Wagon HO

My students had asked me at the beginning of the session to talk a little bit about setting up a studio. I can remember thinking once upon a time how does one get a cool barn with running water, a fan, equipment, floor drain and all the other "grand" essentials you need to make pots. ( I'm wondering that 12 years later.) I think somewhere between grad school and doing a concentration up at Penland I realised that not everyone has all that or needs all that to make pots. So, this was a great topic for me. I started in our laundry room/porch which was about the size of a closet at our first house. Here I am about 8 month preg. with Quaid. When he finally came into the world, he would sit in his bouncy seat on top of the dryer while I worked. ( I can't believe I just put that photo out for all to see! Not to mention I figured out how to scan it on my own...)

I was telling my students that I think the most important part of making a studio in your home/garage or porch is covering every inch in plastic. I learned my lesson at our first house.
While driving home today I remembered the one piece of equipment I failed to mention that I've had since grad school. My little red wagon!
Yes, I'm a girl. I put everything heavy in it to haul back and forth from my car, the kiln shed, you name it. This was from a few days ago when I was recycling clay. In school my pal Amy Evans and I both got one for Christmas the same year and we use to laugh about having races around the art building.
Amy...did we ever do that?
Anyways, my Radio Flyer has served me well.

I wonder if they make cars?


Checking In

Yesterday I finished most all my lectures and test preps for my course so I "indulged" myself in cleaning up my studio. Did I ever think THIS would be the joy of my day?? Ahhh..never, but last night it was. I got to unwrap all the pots I had feverishly taken out of the kiln for ( was it) last weekends show in Blowing Rock and I sat down to examine/study them more closely. Such an important thing to do which got thrown by the wayside last time. A few pieces I'm going to re-fire because I wasn't happy with some of the glaze results.

Later today I'm planning on ( yes....you guessed it) pugging fresh clay. Yessssss.... I think I said a few blogs back that my last order of Helios was super hard so I'm just re-pugging all of it. Tonight I will get to throw...yahhhh..joy - oh- bliss! I also cleaned up my show entries on my blog as well as added a few new blogs to my list. ( I have more to add as well so keep looking!)

Today, the kids and I are "car-free", which I think is good thing. They have been playing all morning together with various playmobil set-ups. I think the Indians are attacking the Unicorns as I'm writing. This morning at 6am , Joey's car died about a block from our house. Oil was everywhere. One could look at this as a SUPER bad thing or one could just go with the flow and except it as another bump in the road. We'll see what our mechanic says. By the way, our mechanic's here in York are brothers and their names ARE "Brother and Bobby". All my "mommy/bookclub" friends use them here and we all talk about how nice they are. I can honestly say, they are the most honest mechanics we have ever had and of course there is nothing fancy about their shop. I love the fact I can call down there and say "Hey! This is Jen Mecca. Is this Bobby or Brother? ".

I looked for a Cartoon of Calvin's ( of Calvin and Hobbs) mother looking like she had hit a brick wall to ease the pain of maybe being faced with trying to find a new car but I couldn't find one. Many days I feel like that cartoon!
More to come....


Needed Escape

Last night I got to escape for an hour into the quiet world of Karen Karnes via the Cleveland County Independent Film Festival. I knew after hearing a few stories about her that she is extremely different than myself but I always find that seeing someone in my same discipline work and live differently than I do always does my spirit well. This film was so quiet, simple and serene in its nature that I thought the film maker captured Karen's serene, no nonsense way of life perfectly. She is someone that when you see her forms and hear her talk, you totally see the connection between the two. I felt so relaxed when I came out of the film I think I drove home going 45 instead of my usual pushing the peddle to the metal to get where ever I need to go in a timely fashion( this is on the interstate of course). Karen lives in Vermont among wonderful trees, brooks and nature all around. One could not help but be serene. ( Maybe we can transform our water issues with our neighbor into a babble-brook so I can have a bit more serenity in my life! ha)

Karen had a great quote that I wrote down in the dark of the movie theater that hit home for me:

"There are no big leaps from where you are..."

I need to put that on a big piece of paper in my studio. In the context of this quote she was talking about how so many young potters want to be brilliant early on. Such a direct smack in the face and so true.

...back to Art Appreciation, today's lecture...Graphic Design.


