Saturday, September 29, 2012


I just finished reading Paul Tough's new book, How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character. Although I found the entire book to be informative and insightful, the chapter called "How to Think" was especially interesting. The chapter describes middle school students using chess as a way of developing their minds. It is a way for them to internalize success, failure, and perseverance. During this chapter, Tough describes the concept of flow. It is "rare moments in human existence when a person feels free of mundane distractions, in control of his fate, totally engaged in the moment." Flow moments occur "when a person's body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult or worthwhile." Tough explains that chess experts describe flow moments in similar terms, "as feelings of intense well-being and control."

Flow is a great word to describe how I feel in the studio, when working on a project. Total absorption in the creative process is flow. It is almost hypnotic. And, if I go for any long period of time without flow, I get depressed. I remember one particularly busy school year, when I was neglecting my art work, in favor of the chaos of school. We were painting a giant mural of the solar system, using house paint, and large masonite panels covered with planets. The four students that were in charge of Jupiter, had gotten carried away with the paint, and had lost the spherical shape of the planet. After school, I set out the panels on the outside school lunch tables, and started to clean up their work a bit with some house paint on a brush. The feeling of flow was overwhelming, just at holding the brush in my hand. It was a reminder to me, not to neglect my creative side. It's easy to let work, chores, and outside distractions take over. But, allowing ourselves time to create is crucial. Flow truly does produce feelings of intense well-being.   

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Countdown Begins

I will NOT throw any temper tantrums over the signs this year.

Well, the living room has been emptied of knick knacks, and novels… We're almost ready. Just some spackling and touch up painting are in order. And, the removal of some furniture and my globe collection. After that is done, there will be no more parking in the garage. Here are some pictures of the living room, still in progress…

The sideboard.

Purple container shelf.

Parti-colored container shelf.

Containers and bird nests.

Dessert plates and dessert shaped paper boxes on the mantle.

Ceramic painted panels.

Wall hearts and ugly thermostat.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Coffee Wash Day

I used sandpaper to rub away part of the finish.

This afternoon is the time for washing my recent work with coffee colored underglaze. Then, all of the work has to be sponged back. It really brings out the texture in the work. Sorry, kitchen drain. I know it's hard on you! Once the interiors of the containers have been glazed with colored matte glaze, all of this work will head out to the kiln.

It looks like we've had a fire!

Sponging back the black, to get down to the color underneath.

The next step is to glaze the insides of these pieces, with matte glaze.

This is a dog treat jar that I'm trading for a mug from a friend.



Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Birdie Eggs

All loaded up with kid face tiles, clear glazed, and on their final firing. And, there's a small clutch of birdie eggs for empty nests. I'm trying really hard to balance my life as an artist with my life as a teacher. It is not easy. Usually, the artist side ends up being the loser. But, no staff meeting today, and working through lunch, left me time to tie up some loose ends and start this kiln load.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Frankenstein's Monster

This piece had major cracking problems during the bisque firing. So, I decided to patch it up with mortar patch, cement patching compound, paper clay, and anything else I could find that would do the job! Here it is being dry finished, because any more firings are impossible. I watered down acrylic paint, and sprayed assorted layers of color.


Sometimes it's hard to find time to get into the studio during the school year. But, it's Labor Day weekend, so here goes! Today was container day. I just finished firing student slab face tiles. Yesterday we glazed them with underglaze, and we'll clear glaze them next week.