Saturday, April 20, 2019

Perfect Doesn’t Live Here

I am getting ready for a ceramics show. Actually, I’ve been working towards this show for the last six months. Right after the holidays, I got busy throwing bowls and cups and hand building lily vases and jars. I love that part of the process and it goes pretty smoothly.

Drying doesn’t. The porcelain clay I work with does not like to be rushed. It likes to sit, nicely covered for weeks and weeks and weeks. After some time has passed, I can paint the first layer of color. Then, I wait some more.

Patience doesn’t mean perfect. 

I have worked on patience for years and I have gotten much better because, if I push porcelain to the next phase before it’s ready, it cracks. Or worse, it blows up. 

So I waited. I made more pieces. I waited some more. Finally, it was time to do the first bisque fire. I put on another layer of color, and did the second bisque fire. Everything came through looking pretty good. 

But not perfect. I’d love to say that my handmade work is perfectly done. I’d love to say that my technique is flawless. I’d love to say that I have the perfect clay and glaze combination that works consistently every time. Yeah, right. 

Snap. Crackle. Pop. 

The last time I did mugs using my favorite black glaze on the handle, it literally came out of the kiln and flaked off. I’ve never had that happen before and I’ve been using that same glaze for 5 years. 

This time, I eliminated the black handle and put the red or turquoise color on the inside, leaf and side decoration only. I left the handles in the clay body and clear glazed them instead. Well, this handle not only snapped on this mug, it decided to sculpt itself into an entirely different shape. Unusable. 

I had one wine cup that went in perfect and came out with a small pinhole crack in the bottom. It leaks. Unusable. I had two bowls come out with small cracks on the bottom but the inside is perfect. Usable. But not perfect. 

On one mug the red color, again a long time favorite, popped off in a very small area. The clay is vitrified and the area is tiny, so it is still usable. But not perfect. 

So here I am. I do have many nice pieces ready to go to the show. And I’d like to say all my work is perfect but as you can see, perfect doesn’t live here. Not in my studio anyway.   

All I can say is I am an artist, working in the clay that I love and doing the very best that I can.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Darling Darby

I’m smitten. He’s just so adorable and smart and funny. I could say I’ve never loved like this before, but I’d be lying. I’ve loved and lost like this many times in my life. And while the losing part sucks big time, the love is so wonderful, the memories so sweet, it is worth it all. 

He greets me every morning. Even before I’m really awake, he gets up and sits by my bed and waits for my hand to reach out from underneath the covers. I reach out and pet his ears and head and he twirls around happy to greet me and another day. 

Walks in the park. Playtime. And Treats.  

We walk around the lake near our home everyday, sometimes twice a day. Darby loves it. And he’s learned so much in 5 months about good walking behavior. He heels by my side without lunging or pulling. Ok, he still rubber-necks at oncoming dogs but we’re working on it. 

I’ve had frisbee dogs and stick chasers but Darby’s is a catcher. He loves it best when I throw his holee roller up high in the air, so he can jump up, catch it and run with it. He will bring it back if I call him but he doesn’t always want to drop it. It’s his toy and he wants to keep it or play tug or keep away. We’re working on ‘give’ and ‘drop’ which he will do more now, but he still has that puppy play mentality. And I have to admit, it makes me laugh. 

Treats are a given. Believe me, I know the protocol on working for a treat, watching his calorie intake and avoiding begging behaviors. But when he sits there, on his ‘place’ so nicely with those sweet, brown eyes staring me, I fold. Almost every time. But I use part of his daily food intake for those moments so I don’t feel too guilty. 

My new Lab assistant. 

As a studio artist, I work at home. I have one part of my studio inside and one part out in the garage. Outside or inside, Darby is there to assist me in anyway he can. 

Do I need him to bring serenity and calmness to my space? He assists by laying and sleeping silently on his bed. Do I need him to watch the garage while I set up to throw? He’s on it. Do I need him to stay in one place while I carry trays of work to the kiln? He’s got this. 

When I was glazing this past week using a new set up, I had to reposition my space to make it all work. Darby gently went to his new position and sat at attention. Once I was settled and working, he settled in keeping a close eye on me at all times in case he was needed. 

What can you say to that face? Really. It’s darling. And I’m so blessed that he’s here with me. My Darling Darby. 

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Believe in US

After reading Maria Shriver’s Sunday Paper last week, I always believed my job as a parent was to protect my children. What might look fun, thrilling and courageous might actually be careless, scary and dangerous. It was my job to see through to the truth and do my best to pass that truth onto my children. 

While I could do a great job protecting them as babies, as they grew the challenge was to teach them to protect themselves. I taught them to trust their gut instinct, to see past the pressure to be cool and, instead, be true and believe in themselves.  

Believing isn’t easy. 

There are many shiny things and slick promises that seem so wonderful. We want to believe. And conversely, there are the shocking, scary, awful events that seem truly unbelievable. It’s hard to reconcile it all and much easier to refuse to see it. 

But we can’t shield ourselves or our children from many of these hard realities. Because that’s the opposite of protecting them and ultimately ourselves from tyranny, corruption and violence. I didn’t want to believe in evil, but I have to face that it exists. Admitting it exists doesn’t mean accepting or allowing it and that’s where protection comes in for all of us. 

Believe. Now more than ever. 

It’s way to easy right now to get caught up in the bad and go beyond mad to being overwhelmed. That’s the road to denial, escapism and cynicism. I fight those feelings everyday because I know that road leads nowhere. I have to believe. 

In the face of the bad that surrounds us everyday, we are the good. We are the force that can see the truth through the lies, the good beyond the bad, and work to make the changes we need all around us to protect us all. 

Mother to mother. Grandmother to grandmother. Mother to Father. Mother to daughter and son. It’s even more important that we all pull together for you, for me, for US all. 

I believe in you and me. I believe that together we can protect our children, ourselves and our country.