Friday, December 26, 2014

Christmas: The Day After.

It was a fun and different Christmas holiday this year.  

On Christmas Eve, we've had a tradition of seeing the downtown holiday lights that started out of necessity.  Small children needed to be out of the house while Santa's helper hustled to get everything wrapped up.  But over the years, as I was able to get more wrapped up before midnight Christmas Eve need became a desire to celebrate the city lights and music and magic of the season together. 
This year, all the 'children' were in town and off work and old enough now to go out to an adult lunch at a downtown brew pub. We sampled the new brews, ate our choice of pub grub and talked about news and sports and, yes, even politics.

Christmas Day, our tradition is a warm and cozy pajama day.  Everyone gets new pj's, opens presents from Santa while drinking coffee and eggnog.  This year, my daughter added a delicious strata whipped up on Christmas Eve with the help of her husband and brother. It was baking while we celebrated and then, enjoyed with juice and mimosas.  And, more coffee, of course.  Then, we spent the day playing with our new 'toys', watching movies, reading or playing video games.  

Dinner is traditionally a beef roast.  This year, it was done on the Traeger while the fixings;  caramelized new potatoes, garlic sauted broccoli in tomato cups and rolls were done inside by my dear husband.  Clean up is a group affair, so no one gets left with dish duty.  Dessert was later over a game of Cards Against Humanity.    

It was relaxing, hilarious and yummy.

Today, the day after, for me is usually very quiet.  Children are off to work or their homes or other obligations.  Today, was also a little different.  My daughter, son in law and I did a quick errand or two.  I went home and they did more out and about.  I worked on a few pieces in the studio, wrote and did a little tidying up.  Then we all enjoyed my daughter's made-from-scratch macaroni and cheese.

Ok, I still have to tidy up but that's fine by me.

Because a home for the holidays that looks, sounds, smells and feels like home to everyone is the best gift to get for Christmas and even the day after.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Flowing all along.

Flow is my word of the year for 2014.  I've done many blogs on it throughout the year but as the end of the year approaches, it feels right to bring it up again.   Especially at this time of year when the flow of my life can get more rapid with perhaps some rough patches like rocks, whirlpools and white water.

I see that I react to the holiday flow in two ways.  Rushing and Resisting.

Some days, I get caught up in the fast and furious flow of holiday busyness.  Making lists.  Running errands.  Dusting and decorating.  Baking and wrapping.  Now, all of this can be wonderful and joyful unless you're like me, rushing too fast to notice it all.  I'm so busy trying to get it all done first, which begs the questions-who waved the start flag and is it supposed to be a race?  The answers- I don't have a clue and no.

Enter resistance. 

I get tired and grumpy and sick of all the rushing.  So, I stop.  I drink tea, put my feet up and veg out on junk tv.  I ignore my studio work while I tell myself that it's the holidays and time for relaxation and rest.  But what I'm really doing is resisting doing what I love which is relaxing and fun to stop myself from rushing around in a grumpy holiday haze.

Flow along with it all, whispers a small voice.

Ah. Ha. The light clicks on.  Flow is, just that, flow.

Flow is all of it.  Picture a stream during a year's worth of weather and seasonal changes.  There are rainstorms and high rushing water.  There's sun and heat and slow, muddy meandering.  There are rocks and resistance.  And sometimes, beaver dams, logs or debris  completely stop the flow and for a while, the stream stops.

So, maybe, it isn't grumpy me or harried holidays or terrible traffic or junk's just life in its own winding way...flowing all along.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Light, Stars and Magic.

There are times in our lives when the stars are aligned and magic happens.  

When it happens, though, we often don't see it.  We're so focused on climbing our mountain of goals that we miss our  own milestones.   We keep on trucking along, seeing our trips and slips and near misses more than we see our endurance and progress.

Do we miss our own movement forward because we don't look back?  

No.  I think we miss it because we do look back, too much.  

All those experiences that left bruises and scars along the way, we carry with us.  We remember those.  But we forget that there's something else that we carry with us in every moment that can bring us further along if we let it: our light.

