Posts that have been sitting in the back of my mind

Part 1

My father sent me an article a week or so ago from the NY Times on the death of Tatsuzo Shimaoka. Tatsuzo work was characterized as "mingei", which is a term that means "craft of the people". Potters such as Randy Johnson and Ruggles/Rankin make pots of this nature as well. Tatsuzo studied under Hamada who is the grand-daddy of all of this...I believe ( I'm sure if I'm wrong in my phrasing of this Ron Philbeck will correct me!) ....( Ron too makes pots similar to the mingei traditions).
Anyhow, I wanted to write about this because although I don't make pots in the mingei tradition I have really come to love the pots made this way. When I first started out at Cedar Creek gallery and we carried pots made by Wil and Douglas and others who made similar work, I always found the pots to be chunky and ruff. After I went to school and studied up at Penland I slowly grew to love these pots. They are as they are intended to be; honest, functional and subtle. Believe it or not, I have tried to make pots like this, and here is where I believe you create what comes from within. What I mean by that is your personality, experiences in life and everything that influenced you growing up comes out in creativity. I'm sure you can be taught to mimic something but if it the creativity that you are striving for, you will come up with something that is created from within. I hope that makes sense. Its just my own take on that......
Part 2
I had a good trip down memory lane at my home show. My friend Scott and Debi Smith showed up with a "mystery" gift for me. They told me the story of going into the Hospice good-will store in Rock Hill and eyeing a bowl that seemed very familiar to them. As they told the story with a grin on their faces, I had no idea that somehow from Greenville NC to Rock Hill SC one of my soup bowls from my thesis show in 1999 ended up here! When they took the paper off, it was like seeing an old friend. As they both said when they saw it that it had to be one of mine because it was organic in nature and had similar imagery on it that I do now. What was great about seeing this bowl was that it came out of the salt kiln I used for 5 years at East Carolina and it had this wonderful buttery glaze on it that I formulated years ago. The part of the bowl that took on the salt was a blue slip that I had drawn through with a small loop tool. The bowl had a small crack in it and Scott said that when he took it home and unwrapped it the bowl jumped out of his hand and crashed. When he told me that I had to grin to myself and think of how my funny mind views my pots as little creatures. That little bowl had to make its journey back to see me one more time to remind me of things to come with my new kiln!


Photo's from christmas

We had a great Christmas. Joey and I agreed that it was one of the best Christmas's we had. Not a lot of stress. Lots of family time, good gifts and everyone had fun. We went ice skating ( well the kids and I did while Joey watched. What an experience trying to teach 3 kids how to skate at once!) Joey cooked up a storm this Christmas. We had crab soup, lamb, ricotta pie and a host of other goodies. I got to play lots of games with the kids and just relax and I was showered with all sorts of great gifts! Joey even painted our bedroom which was my only request this Christmas. Here are some high lights from our day!

Here is a T-shirt my friend Scott made. Joey got one too! ( He just can't get away from being pulled into the world of pottery no matter how much he tries!)

Here's our tree. Look at all the loot under it!

This is Quaid with his "Christmas cat". I know Paws did not care for this bow but as my mom always says, cats need to earn their keep. The day after Christmas Clayton brought me a big juicy mouse as a gift. She loves me.....

Here are the girls using their new little ironing board I got them. I think the table this day was being used as a vet table for sick animals. As you can see you always have to work in your dance attire.


Happy Holidays from Me!

I just wanted to send everyone who reads my blog a "e-card" from me.

I really appreciate all the comments you guys leave for me. I even like that fact that I can look on my map of the world and be amazed at how many hits I get from all over. I know not everyone reads my mis- spelled/grammatical errors and thoughts, but it still very neat to see those red dots.

A very Happy Holiday to all. I wish for everyone a peaceful Christmas, a kinder world in the New Year, the hopes of better leadership to come for our nation and for us here in the South...more rain.

All my thoughts and good wishes.

