Friday, December 13, 2019

Windows of Words

Here is my latest mixed media creation, "Windows of Words." Nine, small metal boxes covered in handmade , or other intriguing papers.Inside are provocative quotes and  I even wrote a poem myself.
 It is now showing  at the Jerome Artists' Coop  Holiday Show in Jerome AZ. for December 2019 and January, 2020.
As a professional calligrapher for the past 35 years,  I am always collecting quotes; tin boxes; papers and more, and then some more..... Remember opening those  little windows at holiday time? This was my theme. The wood has a slightly tree shape if you notice. Using several alphabets such as  Roman , Uncial and  Italic it  was fun to interpret these sayings in a  different style. I invite the public to stop by and explore this interactive art. 

Monday, November 11, 2019

The Art of the Small Pitcher

Here is a fun little pitcher from my latest firing.My hand shows the relative size. 
As I went to the icebox this morning to add milk to my tea, and I had to lift up the whole carton, I thought " a pitcher would be a handy thing about now". But not this pitcher, this one goes up to the gallery.
All around the base are the hand carvings of the red rocks of Sedona, AZ, that I see outside my studio. I have also incorporated this design into my mugs , with the turquoise glaze, and the oxide to color it.This is high fired porcelain clay so it can go into the stove of microwave.I used a clear glaze inside so the  contents are visible . It is actually the clay itself with a clear glaze over.
Of course it is totally food safe. Standards are very high in our country for glaze materials. Who knows what you get in a store or which  country they are made in and what are their rules? 
Since this is our Veterans' Day holiday, I would say "Support 
our service people... and your local artists! "

Saturday, October 19, 2019

The White Pueblo

I just unloaded my kiln and  found  this little jewel, my
"White Porcelain pueblo".  It is made from porcelain,

This style of my handmade bowls came from my artistic imagination and the environment I live in.The color you are seeing is actually the clay itself, with a clear glaze over. I like the smooth, modern feel of this basic image. 
As I say in my description tag, "...This is the view from outside my studio here in Sedona, AZ. I see our town, or pueblo, red rock silhouettes , cactus, and critters .The outer stain is the red iron oxide that colors our red rocks."  There is a bit of artistic license here, but truly this is what I see all around me. The critter is a little snake, which lives somewhere around  here, even when we don't see him. 
 I find with clay, it often tells me how to shape it. I make this style in three sizes. All fit so nicely in your hand,  and the clear color shows off  food or other items one might hold within. Although there is a similarity in my style within  this series, each pot is totally a one of a kind, signed by yours truly, V. Norton.

The White Pueblo

Sunday, September 29, 2019

The Art of Nature

 This is me at a local lake in the white mountains here in Arizona.With the rain,  I am  garbed in my poncho and hat. It is always necessary to be prepared when one is at an altitude of 7,000 feet. What causes these trees to be so green? Yup: water. 
Off in the distance are Canadian geese eating out at their  delicious cafeteria.  Native wildflowers surround me. The smell of the pine trees waft over the breeze that comes with force, and then dies down. This is my first time to explore this area, and I am enchanted. 
I write in my artist Biography : " I draw my inspiration from the native landscapes, people and animals, to create my present and evolving works in clay". Here is nature painted in a broad brush stroke. I am in awe of all the different climate in my home state. I am filled with gratitude to be here.  
 I am surrounded by the White Mountain Apache tribal lands, which are left mostly natural, except for those black cattle you run into on the back trails. They have a casino and I did explore  into their towns. A lot of change in the last 100 years, is all I can say.
I guess I  wrote about this area because it is nature in a rather pure form and that is good for my head, my soul, and I hope my art. 

Monday, September 2, 2019

Beads of Many Colors

Isn't this a cunning use of beads of many colors and dimensions? I've always made jewelry from my ceramic beads, but this past year I have added other sources to my new designs. Each set is a one of a kind.
 There are the four bone pieces that add a touch of tribal look to this. Then come the brown beads made of  tigers' eye stone. I find these a little dense in color,  so adding the yellow  glass beads gives them a nice contrast with the variations of the tigers' eye.The necklace is @ 16"  in length, and the earrings have a nice ability to catch the sun and make one feel well dressed. 
I like the immediacy of making this jewelry. With clay it takes a month to make it, then it has to  be fired once, then again high fired  to finish it. Here the time is in choosing, trying, rejecting, trying again until finally, the whole pattern pleases me. It is now for sale in a gallery, but I can tell you how to find it.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Rumi 's Words in my Calligraphy