We are each alight with energy, love and possibility at birth.  Everyone's differences are their own unique light wave that's meant to travel and grow and shine.  But, sometimes, life brings physical, mental, emotional and spiritual storms our way and to protect ourselves we cover our light.  Sometimes, we keep it covered for a very long time.  I've watched this happen to my children, my friends and, yes, myself.  

It's harder to let our light shine than it is to stay low.  But doing so serves no one, really.  We say we don't miss it, but we do and our body and those around us do too.  The world is missing a gorgeous soprano, kick ass designer, creative storyteller, inspiring dancer, artist and chef, amazing gymnast and  pitcher, gifted teacher and healer.  

Be heroic today.  Let your light shine...because when it shines in truth, everyone wins.

The light inside each of us, our own inner star is where the magic truly lies.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

As The Wheel Turns: Throwing Away the Bah Humbugs.

It's that time of year when the world gets a little crazier.  Some of it's crazy good like twinkling snowflake lights, my Santa collection and my husband's Christmas trains.    And some not so good like all those coulda, woulda, shoulda lists.

The other day, I had a bad case of the Bah Humbugs.

My monkey mind was busy jumping from the past tree to the future tree and back again completely skipping the present, of course.  I didn't hear it or see it at first.  All I saw was the work I had to do and how my knee hurt from climbing up and down the step stool putting up and taking down decorations.  Finally, doing a steady stream of complaining to my husband, I suddenly heard my thoughts out loud and stopped. I usually take the month of December off of studio work.  But I was shocked at how cranky I was, so I knew it was time for a change. 

I decided to throw away my list for the day and throw clay instead.
Two hours later, my mind was quiet.  I felt a soft, bubbling kind of energy.  The biggest surprise of all... my knee had quit hurting entirely.  My bad case of the Bah Humbugs was completely gone.

I will still decorate, make my lists and check them twice but I'm adding one new thing. The wheel.  Because I need to throw clay to keep the Bah Humbugs away!

Friday, November 28, 2014

Thanks giving everyday.

Yesterday, we sat around the table with full plates of delicious food and gave thanks.  We each shared the blessings in our lives.  Love.  Abundance.  Health.  Personal and professional growth.  It was a warm and wonderful day of sharing.

But, now I know one day is of thanks is not enough.

A few years ago, my life took a turn from bad to good.  I was so grateful and full of my blessings and I wanted to remember each and every one.  So I started gratitude journal.   

Every night before I go to sleep, I open my journal and write a list of things I'm grateful for that day.  The list can be simple and silly or serious and sweet.  Sometimes it's a long list, other times short.  It really doesn't have any rules or requirements, all you need is a pen and paper. I start every page with the header below and just let the words flow.

Today, I am grateful for...

Walking in the park with my daughter and son-in-law...A big pot of turkey stock cooling in the fridge...a warm, cozy coat...watching the downtown Christmas tree light up...turkey leftovers...a kiss on the head from my daughter...a sleeping puppy at my feet. 

1,460 days plus 1.

Now, it's your turn.  Today, what are you grateful for...

Friday, November 21, 2014

Bathroom Redo Goes From Simple to Complicated.

Or in other words, that's life!  

Three weeks ago, my husband and I started a simple bathroom make over.  It was going to be very basic: new paint job, new toilet paper holder, towel holder, light fixture and wall hung cabinet.  

A one weekend job.  Easy, right?  Wrong.

Week one:  The case of sticky, icky paint.

The burgundy color turned out to be harder to cover with the bright race car red paint than either of us anticipated.  We've covered a lot of walls over the years; teal to gold, deep blue to light grey, red to turquoise and it's always gone smoothly in one coat.  Not this time.  We used a new paint which was supposed to be a primer and paint in one and did an enamel finish over a matte. Perhaps it was one of these changes or both combined, I don't know.  Here's what I do know: next time don't buy that paint!  Do what we did before and buy a high hiding primer and add the color you want.  Believe me, it really, really works!

Week two:  Bad fixtures, difficult cabinets and mystery faucets.