Peace, Jennifer


Holiday Day

Today was a great day. The girls got to go to a cookie decorating party and that meant Quaid got me all to himself. We had a fun day of going to the pet store, toy shopping( well looking and saying what Santa was and was not going to bring) and a cheap lunch at Target. When I was little my big thing was to go to a place called Woolworth's and get a grilled cheese at the lunch counter with my mom. I was remembering how much I loved this while Quaid ate his chicken nuggets.

Later in the day and in the evening we made cookies. Here's my cake plate with some frosted up treats. Joey and I also made granola for our neighbors instead of cookies this year. I hope they eat stuff like that!!

The favorite part of my day was picking out a special mug for my mid-day coffee break. We have lots of 2nd's that we use as everyday mugs in our house. With kids you've got to sort of use things you won't cry over if they get broken. All my "fancy" mugs are on a shelf for all to see. Today I pulled down one of those. This mug is by Gay Smith and I wanted to show that we keep our coffee in a nice covered jar I made and the Splendar in a cup by Mark Peters. Boy that cup of coffee was soooooooooo good.

Here is my center piece for the dinning room table. My folks and my grandmother will be with us for Christmas this year. I can not wait to set my Christmas table!



I was starting to take the last of my pots in from my show the other night and thought I'd take a few photo's to post on the blog. I still have a great selection of pots for two galleries that I'm taking work too in January and February. This hardly ever happens and is never that case in my line of work! I also have some great pots for some new photo's to be taken. This is also a treat because usually making the pots for the slides I need. I guess maybe I am finally getting a head of myself with inventory which is a good feeling I just concluded!
Here are some candle sticks. They look like a small army to me!
These are my "rock cups". I call them that because I have a friend who bought a bunch of them to be used for mixed cocktails...which I thought was a good idea. Why use glass when you can drink out of pottery at a party. At least if you drop it, it may not break!
These vases are my twins. I try to make the arms and sides so they can fuse together nicely in the kiln. I just stack them next to each other and they fuse together nicely when they the lean towards one another.

Here are two pitchers. I enjoy the lines that I've draw on these because I think they make the piece look taller. I think I need to work on some reasoning and thought on where I put the sprigs.


Thinking, resting, searching

Its Sunday evening. All is quiet here. Today I got such the feeling of being an ordinary family. I'm sure this sounds a bit odd but it hit me around 11am after we had slept in and the kids where jumping on our bed, I got to watch Sunday Morning with a cup of coffee and the paper while the kids played. I then just picked up the house and planned a day of shopping and seeing a movie with my girls. No running to my studio in the back of my mind. This to me is probably what normal families do. There are many times I feel "un-ordinary" and weather this is good thing or not I'm lost in that thought a lot. When I really sit down and contemplate what I mean by this its my own insecurities of being a good mother, wife and friend while trying to satisfy this need for my own ambitions. Time and time again I can hear Linda Christensen say to me that she worked soooo hard to receive a very prestigious grant that when she finally got the money she just felt remorse". At the time I didn't really understand what she was trying to tell me but this year especially I think I finally do understand.
I think with rest does come some deep thoughts. I know I'm not the only one running through life so fast that I forgot to sit back and contemplate things. I am going to do that in the next few weeks. I feel good about somethings I accomplished this year but always fall back on weather I'm being more of a business person or creative person. Is selling more important or making more important? Do I make things for customers or for my peers? I'm at a real turning point with the building of this new kiln. Lots of new things to really think about. On my Christmas list this year I told my sister-in-law to get me a new sketch book. Mine is very beat up and I have a need for some clean crisp pages for ideas. I use my sketch book for very quick ideas and notes from workshops. My resolution this year is to carry it with me more places so I am forced to jot down all my thoughts while I sit in car pool lines and such.
I am excited for a new year in my studio. We may even try and get a home improvement loan so we can build and garage-studio for me! I need time away from producing. More time for the kids,games, thoughts, my husband and me. I like the using the word " decompressing" and "searching" because those are feeling that kept poking me in the back of my head today.

