Tuesday, August 30, 2011

I Can Draw!

At ArtUnraveled I took a drawing/journaling/sketchbook class from Jane LaFazio. Susan had taken a class from her before and told me I had to take one, no matter what the subject, because Jane was such a good teacher. And she was! Here are my very first "real" drawings and my very first attempts at watercolor.

The drawing below, unfinished, is a start of a piece of a wasp nest. I plan to finish it someday and maybe even do a series of them.

Go here to see more of what everyone did in all of Jane's classes. If you have a chance to take one of her classes -- Do it!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The World's Best Guy Oatmeal Cookies

Not only am I an accomplished ceramic artist/sculptor, I can also make The World's Best Guy Oatmeal Cookies. Do not think about making these cookies if you are a delicate, fussy person. These are Guy cookies, they are fattening and and sugary but have oats in them so the healthy oats win over the bad stuff and don't tell me I'm wrong, I don't want to know. 

Trust me, this will be easy -- there are only 5 ingredients.
First, turn the oven on to 375 degrees.

Now, you put these things in a bowl and mix them up:
1 + 1/3 cups of flour
2 + 1/2 cups of rolled oats
About the oats:  Not the instant kind and not the 5 minute kind - just the real old-fashioned rolled oat kind.

Next, you use a 2 cup glass measuring cup:
Measure in 3/4 cup of cooking oil (I use Wesson canola oil).
Use the same glass measuring cup and pour in, on top of the oil,
3/4 cup maple syrup

You know you have 3/4 cup of syrup in when the line shows 1 +1/2 cups of liquids. That's heavy duty math for me but then I'm the kind of guy that has to say to myself "Big into Little means percent." Yes, I was a financial planner in my previous life. Don't ask.
About the syrup: Not the pancake kind but the real kind, the expensive kind. I get mine at CostCo.

Then add 1 Tablespoon (the big spoon) of vanilla to the oil-syrup mix.
Sort of whip that stuff around with a fork and pour it over the dry stuff and stir them up.

Now wait about 2 minutes for the dough to stiffen up. While you are waiting, put parchment paper on your two cookies sheets. If you don't want it to roll up, fold the 4 corners in. Blob the dough down into 24 cookies and bake them for ABOUT 13-15 minutes, or until there is just a little bit of brown showing at the edges.

When you take them out of the oven just slide them onto the layers of newspaper you've set on the counter. No need to make any more dishes messy by getting out some sort of cooling rack. Notice that this recipe messes up a minimum amount of dishes. If you think using parchment paper is expensive, just consider that you'll be saving on your water bill because you don't have to wash the cookie sheets.

I'm not promising you'll have success right away with this recipe - we fiddled with the amount of flour and the cooking time for about 8 batches before we got what we liked. You can also add some salt, we don't. Or add raisins or chocolate chips or any other decadent thing your heart desires. Just remember, there are oats in those cookies so they must be good for you!

Thursday, August 25, 2011


Sometimes a great idea winds up in the trash can. Or, as Thomas Edison put it:

There are not 10,000 failures,
but 10,000 ways by which
to learn what does not work.

I thought my bisque-fired but unglazed nicho (above) looked pretty good. Then I turned it over. Susan has told me more than once that structural cracks like that in a piece mean that someone wasn't paying attention in Ceramics 101. Guilty as charged. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Flip-Flops for Earl

While we were at ArtUnraveled I had a free day. That meant I ran errands like food shopping, liquor shopping, and miscellaneous supply shopping.  Wal-Mart was selling plain white flip-flops for $1.95 and I couldn't say No. Actually, I have a hard time saying No to anything on sale.  Susan has warned me many, many times "If it's on sale there is a reason and it isn't always good.", along with telling me that the inability to say No would have, if I'd been a woman, made me pregnant many times.

Once I got them back to the room I realized we had a carton full of various art supplies that were required  for the classes but probably wouldn't get used unless I took control. So I took control. Ta-Dah!

When Susan got back from her classes she admired them but pointed out that they reminded her of a Dumb Blonde Joke: Why do blondes have shoes with TGIF printed on the toe? To remind them Toes Go In First. (If you are a blonde don't be offended, it could easily be a Snooki Joke. If you are Snooki, take your TV money and go away.)

We decide the perfect person for the flip-flops was EGE, better know as Earl, The Guy With The Camera. Ricë makes sure Earl is decked out attractively enough that you don't miss him in a crowd. As if. Go here if you aren't sure what I'm talking about. And as a matter of fact, you can see me in a picture in her blogpost if you scroll down. I'm the one trying to look intellectual.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Yes, She Does

Yes, Susan does make art. That is, when she isn't wasting her time trying to keep me in line.

