Sunday, January 2, 2011

Lean Year

This year was pretty lean on the production side of things. I had a whole lot of other irons in the fire and just found it difficult to make time for my own stuff. However, just prior to Christmas I was able to work up a few things. Playing with some different forms for mugs, mostly.









One of my "other irons" were these afghans for my brand new twin nieces. They were expected in December so I started back in September and devoted most of my evenings to crocheting. Turns out it pleases my inner old lady a great deal and I found it difficult to want to work on anything else. Other than a few scarves, these are my first real crocheting accomplishment. Looking forward to making more.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Lesley University Graduating Class of 2010

My posts have been few and far between since the new year started and all I can say for myself is that I've been tumbling through the black hole of Master's homework, lesson planning and not-much-fun-having. Today, however, marks (at least preliminarily) the conclusion of my journey through the Integrated Arts Master's program with Lesley University. A journey I decided to pursue well over two years ago and that I set out upon 22 months ago. I have to admit, I wasn't at all sure what to expect from this experience but what came out of it was far more than what I could have imagined. This program coincided with some of the most difficult emotional challenges I've ever had to face. In a way my Lesley weekends have been synonymous with emotion and as I drove away for the final time today that emotion bubbled to the surface. I made some incredible friendships through the last 22 months of working with these educators and today we said our goodbyes, at least for now. You know how everyone has the best intentions to stay in touch and get together for drinks or this or that, but it will never really be quite the same once that single unifying connection is gone. Though I know I've made a few friendships that will continue to thrive.
I'm grateful for the outlet this program has provided for my own art production. Oddly enough it took something requiring a large commitment of my time in order for me to find time to do more of my own drawing. Many a dull class moment found me scribbling away on my sketches and I've valued that. This program has reminded me of the importance of staying passionate about my own art, if I'm ever going to have a chance at inspiring my students with a passion of their own.
The demand on my personal time has been tremendous. Having homework hanging over my head continuously for the last 22 months is exhausting and as I face the final days of working on my Master's Thesis I marvel at what it will feel like when that is gone. I may go on a 3 week bender, pajamas, Ally McBeal episodes and piling pizza boxes. I'm drunk on the possibilities! I can once again dust off my pottery wheel and actually produce some work again. I may not shower or get off the couch for a couple of days! I may actually have time to get organized or while away hours contemplatively napping on my patio. And the best part of all is that I won't have to feel guilty for any of it-- except maybe the no-showering thing... for Adrian's sake. It's a beautiful thing.

I'm grateful. For the friends, for the support, for the education and the opportunity to grow. It hasn't been easy and I'm pretty sure if this had been Survivor we'd have all killed one another a long time ago, but Lesley friends... I'll miss you.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Recent

Please ignore the terrible lack of appropriate backdrop for this piece. I made this one for Adrian's aunt's recent wedding. The gold inside the letters had to be hand painted as the stain I originally used inside the carvings did not turn out. Ultimately I liked the effect but the whole thing was a monumental amount of work that I'm not sure I'd be up for repeating so don't be getting any ideas. Thanks.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

News

At church last week our pastor made a comment about the youth in our worship team. He mentioned what a blessing it was that they were using their gifts to give back to others and to God. I've been wrestling lately with what I can be doing to give more for God, considering volunteering for various causes, joining a group of Christian students at my school, that kind of thing. But when he specifically mentioned their gifts it came to me. I have this gift for ceramics and I certainly don't make a lot of money at it, but I enjoy the income it does provide. So I've decided to go non-profit and donate all the money I receive from commissions of work to charity. And my chosen charity will probably change all the time. I may hold on to the money until it accumulates and then donate, or I may just give it away as it comes in. I think I'll play that part by ear. The more I thought about it the more excited I got. I struggle sometimes with producing just for production's sake and when I had this idea I suddenly lost that block. I can see myself being more motivated because now it's not about me at all. The joy will continue into the giving and I'm excited to do it. I always say I should give more away and this is the perfect way. Who knows, perhaps if I give what little I do make away then I'll start selling more work. After all, God works in mysterious ways. So the money made off of the following piece will be donated shortly as the first fruits, followed by the money from a couple of mugs I'm making for a gentleman at school. It's very exciting.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Birthday Excitement