Holiday Show

I first have to apologize for totally forgetting my camera yesterday during my show. Putting everything together on Friday and having Mary Anna here with me and customers in and out, I totally forgot to document the days events. (I guess I haven't been the best blogger lately! )

With that out of the way..... the day was cold and rainy which did not seem to deter the York folks from coming out and supporting us. I had a lot of neighbors stop by and some folks from my children school. I of course enjoy visiting with my neighbors and fellow "York-y-ins" but having some of the Gastonia crowd come by really made me feel good. I don't think any of these people read my blog but I will say thanks to them for coming by. I never seem to get any kind of students or traffic from Charlotte which kind of gets me down sometimes but I guess I can understand the drive. There is no longer a shop here in town where I can sell my work so I think I just need to focus on the positive fact that I do my home shows for the folks I know here in town.

All day Friday Joey and I worked on getting the house cleaned up and decorated for the event. I'm happy to report that I had NO kiln cooling on Saturday morning to unload. I did however on Saturday morning feel the need to sleep in longer than I should have and we all where running around until the time we opened like chickens with our heads cut off. ( This is never a good role model for the children and I have proven time and time again that when we are stressed the kids act up). Quaid elected to hang out at the house with Mary Anna and myself all day and I think he really enjoyed seeing some adults he knew. The girls went Christmas shopping with their Dad and I was amazed he was able to keep them out for the entire day!

Here is a photo of just one of the items Mary Anna makes. They are bird houses with various found objects and pottery shards attached to them. They are pretty funky but lots of fun. Some of them even have my old pots attached to them!



The glaze kiln is cooling and I'm getting ready to head out and finish putting black stain on my next load of work. I made these really neat pillow ornaments that I'm excited to see when they are finally done. The girls sat outside with me yesterday and went crazy playing with clay while I put my "pillows" together. They where stamping leaves and rocks in my porcelain. Normally I would not want to spare any of it but the day was nice and since its before Christmas I want them to have some good memories and not any of mom just working constantly and they being inside on there own to fend with their toys. This weekend it all will come to an end and I'll take a break to enjoy time with them and the holidays.

Last night I had book club and enjoyed a topic that caused a heated debate among the group of ladies I meet with. This group is made up of friends of mine that I met when Quaid was a baby and I joined a "Mothers Morning Out" group at a near by church. Normally I would not have anything in common with most of these people but through out the years we have bounded with all the ups and downs of motherhood. With that being said there are about 10 ladies who are very Conservative in the group and only 5 of us who are on the other side of the fence. The book we read was by Michaiel Creichton on global warmer called State of Fear. Our next book was one I choose called Fast Food Nation. This is the second year I've participated in the group and although I don't always get the books read I do enjoy the chance to kind of step out of my comfort zone and hear other peoples view of things.

Thursday update: Just got back from going on a field trip with Quaid, my glaze out came out great and another bisque is cooling. Tomorrow will be the set up and people are already calling about needing to come a day early! Hopefully this is a good sign.

Two days ago I came in from my studio to find a little chip monk hopping around the kitchen. I was alone with the kids so you could just image when I called Quaid, my 7 year old for help, what it was like for the chip monk trying to be captured by a 7 year old boy and two screaming 4 year old girls. We never caught him but Quaid did try to make all sorts of cardboard box traps that night. Joey's answer was to let the cats get it. Of course I knew that the reason we had the chipmonk in the house was BECAUSE of the cats. Well one in particular. Anyways two days later, here I was sitting at my desk while the house was quiet and he came out again. This time I opened the front door and with in an hour I saw him find his way out.
This evening I was running back into the house to take a break from glazing and found a poor dead squirrel by my potters wheel and one smiling cat beside it!!!! I guess Clayton is trying to give me my Christmas gifts early.



Today the weather is back up in the 70's so my Christmas cheer is a little wishy-washy. Here is a flower that I noticed today that is also confused about what is going on. It makes me smile to see that it popped up from under all these leaves in one of my flower beds that looks all brown and asleep for the winter.

