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Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Designer fail

When I lived in Laramie, Wyoming I was driving through downtown one day and thought I saw something I hadn't noticed before. "No, I must have seen that wrong" I told myself, not stopping to check it out. On another trip through town I drove past again and yes, I did see what I thought I had the first time.


How many people had their hands involved with this design? Did it slip through the cracks on a busy Monday? Was the conversation had but strong armed towards the unexplainable? A prank by a disgruntled worker?


I wonder how it happened, why it happened, who did it, and how many times a day they respond to inquiries about space travel.

Design fail.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Don't get famous for drawing circles

While nursing another summer ear infection I watched some videos on Youtube, and found a particular quote worth sharing with artists.

"If you draw circles, then you get famous for drawing circles. What happens if you start drawing squares? Well, I'd say the answer to that is don't get famous for drawing circles"- Trey Anastasio

Friday, August 31, 2012

Destroyed Spanish Jesus fresco doppleganger in Worcester

So you know the Spanish fresco of Jesus that was destroyed in an irreparable way in an attempt to repair deterioration? You know how Jesus looks like a character from Planet of the Apes now? At my recent visit to the Worcester Art Museum I saw a plate with faces that reminded me of it. Odd.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Mystic Arts Festival

This August my husband and I went on our annual anniversary trip. We decided to keep things close to home and spent a week in Rhode Island and Connecticut. They are two places we've been quite a bit, but have never really taken much time to dig around too much. One of the stops we made on our trip was the Mystic Outdoor Arts Festival. It's been a long time since I've attended an event as a visitor and not a vendor,  so it was nice to be on the other side of things for a change.

The festival was spread around the downtown area, sprawling down many side roads. The river was between all the action, so we sat along it with iced coffees and muffins for breakfast. The forecast wasn't good and the sky was pretty dumpy looking, but it stayed dry and the sun had even come out by the time we were leaving. 

There was a selection of mediums there, but for some reason painters dominated the booths. I had to really dig to find the few potters that were doing the event. We saw some really nice jewelry along the way too, and had an all around nice morning and afternoon at the show.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Pots at the Worcester Art Museum

I recently took my first visit to the Worcester Art Museum and I love their pots! One of the first rooms I saw  on my visit was filled with Chinese pottery and made me gasp in the doorway. If you know me, you know this gasp. It's loud and dramatic and sincere, generally making people around me think there's an emergency of sorts. Rarely it is, and usually it's something much more simple like a really cute puppy, or in this case, a room full of pretty pots. GASP!

After making my through that gallery I turned the corner and entered another. In about a half second my eyes narrowed in on a Shimaoka bottle across the space. I had wandered into the Japanese gallery and it was filled with more pretty pots and prints. GASP!

The rest of the museum was great too, but here's a few pics of the pots.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Ebenezer's Pub in Lovell, Maine

During my recent trip to Maine I made the obligatory stop to Ebenezer's Pub in Lovell. It's always a good excuse to go up to Maine and if you're already up these it's an equally good excuse to head over for some beer. But prepare your belly for something special, this is no ordinary beer bar. It is a world class beer bar with an incredible and unparalleled selection. If you like delicious beer you are in for a serious treat.

Just because it's in the middle of nowhere doesn't mean people don't know about it. Owners Chris and Jen Lively have poured their hearts and souls into this place and it shows. It is consistently rated at the best beer bar in the country, often the world. While they serve many styles of beer that aren't Belgian, it is the theme and focus of the bar. As they say, 'It's like you died and went to Belgium'.

There's always something interesting to try at Ebenezer's, and it's always more than I am able to. This visit one of the highlights was Evil Twin Brewing's Soft Dookie. It was a super delicious imperial stout and it makes me curious to try more from this brewery. My husband had their Yin, an imperial stout meant to be had as half of a black and tan with Yang, a double IPA. I tried a sip of the Yin and it was also really good, but I'd really like to try more at some point. The brewery isn't so much a 'brewery' as it is a brewer. Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø is a Danish brewer who doesn't have a brewery of his own, rather he jumps from one to the next, using the spaces of others to make his own batches. 

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Alexander Calder planes

I learned that artist Alexander Calder had designed paintings to be placed on jets of Braniff International Airways in the early 70's on my recent visit to the Dallas Museum of Art. He designed the plane as a "flying canvas" and finished two before his death with a third in progress.

