Thursday, June 25, 2015

finished work and some recognition maybe

I spent the day yesterday photographing the finished pieces. Yes, I have finally finished all the Botanicas, well, except the one that has the small crack, still haven't re-fired it yet.

 4”w x 4”h x 2"d  rose

 4”w x 4”h x 2"d  anemone

 4”w x 4”h x 2"d  poppy seed head

 4”w x 4”h x2"d  iris

 4”w x 4”h x2"d  tulip

6”w x 6”h x 2"d  cyclamen

And ta da...the peach box is assembled and finished.

You might remember the sketch I did two years ago. That's how long this piece was in the making. I might have more financial success with these if I didn't take so fucking long to complete them. There was a period of about 10 years where I was determined to get noticed and become a successful gallery artist and I cranked stuff out working all the time and submitting to exhibitions and going to shows and not having time for anything thing else and I was not having fun. Then the bottom dropped out of the economy and people forgot all about me and it was all for naught. So now, I struggle with the desire to still be a part of that and my desire to enjoy my life. I may never have success in the galleries or with collectors who can make your career but fortunately I'm not dependent on that. The upside of not being in demand is that I can work when I want and make stuff I want instead of making the same thing over and over and over with minor variations cause that's what the collectors want. I look at the work of some of the successful artists in the glass medium and years later they are still making the same pieces that they became successful with.

So, I know I've been saying for weeks now that I am going to get my model making stuff out and start on a new body of work but I have yet to actually do it. I've been a little busy around here and now I have a small etched glass job, a simple design on a full door lite, and there was the painting of the back bedroom last week and other stuff. Yeah, other stuff. Surely there was other stuff that was keeping me busy and not working on new models besides just skipping tra la through my life. And Sunday I go fetch the other 17 year old grandgirl for her week.

One other piece of exciting news. Last August, I received notice from the Houston Center For Contemporary Craft that our work was being considered for possible acquisition by the City of Houston Portable Works Collection that will become part of the permanent collection of the Houston Airport System and will be displayed at the Houston Intercontinental Airport. Two days ago I received notice that our small sculptural work had made it to the final selection pool with the actual selections to be made the end of July this year. Selections will be made from the actual pieces (and yes, they ARE buying them!) so I will need to gather up the available pieces and cart them down to the Center for consideration. 

I am grateful to the Houston Center For Contemporary Craft for their support and inclusion in the selection process.

Monday, June 22, 2015

summer visits 1 & 2

Summer is the time for the week long visits from the grandkids. Now that the grandboy, who turned 18 this year, has a full time job and is a key holding manager to open or close the store, his week has split into two long weekends when he can get them off. Mikey's first long weekend, the last weekend of May, he spent working on his truck which sits, along with all his father's old trucks, in the yard of the shop. He has one foot in adulthood, or maybe hovering above the ground, and one foot still implanted in his childhood. He has a job, is fairly independent, has a plan for the future, he's a good worker but he still lives with his family and is a credit short of having a diploma which he is trying to remedy this summer. He's not grown yet but he's trending that way.

Jade, now 17, was just here for her summer week. Last year she wanted to paint the back bedroom, which is their room when they come to visit, but I wasn't thrilled with the idea. Not that I didn't want it painted, which I did as it was a cold very pale blue white, in fact this whole house was painted that same color when we bought it, but I just wasn't up for the effort as that room is full of furniture and games and craft stuff. This year though she was determined so that is what we did.

The original plan for that room was to be a work room, part of the studio/shop. We pulled up the carpet and got some cheap vinyl for the floor, removed the doors from the closet and moved a big table in there and set it up for wax working and model making. It took a very short time for me to realize that I didn't like working back there. There is only one small window in that room and it is in a corner and the bottom panes are in a clear textured glass that let in light but make it impossible to see out of and I felt very isolated. So the wax working went out to the garage and the model making resumed in the big room that I use as my office and workroom, and so the back room became the guest/craft room.

