Quick Update

Posted by on Nov 22, 2009 in Blog | Comments Off on Quick Update

Whew–I’ve been so busy, I have not been able to post lately.  Within the past week, I’ve taught many very talented second graders at a school in Raleigh–they made wonderful sculptures which we will paint on December 3.  

This past weekend was the Whimsical Women show, in Winston-Salem.  The show is legendary for its superb organization and incredible food (made by the artists).  All of the artists help with some aspect of the show–which gets us out of our booths and, yes, even do some shopping ourselves!
I got to visit with artists who I knew for a while, hadn’t seen for a while, or met at the spring show, held in May, in the Chapel Hill area.
Many, many thanks to Luli Sanderford, our hostess, and her sister, Linda Palladino.  Also the many other organizers…I’m afraid to name them for fear of leaving someone out–except I have to mention Brenda Moore–who I met through classes at Sawtooth many years ago.  She makes exquisite maiolica.
As I write this , I am taking a break from unloading the van.  
With the Carolina Designer Craftsmen Show coming right up, I spent some time this morning repainting pedestals.  Had repainted the wall panels earlier this week–will take and post a photo if I have any time or energy left.  Needless to say, the studio is a sea of white.  Once dry enough to handle, we’ll arrange all this “furniture” and set up a mock-up booth.  Would have like to have done this weeks ago, but too much going on!  All good problems!

Carolina Designer Craftsmen Art Show

Posted by on Nov 12, 2009 in Blog | Comments Off on Carolina Designer Craftsmen Art Show

This is my third year of running with the big dogs.  The Carolina Designer Craftsmen will host its annual  show at the North Carolina State Fairground in Raleigh from November 27 to 29 (Friday through Sunday).  The hours are:

Friday, 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. 
Saturday, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. 
Sunday, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. 

To learn more about the guild, please visit their website:

There is a two-year jurying process–you are accepted first as a probationary member, based on images you submit.  Once the jury sees your work at the show and approves, you are a member.  Still, there is a standards committee who reviews artists’ work every three years.  So standards are high.

I am bringing what is the beginning of my new body of work, People and Their Companion Animals.  What with research, sculpting, glazing and at least two firings, each takes several weeks to create.  I hope to have three of those pieces completed in time.  One will be in the Masterworks section and the other two in my booth, number  N-3.  

Also, I’ve made a couple of medium-sized and smaller sculptures, as well as several dog and bird ornaments. (I have to admit, they are cute, and I’ll have trouble parting with them!)   So, I’ll have something to offer at all prices.

The cost to produce such an event is high, so there is an entrance fee–$7.00 for a day pass. Sorry about that!

So come by, no pressure to buy, but remember, I have a lot of hungry mouths to feed!  😉

Seriously, I’ve been out of the social loop for a while and would love to see you.

Saxapahaw Holiday Open House

Posted by on Nov 10, 2009 in Blog | Comments Off on Saxapahaw Holiday Open House

I’ve been attending meetings with a group of other artists and business owners living and/or working in Saxapahaw. On Saturday, December 12, we’re hosting a Holiday Open House. 

People will be able to see us in our studios or workplaces, enjoy holiday refreshments, see demonstrations, taste local wines, attend free classes, see art shows, share in a pot luck dinner, enjoy music, go on a canoe ride for free, and do some shopping.  And this is all within a few square miles.

We thought this would be a great way for people to see what our small community has to offer.  

