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I think I might have a time-space continuum conundrum (it’s a thing. I’m sure) There were early warning signs; standing in front of the empty walk-in closet of our then-new home thinking how much extra space I was going to have (red flag! red flag!)

Similarly, when I look at a calendar with thirty or so empty boxes I see nothing but potential with room to move…and, there’s 30. Sometimes 31! (February, being akin to Daylight Savings Time, doesn’t count and it just screws with your watch) Thirty is a lot. I mean, thirty of anything else is abundance.

30 cupcakes is a party!
30 stitches is a trip to the ER.
The IRS gives you 30 days of grace to get your act together before an audit…ok, bad example.
But, you get it.

If I’m paying attention, once I begin to fill in those boxes of potential, they tend to crowd out all that room to move. Like shoes in that ever-shrinking closet.

When I last left you at The House of Disney Princesses, I was waiting on the green light to begin painting a mural outside the Arizona Baptist Children’s Services’ (ABCS) Phoenix location while preparing for a return trip to South Africa scheduled for the end of September.

Arizona Baptist Children’s Services, Phoenix.

We painted the mural over four weekends, with a couple days in-between, beginning August 17th and finishing up September 9th. Suddenly my mid-August gig ran smack into my September. Those boxes of potential disappeared like extra closet space.

l-r: B.Shook, F.Krevens, I.Flyer, J.Kelsey-Mapel, D.Ridley, J.Baron, T.Gledhill

As we finished up the mural, I began setting up The 3rd Occasional Cup and Mug Sale; knowing I would need to begin social media promotion for the sale while I was in South Africa. This event had been in the works since May, which further illustrates my time-space conundrum. How did everything get all bunched up? I would be jumping into one very tight schedule once we returned with the sale calendared for October 20 and 21 ::sigh::

And so it goes.
A few days ago my sweet husband helped me apply the sacrificial/UV coat to the mural at ABCS. We needed to wait for cooler weather and a free weekend. What a great time we had meeting the community while painting this summer. Thank you ABCS for the opportunity!

Our trip to South Africa was amazing!! We were privileged to partner with Hope Baptist Church again as they reach their community, encourage pastors and churches in neighboring towns and nations, and become more deeply connected to our brothers and sisters in Christ oceans away. Did I mention amazing?!

l-r: R.Brinton, S.Berzelius, R.Littlefield, A. Orlando, C.Applen, G.Swanstrom, S.Blain, S.Hodges, S.Brodie, T.Bailey, B.Zubler, S.Siegel, L.Speranza, D.Watkins, C.Johnson, C.Boren, J.Amiel-Bendheim, J.Forzano, T.Do, M.Farabee, J.Gamble, M.Johnson, M.VanDusen, K.Escobedo, J.Kayser, P.Green, A.Rassmussen, S.Luerhsen, J.Armstrong, T.Budzak, C.Hilton.

The 3rd Occasional Cup and Mug Sale was So. Much. Fun. 38 local ceramic artists participated in our occasional event. This year the sale benefited Pursue Life Adult Ministry, a ministry of ABCS. We collected (at last count) $1,210 in Home Depot and Lowe’s gift cards to help offset the cost of creating adaptive living environments (wheelchair ramps, pull bars, etc) for senior adults of limited financial means that desire to stay in their homes as they age.

As we approach Thanksgiving, I’m preparing a workshop scheduled for December 4th. I can almost feel those boxes being squashed like that over-committed hanger wedged between the grubby jeans and the sweatshirts.

If you’re interested in making a tax deductible donation to Pursue Life Adult Ministry, you can do that here*:
*scroll down on the designation box to choose Pursue Life Adult Ministry.


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an anthology

The 2nd Occasional Cup and Mug Sale


Let me start with a huge thank you to all those who came out to spend a little hard earned cash on a mug and donate a backpack for a junior high!! Also, thank you to all the artists that participated in the sale – couldn’t have done it without you.

Our goal was to collect new backpacks for a local junior high by creating a big tadoo about cups and mugs. Here’s the Cliff Note version of the sale weekend: 32 participating artists, 576 mugs and cups, ¼ of our inventory sold in the first hour of the 10 hour sale, awarded 8 mixed sets of cups and mugs to drawing entrants, and (this is the very best part!) collected 55 new backpacks for one grateful junior high school.

That was fun!

Dear John, you left so soon

On the morning of October 13, 2014 my studio-mate from graduate school passed away. He was 54.

John's studio space, 1989.

John’s studio space, 1989.

