Saturday, August 29, 2009

On The Road To Phoenix

Think back to the 1800's when settlers in America were pushing west, walking along side their wagons pulled by oxen or riding on horseback. This was what they saw:

It's a very jerky video because we were going nearly 80 miles an hour (the legal speed limit). At about 22 seconds into the video you'll see a tall signpost with a small green image with white on it - 334. At about 1:07 into the video you'll see another one - 333. That means we are 333 miles away from the state border of Texas. The mile markers start at 830 on the east state line along Louisiana and count down to 0 at New Mexico. In the background you can hear faintly the music we are listening to, which at this point happens to be La Vie en Rose from Christine Albert's Texafrance album.

People think we are crazy for driving to Phoenix because it's one whole day just to get out of the state and then a second day to get into Phoenix (and the road from Tucson into Phoenix is baaaad). But we love the drive through Texas. It isn't really boring because at 80 mph the scenery changes fast, from Hill Country to mountains. Yes, Texas has mountains, the picture above is Tit Mountain, which I am sure has another name but that's what I call it. I also love the drive because I can let Susan drive and take a nap and not have to listen to her curse at other drivers. Other drivers? We like to see how long a time span we can go when we can't see any cars in front of us and no cars in our rear view mirror. Try doing that on IH 95 on the east coast!

If I look carefully I swear I can see Gene Autry and Roy Rodgers riding off in the distance, chasing the train robbers and worrying about Indians. John Wayne, Gary Cooper and Clint Eastwood are somewhere out there too.

The one bad thing about the road trip is finding a place to stop and pee. Even if you are of the gender that has "outdoor plumbing" it isn't simple - you can't just pull off the side of the road because it isn't allowed unless it's an emergency, which a bladder usually isn't, despite Susan's arguments. Texas has some of the worst rest stops in America. They put interesting mosaics in them but the quality is dubious because they are open-air ventilated. In defense of TexDOT (Texas Department of Transportation) it's probably pretty hard to find someone to drive 103 miles into the desert to service a rest stop.

I'm not sure if I'd want to be taking a small poodle for a walk around this New Mexico rest stop.

Friday, August 28, 2009


Amun is almost life-size and is supposed to be mounted on a base. That didn't happen because I've decided I'm not that interested in making realistic looking heads. But I do like the colors in his head wrap and plan to try to do more pieces with those colors.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Best Skeleton Ever

Check back here to see what Susan gave me for Christmas last year. He now sits on a bench in our living room with a fake crow on his shoulder. He is the best present ever and now he can be yours! Susan has advised me she just got the catalog with Ray in it and he can be yours for $79 + shipping. Nope, we aren't affiliated with Grandin Road, we just get their catalogs because they have cool stuff. And if you are a Halloween fan, THIS is the catalog for you (do a search on the word "skeleton"). If you plan on getting one, order it early because last year they ran out quickly. Be advised, it's a cool gift anytime of year.

Susan wanted to get another one because she thought Ray needed a girlfriend but I said no, one child is enough. Neither of us has any idea why Martha Stewart thought she needed to crap up her skeleton with glitter. Bones are beautiful just as they are.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

A Necklace

I wake up in the middle of the night thinking about how I want to make a jewelry piece. Later, when I'm working I tell Susan not to come in the room, which is hard for her because that's where all her stuff is and where Pandora is playing. So I remind her that Calder made jewelry for his wife, Louisa, and to stay out.

When I'm finished with the piece I have a One-Man Show and she gets to see it. All the pieces I've made are tacked up on a bulletin board for her to admire because she doesn't actually wear jewelry except for her watch, wedding ring, and sometimes earrings.

The watch gear spins and is in a tiny little hole I drilled after learning the technique from Keith LoBue. The face is a resin-filled bezel that I learned how to do in a class with Susan Lenart Kazmer. The base of the piece is etched nickle/silver that I learned how to do in a class with Stephanie Lee. Notice this: Women tell me what to do and I do it. Sometimes.

Thursday, August 20, 2009


Awhile back Susan gave me a sketchbook she made. It was nice to have a sturdy "manly" looking sketchbook. I've actually done a number of sketches in it as I planned some clay pieces and some jewelry pieces. She suggested I try some color and gave me some cheap watercolors, just like that plastic box you had you had in grade school. After seeing the 1000 Journals documentary I was more open to using other media into the sketchbook. I don't know if I'll ever make these clay pieces but I liked adding the color to the sketches.

Monday, August 17, 2009

1000 Journals and Someguy

We were in Phoenix earlier this month and were fortunate to attend a screening of the documentary 1000 Journals. Even better than that, Someguy, the Project Creator, was there and did a Q-and-A after the screening. Even better than that, he signed his book (click here) for people. AND, even better than that, he brought some of the Journals with him and we got to put stuff in them! Actually, Susan did all the writing and even added a small sticker photo of us (the one in the blog from our anniversary) and also a sticker of a graffiti hand.

How could he bring journals for us to put stuff in? Easy - he's received some back and they weren't totally filled in, some blank pages were still waiting for their words and images. Which one did Susan write in? We have no idea because the line of people behind us waiting for their turn was getting restless so she surrendered the Journal in a hurry.

