Monday, December 17, 2018

all's well that ends well

Thank you for all the kind words about my small rescue though I couldn't, in good conscience, have done anything less. It's a sad statement on the prevalent atmosphere in this country that what I did is considered remarkable.

Our open house is over for another year and some of us agreed that 3 weekends was too many. I doubt we had more attendance, it was just spread further out. We have some different ideas for next year though our location is our main problem, if our hosts decide to do it again. It's a lot of work on their part and they are aging along with the rest of us. Frankly, I've expected the last several years to be the last time.

Everyone had some good sales except us which at the end of the day on Sunday was still just the one $50 sale. I don't know how the handweavers made out. This was the first year for them to join us and they were only set up for this last weekend but oh, they had some gorgeous stuff. 

Not just loom woven items 

but some beautiful dyed scarves, some in the Japanese shibori tie dye style and some, my favorite, that were dyed using natural materials like leaves and flowers and seeds.

Well, our weekends were dismal until we started to pack up and Kathy of Dick and Kathy, our hosts, told me to wrap up the Tea Box. 

I gave her a skeptical look, really? Yes, she said. I put my arm around her shoulder, gave her a hug, and asked, this isn't a pity buy is it? This box was not cheap, the most expensive thing I had put out. No, she said, she's had her eye on it for a couple of years and it's the last box. Actually, it was the very first one. And I am working on another but they take so long to make, not just the hours in the making but the time between sessions of actually working on it.

The Tea Box has always been one of my favorite pieces and I have not been sad at all that it never sold. Ironically enough, one of the visitors to the show had asked me that very day if it was hard for me to sell my work, to let them go after all the time I have in them, and my answer to this question has always been 'no' because once a piece is finished, I admire it but then I'm working on something new, that it's the process of making that I enjoy. So as I'm wrapping it up I'm feeling a little melancholy, I had expected after all this time that I would have this piece in my personal collection. I'm glad, at least, that it went to someone I love. Dick and Kathy have an amazing art collection and not just glass. This isn't the first or even the second piece of ours that they have bought.

So, I didn't get pictures of everyone's work or even good pictures of those I took. For instance, you can't really see any of Gene's fused glass work here

and I should have just taken a picture or two of individual pieces like I did of this lovely piece of Chin's

and some of Tom's acorn boxes.

Got a fair picture of Liz's frit and powder paintings

but none of Bob's crazy stuff, everything from marbles to some fused glass pieces to turned wood to metal sculpture, the guy just does a little bit of everything. Nor did I take a picture of Eric the young glassblower's work or any of Dick and Kathy's new blown glass pieces all of which they sold.

Liz came in about mid-day on Sunday after hosting the life drawing class at Archway Gallery, the artist's co-op, that they offer every Sunday morning that I attended yesterday (but not the other two Sundays though I should have ) with this coat she borrowed from a friend which looks like the pelt of the abominable snowman all wired up with blinking lights (this is not Liz in the photo but one of the handweavers).

End of day yesterday after wrapping up the Tea Box, we broke down our display, loaded it in our pick-up truck cleverly disguised as a car, dropped into Trader Joe's as we passed by and picked out something for dinner, picked up the dog from my sister's house when we got back, and slept late this morning.

Friday, December 14, 2018

putting some good out in the world, new stuff, and banshees

Wednesday night, full dark, coming back from yoga from El Campo about 12 miles down the road, I was almost home, within blocks, when I passed two people walking down the dark road which runs between the highway and business 59, not quite the middle of nowhere but close, and as I moved over to the left and passed them I noticed waving arms, so I stopped. I fumbled around in the dark for the window control and when I finally got the window down two young adult Latina faces, late 20s, looked back. They had been left high and dry in Hungerford, lived in El Campo, had been walking for about 3 miles and faced at least 12 more, wanted to get back to their kids, both mothers and could I give them a ride at least to the Bucky's on the highway, they could pay, they had $25 trying to give it to me through the window. So I questioned these young women about what had happened, did they not have a phone, where were their children, was there someone they could call with mine who could come get them. Please could I just take them to the Bucky's they asked. I considered all the danger, the conservative narrative of fear and loathing that I despise and told them to get in, called Marc and let him know what I was doing and I would be awhile yet and turned around, drove back to El Campo, and took them home. We didn't talk much. It was one of the young women's birthday, she was 29, crying quietly in the front seat while she conversed softly with her friend, the one who kept trying to give me the $25. She had just wanted to do something fun for once to celebrate her birthday, the person they had arrived with left without them and no one else would give them a ride. I was not the first person they had tried to wave down, I was not the first who stopped but I was the first to help. I delivered them to the door of the house they directed me to and I got home about 40 minutes later than usual. They were still trying to give me the money as they got out of the car. Just pay it forward, help someone else in need I told them.

