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  • Kit Carson and Me

    On: May 18, 2017
    In: Artmaking, Creativity, Studio Journal
    Views: 867
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    Here’s another post from the Archives. (Guess I’m in reruns for the time being.) Originally posted July 12, 2011, it’s a description of what comes alive in the studio as I work and listen to a great book on CD or a radio interview and make further connections to my process and choices. 

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  • With a Little Help From My Hens – A Process Storyboard

    On: March 29, 2017
    In: Artmaking, Creativity, Studio Journal
    Views: 612
     1
    Chicken Making Ceramic Bowl

    I’m not quite sure how this all got going, but here it is: nine backyard chickens are my studio assistants. Even better, they are symbiotic co-creators because their “work” turns my humble pinch pots into Henpecked Bowls. What I’d like to do today is give you an annotated pictorial of this improbable process, start to finish.

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  • This Cracks Me Up

    On: March 2, 2017
    In: Artmaking, Community, Creativity, Studio Journal
    Views: 328
     1
    Celadon glazed cracked pinch pot

    Walking Meditation Pot XXII, Liz Crain, 2017

     

    In my very first ceramics handbuilding class I sat at a large table which included a bunch of newbies like me plus one know-it-all wheel-thrower. I have not met a didact with a more tone-deaf need to expertsplain than hers.  I was still in my Clay Wonder Years, falling in love and wanting to get lost in it. I relished how the outside surface of my pinch pots cracked as I expanded the clay from the inside creating intriguing organic possibilities. But my delight was soon doused with her continual instructions for crack banishment. I avoided her as much as possible, working outside on nice days and making full use of open lab time when she was not around. It took me awhile, but eventually I found the words to counter her: “Thank you, but I don’t learn by having the answers first, and, oh, I LIKE CRACKS!”  I repeated it with a cheesy smile at every unasked-for comment and finally she quit schooling me and turned on the other hapless noobs.

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  • Wabi-sabi and the Two Leonards

    On: February 23, 2017
    In: Artmaking, Creativity, Studio Journal
    Views: 348
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    Small hand formed wabi sabi ceramic bowl.

    Henpecked Bowl XXXII, Liz Crain, 2017

     

    Wabi-sabi is not Shabby Chic. It is not trendy, modern or even post-modern. Not a theory, movement, aesthetic, philosophy, religion, art, process or product. And, then again, it can be and has been all these. The separate meanings of the two Japanese words have changed over the centuries and their yoked-hyphenated concept morphs easily, especially when applied. But expressing it has a certain fatal pull for me so I’ve decided to just go all in.

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  • Eccentricity, Or Trying to Buck Centrifugal Force

    On: February 16, 2017
    In: Artmaking, Community, Creativity, Studio Journal
    Views: 313
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    Fun House Spinning Disc

     

    There are very few oldtime bricks and mortar Funhouses left, but I have semi-fond memories of the one that used to be at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Basically the ‘rents would pay one very low entrance fee per kid and launch us into unsupervised orbit whilst they went and had a moment or two – helicopter parenting having not been invented yet. Happily inside, we scattered onto the bucking walkways, rolling barrels, giant slides, funhouse mirrors and, the trickiest of all, the “spinning platter,” or whatever you call it, seen above at Playland at the Beach in San Francisco because I can’t find a photo from Santa Cruz. (If you have one in the family album, please send it my way and I just might update this post with it!) Everyone looks so happy in the photo, but it’s misleading because they aren’t spinning yet. While other Funhouse activities presented reasonably delightful challenges, this horizontal turntable was just a plain unwinnable floorburn-installing monster. It came down to whoever got to EXACT CENTER first in the mad scramble to load in. Everyone else besides Numero Uno was already doomed. And, truth to tell, maybe some of us weren’t expecting anything else but being wildly flung off. If this whole Funhouse thing is out of your realm of experience, here’s a video from Luna Park in Australia – with adults and lots more padding. Either way, it leads to my point today.

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  • The Courage to Dis-brand

    On: February 2, 2017
    In: Art Biz, Artmaking, Creativity, Studio Journal
    Views: 444
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    Truth Courage Justice Apothecary Cans

     

    An allegory: On one especially memorable family vacation when I was a pre-teen we drove from CA to WI (and back, but that’s another story) camping each night along the way.  Donner Memorial State Park in CA.  A last-minute offroad spot outside of Salt Lake City (with cows and a babbling brook.) Somewhere high in the Snowy Range in Wyoming, where we got altitude sickness. And then there was Nebraska, which was flat and took all day to cross.  US80  (now I-80, but also known as the Lincoln Highway, Oregon Trail and California Trail) is an old road and in Nebraska there are 72 miles of the most absolute straightness in all of the Interstate Highway System, not varying by more than a few yards. Back in the day it was still a field-flanked two-lane clogged with slow-moving farm equipment and a town with reduced speed limits every ten miles. I stared out the back window of our 1956 Ford Country Sedan Station Wagon at the endlessness of the landscape and at the huge wall of black clouds that followed behind us in the west the whole inching way. We kept just ahead of the thunderstorm until we stopped and set up camp for the night at some tidy midwestern roadside wayfarer court where every car there was from California. Then came the deluge. It wasn’t like you couldn’t see it coming!

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  • Glaze Transparency: Clear As Mud

    On: January 26, 2017
    In: Artmaking, Creativity, Studio Journal
    Views: 330
     1
    Ceramic test tile glaze palette

     

    I have a passion for ceramic test tiles: looking at them, using them for reference and making them. It comes from being a lifelong collector of paint chips, a lover of color theory books and classes, and a plyer of other media before I came to ceramics. I’ve played with paints, watercolors, colored pencils, even with translucent or transparent papers. And while there are color interaction similarities among media, I’m here to testify that the understanding of ceramic surface decorating materials, especially glazes, is in another universe altogether. As usual, I have a few thoughts about that.

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