Friday, April 9, 2010

Spring Magnolia

Sometimes in life, when the going gets tough, the best way to cope is through distraction. Like the magnolia tree outside my window that captivates and pulls me into the moment; the tree that keeps on giving – never static and always beautiful throughout the year especially when it flowers in early Spring. Back from a nice weekend away in Maryland, I noticed that in just 3 days, the magnolia had fully bloomed and started dropping its flowers. Usually they last at least 2-3 weeks but the erratic temperature and late spring frost damaged the buds. Chalk that up to global warming. There I said it. On my drive down to MD, I heard an excellent interview with Johann Hari on NPR who just wrote an article that subject for ‘The Nation’, “The Wrong Kind of Green’ . An engaging speaker, Johann takes mainstream environmental groups to task for selling out their principles, often in exchange for money from the worst polluters. And he doesn’t mince words advising us Prius driving green bag toting recyclers that we are better off directing our conservation energies by joining a Green activist group. One more worthy cause to add to my ‘to do list.’

Back to my magnolia – I did manage to salvage some flowers, put them in a vase and plaster cast a few firm ones as part of my ‘favorite garden plant’ memory series. Tomorrow I’ll cast some yellow forsythia and purple vinca flowers to complete the set of porcelain plates I’ve been working on. Oh wait, there's that lilac tree in my yard set to flower in June and the wisteria vines loaded with buds, and the wild violets popping out from the ground, and the dandelions... well they might be difficult to cast. It's been awhile since I've had my hands in clay and this magnolia slab plate was a good way to get reacquainted with the slab roller. The plaster mold is still slightly soft but I couldn't wait any longer. Making plates with ultra thin slabs of porcelain is always a challenge in the drying and firing process, so I’m trying Matt & Dave’s new Cone 6 porcelain clay which promises to defy the cracking and warping traits I loathe about porcelain. Will post the results after the bisque firing.

Friday, April 2, 2010

'Wilson' porcelain bowl

Inspired by everyday objects around my house, this is a cast of my son’s basketball made in porcelain and glazed in his favorite color. For fun and memories, I made molds of some of his discarded balls that were lying under bushes and in the woods in my backyard. Actually, this basketball is the template and inspiration for many of the bowls I've made. So, I've decided to name this series of porcelain bowls, "Wilson". Does anyone remember that from the movie 'Castaway' with Tom Hanks?

I'm heading to Maryland for Easter weekend and will be posting more on this series next week.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The ambidextrous brain

Oh, how I wish this was a blog post with a picture of new work in progress. Rather than my dog Riley relaxing near two ailing Macs splayed open on the floor. Prepped and ready for a few hours of clay making earlier this week; remnants of dried clay and glaze wiped from the workspace, clean tools, a bag of new porcelain ready to be used - all was right in the world. Until my trusty five year old Mac laptop which streamed hours of endless music from Pandora failed me. Fortunately, it wasn’t the hard drive, but the internal AC port (the thingy that powers and charges the laptop) that was shot. Ever since I dropped it at an airport last year, it’s been a dance of jiggling the power cord just so – to keep it powered.

It was clear; no music, no art. The day of reckoning had come to fix it for good. Shifting from right brain to left was not in the plans. Nor was the delicate task of performing microsurgery on a laptop. Especially one that requires an entire toolkit to remove a hundred or so miniature screws of varying sizes known to mankind. The logical solution was to perform a transplant: remove the hard drive and install in a spare (problematic but fixable) laptop. Normally, in situations like this I’ll advise my clients, mostly artists, to just buy a new laptop and be done with it. In the long run it will save everyone much time and expense to start fresh. But, personally I hate to spend extra money on stuff that can be fixed by my hands… besides it was a challenge. As it turned out, the spare had the wrong blood type (hard drive connector) and I’m left to put everything back together and figure out which screws fit in which holes. Maybe I’ll just transfer the data from a backup and be done with it. And listen to an audio book or NPR in the meantime. Recently a client asked me, “How do you manage to be creative and technical at the same time - and what do people do without someone like you to fix their computer problems?” The first part of question was easy; most artists are problem solvers requiring the analytical left brain. The second part of the question left me thinking what you blogging artists do when technology fails. I wonder…..

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