Last Friday was Adrian's birthday (the BIG 30!) As I pulled up to the intersection just before my house my quandary over what kind of cake to get him was quickly snuffed and my heart plunged into my shoes. I tend to be a "glass is mostly empty" type of person and often when I approach that intersection I half expect to see emergency vehicles in front of our burning house with our animals trapped inside. Sounds morbid, but this is seriously the kind of stuff I think about! As I came to the intersection I saw a swarm of flashing emergency lights and traffic being diverted from what looked to be my home. Our street is a busy one, with a speed limit of 35 that people frequently overlook. It's a scary street where pedestrians have been known to be hit by cars driven by people who don't see there's a crosswalk because they're too busy texting and putting on their make-up. When I pulled up there were no flames and trapped animals but a busted up Pontiac in the middle of my front yard. As I tried to recover from what I was sure to be utter catastrophe I came to find out that the driver had supposedly fallen asleep behind the wheel, clipped the power pole 30 feet before my driveway, come up on the curb, bust an axel, plow over our mailbox (and the neighbor's), smash through the remains of a brick pillar at the foot of our driveway and slide neatly between our 4 year old Maple tree and newly planted shrubs to rest in the middle of my lawn spewing oil over my grass and stone walkway. It was completely surreal. My mail was littered out in the wet street, soaked and driven over, and there was concrete (from the brick pillar), glass and metal everywhere. The officer overseeing the removal of the vehicle from my yard saw the stricken look on my face and correctly deduced the I must live here. He pulled the incident report from the remains of a mailbox on our front porch (which the vehicle narrowly missed, thank the Lord) and filled me in on the details. There were four passengers in the vehicle, two of which were a 22 year old mother, her 4 day old baby included. Dad had been taken to the hospital though the officer assured me all were okay (again thank the Lord!) From what I can tell the driver did not have insurance and our homeowners insurance has a deductible higher than the $80 or so it's going to take to replace our mailbox. The steel post it was attached to is bent to hell and not likely to come back. Once the dust settled and we surveyed the damage, we realized the mailbox the police left on our front porch wasn't even ours, it was the neighbor's. Ours was nowhere to be found. I can only hope the rain soaked, but mostly intact mail I pulled out of the street was all there was that day. The neighbor's phonebook wasn't so lucky. The driver was blessed that he only glanced off of the power pole. From the looks of it the entire pole must have shaken as the soil around the base was pushed out several inches. If he had hit it straight on things could have been much worse. I'm incredibly grateful that our tree that I love was spared, that the car came no closer to our house and that all involved lived to tell about it. Adrian's cake was forgotten in the shuffle but he says he didn't miss it. I did. I could have used a big 'ol fatty slice right about then.

Monday, January 18, 2010

You thought I was dead.

Admit it.
Obviously I am quite alive, but I have also been wildly busy for the past two and a half months. So unfortunately for me there is much to update.