Day to Day Things

Here is my clay drying up..its calling me to come and put it in plastic bags and take it out to the shed. I'm antsy to get out there and work. I just realised last night how much my clay time is important and special to me.( I'm getting a bit crabby!) Its almost like going to see a movie some days..pure rest and relaxation. I know I get this feeling at the beginning of a throwing cycle. At the end when I'm about to go to a show, its work and I'm stressed. I've been building on a goal to organize my life and priorities since the girls have been born. Teaching a course is a necessity to our finances and it is the priority this week. I've to got to push on through and get it done and put my blinders onto to my studio or I'll get sucked in.Teaching my clay class for the most part is fun. The hour long drive there and back is not fun- its a priority and with the price of gas that drive and the fun associated with teaching shrinking. This KILLS me at times but priorities always need to be done before play. Stable pay checks sometimes out weigh "soft money" although I have had a good year with my sales.

Family priorities are at the top of list but as a mom and kind of the "Captain" of this boat this summer I've been trying to get my crew to help out more. The word aallowance has been popping up a lot lately so I figured I'll let go of some stuff and get the children involved more in cleaning with an incentive attached. Here is what we came up with today..our Chore Chart. With anything and our three children we had lots of back and fourths about how much they should get paid for each tasks, who was going to do what and on and on it went. When it was time to do the work this morning the comments and bossiness that was going back and forth made me wonder if I could listen to all the bickering. I chose finally just to go outside and hang out the cloths while these two attempted to do the breakfast dishes. ( I wonder if that Ronan Peterson cup made it safely through the dish cycle!)


Class playtime

Tomorrow morning is class. I'm teaching a short summer session for only 6 weeks with a new crew of people. Some I've taught before , some are new to me. Once again, its a great group. We are kind of doing a mix bag of stuff this go around. Some people wanted to work on there own glazes, some wanted to learn Majolica and some just where there for any kind of throwing demo's I wanted to do.
Here is an example of a majolica cup and saucer I did for them. I gave the cup to my friend Debi because she is watching my children for me while I teach every Thurseday morning. She and her husband Scott are great supportors of my work and what I do so I thought she would like this for her tea in the morning.
This week I'm finishing up a very time consuming baking dish. All of this is fun for me. I can spend an hour glazing and working on the surface of something and my students enjoy watching me do this ( I hope!). I find I can't do this yet with my own work. I guess I kind of feel like time is money and perhaps I just don't feel like my forms are there yet to put it all together. That's a whole other blog post and one that I'm not sure I could even get all my thoughts about that out on paper..well screen in this case. So for now, I'll play at work. I find the spontaneity of what I come up with sometimes to be fresh . I guess its that whole creative process that just comes from somewhere when you least think about it.

No studio time yet. My pots are still packed up and my set-up is half put away half in the studio with kids running by it everyday. My clay that I'm recycling is drying up and my pug mill misses me( well I'd like to think it does). I'm still re-writing lectures and getting to know art history and art elements once again. Its a bit stressful but I just keep plugging along.


Creative Thinking

On page 21 of Clay Times this month Pete Pinnell has a good article about creative thinking. He talks more about how people perceive artists than on the creative process but his take of how people view those of us who do creative things, hits close to home for me. He references a book by Ellen Dissanayake called Homo Aestheticus: Where Art Comes from and Why. He says the Dissanayake argues that art-making ( the act of making special) is as intrinsic to human nature as eating or sleeping.

At any rate, if you can get a copy of this check out the article. I always enjoy his articles. He seems very level headed about things and doesn't take life to serious. I have no idea if I'm right about this or not but would love to take a workshop with him at some point.


Kids plates

Here's a quick post from a few shows back. Some people wanted to see the finished plates I put in the Song Catchers show that is currently at Lark and Key in Charlotte. Like I said, I didn't get to go to the opening but Ron, Amy and Julie where there and Ron was nice enough to snap this photo for me of my plates. Sandy Snead, one of the owners made each of us a DVD with all the tunes each artist picked for there work. I've been enjoying that, of course the only connection to the show I have is the pieces and the songs that each of my potter buddies had chosen. At a glace I'm still not taken with how my plates came out but the subject matter and "assignment" was completed in my mind. I guess I would give myself a B- on this.( The photo is a little far away so I'm just going by what my memory is.) My girls where so thrilled to see there drawing on this snap-shot. They think they are famous artists now!
Can you tell I've been working on my course work for my class...I'm totally in teacher mode this week!


Blowing Rock

Here are some shots from Blowing Rock. The weather was great, the crowd was big and sales where pretty good! I always enjoy this show.

Here are some photo's of my display and some pots that I may have posted in the bone dry stage earlier in the week ( maybe month ago by the rate I go at posting things..ha!)Here are some boxes and a small two person serving dish with the raven on top. This was my best selling yesterday. Time to make some more!

This plate and the platter below are in the above shot of my display. I also have here some egg cups or salt sellers, which every someone wants them to be. These where fun because I put little bumble bee's on them.

