Friday, August 31, 2007

Neat new shiny things

They aren't actually my new shiny things, but they were so cool I couldn't resist sharing them. Both were done by my good friend, Addi Velasquez. Addi is probably best known to most of you as the sculptor of the most recent RESS resin, "Jitterbug". Addi spent the last year volunteering with the Marionists in East St. Louis. She sculpted the pins while she was there. Aren't they cool?

These two just happened to be my favorites, but she also has a hippo and a ringtail lemur. You can see pictures of them at her Shiny Shoppe.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Exciting news in the world of horse color

One of the downsides to publishing your theories is that you stand the chance of later being proven wrong. Or at least missing the mark by a bit.

Ten years ago I wrote an article entitled "A Study of White Horses - Not What They Seem", where I questioned the existence of Dominant White in horses. My skepticism was based on my own research into the backgrounds of as many white-born horses as I could find. From that I came to believe that most of the horses designated as Dominant White were more likely to be extremely marked sabinos. I failed to find horses that fit the profile for Dominant White, so I began to suspect that the color did not exist - or perhaps no longer existed since there were anecdotal stories of horses that had fit the profile in times past.

It appears that my speculation was wrong, at least in terms of whether or not there was such a gene in horses. Not only are there real, live Dominant Whites, but the Swiss team that identified them has been able to test for it. So eventually we will know for sure which horses carry the gene. (It is thought that the gene is extremely rare, so it is likely that many of the white-born horses are still just sabinos.)

Other things are in the works, too. A Swedish team found the mutation for grey, though a test is not yet available. UC Davis has been working on dun, and of course there is the ongoing research on the appaloosa patterns. Pretty soon there won't be anything left to guess about when it comes to horse colors!

(pictured is the famous white Thoroughbred, Mont Blanc II.)

Sunday, August 26, 2007

A weekend with my horse

I went down to Georgia this weekend to visit my horse, Sprinkles. She's been down there with a trainer for the past month. We had a good time and she's doing so well, but it's been a really long time since I went on a long trail ride. My family has gotten to hear me whine about how sore I am ever since I got back!

I got the picture of the Spotted Saddler colt (above) while I was there. I thought his partially blue eye was neat, and he was quite agreeable when it came to getting pictures of it. He was there with four of his half-siblings, all around the same age and all black tobianos or toveros. They made a neat set all lined up along the fence.

Now I am back and getting children ready for the start of school. They go back tomorrow, and I already have all my bisques neatly set out, with their reference material in a stack under them, and their underglazes pre-mixed. I guess it shows that I've been looking forward to back-to-school for a while now, even if my children have not!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Hot and humid

The weather has been just miserable for doing any pottery. It has been too hot to run the kiln, even at night. And the high humidity is has made airbrushing risky. Underglazes are an unforgiving medium, so tempermental tools are a bad idea! Even my molds won't dry properly.

I have taken this as a sign that I should finish my redesign of the website. I really wanted it all in place before the Fall Lottery in October. I wasn't sure this was possible, particularly when it came to truly updating the Gallery. (I never realized how many custom glazes I had done over the years, until I starting paging them all.) I'm a lot closer to that goal now, though!

Monday, August 20, 2007

In Loving Memory

Scott Alan Jeffreys
(my twin brother)
December 24, 1966 - August 20, 2002

"Maybe we do not speak of it because death will mark all of us, sooner or later. Or maybe it is unspoken because grief is only the first part of it. After a time it becomes something less sharp but larger, too, a more enduring thing called loss.

Perhaps that is why this is the least explored passage: because it has no end. The world loves closure, loves a thing that can, as they say, be gotten through. This is why it comes as a great surprise to find that loss is forever, that two decades after the event there are those occasions when something in you cries out at the continuous presence of an absence." - Anna Quindlen

More Pictures

I had hoped to have the website updates up before now, but I'm still trying to figure out the mouse-overs on the buttons. So I'll share some of the Pixie pictures here for the time being. (I thought I had a right-side picture, too, but apparently I forgot to get her other side!)

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Artistic Detour

I thought I would come home from Alabama and get straight to work on some of the projects still sitting in the studio. That got a bit derailed when I got a call from the head of the Stewardship Committee at our church, asking if I could make an illustration for the Stewardship dinner invitations. So I've been drawings loaves and fishes for the last few days, instead of making mud ponies.

It was fun to shift gears and do a little flat artwork. It's not something that I do a lot of anymore, and I'm not entirely sure that smiling fishies were exactly what our pastor had in mind! But left to my own devices my artistic style tends to swing between children's-book cute and overly romantic Art Nouveau. Somehow French loaves just don't "flow" right for the latter, so they got beady-eyed fish.

Now I just need to finish up some of the website artwork while I have all the markers and colored pencils out!

Saturday, August 11, 2007


That's the most accurate word to describe the weather we have had this past week. I'm not usually bothered by heat and humidity, but with a heat index around 112° even I start to melt. Needless to say, I didn't make a the trip up to Walking Horse country to get photographs. I rarely left safety of my parents' air-conditioned home!

Tomorrow we return home to Charlotte, where my husband tells me the heat has been worse. At least that means that the molds I left drying in the studio will be usable when I get there! Soon the boys will be back in school, and I will be back to a (more or less) regular work schedule. I just hope this weather starts to cool a bit, or running a 1900°+ kiln will be too miserable to think about!

Monday, August 6, 2007

My Home's In Alabama

I've always identified with the sentiment in that song. Although we have been in Charlotte for twelve years now, I've never stopped thinking of the Tennessee Valley in Alabama as my real home.

And Alabama is where I'll be this week. Mostly I will be visiting with family, but I am hoping to squeeze in a small side trip up to middle Tennessee. I keep thinking that I need to do some farm visits and take photographs while there are so many Pusher descendants still alive. That was the stallion largely responsible for the return of the sabino roan color in Walking Horses. I haven't taken many reference pictures in recent years, but I have agreed to do a horse color column for the Realistic Equine Sculpture Society newsletter so I will need to get back in the habit!

If nothing else, I'll try to at least post some pictures of the area. (Though this fun site will give you some idea!)

Friday, August 3, 2007

More Moldmaking

I had a few people ask me about master molds, so I thought some pictures might help. These are two master mold currently being used here at the studio. The larger one on the left is used to make Celtic Pony medallion molds, and the smaller one to the right makes molds of the new horse's tail. The medallion master is the same one that appeared in the post about the marbles - after the plaster was poured and the whole thing was bound up with rubber bands.

The yellow Celtic Pony beside the molds is a rubber insert. It gets placed inside the cavity of the plaster medallion mold so I can pour a plaster "lid". If I used a tile press to make the medallions, I wouldn't need this. But since I cast with liquid slip, I need to cover the back of the mold.

The rubber insert is leaning against two of my smaller mold boards, which also appeared in the previous photos with the marbles. My husband made my boards from maple, all meticulously stained and varnished. (Different colors for each different sized set.) It makes me cringe every time I have to use the C-clamps on them, because they are quite pretty.

This close-up of the smaller master mold shows a neat mold-making trick I learned from Barry at Laf'n Bear. See the lines running across the rubber? Those came from Legos! For really small molds like this one, it's easier to build a mold box with Legos than it is to clamp the boards together. (Larger molds would take too much time, and I suspect my sons would begin to notice if that many Lego blocks went missing.)