I could have misjudged and ended up in a ditch or stranded myself but I refuse to live in fear, regardless of Trump and Republican politicians running around shouting 'Danger Danger Will Robinson' about anyone who isn't white when it's the white people causing fear and danger to people of color and as an older white woman I was probably safer than these two pretty young Latina women. The next person that pulled over might have done them real harm instead of just refusing to help.


It occurred to me that I never wrote a post about this new glass working technique, the one I took the class in last August. If I did, I couldn't find it in my brief overview of posts since then. So briefly, it involves glass powder, a binder (something sticky), and what the artistLois Manno, who developed this technique, calls a 'liquid medium' all mixed together in certain amounts and in a certain order to get what looks like a ball of modeling clay, only it's glass. She calls it modeling glass. You can roll it out like pie crust, cut it into shapes, sculpt it, texture it, however you want to create whatever you had in mind. Our main project in the class was a bluejay feather (14”). 

We also did birds on a branch and a raven head (4 1/2”).

I have several feathers in mind (and plan to roll out the base color for one today), a great blue heron feather for the box if I ever get back to it, an owl or hawk feather (not sure which bird it belongs to), and a flicker feather that a friend sent to me. So I have rolled out sample pieces of the colors I've so far mixed up (all opaque colors) to see what color they will be after firing, blending some colors to try and achieve a grayer brown, and also to experiment with overlaying opaque and transparent glass powders.

Yesterday, it got up into the (very) low 70˚s and last night a cold front came howling in and by howling I mean everything from moaning to shrieking like a banshee. The dog was not happy. Temperatures plunged into the low 40˚s and will only rise to the mid 50˚s today and it's still very windy and moaning out there. The weekend should be nice though, chilly but clear for our last weekend of the open house.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

the loss of appreciation of the arts and a tantrum

Last Sunday morning while we were waiting for someone, anyone, to come in, Chin (he has a longer name that is hard to pronounce and so he just goes by Chin), the classically trained in Japan ceramicist who makes beautiful elegant forms, and I were talking about the dearth of the arts in our culture. Most the people who buy his work are older, same for us. He also did the Saturday show in which the jeweler basically sold out but didn't do well, maybe sold two pieces. Our experience seems to be that anyone younger than 50 or so is not interested in art or even quality. They have been raised in the Mass Production of Cheap Goods from China Age with art mostly missing from school curriculum and museums no longer free and a government that doesn't really support the arts as important to our culture (as opposed to Japan, for instance, where artists are considered national treasures). Chin recounted a looker asking why his work was so expensive when you could buy the same thing from Walmart to which Chin replied that the guy should go get it at Walmart. There is no appreciation for handmade or quality. One of the reason galleries are dying...the older folk have all they need or want and the younger folk aren't buying. And it's not that they aren't spending bundles of money, they do, but they spend it on $1,000 phones that they'll replace in a year or hundreds for a pair of shoes with a name that will wear out in about a year but a piece of art that will grace their home with beauty forever they aren't interested in. And art isn't the only fatality of this lack of appreciation for quality. I have read that many household goods manufacturers have stopped making their top of the line quality products because no one buys them anymore. For instance, washing machines that are worn out beyond repair after about 7 years now as opposed to the 30 year old machine that came with the house that we still use. We, as a nation, have fully embraced the throw-away culture.

And speaking of expensive shoes, did you see the bit about Payless Shoes opening a pop-up store in a mall, Palessi, charging hundreds of dollars for the same shoes that normally cost about $50, and people bought them! Many people.

Well, once again I remind myself that I make this stuff because I enjoy making it and so I've made some progress in playing with this new technique, several line drawing of various feathers and 7 balls of modeling glass with two more colors, a lighter gray and opaque white (the white in the picture is white opal, also opaque but not as bright as opaque white) to mix up before I start rolling out some of this stuff to make the bases for a coupe of feathers and some squares to experiment with color mixtures and transparent powders over opaque colors.

yes, this is glass powder mixed with a binder and a liquid medium

We've been on a warming trend since the cold wet rainy weekend. I checked the rain gauge Monday and we got 5 1/2” between Friday afternoon and Saturday afternoon. After two days of sun, it's overcast again and while it's supposed to get up to 70˚ today, tomorrow another cold front blows in. The weekend should be nice though, sunny and not too cold.

my peas are sprouting!

