Category Archives: photography

What’s happenin’

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My workspace

I’m back! Briefly –haha.  Much has happened since the summer. I’ll do my best to recap. Here it goes…

1. In August, we enrolled our son in a private school and he didn’t like it. It appears homeschoolers just can’t hack 12+ hour days of the drudge of traditional school life.  In fact, he missed having a life.  Yes, a 13-year-old can have a life outside of school, I guess.  There was no sense in paying a tuition when your child is miserable.  So, we went back to homeschooling.  He was there for only a couple of weeks. I suppose when you know something is wrong for you, it doesn’t take you long to figure it out.

2. During the summer months, I prepared a lengthy application to request a grant from my local arts council for a ceramic kiln.  In October, they finally notified me with their decision to not fund me the grant. Poo. 😦 Sure, I was disappointed, but life is full of disappointments.  So, I moved forward.  I found another great pottery studio to work in.  I’m excited to have a whole new experience in a new location.

3.  Yoga is a new passion of mine.  I practice it at a studio four times a week, and I. LOVE. IT.  Enough said. 🙂

4. Lastly, I will spill a little secret. I am a HUGE Dinosaur Jr. fan, and have forever adored J Mascis.  I had not seen them in concert since October 21, 1994, so I was super psyched to finally attend a concert after 18 years. They really rock!  If you are interested in seeing the performance I recorded and/or my photographs, feel free to click on the following links.

Dinosaur Jr. performing “The Lung” live.

Pics of the concert on Flickr.

And yes, I was the ONLY 40+ year-old woman at the stage!  I didn’t care.  I deserved it. 🙂

I miss my blogging friends.  I hope everyone is well.  I’ll try to check out everyone’s blog soon.

Now, back to juggling my life.  See ya’!

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Me – aka: potter/groupie

There’s so much guilt one has when they have a blog and don’t post anything regularly.  I’m not one of those people.  Yeah, right.

It seems that no matter how hard I try to devote time to my blog, I always get preoccupied with other things.  There are at least four drafts that are saved that I have never finished.  I don’t think I’m alone with this type of “problem”, but that’s still no excuse – I know.  So, for a treat I’ve included an exclusive video.  It will appear at the end, but don’t scroll down and jump ahead.  That’s cheating.  There’s more to read first.

A few weeks ago, I picked up a batch of freshly glazed ceramics from the pottery studio, but I haven’t been able to photograph everything. Here’s a sneak peek.  Sorry, it’s just one photo, but I promise there will be more to come.

This is a stretched out textured hand-built tray I made.  The inspiration came from this video.

Here I am working on the wheel.  *Hint*  Keep reading.

On April 12, my husband and I did something very unique and exciting.  We are sort of reinventing ourselves – by going to a concert! Ha! We had not been to a concert together since Dinosaur Jr. in 1994.  The two bands we saw were incredible, DeVotchKa and The Magnetic Fields.  Only recently did I become a fan of both bands, and I did my homework.  Within only a few months, I researched each band and the members, acquired as many albums as I found available, and memorized most of their songs.  Yes, SIR-REE!.  I crammed like I was cramming for finals in college.  I’m a hard-core fan now.  I even have proof.  Check out The Magnetic Fields tour blog at this link.  Scroll down through their post about day two in Chapel Hill, and you will see me wearing an owl t-shirt.  I think Stephin Merritt likes owls.

To further prove my fandom, below are some photos I took.

The opening band was DeVotchKa.  Nick Urata is singing and Tom Hagerman is in the background.  They are playing “The Clockwise Witness”.  Awesome song!

Shawn King played drums and trumpet.  Their performance was an acoustical set, but Shawn played a drum machine.  DeVotchKa wouldn’t have sounded the same without the percussion.

Next, is DeVotchKa’s set list.   I didn’t snatch it. David (a guy we met) gets all the credit for his quick thinking to grab it before someone else did.  Good thing I thought quickly and asked to get a photo of it.

Finally, The Magnetic Fields and Stephin Merritt with one of his four kazoos.  He is a genius with those unusual instruments.  Oh, and you guessed correctly.  I am directly in front of him.  Lucky me!   

Another photo of Stephin singing one of my favorite songs, “Andrew in Drag” from their new album, Love at the Bottom of the Sea.   The lyrics to the song will raise some eyebrows, but I love to hear him sing it.  I enjoy hearing it played acoustical, but the original version is my favorite.  As a warning, there’s a viewer’s discretion when watching the official video.  Regardless of the video, the song has such a catchy tune and lyrics, I bet you’ll go around singing it in your head, too.   Just be careful of who hears you. There have been worse songs written and sung.  Right? 😉

The other TMF musicians left to right: Shirley Simms, John Woo, and cellist Sam Davol.  Not pictured: Claudia Gonson.

Well, here’s Claudia.  She was too far away, but I captured her head above the piano.   Tom Hagerman of DeVotchKa, came out during the encore to perform “Love is Like Jazz” with TMF.

Now, if by chance you are still reading and have fourteen minutes with nothing to do, you can view me throwing on the potter’s wheel.  Surprise!

I’m not sure why I taped myself.  It was either because I could or in some way critique myself later.  I’ve never watched myself throw before.  Anyhow, you’ll find it either fascinating, boring, or fascinatingly boring.

Thanks for watching.

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Catching up – Pottery unveiled

The summer is almost behind me.  I am anxious to share the awesome experiences we had with our Japanese exchange student this summer.  He went back to Japan over a week ago.  Since then, I have been catching up on things before our school starts back .   Before I write a post sharing the details about our exchangee, I wanted to first follow-up on the results of the pottery I made back in July. 

