After the Deluge

Been busy in the studio the last while, the push is on to get one last batch of stuff made and into the kiln before K closes up her studio and moves it into town, which will be the 30th of November. I’m still a little distracted as to how I’ll manage with taking my green ware into Nanaimo for firing now; which translates to : loading delicate greenware (cushioned with copious amounts of bubble wrap) into bins, then into a wheel barrow, push it a quarter mile down the bumpy gravel- heaven forbid it’s raining– road to the dock, load into the boat, go carefully across the water, dock the boat, walk the quarter mile to parkade to get car and drive back down to the marina, park, walk back to the boat, carry bin up the dock to car, then to the ceramic studio and their kiln. It feels like a daunting process. But I have no alternative at the moment, I can’t afford a kiln at this time, and I don’t want this hiccup to dissuade me from continuing with this work. I’m fully enjoying working with clay and feel I’m improving as time goes on.

Squilly is good company

I picked up some alphabet stamps so I can incorporate words with the under glaze, and pretty happy with the outcome. They are all lower case letters and a little tricky to dip in underglaze just enough without blurring out the entire letter. Also the letter “r” can look like a “p”, and the “s” can look like an “f”; so for instance when I printed “sun and rain” around the rim of a cup a friend asked me what I meant exactly by “fun and pain.” I don’t want to have to explain. So I’ll keep my eye out for a capital letter set and also a larger lower case alphabet set.

“small cup big heart”
“sun rain”

I had a surprising request from a neighbour too. She had recently lost her mother and asked if I would make an urn for her. I told her I was honoured she’d ask, but that I’d have to give it some thought. In reality I had to jump on the wheel to see if I could even make one. It must have a lid that fits securely, it must big much bigger than what I’ve been throwing, and it must have a nice shape. I went on You tube and searched out some videos by potters as to the shape of the average vessel and amount of clay I’d need to work with. One potter used three and a half pounds, so I went with that for the first attempt. Looking at it when I finished I thought it seemed on the small size, but then that was likely my inability to utilize all the clay properly when doing my “pulls.” I scaled three more out at four pounds and jumped back on the wheel. When finished these looked more the right size- gosh I hope so – next I scaled out clay for lids. I threw them as I would a small bowl but with an inner rim that would sit down inside the vessel’s opening.

At this stage the deluge descended upon us, the Atmospheric River weather forecasters call it. British Columbia became awash in rain, as did our basement -my studio – 5 inches in fact, while in other parts of BC certainly had much worse. I wrapped the vessels and lids up in plastic to keep them from drying out before I would be able to get back to them to finish, and manned the pumps!

Here it comes! It will fill the entire floor in 5 inches of water

Took a couple of days for the water to go down with three pumps running full time, and luckily we had one day of sun to dry the ground out a bit. As soon as I could get to my wheel I finished off the vessels and lids, did some under glazing on two, let them dry then carted everything over to K’s. Now I wait.

Each lid has a different detail to it. I under glazed the leaves on this one, but I think I’ll leave the body of the vessel with only a clear finishing glaze because I like the grain in the clay that came out when I ran my metal rib around it. And as usual I have my fingers crossed everything comes out nicely in the final firing!

And guess what? There’s a forecast of another “Atmospheric River” headed our way again, but hopefully we’ll stay ahead of the river filling my studio again!

Cheers ~

This Week

I picked up my batch of pottery from K’s studio last week and, happy to say, they came out not too badly- for the novice I am at least. The mugs I was hoping would shine through did in fact. Finally the clear glaze over the under glazing worked! The Antique Blue and Pippen Green glazes I used on many pieces look all right. The Blue on some of them though took on an interesting bubbling kind of behaviour, which sort of looks intentional I suppose, ( but wasn’t). It works in its own particular way and I’ll leave it at that. Funny though, the Pippen Green, when I went to K’s to pick up she had met me in the yard. She said everything came out fine, but then she winced and said, the green came out an odd colour, maybe you’ll like it, but it looks like pea soup to me. When I saw the pieces I laughed and said, I do like it, in fact I love it ! We both shrugged. Beauty is absolutely in the eye of the beholder. I loaded up the bin with all my pieces and put it in the wheelbarrow, and headed the quarter mile home.

Common use of transport on Protection Island.