Here is an example of my calligraphy that uses the words of one of my favorite poets, Rumi. A 13 th century Persian poet, scholar, and Sufi mystic, he is one of the more popular and best selling poets in the world. Perhaps even here in Sedona, AZ.   
I was doing this piece for a client, so they chose the alphabet. It is called  Foundational . English calligrapher, Edward Johnston, started teaching this in the Central School of arts and Crafts in 1899. It was the beginning of the modern study of calligraphy as an art form. This was an alphabet I taught at NAU. Now most of you turn to your computer to write out everything. But look closely, isn't this similar to one of the fonts that you often choose ? 
As the artist, I  added the flourishes. After all, I have to have some fun, and show where the human hand differs from the machine.   
I like this quote because we all seek certain elusive answers to our life's challenges, especially depending on what is going on in our lives. I will end this blog with another quote of his: "Yesterday I was clever so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself." 

Sunday, July 21, 2019

The Art of Sumigashi

 Look at this flowing decorated paper I just created. Its technical term is Sumigashi, or Japanese water marbling.
I attended a workshop with my local fellow bookmakers. We are always trying to learn a new technique to teach each other and  apply to our handmade books. 
This is a natural extension of my art as a Calligrapher here in Sedona,  creating by hand the vessel to hold my handwritten words. There was also a lesson on how to create this diagonal Pocket folder, which can hold a hand made book or card. Now that was a  lesson unto itself! We put on a backing  to make it into this folded form.Back to the paper...
The process starts with a pan of still water. Into this container I put the tip of a Japanese sumi brush, or its equivalent, which  has as nice pointed tip. Only touching the surface, it will spread out into a circular designs.
Using primarily black ink, we did a lot of experimenting with adding colored inks. They went in bright, but diluted quite a bit with the final rinsing process. I must add I was using a pink paper to start with  since it seemed to hold up better than the thin rice paper, although that does work. Just be careful taking it out. 
The paper is folded and lowered into the pan center first, then the edges at the end.  It is the down side of the paper that will be the printed side we look at.  This is a fun art and definitely Not for those who want control.
I think I will call it the art of the Surprise!

Thursday, July 4, 2019

The Art of My Flag

Here is one of my favorite art pieces I have created. Actually, this ceramic plate is the one that sold, but I kept the original for me.I used low fire glazes to create the bight colors, and it has a nice foot to stand on, or it can hang on the wall. I named it " A mer i ka", which was probably the pronunciation given by some of those early immigrants entering our country.
This seems such an appropriate choice considering I am writing this blog on July 4th, 2019 here in my hometown of Sedona, AZ. There are a lot of flags flying here today. 
When I was young, on the kitchen wall above the vintage yellow chrome table and chairs where we kids ate, was a huge map of the world. Below were all the flags of all of the countries in front of us. Of course we played " guess which flag" with each other. 
Maybe that's where my love of travel started. My conservative parents let us go off to all corners of the world when were still young. It was our education they thought, and so it was. I wanted to see those countries myself, and so later, if I had any money at all, off I would go! I liked seeing those flags flying where they lived!
Here I am years later making the flag I care about into a nice ceramic abstraction. But you know what it is when you look at it, don't you ? 

Today is the day we celebrate all those heroic women and men who fought for our freedoms and independence from England.  I know, that  story continues.
 But today, I celebrate the art of my flag.

Monday, June 10, 2019

the Little Goddess

Here is my little Goddess necklace. She is the smallest version of the much larger clay sculptures I have created.I thought this might be a more affordable and playful version for collectors.
  This lady is about four inches tall,including her hair. She is made of smooth, burnished porcelain and then pit fired for that magic color.
 I even created all the beads that are   beside her. Two are the same burnished low fire style, but the tiny beads are high fired porcelain and stained with iron oxide. She is a real Sedona lady!  
Hanging on a cotton cord gives her the flexibility to be a choker or flow into a longer version. I wanted to keep the whole organic feel to this jewelry creation.
I have always liked to sculpt the female form. Often I prefer to create in a  more free form, even a bit abstract, so you, the viewer, can interpret her through your own eyes.

