Monday, October 28, 2013

The Art of Halloween

It is Halloween time, and here I am in my costume. Who am I? Well,  some nice  man at a dance called me " lovely gypsy woman", as I held my translucent cloth up to cover my face.  I thought I was simply a woman in the lovely sari my friend brought me from  far away.Since  I was hanging out with my swami that night,  I felt I fit my  role just perfectly. 
Halloween is such an ancient revelry.  How can we not honor the art it evokes in so many ways and customs?
It comes from the contraction of "All Hallows Eve", a Christian holiday designated by a pope way back in the 8th century, to honor the saints and martyrs.  Its roots are older, it is said. Going  back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, with bonfires and costumes to scare off the ghosts.  
It is all over the world in some form. Years ago, I was in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. There the celebration is called the "Dia de Los Muertos", or the Day  of the Dead. Officially on November 2nd, it starts on October 31st with celebrations  honoring those who have passed with candles and incense. I was far out in a small village sitting in  the graveyard, watching the priest lead the procession complete with a life sized Jesus and a three piece band. Did I say we four were the only gringos, and blond at that? 
I was sitting near a grave. I  notices some bones sticking up from the shallow earth covering.  Something new for this American, where we make sure they are at least " six feet under". I was strangely touched.
Later, the Irish immigrants in America popularized the customs from their Celtic heritage,  wearing masks to hide from the ghosts. Eventually another custom, the "Trick or Treat" became a part of our vernacular.
What a great art form, to transform yourself into someone entirely different for just one night.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Shalom in Ceramics

 Here is my original calligraphy on a ceramic plaque, entitled Shalom. What a beautiful word. It is Hebrew meaning peace. We know it more as the common idiom used to say hello and goodbye for Jewish people all over the world. I like the sound of this word, the way it rolls off the tongue. For me it has a sense of good will about it. I enjoy using it not only in speech, but in my artwork. Here I am, adapting 
the capitals to the necessities of the clay,while having a bit of artistic fun.It is  a slab  measuring about ten by four inches, with folded edges. I include holes for a yarn hanger, finished with my handmade bead.
The light blue color pays homage to the Israeli flag.  I do take creative license and lighten the color so it stands out from the dark background.
This is quite labor intensive to make. It takes many coats of glaze to get the results I am after. Painting within the lines for sure. The first firing is in a kiln. The second firing is a primitive one, where the flames actually darken the clay and make a bit of a crackle in the glaze.
I like to think that this is hanging next to someone's door as they enter their home. 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Happy Birthday in Calligraphy!

I just made a cake, similar to this one, for a neighbor who just turned 100 years old. Well, truth be known, it is really a hand lettered calligraphy card I made. Measuring four by six inches, it is decorated in water colors. I've included a gold gauche to give the candles and card  some sparkle.The metallic colors add a special touch I enjoy adding to my hand designed  cards. 
 I often tell my friends that this might be the only kind of cake I am likely to make for them!
Birthdays, they are such special days; the reason we are here! Growing up, my mother  always made a big deal of them. I got to choose my favorite meal, and felt special that day.Often I wished I had a summer day to celebrate. But I am a winter baby and I hold my day as a lucky one. In my mind, the birthdays of those I care about  are truly holidays, meant to be savored; anticipated; and celebrated, in handmade  calligraphy no less!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Purple Vision: A Miniature Ceramic Mask

Miniature masks, how much fun is that! Something you can hold in the palm of your hand, or put on that very narrow space of wall. This particular mask is entitled "Purple Vision". It measures less than six inches. It is decorated with feathers, yarn, and has its tongue sticking out at those who are looking at it.  
I started putting this aspect on my masks a while ago. I am told that in some warrior cultures,the tongue  was actually used to scare off the enemy. I think I chose to add that feature because it made me smile. Perhaps I had seen something of that ilk in my travels. It is often hard to know how deep in our memory bank an idea is stored, and when it comes into our creative consciousness. I do not always use it, but I find that it makes other people smile also, and I like that. 
Then comes the choice of colors to use. I like purple, and with the white and light  these three colors play well against each other. Also, what is in my yarn box can be an influence.The smokey color comes from the primitive firing I do to finish off my masks. Finally comes the naming.
Someone in a gallery asked me yesterday " How do you choose the name for a piece?"  
" It usually tells me," was my response. That is the great thing about this creative process. Sometimes all I have to do is just start work with the clay, and all is revealed!