Go here for Mary Beth Shaw, her immensely talented and geneous teacher. More from me coming soon because Susan liked Mary Beth so much she talked me into taking a painting class from Mary Beth. Me - a painter! Well, sort of.  If you go to Mary Beth's ArtUnraveled video on her blog you can see me at about 1:21 into the video. Susan is at about :25 and (another class) at about 1:14, the talented Marcy is at :39 and Carol is at 1:08. There are many more artistic people in my posse but that's all I can identify and remember now.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Hot and Dry. Very Hot and Dry.

This little clipping came from our extended family member, Sheila. Go here to see what she has helped bring back to life.  Susan swims at the Y a lot and loves the Speedo reference. 

It is funny but then it's not so funny. We are finishing up the 62nd day of this summer with a temperature reading over 100 degrees. We continue to be in what is considered an "Exceptional" drought and no, that's not like in school where it means you are doing well.  We are doing lousy. Our trees are losing leaves, we can tell who has been violating the watering restrictions because their lawns are green instead of brown, and mice are starting to invade people's homes to look for water. The first time we see one we'll be on our way to the Humane Shelter to get a mouser cat. The continual wildfires that break out near Austin make us very nervous because we are on a greenbelt area that is no longer green with a dried up creek.

The saddest part about the drought was what we saw in West Texas on our drive to and from Phoenix. Every year we marvel at the beautiful landscape and always see some sort of blooming roadside plant life. Not this year. No plants were blooming, tall cactus plants were bent over and areas still showed the blackened effects of wildfires. And the scrub trees are turning brown.  In some areas so many trees are turning rust and brown you would swear it was November. We have never seen it this dry.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Me and My Posse

We are finally back from a 13-day trip to Phoenix for ArtUnraveled that included 4 long days on the road. We had a great time. I learned a load of new stuff. I reconnected with old friends and made new friends. Eventually we will get stuff unpacked and pictures uploaded and emails returned and Comments acknowledged. Eventually. In the meantime, here is a sample of what Janis, Carol and I did in Lisa Renner's Pod Head class. That's my piece in the front, adorned with a tin heart, courtesy of Martha, and Carol's piece on the left, Janis' on the right. The bases will get stained/painted. Eventually.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A Great Grate

This is a piece I molded off a grate I found. We can't do raku firing this summer because of the drought and the burn ban so we've been doing soda firing. I'm not sure what soda firing is all about but it seems to make the pieces look like brown clay. On this piece I had put a rust glaze between the ridges but when it was fired it looked boring. A glaze is like glass once it's fired and the clay has a little of that quality also so it's not a surface you can easily alter by painting.

Susan had a brilliant idea for me:     Nail Polish. 
I didn't want just red on it but she assured me that polish sold today comes in every color of the rainbow.  They don't sell it at Home Depot or Harbor Freight so I bribed her into going to buy me some wherever they sell that stuff. The bribe was oatmeal cookies, details of that to be posted later. 

Ladies, just give me a call if you'd like to have your nails done by a pro.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Little Packages

I made these ceramic packages for Susan for her birthday.  They are the size that fits right in your hand. She told me this was the kind of stuff that I needed to start making for my Etsy site (which sits empty). Because she would have to do all the work, I'm holding off on that thought for now.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Moo Cards

These are some of my latest Moo cards. What? Moo cards are little cards that are half as wide as a business card. Your text (up to 6 lines) goes on the back and the front becomes your gallery. The best thing about Moo cards is that you can order 100 cards and get them back with 100 different images on them. We only take the time to upload about 25-35 images so I get several of each image.  The cards are so narrow you have to crop your images but they make it easy by providing you with a little sliding box to position over your images you've uploaded (no need to crop ahead of uploading).

The next best thing about Moo cards is that they are fast. In fact, Moo used to available only from England and the cards still came in less than 2 weeks. Cost with shipping? About $25 for 100. I think my Moo cards are great. If you see me, ask me for one.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Bud, Turtle Bob Jr, and Their Girlfriend

On the left is Bud. You saw him before here. On the right is Turtle Bob Jr, who functions as a Little Bird Spa that has to be refilled about 3 times a day because the birds get in and splash all the water out while they play Marco-Polo. In the middle is some gal named Phoebe that hangs out a lot with Bud.

Bud now holds some stale wheat thins, sometimes leftover popcorn or bits of stale bread. As you can see from this picture, Phoebe has been scratching on Bud (who has only been glued in place for two weeks) as she tries to get every last crumb. In the center is a piece that sticks out, it was supposed to have a pod or something glued on it to fill the hole.  Instead it has become an annoyance to Phoebe as she digs in. Take a look below to see how diligent she is. By the way, don't be fooled by the green appearance of our backyard - the trees are actually in a lot of drought distress.