Saturday, September 29, 2012


I love throwing porcelain on my wheel. I love sculpting and sgraffito. I love drawing and painting and layering oxides and underglazes. I do not love glazing.
I’m trying but, truth be told, I find the process tries my patience.

I used to think it was because of my lack of experience with it. Yes, that's part of it. But, I know that even experienced ceramic artists are constantly learning about glazing. A big part of my struggle is finding the space and place to perform the functions required to get a good glaze. I don’t have the luxury of having buckets of glaze in my studio to quickly dip each piece. I don’t have a glazing station like big production potters. I’ve had to find a procedure that's efficient and effective for me in my small space.

I’ve found a system and procedure that allows me to pour glaze smoothly in my studio. It’s a small victory for me. Why then, do I get a glazed look in my eye when the time comes to pour glaze?

Glazing is really a lot like painting a room. And I feel the same way about it: I love it and I hate it.
There’s much more to painting a room than paint. The same is true of glazing.

There’s a lot of prep work before you even get started. Select the color. Get the right consistency for brushing or pouring. I now use my blender for this job, so no more yogurt smoothies. Set up the studio with mixing bowls, turntable, clean yogurt containers for pouring, brushes, sponges and water for clean-up. Get the clay pieces ready to go. NOW, finally, you do it. Pour the glaze inside each piece. Set them aside to dry. Pour the glaze from the bowl into the pitcher. Remix the glaze. Turn the pieces upside down, prop them up in the bowl. Pour again. Wipe the excess glaze or drips off the pieces.
Clean all your bowls, brushes, sponges, pitchers, props and papers. Select the next color. Repeat.
I finally figured it out. It’s about patience and I’m not the most patient person. I try, really. I do. And I really hate all the prep and clean up. But maybe, I need to see through the haze of glaze to the end result. Be consistent, steady and organized. Get it done. Let it go.

Glazing is all about the result: colorful, beautiful and fun functional pieces of art that can be used and enjoyed every day. See that my patience pays off, after all.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Celebrating: Stepping into a new Life.

On September 12, 1982, I stepped through the doors of the Jenkins Estate and walked into a new life.

I felt like a princess emerging from 1900’s master suite walking the long veranda to marry Michael under the hanging flower baskets. Vows were said. Rings were exchanged. Our friends sang us a love song by Crosby, Stills & Nash, “Song for Susan.” Then we ate and drank and laughed in the grand living room.

A few weeks ago, we visited the Jenkins Estate again and learned more about this English-style hunting lodge with stables, greenhouses, teahouse and gardens. It was built in 1915 on 68 acres, 16 miles outside the city of Portland by Belle Ainsworth Jenkins. She and her husband, Ralph, lived there until her death in 1963. The house was sold to a developer, but then purchased by Tualatin Hills Parks and Recreation in 1975.

The master bedroom and living room is still as beautiful as we remembered. The grounds even more beautiful having been wonderfully restored since we were married there.

We had our picture taken on the little bridge, and then we crossed it and went off on our honeymoon.

Last week, we went off on our anniversary to Sunriver where we spent our honeymoon 30 years ago. We watched the sunset. Soaked in the hot tub. Sipped champagne. Munched on brie and grapes.

Walked all around the resort from this special spot by the river to the Nature Center, Observatory, Marina, Airport to the Village and Lodge.

Admired the deer.

Floated down the Deschutes in a canoe.

Thirty years ago, it was a scary taking that step out to the veranda, into the unknown of a new life. We didn’t know what our lives held except each other. But together we birthed, parented and raised two wonderful children, weathered the storms of life and job changes and emerged with a life that holds so much joy and love. And most of all, each other.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

I don’t miss my childhood. I miss my children’s childhood.

It’s the first day of school here. The kids next door put on their new back to school outfits, packed their fresh school supplies into their shiny, backpacks and got their pictures taken by their mom. It made me happy to hear that someone else does all those back to school traditions, too.

And it made me sad. My ‘kids’ are all grown up now. I’m so proud of them. Both are healthy, working and independent. They are becoming great grownups.
But, I miss their childhood.

My children had craypas, tempera paints and homemade playdough. I made muffins for snacks. When it was too rainy to play in the sandbox, I filled a tub with commercial bags of rice and beans and let them play in it, dump trucks and all. I made finger paints with cornstarch and food coloring and taped butcher paper to the floor. And there were many indoor teddy bear picnics, plays, rock and roll dancing, and parades featuring kazoos and pot and pan drum sections. The shower curtain in the main bathroom featured hand painted, handprints in primary colors done by my children. My garage became a roller blade dance hall or hockey arena, Cub Scout meeting place, art studio or soccer field depending on the day. Days moved by in a blur as I tried to keep up with those four little feet running ahead of me. When they went off to school, I followed behind them, volunteering in the classroom and doing art literacy.

Yup. It was messy and loud. Something always needed fixing or finding or cleaning. It was full of giggles and screams and fears and fevers. And I lost a lot of sleep but I gained so very, very much.

So this week, mothers and fathers out there, as your children head off to school and you get a chance to put your feet up for a few minutes, look around you. Take in every gooey, sticky, crayon covered wall, the piles of legos, dolls and dishes, trails of dirty socks and t-shirts and stuffed unicorns.

Stop. Look. And breathe it all in. Yup, even the stinky stuff.

Because, believe it or not, one day the house will be clean. The walls will be freshly painted. There will be new, un-pumpkin stained carpet with clean furniture. The beds will be made. You will not be missing any socks. It will look beautiful.

But you will be missing one of the most beautiful things in the world that you loved... your children’s childhood.