Thursday, November 27, 2014

Holiday Projects

Putting some leaves next to the heater, to secure the wires...
And, then making even more...
Couldn't finish last night, in the dark shed...
More leaves and flowers did the trick...
Carrying them inside the house to dry where it's warmer...
Backlit in the kitchen...

Monday, November 24, 2014

River of Words

Elijah started adding color with pastel and watercolor pencil...
Tristan finishes up his watershed map...
Hannah's robin is very hungry...
Ashlee uses watercolor pencil to add color to her map...
The trees set the stage on Ximena's illustration...
Makaylah also had sea stars...
Champ shades a mountain lion with pastel...
Frida's red fox receives some color...
Thank you Linda Cover, for the wonderful art lessons...

Friday, November 21, 2014

All Hands on Deck

The Lady Washington in action...

Today, we went on a field trip aboard The Lady Washington. It is a replica of a brig which sailed from Boston to California carrying trade goods. As a fan of C.S. Forester's twelve Horatio Hornblower novels, and of any other adventure tale at sea, this was a real treat. Although I have a very unseaworthy stomach, I still love ships. We were able to see the various parts of the brig, and to have members of the crew as our docents. I have read about hardtack in many books, but today, I was able to smell it and touch it. And, now I actually have a recipe for hardtack, so I can make my own! We also saw samples of salt pork, and of various tools. But, I think my favorite thing that I learned, was about the lead line. Many a midshipman has used the lead line to navigate, and I've never really understood how it worked. Apparently, it is a weight that was once made of lead. The bottom of the weight had a hole, which was filled with sticky tallow. So, it accomplished a dual purpose of measuring depth, and bringing up a sample from the bottom, whether sandy or rocky.

One of my favorite seafaring novels is Typee by Herman Melville. It is one serious page turner. The reader spends several chapters wondering just exactly what is in those mysterious bags hanging from the ceiling of the hut?  Are they really heads? Are our gracious hosts really cannibals? All of the assorted books concerning The Whaleship Essex are interesting. The first mate's journal tells his point of view. And, of course, there is the classic Bounty Trilogy with Captain Bligh and Fletcher Christian.
I am going to be walking on air for the entire weekend, or walking on water, although that is a bit blasphemous, really…


The port side of the Lady Washington...

Gregory Peck as Horatio Hornblower...

Sea lions aplenty on the docks...

The main mast and rigging...

Love the pattern of the frazzled rope...

Knots everywhere...

Looking upward...

The old world meets the modern world...

The kids were very excited to be able to name the sails...

Our helpful docent explains his tools...

So long for now, Midshipman Hornblower...

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Falling in Love with Drawing

Carlo's Sting Ray
Natali's Monarch Butterflies
Outlining My Sea Stars
Frida's Fox
Our class has had the treat of having Linda Cover teach us art lessons that she calls "River of Words". First, the students learned about our watershed. We also made maps of our watershed, and of the neighboring watersheds. The past few lessons, we have drawn animals that reside in our watershed, and we've drawn the specific plants that exist in their habitats. For me, it has been a delight. I love sitting next to students to draw. Last week, it was Matthew. Today, I was Carlo's neighbor. He kept covering his paper and giving me dirty looks, when he saw me staring at his sting ray. I don't spend enough time drawing. It's hard work, because drawing is really observing closely. It takes time and effort. Linda has a great teaching style. Today, I took a minute to walk around, and to shoot photos of work in progress.

Gregory's Marsh Scene
Makaylah's Sea Stars
Sebastian's Opossum
Graydon's Joyous Red-Tailed Hawk
Piper's Coyote
Diego Captures Flight
Aiden's Pelican
Mealtime with Cristian

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Who Says Child Labor Doesn't Pay?

We'll smooth over the hole at the left...

Today, we made our sale item for the Holiday Fair. We're going to sell these little pots with succulents planted in them. We also made an extra one for each student, so that they can give it as a present. The students really liked working with the Navajo Wheel clay, they commented on how easy it was to mold. It is pretty soft and pliable, that's why it's my clay of choice. The only trouble with this clay body, is that it stains clothes. I have many a shirt to prove it. And, some pants, too… But, the kids did a pretty good job of keeping it contained.

