Monday, June 12, 2017

Crystal Neubauer

Most of the time when we take classes we just throw our art into a drawer.  Crystal Neubauer is an artist we've both taken classes from and Crystal makes sure you see examples of ways to display your art.  These are small collages done on 4" squares of mat board that she provides in class, along with lots of ephemera and papers.  Susan finally painted the edges of some 4" canvas squares (on sale from either Michaels or JoAnns) and glued seven of the collages on.  There are still about 8 more to be done but we are out of canvas squares for the time being.

The magic tip from Crystal on that idea was to use a 25-pound bag of rice from a Chinese grocery store to smush them down while the glue dried, as the soft bag molds itself over the surface. But living in a small apartment doesn't quite lend itself to having a 25-pound bag just hanging out with you.  Susan improvised with a baby pillowcase filled with about 5 pounds of rice, not so big that it can't be stored in a large ziploc, and did them one at a time. The collages hang over the open area between her workroom and our living room.  Which, by the way, is so small we don't have a couch. Yet.  And probably never will.
By the way, Crystal is a waaaaay cool artist and one of the calmest, nicest, most helpful instructors we've ever had.  And her work is special.  Check out her website, blog and facebook.

As for the collages, neither of us remembers which of the collages we did.  Great minds think alike?

Trivia for the day:  Article headline from May 26, 2017:
FDA Chief Aims to Curb High Drug Prices
I have to laugh over this because I just paid for a medication that is 1) generic and 2) has been on the market as generic for 10 years.  For 9 years I paid the over-the-counter price of $10.40 for a refill. Now, magically, the price has gone up to $17.  I'd like to say WTF but it is beyond that. I'm just thankful there I'm not talking about $17,000, although I wouldn't put it beyond the drug company to do that...

Monday, June 5, 2017

Chirp, Chirp

Or is it Peep, Peep?  Anyway, this birdie has the metal loop in his back because he's going to be suspended from a tree branch somewhere in our neighborhood.  His wing area is textured but I'm not sure I'm going to do that again.  But I like the way his beak turned out.

From the Smithsonian Craft Show, an interesting ceramic artist, Paula Shalan.  I'm always attracted to ceramic artists who focus on hand building their work.

Recently our Netflix choice was Alpha House. about 4 Republican senators who shared a house in Washington DC.
We laughed out loud at some of it and shook our heads at parts that accurately depict some of the political dysfunction we see today, even though it was filmed in 2013.  We'd like to have seen Season 2 but Amazon, in all its wisdom, won't let Netflix have it and won't let you stream it unless you sign up for Amazon Prime.  If I was an actor in that show I'd be a little ticked off about that.

Anyway, there is no Season 3 and I'm guessing it's because the show hits a little too close to home for those politicians who don't have a sense of humor and have no idea about the concept of satire. If you do watch it, look for bad-boy Anthony Weiner in a 3-second cameo appearance in the last episode. He wasn't listed in the credits but there he was.  Actually, there are a lot of cameo appearances in this show.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Bye Bye Birdie

Here's looking at you, kiddo.  I used dimensional accent glaze for the black and white dots.  Eventually he will either be left casually somewhere in the neighborhood or maybe go for sale at the Student Art Show at Christmas.  Right now he's just keeping an eye on me.

When we took our big road trip in April/May we made sure to schedule in time in Washington DC for the Smithsonian Craft Show.  We collect cards from the artists whose work catches our eye and then we come home and dump the cards in a pile and  they just sit there.  OK, Susan is gradually looking at them and telling me to take a look at their websites.   And she's promised to eventually share them with you.

This guy fascinated Susan:  Phil Feinberg of RockinOneKnives.   Here's a picture of one of his incredibly elegant knives.  One of her favorite movies is Lucy, starring Scarlett Johansson, and I'll have to admit it's a pretty good movie.
She tried to explain to him that Lucy/Scarlett whipped out knives in the movie and really did a number with them but I don't think he got it. If you watch the movie look for the knives in this scene (but they aren't as good as Phil's):

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Remembering, Memorial Day 2017

Memorial Day is a Federal holiday, observed the last Monday in May, to honor the U.S. soldiers who died while in military service.  The son of a U.S. soldier killed in Afghanistan put it this way:
His life was not taken: It was given, to his country.

