Friday, January 31, 2014

萬事如意 Wànshìrúyì - May all your wishes be fulfilled

Denise of Morris Pottery
萬事如意 Wànshìrúyì -- May all your wishes be fulfilled -- is one of the common auspicious greetings of the Chinese New Year, which begins today, January 31st. 

Happy Year of the Horse! According to legend, twelve animals responded to Buddha's request that they meet him on the new year and he named each year for one of them. Those born in the Year of the Horse (1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014) are said to share some attributes of their zodiac animal. Horse people are said to be cheerful, skillful with money, perceptive, witty, talented, and good with their hands.

Brother #1 and Grandson #1 are horse people and, far from being a good thing, it seems that those born w/ the same sign as the year's animal are in for a difficult year. B1, in particular, should be concerned since apparently if you're turning 60 this year, which he is, you need to throw a big party to balance the bad luck. I'm not sure B1 reads my blog, so someone should tell him that now he has a real reason to party! Parental controls prevent GS1 from reading my blog, but he is turning 12 so life is pretty simple. It basically boils down to how much screen time he still has and whether or not he can beat his sister to the computer.

GD#1 on Chester
Granddaughter #1 will not miss her Saturday morning horseback riding lessons for anything. Not even if its 35 degrees outside and her mother's teeth are chattering as she waits in the barn. Her mother (Daughter #1) was actually bitten by a horse at her age so I'm not sure how she feels about them now. I, however, have very strong opinions about horses: they are very big and I have no business getting on one. 

Karen of Song and Branch
Horses are a ubiquitous theme in ceramics, from Greek pottery to the warriors and horses of Xian. A few potter friends make beautiful horse-themed pots and sculptures. The gorgeous plate is by Denise and Paul Morris of Morris Pottery. Karen Dorweiler of Song and Branch makes the wonderful horse sculptures. And the dish with horse imprints is by Jacqueline Allard of Island Girl Pottery.

And one final thing: apparently horses are related to fire energy so the year should bring lots of fires... Here's hoping that the kiln gods smile on our firing efforts in 2014!

Jacqui of Island Girl Pottery

 萬事如意 Wànshìrúyì

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Learning to be fearless

Pushing the clay open

I find that life is a lot like making pots. You spend most of your time trying to make that idea in your head into a real thing you can wrap your hands around. Searching for the perfect job, the perfect relationship, the perfect house… the perfect pot. After much work, you get what you wanted, but it wasn’t what you expected… it turns out that the pot you get out of the kiln isn’t much like what you had in mind. Or after you think you've got it, something goes wrong. After struggling for years you have a moment of perfect understanding and peace… you sit at the wheel and make gorgeous pots effortlessly… and then the moment is gone. I’ve learned that life, like making pots, is about embracing failure. Not being afraid to fail frees us to spread our wings a bit farther, push the clay a bit more… it might collapse… or it might yield a beautiful pot! So it is with life. Looking back I see how fear kept me from much joy. I am learning to be fearless now!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

No more pictures!

My studio is small, but I keep everything well organized so that I can function pretty well. Except when I'm glazing.Then, it's a mess of buckets everywhere: glaze buckets, buckets of water for rinsing the bisque ware, buckets of water for rinsing tools as I move from one glaze to the next. Then there are glazed pieces drying on every possible flat surface. So my dance around the studio has to be even more careful than usual. 

Nevertheless, things have gone quite well over all these years. Yesterday my luck ran out. I was standing next to a bucket full of water where I had been rinsing tools and the bottoms of pots after glazing. That means, that the water was full of glaze and clay particles. I reached over a table full of glazed pots to pick up my camera. I grabbed the camera but as I was bringing it over I dropped it in the bucket. What can I say? It was bound to happen. The camera is now sitting in a bag full of rice, but I don't have much hope that it will work again, mainly because of all the grit from the clay and glazes that was in the water.

So... what was so important that I needed to take a picture in the middle of glazing? I wanted to show you the textured boxes that I had been working on at pottery class. Here are the pictures... and really, it doesn't bode well for the camera, does it?

Back to the boxes... They are really cute, with texture on the the outside and inside of the lids and a very clever way of getting it done. When I have a camera again I'll do a tutorial.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Patterns and Texture

 I've been thinking about patterns and textures and reincorporating them into my pottery. I say "re"incorporating because I used a lot of texture when I first started doing pottery. Because it took quite a bit of time to master the wheel, I did a lot of handbuilding at the beginning and handbuilding really lends itself to texture. So, I went around the house and snapped some pictures of textures and patterns around my house that make me happy. I also started taking Jane Cullum's pottery class again for some much-needed community and cross-pollination of ideas. And, because things all come together when I'm on the right track, Jane's first assignment was making small boxes w/ patterned lids! Looking forward to what 2014 will bring!