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

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.

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.

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.

Santa Fe – Clay and Glass

When my friend Allee Etheridge found out I was going to Santa Fe, she urged me to go to Santa Fe Clay. So, on Saturday morning, I headed over there. Even with a GPS, I got a little lost and then got caught up in the Farmer’s Market & Art Show traffic. It took a while, but I found a spot in a huge parking garage and then walked over to Santa Fe Clay.

What looks like an unassuming (warehouse) building houses an amazing art gallery, retail space (for ceramic supplies), studio space, kilns, and more. It took a while to look at (and take pictures of) the pieces in the art gallery. Then, I *had to* buy some supplies and a mug.

A quick visit to a local restaurant for lunch and I was off for my afternoon adventure: creating a glass paperweight at Liquid Light Glass. I’d been wanting to do something like this for a long time and this was the perfect opportunity. Fortunately, there were two experts helping us (me and 8 others) through the process. But, instead of taking my piece with me that day, I had to wait until Monday to pick it up. Apparently, after creating the paperweights, they have to be in a kiln to anneal and then cool.

Anyway, here are photos of the mug from Santa Fe Clay and the paperweight from Liquid Light Glass.

Yard Art (or what do you do with all that pottery??)

Seriously … what do you do with all that pottery? You can’t keep everything and you can only “gift” a few pieces to relatives and friends before they start running the other way. Unless you have a gallery or a storefront or are willing to spend hours taking photographs and posting on Etsy (then wrapping, packing and shipping), it’s hard to find homes for all the good, perfect or nearly perfect pieces.

Then there are the pieces that didn’t turn out quite as expected. Perhaps they cracked while being fired or the glaze turned out really ugly or … whatever. Some of these can be put in a box and be donated to a charity. Some can end up in the trash can. But there are those pieces that you’re still fond of.

Well … if you have a house (I do) and a yard (oh, yes), there’s a solution: yard art!! I have pieces in the garden, under downspouts, hiding under leaves of plants (pictures, below).

My Left Foot

Remember about three months ago when I broke my leg?  Well, I sure do.    After healing for a couple months and, while I was still trying to get stronger and more flexible, my doctor sent me to rehab.  That was the best thing for my leg/ankle.

The therapist worked with me a couple times a week for four weeks.  At the end of that time, there were a few twingy reminders of the injury, but I was 98% back to normal.  So …. as a “thank you” gift, I took her a small sculpture of my left foot and put a small succulent inside.

Hopefully, the succulent will continue to grow and I will continue to heal.

Art 214

In Dallas, April is “Art Month” with galleries and art venues hosting a variety of events.

This year (2018), for the first time the City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs (OCA) sponsored  ART 214 Juried Exhibition.

“As part of Dallas Arts Month, four cultural centers of the City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs (OCA) are hosting a multi-venue juried exhibition to showcase the works of artists who live in Dallas and the greater North Texas region from late March to early June.

Through this exhibition, OCA hopes to discover and develop relationships with new artists, provide opportunities for artists to exhibit their work for the first time ever or for the first time in one of our cultural centers, and cross pollinate artists who have previously exhibited at one cultural center by exhibiting their work at a different center. Another goal of this collaborative project is to draw in new audiences who have never been to (or even heard of) our Cultural Centers and to share audiences who frequent a specific center but have never experienced the others.”

More than 750 entries were received and, when the jury process was complete, 192 pieces by 137 local North Texas Artists were selected to be in the exhibition.

I’m honored that my entry, “Uncommon Stones,” is included in the exhibition at the Latino Cultural Center.  Here’s the description that was submitted with the entry:

Finding an actual geode is a rare experience. They look like common stones but, when cracked open, they reveal their hidden beauty. So, I wondered, could I take clay and glass and create faux geodes? These Uncommon Stones are close but don’t rival the real thing. Clay and glass; reduction fired