At the start of November I went to Philadelphia with a group of staff from my school. We attended a conference on career academies for 2 of our 6 day trip. We left early the morning of Halloween. The day saw much in terms of layovers, including multiple additions of hours in Chicago due to weather problems in Philadelphia. Every time we thought we were getting ready to board they would hit us with another hour or two, and after we finally boarded we were hit with an additional hour and a half sitting at the gate. When we finally rolled into Philadelphia it was after 11. Once we saddled up with our rental cars we proceeded to get lost in the Philadelphia ghetto on what should have been a 20 minute drive to the hotel. After over an hour of, "no wait, turn here!! no that was our turn back there... wait..." we FINALLY found our hotel, well after midnight, and found too, that our nice, non-smoking rooms were given away (though we had called the hotel from Chicago to let them know about our layovers and late arrival). Our very polluted smoking room seemed a poor substitute but I was exhausted and wanted nothing more than a decent night of sleep. The next day we hauled all of our luggage back down to the lobby to be held until the staff could secure us proper non-smoking rooms for the remainder of our stay. But unfortunately the damage had been done and all of my clothes smelled of smoke for the rest of the trip.
That first day of the trip was Sunday and we ventured out to the Philadelphia Museum of Art
Within five minutes in the car it became glaringly obvious how rude their drivers are. Last second lane changes, cutting one another off, hit and runs, illegal parking, horn blowing and finger waving had me thankful that I was not the one behind the wheel. It's really a wonder we made it through the trip unscathed. The museum, as you may recall, was made famous in the film Rocky, where Rocky makes his triumphant run up the steps to shout "Yo Adrian!! I did it!!" At the risk of looking like a tourist, I was the lone loser of our group to actually re-enact this scene. I felt it fitting, considering I married an Adrian. No film was taken of this, so do not ask. Suffice it to say, I looked about as foolish as all the other morons doing the same thing, much like those featured in this film clip. Philadelphians must hate that. I would.
The museum was without a doubt the highlight of the entire trip for me. I had no idea so many famous and WONDERFUL paintings, ones that I have studied for years, were housed here in America. As I wandered from room to room my jaw literally dropped with each new surprise. They even allow you to take photographs, as long as you don't use a flash. I took photos of all of my favorites and could feel my heart racing as I got up close and personal with Monet, Van Gogh, Picasso, Cezanne, Rothko and Duchamp. You could see hairs from their brushes stuck in the paint. It was almost like looking at their very fingerprints. I could not fathom, and still can't, that I was looking so closely at utter genius.

Monet- Bend in the Epte River near Giverny

Van Gogh- Sunflowers
Picasso- Man with a Violin



Dali- Soft Construction with Boiled Beans

Duchamp- Nude Descending a StaircaseMy group had given a time frame of about 2 hours to look at everything and as my time raced down I realized with great dismay that there was no way I was going to see it all. In the last 20 minutes I nearly ran from room to room, trying to see as much as I could. When time ran out and I skulked back to the car I hoped I hadn't missed anything I would regret. I was thrilled with all the pictures I took (so thrilled that I frequently looked back through them once or twice every day of the rest of the trip.) As it turned out I did miss a piece by Frida Kahlo that I truly wish I had seen, though I was able to see one of Diego Rivera's.One of the best parts about the city of Philadelphia is their commitment to the arts. Despite how rude many of the people were, I've got to give them credit for their art. There is public art everywhere. Though I didn't see a fraction of them, I was told that there are somewhere upwards of 3000 murals in the city, and sculptures on almost every corner. Even their architecture has an artistic quality that I admire.


This particular mural consisted of millions of 1-inch tiles. The detail was incredible. and it spanned an entire block. What is seen here is a very small portion.Aside from all of the art, I haven't even touched on Philadelphia's rich history. We experienced a re-enactment of the events leading up to the signing of the Declaration of Independence through a dinner with Thomas Jefferson at the City Tavern.
Dinner consisted of authentic 1700s cuisine by candlelight with a side of drama. We traveled from there to Independence Hall for an after hours dramatic performance between Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson. Being inside of that historical building was humbling. We stood in a room in which great visionaries stood hundreds of years ago as they drafted documents that would change this country forever. We were given the inside scoop on what original artifacts remain there from Washington's time, one being the chair that Washington himself sat in at the head of this room (the thought of which floored me). The other being the painting hanging on the wall over this gentleman's shoulder
Later in the trip I made it back to get photos of the building in daylight and to see the Liberty Bell.


