Long, late, evenings outside in other people’s gardens, shared platters of salads and fresh berries, watching the last sunlight trail on the flat water, cool mountain hikes as that favorite birdcall echoes in the gathering dusk, kids on the grass until the stars come out. I was thinking about how to safekeep these beautiful summer moments and how to keep them fresh, so, when I looked over these shots I took of my new work, I realised – this being the seventh summer I’ve enjoyed on Orcas – I may have already stored them in the plates I just made.
Baskets of good intent
I still say Happy New Year to people at this time of January to stoke a little of that fire of good intent that, I believe, most of us begin every new year with, even those among you who have sworn off resolutions. In the shop, the front table and the window display has been refreshed. I’ve started on a series of black clay vessels and a line of photo cards I’ve been working on are in print as I write this. Come visit soon and wish me a happy New Year in return.
The mud smells dark and rich; the bird call is frenzied; the wet leaves and twigs glow like embers in the fast fallen dusk. Hello Fall. My favourite time of year is digging in and the palette of the season is a personal refresher for where my aesthetic choices are mostly rooted.
Taking stock of the body of work I showed at this past summer’s Artists Open Studio Tour on Orcas Island, it felt good to discover an aesthetic consistency running through my ceramic work. The forest floor, ocean find and woodland imagery are repeatedly used, and so are the organic textures and my tendency to leave or reveal the natural colour of the clay body. The show was really the first time I had all my recent work displayed together and it was gratifying to see how the individual pieces, whether functional, wearable or wall art, could come together to form a cohesive tableau.
Participation in the Studio tour provided the motivation for me to finally write an Artist’s Bio, and to explore various ways to display work, label displays, create visual flow, and other nitty gritty aspects of putting up a show that is not always a top priority because it takes precious time away from making stuff! However, the best thing for me over the three-day tour was getting practice in talking about my art to absolute strangers. Many thanks to Sharon Schmidt who hung out with me on opening day! Just hearing her introduce my work to guests helped me experience how a gallery visitor would encounter my creations for the first time. I realised how basic and crucial a skill it is for any artist to be able to talk comfortably about her own work, and, at a level that resonates with the viewer. I have been a docent many years and led many a gallery tour, but talking up my own work is an ongoing challenge. I know it comes with practice and I am working on it.
Come in soon and I’ll work my spiel on you!
Thank you friends!
We had a wonderful, well attended opening party two Fridays ago. A big Thank You to all of you who came by, and also to all of you who sent hugs and well wishes from afar. It was a buzz to have so many people in the studio all at once, after all the nerves Christa and I had building up inside as the hour approached. Not too much wine was spilled, so that was good too 😉 Cheers!
Opening this Friday, May 9
Christa Smith of Feltsmith and Sharon Ho of Optimism and Co. invite you to our
at Eastsound Square #D3 (behind Mia’s Cafe and Olga’s boutique)
on Friday, May 9, from 4.30pm to 7pm
It is finally warm enough to keep our door open, come and see what we have been up to.
New working studio/gallery in Eastsound
My wish for an in-town working studio with gallery space came true this past winter. I found a perfect studio partner in felt textile artist Christa Smith and over a two-month period, we found a spot in town and set out to create a well-lit, contemporary blank slate that was versatile for accommodating our art making needs. It called for pulling out old carpet, tearing down walls, scrapping out old floor paint, and a total whitewash – lots of sweat equity made possible by supportive husbands and children. Now we share a space we love in Eastsound Square that is enjoying a revival of sorts at the moment, having had several artists move in and set up intriguing spaces too. I think we are on to something…
I hope the pictures say it better, but when you are next on Orcas Island, stop in for a look yourself.
I tried Polymer Clay
Go ahead, be a stick-in-the-mud potter (pun intended) and cringe, but polymer clay offers incredible elasticity, negligible shrinkage and versatility. Case in point: Orcas Island artist Maria Papademetriou uses it to create ethereal sinuous ‘veins’ around driftwood branches as part of her assemblages.
I found this out first hand at an Introduction to Polymer Clay workshop by the very gracious Maria herself, whose intriguing artwork reference shrines, amulets and talismans from her Greek Orthodox childhood. The class was held at Monkey Puzzle Workshop – a cosy, new art-discovery space at Eastsound Square launched by the inimitably bedecked Ms. Sallie Bell, as an extension of her stone bead and metal jewelry shop, Monkey Puzzle, a few doors down. In fact Sallie joined the class and together with Charlotte Sumrall, a textile artist, we three had a great time watching Maria’s demos, and getting our hands dirty with rolling and cutting the polymer clay (a hand-cranked pasta maker is involved), stamping with ink, and even applying gold leaf. It is just the most agreeable and approachable medium! To my delight, the material fees included some bead shopping at Sallie’s shop for embellishments to add to our ‘masterpiece’.
Maria has over 35 years of experience working with ceramics, but she is infectiously enthusiastic about polymer clay as a medium. Her enthusiasm alone made the class really interesting. She is an engaging speaker and generously opened the window to precious little tips from years of art practice. Oh, and she also brought a mean plate of homemade chocolate brownies. It was a Sunday well spent. I am still too much in love with ceramic clay but I AM already thinking of using polymer clay elements to incorporate into my own mixed media work.
There’s another class this Sunday. Check it out.
Sunday January 27th 10am-12pm 1pm-4pm
Location: Monkey Puzzle Workshop, Eastsound Square, Orcas Island
Fee is $50, plus a $20 materials fee.
PREREGISTRATION IS REQUIRED. Please contact 317-5522 or email monkey@rockisland or information/registration.
P.S. Did you know there is a Northwest Polymer Clay Guild? Check out their site to see the work of artists already using this medium.
Crow’s Seasonal Dress
Sometimes a black dress just won’t do. A little brown and a little blue and crow’s ready for a ball. Or a wedding party in Spring, maybe?
Standing at 4.5 inches tall, in food-safe glaze, oven safe and microwave safe, overall, a great (and safe) bird to have at the table.
A bar to call my own
For a while, I have been wondering about the kind of top to install on the bar ledge dividing the kitchen and living space in my home. The industrial-style bar counter works as a room divider – there is an insanely tall black steel framed glass four-panel folding window hung above it that folds back to open up the living space or section off the kitchen to dramatic effect. The bar itself is wrapped in a lacquered black steel that will hopefully weather well and develop a lovely rustic patina. My original choice was a long beam of live-edge, honey-hued teak wood to contrast with the cold hard black steel. But after thinking about it for a while, it occurred to me that there was a risk of the final effect looking contrived. My ‘aha’ moment was to make my own wood-fired ceramic tiles. These were designed to be laid out in the middle of the bar top and to have an uneven slanted edge to add interest.
The tiles were fired with dustings of copper oxide and iron oxide that mingled gorgeous red, copper and indigo tones with the smoke trails of the wood fire. I had the contractor cast the concrete block and I laid the tiles myself. What do you think?