So far, participants include: 

Benjamin Vineyards & Winery – Winetasting, including seasonal Spice Wine and two new dessert wines, Twelve Days of Christmas Art Show features more than 35 pieces, representing the work of over 20 local artists. 6516 Whitney Rd. 12 noon – 5 p.m. 336-376-1080. http://www.benjaminvineyards.com/

Elementary Dance Education Academy. Rivermill. dblondiedancer@aol.com

Haw River Canoe & Kayak Co. – Guest Appreciation Day, with potluck, gear swap and free 2-hour paddle trip. RSVP requested. Saxapahaw Community Center. Noon-5:00p.m. 336-260-6465, info@hawrivercanoe.com  

The Hawbridge School (tuition free public charter school)- art exhibit and launch of student-run business, featuring sale of student-designed dyed silk scarves, photo greeting cards, recycled art works, and large art works. Proceeds from sale support educational programs.  1735 Saxapahaw-Bethleham Church Rd. 1-6 p.m.  336-376-1122 or www.hawbridgeschool.org.

Out of the Fire Sculpture Studio – Clay handbuilding and sculpture  demonstrations, free mini classes. 6035 Church Rd. 10a.m.-5 p.m.  336-376-9091 or www.cindybilesblog.blogspot.com/. 

River Landing Inn – coffee, tea, Christmas cookies, snacks. 5942 Whitney Road Graham, NC 27253. 12noon to 4p.m. (336) 376-1502 or matt@riverlandinginn.com

Roxy Farm Antiques – A Dickens Christmas Carole Open House! Fine southern antiques, including primitives, baskets, quilts, hats, vintage photos, brasscandlesticks, tree ornaments from Mexico, and much more. Tiny Tim, Scroogeand the Ghosts from Dickens’, A Christmas Carole, will be singing Christmas carols. Join us for some Yuletide cheer with locally-grown wines from Benjamin Vineyards & Winery, along with homemade holiday hors d’ oeuvres. 5768 Church Rd., 10a.m.-6p.m. (336) 264-7731. 

Benjamin VIneyards and Riverlanding Inn have been great supporters of local artists, with multiple shows throughout the year.  Benjamin Vineyars has its Twelve Says of Christmas Show up, with a Meet the Artists reception on December 13, from 1-4PM.


We Create What We Know (Even If We Don’t Realize It)

Posted by on Nov 8, 2009 in Blog | Comments Off on We Create What We Know (Even If We Don’t Realize It)

In an earlier post I mentioned that my brother thought the girl in Bodyguard looked like me.  Recently, I saw the photo again and it was uncanny.  This has happened many times before–several pieces I’ve made resemble relatives, friends, etc.  Even hands and feet–though all unintentional.  
Here is the photo Dave was talking about:
Me, in high school, with hair almost down to my waist.

 And here is Bodyguard:

Stolen Moments

Posted by on Nov 8, 2009 in Blog | Comments Off on Stolen Moments

This title sound very mysterious and provocative…read on (if you dare)….

While I’m waiting for things to dry–clay, glazes and underglazes, I’ve been making medium size dogs and, yes, some tiny pieces.  Wasn’t going to do that, but with the economy, yada yada…
Turns out, these teeny pieces are a great break from the challenge of the big ones.  And they are a blast (does using that term give away my age???) to glaze.  As close to immediate gratification as you can get in the clay world.  I’ve been making teensy catfish, dogs, penguins and other birds.  
I’ve been calling these “Goony Birds,” and just looked up that term (the below is from Wikipedia):

Gooney bird:A common name for the albatross bird.  For more information, see:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albatross

Just when I thought I came up with something original!  Don’t you hate that?
Still having fun….

Further Updates on Bodyguard and Carolline and Grace

Posted by on Nov 8, 2009 in Blog | Comments Off on Further Updates on Bodyguard and Carolline and Grace

Well, I’ve been working like a…um…dog, so have not been keeping up with posting.

Bodyguard came out of the kiln with flying colors.  And so did Caroline and Grace!  Except that Caroline’s eyes were a little too flying–even with medium blue details, they were pale enough to still be creepy against black pupils.  I loved her hair color–wanted it to be pretty mousy.  But, it did not look good against Grace’s fur color.  So Caroline got a makeover–darker brown hair and brown eyes.  Hate the-people will think I am unimaginative.  Though it does make for a cohesive body of work! 
With a few more touch ups, Caroline and Grace will be ready for their second firing.
Then, on to glazing Max and Gizmo.  I’ve spent a ridiculous amount of time picking out wardrobe (and skin. fur. etc.) colors for this piece, but that’s how I do it.  Lovin’ that angst!