I served in DaNang, Vietnam, from February 1969 to February 1970 and then I came home. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the mall in Washington DC has etched on its black surface the 58,307 names of Americans who died during the war there. They came home draped in an American flag.  It includes these two names:  
Barry Lynn Brown, Killed in Action, Vietnam, 1968.
James Clifford McKittrick, Missing in Action, Vietnam, 1967.

Why are these two men so significant to me? Go here and I'll tell you.

Enjoy your long holiday weekend with family and friends.  And the next time you step into a voting booth think carefully about your choice.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Rock On. And Zapped!

Long Live Rock!  That's me at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland.  It was a major stop on our big road trip, along with the Cleveland Museum of Art.  On the right in the picture you can see the slanted roof of the museum, these words are in the front plaza.  It's fun to wander through this museum, looking at all the videos and displays.  

Our favorite thing to do is to find the screens where you can listen to the top 100 songs from any one year and see the videos or film clips that go with them.  There are also special booths where you can listen to songs by groups/individuals that were what we call "a one-trick pony".  In other words, there was one hit song and never anything else significant produced by that group/individual.  Our favorite example is this song, which did wind up being appropriated by several other artists and used in a movie. You can't listen to it without feeling like you are in the 50's. If you were a boy you had sideburns, if you were a girl you were wearing a poodle skirt.

Zapped!  All I was doing was riding my bike and I'd stopped to look at the graffiti (above) by the side of the road and I was attacked!  He flew right onto my chin and inflicted major damage.  In this picture he looks a little small but honestly, he was about 2 feet long with a huge wingspan and an enormous stinger.  Susan inspected my wound when I got home, listened to my sad saga, and just then just picked up her newspaper and kept right on reading. A cold, cold woman. See if I decorate her hard-boiled eggs again!

Friday, May 12, 2017

Did You Miss Me?

Did you miss me? I'm hoping my Blog Wrangler will post some more pictures but for the last hour she's been wrangling with the new computer and the old one and she said she's forgotten everything she learned before we left and Photoshop is refusing to cooperate and she doesn't want to talk about it any more. And I don't want to talk about the fact that my cellphone, for which I do not give out the number, has rung 4 times today with robocalls from Connecticut, Georgia and other places I don't know anyone.  I'm really tired of them leaving voice mail and even though I now know how to block call numbers they still get through, like cockroaches.

We've been on the road for 24 days, 3852 miles on the car and only 4, maybe 5, OK, 6 times did we scream at each other.  Briefly.  Justified.

That's me on the first day, at our favorite rest stop, Buc-ees. Buc-ees are only in Texas and I wish they were everywhere.  Susan loves Buc-ees because: 1) every Buc-ees women's bathroom has 30 stalls, 2) each stall has a door that shuts and you flip a lever and on the outside it changes from saying "vacant" to saying "occupied" so you don't have to peek under to check for feet, 3) each stall has a dispenser with 4 separate rolls of toilet paper so they never run out and 4) each stall has a Purell dispenser in it. And they are always clean!

One stop was the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum in Cleveland where this quote by Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys caught my eye.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Train Bird

I couldn't resist it.  This bird needed a bird.  Watch for him on a train coming to you soon.
How do they travel?  With a sturdy earth magnet glued on their bottom.  Although, having seen trains bump hard along decrepit tracks lately (Infrastructure, Mr. President, Infrastructure!), I'm thinking there are probably broken birds and sculptures all up and down the tracks around here.

Saturday, April 22, 2017


This is Celeste, the lab tech/assistant in our ceramics department.  She gives me positive support, thoughtful critiques, and good suggestions about the work I'm doing.

Yes, she wears orange clogs.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Tuesday is Your Last Chance


Finally, a good IRS rule: The usual rule is Taxes Due April 15.  But a filing deadline can't be on a Saturday (the 15th), Sunday or legal holiday. Well, what about Monday?  That's Emancipation Day, a legal holiday, which actually fell on April 16. But it can't be honored if it falls on a Sunday so it gets shifted to Monday, April 17.  And, since the Emancipation Day is honored in Washington, D.C., on Monday, April 17, the IRS headquarters are closed that day. That means your tax deadline moves to Tuesday, April 18. Gotta love those holiday rules!

