Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Rooms to grow.

​Here's the update on the redecorating of my daughter's room.

This room has grown with her from little girl lavender and bunnies to teenage magenta, teal and music posters to a young adult room.  When she moved out for college, I redid it (for me) in chamois and red as a writing room.  She moved back in and so did a black platform bed.  

Here's what it looked like after she moved out again, emptied of the platform bed with the wicker chaise, chairs and desk.  It felt out of sync and a little empty.

Here's the new room under construction.  

Completion!  Rosy off white walls.   A white sofa bed that opens to a full bed.  Two new tables one black, one white with the legs switched to make Ikea more interesting.  A big, brand new desk (for me) with a shelf/storage unit beside it.  New pillows on the window seat.  New lamps.  

I realized the other day, that this is the first time in over 20 years that this bedroom has had completely new furniture!  It's a little amazing, wonderful and, ok, nostalgic.

Our homes are containers of our lives. 

They hold within their walls all those days and nights that will forever be frozen in our memories.  Good ones like our first romantic, couple bedroom(ok, glad the waterbed was a fad) and anniversary toasts, my children's first yawns in this world, Cinderella birthdays, Thomas the Tank Engine themed bedrooms, prom and wedding dresses, and all those Christmas trees and decorated cookies and non-turkey dinners.

All of these memories aren't just inside our heads, they're inside our rooms and closets and garages.  I don't know about you, but my home is like one big evolving scrapbook of my life and the lives of my husband, daughter and son.  

So redecorating is a bittersweet trip down memory lane along with a joy ride into the future.  

As I sit here on my new, pristine white sofa bed, I smile and sigh and know that this is yet another room that will grow more memories.

Friday, July 25, 2014

As The Wheel Turns: Selling out is a good thing.



I'm new to the world of ceramic sales.  So entirely empty shelves in my studio still astound me.  I'm amazed everytime it happens and, lately, it's been happening a lot more.
This is a good thing.  
I've been making, showing and selling my art for over 15 years.  I've been in gallery shows, art fairs, community and museum shows, books and magazines, and online galleries plus my own website.  I'm not a newbie to making or selling or marketing my art.   
But(you knew that was coming, right?)...selling primarily porcelain functional pieces is new.

I've only been throwing and glazing for 3 years. Half of that time, I was taking classes to learn to do what I'm doing now.  It's been a journey full of the ups and downs that go with learning something new.  It was a struggle to figure out wheel throwing but I was determined, this time, not to let fear of failure stop me.  (More about my clay journey in topic, clay, or, here)

At first, I donated my work and watched it sell. Then, I took a small step into selling with 6 pieces and sold 3.  Slowly, my inventory of finished clay pieces increased and so did the sales.  Now, I'm looking at empty shelves of finished pieces on one side, while on the other side, shelves are filling up with new work to be fired and glazed and fired again.  

Flow.  There's that word of the year cropping up again with more lessons for me to learn.  One - I understand my work is still evolving and growing in style and profiency. Two - understandably, my sales totals are still small but growing.  
​I am grateful, not just for the money, but the encouragement of the universe.  The simple flow of selling out makes me want to make more.  And that is a very good thing.
 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Sometimes life needs a little redecorating.



​Once again, my home is being redecorated.  As most of us know, home improvement is an ongoing process, a little like life, actually.

There's the better homes and gardens kind of redecorating of your home, rooms or yard. And there's the spiritual retreat kind of redecorating of thoughts, feelings or past events. Maybe one leads to the other. 

My son moved in and out again.  I'm happy to see him moving out into his own adult life.  I'm glad to be able to help him and give him shelter whenever he needs it but I miss him, too. Last time, I packed up his childhood toys.
 
This time, I'm packing away his teenage drum sticks and college graduation robe. Last time, we made it through the re-paint and re-carpet phase only.   This time, we have redecorated and created a new room in our home.  

Here's what it looked after the re-paint and re-carpet.
 















 Here are a few pictures of the before and during process this time around.



Here's what it looks like now.  It's still a guy room, but now it's my husband, not my son, who plays his computer games and watches his golf shows in there.

Now, the next room re-do is my daughter's room.  I redecorated it when she moved out the first time and packed away her childhood.  Then, she moved back in.  When she moved out again and got married, I did the re-paint and re-carpet but nothing else really changed much.  

















This time, after seeing the re-creation of my son's room for my husband, I think, maybe my daughter's old room needs a little re-creation, too.  Especially, since my married daughter and her husband are now moving out of town into an exciting new phase of their lives but will be needing a room for two here at home to use over holidays.  So, the childhood twin bed made into a daybed last time, is going this time along with the small flip top desk, wicker table and chest of drawers.  

What will the room look like this time?  I'm not sure.  But I do know it's time for a change. 

Sometimes life needs a little redecorating.  Sometimes it needs a lot.  It can be an inside job or an outside one.  Sometimes it's both. 


Thursday, July 10, 2014

Flow: In and out and in and out.



As an artist, I'm used to working inside, alone, in my studio.  Sometimes, though, my work takes me outside, in crowds, with other artists.  

Last week was one of those weeks.  It was great to help the local food bank, chat with visitors and artists, and enjoy the festival atmosphere.  

This week, I'm back in my studio.  Working at the wheel or doing sgraffito with only the sound of birds and snoring dogs, I'm enjoying the quiet and slower atmosphere.

My word of the year is FLOW.  Defined as "the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully emersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement and enjoyment in the process of the activity."  
I can't think of a better description of these two weeks.  Whether outside selling bowls or inside making bowls, I was full emersed, focused, involved and enjoying the activities.  There is the ying/yang, black/white, and contrast in each setting and activity, of course.  But that's not a bad thing.