On the bottom right is one of my oval casserole dishes. I'm still thinking about this form. Offer up any suggestions you might have. Maybe I'm just not meant to make this item. I think everyone has there struggles with certain things and I'm always the first one to call myself out on that.

There where some really good potters at this show. Emily Reason and LeAnne Ash are potters from the Energy Xchange and I was a bit bashful in introducing myself to them when I went into their booths. ( They where busy both times as well and I didn't want to interrupt a sale. ) I could kick myself now from not getting a piece from each of them but we've been on a budget here at the Lawler/Mecca plantation so we can get our house painted so I refrained from buying pots. ( OH...that always hurts when I do!!) Please check out the website for the Energy Xchange..I know its a great place!


Off To Blowing Rock

Just thoughts I'd put a little post up saying I'll be at Arts in the Park this weekend in Blowing Rock North Carolina. I'm all packed and ready to go. It has been a busy two days. Today Joey, my niece and I went white water rafting..I'll talk more about that soon and I'll have photo's of pots also.
Have a good Saturday!Jen



I tend to get a little stuck on trays for things. I love to make sets but than when it comes to containing the items I've made...I get stuck. I always know that they should compliment one another, which I try to always do but than I see another potters trays I think to myself, "Now that tray works...what's up with mine??".

So here are some images of the tray I made for my cream a sugar set.
(The bottom, to show the feet and than the piece right side up)
The biggest issue was that upside down handle on my creamer. Whoops! Your right, it hangs down to low to fit the correct way in the tray. Back to the drawing board and time to recycle the trays that are drying.

I started to stain more of my work for the kiln this evening and while doing so I enjoyed a video called "Bill Cosby , Himself". I haven't listened to his old monologues ( things like Old Weird Harold and Brain Dead Kids ) in a long time so some of his skits where knew to me. I was laughing so hard at all the stuff about kids and husbands that the dog next door came close to our yard and started barking like crazy at the noise I was making. I love to laugh.

Tomarrow I unload the kiln and a new one goes in.



Here a few shots from today.
Bakers with the old handles...only one cracked this time because I let them sit for a few weeks. We'll see how I like them once they come out of the glaze kiln.

Here's a bisque that I worked on waxing and glazing this evening.

Quaid insisted I put a image of HIS sculpture up on my blog this evening. He had a lot fun with the modeling clay today while the girls painted with my teenage helper. I love the colors of this stuff. If only mason stains were not so expensive and you could buy clay in all sorts of colors...I would be in heaven!


Weekend away

I just got back from a little trip to Charlottesville Va. with a friend of mine from college. A mutual friend of ours that I hadn't see in a numbers of years had a wedding party so we got to "rode-trip" for the weekend. The party was very cool and was in the downtown part of Charlottesville at an Indian restaurant. Debra, my friend who got married is a great, funny and energetic person to be around and is the Director of a great organization called The Wesley Foundation . Deb is a one of those people who when she asks you about how you are , or what you've been up to, she is genuinely interested in you and what you have to say. Her students are very lucky to have her. Congrads Deb!

Charlottesville and the trip through Virgina was just the best. I forgot how much I loved living in that State when I was in college. The rolling hills and all the interesting things going on in the town just made me want to pack my bags and head North. ( I even called Joey and said "we need to move to Charlottesville!")It was good to get away and visit with college friends but as always I'm happy to be home with my crew and its always great to have three little people bowl you over with hugs as soon as they see you.

This evening I was back throwing some tumblers and making my pillow tiles. Tomorrow I'll start glazing my first batch of pots for the show.



Here are some cream and sugar sets. The first photo is right after they are thrown..I love clay this way. The next is after I've added handles and don't some incising on them. I'm deciding about the trays. I think most people like cream and sugar sets with trays but these guys seem bulkier than my normal sets so I'm torn on what to do. Good lesson for me when thinking about people using my pots and what I envision will happen. I'll keep you posted on what I come up with.

The kids are outside playing with a friends and I have to get going on dinner. Tonight is Quaid's favorite dinner night...breakfast for dinner!


Beginning of week

Here are some covered jars that I finished yesterday. I also thought I'd put up an example of one of my interpretation of a Lillie. This is the inside of a what I call a mixing bowl. Last night I started on some cream and sugar sets. Tonight I'm going to work on assembling a bunch of stuff that has been under plastic.

I'm spending a lot of time getting my distant learning course up and going. The poor women I'm working with is being really patient with me when it comes to setting up my page and getting my lectures in order. I've been taking the text with me everywhere I go trying to get in more reading time and highlighting so I can get everything set by early August. While other mom's are reading romance novels or chatting it up at the pool there I am I'm sitting there with my Art Appreciation text and a pink high lighter! GEEK!

