Saturday, May 25, 2013

Cleaning the Studio Shed

Still the Studio Mascot
Paper Patterns and Unfinished Challenge Projects

Space Hog Unfired Arbol de Vida Gets Pitched

More Wall Space

Found This Masonite Cartoon Heart

More Table Room

Storage Tubs Under the Counter

Wall Shelving Underneath the Chandelier

Channeling My Inner Julia Child

My Presentation Poster
My Old Marian Anderson Dress, Minus the Fur Stole and Gloves
I'm combing through my closets, looking for a Julia Child dress.There are none that fit. I do have an awesome vintage apron though. Since nothing fits, I might have to just wear the white chef coat and apron with a skirt. 

This is the time of year, when outfits need to be put together for Gold Rush Day and for Famous Californian reports. Back when I taught fifth grade, we always did Famous American oral reports.  Now I've adapted it to fourth grade, and we're researching famous Californians. I can't wait to see the two boys that are going to be John Sutter and James Marshall. I scheduled them to give their reports on the same day as Marilyn Monroe and Britney Spears, just for my own amusement. It's a very creative project. I hope that the kids have as much fun as I do!

Very Pretty, but Very Tight
Fallback Option

Thursday, May 23, 2013


Every now and again, a kid comes along that makes me think that all is right with the world. I first noticed Bernardo when he was a second grader. He always smiled and when he smiled, his face was beatific. Even his eyes participated. His older brother had been a student in my class, and so we had a connection. I started noticing Bernardo out on the playground. He was constantly happy, and he played with kindness. Sometimes there were other kids around him, sometimes he was alone. I always made an effort to say "hello" to him by name. He always politely returned the favor. As he got older, I was disappointed to not have him placed in my classroom. However, whenever we would switch classes, I would get to see him in action. During our Fantastic Friday sessions, he took a coiled clay container class with me. I loved watching how intently he worked with the clay. Bernardo was very careful with his glazing. During Science Switch, he listened closely, and completed the activities with earnestness.

Later on, he moved to fourth grade. I would only see him on campus randomly. But, every time, he would smile or wave. It didn't matter how uncool he might seem to other students, by waving to a teacher. Today, I watched him play a trumpet solo as part of the end of the year band assembly. His part was carefully rehearsed. He was not nervous. He played confidently and smiled when his part was done. Afterwards, he sat in the bus line, and since the buses were late, he entertained the students with trumpet versions of "Frere Jacques" and "Bingo". I thanked him for playing and then told him that I could tell he practiced a lot. But, the thing that I enjoyed the most, was seeing him laugh between songs.  He clearly relished being an entertainer, in his quiet, modest way.    

In a few weeks, Bernardo will be promoted to middle school. I will probably spend the first few months of next year, looking for him on the playground, and then will realize, with a shock, that he's at middle school. He is just a good kid, plain and simple.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Susie's Birthday / So Glad That You Were Born...

Wrights and Microorganisms

South of San Gregorio Beach

Second Favorite Terrier

Metal Biological Grate by the Bay

Mechanical Man at The Exploratorium

Kinetic Toothpick Sculpture

Glowing Cell Model

The Pyramid
The Ferry Building

Semolina Pudding Burrito and Candied Lemon with Ice Cream

Zucchini Cake and Feta Stuffed Calamari at Kokkari

Green Metal Tower Sculptures

Textured Succulent

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Tool Redux

Portable Class-Taking Fishing Tackle Toolbox  

There was a flurry of activity in my shed a few weeks ago. Now it is somewhat trashed, awaiting a good mask and wet/dry vacuum style clean-up. Next week, I'm going to sort and clean my tools. There is currently really bad tool feng shui on the premises. It's high time to sort through all of my many stamps, sprig molds, button molds, cookie cutters, and hand tools. The problem: I love tools. So, it's really difficult for me to get rid of them. The biggest problem is a slab roller that is taking up too much counter space. How it will all shake out, is anyone's guess!   
Filthy Hand Tools Arranged in Surgical Style

Rolling Pins and Sprig Molds

Rollers and Giant Stamps

Thickness Guides and Tiny Extruders

Monday, May 6, 2013

Post Mortem

Too tired to unpack for a while...

The Santa Cruz Clay Show and Sale wrapped up yesterday. I had some great conversations with people. It was enjoyable to see old friends, and to make new ones. One of my fourth grade students actually travelled over the hill, with her parents, to see the show. It was good for her to see some other clay work. This is a student that I looped, so she was in my class last year, as well. I suspected that she had contracted the clay virus last year, and now I know for sure that she's hooked. This morning, before school started, she was talking about some of the work that she had seen at the show.

I had an interesting conversation with a Cabrillo student. He previously visited my house during Open Studios last October.  He talked about getting a kiln, and starting up his own studio. We discussed how eventually, class assignments become tiresome. If you want to learn how to make something, you have to make that something a few times, if not several times. Class assignments are one time only deals. If you liked making one, there isn't really a chance to repeat the project. So, you're left wondering what could have been. I brought up my experience at the Museu Picasso in Barcelona. Picasso made something each day. He repeated the work until he came to an understanding, and then he would move on. This is something that no class can really teach. It is a thirst to know, and to solve self-generated problems.

I learned many things over the weekend. I learned that I brought way too much work. I learned that renting a U Haul is a big pain, and is unprofitable. I didn't get much positive feedback about some new work that I've been doing, which really bummed me out. But, I'm hoping that if I get into Open Studios, showing this type of new work in my house, in a gallery-like setting (with walls) will make it more visually pleasing. I also learned that my family is really supportive. My friends are fabulously kind. These were all good lessons to absorb.  

Heavy, ungainly, but cool sawhorses...

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

May Day

This might be one of the most anxious times of the year for me.  Tomorrow night is Open House for parents and students in my fourth grade classroom.  We're finishing up our electric circuit boards, and hurriedly sewing our individual flags of California.  We're making work folders and Mother's Day presents.  We're writing famous Californian oral reports.  Our silkworms are starting to spin their cocoons.  We're passing off times tables as fast as we can.  Two thirds of the students are done, and now the last few kids need to really attack their facts.  Next week is the state test, the one that means so much to so many people.  Judgement day for all.  In addition, I will be moving my classroom at the end of this year, so it's also time to start purging and packing.

This weekend is Santa Cruz Clay, a show that will last for two days, and hopefully will help me to make some empty space in my studio!  Will I be grading papers AND manning my booth?  Hope not!  I think that all of my lesson planning is ready for next week.

When I realized that it was May Day today, I kept hearing a fighter pilot repeating urgently, "May Day! May Day!"  It feels a little bit like my plane is in a nose dive.  But, then I thought back to a May Day from childhood, where a neighbor once hung a homemade delicate cone of flowers on the knob of our front door.  I still remember the nosegay of pansies.  It was lovely and so thoughtful.

By far, my favorite May Day was spent in Rome.  I had given notice at my job.  We had navigated awkwardly through Fiumicino.  Grant, Susie, and I had just walked out of the front door of our hotel, to begin our first official day in Europe.  Suddenly, we got caught up in a parade of marchers carrying banners for May Day.  We walked for a while, the only marchers not wearing red.  I kept thinking that Larry would be horrified if he knew.  It was such a glorious feeling, to be in such an amazing city, and to be part of an enthusiastic crowd of unified workers.  So, I'm choosing to think back on this particular, memorable May Day.  Ahhhhh, the dazzle and the forgetfulness of cares that travel brings.