Update on Bodyguard and Caroline and Grace

Posted by on Nov 2, 2009 in Blog | Comments Off on Update on Bodyguard and Caroline and Grace

As I write this, Bodyguard is in the kiln at a toasty 1200 degrees.  

Here are some photos of her just before she went in.  She received more layers of underglazes, including many fine details here and there and some very stylish highlights in her hair.  Don’t worry, they won’t be so contrasty after firing.
The girl’s skin and tee shirt will be a little darker.

There are two shades of black on the dog’s body.  The result will be almost unnoticeable.
Caroline and Grace have received their first layer of underglazes.

I did not add her pupils–creepy, I know.  Her irises are a color I haven’t used before so I’m running a test tile in the kiln right now with Bodyguard.  If I don’t like it, I can glaze over it.

Caroline and Grace, side view.  Max and Gizmo are drying in the background.
Looking at photos of fawn chihuahuas, I glazed Grace’s nose dark brown instead of black.  Either color, or even more of a pinkish shade, would have been correct.  I love the curve of Grace’s body–she is really cuddling Caroline!

Bodyguard–more glazes and second firing

Posted by on Nov 2, 2009 in Blog | Comments Off on Bodyguard–more glazes and second firing

As expected, Bodyguard needed a little dermatology to clear up her blotchy complexion.

I added more layers of underglazes to the piece to even out her skin tone.  To add depth and interest, I added underglazes in colors related to, but not the same as, the first layer to the girl’s eyes, tee shirt & hair, put more dark brown and black in the dog’s ears, and used a slightly different shade of black in the dog’s body.
Kevin loaded her into the kiln yesterday–he was able to carry her from the studio this time.  We still set up a pedestal for her to sit on before he lowered her in.  Clay shrinks when it is fired, but she is still 20 inches tall.
As I write this, Bodyguard is warming up in the kiln, preparing for her second firing, today.

Twelve Days of Christmas Art Show at Benjamin Vineyards in Saxapahaw, NC

Posted by on Nov 1, 2009 in Blog | Comments Off on Twelve Days of Christmas Art Show at Benjamin Vineyards in Saxapahaw, NC

I live in a very small town, called Saxapahaw.  Pronounced SAX-pa-haw.  I love living here.  We don’t even have a stop light, and I mean that in a good way. We are, however, becoming a destination for lovers of art, farmers markets, good food and good wine.

To see what I mean, check out the Saxapahaw-Rivermill web site:

This year, our local winery, Benjamin Vineyards, is hosting its second annual Twelve Days of Christmas art show.  Artists were invited to interpret one of the days mentioned in the song in any way they choose.  I had hoped to participate last year, but the studio was still under construction and the Carolina Designer Craftsmen show was coming up fast.  
Even though we get the invitation in July, somehow the time evaporates.  Due to the configuration of the winery, pieces that can be hung on the wall were preferred.  I had an idea, but there would be some challenges.  So I spent a lot of time figuring out how I would execute my plan.  
Here are some images of the piece, called “Rhythm Man,” resting on my work table.   

Sculpted but not dry yet.  Later I will refine the beak.

 Top view
Can you guess which day it represents?  There is a clue on the bird’s leg band.  
If you need a refresher course on the Twelve Days, here is the last verse:
On the twelfth day of Christmas, 

my true love sent to me 

Twelve drummers drumming, 
Eleven pipers piping, 
Ten lords a-leaping, 
Nine ladies dancing, 
Eight maids a-milking, 
Seven swans a-swimming, 
Six geese a-laying, 
Five golden rings, 
Four calling birds, 
Three French hens, 
Two turtle doves, 
And a partridge in a pear tree! 