Our next step, after the bisque firing, is to try using some wax resist. I'm wondering if using crayon to make stripes and polka dots would work. I bought some matte green and red glaze to decorate the exteriors of the pots, when the time comes.


Uh oh, not enough tubs to carry them home...

Packing them up in the trunk...

Safe in the garage, soon to be covered with plastic...

Monday, November 17, 2014

Checking on Projects


Tonight I'm thinking of how to incorporate this spun magazine page fiber into a basket. I usually like to make a basket, along with my students, each year. This year's basket is definitely going to be a wild one. I'm also putting clear glaze on some tiles. It takes three coats. Hopefully, I can get the rest of the tiles made, and start grouting them onto the tabletop before the holidays. Finally, I'm giving some air to my drying pieces from a week ago. I can't wait to fire them, but the drying needs to be slow, in order to prevent cracking...









Saturday, November 15, 2014

Thankfully



I've spent the past week thinking about some of the many things that make me feel thankful, in advance of the gratitude holiday…  So, I made a small list.

1.     I am so very thankful for my family. This has been a whirlwind year for all of us. We've watched Andrew grow, and learn. We've watched my mom recover and return to her routine. We've watched my dad finally retire at age 85, in order to take care of my mom. During the past year, I was able to spend some quality time with both of my sisters, and that has been pretty wonderful. Both of them have church jobs where they are entrusted with helping women and families. They spend countless hours working to make the lives of others better.

2.     I am thankful to have a job. I made a big career change this year. An opportunity to relocate came out of the blue, after a brief job hunt. The work is very challenging, but it is a good kind of challenge. I go home each day feeling like students have learned, and that I've been able to focus on the needs of kids, instead of on "the care and feeding of the bureaucracy", to quote Star Teachers of Students in Poverty, one of my favorite books.

3.     I'm grateful for friends. Throughout all of the crazy ups and downs of the year, my friends have remained constant. They support and nourish my creativity. Twenty-six years and counting with Grant and Susie.

4.     I am thankful for my pets. I lost my curmudgeon of a cat this past summer. Lulu was 15 years old, and was bitter to the very end. I loved her for being such a tough character. So glad to still have Betty after all of these years.  Mabel is a moody waif that keeps us all guessing.

5.     I am thankful for the many life experiences that happened last year. I was able to travel a bit, first to see San Simeon and then to Washington D.C. Both trips were fantastic. And, they helped provide much needed relief for the rigor that was last spring's work life.

6.     I am grateful for the ability to still be a maker and ceramic artist. It brings me great joy to explore my ideas and designs. Someone once referred to what I do as a "hobby". I think it's actually more of a lifestyle. It's a luxury to be able to spend time completing projects and solving artistic problems. I had a great time at this year's Open Studios, realizing how far I've come, in being able to show my work with less self-consciousness.

7.    I am grateful for my senses and for the ability to be able to see, hear, and to have the use of my arms and legs. This year, in particular, I have been given the gift of being able to witness the challenges that others face, and it has made me understand how much I take for granted.

8.    I am thankful for regaining my desire to read. Last year was not a good year for reading. And, I'm now in recovery.

9.    I am grateful for wonderful nieces and nephews who bring joy into my life. It's always a treat to have a visit or a chat with them. Watching the arcs of their lives, from babyhood to full fledged adulthood has been wonderful. They are some of the most interesting people that I know, and I'm not exaggerating. So happy to have Chris out of Yemen. I've thankfully been able to give up my daily BBC News scanning of the Middle East.  

10.  Finally, I'm thankful for all of the connectedness that colleagues in both my teaching world, and my ceramic world bring. I attended a lecture a few weeks ago, and saw so many creative friends. It was a room full of like-minded purpose. This area has such a great art community. And, I'm thankful to have even more teaching colleagues to influence and inspire me.