I used to think, or maybe I was taught, that consistency was key to a good life.  That having a smooth road, good weather, even progress, and a well-planned routine added up to an even flow.  And so, I see that throughout my life, I've worked very hard to chart a consistent course.  Of course, that hasn't always worked so well.  In, fact it hasn't worked at all.  I either pushed and pushed to get down the road faster or cut off anything that got in the way of a smooth routine. 

Now I know this is not flow.  And while it may be a life, it's not really living.  Flow is not about controling, pushing or hiding.  Flow is emersing myself in life, with all it's noise and quiet, crowds and solitude, selling work and making it with energy, focus and most of all in joy.

My new mantra: In.  Out.  In.  Out.  Repeat.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Empty Bowls Fill With Happiness.


It's another ​4th of July and another 4 days of helping in the Empty Bowls booth for me.  It's a busy, noisy, dusty and happy 4 days for me, too.
This annual event by the Oregon Potters Association raises money for The Oregon Food Bank.  Last year, OPA raised over $20,000.  Add that to an event that's been happening at The Waterfront Blues Festival for over 10 years and the total raised is almost $300,000!  All going to put food on the tables of local people in need.

Yes, it's hard work.  Yet every year,  an incredible team from OPA dedicates their time to make this all happen.  
They organize throw-a-thons where OPA members, local students and clay companies create clay pieces that will all be donated to the Empty Bowls event.  The Glass Guild and OPA members also donate beautiful ceramic work. I'm glad to be one, making my small contribution.
Boxes and boxes and boxes are delivered bundled on huge palettes at the booth down by the waterfront.  Dozens of OPA volunteers arrive to unload the shelves, set up the lights, unpack the boxes, price the work and get it out to sell.  And the unpacking, pricing, shelving and selling continue for the next 4 days.

And more volunteers show up to do all in 3 hour shifts filling 12 hour days for 4 days.  And some of the unsung heroes are the committee members who put in days at the booth and weeks  before and after as well!


It's an amazing sight to see: a booth filled with clay work and a continuous line of happy people arms loaded with pots at the cash register.  
What could be a better way to celebrate the 4th of July but to fill the empty bowls of people who live in my town.   Now that's a great way to help everyone in their pursuit of happiness.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Welcome Zucchini and Summertime!



You know it's really summer when there is zucchini in the garden.  Inspired by my daughter's question about what to do with too much grated zucchini, I created this dinner.  I've been asked for the recipe, so here it is.
But first, a confession: I've done a lot of things in my life (and plan to do much more, hopefully) and one of those is foods and nutrition training.  That involved learning about the chemistry of foods and test kitchen-like lab training.  When I want to make something I haven't made before, I figure out the basic method.  In this case it's a pancake with savory components.  Then research related recipes, hone in on what I have at hand or want to use, and make my own recipe version.

Hope you like it!!
Zucchini and Shrimp Fritters
Three small zucchini grated
1/4 red onion chopped fine
1-1/2 cups frozen pre-cooked large shrimp thawed and chopped 
2 eggs beaten 
3/4 cup flour
1/2-1 cup quarto frommiagio cheese (ok, it was about a handful)
Salt
Pepper
Dill weed(two to three shakes of the spice jar, maybe 2 tsp)

Place zucchini and onion in colander, toss with 2 tsp salt and let sit to drain. 
Thaw shrimp in small colander under warm water. Then chop.
Press excess water out of zucchini.  Place in bowl, add shrimp, egg, salt, pepper, dill and mix.  Add flour and gently mix with fork. Add cheese, mix.  Chill for about an hour.
Heat non stick skillet with 2 Tbsp olive oil on medium heat. Drop spoonfuls of fritter mix to pan.  Fry each side about 5 minutes or until golden brown.  I had about 4 in pan at once. Took them out and put in another batch.  Makes about 8 3" fritters.
Serve on bed of spinach with drizzle of sour cream or whole cream yogurt. Enjoy!!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

As The Wheel Turns- Good clay days.



Like a burbling stream on a sunny, summer day, sometimes studio work just flows along. 
I started out the week joining another potter at her studio to do raku.  I love raku pieces but the process I liked best in my clay classes was doing horsehair raku.  My friend Karen French loves it too, has her own raku kiln, a bunch of horsehair and the generosity of spirit to invite me over so we could raku together.  
The raku process can be tricky.  Bisqueware has to be reheated up to a specific temperature. Special glazes can be used to create copper or crackle effects, then the pieces are lifted out of the kiln and into a trash can filled with newspapers and left to smoke the pots.  In our case, the heated pots were taken out and horsehair was laid in and on them creating the look of etched black doodles.


During the process, it rained, hailed and thundered.  Outside, we pulled the kiln under the eves and did the horsehair inside Karen's studio.  Our pieces turned out well but most important, it was a fun afternoon!  
Tuesday was throwing day.  It was still raining but working in my garage with the mixed sounds of instrumental piano music and raindrops was peacefull and productive.  Even the bowl that stuck to wheel head turned into an interesting fluted star-shaped bowl.  I'll see how that ends up...maybe raku??

Today, wound up to be a combo day.  Mugs had to be taken off bats, cleaned up and set aside to dry a little before underglazing. A sculpture started last Friday was ready for the next steps; cutting the base down, attaching the top part, making roots and leaves and attaching them to the base. My raku cup and bowl needed finishing with paste wax.  My bowls from yesterday aren't ready for trimming yet.
There's still more to do, of course.  It's always an ongoing process creating ceramic work and it's easy, way to easy to feel alone, bogged down and like nothing ever gets done.  Thanks to sharing time with Karen in her studio balanced with my own studio time, this week was filled with good clay days.