The biggest challenge was to make Rhythm Man as lightweight as possible, yet able to support the weight of the bird.  The second biggest challenge was connecting the bird to the tree trunk securely.  As you can see, there are only two contact points between the bird and the tree trunk–I could have had the beak touch the trunk, but wanted to portray the bird looking around–if you ever watch them (or find videos of them on the Internet), they tap on the tree for a while, then look around–it’s mesmerizing (or do I need to get out more???).
Anyway, lucky for me that they brace themselves with their tails.
To do this the tree started out as a solid log and the bird as two hollow pinch pots.  As they firmed up, I carved out the tree, leaving shelves inside.  Also, I cut the bird in half (that used to be painful for me, but I’m getting used to the idea of cutting open my work.  I did apologize to the bird for the invasive procedure, but he’s better for it.) and hollowed it out as much as I dared.  The piece is still heavy, but manageable.
Below are images of the piece after underglazes and a little acrylic paint are applied.

Rhythm Man, front view (when it’s rotated 90 degrees and hung on the wall)

Rhythm Man, side view. You can see the ever-present Bodyguard in the background, in the process of receiving more layers of underglaze before she returns to the kiln.  The little pieces of colorful ceramic are test tiles.  You’ll see those blues in future posts!

I was pleased with the result and dropped off the piece yesterday.   At the winery, Nancy and Andy Zeman, owners, and Travis greeted me.  They brought me to the wine tasting room, where I got to see several other pieces–very nice.  Thirty-five artists, working in all mediums, will be represented.  It’s going to be a wonderful show.
While you’re here, check out Benjamin Vineyards and Winery’s site: 
The winery is open Thursday through Sunday, 12 Noon to 5PM.  The Twelve Days of Christmas show runs from Nov. 5, 2009 through January 3, 2010.
I didn’t have my camera with me, but can tell you the vines were beautiful–bright yellow leaves.
FYI, the red bellied woodpecker is my husband’s favorite backyard bird.  I’m partial to the white breasted nuthatch (so dapper in his little tuxedo) and Carolina wren.  While looking for images on the Internet, I came across Vickie Henderson’s blog–she has posted an entry about the red bellied woodpecker after I sculpted the piece, but I was able to reference her images for glazing.  She has photos of the bird from many angles, which helps so much for 3-D work.
Vickie is also an artist and creates beautiful watercolors, among other work, including a whooping crane coloring book.   Check out her blog at http://vickiehenderson.blogspot.com/
As you can see, she has a post on the Carolina wren–I’ll be referencing that one someday, I’m sure.  Thank you, Vickie!
If you look at older posts on Vickie’s blog, there is a video of an adorable baby whooping crane and its family–you can see how nurturing and protective it parents are.  It was so sweet, I had to watch it a couple of times!


Posted by on Oct 31, 2009 in Blog | Comments Off on Resources

Internet–photos–provide alot of inspiration, as well as my own animalsls.  Need photos  of animal and poeple from different angles–that’s whre ice people like Patty come it.  While at the Piemot Pottery Festival last week, a woman came up with her chihuahua.  Even though I had finished sculpting the 3 companion pieces I’d be able to finifh (with luck) for the Carlina Designer Craftsmen show, I was so excited.  IN introduced myself, expained that I am a clay sculptor, told her about this new work and asked if I could take pictures of her an dChiquita from different angles.  

She graciously areed.  Chiquita was so wonderful–there was a lot to look at, so we couldn’t get the two of them to look in the same diretion for vefry long.  We had a great chat.  What a story–Chiquita was running around Patty’sneighborhood for weeks at about this time of year three years ago–and she was very young.  She wouldnot have survivied much longer.  Ptty put food and a blanket on her porch adnd Chiquita settled there. With patience, Ptty was able to get closer to her until, one day, Chiquita put her paw on the door.  When Patty opened it, she went in! 
Wish I had those photos earlier, but they will be very helpful in furture pieces.