2018 Texas State Fair – Part 1

Significant other and I made our yearly trek to the State Fair on Saturday, September 29th.  It was the second day of the fair and, although the skies were a bit overcast, it was a great time to visit.

We arrived early and decided to park in the handicap lot (Gate 11).  It was actually easier than parking in the valet lot at Gate 5.  Coming in this way, we passed the Chevrolet test track and the Mattress Firm tent.  We passed the back side of the Cotton Bowl where trainers and other support personnel were arriving for the game between Prairie View A&M and Grambling which was scheduled for later that afternoon.

We also saw the backside of some Midway rides.  Side note: we steer clear of the Midway because (a) we’re not interested in the games, (b) Midway is usually the most crowded spot in the Fair, (c) there are few rides we’d get on.  One that we might try is this circle on a pole.  It looks fairly harmless.  But, we were not deterred.  We pressed on and …

Our first stop was the “birthing barn” where we saw twin lambs that had been born two hours earlier.  Several other very pregnant sheep were in another pen; some very pregnant cows were across the room; and some very pregnant pigs were being kept comfortable and warm.  Newly hatched chicks were in a glass-enclosed cage while other eggs were being kept in an incubator.

We kept walking (rather, I kept walking; significant other has a wonderful red scooter) and eventually arrived at the Creative Arts Building.  With the quilts, pottery, knit and crocheted items, jarred produce, walls of photographs, it’s a feast for the eyes and, almost, overload for the senses.

We stopped at the information booth to get a list of where my pieces were displayed (with over 70 display cases, we’d be searching forever if we didn’t get a cheat sheet).  So here are photos of my pieces at the Fair.

A couple other items that caught my eye:


The butter sculpture

This fantastic dress made of pull tabs from drink cans

Labor Day Picnic at the Lake

We (significant other and I) usually spend a holiday at home, watching TV and not doing much in particular. This Labor Day (September 3), my grandkids sent me text messages inviting us to join them at Lake Lavon. Hmmmm …. why not?

So, we packed up some water and some chips and Cuties and headed off to the lake. We arrived about noon and, while, there were lots of people, there was still room to park. So, we parked and headed off to find the family. They were still in the process of setting up a tent, a table with food, and chairs. We claimed two of the chairs (old people privilege) and watched the action. Great grandkids were having a ball in the water. And others were getting the jet skis out into the water.

After a lunch of a sandwich, drinks, chips, fruit, we relaxed a bit and then headed back home. It was a great day and we loved it!

Picture Day

The past month, I’ve been taking a summer ceramics class at Brookhaven College in Farmers Branch. The class was Monday-Thursday for 4.5 hours each day. Needless to say, I created a lot of pottery using various techniques. New pottery = lots of pictures = new post. So here goes …

Technique 1 – Texture Using Napa Cabbage Leaves
Somehow in my pottery learnings, I neglected to use this common texture technique. So, I bought a small head of Napa cabbage and use the leaves to create several pieces. Some pieces were soda fired; others were reduction fired. In general, I’m pretty happy with the way they turned out.

Technique 2 – Sgraffito
I actually posted results of this technique earlier but here are the photos again:

Technique 3 – Mocha Diffusion
Interesting technique using slip and then dropping a mixture of mason stain/water on the slip.  These are semi-test pieces to see what the effect would be with different firing environments.  Basically, the pictures make them look better and I have some other pieces to fire.  Like using this technique and will probably do it again.

Technique 4 – Using Extruder to Create Pieces

I have an extruder that’s not used a lot.  But, every so often, I’ll run some clay through it and then see what happens.  This time, I used it to create a series of triangular shaped vases.  There are 10 vases altogether but they can be grouped in various ways, making them very versatile.

Trying Something New

I’ve always been a bit fascinated with sgraffito (Italian for scratching. The process can be simple or quite complicated. It’s basically painting a contrasting underglaze or slip on a piece of clay, and then scratching away part of the underglaze/slip to reveal the clay, creating a picture or design in the process.

So, here are several examples of sgraffito. Beginning with a black underglaze on a white clay body, I scratched the black away to reveal the white clay underneath (owl and farm animals). Then, I tried a dark clay body with a white underglaze (girl and flowers). Finally, I applied an underglaze transfer on white clay and scratched it away (cat and blue girl).

By the way, these are all wall plaques.  As always, click on a photo to enlarge it.

If the dog won’t eat it, should I?

This is Charlie. He’s a rescue dog who was running the streets for quite a while. He had absolutely no manners when we got him and, though he’s improved a lot, he still has a street dog attitude, especially when it comes to food.

If it’s on a plate or napkin or the floor, it’s food and it’s edible. If you’re dumb enough to go off and leave it within his reach, consider it his.

Today he discovered that not everything  I eat is delicious … or even tolerable.  I was enjoying(?) a gluten-free chocolate muffin. It was semi-frozen so I was just taking small nibbles off it.  Then, I had to leave it on the end table and go in the other room.

Muffin Thief just had to have it.  And, to top it off, he brought it into the other room so I could see him enjoy it.  Except that he didn’t enjoy it.  But he wasn’t about to let it go.  He carried it around in his mouth, following me from room to room.  He growled at me when I tried to retrieve it (not that I was going to eat it).