Note:  I have no idea if state tax returns have different rules.  I'm lucky enough to live in a state where we don't have state tax returns. Property tax, yes, up the whazoo.

Tara Donovan is the artist who made this installation we saw last year at the Renwick.  It could possibly be the IRS file room ....

Saturday, April 8, 2017


Hec says hi. I've been making people lately.  I like to give them little birds to carry. Hec is named after the character in the movie Hunt for the Wilderpeople, a 5-star movie.  
Lily has her own bird.
Lily has a tattoo.  Susan and I plan to get tattoos when we can take the time to decide the best place to get them.  Anyone young can easily get a tattoo anywhere but for old geezers like us finding a spot for a tattoo where there isn't sag or wrinkles gets a little bit harder.  Ok, TMI.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Thanks to Seth Apter

Obviously I didn't become a better person, because it's been a long, long time since I've updated this blog.  Can I blame it on my blog Wrangler?  Well, only a little.  She's fighting battles with a cranky old computer that has a hard drive that freezes up on her, a Photoshop Elements program to edit pictures that refuses to save her edits, and a new computer with Windows 10 that she's having to transition to very gradually.  I try not to disturb her, she's reading a book about Windows 10 that has 981 pages. And then there were taxes.  We do our own.  Correction:  She does them for us.

Seth Apter is my long-lost brother, and thanks to him I've had a rude awakening that tells me people notice what I do.  We got together last fall at the Cooper Hewitt Museum where we decided to interview each other, after getting matching haircuts.
I have been working on a people series with movable arms. The bottom picture shows that I'm trying to fasten the arms with a button and wire.

James Tisdale is a great mentor for me.  We work together loading and unloading kilns at school, I feed him a breakfast and in exchange I get to watch him work.  Way cool. His people are sometimes 2-3 feet tall, mine are all under 12 inches tall.
When I'm not working on my own stuff, I'm contributing to my environment.  My neighbors, Dina and Frank, gave me a little Snoopy dog.  I decided it needed to be permanently glued to an appropriate object out in front of our building. So far (3 weeks) it's stayed there.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Your Blog

Oh yeah, Susan knows this one and even posted this outside our apartment door so I'd see it every time I came in. She reminds me at least once a day that I need to not only look at blogs from other people, I need to comment on them.

OK, what if I try to be a better person next year? 2018 has to be better than 2017 is going to be, if you believe everything the talking heads tell you in the media and TV coverage.  You know, those talking heads that predicted the results of our election... not! Anyway, I do see other blogs and am appropriately humbled by not only the stuff they make but the fact that they blog - a lot!

When I made Susan's Esther Williams figure I used some of her buttons to fasten the arms so they moved.  (Susan: You took buttons from my button collection?!?!) I then decided to make some of my own buttons out of clay.  I think I got carried away.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Lesson Number One

How to Enjoy Wine

Open the bottle to allow it to breathe.
If it doesn't look like it's breathing,
give it mouth -to-mouth.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Big Guys, Little Guys

These guys were big, about 12 inches long.  There are sturdy because Regina puts them out in her yard.  She lives in an almost-country area and has raccoons hanging around her pond (her pond fish long since disappeared, they were definitely a canape for some animals' party).  

They went to Regina for Christmas gifts because Regina gives Susan an hour-long massage 3 times a month.  Unfortunately, it seems like every time Susan comes home from Regina, all mellowed out, a crisis of some sort has arrived on the scene.  Crisis? Like I can't figure out how to make the mouse work.  Why is the washer not draining? What am I going to have for lunch?  So she sighs and says "Well, there goes that massage payment down the drain."
Little guys? Have you ever seen carrots this small?  Felipe, one of our dining room managers, gave us these for lunch one day.  Actually they'd been part of a buffet line decoration but how do you even price something this size at the grocery store?