So … what’s new??

It’s been a while since I posted an update and stuff has happened during the past 4-5 months.  Let’s see …

During the summer, I started using up some colored clay, making another sculpture and a huge bowl for dog water.

The colored clay pieces turned out quite nice (in my opinion). I watched a couple of videos and learned how to make a “skinner blend” that was used on the two pots on the left.  The pot on the right was made with coils and, as I blended the various levels of clay, an interesting pattern developed.

In that same kiln load, I fired a bust sculpture that was similar to one that I made during the last weeks of class in the Spring. It was interesting working with two different types of clay and varying other elements of the sculptures. I’m planning to experiment more with this using still different clays.

I made a huge water bowl for dogs and left it out front thinking that passing dogs might want a drink. But, they didn’t. so, I eventually took it into the back yard where Tucker and the squirrels like to use it. It actually takes about a gallon and a half of water to fill it up!

When I finished these pieces, I started working on others but quit because the outside temperatures were so hot. I didn’t want to run the AC in the studio at full blast and I definitely didn’t want to fire the kiln.

Instead, I participated in a painting/photo exhibit that Artists ‘Round Texas sponsored. Painters and photographers were given a list of several sites in and around Rowlett which could be use as subjects. I chose to go to a municipal park and found several likely subjects; then, I edited the photos, framed them and … actually won a second place prize for my photo of the squirrel.

Reflections: Ceramic Works by Ginny Marsh

WOW!!  I was totally blown away by Virginia Marsh’s solo show at the Goldmark Cultural Center.  I’m familiar with Ginny and her work but seeing it on display like this was awesome.

Click on the images to see a larger version.


Visiting Dallas Arboretum

For the month of August,  the Dallas Arboretum offered a special:  $2 admission and $5 parking.  Early August days were cooler than normal and we decided to go over Sunday morning.

The Seward Johnson sculpture exhibit was held over  and, during our visit, we were able to see about half of the sculptures.  We’ll have to go back again in a week or so to see the rest.

Anyway, here (in no particular order) are photos of the gardens and sculptures.

2018 Texas State Fair – Part 2

By the time we finished in the Creative Arts building and make a quick stop in the Texas Products building, it was time for a mini-snack.  And then … on to the Hall of State Building for the 2018 Special Exhibits.

This year the focus was Texas Innovation, Inventors and Inventions.  Some (Southwest Airlines, Fritos, Fletcher’s Corny Dogs) are well-known.  Others (Shelby, Weedeater, Pacemaker), I didn’t realize were invented in Texas.  Once we finished in the Hall of State, we headed home.  Temps were getting warm and the Fair was getting crowded.


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.

Santa Fe – Picture Day

One thing I love to do when exploring a new place is to take photographs.  Never having been to Santa Fe or the surrounding areas, I wasn’t sure where to find the best spots for pictures.  And, if I was driving, it would be hard to stay on the road and look at scenery at the same time.  Then, on TripAdvisor,  I found a solution:  a photography day tour with Mark Schumann.

Mark suggested taking the High Road to Taos with stops at Nambe, Chimayo, Santa Cruz “Lake,” Truchas, Trampas, Rancho de Taos, downtown Taos, the Gorge Bridge, the earth ships, the Taos Pueblo, another location or two along the Rio Grande, as well as a sunset spot on the way back to Santa Fe. Whew!

Mark picked me up at 10:00 am. We were joined by Chihiro, an avid photographer who lives in the Austin area. Chihiro is much more knowledgable about photography, camera settings, etc. than I am. Basically, I use my camera as “point and shoot.” With Mark’s guidance, I began to understand some of my camera’s settings, how to “frame” a landscape for depth of field and more. But, I did “go rogue” some of the time and shot what grabbed my attention instead of what Mark was pointing out.


We stopped to take photos of Sacred Heart Church and the cemetery. Some of the gravesites were simple but more were elaborate with plastic flowers, solar lights, photos, and toys.

On The Road

Great opportunity to learn about landscape photography:  include some close shrubbery for perspective; focus on the middle ground. But, most important: clean your lens before you start taking pictures.

El Santuario de Chimayo

Chimayo, a little adobe church in the foothills of the Sangre de Christo Mountains in northern New Mexico, is sometimes called the Lourdes of North America. Like that famous shrine in France, it attracts those who are seeking healing of body, mind, or spirit. Read the entire article here.