And did you see the Toddler in Chief threw a tantrum yesterday live on camera and in color, constantly interrupting the adults in the room and then stomped out after declaring he would be proud! to shut down the government if he doesn't get his way and then reportedly went into an adjacent room and threw a folder full of papers scattering them everywhere in his pique. It's going to be a bumpy two years, if he lasts that long. Here's some advice for want a wall, you promised a wall, you also promised Mexico would pay for it. You want the wall? Then keep the other part of your promise and get Mexico to pay for it. Other toddler news, he has decimated the Clean Water Act after boasting that our air (whose anti-pollution regulations have also been slashed) and water has never been cleaner. Perhaps so, but now not for long. More MAGA!

So as not to leave you with a bad taste in your mouth, here's a picture of my silly dog trying to stand on her head.

Monday, December 10, 2018

another dismal weekend in more ways than one

As predicted, as expected, the weekend was cold and wet on Saturday and just plain cold on Sunday, overcast both days. You know, the kind of days when you stay in warm and comfy with a good book or catching up on whatever TV series you are watching with a hot beverage. And so people did. Of course, our attendance is always low, those who come out usually come on the first weekend. A few sales were made though not by us. I thought we had two good possibles, the husband of each couple was willing if they had gotten even a little encouragement from their wives, which they did not get.

We used to get big crowds but now attendance is one of our big problems for several reasons. For one, the glass blowing studio is in an inner city neighborhood that has become gentrified over the years and so there is almost no street parking and the parking area for the studio is fairly small. Another problem is that as a small group of artists, we don't have an advertising budget and so we send out notices to our personal mailing lists or create a FB page or put notices up in things that don't have a fee. So far, none of the people on my admittedly very small email list have shown up. Another problem is that over the years more and more events began happening on every weekend in December from neighborhood events to a large art community that has grown up in an old warehouse district (and not that far from us) that draws a huge crowd as well as many smaller art/craft open houses and shows which was not the case when we first started doing this. Add to that that our glassblower friends are no longer active in the larger art and gallery community and so our visibility has shrunk to almost zero.

One of our participants puts on an art/craft show/sale on the second Saturday so I went over to check it out and am planning to participate next year (we'll do both if our friends are up for another go at it next year, me in one place, Marc in the other). They had more traffic but the price point of the goods on offer was lower so I'll have to do some thinking about what I can produce that might actually get bought (like note cards printed with my little drawings for one). I have some ideas and some plans for this next year. Now that we officially retired last year around this time and the house repairs/remodels were finally finished last October, I plan to build up an inventory, approach one or two galleries, rejoin the Glass Art Society, and work on increasing my visibility as well as playing with this new (for me) technique and doing more little drawings. I have to be careful though and remember why I make this stuff in the first place. The last time I tried to be economically viable it just led to unhappiness.

The question I got the most over the last two this glass?...mostly referring to the feathers on sand pieces.

Here's a pic of our display (bigger version if you click on it).

We have one more weekend adding the Handweavers Association. The wood turner and the ceramicist set up last Sunday morning after doing the Saturday market that our other participant puts on. The jeweler did not since he sold all but 5 pieces at the same show. We are hoping that the handweavers will bring in a new crowd. I'm not expecting any sales this next weekend either but that's OK. I got to spend time with friends that I only see once a year since we moved out of the city.

Friday, December 7, 2018

this week

I had a long post written out about a couple of comments I got on FB on my blog post about the neighbor's storage container from a guy who has appointed himself as her protector who took exception to my observation of its effect on my view. They were rudely hostile, almost threatening, and before I could reply in my hot headed way, he deleted them. I considered talking to my neighbor about it but decided not to involve her and then wrote out a reply that I intended to post on his page but a cooler head has prevailed and I just blocked him instead.

So this week I have not accomplished anything I intended. My intention was on Monday to start playing with the glass working technique I took the class in last August. That didn't happen though I did start mixing up the glass powder into the clay like substance yesterday. I did get a little more weeding done though did not clear the flower bed. Went to yoga Monday and Wednesday though on Wednesday only two of us showed up for class. I planted more sprouting peas. And yesterday my sister and I went to an estate sale where I got a flying pig yard ornament, four elongated 'S' hooks for hanging things, and a hair dryer. I was looking for the hair dryer to use in my wax model making after someone posted in the glass casting group about using one to smooth wax models. It's worth a try as there are always places I can't get to easily. All for $9. 


Oh, and I shelled the last of my pecan crop. Twenty and 1/3 pounds of shelled pecans, 3 large paper grocery bags full of shells.