I"m doing my usual last minute rush to get ready for my home show. Really I"m not in a "panic" as I normally am, but I am finishing up stuff today and will start the kilns tomorrow...one after another. The big work is the state of my house. Keeping things pick-up is about all I have time for;cleaning isn't always a priority around here. Joey and I laugh about all the paint that is chipped on the molding and the dust that seems to be everywhere in the house. I think old houses come with invisible dust monkeys that drop more than normal houses because no matter how much you dust...there is always more. And did I mention that we live in a house that is over 100 years old! Thursday I am "borrowing" my parents cleaning lady and boy is she in for a shock! As for the studio and glaze barn, that will be my job and even though I do clean up after each big round of work, I REALLY need to do a bang up job just incase people want to see where I work and check out the new kiln. I haven't done a home show in 2 years!

On the family front, we had a busy weekend of running around to various Christmas parties, birthday parties and music concerts....very busy weekend for us! The kids only have a week and half left of school and Christmas will be here! The older they get the more I realise how much I love doing all the Christmas traditional stuff so they have great memories growing up.

I'll try to post some pottery photo's soon!


Doing it all

I get a treat today because Joey took a half day off so he's running the car pool and I've spent all morning paying bills and I'm about to go out and work. The temp. here is 35 so to me it is starting to feel like christmas. I grew up in Upstate NewYork so for a long time I got a little down about christmas here in the South without any snow. Since I've lived here now for over 20 years alittle bit of cold is all I need these days. ( I do hate christmas day if it is in the 60's!) But of course cold weather means a cold studio so I just turned my heater and I thought I'd take some time to post.

So far this week its been all about trying to decorate the house, shop and work all at the same time. Of course I am also still doing the norm that goes on around here - cleaning, homework ect. I always get a huge burst of energy around the holidays so in January I usually just lay low and
re coop. I love to go toy searching for the kids and of course get the best deals so I've been all over the place checking different things out before I spend any money. I like taking the girls with me so I can see what they really want. This year pretty much they want IT ALL. Quaid on the other hand has been bringing his lego catalog everywhere with him and only wants two things. Quaid got to hang out with me last weekend at the Clayworks show. He was very excited to finally get to go to a show that I was in. He did pretty good and entertained those folks who where working as well. ( Thank Elaine for talking to him about your work!)

In the studio I've been enjoying making cups, bowls, small dipping dishing and just basically not to much the requires a lot of assembly. I feel like I did most of that before the CDC so I'm enjoying just doing simple things. I am getting excited about my Holiday home show. It will be next Saturday , December 15th from 10 t0 5. This year my friend Mary Anna is going to bring some things that she's been working on. She makes there really cool bird houses out of found objects along with some wall pieces and other smaller items. I love hanging out with Mary Anna because she likes to laugh. It is always nice having someone to do a show with and keep you company just in case the crowd does not show up!

I think my studio should be warm by now. Hope your enjoying getting ready for the holiday!



Ok, so I just re-read what I wrote the other night. I just got around to editing whatever run-ons I had....which where a lot.

Maybe one day they will be able to put some sort of chip in people's heads that have learning issues. Today I noticed that Aydan has been writing her name backwards. I use to be able to write my name upside down and backwards. When I saw this I asked her if she does this a lot in school. She answered yes, but her teacher makes her change it. I do watch very closely how the children are doing with their learning because I just know my learning disability gene had to get passed down to one of them. It is still early to make a verdict about the girls but I see more signs with them then I ever did with Quaid and he has ADD. Anyways........if you've ever wondered how I got through grad school, I can recall many times Joey proof read everything I wrote including my thesis.


Bottled Water

I was listening to Fresh Air last week with Terry Gross on NPR and for two days in a row she had topics on that dealt with bottled water. One day a guy was talking about how bad the plastic was for humans to drink out of because they omitted toxic particles into your body. The next day another man said that making bottled water wasted a lot of water. As I was listening I was drinking my bottled water I had bought at the gas station. Boy did I feel guilty and sick feeling all at the same time. Of course I than for the next few days got hooked on thinking about how great it would be if I could make some sort of little flask with a cork in it so people could have bottled water in a clay bottle. Of course it would be kind of heavy but as for the cup holder thing, I do make tumblers that fit in my cup holders so it could be done.
This is just one of those thoughts that I'm sure I will never act on. I just keep rehashing it over and over in my head. I know one thing, I'm staying away from bottled water for awhile. The bad thing is I'm sure I'll go back to my diet coke!