The airline name or logo didn't appear on the plane, only the artists signature and his design. The airline chairman called it a "happy combination of international travel, business, and the arts" and that it "would allow millions of people to see an original Calder". It's sad to see this type of thing is no longer embraced by corporations.

Monday, August 06, 2012

My visit to Salad Days at Watershed

While I was planning my busy summer schedule I made sure to include a free weekend so I could go to Salad Days at Watershed up in Newcastle, Maine. I've been wanting to go for a few years but there's always something else going on so this year I made sure not to schedule a show that weekend. My husband and I decided early in the year we'd use it as an excuse to make a weekend of it and go canoeing, something we wanted to do on a trip last year but didn't get to.

 This year's resident artist was Adam Paulek. By the time we arrived an hour and a half after the event began the plates were slim pickings already. I heard when it began it was a mad rush to get up to the table to choose one from the 500 plates made from the local clay. While there were only a few dozen or so left when we arrived it wasn't hard for each of us to find a really nice one, rather it was a little tricky to decide between a few we each liked.

In the end I went with a plate that has a white glaze that looks sort of like a shino over the deep red earthenware and a cut away lip. I liked the decal of pitchers in a row and the rooster eating a flower. My husband went with a teal colored plate that has a really interesting textured surface. It also has a decal of a woman with a lamb head sitting in a chair. Very odd and really awesome.

 After eating our salad lunch we wandered to the tent where the invitational sale was happening. There was lots of great work there by Ayumi Horie, Ingrid Bathe, and lots of others but I gasped when I saw the work of Susan Dewsnap. I've loved her work for a while now and didn't realize she was part of the show so I was super excited to get to see and handle her work for the first time. I ended up walking away with a plate of hers. Rather fitting, don't you think?

 The rest of our weekend in Maine was awesome, as it always is. I love it up there and would happily live anywhere in the state. We're hoping to make room for this weekend for ourselves each year, it's a good excuse to buy some pots and have a fun weekend getaway.

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Jamaica Plain Open Studios at The Brewery Complex

Hop vines growing at the Sam Adams brewery in JP
Later this fall I'll be participating in my first Jamaica Plain Open Studios. I really like doing shows in JP, people are always really nice and interested in what is going on in their town. I'm pretty excited for this two day event and I'm even more excited for my booth to be in The Brewery Complex parking lot aka Sam Adams parking lot. It's no secret I'm a big advocate of craft brews, especially if they are local. Sam Adams has a long and important history in the American beer story so im looking forward to selling my steins so close to their headquarters.

Saturday, August 04, 2012

How to make tent and canopy weights

**Alright guys, real talk. Let me plead with you for a moment about the importance of weights at shows. If you already understand this importance perhaps you can pass this along to a friend who doubts the unpredictable power of mother nature. It is not only incredibly important but necessary to properly weight your canopy tent for all outdoor shows. It doesn't matter how still you expect it to be, weight your tent. I have seen very strong single gusts come out of nowhere at shows. It happens. Weather is unpredictable. To not prepare for this puts yourself and so much else at risk. The property and bodies of yourself, other vendors, shoppers, and organizers are all compromised if you choose to ignore the possibility of disaster. While this may seem dramatic I have seen too many tents grow wings out of nowhere, too many events that don't enforce their own tent weight rules, and worse yet, too many vendors with no weights or inadequate ones. 10 pounds on each leg isn't going to do anything when your tent is ready to fly. For the sanity and safety of everyone please properly weight your tent.** Thanks guys. I knew you'd understand. :D

8/16/12 update- THIS is what can happen with improperly or unweighted tents. Boooooo

I had been wanting to upgrade my tent weights for a while and was looking for something that was taller than it was short, like the weights I had been using. I worry about people not looking where they are going while passing by my booth and tripping over weights so I really wanted something taller than short and easy to move. These instructions I found seemed great so I used them as my design. 

The hardest part of this project is lugging the bags of concrete so it helps if you've got a strong friend to help you. I had help from the hardware store staff for both lifting the concrete in and out of my cart and cutting my PVC pipe for me. I opted for the flat plastic caps on the bottom of the weights so it can rest sturdily on the ground and be bungee corded to the tent legs and upper tent frame. I'm happy with my end result and and thinking of ways to try to disguise the weights a bit. I think I may get some fabric at some point to hang around my booth, but for the moment I'm satisfied with my upgrade.