It took several color samples before I decided on a pale yellow with a warm white for the ceiling and trim with a lavender accent on the end wall of shelves. So the work began...moving furniture to one side or the other, putting down paper and a drop cloth, taping around the baseboards and trim. I painted the ceiling while she worked on the walls. We both worked on the wall of shelves and the trim and while we worked Jade programmed the music. She likes to go through all our old albums when she is here.

She's making a face because she is saying that all my pictures of her are going to be in that dirty paint shirt.

Painting finished, we rearranged the furniture and I put down one of the rugs from the old house that has been stored over at the shop. We didn't finish til almost 6 PM Sunday. It looks great now that it's done and I'm glad that Jade insisted we do it. Next is to hang the closet doors back up. Eventually, I'll move the vinyl over to the shop and put down a wood floor. The only downside to painting the room is that the murals the girls painted in '09 are now gone. I didn't actually regret that until it was too late.

While painting the back bedroom was our only activity (all the stuff from the shelves is piled on the table), we did take time out to go to yoga (and drive home during Bill), do the shops on the square and in Glen Flora where we found these Chinese New Year dragon masks,

put up a ten pound box of peaches from the local orchard, make banana pudding, fruit salad, key lime pie, 

and a pasta salad to complement the meatless meals that Marc made all week. Jade has gone vegetarian.

And right before we left to return her home, she made her dad a Father's Day card.

Jade is turning into an amazing young woman. Well, she's always been amazing. She was inducted into the National Honor Society this year, takes AP classes in school, on the board of her youth group, has a job at a gymnastics gym during the week as a counselor for the summer camp program as well as working birthday parties on the weekends all during the year plus the occasional babysitting job. This is her second summer there. She is a highly motivated organized self starter and if I wasn't doing something fast enough to suit her, she'd take it away from me and do it herself.

Friday, June 19, 2015


Tropical Storm Bill (Bill?) came and went. I'm unsure how much rain we got because the rain gauge next door overflowed at 5 1/2”. Jade and I had gone to yoga in the next little town over that night as all day Tuesday it just sprinkled off and on. We hadn't been there 5 minutes when the storm finally started coming through with torrential rain and high wind. I kept thinking through the whole hour...It's only 8 miles. It's only 8 miles. I can drive through this for 8 miles. We did make it safely home.

Tuesday morning I was up early folding up lawn chairs and taking down wind chimes and pounding a stake in the ground so I could secure the Lee Littlefield sculpture with three points. It's already loose in the ground from the 9” we got the last week of May.

I worried about the little kildeer and her eggs all night during the storm and Wednesday morning early I checked on her. I'm happy to report that she weathered the storm and her chicks had the good sense not to try and hatch. Which they should be doing any day now.

The yard is, of course, a mess, littered with small and medium branches. I'm surprised there were that many left to be lost from the previous storm. The cedar at the entrance to the shop has a big broken branch that hasn't fallen and one of the pecans also has a couple of danglers. That stupid arbor fell on my small dogwood tree again, damaging it further because I didn't even think about securing that.

Hot and muggy out today and no one is in a hurry to clean up the mess.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

birds and bees and other manifestations of the godhead

As I mentioned, it finally quit raining and when it did summer landed like a wet blanket. A wet blanket infested with mosquitoes. Suffice to say I'm spending lot of time indoors.

Spring is just a memory along with all those lovely flowers. Even the day lilies that bloomed profusely and for months last year are nearly done. A few put on a dazzling display but most the others, like the altheas before them, were disappointing. Some of the ginger is putting out bloom buds. The angel trumpets are frustrating me though. The one I planted last summer over at the shop is at least 3 1/2' tall and bushy and still nary a bloom. Sigh.

I've been collecting pictures of some of the other residents around here.

A male male cardinal has been feeding his two juniors for weeks now. He comes to the tea cup while the two juniors chirp and shiver their wings begging for food. Eventually one of the juniors got up the courage to come to the tea cup though that didn't stop it from begging from dad. 