The light fixture had to be special ordered.  It arrived and the glass had chips all around the edge.  The light is up but I'm still waiting for the replacement glass.  The cabinet fit nicely and had all parts intact.  I was excited because I thought I saw the light at the end of the tunnel.  Nope.  That was just me staring into the glaring bare light bulbs too long.  The cabinet was super heavy and required two of us, wood blocks and much patience to get it securely on the wall.  After searching 4 home improvement stores, searching online, we finally special ordered our faucet from a local plumbing showroom paying way more than I anticipated.  It also meant waiting for the new faucet which added another week to complete the bathroom.

Week three:  Bent faucets, drains and that sinking feeling...

The special order faucet arrived.  The day came to install it.  It was bent in several places, which at first seemed just mildly disappointing, until we turned the water back on.  It leaked!    Off it came, went back to the store where another one was special ordered.  My wonderful husband worked super hard to take the original plumbing out of the pedestal sink so the new plumbing could be installed.  This was no easy task!  It required laying on his back on the floor curled between the toilet and sink base.  The drain in a pedestal sink is not easily accessible like a regular sink.  Most often, the plumbing is put into the sink before the sink is installed in the bathroom.  Since we thought we were keeping the old pedestal sink, this was the only way to get it done.  When he got the drain out of the sink, we found it was corroded and a good sized chunk of the porcelain sink drain area was broken.  It probably had always been broken and that explains corrosion of the drain pipe area.  This meant that we needed to replace the pedestal sink.    Off we went to the home improvement store again...

Week four:  New faucet, new sink, new feelings...

The new special order faucet has arrived, again.  It appears to be in good condition this time.  The new pedestal is unloaded and sitting in the bathroom waiting for the plumbing install.  Once that's done, it will be screwed to the wall and caulked to the floor.  The cabinet is up.  The mirror is up.  The towel and toilet paper holders are hung.  Art and accessories are making an appearance.  Perhaps, this is the weekend when it will be done!

It only took us four weeks to get a one weekend project completed!

Oh, wait. I still haven't received the light fixture glass replacements.  

Okay.  Four weeks and counting...

Friday, November 14, 2014

Giving Thanks. Again and again and again...

This post was written originally in 2008 on my old blog, Susan's Art & Words.  I wanted to share this story again because I never forget the generosity of this lovely couple and how it changed a bad time in my life into something so good.  I felt supported, encourages and uplifted at a time when in other ways, my life was in a down swing.  

In addition to gifting me with his kiln, Ed insisted I take his pottery wheel and chair, too.  I didn't know how to throw and told him that I had failed wheel throwing in ceramics  class but he wouldn't take no for an answer.  I loaded the wheel in the truck and when my life turned for the better several years later, I signed up for wheel throwing classes. 
Now, I throw functional porcelain pieces in addition to my handbuilding and sculptural work.  

Ed has passed from this earth, now.  But his spirit, generosity and kindness live on. Every time I turn on the wheel or kiln, I remember him and bless him.


Right now, with all the gloomy news about the economy, job lay-offs, and arts funding cuts, being able to give thanks for anything seems like a miracle. 

Miracles do happen. Believe me.

So right here, right now, I give thanks to Ed and Dorothy Wilbur for their generosity, warmth and kindness. In addition to supporting my work by buying several of my masks, they have gifted me with something I never thought I’d be able to have – a kiln. This is a much loved piece of studio equipment from Ed’s workshop where he did clay work as well as fused glass. I feel honored to have it passed on to me.

I’ve done clay work off and on for years. I’ve had it fired at the good graces of several different friends over the years. And I thank them for their kindness. But I didn’t want to keep on bothering people, so I just decided to quit doing clay and turned my attention to my metal work instead. And I thought I was fine with that until I got the chance to teach a clay mask class at the Museum of Contemporary Craft this summer. Then I realized how much I missed clay but without a kiln, I didn’t see how that was going to happen for me.

Enter Ed and Dorothy. 

They visited my studio during the Portland Open Studios Tour this year(2008) and noticed the clay sculptures on display. They hadn’t seen them at any of my gallery shows and I explained that I didn’t have many because I didn’t have a kiln or access to one. They asked if I wanted a kiln. I nodded. Then they offered me their kiln. I was stunned. I couldn’t believe such generosity.