Beginning at the end of June, I had an opportunity to work in a pottery studio for a month.   This was a big deal to me, as I had not faithfully worked on the wheel in almost 18 years.  I was so excited to begin working on my wheel throwing technique.  Each week (week 1, week 2, week 3, week 4), I wrote a post about my experience and showed some examples of the pots I made.   

In the middle of July, tragedy struck my husband’s family and my priorities were rearranged.   After a week-long set-back, I was able to resume working at the studio.  But by the time my month was over, the excitement I had in the beginning was replaced with  impatience…to finish up my work and move on.  

My pots were glaze fired at the end of July, but I didn’t have any spare time to take photographs.  I finally photographed them today, and I am eager to share the results.  

Three stacking green bowls. 

The inside of the green bowls.

This pot has a salt-buff glaze resulting in a rough texture and an organic look.  It is different, but I like it.  

Pot with spanish red glaze and white glaze overlay.

Small pot with spanish red glaze.

The spanish red glaze over the white glaze on these two pots resembles a soft cappuccino color.

These plates and trays were made from slabs.  The two round plates were molded from a salad plate.  The two rectangular trays on the bottom right were molded from a black foam produce tray.   All have the spanish red glaze.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The imprints on the rim of the plates were made by scratching a fork and pressing the end of an orange juicer.  The imprint on the trays were made with a plastic mesh used for gutters.  

Some of my pots were completely ruined in the glaze firing.  Losing a few  was expected, but most survived and were successful.  I am pleased with the outcome and my overall experience. I can’t complain.  I think I got my money’s worth. 🙂

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Demonstration and preview: Week 4

Last day at the studio.

My time at the studio has come to an end.  My family and I, along with our Japanese exchange student, drove to the studio yesterday to pick up my finished pieces.  I haven’t had time to take picutres of them.  I hope to do that during the next week or so.  In the meantime, here is a photo of a pot that turned out nicely.

One thing I had forgotten about was how much ceramics shrink after the glaze firing.   The coffee mug my husband made is now fit for tea, not coffee.

I had planned to return to the studio when our Japanese student would be with us.  I wanted to take the time to demonstrate to him how to throw clay on a potter’s wheel.

I typed out my own instructions on wheel throwing in English, and then translated it to Japanese using Google Translate.  I printed a copy to use to teach him.  My experience so far with using the Google translating tool hasn’t been 100% accurate, but I believe he understood me well enough.

My son also had another opportunity to throw on the wheel again.

I guided him along the process so his experience would be a successful one.  He did very well and I think he enjoyed his first time working on the wheel.

Next, his bowl will be bisqued and I will return to the studio at a later date to glaze it for him.  He will likely have already returned to Japan after it has been glazed fired.  I plan to ship it him when it is finished.  I’m sure it will be a small reminder of his time at the studio and his stay with us.

Funny how something so small could mean so much.

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All in a year’s work

Back in September 2009, we moved into the house that we currently live in.  The house, itself, had its own share of major and minor issues, and the front yard was well enough established that it wasn’t a terrible eye-sore.  BUT it was the backyard.  The backyard was our nightmare in waiting that needed the biggest overhaul.  Our entire property is only under a half an acre, and one would never think so much work would be necessary for such a seemingly manageable size yard.  But it was necessary! Everything, I mean everything was hideously overgrown and out of control. There was no grass, either.  Mud and  moss was our “lawn”, and wild ginger grew in the areas were there wasn’t any moss.  Non-native “Amur” (exotic bush) honeysuckles invaded the entire floor of the wooded areas.  They had grown into the size of small trees with large canopies, blocking sunlight from hitting the ground and allowing any native plants to grow.  It looked like a jungle, and I felt as if I would suffocate when I approached the backyard.  A sense of dread filled me when I looked at it.  Fortunately, the positive thing about our yard is the trees.  There are numerous gigantic tulip poplar (my favorite) and maple trees throughout and tower high above everything including the house.  I love these trees, but sadly, wild vines (Virginia creeper, grape and poison ivy and oak) had grown high into the trees for so long, it was nearly impossible to pull them all down and out of the tops where they had become mangled in branches.  The first order of business was to kill the vines attached to the trees before we could remove them.  My husband went around to each tree and cut the vine at the base were it grew from the ground.  When the vine died, we would pull it off the tree and yank as hard as we could to pull it out of the treetop.  Sometimes, my husband and I would yank together as if to play a tough of war with the tree.  Once the force of our pulling was so strong, we both fell to the ground after a heavy tug on a grape-vine that had grown in a group of maple trees.  I guess you could say we won even though we probably looked stupid, but we did what we had to do.  Most of the vines are gone now, but some of the larger grape-vine stems still hang down because they are too entangled to pull out.  One vine is so large you could swing on it like Tarzan!  My thoughts always go back to ask, “How on earth could the former homeowners allow this overgrowth to go unnoticed?  They must have never stepped outside!”  It is so pathetic to know that someone never took notice!  From the neglect with many things in the house, I shouldn’t have been so surprised with the condition of the backyard.

In the spring of 2010, the extensive project to clear out our woods began. Over the course of a year, my husband and I (mostly my husband) have worked tirelessly to make our backyard more pleasing to look at and free from poisonous vines, to which we are still trying to eradicate. 

The following are before and after photos of the progress we have made.                                    

The left side of our backyard as seen from the deck  – fall 2009  

     

Now in late spring 2011

 

A fully grown rhododendron that was concealed within overgrown exotic bush honeysuckle.

The right side of the backyard – spring 2010  

Clearing the wooded area in September 2010

The right side of the backyard in May 2011.

Of course, there is still more to be done, but I’m thankful that the hardest part is out-of-the-way.  There is one side yard section to still tackle, but it is full of poison ivy and oak and I am NOT going near it.

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