The Comcast building was one that I had seen in the skyline throughout the trip. One afternoon brought us to its lobby and I was baffled by the technology we found there. The entire wall of the lobby is one giant screen. In the fifteen minutes or so that we stood there like a bunch of idiots watching with our mouths open, we saw the earth turning, people dancing, water flowing, slow motion puddle dropping and larger than life basketball players flying across the wall. It was simply bizarre.
video

We also spent an afternoon at the supposedly haunted Eastern State Penitentiary. I didn't see any ghosts but did experience some chills.

Following out trip out to the Penitentiary, my roommate and I decided to hit up the Body Worlds exhibit at the Franklin Institute. I'm so glad that we did. It was completely horrifying and fascinating. If given the opportunity to go again I would in a second and highly recommend it to you as well. When I returned and shared my experiences with my students, this was the part they were most interested in hearing about, though unfortunately they do not allow any photography to be taken. On our last day, we took a trip out to the Pennsylvania countryside to see Hershey. We were fortunate enough to get a VIP tour of the Milton Hershey School. I was very impressed by the school, its facilities, staff, and opportunities it offers for students who come from difficult circumstances. They truly have a beautiful little world there that I must admit was difficult for me to leave. If you know of a student between the ages of 5 and 15 that needs to get out of a very bad situation I would encourage you to look into the Milton Hershey School. Nothing is asked of the students financially and the world will be opened to them in ways that they never would have dreamed.
Following the school we hit up Chocolate World, of course, which was less impressive to me than I had hoped it would be. Don't get me wrong, it was magical, but I was hoping more to see the factory and the inner workings of how the chocolate is made. But as it was, I spent a small fortune in the gift shop buying chocolate and other goodies about as fresh as it comes.

By the time Thursday rolled around I was more than ready to be rid of the rudeness of Philadelphia's people and come back to the sticks where people are polite (or at least don't take offense at your very existence) and sanity reigns on the roads. Most of all I missed my husband. It was the first time in our short two and a half years of marriage that we had spent a night (let alone 5) apart from one another. Ultimately I'm so grateful for the opportunity to go but don't think I'll need to return for a very long time. Philly was a great place for a short visit, but I wouldn't want to live there!

More to come on life since I dropped off the face of the planet soon.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Time for throw-backs

Years ago, in college, my boyfriend introduced me to the true art of the pumpkin. He took his carving very seriously. It rubbed off on me and I became semi-fanatical about pumpkin carving. Now some years have been better than others and nearly every year I try to do too many. The problem is, once I find a PERFECT pumpkin, it must be bought. However, if 2nd, 3rd and 4th PERFECT pumpkins cross my line of sight, they also must be bought. It cannot be helped! Last year at the pumpkin patch we ended up spending a fortune on something close to 8 or 10 pumpkins (I lost count). Ridiculous. This year we very nearly passed it up altogether but then decided on the spur of the moment to get A COUPLE, and that turned into 4 which turned into something like 6 or 7. Whatever. Here they are, chronological. Don't judge the photos, it's very difficult to get a good shot of a pumpkin lit up.


2003 the beginning.

2004- The Frankenstein on the left is probably one of my all-time favorites. Adrian's always have the goofy expressions so you can guess which ones are his.

2005 (Just one good pic from this lot. Hard to tell, but it's Edward Scissorhands.)

2006 in the light (the far left was supposed to be a killer klown... didn't turn out, as you can tell... but in all honesty, I think that one was Adrian's... haha).

2006 in the dark

2007 (a sampling)

the record of 2008 has been lost. Don't ask about it.

And finally 2009. Adrian's idea was for the pumpkin totem. All his work. I've decided to lay off of the fancy, incredibly labor intensive designs for a few years of just the oldies but goodies.


Not a great pic of the totem. We need more fire-power to light up the top. They don't have bottoms so just the candles in the big guy light up the whole totem. Cool idea.
The display.
From the old days on my mom's kitchen floor with large sharp knives in inexperienced hands, I've always loved pumpkins. Maybe someday I'll get artistic with mine again, but for now...