I looked up the other day to see junior 1 and dad on the tea cup while junior 2 was waiting in the shrub. Dad is done with the feeding though. He's been chasing the juniors off the last two days when they come begging. They're on their own now.

I haven't seen the female feeding them. She's probably already sitting on another brood of eggs.

I spotted this nest the other day and while I did see her sit in it briefly, it is empty.

All the rain has made the frogs and toads happy. Their serenades fill the night with noise. Walking in the Little Backyard, an incautious step will send the little ones leaping away.

I'm happy to say I've seen more honeybees this year. This one was getting nectar from the flowering aloe.

This carpenter bee was hovering by my head until it finally flew up into the hole it had drilled in the end rafter of the barn. Everybody told me to kill it as they would ruin the rafter but I didn't do it.

Now I see there are four more holes so I guess we're going to have to discourage them.

A woodpecker, a yellow bellied sapsucker or a flicker maybe, was happily thunking away on a hollow dead branch in the tallow tree for weeks. 

It would thunk on the outside and then it would thunk on the inside.

The intrepid killdeer is still guarding her eggs in the gravel of the driveway of the shop. I'm impressed as it's too hot for me out there and she endures at least 10 hours of full sun. 

The eggs should be hatching any day now and I'm a little concerned with tropical storm Bill making landfall this morning somewhere between us and Houston.

And the anoles.

Giving me the eye.

Monday, June 15, 2015

time flies

I just realized that it's been a week since I posted. What the hell have I been doing?

Well, Wednesday I went into the city to measure for a job. Thursday I worked on the revised sketch. Friday we went to see Jurassic World...big dinosaur monsters killing people and other dinosaurs left and right while the dumb corporate and military types keep thinking they can control it. And then there's Chris Pratt, our favorite Guardian. It was great.

Saturday I had off from the store which closes for the Juneteenth celebration because they close off the street and put the kid's activities in front of the shop. But! My adhesive came and I glued the last Botanicas in their frames and started assembling the peach box. Still have to assemble the top.

And Sunday, I went in to the city to fetch grandgirl Jade for her summer week. She's determined we are going to paint the back bedroom this year while she is here. I do want to get it painted but oh, what a chore.

It finally stopped raining two weeks ago last Friday and when it did summer was suddenly and definitely here, all hot and humid. It's been too hot to do anything outside besides take a quick look before you got carried away by the mosquitoes. I even had to start watering stuff and by this past Saturday, I was wishing it would rain! Well, we got a few light showers yesterday and now there's a soon to be tropical storm knocking on the door so I guess I'll get my wish.

I saw a bit of rainbow this morning so I'll leave you with that while I work on another post.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

sometimes I wonder if I even know what I'm doing

I'm a little disgusted with myself right now. I spent the day yesterday messing around with oil paints on the little peach flower sculpture trying to lighten it up but I eventually cleaned it all off since it just wasn't looking the way I had it in my head to look. So, new idea. I would just use a bit darker pink and paint the stamens so they would stand out better and then a dot of yellow on the ends which I intended to do all along since I didn't think I could get a tiny bit of yellow frit to stay in place during casting.

That worked well enough so I set it aside and started on the peach wood top. It needed a little sanding, which I did, and since I didn't want to stain it or seal it, I figured I would do a hand rubbed finish. Before I did that though, I wanted to see how all the pieces looked together since I have not ever put them all together before. So I balanced the box on the upside down cast bronze peach pit feet, put the wood top on top and the flower sculpture on top of that and as I held the cast peach inlay piece against the front of the box, the whole thing teetered over and I snatched the box with one hand and the flower sculpture with the other before it hit the table and in the process smeared the paint.

Well, fine. Be that way. I put it aside to touch up later.

Next I rubbed lemon oil on the wood, for that hand rubbed finish, and I knew it would darken it some but was not prepared for how much the oil actually did darken the wood which is still a pretty piece of wood with nice grain and now the sculpture does not stand out from the wood the way it did prior to the lemon oil.