But arrangements were made. A truck was rented. And I picked up a kiln. What, I asked could I possibly do for them in return? Their answer:  Nothing.

However, Dorothy had admired a wreath I’d made of aluminum oak leaves. I came up with an idea to make one of copper so it could hang outside in their art-filled garden. The day after thanksgiving, I delivered it to them. And they gave me another layer for the kiln and books on glass fusing.

I give many, many thanks to Ed and Dorothy. For they are the type of people who make miracles happen. Believe me. I know. 

Thanks to them, I now have a kiln!

Thanks again and again: I now throw, sculpt, glaze, show and sell my ceramic work.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

As The Wheel Turns: Low Flow.

The last two months have been full, fulfilling and fun.  Work done.  Goals met.  New adventures with new people, places and art.  In other words, the flow of my life has been like riding river rapids.  

Now it's time for a change of pace.  

But it's not easy for me to slow down.  I walk everyday.  Throw.  Paint.  Write.  Do yoga and jazzercise and all the rest of the necessary work of living a creative and healthy life.  

For me, throwing on the wheel is a calming almost meditative practice.   I didn't have time to throw much for the last few weeks, so spending a few days throwing is a nice way to slow down.

I also love reading and writing and watching good movies.  I'm reading Diana Gabaldon's latest book in the Outlander series, "My Own Heart's Blood".  I wrote in my journal and watched, "Practical Magic" which definitely got me in the mood for Halloween and pumpkin carving.

This week, I also spent time painting with under glazes and doing sgraffito.  But the most important thing I did was experiment with some new handbuillt shapes including plates.  This is stepping outside my comfort zone, yes, but when I do it without deadlines or performance pressures, it feels more like play.  

used to struggle against slow flow.  But I realize taking the time to take things slowly is a good way to refresh and revive body and mind.   I see it opens me up to playfully experiment with a new lightness and softer energy.

Flow is my word for this year.  As I become much more aware of how it moves through my life and that awareness is teaching me to accept the changes of pace with, hopefully, more grace and less fear.  

Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween. Happy Samhain. Happy Celtic New Year.

Many people celebrate Halloween today.  Tricks.  Treats.  Costumes and parties abound.  But what they may not realize is that they are re-enacting ancient, seasonal celebration.  

Today is the Celtic New Year's Eve.  Tomorrow is New Year's Day.

The Celts, an ancient civilization that lived across Europe with groups living in what we now call Germany, Spain, France and the British Isles.  This was a huge culture that shaped centuries of European customs which were then wiped away or re-shaped by the overthrow of  Rome and Catholicism.  I won't go into the hows, whys and horrors of the cultural genocide brought on by the Catholic church.  Let's just say that in order to take over, the Catholic priests found many ways to take what were considered 'pagan' rituals and re-invent them as 'religious' holidays.  Halloween, Christmas and Easter are just a few examples.

Samhain, pronounced Sow-when, was the Celtic festival marking the end of the harvest with a celebration of bounty and abundance.  As the end of the growing year, it also marked a time to remember those who died and honor their lives and spirits.  

Children went door to door giving and receiving food.  Candles and fires brought light to the darker days and served to remember and honor the dead.  The Day of the Dead celebration is another outgrowth of Samhain, as well.

I love Halloween.  And I love seeing how this holiday still honors the ancient intentions of Samhain.  Happy New Year's Eve!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Successful Failures.

My open studio was just two days last weekend.  I opened my front door to anyone curious about what, how and why I make art.  For 6 hours a day, I did show and tell.  

I showed my clay, wheel and kiln.  I showed examples of my thrown vs hand built pieces before they are fired.  I showed my underglazes and how I apply them to one of my masks.  I let them play with clay, too.

I told them about my own art journey.  It all started with a rebellion against more math and a basic high school art class where I learned a little of everything from calligraphy and watercolor to drawing and clay.  

I also showed and told them about my failures.  Then and now.

Why would I do that?  

Because I don't want anyone to let failure stop them or think they're all alone.  