I lay everything out on my kitchen table for a good look and decide I’m getting a little closer to what I see in my mind translate into clay and glaze. A little closer, in that I don’t feel the discouragement I felt with previous firings. A friend/ neighbour asked if I will sell, she had bought two mugs from a previous firing, I tell her I don’t know yet, she says to keep her in the loop if I do. I’m tempted, because I feel a little pressure to refinance my material costs. And this batch of work looks all right. I give it some thought, but decide instead to work towards creating inventory, to stock pile. The bit of work I have now may be marketable to some but my work will progress over the following winter. There will be more choices, my studio will be full. This decision comes on the heels of our Island’s annual Art Walk that takes place at the end of November. The craft folks here open their doors to their Christmas shopping neighbours, and it’s always a great success. But. I’m not ready yet. Currently on my shelves are lots of less than mediocre pieces; trials and many errors, then I have this small batch of not too bad stuff. So, I’ll wait and work towards having more of the “pretty good” pieces to offer for sale.

Really happy with the mugs- my gosh I was working on those in the middle of summer- finally finished! And how about that little vase in Pippen Green? Pea soup, or do you see what I see, a lovely autumnal golden green? I have a chance to get one more firing in before K sells her house and moves her studio (and kiln!) to town, so I spent an afternoon in my studio throwing bowls with the intention of consistency. I chose out a couple of bowls from this recent firing that appealed to me size, shape wise and wanted to replicate them. To make a set of bowls. At my work table I weighed out a bunch of one pound balls of clay and began throwing. First one was pretty good, although not like the one I was wanting to replicate, but a better one, so I’d use that as my model for the rest of the set. I used my callipers and measured the width and depth of that “perfect” bowl, and, because the same amount of clay, should be easy to throw the rest the same. (insert maniacal laughter here).

So, I have nine distinct unto themselves bowls. Salving my thwarted intentions with the cry, I am not a machine! It IS hard to be consistent. (um, story of my life in fact) It was like, if I held my fingers differently while throwing one bowl to the next it mattered the outcome.

The other four bowls look nothing like these ~

Practice, practice, work, work.

*Apologies for the text on the photos not being aligned correctly when viewed on a phone device. Not sure how to correct that.

Cheers ~

Catch Up

Summer is winding down on the pacific north west, the temperature is cooling, the rains are upon us. I have to confess that while I love the summer heat- and we did have record breaking heat this summer- the warm clear early mornings, and warm sultry nights, I do embrace the transition into Fall. The air becomes richer, especially the petrichor, the rich mineral, earthy smells that come after a rain. I love the cool breezes that coax the leaves from their branches, the changeable weather, the big dramatic clouds, the slanting afternoon light.

I was born in California where the season’s transitions went unheralded, traditional celebration dates like Christmas, Thanksgiving and Easter were indistinct, weather wise. The sky was blue, the air warm. Well, maybe a little cooler in December, but leaves stayed on the trees, and flowers continued to bloom. I remember going with my parents to buy our Christmas tree. It was always in the evening and lights were strung around the fenced concrete lot that was filled with fresh cut trees. Walking into it was like entering a forest, and the smell was absolute heaven. This is the only time I had actually smelled a tree, and it was intoxicating. When I moved with my family to Canada at age fifteen into rural Mill Bay on Vancouver Island I had no trouble adjusting from big city Huntington Beach to life in the woods. I fell in love with the new surroundings, the variety of flora and fauna, the deep lushness of green, the smell of soil, of sea and stone, and especially the changing of the seasons. I experienced my first actual Autumn, then a real winter with snow. Instead of buying a Christmas tree in a parking lot, I trudged through acres covered in snow with a boyfriend to cut the perfect tree down. I ice skated on a flooded field under a full moon and brilliant stars with my new schoolmates. It was off the charts exhilaration to me. But I digress.

I did thoroughly enjoy our heat wave this summer- brought back California days for me- and I set up a spot outside to work under the dappled shade of a sumac tree next to my studio door. I brought my pottery and underglazes out to a low wooden table, put on a straw hat, some great music and immersed into hours of painting mugs and bowls. Then I packed them all up and dropped them at my neighbour K’s studio for their first firing. Yesterday I went to her studio to help unload the four shelves my pieces took up in her kiln. While unloading, K said she is listing her house of twenty years and moving off the island in a couple of months. Funny thing is I had a premonition she might when I bought my new wheel. I remember thinking at the time how I’m making a commitment to ceramics by acquiring this new wheel and then thinking, this would be the time my potting neighbour moves away, taking her kiln with her. What would I do then? I’m in no position to purchase that piece of equipment at this time.

