March 2010

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say cheese!

baker, scoops

~baker and scoops

My first job was a little unconventional.  I was 15.  I was a dietary aide at a nursing home.  To clarify, ‘dietary aide’ is an administrative title for someone who makes sure residents arrive at the dining room on time, receive the appropriate meal as per their dietary restrictions, then cleans and prepares the dining area for the next meal.

As with any job, there are a few things requisite to the position that you wish someone had mentioned earlier.  You never discover this until you’re in the big middle of it.  For instance, no one told me I would spend a considerable amount of time tracking down misplaced personal items.

“Mr. Stevens, where are your teeth?”
“What, dear?”
“Mr. Stevens, whose teeth are in your mouth?”
“Mine.”
“Sir, I don’t think those are your teeth.  Do you know where you put your teeth?”
“No, honey, I sure don’t.”

Sometimes I spent an inordinate amount of energy retrieving flatware.

“Mrs. Gaines, can I have the spoon?”
“No.”
“Mrs. Gaines, we need to clean the spoon now that you’re finished eating.  Mrs. Gaines.  Mrs. Gaines, please don’t put the spoon…in…there.”

And, like clockwork,

“Mr. Hernandez, STOP!  Mr. Her…nan…dez, ahhh…I just finished cleaning the floor.”

The little things they don’t tell you during the interview.

berry bowls

~berry bowls

Similarly, there are a few necessities about making art that I wish someone had told me about earlier.  Like that whole taking photos of my work thing!  It’s not always addressed in the classroom setting – you’re busy creating.  All too often during school the taking of photos ends up being a hasty group project in an effort to get that show application in the mail before the deadline passes.  So much confusion in that situation!

When I graduated with my BFA, a friend and I took slides (yeah, I go way back) of my solo show.  The images were flat, the space inappropriate, the exposure and temperature way off.  What did I know?

When I applied for graduate school I knew I didn’t want to repeat the disaster I’d created from my BFA show.  So, I bit the bullet to hire someone to take the slides for me.  One of the best investments I’ve ever made.

blue platter

~blue platter

During graduate school I learned to take my own slides.  However, the learning curve magnified my frustration with the process exponentially.  So much so that I still took every opportunity to avoid taking slides.  In order to document my MFA exhibition as required by the university, I paid a photo grad, who’d won a travel grant, in film to take my slides.  They were beautiful!

All these years later, I still put off taking photos.  The fact that digital images are far more forgiving than slides does provide some level of comfort…or perhaps it’s financial security.  I have surely spent the equivilent of the boys’ college funds on horrible slides.

Though I have a working knowledge of the image taking process, I will admit that I don’t/haven’t taken photos of my functional work.  Until this week.  I’ve skirted that necessity for far too long.  They aren’t perfect.  I see much room for improvement.  Its a start.

vase and bottles

~vase and bottles

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9th Annual Ceramic Self-Guided Studio TourTwo weeks ago the 9th Annual Ceramic Self-Guided Studio Tour took place throughout the Phoenix Metro area and East Valley.  It’s quite a happening.  There was a great turn out at my studio – a lot of people, many familiar faces and even more new ones.

There’s a concentration of activity pre-tour: finish work, studio prep, exhibition deliveries and set up.  By the time the weekend arrives, the artists are just running on excess adrenalin.9th Annual Ceramic Self-Guided Studio Tour

After the tour weekend, I had plans to get several things accomplished at home that had been purposefully neglected until I had a minute to think straight.  Therein lies my downfall…I thought I would be able to think straight.  Nope!  Completely scattered.  Mercilessly distracted.  I had a list…somewhere.

The occasional inability to gather and organize my thoughts isn’t new.  I’ve come to recognize the precipice of this occurrence.  Either I have several projects coming to a close and the loose ends compete for my attention or there’s a new idea rattling around in my head (and my sketchbook) that I am otherwise unable/delayed to begin work on.  In the wait, I tend to elevate accumulated stress with the fear that I will misplace the idea somewhere between picking up groceries and remembering who needs which uniform – is it clean? – for what sport and “the tournament starts when?”.

a little distracted

I know that the ensuing weeks will allow me to sort through my thoughts – acting on the necessities and discarding the clutter.  In the tangled mess, I consider the process of revisiting existing work in a new way.  The idea was presented to me as recreating small portions of larger works to be sold at a lower price.  I did make a few.  They turned out wonderful.  Still, I had trouble separating the image I was creating from the original.  It became a little frustrating.  I found myself putting off glazing because I couldn’t move beyond the original work and I didn’t want to make copies.

I wonder if the guy at the gym that looks like Lyle Lovett knows he looks like Lyle Lovett.  There is an uncanny resemblance. 

I need to change some signage at the studio.  It’ll take all of thirty minutes.

Order clay, bone ash and something else.  There’s a list somewhere.  I need to pick up wood filler.

Why aren’t they delivering the usual junk mail to the studio cluster box?  I was able to get the grocery store sales a day early.  Now…nothing.

I think I can suspend the back drop for the photo light box at the studio from one of the support beams overhead.  I wonder if there is a way to make it roll up on itself like grandma’s blackout shades so I don’t have to get the ladder out to retrieve it from 15 feet up.

My running shoes squeak.  I’m so sick of hearing myself walk – lest anyone misunderstand, I don’t run.  I heard a story about tennis player, Ana Ivanovic, who’s shoes squeaked so loudly during the Australian Open that they became a distraction for the opponent.  I thought that was silly.  How could anyone possibly be distracted by a shoe squeak across the distance of the tennis court.  Yeah, well…not so silly.

Pinholes.  The green glaze is pinholing.  I know I can eliminate them by altering the application.  It complicates things.  stupid pinholes.

Do I allow myself to retire forms that people continue to request but I no longer make – or haven’t made in some time?  Not sure why I haven’t made any.  One of the forms I stole for Dick Lehman any way – thanks Dick.  Maybe when I have a little extra time I’ll make a few.

So much more to sort through.  Sorting, sorting.

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