Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Conclusion of June

Double handled loopy container...

Adding interior glazes, before the last firing...

One day, while shopping with my sister, I saw a painting that made me stop and take notice. The painter had lined the canvas with bright colors, and then had white-washed out the color. There were many subtle layers. This family of vases has a similar finish. The bisque-fired clay has been layered with all of the underglaze that I recycled from my third grade classroom: random colors, sometimes even mixed together. Overall, a sloppy mess! Then a unifying white-wash cleans up the brushy colors.

Chartreuse polka dots...

Super-sized polka dots...

Ferny emblem floral vase with leafy handles...

Dotted vase lined with matte chartreuse...

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Spain & Karen: Our One Year Anniversary

Tea Market in Granada

One year ago today, I was in Spain. And, one year ago today, I made a vow that I would return to live there in the future. Why Spain?

During our visit, we saw many wonderful sights in Catalonia and Andalusia. We walked, flew, took trains, hailed taxis, and caught buses. We ate, chatted, wandered, read novels, and siesta-ed. Every day had a relaxed, human pace. During the school year, I am constantly running errands, grading papers, lesson planning, and multi-tasking. It seems like each day is a little slice of insanity, starting at 5 a.m. and ending when I force myself to go to bed at 9:30 p.m. My daily commute, over a winding mountain road, although beautiful, definitely contributes to the madness. Spain encourages you to slow down, and to savor each and every small moment, to live life reasonably.

At the Foot of the Alhambra
Textures Meet at the Alhambra

Here are the top ten reasons to move to Spain:

Ten:  The Mediterranean landscape is full of oleander and palm trees. There are miles and miles of rolling hills, covered with olive tree groves. And, acres of dazzling sunflowers, better at telling time than any sundial.

Nine:  Tapas. Enough said.

Eight:  Leisurely meals make eating and visiting a pleasure.

Cookie Shop in Barcelona

Seven:  The Moors left a legacy of tiled and whitewashed architecture. The Real Alcazar in Sevilla, the Alhambra in Granada, and the Mezquita in Cordoba are a tribute to the decorative style of the Moors. The many Pueblos Blancos in the south retain their quiet, small village character, in spite of the tour buses.

Casa del Rey Moro in Ronda

Six:  The people of Spain are patient, warm, and friendly.  "Hola!"

Mother and Daughter Flamenco Shoes

Five:  Each town and city is made up of many squares. Each square is it's own self-contained neighborhood. If you spend enough time in any one place, it becomes YOUR own neighborhood. Watching a flamenco school recital, celebrating a soccer victory, eating at an outdoor cafe, are all part of the town square experience.

Four:  The revelation of Gaudi in Barcelona.

Three:  There are at least two ice cream shops on every block, in any town. And, the ice cream is incredible. It is thick and rich, like Italian gelato.

Two:  History is everywhere. The old is blended with the new. In parts of Sevilla, the streets are lined with fragrant orange trees. Buildings have fantastic ironwork balconies and courtyards. It is a visual feast.


One:  Ceramic work is everywhere. Clearly it was an important craft historically. Buildings and floors are covered with azulejos, and there is wheel thrown pottery with modern versions of Moorish designs at local shops. Buildings have ceramic finials, and gardens are full of urns and fountains. Many street signs and address plaques are made of clay tile. Italy has it's marble, but Spain is built from clay.

Each day, I try to bring a small part of Spain into my life. It might be by using Spanish olive oil when I cook, by watching flamenco movies, by planting orange trees in my garden, by eating almendras, or by writing answers in my "Spanish Now!" workbook. It's all I have until the day that I return.

One of Many Fiestas

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Tomatoes: Before, During & After

Finished Tomato Pail
Tomato Factory
Terra Cotta Tomatoes
Finished Underglazed Tomatoes
Final Glaze Coat on Terra Cotta Tomatoes
Finished Pail of Toms
Beginning Stages
Heirlooms and Oranges

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Floral Wall Boxes

 Step One: Add a brown underglaze wash to bisque fired wall boxes.

 Step Two: Sponge off the excess brown wash.

 Step Three: Find some old school carbon paper.

 Step Four: Transfer drawing onto the wall box.

 Step Five: Add underglaze color to image.

 Step Six: Outline with underglaze pencil.

Step Eight: Finish the last tile, and load it into the kiln.

Step Nine: Coffee washed, splattered, and ready for the final firing!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Great Outdoors

Leafy Handled Fern Emblem Vase

Summer has begun in my backyard, and in my studio. It is the time of year when flowers flourish, and the flowers attract pollinators to the yard. My neighbors are not fond of birds, and have installed silver flashing strips in all of their treetops. Even better, the birds seek refuge in my yard. There are the usual nests, which get recycled each year, and there are new nests that can be heard, but not seen. I am hoping to collect some flowers and make sprig molds to use on some of my pieces. And, maybe some bird nest sculptures are in order as well. It's exciting to see what new inspiration the season brings.  
Fantastic Floral Books
Wall Blocks Awaiting Floral Designs

Gorgeous Thistle
Leafy Emblem Close-Up
Teal Vine Vase
Birdie Sprig Mold