How many Journals went out into the world? 1000. How many have come back to him? Around 30, but over 235 of them have pages that have been scanned and uploaded (click here) so he knows they are "active". What is Someguy like? A nice, easy-going, gentle soul. What does he look like? Here's your chance to see:

Saturday, August 15, 2009


This is Petya's sister, Inessa. If you are wondering where the names come from here's your answer: Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith. It's a book I read this summer and to keep track of the characters I write names down. Sometimes I write down minor characters' names just because they sound neat. Then I have a list of names to use for my people I make.

Both Petra and Inessa are about 20 inches tall. The picture below shows her back.

Again, Susan claimed these pieces and attacked them with her stencils and spray paint.

Thursday, August 13, 2009


Pingo is one of my favorites. The photos below show his creation: 1) shaped piece, 2) underglazes applied, 3) underglazes wiped down and clear glaze (pink) applied in the last step before firing.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Felix and Oscar

Three guesses, and the first two don't count, to decide where I work and where Susan works. Susan looked at the picture and declared her space was looking pretty good because all she had to do was move the grey plastic bin and she had another spot to pile stuff on. The table in the back is actually supposed to be outside for messy painting work. We brought it inside this winter and she started piling stuff on it. When it came time to take it back outside... I had to go buy another one (Wal-mart, $29, 2'x4', fold-out legs).

Felix and Oscar, the original Odd Couple, would feel right at home with us. If you are thinking of feeling sorry for me, crammed into the corner on the right, don't. I've claimed the entire 2-car garage for my ceramics work. This is a very bad thing when the temperature hits the 100's and you have to get in a car that has been sitting in the heat all day. Those shiny silvery dashboard folder things do not keep the car cooler, they just let you hold the steering wheel without burning your hands. Women over a certain age get very cranky when their cars have to sit in the sun all day and yes, definitely yes, I know the correct answer to the question "Is it hot in here or is it just me?"

Sunday, August 9, 2009


This was a piece I made that I just couldn't figure out how I wanted to do the glazing. After having it be in the way for over a year Susan gave me an ultimatum: "Either you do something with it in six months or it's mine to mess up."

Then she gave me a second six-months grace period: "Either you do something with it in six months or I'm going to spray paint it." Obviously I couldn't get my act together. Petya looks terrific now and she has a sister that you'll see in a few days.

In the photo below you can see Petra in the background, prior to be attacked. Susan's a maniac with spray paint. She hates wearing the respirator mask (it's hotter than hell and it messes up her glasses) but it totally elimintes the paint smell so she uses it faithfully.

Friday, August 7, 2009


Varlam was created in a ceramic sculpture class I took from Alejandra Almuelle. He was originally going to be about 5 feet tall . But the kiln I use takes pieces only under 27 inches tall so that meant segmenting the piece. The legs/lower half never got made so Varlam does have a belly button but nothing south of that.

The ceramic eye and shoulder patches are supposed to look like leather and they were fired with real nails in place.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


Fyodor is made from Longhorn White clay and painted with underglazes (Black, White and Redwood). He was bisque fired before painting and then glaze fired. He will eventually acquire a slight sheen from waxing him or firing with a clear glaze. It's easier to take pictures when there isn't a glare from the piece.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Disintegration Finale, Part Two

The backing sheet of the diploma showed a lot of rust but not much else. Susan did some kind of tricky cutting where the whole piece came apart into one huge long strand. We just hung that as ShovelHead's hair. We'd thought about leaving the long strand hanging from a tree but it was too much trouble to get out the ladder to do that.

So, the final part of my Disintegration piece has gone back outside to continue to disintegrate. The nasty plastic film on the paper will probably keep it from being useful to the birds but I'm contemplating rubbing peanut butter on it to see what the squirrels will do. Since the squirrels gnaw through the metal on my "squirrel-proof" bird feeder, I'm sure the plastic will just be an appetizer for them.

I made the ShovelHead people when I was taking welding. There are about 3 more stuck around in our yard. They don't particularily have personality and therefore they don't have names but they do a good job as sentries.

Thank again, Seth, for getting us all involved in Disintegration Collaboration.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Disintegration Finale, Part One

Seth started it with his Disintegration Collaboration and we all put our bundles and whatever out into the environment. My diploma, which gave me the right to add a 4th set of initials after my name (don't get excited, they don't include PhD), remained pretty resistant to the elements which included only about 3 days of rain over 6 months. I had actually hoped it would burst into flames in our summer heat.

Once Susan took it out of the sculpture (bottom photo) it had been sitting in for 6 months and started picking at it, we discovered why it wouldn't disintegrate. The diploma was printed on a heavy paper which was fused to a plastic film and then fused onto a backing sheet. It seemed like just one thick piece of paper but the plastic film in the middle kept it from any serious damage. She ripped and peeled and got it all apart and the backing sheet is being cut into strips to make "hair" for one of my outdoor ShovelHead people (will be shown in Part Two).

The front was transformed into the piece you see, with detail photos. I had nothing to do with it other than to say "Needs more... something" as she worked on it. The miscellaneous painted pieces collaged on are papers we worked on together in the past. The whole piece is stitched, wired, and glued onto black canvas. I like it. (As opposed to hating the job that required the damned thing.)

Grateful thanks to Seth from The Altered Page for an interesting Collaboration.

Original attempt at disintegration, Feb 12 - July 26, 2009.