John and I shared a divided 500-600 square feet of studio space during grad school. He always had parts and pieces scattered about (drove me crazy). Somewhere in his process all these parts made sense.

I considered him a friend. Graduate school creates a special bond – cemented by stress and lack of sleep. We tried to provide practical support for each other. For instance, John helped document a large site specific piece for me and another grad student. By document, I mean – he ran along the Mill Avenue bridge at the break of dawn for three consecutive days photographing our progress as we worked to draw from the shadows cast on the dry rocky bed of the Salt River. I bought breakfast.

On one particularly cold morning, I rid the studio of the black widow that made her home under the wall heater, next to the switch. (John had grown considerably weary of arachnids after sleeping with a scorpion on more than one occasion) He bought me lunch.

And so it went….

John seemed to lose his way a bit during grad school. But, I’m confident he was drawn back before he left us so soon for home.

A Conductive carbon

I’ve been working on what seems like the longest continual commission ever – that, from this day forward shall be referred to as ‘the dinnerware’. My progress has been stymied by an unruly class schedule, a cup and mug sale, kiln repairs, and a clay problem.

With my class schedule under control and the sale a thing of the past, I’ve only got the kiln and clay issues to solve. (which are really linked…I think)

It seems in my attempt to squeeze the last red cent from my turnip, I inadvertently doubled my trouble.

The setting:
I’d been keeping an eye on a sagging element near the bottom of the kiln. If I could just get one more firing in….(that went all wrong) After a slower that normal bisque firing, I checked the elements before reloading and noticed the sagging element touching itself on the return. All the current was running through about six inches of the element (yeah, yeah…replace the element and get on with it)

The conflict:
A month or so later, I’m unloading a glaze and notice micro-bloats* on the work – actually, only the mugs. (geeze, just in time for a mug sale. perfect.) After considerable research and a few impromptu interviews, I’ve come up with a theory. A theory that may well violate one or more laws of thermodynamics, but….


The foil:
My fuzzy science suggests a few things (and some stuff I actually know…like, actually)

  • • the clay I’m using has been known by ceramic artists to bloat. The manufacturer disagrees, but suggests firing the bisque to cone 04 as a means to remove all organics. (not sure what’s in this clay that survives 1860°F…but, okay)
  • • during at least one bisque firing, the second to the bottom element shorted itself; creating a smaller circuit with half the resistance.
  • • the mugs were loaded on the bottom.
  • the shorted element would create uneven heat in the kiln – a cooler bottom.
  • (here’s the fuzzy part) the shorted element would create a voltaic arc, releasing a conductive carbon into the kiln’s atmosphere; meaning there was some localized reduction going on.

The moral:
A penny saved isn’t worth the price of that turnip.

*bloat: the permanent swelling of a ceramic article during firing caused by the evolution of gases. (sounds a bit like too many chimichangas, eh)


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It’s monsoon season. (so much for that dry heat) I’m convinced monsoon is short for: ‘a lot of heat jockeying for air space with just enough precipitation spit from the heavens to disturb the fine layer of dust deposited on the car from the haboob-we-use-to-call-dust-storms that blew through half an hour earlier’.



A couple nights ago I was awakened by our frantic dog shaking and panting from the thunder and lightning. I’m not sure what she thinks is going on, but she wants no part of it. I’ve learned that if she can see a light on in an adjacent room, she isn’t as neurotic about the lightning. (the thunder is a whole other anxiety issue)

After she was calmed a bit, I stumbled into bed. My efforts to settle back to sleep are fruitless. My brain begins working on design solutions for a cream and sugar service for the dinnerware commission I’m working on. (ugh…this was going to keep me awake)

As an undergraduate, I created a lot of dinnerware. The sale of individual place settings and related service pieces became a much needed (though, not regular) source of income. When designing dinnerware as a set, I try to create pieces that always or nearly always repeat in color, form or function and a few pieces that deviate from the repetition enough to provide a related variation in visual rhythm. The service pieces are the perfect catalyst for that purpose.

So, that cream and sugar service that keeps me from sleep…

This dinnerware set has both open and closed forms. I figure I can pull those together with the service set. The sugar will be a closed form similar to the bowls of each place setting; while the creamer will be an open form that relates to the mugs.

Now, back to sleep!

But…no. There are lids, spouts and handles to consider. (honestly, this is really going to screw up my disposition in the morning) Somewhere between the thunder-troubled dog, my brain overrun, and the annoying illumination from the bathroom light, I fell asleep. By morning I’ve got the cream and sugar sevice design worked out – complete with a saucer for the creamer. (a gift from that last REM cycle)


In the next few days, I’ll need to spend time in my sketchbook to work through the details. Then, on to the ‘weights and measures’ of the design – meaning, I’ll work out structure, proportion, and functionality in clay. I will end up with several sets; all variations on my sleep deprived inspiration and all related to the place settings.

