Sunday, May 1, 2016

Norwegian Rosmaling

Decorative Ceramics

I've recently decided to attend a presentation on Norwegian decorative painting, called rosemaling. I've been wanting to explore decorative painting for a while, and now that I recently found out that one of our family ancestors was Norwegian, it seems like a good time to explore and learn about rosemaling. Apparently, the painting styles in each region of Norway, are quite site specific. The presentation will be held at our local Scandinavian Center. A few years ago, I was a member of the Scandinavian Book Club. It was super interesting. Literature seemed like a great way to explore my Swedish and Danish heritage. We alternated reading books from Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway, and Iceland. The books were not for the faint of heart, they were usually fairly long and complicated. When my mom got sick, and I was commuting to the hospital in the Bay Area, I gave up on the book club. Who knows, maybe it's time to return...

I can see the applications for decorative glazing in my work. And, as with all painting on wood or clay, there is potential to sand into the finish and age it. Can't wait to learn more!


Vintage Wedding Trunk

Another Decorative Trunk

Containers and Baskets

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Spring Monterey Flea Market

Passing the harbor on the way to the flea market...

I might need some of these andirons for my fireplace...

Warmest kitten dishtowel greetings...

Love this kitchen set...

These chairs are on sale every month...

Boxes of doorknobs...

A homemade magnum opus...

Pinball coffee table...

Bakelite radio research...

Loved this one...

A very crisp keyboard...

Enjoyed an indifferent grilled cheese sandwich afterwards...

Some of my loot...

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Replacement

A radio cracked while drying, so this is the new version...
Tons of mitered bits...
Attaching the side...
Winston is a faithful major domo...
Paddling and smoothing...
Adding some decoration...
Finally finished...
A little less than helpful...

Every April









Our book club recently read this book. I have been reading it every April or May since I was 24 years old. That means that I've read the book approximately 26 times. Why? Well, there are a lot of reasons. The main one, is that this book reminds me of who I am, and where I come from. I have an older brother, and in our childhood, we played together all of the time. I was a bit of a tomboy. I spent summers at my grandma's house, in a tiny town, where everyone knew everyone else. The book is familiar. The characters ring so true. All of the characters are authentic, from the main characters, to people like Heck Tate and Mrs. Dubose.

During our meeting, we discussed racism. A question was asked, "Do you think that racism still exists as strongly today?" There were many examples given by book club members. My personal opinion is that it most certainly does. It's in the heart of all of us. We all like ourselves the best, and those who remind us of ourselves are our favorite people. Those who are different often become "the other". I remember reading a novel called Tortilla Curtain by T. Coraghessan Boyle for a previous book club. It was so ugly, and dark. But, it rang so true in it's depiction of racism in California. And, not just racism, but elitism, as well. It's in us, and it's lurking. I hear racist conversations frequently. I try to redirect them, and I feel appalled, but then I realize that I have misconceptions and prejudices in my heart, as well. We all do.

One of the clearest examples of racism that comes to mind, was the news that a former supervisor at my old school district won an award for being "Administrator of the Year" for the state of California. How could that happen? This is a person who actually enforces segregation of Spanish speaking students. And, continues to have a program where children are placed in classes based on the color of their skin, and their economic status. There you have it. I don't think there is any region or part of our country that is less racist than another. There is just a lot of pretending going on.

Anyhow, as I finished up To Kill a Mockingbird this year, I felt a hopefulness that I always feel when I finish. It is a tale of change, of baby steps being made towards the greater good. A tale of Atticus Finch, standing firm in his personal convictions. A reminder for me to do the same, in every way that I can.





Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Musings on Fairness.





I've been thinking a lot about the connection between fairness and happiness of late. It seems like there are so many people who are clamoring for everything to be equitable and fair. But, my thought is that there is really no such thing as fairness. We aren't going to receive the same blessings, or material goods in life. Nor are we going to all have the same opportunities or trials or consequences. Everyone is different. Each person is born with different talents, and abilities. In addition, circumstances in life are constantly changing and shifting.

My most recent demand for fairness came this morning. There is a saying that many teachers hang on their walls which says, "Fair isn't everybody getting the same thing, fair is everybody getting what they need to be successful." As a teacher, I kind of buy into this theory. I know a lot of backstory for each student. I feel that I am often aware of special needs that certain students might have. So, I might buy lunch for one student (because I know that a family is struggling), but not buy lunch for everyone. I remember having a gifted artist in my class a few years back. School was often frustrating for him. He was operating at a different level than any of the other students in the class. He was a deep thinker, a worrier. I remember getting permission from his mom for us to go to a museum together one summer afternoon. I knew that he needed to see that he wasn't alone, that there were other people who also viewed the world differently. We were standing in front of a giant painting by Sandow Birk, and it just blew this kid away. He could see Mr. Birk's intense vision of the world. Would all of the students have appreciated the museum visit? Probably not.

Sometimes we feel inspiration of how to help others or how to interact with others. Personally, I believe that this inspiration is divine. It's there if you want to listen to it, and it doesn't have to be there, if you choose to ignore it.

The world isn't fair, and this causes much unhappiness for many people. Personally, it doesn't seem wise to entirely tie your personal happiness to external situations. I listened to a book about a slave named Amos Fortune in my studio last week, while I was working. It was a perfect example of realizing that life is absolutely not fair. But, the main character, after recognizing this situation, continued to strive for his own measure of contentment. It was hard to listen to the many obstacles and tragedies that he had to overcome. But, he went through life doing his best in his struggles. And, felt that he had done what was right with the life that he was given.

So, find happiness in small things. Gratitude often brings the greatest happiness. There are so many small things that can spark joy. Instead of worrying that others are mistreating you, focus on how you are behaving towards others. Some of the unhappiest, most bitter people that I know constantly keep track of slights. They count them up. They ignore their personal actions, focusing instead on infractions. Be responsible for yourself, and how you behave. Be more observant. Look for the upsides to situations. There almost always is an upside.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Tortuga




After much thought, I've decided to slow down my ceramic practice. During the past few years, it feels like I've been in mass production mode. But, guess what? I'm not a factory. I also have a very demanding "day job". So taking some time to put my feet up and relax, occasionally, seems necessary. I'm taking the summer off, so that I can explore with clay, without the pressure of producing salable work for Open Studios or other venues. In addition, there will be no more clay tutoring! I'm returning to the world of devouring books. I'm hoping to get my backyard shaped up, as well. And, to finally repaint my clay shed. The beads which I made last summer, are waiting to be installed as part of the shed awning. So, maybe I'm not really slowing down, too much. There is quite a sizable "to do" list. But, balance is being sought...



WHAT-CHA-MA-CALL-IT

Slabs have to dry to cheese hardness...

A prototype of an upcoming student collaboration project...

Making knobs with unconventional tools...

The bare bones box with wood grain siding...

Adding an eyeball from a Mattel incredible edible mold...

Added some speakers and antennae...