Tomorrow is the start of our second weekend of the Open House and while it is currently 72˚ with intermittent sun, they are calling for heavy rain later today and chilly and wet on Saturday and Sunday, weather not really conducive for getting out except for the stout hearted. It looks to be one of those weekends where the participants will be in a bored stupor and thinking about all the other stuff we could be doing. But you never know. Maybe I'll be able to finish #5 in the Outlander series.

And George H W Bush was feted this week with three events/funerals. The husband and I were wondering when they were going to get around to bestowing sainthood on Bush, listening to all the accolades of a man who engaged in more than one criminal act during his presidency invading Panama, Iraq (and after calling for the Iraqis to rise up against Saddam left them twisting in the wind), and the Iran/Contra affair. The Toddler-In-Chief showed up for H W Bush's funeral handing his coat to the uniformed soldier escorting him and Melania to their seats as if he was Trump's personal valet and the Obamas, being who they are, greeted him, if not warmly, while all the other Exes gave him the cold shoulder and others in the next row behind shot daggers at him. True to form, he couldn't be bothered to participate in the prayers or hymns (of course he wouldn't know them since he's never attended church and can't read) and he left before the casket was even out of the church. He's getting good marks by the press for his behavior. Pretty sad when the president gets good marks just for acting the way any normal person would act but today he is back to indulging in his tweet shit storms. Apparently Mueller is supposed to drop some bombs today.

A few miscellaneous pictures...

my neighbors still have their hummingbird feeders up and although the hummers have migrated out, the bees are loving it

buddha contemplates the flowers tickling his nose

I believe this is the closest these two have ever sat next to each other

not sure if this was a meeting of the minds or communal distrust of the person taking their picture

the lizard moved on

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

fall reading list

A short list because I'm still plodding through the Outlander books, at least when I'm not shelling pecans.

Drums Of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon - Book 4 of the Outlander series (another tome of 1,000 pages it took me a whole month to read it)...I find myself skipping over some descriptive passages (pages) for various reasons. Clair, Jamie, Ian, and Fergis travel to North Carolina to Jaime's aunt's plantation and eventually homestead in the mountains. Meanwhile, their grown daughter Brianna and the young historian Roger who helped Claire learn Jamie survived the battle at Collodon have developed a relationship. They do research to see if they can find any trace of Claire and Jaime after Claire goes back and discover a death notice. Brianna, who also feels the pull of the stones, goes back to warn her parents and meet her father, without telling Roger who, predictably and also who conveniently feels the pull of the stones, goes after her. He finds her and then goes off on a mission of his own, she finds her parents and more things happen which prevent Brianna and Roger from going back to their own time.

The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon - Book 5 of the Outlander series (another 1,000 pages!). Have not finished it as I read a little and then go get something else from the library as a reprieve. I'm about 4/5 of the way through.

The Mere Wife by Maria Dahvana Headley – first paragraph of the synopsis on the inside cover...”turns the epic tale of Beowulf on it's head, recasting the classic into contemporary American suburbia and telling it from the perspective of the presumed monsters, Grendel and his mother.” Soldier Dana Mills, lone survivor of her unit in the desert, somehow survives what appears to be a beheading in a video with no real memory of anything beyond the sound of the sword descending. She comes to buried in sand six months pregnant and walks until she finds Americans. She wakes up in a hospital in a prison and one of the inmates helps her escape and she runs back to the mountain where she grew up, the abandoned train station in the mountain, and the cave under the station and gives birth alone. There's a new suburb built at the base of the mountain where her home used to be populated by the entitled wealthy. Seven years go by while Dana hides and protects her son Gren from the evil monsters who would kill them. Willa, married to the son of the founder of the suburb has a son also 7 and Gren sneaks down the mountain to play with him. Willa has an unnatural fear of the mountain and calls the police one snowy night to find the trespasser. And then things start to fall apart. A nice short 300 page reprieve from the Outlander series.