Sheesh! Am I ever satisfied?

Well, satisfied or not, I'm done with this piece. It's time to move on. Now as soon as the adhesive I ordered arrives, I can put it all together.

So, did I ever tell y'all what I plan to fill the peach box with after I finally get it finished?

Saturday, June 6, 2015

a bump in the road

Sometimes I could weep for this country.

My sister and I were out yesterday going to a couple of estate sales, one of which was in Victoria, a small city about an hour's drive away, which is a post all in itself. Neither of us is familiar with Victoria and once turned off of our projected path, would be totally lost. We were well out of town on our way home, out in the country with corn fields all around on the very long business 59 road that would eventually carry us onto the actual freeway, and we were in fact finally parallel with the freeway and could see the merge point up ahead, when we came on a wreck at an intersection whose cross road lead only into a small neighborhood to our right.

The wreck must have just happened as there were no emergency vehicles on site yet. The demolished SUV in front of us was crosswise on the road we were on with an also damaged 4 door sedan pulled over further up on the left. Hard to tell who was at fault but there were two people, a man and a woman, standing in the road, waving frantically and directing traffic to turn off the road and into the little neighborhood instead of letting people go around on the shoulder and continuing on.

My sister and I were not so easily swayed, we could see that we could easily get around the damaged SUV so we ignored the frantic arm waving of the woman and proceeded on slowly at which point the woman and the man started yelling at us to STOP STOP. My sister stopped, rolled down her window, and the man approached and put his head in the window and being very loud and aggressive, told us we could not go forward and to back up and turn.

Now, usually, I am very laid back and bumps in the road generally roll off me, but we were not in a place where we could just turn off and not be totally lost without any indication of how we might be able to get back on the road ahead and for some reason this man's barking commands just pissed. me. off.

Are you a cop?” I demanded across my sister to him. When he repeated that we not continue, I asked him again if he was a cop. “No”, finally, “I'm just a good christian man trying to help”. When we indicated that the road was clear, he said “We don't want you to get hurt, my wife got hurt.” When my sister told him that if his wife was injured then perhaps he should be over there ministering to her, this 'good christian man' strode off and stood in front of our car to physically prevent us from moving forward. Then the woman had to have her say and she came up to the window.

There's radiation oil on the road”, she says as she gestures to the coolant leaking from the busted radiator of the SUV. “We're just trying to save your life”, she screams at us as we back up and turn onto the cross street.

Radiation oil?

So now we are turned off into this neighborhood and Siri is no help as she is telling us to turn around and continue on the way we had been going. We went around a block and came back to the same intersection with two cars ahead of us. In the few minutes it took us to go around the block, a sheriff had arrived and was directing the cars to turn, go around the wreck on the shoulder, and continue on but he stopped us and made us go forward under the freeway and in the opposite direction we wanted.

Why us? The other two cars were able to turn. OK, fine. A firetruck had pulled up maybe looking for the radiation oil spill.

Anyway, it was easy enough to get turned around and going in the right direction. In rural Texas there are cross-overs connected with farm roads and county roads that allow you to u-turn on the highway if you don't want to get off. So we came upon one quickly and that is what we did and passed over the ruckus and got home.

So why does this make me weep for this country?

Because in one moment I was faced with the sanctimonious and hypocritical, holier than thou self described 'good christian man' who was forcing us to bend to his will because he had decided what was best for us (while ignoring his injured wife) and to hell with how it would affect us and the astounding ignorance that is the result of our current majority political leadership with it's complete scorn of education, not to mention separation-of-church-and-state.

I know that both people must have still been in a form of shock, still absorbing the completely wrecked cars and whatever injuries the wife had, and their adrenaline and fear was probably making them act crazy, I've been in that situation. Still, it was a lesson in how ingrained the christian patriarchy is and the mindset that let's them think they have the right to control women (and men) and how uneducated some of our communities are.