Friday, August 03, 2012

ArtBeat 2012

The most recent event I've done was the 2012 Somerville ArtBeat and it was the most beautiful weather since I don't know when. My last handful of shows have been crazy heat/humidity/no wind so I was super excited for a predicted upper 70's. I even wore a cute dress to celebrate.The crowds were awesome too so I did a lot of chatting and met some really nice people. There were lots of potters that came by and we talked pots. I even got a high five from a woman who also recently finished her first pair of socks. Hurrah for us! People were really friendly and seemed to like my work quite a bit so hopefully next year I get accepted again into this popular show. Aside from my vendor neck of the woods it was still a very eventful day. There was a parade that wandered through the area with people towering on stilts and music coming from stages in different directions. I really like doing events where there is more than just the vendors selling. It always makes my day more interesting and it seems to make visitors happier too.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

My first pair of knit socks

Earlier this summer I finished my first pair of knit socks. Woohoo! It was the first time I had used yarn or needles that small, so it definitely felt frustrating when after a few nights of working I only had half of a cuff....of one sock. But I plowed through and rocked my socks. I used a yarn I grabbed from Black Sheep in Needham and I really like them. I'm pretty excited for cooler days to come along so I can wear them more often. I like that the stripes don't line up to match, it gives them more personality and a handmade touch. Not surprisingly, they match my pots, as I've mentioned before my clothes often do. It's not hard to tell my favorite colors.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Glass beer steins at Rose Alley Ale House in New Bedford

I was a vendor at my first New Bedford Summerfest this summer and after a long weekend of working in the heat (if I haven't made it clear before I hate summer) I was ready for a beer. I wandered over to Rose Alley Ale House that was just around the corner from where I was selling. I had a super yummy chocolate truffle stout and snapped a pic of the handmade glass steins above the bar area. The local mug club members each have an assigned glass made in a style I really like. If I lived closer I'd definitely want my own too.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Art in Dallas

Chihuly piece in Dallas Museum of Art
I recently joined my husband on a business trip to Dallas and I made a few art stops during my first visit to Texas. I really enjoyed the Dallas Museum of Art a lot. It was much larger than I expected and I strolled through over a few hours. There was one exhibit, Form/Unformed, that showcased some of the museum's more modern collection of furniture and similar items. I really enjoy handmade furniture and furnishings so I was pretty excited to stumble on that.

Paper cranes inside Crowe Collection

Right across the street was the Crowe Collection of Asian Art, which was pretty small but still really nice to walk through. Across the street yet again is a sculpture park, but between 100+ temps and already strolling two museums, I decided to call it a day after seeing the awesome Crowe Collection.

Plate in Dallas Hilton Anatole
One of the most impressive pieces I saw was actually in the hotel lobby where my husband was for work. The Hilton Anatole is decorated inside with so much Asian art it's almost hard to believe you are just at a hotel. We came across a giant plate from China that measures over 7' across, making it the largest known plate. Of course as a potter I was stunned with awe and just looked at it and the intricate detail on it for quite some time. I didn't really expect one of the more memorable pieces to be in a hotel lobby.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The new studio- a rough draft

The new studio is still very much s work in progress, but here's a quick look at what's happening in my small space. There's nothing like moving into a roughly 100 sq ft space to make you realize how much crap you have.

I still need to get at least two more shelving units, that will help this various pile in the corner shown above. It's all boxes of pots and items for events.

I want to put on of the shelving units on the right side of my wheel so I have plenty of space at my fingertips to put freshly made pots.

I'll keep you updated at things progress and start to look a little more orderly, comfy, and pretty. :)

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Keeping the pottery studio floor clean

I recently blogged about my new studio and the flooring I put down to help control clay dust. In addition to this and maintaining the cleanest environment I've ever worked in, I found a great way to clean my floors without kicking up dust from sweeping before mopping. The old Swiffer Sweeper! I bought it and the dry cloths do a good job at grabbing dust on the floor, though it can leave some of the larger clay chunks for me to pick up by hand. After I use the dry cloth on the floor I swap it out for a wet cloth and do a quick mop job. It has left the studio floor clean and free of any dust from the pottery studio. Vigilance will be key in maintaining a spotless environment, but if that's what it takes to get me a home studio, I'm happy to do it.