The Pharaoh Key by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child – I generally like Preston and Child but this was stupid. A Gideon Crew novel (#5 in the series), a man with an aneurism in his brain due to kill him in two months time when this novel opens. Gideon is out of a job as EES has mysteriously shuttered operations and when he and his partner in adventure Manual Garza arrive to pick up their things, a computer that has been working on translating the enigmatic Phaistos Disk for 5 years suddenly dings with completion. The two surreptitiously download the result, the code used to create it, while the guards are distracted and within about 10 minutes crack the code (oh, I know what this is, let's try giving the glyphs these attributes, oh the picture is a little blurry, no problem we'll assign gray scale tones) and boom, they know what it is and where it is and set off to steal the treasure they are sure is there. With camels and a guide and a mysterious woman they partner with (but not for the treasure). They are on the verge of immediate death at least 5 times and then are miraculously saved each time before they find a secret oasis in the mountainous driest in the world desert of Egypt/Sudan and a lost tribe of ancient Egyptian keepers and protectors and the treasure behind a sealed 'tomb' from the time of Akhnaten (the heretic sun god pharaoh) and what appears to be the original stone tablet of the 10 commandments only there are 11 (and the book cops out, never revealing number 11 but it is earth shattering and world changing!) and apparently Judaism evolved from the true inventor of the one god, Akhnaten. The woman and Gideon barely escape when the tribe arrives while they are packing up the goodies and Manual seemingly gives his life so they can escape but we learn later that he survived, killed off the leader and took his place leading a new life. Three months later Gideon is still alive. I'm telling you the story so you won't waste your time reading this book.

She Would Be King by Wayetu Moore - the first half of this book was really good as she introduced her characters, all with special abilities...a child, Gbessa, born on an inauspicious day in a small African village and branded a witch and banished from the village when she reached the age of 13 and expected to die from exposure and starvation and does not, cannot die; Charlotte, a slave in America who dies but doesn't know she is dead who becomes a spirit on the wind and who gives birth to June Dey, a slave who cannot be harmed; and Norman Aragon, child of a slave and an Englishman in Jamaica, who can disappear. Eventually they all make their way to the free slave colony of Monrovia in Africa and that is the second half of the book. June Dey and Norman fight slavers and protect the villagers while Gbessa becomes a housemaid for a free black family in Monrovia and tries to suppress her native character and past. There's an unsatisfying climatic end but I was less impressed with the last half of the book.

Monday, December 3, 2018

a yellow carpet and the first weekend

After posting Thursday morning about the ginkgoes still being bright yellow and full of leaves I woke up Friday morning to trees that had lost half their leaves overnight and sitting here in the morning looking out at the one in the Little Backyard watching it rain down leaves. An hour later it had lost half what it had an hour previous. Two hours later it was almost bare. I tried to get a picture of the leaves raining down every time the breeze blew but while my eyes saw dozens, the camera only saw one or two. By the end of the day only a few stalwarts were clinging tenaciously to the tree.

It's the time of year, now that the tallow and the pecan behind it in the neighbor's yard have lost all their leaves, that I have to wear a cap in the mornings since I look east so as not to be blinded on sunny days until the sun gets higher than the top of the window.

Set-up on Thursday went quickly and smoothly. Our display and several others will stay the whole 3 weekends but others will come and go. Driving into and through the city we were seeing a rare display of fall colors triggered by those two nights of early freeze, the oaks and sweet gums and bradford pears were brilliant in reds and yellows. I miss having a sweet gum. We had one at the city house though I hated all those prickly balls all over the ground. They're common in the city but I don't think I've seen a single one out here. Same with robins, common in the city but an hour away I haven't seen a single one.

The first weekend of the open house is done and it was dismal for us, only one $50 sale, but everyone else had a good weekend. Our glass blower hosts sold all of their new pieces as well as lots of ornaments, small glasses, and paperweights, our fuser friend sold two of his sculptures that have been hanging around for years along with several other small plates/bowls, the woman that does enamel jewelry was very happy with her sales, and the new this year young glass blower next to us couldn't wrap his stuff up fast enough. It's not that people weren't buying in our price range, they just weren't buying from us but we did get lots of compliments and our work has never been an impulse buy. Some years we make no sales, some years we do well. Last year we had a great show while others didn't so it balances out. I'm happy everyone else did well and there are still two more weekends so we'll see.

Some miscellaneous pictures...

Minnie spent the weekend with my sister since we would be gone all day both days. As you can see she was just pining away.

When we were in town Thursday to set up we stopped by Trader Joe's to get the stuff we get there and bought some fresh peas which we had some of for dinner Saturday night. Marc sorted out 7 that had just started to sprout with a tip of root peeking out so I put them between layers of wet paper towel until I could get them planted. Today they looked like this and are now nestled in wet dirt in the sun.

I'm used to the wrens hanging out in the garage and being all curious about the stuff in there, they even like to check out the house in the spring when the door is open, but now we have a new guy hanging out in the garage. I posted about all the plumerias and other tropical plants in pots being stored in the garage for the winter and several weeks ago I surprised a male cardinal hanging out in the plumerias in there. In the days since, both Marc and I have seen him fly out when we leave the house via the garage door (or dart around when we enter the garage) and today he was in there again. I usually just ignore him but I did manage to get this picture while he was perched on the kiln. Right after I took the picture he flew out again.