When I started throwing clay, I failed at wheel throwing and threw in the towel on art.  

I moved onto writing for my profession while dabbling in watercolor and ink on the weekends.  Many years later, I took a series of very small steps back to art.  Craft classes led to college level drawing, painting, fiber art and sculpting classes.  A small drafting table with watercolors in my bedroom led to a whole room and now two separate studio spaces in my home.  I worked in copper and window screening making sculptures and masks and mixed media pieces which I showed in gallery shows for many years.

I'd left clay behind until a generous man who came to my open studio 5 years ago, gave me his kiln and pottery wheel.  When I admitted my failure at wheel throwing, he still insisted I take it.  You can read more about this story here and here.

It was the first time I'd admitted my failure out loud.  And my failure didn't bother him, or stop him from appreciating my art and seeing my possibilities.  

So, yes, I opened my studio.  I showed my work and my process.  I told about my successes and my failures.  And if I can help one person try again, then my failure has turned into success.  For both of us.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Horsehair, Crows, Porcelain and PR: It's Open Studio Time Again.

I love doing an open studio tour.  I meet some of the most warm, fascinating people.  I get to show and tell what I do behind the usually closed doors of my studio.  And I always learn something new.

This year has been a little different.  And that's a good thing.

As an artist on the Washington County Open Studios tour, I've made many new friends.  And this year, my new artist friends have been teachers and inspirations.  
Terry Grant's fiber crow on the right.

Terry Howard Grant is a fiber artist who helped me with the group's new blog.  She wrote a great blog about her amazing studio here, which I admit, I wish I had a studio like hers.  I wanted one of her cool, fiber crows and we traded...her crow for my porcelain mug and bowl.  She even put a picture of my mug filled with her morning coffee on her blog.  She did several blogs on using her iPad to do digital drawing and with her help, I learned how to do it, too. 
Karen French showing her raku kiln and our finished pieces.

Karen French is a potter who helped me with the group's event listings and online calendars as part of the public relations job I'm doing for the group.  She is excellent at excell.  She is also a wonderful potter who generously shared her raku kiln with me.  Twice now, we have hauled out the kiln, fired up our pots and draped them with horsehair which we finish with paste wax.  Her studio in back of her house is spacious enough for a wheel area on one side and two kilns on the other.  Ok, I have studio envy here, too.

My newly inspired raku pieces and crows.

I've learned about digital drawing and iPad apps from Terry.  I've learned about new clays and tools from Karen.  Terry's digital drawings and crows inspired me to make my own digital drawings and crows in porcelain.  Karen's horsehair raku vases inspired me to try horsehair raku on my masks and crows.  

Karen demonstrating raku on Good Day Oregon TV show.

Both of them inspired my approach to public relations this year.  Terry's studio by a bubbling creek was featured in a local Homes & Gardens article.  Karen's horsehair raku and studio set up was featured live on a local TV and radio morning news shows.
Terry Grant's cozy studio.

I've been a writer for decades, personally and professionally.  And, maybe, I've been an artist for that long too, but didn't know it.  The last 15 years, I've concentrated on my artist side, sidelining my writing to just my blog.  But this year, I've been able to combine them both. I'm doing my own art and using my writing to promote art and artists right in my own neighborhood.

I'm happy to do it and can't wait to open my own studio doors, too.  After I get off the computer and get it cleaned up, that is!  By the way, the Washington County Open Studio tour is this weekend from 11am-5pm, a free map is online at  

If you're in the area, come on by! 

Friday, October 10, 2014

As The Wheel Turns: Dizzy busy week.

was going to write about sunsets and inspiration but I'm writing about perspiration instead.
The good, old, honest hard working kind of sweat and the kind that comes with excitement.  

Yup, it's been that kind of week.  And while I might feel the strain and pain a bit, I'm happy.  

always feel best when I'm doing something creative and that could be a wide range of things.  It could be picking out new light fixtures or painting a room.  Throwing clay, glazing or making a mask.  Making my own pizza for dinner.  Loading the kiln.  Writing blogs, press releases, pitches, emails to media, setting up interviews to promote my local open studios tour.  Or even, figuring out how to pill my cat twice a day without a struggle.   
I've done it all this week.  