I mean, really, radiation oil? I still can't get over that. I'd think it was just a mispronunciation in her stress, that she meant radiator and oil, if she hadn't followed it up with the screamed “we're trying to save your life!”. I'm pretty sure coolant and oil are not going to kill me if I drive past it in my car.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

like pulling teeth

I've had three proposals to write the last two weeks. Last week was basically lost to the rain and the river at flood stage. This week I've been finding all sorts of other ways to procrastinate, mostly involving birds, and a last ditch effort in which I vacuumed the whole house. And I hate housework.

The first two proposals were easy enough and I banged them out the beginning of the week. The third one though is for a large window in a master bath. The designer is interested in a rather decorative traditional floral with a victorianish border. She referenced an image of a job we did years ago.

I don't know why I'm being so resistant. I like working with this designer and it will be a good job if she can sell it which she generally does and I've done many sketches like it over the years. It would be so much easier if I could find the initial sketch for the job she referenced but, of course, amid all the tons of paper in drawings large and small that I have kept over the years, that one is not to be found.

I'm wondering if my lack of interest is due to the fact that I am, for the most part, burnt out on doing the detailed and intricate carvings or if it's just this design in general but whichever the excitement, she is gone. I want to copy and paste from my old drawings, not design a new one. Better yet, I would just like to sell a design I have already done. But that, apparently, is not the way I roll.

So I have dug out the full size drawings from that job and pinned them to the wall, looking at them as I try to reproduce them in a different size and shape.

As you can see, I did get started but it doesn't seem to be finishing on it's own.


Tuesday, June 2, 2015

high water, a downed tree, and bird eggs

The rains that drowned Austin and Wimberly in the hill country Sunday and Monday and Houston on Tuesday began to swell the Colorado River through town on Tuesday and Wednesday. Wednesday is when I took my little video. I have a few photos from Thursday and Friday as it got higher. Saturday, after opening the store, I put a 'be back in 5 minutes' sign on the door and walked the two blocks to the park on the banks of the river. Higher still and still had not crested. It was due to do that at about 1 PM at 42.8 feet above normal river level. Two feet short of its predicted high.

last Wednesday afternoon

 same spot the following Saturday morning

The city had issued a voluntary evacuation for the west side neighborhoods. At risk were about 300 homes. Then they issued a mandatory evacuation. Then they revised the number of homes to be affected to 30. (Later, on Sunday, I read that no homes got water in them.)

Friday morning though, we got up to see that the hackberry tree that was snugged up against the cedar beside the gate to the shop had fallen. Too much rain and according to my tree guy, the cedar was stealing all the nutrients. I had told that hackberry a month or so ago that I would just as soon it wasn't growing there but I didn't mean for it to keel over and die. Well, I might have thought it but I would never have cut it down.

The other thing I saw last Friday was that a kildeer had laid an egg in the gravel of the drive up to the shop. She laid another one on Saturday and another one on Sunday and another yesterday I guess because now there are four eggs in the nest, which is not a nest really but a little scooped out spot in the gravel. When we noticed the nest on Friday she would get very upset with us just being in the yard, trying to lead us off with her wounded bird/broken wing act and making such a racket. And the male too. We put an old metal light cover next to the nest and stuck a gas line marker flag in it so we wouldn't inadvertently run over the nest when we drive in.

The 18 yr. old grandboy was here for a long weekend working on his truck so the mama bird has gotten used to having people around. She doesn't freak out and yell at us anymore unless we get too close in which case she runs off.

Now that he has a full time job (and is a manager with a key), getting a week off isn't possible so we have to be satisfied with long weekends. I'm just happy that he still likes to come out and spend time with us. That boy has gotten so big, taller than his father now and filling out. He's no longer a scrawny little kid. If seeing my own kids grow up and become adults with families wasn't enough to drive home my own aging, seeing my grandkids become adults certainly does.