Sunday, December 26, 2010
Monday, December 6, 2010
Earlier this year, many of us in the equine collectibles industry pulled together to help a dear friend with her husband's medical bills. The response grew into something way beyond what any of us expected, but while all this love and effort worked to restore our friend's financial security, it could not conquer such a deadly form of cancer.
This left those with outstanding donations in a quandary. This was especially puzzling when it came to what to do with the outstanding pieces of the Terra Cotta Tile Project. Like many, I still had a handful to glaze and even more left to "festoon". What was the right thing to do now that they could no longer serve their original purpose? Equally important, what decision might best preserve the value of the pieces in the project which had been sold as collectibles?
Yesterday those of us involved in the project received word that we were to destroy whatever unfinished, unadorned tiles were left in our possession. By the close of the day, I had done exactly that. I knew it would be hard. Destroying handmade items is not something I find easy, but it was all the harder for me because I knew what went into them. Coming from my faith tradition, these tiles were what we would call "widow's pennies". That is the parable where Jesus instructs his followers that the penny given by the poor widow is worth more then the entire fortune of a wealthy man. What comes from someone's bounty is not worth the same as what comes from someone's poverty. I knew those tiles had been made over long hours by someone who was herself facing horrible financial threats, yet still she was donating her time (and therefor her income) to someone else. It seemed a horrible sin to literally smash all that generosity - all that sacrifice.
But it also made me think about starting over with clean slates. As most of my friends and customers know, I am perpetually overcommitted and almost always falling behind. After losing more time than I expected earlier this year following my surgery, that normal situation has snowballed. This motivated me to set into motion some changes that will allow me a more sane level of responsibilities, but my to-do list is still a discouraging read at the moment. Literally smashing one small commitment was a good reminder for me not to replace the jobs I am finishing with new obligations. I've placed the broken heart from one of the tiles on my whiteboard (the one where I write my daily task list) to remind myself how hard this lesson is for me to learn!
at 10:38 AM
Friday, December 3, 2010
I have been working on some new giftware items the past few weeks, in between cleaning greenware and detailing some horses. The first is the new pendant, shown here in my favorite purple art glaze wired from the top. The piece is designed so I can drill a hole for hanging at the top or one on each side, depending on how the necklace needs to be strung. This particular one has a twisted antique brass jump ring for the bail, but I've also experimented with wrapped wire bails, too. Those are fun because I can add a bead accent to them, as well as work with less common metal finishes.
My second item is a zipper pull. I've taken the same cabochon that I've used with the bookmarks and trimmed it to fit inside a heavier setting. I thought these would work well as zipper pulls because the bead is almost entirely recessed, which makes it a little more sturdy. I have to admit I have yet to chip one of the unset cabochons, despite intentionally treating them carelessly, but it never hurts to have a little extra protection. This is especially true when you hang around a pony that has an obession with zippers. This particular one has been hanging from my barn jacket for a few weeks now and is none the worse for wear, so I am considering it suitable for the task.
I hope to add both items to the Etsy store in the next week.
[Edited to correct the link to the Etsy store. Sorry about that!]
at 5:45 PM
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Thanks to the now-working mold straps and some tips from fellow ceramists, my Elsie mold has gone from extremely leaky (bottom) to a more normal amount of flashing (top). I had underestimated just how much I needed to thicken the slip when working with a much larger casting.
I also discovered that I got much better results by pouring successive castings. Because I live in a pretty humid climate, my molds have to sit for considerably longer before I remove a casting. Not wanting to wear my molds out - which getting them too damp too often will do - I had been spacing my castings out over a period of days. My typical routine was to pour one casting and then let the mold sit for one or two days, then casting another. Joan at Pour Horse had suggested doing two castings in a row and then resting the mold. That is working much better.
Now if I could just find enough uninterrupted time to glaze a set. As much as I would like to have a set finished before the end of the year, scheduling tends to conspire against me during the holidays when it comes to things like underglazing. I can do a lot of tasks (like art glaze giftware or clean greenware) in small bits of time with lots of interruptions, but not underglazing. The threat of being interrupted - which seems worse that usual during this time of year - is enough to make me avoid the spray booth. Perhaps I should ask for a day of isolation for Christmas!
at 9:17 AM