Pictures coming soon!

Somewhere in the high altitude

I’ll have to send a note to Mark and ask him exactly where this is. It’s high in the mountains and is a small picturesque spot. The church was open and has wonderfully detailed murals.

Las Trampas

Las Trampas Historic District is a National Historic Landmark District and is home to the San José de Gracia Church National Historic Landmark. The district and its church are located in Las Trampas, off Route 76, roughly 30 miles south of Taos, NM. We visited the church and, fortunately, it was open. The inside is beautiful with rough-hewn wood, tall ceilings, a wood burning stove. But, unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to take photos of the inside.

Scenic Overlook

High up in the mountains is a scenic overlook where you can see for miles. Mark said it was unusual to see the cloud banks. Usually, the sky is a crystal clear blue. The clouds gave additional definition to the field of depth.

Lunch Break!

No pictures; I was too busy eating and guzzling water. Believe it or not, we ate at a Vietnamese open air restaurant. Yes, Vietnamese!! It was surprisingly good and affordable and plentiful. We also visited the gallery where Mark sells some of his prints. Take a look. This is just a small selection of what’s available.

Taos Pueblo

Then it was on to the Taos Pueblo, the only living Native American community designated both a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and a National Historic Landmark. It was larger than I expected with some ancient building and some relatively new buildings. Again, we weren’t allowed to take photos of the inside of the church with it’s shrine to the Madonna. It’s traditional to dress the Madonna in robes for the season. Well, this was hot pink Barbie season. The entire altar display was bright pink.

Rio Grand Gorge Bridge

The Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, the second highest bridge on the U.S. Highway System, is a three-span steel continuous-deck-truss structure with a concrete-filled steel-grid deck. It was called the “bridge to nowhere” while it was being built because the funding did not exist to continue the road on the other side.

At 650 feet (200 m) above the Rio Grande, it is the fifth highest bridge in the United States. The span is 1,280 feet; two 300-foot-long approach spans with a 600-foot-long main center span. The bridge was dedicated on September 10, 1965 and is a part of U.S. Route 64, a major east-west road.


An Earthship is a type of passive solar house that is made of both natural and upcycled materials such as earth-packed tires, pioneered by architect Michael Reynolds. Earthship structures are intended to be “off-the-grid-ready” homes, with minimal reliance on public utilities and fossil fuels. They are constructed to use available natural resources, especially energy from the sun and rain water. More informationnightly rentals

It was strange to see these upcycled homes in the middle of the desert. Notice that some have satellite dishes and some have solar panels. We could only take photos of a few of them because the main community was roped off and inaccessible.

Red & White Rock Formations

As we travelled along, the landscape changed from semi-flat with scrubby brush to semi-flat with scrubby brush and large rock formations. We stopped at several locations to take photos.

Sunset and Moonrise

We made a quick stop at Bode’s General Store and drove past Georgia O’Keeffe’s home but had to hurry on over to Ghost Ranch to wait for Sunset and Moonrise. We did have time to take a few pics at Ghost Ranch and then waited and waited and waited. It seemed the sun would never set. But, once it did, the sunset was spectacular. Moonrise happened before sunset so we had a two-for-one photo op.

End of a Long Day

After the sun set and the moon rose, we headed back to Santa Fe. Thank goodness for Mark and his stamina. I was beat and very quiet (possibly dozing) on the way back.

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.

Santa Fe – Staying in an Art Gallery

The place I stayed while in Santa Fe is fantastic!! The inside has been completely redone. It’s modern, comfortable, private, quiet. It has two bedrooms, two bathrooms, full-size kitchen with a gas stove that I wish I had at home. While it doesn’t have central heat/air, the bedrooms do have mini-splits that heat and/or cool the room. Actually, it was cool enough in the mornings (50 degrees) that I opened the doors and enjoyed the fresh air for several hours. Even in the heat of the day, the temperature inside was comfortable. And I discovered that the floor in the bathroom is heated! So nice when stepping out of the shower.

Let me tell you about the art. It’s everywhere. It was like staying in an art gallery. One morning, I started at one end of the condo and took pictures.

If you’re planning a trip to Santa Fe and looking for a great place to stay, check out Casa Magdalena