Sunday, April 23, 2017

A Ceramic Tree

Some people grow trees in the forest, but me, I like to create them in my art studio here in Sedona, AZ. 
 This is a vase I made a while ago. There were two of them originally, similar, but each unique. Then, because I make my living this way, I sold one to a nice client who wanted a tree for her living space. 
You see, it is actually a vase, with a hollow inside that is glazed an elegant blue. Maybe it is the  sky reflected inward. You can use it to hold flowers, or just as a sculpture to enjoy.
This is a hand rolled piece, created from a slab of dark clay, which I inscribed with this bark pattern. It stands about nine inches tall. It is not  smooth, but has  texture, to which  I added an  iron stain for emphasis. As with all high fire clay, there is always the element of surprise, a variation in hues depending on where it was in the kiln, or how the kiln gods felt on that particular day . I have created a one of a kind ceramic tree.
But then, what in nature is exactly the same?

Saturday, April 8, 2017

"Cloudy with Lightening in Today's Windchimes"

Today is a cloudy day here in Sedona. It reminds me of this recent wind chime I created  for a client. He wanted lightening and clouds and all in blue. Here is the result. 
It was an adventure creating a whole new pattern for my porcelain  chimes. There is  the aesthetics of the creation; the shapes to create; the  cobalt blue color I paint onto into the bisqued clay pieces before their second and final firing. Because I fire these pieces to a very high temperature, it makes them stronger and the resulting sounds are sweeter.
Chimes have been around for a very long time. Since I work in clay, this is my choice for this creation. Every set I make has a unique design. Custom orders always add an incentive to expand one's abilities as a artist. They can also drive you crazy. This was fun.
I roll out my porcelain clay body into rather thin slabs of clay; create a pattern on the surface, then cut out the designs. While cutting out the clouds and lightening pieces, I was planning how to string the finished pieces on the fishing line. I love the tinkling sound created by  the different pieces lightly bumping  into each other as the wind moves them. Actually,  chimes are a form of a percussion instrument, just using nature as the artist to create the sounds.
So the final weather report for today: Cloudy with lightening inn today's wind chimes. 
 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Calligraphy: the Art that Lasts


I am in the library of the country club here in  the Sedona area, standing in front of my own calligraphy. This commission came from the interior decorator redoing this room. Her idea was to have framed quotes about books on the walls. 
On the top are the words of Cicero:" A room without books is like a body without a soul". This Roman, who died in 43 BC, was obviously  a reader. Below is a quote from John Ruskin, (1819 -1900.) " No Book is worth anything until it has been read".  There are a few other framed selections around the room.
My work is dated 2004, which  kind of caught me by surprise. Where did all those years go ? The good thing is I am still pleased with how it looks, which as an artist is always what we want.
 I chose to write in  the Uncial style of alphabet, historically one of the oldest, used in  the earliest manuscripts. I like this hand and it seemed the correct choice since I could add decorative embellishments. It's fun to do that.
Calligraphy is such an ancient art form. It has stood the test of time and reminds us how important a tool is the the human hand. I am pleased to see my own calligraphy is still an art form that lasts. 

Monday, February 27, 2017

The Art of the Maze

Here  I am on the road to  completing the "Maze book with Rod -edged Bindings", yet another of my hand made books.
 That's a a complicated title, isn't it? Simply stated, this is what is known as an accordion style book which uses metal rods along the edges  as a means of attaching each page another. Yes, these are pages, blank as of this moment .Later, perhaps it may contain my calligraphy about some theme that inspires me. 
I cut out each of my ten pages  from mat board, cut into four inch squares.Then comes the hunt to find tiny little metal rods , no thicker than the diameter of that board. The cover is slightly bigger, decorated with  that fancy paper  you see peeking out. Each rod is covered in book cloth, which is then meticulously glued to each side of my standing page. Holes are pushed out with a Japanese  hole punch, a nifty little device that I had to borrow to make this project.Finally, each page must be sewn to another, both top and bottom to make that binding frirm. Very elegant to look at, I think.
 I'm part of a group of extremely talented book makers, who are generous with time and materials as we all take turns teaching a new book to the others.We artists work so much alone, it can be very inspiring, as well as informative to observe how we all interpret the same book in our own style.This is a work in progress. I will see what turn the maze next follows!.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

The Art of Letting Go

I sold "The Red, the White and the Blue"  platter  this week. I was so happy when the customer said " I'll take it." Aren't we are in business to sell? The justification of all our hard work; the recognition of our talent? Yes, of course.
So why do I feel a sense of loss ? Well, I genuinely liked this piece, feeling I achieved what I set out to create, and then some. We don't necessarily have success from an idea to its reality .
 People say, " Well,  you can just make it again." Not always. Ceramics is a tricky business. You follow all the rules and the piece cracks, or the glaze isn't clear. As I tell my clients, there Is always the element of magic involved.
Perhaps  my lesson is that I must remember there is an art to letting go of one's special creations. To know that it makes someone smile when they look at it, this has got to be the real payment. How do you other artists feel about this subject?


Monday, January 23, 2017

The Art of the Atlantic

Here I am walking along the Atlantic Ocean in Daytona Beach, Florida, on my recent birthday.  What a grand piece of art is this body of water. The sound of the waves, and the smell of the surf is nice for someone who lives in the high desert of Sedona, Arizona.The vista is wide and flat, unlike our mountainous western states. Usually I go the closer Pacific, so it was a different feel to arrive on the eastern shore.
 Did you know that the Atlantic is the second largest ocean in the world?  At 41,100,000 square miles, it covers approximately 20 % of the earth's surface. On average, it is the saltiest of the major oceans. It occupies an elongated S shaped basin extending between Eurasia, Africa and the Americas. The old world and the new. Can you imagine those sailors and settlers going off into the unknown in their small vessel, on a  notoriously changeable body of water?      
I find this vast body of water a real inspiration of the endless rhythms of nature, the ebb and flow of life. How will this find a form in my ceramics or calligraphy I am not certain. But it will. There is great art to the Atlantic.
 

Saturday, December 31, 2016

A Last Holiday Greeting for 2016

It is the last day of 2016 here in Sedona, AZ. and I am still in the holiday spirit. So here is another sample of my Calligraphy in a 4 by 5" card. My message  includes "to  you and those you love". 
Isn't all this gift giving and card sending simply a way to reach out and tell someone you care? It is for me. As I decorate each card, or pick out a gift,  it is my way to make a connection. We don't seem to have so many " personal touches" these days. Calligraphy had its resurgence in the late 19th century because people were tired of living in " the machine age". I think I know that feeling.
 People seem to enjoy the fact that each and every card is hand water colored , right down to the little red berries. I wrote out the original in black ink, then had it printed on card stock. After that, I go back with my brushes and palette, and add the festive touches in color. Since I use water based paint, I had to make the lettering impervious to moisture. This is my technique on all my cards of this size. I have other messages, but this works for today. 
So how to keep our happy outlook? All I know is how I feel right now.