Friday, June 22, 2012

ICA in June

This month I took a field trip with Boston Handmade member Kerry Hawkins to the ICA in Boston. It was a pretty quick visit, a lot of the space was closed while preparing for the most current exhibit. We did take a nice stroll through though, with me remembering a lot of the works from the vinyl exhibit I went to last year, which by the way was amazing. There were some new pieces, but I can't show them to you because no pics were allowed. Boo hoo. The lobby still had the amazing piece by Swoon, which I feel in love with when I saw it back during the vinyl exhibit. There is an exhibit by painter Charline Von Heyl, though it dodn't do much for me personally. Simply not a style I'm drawn to, but that's okay, you may be.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

For the new studio: vinyl floor over carpet

So in the search for our new apartment the place that best fit us did not have have hardwood floors in bedroom #2, aka my new studio. While it was what I wanted to help keep dust down, the home for us has carpeted bedrooms. Vacuuming in a ceramic studio is a no-no, unless you have a certain (expensive) filter on your vacuum, so I needed to be able to mop regularly, even daily, and often times multiple times in a day. But no problem about the carpet, I had a plan!

A studio doesn't need to be beautiful (though bonus points if it is), it needs to be functional. So what to do? How about a giant sheet of vinyl flooring placed over the carpet as sort of a giant, fitted rug? To be clear, this  vinyl floor is NOT attached to the carpeted floor underneath. It's something I can pull up in seconds when I vacate the space to reveal a clean carpet below. The carpet I laid this on top if isn't quite burbur, but it's definitely not the average fluffy carpet, it's pretty flat and tough. I knew it could handle my plan because of it's sturdiness.

I got a 12' sheet of vinyl floor cut to fit my room and hauled it home. At the store the cost range for flooring was $.35/sq ft to $1.30/sq ft and the difference in quality is very dramatic. Because I need this to hold up to wear and tear, especially if it's not going to be properly laid, I went with the sturdiest and most expensive option they had.

The floor was put down and fitted with a razor, cutting through easily. The edges were pushed under the molding around the room and sealed along the edges to the wall with duct tape. It sounds ugly but they have lots of colorful options available these days, so it's actually kind of a nice accent to the wood grain floor, though most of it is hidden by items. I made this work for myself in my ceramic studio but I think it would work well for any artist who works out of their rented home and needs to maintain a clean space.

Monday, June 18, 2012

No-sew tablecloths

I've been wanting to upgrade my tablecloths for my booth for a while but couldn't find anything I really liked that was also versatile enough for my needs so I decided to make my own. I bought materials to make myself two large green tablecloths and two white accent cloths to place on top. Since these cloths are no-sew ( I currently have no sewing machine. Right now new studio costs are trumping buying gadgets.) I also bought a pack of fusible tape to hem the edges. All of my materials cost me about $80. I don't think this is bad considering I got exactly what I wanted and it will fit any table I use at an event.

The green cloths are made to hang low enough to cover the entire table to the ground, even if the table is on risers, and also large enough to accommodate a longer table. Clips will hold the excess fabric out of the way and off the ground when I am using my usual 5 foot tables or no table risers. I bought cuts of white burlap to go on top of the green fabric. I like the look of my pottery on white tablecloths so I wanted to get another fabric to place on top of the larger cloths. The burlap was perfect, giving the brightness I was looking for but still having a rustic look I favor.

I cut each of the sheets of fabric I brought home in half and got to work. I had originally planned on hemming the burlap, but I decided that it would be very messy using the fusible tape and also that I liked the frayed edges. I dotted superglue along the edges of the weave every few inches so the piece won't fray over time.

The green tablecloths are huge and took a few hours to iron out wrinkles and hem, but again, I think this project was worth the money and work. The fusible tape is very easy to use, start by setting your iron on your correct fabric setting. I like to work in sections about 2' long, beginning at a corner and making my way around the cloth.

The tape is a little tacky, so it will stick to the fabric a bit before it is actually fused. Place the tape along the edge of the fabric in the section you are working on and tear it off when you get to the end of this section. Go back to the beginning and carefully fold your edge over, sticking the tape to the fabric to create your hem. Depending on your material you may need to work this part in smaller sections within your 2' section. Place your hot iron over your folder seam and hold it for the length of time your product recommends. Mine suggested 20 seconds, but I found that to be too much so I called it good at about 15 seconds and the tape held just fine. I like to pay special attention to the corners and put a bit of extra tape there.

I got to try out my new tablecloths at Downtown Crossing on Friday and they looked great! I'm very happy with the results and am glad that I finally have my new tablecloths!