Thanks to everyone who left comments about my "Bo" story. (I'll report back on the clay after I test it.) I could write a book about all the interesting people and places that we have experienced since we moved to this little town 7 years ago. The pool in its self could be a whole story, but it has nothing to do with clay, so I'll save that for my memoirs. Ha! ( Now that I think about it, I may be one of the characters in a book someone else might write about York!)

Ya' all have a good one!



Today was spent staining pieces to go in the bisque kiln and throwing small casseroles,platters and relish dishes. Later in the day I headed out to the shed to pug more clay. Since I have such a small space, when scrapes of clay start piling up I have no where to store them so I end up pugging my clay at least once a week in small amounts. Here are the girls helping me for the first time. I'm having more patience with them wanting to be with me while I work. Usually when I'm getting ready to throw and I need some peace, I very nicely explain to them that I need to think and if they want to be out working with me, they need to be pretty quiet. Today I knew they wanted to watch me use the pug-mill so I gave them some clay and they worked away on pinch pots while I reconstituted my porcelain. Boy does that work zone look like its needs some serious cleaning!

Today was also spent reading my text book in preparation for the Art Appreciating class that I'm going to teach in the fall. Its nice to
re- familiarize myself with paintings and historic events that shaped the art world. This turns on a whole different light bulb in my brain when it comes to what I do for a living.



Hope everyone had a good July 4th...we did! I've been able to get in a lot of studio time in along with some family fun. Today we took the kids to see Wall-E and thought it was great - good message. For once I was glad to see a G-rated movie that was not to corny for grown-ups that was not rated PG because it had to have off color humor so adults will sit through it with there kids. ( I'll get off my moral band-wagon....) Go see Wall-E!
Here are a few shots of things..salt/pepper and some covered jars. The finished salt/peppers are seconds that I've kept around so I can get the proportions right.

Here are some lilies from my garden. It is just so cool to really look at the detail of a flower when it finally opens up. I'm always in awe of things like this. I got the Wayside seed catalog a few weeks ago and I'm still looking at all the plants and getting some ideas for some new drawings on my pots. I like to take real floral images and change them to have a more representation look to them. I do lilies a lot on my pieces because they are one of my favorite flowers.


Small Town Living

My neighbor across the street is 80 years old and was born and raised in the house that he lives in today with his wife Andy. His name is Bo and everyone in York knows Bo. I think secretly he might run the town!

He has great stories about York and comes from a long line of people with lots of "colorful" history. My favorite thing and not so favorite thing about Bo is that he loves to shoot squirrels right in his yard. He does this so they will stay out of his prize vegetable garden and I've learned that shooting squirrels is a southern tradition around here. Needless to say when we first moved here and I heard a shot gun go off across the street, I nearly had heart failure. These days when we hear the sound of gun fire even our kids say " there goes Bo shooting a poor squirrel". ( We of course do everything we can to make our yard a squirrel habitat because squirrel shooting is...well kind of....horrible.)

Yes, I do know that most everyone out there HATE squirrels but someone has got to give them a break.

The other great thing about Bo and Andy is that in the summer time they sit out on their huge Charleston looking porch and have cocktails every night. They call these drinks " libations". I can always count on seeing them around 7pm watching whatever is going on around our street.( Most days I'm sure we are their main entertainment since we are right across the street and we are a little nuts! ) I also can count on hearing them calling from their porch "JENNIFER"! And I know to go right on over because there is something important that I need to know about or retrieve like vegetables or a history lesson or local gossip.

Last night when we came in from taking the kids on a bike ride , Bo called me over to show me this hunk of clay. He told me how he was down at our local cemetery that day watching the guys dig up some earth and they came across all this clay. He told me if I wanted it there was tons and I just needed to let him know. He then explained to me that even though he doesn't own the cemetery he could get me all I wanted. ( This is one of the reasons I think he must own the town. Well this and also the fact that I know the police will never come over to his home when ever someone complains about him shooting squirrels in his backyard...in a residential section of town I might add.) On hearing this and explaining to him about having to test it and such I asked him if I could go down and look at the hole they had dug to check it out. He told me...and I quote , " well, no you can't go down there tomorrow because there putting a body in that hole but I know they can dig you some more!" On that note images of old caskets and such being dug up for this free clay came to mind.

Joey and I go back and forth a lot about trying to move away from our small town but this is what I like about a small town also. Here is a man who is not the mayor of York. Can shoot squirrels out of trees in a residential neighborhood with out getting in any sort of trouble. Does not own the cemetery but can get a back hoe right near some poor souls grave sight to dig up clay for the local potter with out even having to ask any ones permission! Now that is power..................