Monday, June 22, 2015

On the road again...

On Saturday I hit the road again bound for Gatlinburg, Tn. where I am attending Arrowmont School of Crafts for a week. I am taking a class from Jason Walker a Seattle area based potter known for his narrative sculptures in porcelain. I was torn about which class to take here, but when I saw Jason's work, I was completely blown away. My latest goal with my pottery is to bring more of my painting onto it and when I saw Jason's work it was a no-brainer. A I mentioned in last weeks post, one of the things that I enjoyed with painting once again was the ability to tell a story in a painting. Jason tells a story with his clay both in construction and surface painting. I am so jazzed to learn his techniques this week! We had orientation and a mini class tonight and so far I think it's going to be a swell week. He seems like a very communicative and supportive instructor and a generally nice guy.
I drove down to Gatlinburg, splitting the ride over two days. Cruising down Rte 81 through the Shenandoah Valley all the way is such a beautiful ride
Surrounded by mountain ranges on both sides  with breath taking views at some places and best of all being able to do it with a 70 mile per hour speed limit is just awesome! The highway is also nicely paved and the truckers even obey the speed limit and stay to the right, making this a dream drive.

Just before hitting Rte 81, I gave myself a chance to enjoy the scenery and a little wine at a winery off Rte 66. It was about 5 miles off the highway and had a beautiful view of the mountain range. The tasting room was a really nice building with a great deck and umbrellas outside, but you were only allowed to sit there if you were buying their food. If you brought your own, (which I did) you had to sit down in the buggy, sweltering "picnic area" with no shade. I was a little pissed at this because I have never been to a winery that treated people that way and felt that my $12 glass of wine should entitle me to sit wherever the hell I wanted. 

Anyway, I needed the break from the road and sat down with my cooler of road food and enjoyed the view and the wine.
About 3 hours later, my next stop was at my hotel, my halfway point in Salem, Va., nice Comfort Suites affording the same magnificent views of the mountains and a much needed hot tub for my weary bones and sore back.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Painting Again….

Three years ago, I learned the magic of spinning a ball of  clay on the potter's wheel and and turning it into a beautiful vase, bowl or object of my imagination. I have been having a total love affair with it since then. Any potter will tell you that once you put your hands in clay and start making things, it quickly becomes an obsession. At the time I started making clay things, I was in need of a new challenge. I felt pigeon holed in my painting as it seemed there was an expectation for me to produce a certain thing- cow paintings mostly, and for those, I was losing my love for creating them. Making clay came around at just the right time. I needed the change and my daughter was leaving for college and if working with clay teaches you anything, it is how to let go- as your work can go horribly wrong at several points along in it's creation. So for all intents and purposes, I had mostly turned my back on painting for the last 3 years. I produced the occasional painting when I taught, but beyond that, I was giving all my love to the clay which is a very demanding lover indeed.

I wanted to create new work for a show of my paintings which I have hanging this month at Paradocx Vineyard. I have to admit that it was hard to get started. Once I did, I started to remember why still I love painting. Painting on clay allows me to decorate. Painting on canvas affords me the opportunity to create a visual story. I didn't realize how much was lying dormant in my head when images kept popping in there when I gave myself the prompt "winery." I finished a few new pieces and probably would have done more if I didn't run out of time. I have painted hundreds of cow paintings but lately, since I live with 4 of them, cats have been creeping into my work. Here is a little pictorial of the process of painting "Bottle Baby" which is in the show.  If you are one of my cow lovers, don't worry there are plenty of those in the show too!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Miniature Cat Sculpture in 3 Easy Pieces

 I am on vacation this week so I am reposting this cool video showing how I make a minature kitty with clay.

 I often use these kitties to top my lidded jars and  garlic keepers.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Berry Season

One of my great joys is designing and making new berry bowls to use and enjoy during berry season. Right around March I start to get really excited because the sweetest strawberries start showing up in the grocery store. I don't know where they come from but it seems at that time of year is when they are really ripe and really sweet. I love strawberries, blueberries, raspberries. Blackberries- eh, not so much. It's not that I don't like them, they're just not that great to me and don't warrant the price that you usually have to pay for them.

One of my favorite things to do with strawberries is to sprinkle them with a little basalmic vinegar and sugar and let them macerate for a bit and then add a little mint (in my case, chocolate mint which I have  growing in my backyard).

I love to put it over vanilla ice cream or even cottage cheese and it's absolutely fabulous.

I also recently discovered the stuff called Brooklyn Cream in the grocery store in a little package near the mini cheeses and the butters. I'm on weight watchers and this is  a fantastic discovery because it adds just enough creaminess to my fresh berries to make me feel like I'm having whip cream without all the points. (In this case 1 WW point)

I had to make two turbo sized berry bowls to keep on my kitchen counter because my husband and I love to have fresh berries, grapes and cherry tomatoes readily available to pick at.

 Most of the ones that I make and sell are smaller and hold about a pint like these new ones that  I designed with flowers around the holes.

Handmade Berry Bowls $30
This years berry bowl designs

Here's another berry recipe from that sounds delicious and I really want to try...

Breakfast Polenta with Warm Berry Compote


1 tablespoon butter
3 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Dash of ground cinnamon
(12-ounce) bag assorted frozen berries
3 cups 1% low-fat milk 
1/2 cup dry instant polenta
2 tablespoons sugar 
1/2 teaspoon salt 
To prepare compote, melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add honey, juice, cinnamon, and berries; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Keep warm.
To prepare polenta, bring milk to a boil in a medium saucepan. Slowly add polenta, stirring constantly with a whisk. Stir in sugar and salt, and cook 5 minutes or until thick, stirring constantly. Serve with compote.

Have a berry recipe you'd like to share? Please post in comments!