Which is why I'm a day late posting this blog on my own personal blog.  But that's life, isn't it?  If there's one thing I've learned along this winding road of life, it's the bends that make it interesting.  Balance is not a single straight beam that you walk through life on with pious poise.  It's a see saw.   There's up and down and busy and slow.  

I lloved the see saw as a kid, maybe, I still do.

Hard work is far better than hardly working, in my opinion.  I always feel better when I'm doing something. But there are going to be those slower days, too.  Ah...the see saw of life!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Digital Drawing: Decisions...Decisions.

This week, my studio shelves are full again which means it's time to fire up the kiln.  A bisque load is in the kiln now.  While that load cooks, I'm waxing and mixing and getting other pieces ready for a glaze load.  There are pieces to be trimmed and under glazing to be done.

Which brings me to my dilemma: what to do with this vase?

I threw it a few weeks ago as an experiment.  I wrote about it here.  But now, I need to decide how to under glaze it in a way that keeps the whimsical nature of the form but doesn't wind up looking clownish or garish.

Thanks to SketchClub, a handy dandy digital drawing pen and my iPad, I can play with no fear of permanent consequences.  At least, as far as my vase is concerned.

Here are three digital design ideas. I'm not sure I'm in love with any of these designs, they all have draw backs.  

 The first one feels nice but maybe too much white.  

The second one feels like I'm looking at two pieces instead of a whole vase.

  The third one might be too dark? 

Beyond design decisions, there's the nitty gritty of glaze application.  

Although the idea of an overall color with is quick and appealing, it's a bit tricky to get it on the base without tainting the detail elements like the leaves and dots.  To do that, I have 2 options, wax out or wipe out the detail areas.  Both of these options have their drawbacks.

Waxing is a resist method.  Waxing out details works well if you are very, very careful.  Any wax drips or smudges anywhere else on the piece and the base glaze will not stick.  I've had the unfortunate experience of naked patches appearing on what is supposed to be a solid glazed section because of wax drips.  This cannot be fixed and it ruins the piece.  Sigh.

Wiping is an erasing type of method.  The base glaze is applied and allowed to set up.  Then, I get out a sponge and a bowl of water and start cleaning the glaze off the detail areas.  Any areas not well cleaned up, wind up with glaze where you don't want it.  I've had this happen, too.  Sigh.

If I use color in the detail areas, and clear glaze the base, I don't have to worry about any of the wax or wipe issues.  It's easier in that way, but the trade off is having every little hand mark on your clay surface show up, an base glaze can cover up a multitude of clay glitches.

So, while I love playing with design ideas and pondering methods, I know I have to decide and do.   That's the part that always makes me nervous because there's no going back.  

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Writing about Writing.

I've been writing as long as I can remember.  At first, it was just scribbles with pencils on any paper I could find.  It got me into a lot of trouble.  Until, I went to school.  There, I was supposed to use pencils and paper and I loved it.  I loved spelling and reading and writing.   It didn't matter if it was a book report, a research paper, news story or essay, I dove right in.  

Ok, I didn't like writing stories in Latin, but then, who would?

In high school, I was editing my brother's college papers.  I wrote in my journals.  In college, I took creative writing, journalism for print and broadcast and got my first job writing ads at a local radio station.  This led to a career as a writer in advertising.  In between ads and diaper changes, I wrote poems and essays and journaled. 

I still write in my journal.  And I write here on my blog about walking in the park, throwing clay, decorating my home, making masks, training my dog and sculpting a life with love and creativity.   

Lately, I've been sharing my love of writing and the creative journey by writing artist profiles about artists on my local open studios tour blog, Washington County Open Studios.  I feel grateful to be able to combine my advertising skills and writing to shine a light on the journeys of artists in my own community.  

But most important, I get to hear and read and learn from all of these artists.  I learn about the beauty melted wax and paint, the excitement of horsehair raku, the serenity of flowing watercolors and the magical mysteries of  the creative process through other artist's eyes.