I have a lot of work ahead of me. The bisqueware is really starting to pile up.

*a related post: sweet dreams

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the list

~detail: Rough Draft #3

~detail: Rough Draft #3

First, I want to thank all of you wonderful folks that made it out to the 13th Annual Self-Guided Studio Tour a couple weeks ago. We had a great weekend. There was so much buzz in the studio during the tour and I didn’t get a single photo. I swear, every year I take my camera for the express purpose of getting pictures of the tour-goers, artist demonstrations and just to document the fun. But alas, I get caught up in the energy of the event and never get to the photographing. Perhaps I should find a trigger happy friend for that task next time.

So then, since the tour I’ve turned my attention to the ever present to-do list. The past couple weeks have been rather productive as I’ve been able to cross off several smaller projects and work on a little production streamlining in the background.


As I work my way further down the list, my productive days bring me closer to a table ware commission; 16 four piece place settings. It’s second to last (well…now dead last) on my list. I skipped over it to complete a smaller request because…because…um, I had a shortened work week…or, the clay was too wet…maybe too stiff…and it was a bad hair day? For the most part, I just need to work up a little mental wherewithal to attack this project. I haven’t done a large table ware commission for a long while. Been spending my days drawing mostly. (in addition to the cumulative hours lost while searching for misplaced needle tools – why is it they wonder off so?)

~detail: Alternate Endings

~detail: Alternate Endings

I was quite fortunate during my undergraduate studies to be taught the design principles and skills necessary to create durable, beautiful and unique functional pieces for the table. (Thank you, John!) I’ll be diligent to document my progress. (you know…actually using my camera) I do love dinnerware!

Before I get started, I’m out the door on a little road trip to the Tubac Center of the Arts in Tubac, Arizona; delivering the piece, Alternate Endings, for the national juried exhibition, From the Earth. The show opens March 14th and runs through April 20th. If you find yourself in the area, do stop by the show.

Tomorrow I’m back to the list. (in spite of the bad hair)



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All Cows Eat Grass

Hoi Moon Gee San

~detail: Hoi Moon Gee San (May Your View Always Open Onto the Mountain), 2010. Sam Hodges

A few weeks ago my friend and fellow artist, Sam Hodges and I were talking art.  Or, maybe we were more specifically speaking about how we weren’t getting much art made.  OK, that’s not even accurate.  Our conversation revolved around the fact that, though we were busy (very busy) making work, we weren’t necessarily creating the kind of pieces we are known for or associated with.

During this discourse, we both wondered out loud if we might have forgotten how to do the thing we do.  It’s true.   And, though the thought of forgetting how to draw makes me panicky.  I find some comfort in the realization that I’m not the only artist feeling that way (thanks Sam for going there with me!).

On the surface, the whole forgetting how to draw seems a little silly.  That’s like…um, forgetting how to write. Still, those of you preferring the keyboard over pen and paper…yeah, well it doesn’t come all that easy anymore does it?

There are things I use to do that, now, I can’t even imagine where to start.  For instance, algebra is a mystery.  I know that I knew it. But really….  I can do practical things that are the essence of algebra; balancing my checkbook, doubling a recipe, or factoring an additional discount on a sale item.  But, the same functions thrown into algebraic expression are Greek to me (hmmm…order of operations*…. all I can think of are the lines in the treble clef, “Every Good Boy Does Fine” – random memories of beginning piano).


It’s been said of talent that you ‘use it or lose it’.  That’s just scary.  But then, they say you never forget how to ride a bike.  I wonder why that is?  True enough, I don’t think I’ve ever seen an adult on a bicycle with training wheels (then again, I don’t get out much).

~work in progress

My conversation with Sam started because I mentioned I had some commissioned tiles with drawings that I needed to glaze.  It had been almost a year since I had drawn and I was nervous.  My studio time has been taken up with producing functional work (ooo…I think I’ve rediscovered my love of dinner ware).  Still, there is this desire, want (need?) to draw, to tell a story.  But, I was afraid that I might have forgotten how.

So then, I went about gathering up my courage and jumped into the drawings – there were three.  Each 14×14 tile took about three hours to glaze.  A little tentative at first.  Thankfully, it was much more like riding a bike than algebra.
 *order of operations: Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally (had to look it up!)

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