Monday, May 6, 2019

Un Petit Bowl = a small bowl

Un petit bowl.  A small bowl that just came out of my last firing. The French have a nice way of saying small, but the word bowl stays the same. This is what I named this particular creation. I love that it can fit in the  hand that made it.
You can see the decorative coils I have added to the edge. Why not create some interest? This is a high  fired porcelain clay body, which means it can be heated in the stove or even microwave. Naturally, it is totally food safe.
The white color you see is the actual clay showing through a clear glaze. I use this color scheme often, as I think it shows off the form and highlights the contents. 
I added an iron oxide to create the contrasting color on the outside, where I have added an organic pattern. Living here in Sedona AZ, we look up at he red rocks which are colored by this oxide. Inspiration from the outside in.  I like the juxtaposition of the smooth inside and the textured outside. This is a theme I use on most all of my handmade pieces.
Today I share with you, le petit bowl. Comments are always appreciated by this blog writer!

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Reitz Ranch

Here I am standing in front of the large wood burning kiln at Reitz Ranch. This was the former home and studio of the well known ceramic artist Don Reitz.
 I was fortunate to have known Don, in the casual way that clay artists see each other and talk shop.We both lived in the Verde valley for a long time and our paths would cross. He was a very funny man and really liked conversation. I took a workshop from him years ago, and as the wheel was turning, Don was talking.Neither stopped for long. He liked to work Big.He was probably best known for his salt and wood firings.Hence these kilns. 
He can be credited as taking ceramics from the  world of craft into fine art, along with his peers, such as  Paul Soldner, Peter Voulkas, Dora DeLarios, and Michael Frimkess. I knew the latter two artists from my days in Venice, California.
Now Don's legend lives on. Another ceramicist, Sheryl Leigh Devault and her husband, Ted, have bought the ranch and intend to continue the world of clay to those who are interested. I feel Don would like this concept.

Friday, March 1, 2019

Goddess Figure

Here we have my latest Goddess figure, all smooth and sensuous. She stands about 14 inches tall, including her lovely hair. 
I have always been drawn to the female form. Working with clay,  I prefer a certain abstraction in my  design. Everything does not have to be exactly like our bodies, and everyone is unique, to be sure. It is the concept and the different imagery with which I like to work.
This lovely lady is made from my preferred  clay body, porcelain.That is especially useful  when it comes time to burnish her to a fine sheen. I use horsehair for her decoration, and made a little beaded necklace for adornment.
The  first firing is in my regular kiln. Lastly comes the pit firing, using  wood to fire. The results are full of  surprises. I am happy with the play of dark and light browns; the bronze tones; the hint of metallic flashing here and there . She's a Goddess, and  she does what she wants!

Monday, February 4, 2019

The Art of Japanese Stab Bindings

Here are the gorgeous books created at a workshop I recently taught on the Art of Japanese stab bindings, using hard covers.
Mine are the two on the bottom left with the green trees, and under it, the cover with the fishes swimming. As a calligrapher, I got into making books by hand.That was the technique used long ago, before the printing press. Everything made with care and precision, the book and writing, both  art forms.
My other book on the top right has  the purple and green flowers. This has a more complicated form of stitching. Look at the contrast of the thread on the brown  cover in front,which really shows the finished pattern. A lot more complicated than just two holes! These are experienced book makers I am teaching, so it is always a challenge to know more than your students.
Japanese stab binding has a long tradition, and were usually made of rice paper. Each hole has to be sewn at least two times, front and back, to complete the pattern. The sewing is always begun other than the first two holes to make the knot less obtrusive. For this lesson, I chose the hard covers, mat board covered in decorative paper.The six hole design is a real challenge. Therein lies the art!

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

The Art of Playing

Here is one of my latest creations I call  "Words on Clay". A ceramic plaque, using porcelain clay as my canvas, with words  in a somewhat calligraphic  script. I use a small brush and cobalt blue oxide to create this image on the clay. It is   then covered with a clear glaze, and fired to a high temperature. It could last longer than I do, as it hangs on a wall.
These are not my words, but those of the noted Irish play write and author, George Bernard Shaw. He live to almost 100, so he had many pithy writings. Since we are in a new year, this quote seemed to be a fitting message to myself, and others. 
It is a brand new time, 2019; another step in this progress we call life. With all the challenges in today's world, maybe it is good to remember to take the time to play  more. 
For me, this can happen when I am in the studio, writing out my words on clay, or when I am travelling and play is the destination. Now, if I can just remember to live each day as if I am on that vacation...And you ?