Creativity and imagination opens so many doors and windows into the soul of all our adventures in life. Words and pictures, writing and art allow us to share the journey with each other.

I'm grateful to be able to do both.  Writing and Art.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

As The Wheel Turns: Goofing around pays off.

I take my work seriously.  Very seriously.  Ok, maybe too seriously.  So sometimes, it's important to put in some serious goofing around time.  
This week, I unloaded a glaze load from the kiln.  Loaded another load with greenware, bisque fired it and unloaded it.  I have shelves filled with finished pieces, pieces to be glazed and others waiting to be bisque fired.  With my shelves filled up, there's no room for a normal week of thrown work. 

Instead of focusing on throwing my usual mugs, vases and bowls, I experimented.  I rolled out a slab and created a handbuilt jar.  I rolled out coils into branches and gingko leaves, attaching them all around the jar.  I cut out a lid, put on a handle and more leaves. 

Hand-building with clay is a lot like going back to kindergarten for me.  Remember the brightly, colored play-dough?

But wheel throwing is so peaceful, if I go too long without it, I get cranky.  So this week, I decided to combine my kindergartner with my adult artist by throwing two halves of a vase on the wheel and using hand-building to put it together.  Of course, I couldn't resist adding a layer of heart-shaped leaves and whimsical dots.

know this sounds like a lot of serious work.  But it wasn't, really.

Without the expectation or need to fill the shelves, I could goof off. Get out the clay and just play.  I goofed around, had fun and discovered some new ideas for more pieces.  

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

A Bouquet of Freshly Sharpened Pencils.

"I wish I could send you a bouquet of freshly sharpened pencils." This quote is stuck in my head this week.  It's quote from the movie, "You've Got Mail". It was voiced by character, Joe Fox(Tom Hanks) as he is writing an email to Kathleen Kelley(Meg Ryan) about the wonders of Fall.  

It's the beginning of school for many families.  I've had years of the ritual: new shoes, binders, backpacks, notebooks, crayons and, yes, freshly sharpened pencils.

I didn't think I'd miss it but I do.  And not for the reason you might think.  

Of course, I miss my children's cute, freshly scrubbed faces twinkling with hope and excitement.  But what I really miss is starting a new year, a new grade, in a new classroom with a new teacher which all adds up to a new beginning.

New beginnings are exciting.  They're full of potential and opportunity and wonder.

As I work away in my studio day after day, there's no marker for my work days or time.  There's no bell to signal the beginning of the day or a bus to take me home at the end.  There's no anticipation of hunting for the perfect studio outfit or getting just the right shoes.  I don't need a backpack filled with new school supplies.

And while, I love my life and seeing life as my own teacher, I sometimes get so busy I forget to let myself out for recess. With my studio as part of my home, I can forget to get on the bus and leave my work behind. 

My new beginnings happen all the time, but I don't have a designated day.  So, I don't stop and see it.  Or let myself wonder at the potential or opportunity or discovery.

So, maybe it's time to do it.  Officially, designate a new beginning, everyday start my own first day of school by living it.  And maybe, honor it by getting something new?

Here's my very own bouquet of freshly sharpened pencils.  Recess anyone?

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Change to smile about.

I've changed.  Over my life, it's happened in many ways, some expected and some not.  But one thing I thought would remain the same was my art. 
Why am I smiling?
Because I'm glad I've changed my media.  I love working in clay.  It feels like coming home after years of being away and being greeted by an old friend.   
I started doing clay work in high school and college ceramics class followed by watercolor, ink, jewelry, beading, embroidery, fiber art, oil painting, pastels, masks and copper repousse. In my professional life, I was a writer.  I still enjoy creating with words which is probably why I love my blog.  

Working on the wheel creating functional work is just peaceful and meditative.

Making masks and creating clay sculptural work inspires my imagination.  Adding color to all of this is just plain fun!

Which is why, I now have a brand new website.  Created by my talented son, it showcases the new feeling in my studio as well as my new work.  

And after many years of watching other artists on Etsy, I've opened my own store, SusangtCeramics.  

Yes, I've changed.  And I'm still smiling about it!