Finally resolved the situation when I offered him a large piece of a cooked hamburger.  He dropped the muffin in favor of real food.

Lesson learned: don’t leave even awful food within his reach.

How Sad!

Yesterday evening, our neighbor called and told us that a limb had fallen off one of our trees.  He even offered to come over and do whatever to help clean up the mess.

  

This wasn’t just a smallish limb; this was one of the major limbs on this tree.  It just cracked and was now leaning on the fence, with a goodly portion of it hanging over in the neighbor’s yard.

It was late, hot and, even though our neighbor had the best intentions, we declined his offer of help.  I took pictures and send an email to our landscape company.  Hopefully, they can send someone today to take a look and remove the limb.

 

WooHooo!! “Forest Nymph” Accepted into CAC Juried Exhibition

My piece, “Forest Nymph”, has been accepted into the Creative Arts Center of Dallas’ 2018 Annual Juried Membership Exhibition.

Created of clay and glaze, and highlighted with metallic leaf, this forest nymph sleeps in the dappled sunshine, dreaming of adventures past and follies yet to come. The inspiration for this piece is fairytales, legends and a bit of Shakespeare (perhaps Puck).

Opening reception for the show is August 4th from 5:30 pm – 8:30 pm at the Mary Tomás Gallery, 1110 Dragon Street, Dallas, TX.  The exhibition ends September 1st.

Read the Label

For quite a while, I’ve had a problem with certain foods … garlic, onions, black pepper, milk and milk products, gluten.  The worst offender is milk and milk products because my body lacks the enzyme to digest them.  I can sometimes “cheat the system” by taking lactaid pills but I haven’t always been faithful about taking them.

The other day at lunch, I ordered nachos: yummy, gooey, cheese-covered nachos with guacamole and sour cream.  And I love them until my body rebelled in a terrible way the next morning.  I don’t want to gross you out.  It’s enough to say that I couldn’t get very far away from a bathroom.  I took lactaid pills (belatedly), kaopectate, tea with turmeric.  Nothing helped.

Later that afternoon, I was feeling semi-human and my Significant Other offered to get me something at the store.  I asked for crackers.  He came back with this package.

Just looking at the front of the package, everything was fine.  Potato crackers, no gluten. The ingredients label on the back was in teeny tiny print; couldn’t read it.   So, I had a few.

This morning, my gut was in trouble again and I didn’t understand why until I got my reading glasses and checked out the label on the crackers.

Oh my gosh!!  They have Parmesan Cheese Powder and Garlic Powder.  No wonder I was still in trouble.

So … from now on, I’m going to read the label before it goes in my mouth.

Footnote:  feeling much better and ready for dinner!

Another Experiment – FREE Pottery

Every so often, my closets become crowded and it’s time to thin out things. I’ve toyed with the idea of having a “pottery only” garage sale but that seems like too much work. Instead, I decided to put load up a table with odds and ends and offer it FREE!!

We live on a fairly busy street; and there’s often foot traffic, too. So, here’s the table at the beginning of the day. No one actually stopped their car to gather up FREE pottery but a couple of neighbors came over and selected pieces. At the end of the experiment, half the pieces had new homes and the rest were wrapped up and put into a box for a charity drive.

Note: I didn’t actually sit and monitor who was coming by and looking.  I was surprised by what pieces were chosen and what pieces were left.

A Few New Pots

I’ve been working on a couple of ideas and wanted to see how they’d work in various clay bodies and glazes.

This first set is the Sea Life series.  (You can click on the photos to see a larger version.)

It began with the pot on the left that I created in class at Brookhaven College.  I was going for tubular growth/sea life and wanted it to be pristine.  So it was made of a cone 10 white clay (Trinity Ceramics T-Mix10) and I was planning on using a white glaze on it.  Well, I couldn’t find the white glaze; so, I dipped it in “Snow”.  Now, you’d think that a glaze called “Snow” would be white, wouldn’t you??  It’s  more gray than white but, actually, I like it better, especially the white tips on each tube.

Next, I built Sea Life: Gulf using a cone 6 red stoneware.  Then, it was glazed with Lapis Satin, Gun Metal Green and Copper Blue (Coyote glazes). The  glazes ran together; I like the result.

Finally, there’s Sea Life: South Pacific.  The clay is a black (actually dark brown) cone 6.  And, before the bisque firing, I coated the tips of the tubes with a slip/silicon carbide mixture.  You can’t really tell it’s on the pot until you add glazes and refire it.  Glazes are Matt Bronze Green all over, then Copper Blue (Coyote) sprayed on and Sea Salt (Mayco) dabbed on.   Love it!  Gotta try more of that.

Next, I wanted to try new shapes; so, I created tarpaper templates and these pots are the result of that experiment.

The main body of the pots are glazes with Coyote’s oil spot glazes.  The one on the left is Brick/Marshmallow; the one on the right is Licorice/Marshmallow.  The top/bottom accent sections are glazed with Coyote’s White Crawl.  Interesting but need to play with these concepts and glazes a bit more.