually started painting an additional ball (actually a square Christmas glass "ball") for kicks, with a realistic Arabian head. Kinda gearing up, thinking about my color decals for my flat fired ornaments I suppose. If I like how it comes out, I may put it up for sale because I can't think of what else to do with it. I think this would be a fun tradition to start, but obviously, get it done before Christmas next year!

Anyway, we're recuperating and taking it easy this weekend -- and wondering how "in the name of Mike" (for you fellow Polar Express fans) we're going to eat all the leftovers without exploding. We were supposed to start our diets on Monday. DOH. Well, not too much of a DOH. (wink) As Rizzo says in my favorite Christmas show, A Muppet Christmas Carol, "I'm in it for the food!"

"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend."
~ Melody Beattie

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