Fortunately there is a ceramic studio, just opened three years ago, downtown -across the water for me- that welcomes drop-in’s, and also work done from private home studios to be brought in and fired for a reasonable fee that includes the use of their glazes. So instead of packing up my pottery in the wheel barrow to take down the road to my neighbours kiln, I’ll be packing it in the wheel barrow and then down to my boat, and then across the water, then pack it up to the car to drive to the studio. Ah, such is the paradise of island life. I have already signed up for an under glazing workshop there in November, so I’ll get a better idea and more information then, but I think it can work out just fine.

Also this summer I celebrated a thirty year anniversary of married life with Bob. Our big date for this milestone was to check out the newly built Malahat Skywalk. It didn’t disappoint, the view was great, just that it’s a view we see every time we drive to and from Victoria from other lookouts on the Malahat. But it’s the construction of the tower that’s an architectural marvel. Next visit I will go down the slide. On the way back up island we stopped in Duncan for a pint and a plate of Calamari. Generally it was a relaxed and simple acknowledgment of years together that shaped into an easy perfect day for us.

My vegetable garden became a garden of volunteers this summer. I planted nine tomato starts, but had many, many other tomato plants spring up all over my garden, seeds from our compost we dug in to the soil in early spring. I decided to allow them to grow where they sprung, which was a crazy, chaotic way to grow a garden. They came up in the bean row, in with the chards and kale, the snow peas. They came up among the several squashes that also were volunteers. Namely pumpkins. The funny thing is I planted pumpkin last year and nothing came of them- this year four beauties, along with little golden pumpkins. The unexpected bonus volunteer that popped up this summer was an avocado. Two in fact! I spied a vaguely familiar stem with long leaves growing near the pumpkins. I dug down and bingo, a split avocado at the root. I have tried countless times with a seed, and the cup of water, and the toothpicks, to start an avocado in the kitchen window. Never successful. So I dug them out and put them in black pots to baby inside over the winter. Look at that two toned squash, beautiful !

Enjoy the seasonal change, get cozy, make cocoa. Cheers to you ~

Volunteers!
The tube slide goes from top to bottom

and Cheers to us !

Motivation Monday

“We work in the dark – we do what we can- we give what we have. Our doubt is our passion, and our passion is our task. The rest is the madness of art.”

Henry James

I must have A LOT of passion.

I have been absent from posting for a time, and I blame the season. (okay, that’s a lame excuse) As I had mentioned in a previous post, when I again had been absent a few weeks, that summer seems to be a busy time with gardening, and happy distractions with family visits, dog training; my mind ill equipped to simmer down and nestle into my writing corner. But that being the case I do have an update coming this week of what I’ve been up to of late. Nothing stupendous or earth shattering, just the bit of goings on in my studio, a proud moment in a local bar, ( proud and bar, words that normally should never be uttered together in a sentence but take an exception here), and I’ll share the view from 250 meters in the sky marking a thirty year celebration.
Cheers ~

Wheel Time

I made some small dishes this week with fitted lids. This was a first attempt at lids, and I have to say, I came pretty close to not bad. The dishes are sized to hold a small wheel of Brie cheese, so it was good practice making a series of pieces to a certain size. I threw the lids “off the hump” as potters say, which meant I could pull three lids from a one pound ball of clay. Below is one lid in the making. I slice that off, then begin another one from the remaining clay on the wheel. (I haven’t figured out how to make and post my images smaller, so please forgive me the massive photos!)

When it was time to trim the lids I had some difficulty in how to secure it to the wheel and centre it; because I had the knob to consider I couldn’t just flip it over and trim. I wound up making a “chuck” using a small cup. I padded the rim of the cup with a ring of clay, and then centred and secured the chuck on the wheel. Then I placed the lid upside down on top of the chuck, centred the lid, and then was able to trim it. That seemed to work, but it was somewhat finicky, and I thought there must be another way so I watched a you tube video on how to trim lids. This is so me. It would have been a good idea to do that first, because I saw there was an easier way to make/trim lids. And yet the lids, when finally done, do actually fit very well on their little pots, so I got off lucky this time. I’m wiser now when I make another set.

The white dish is a plastic Brie container I used for reference. The dish in the back right with the fluted edge was my way to salvage that particular lid. I had trimmed it too thin at the edges, and was about to scrap it, then thought to turn the edges in decorative way- saved!

What I’ve learned about how to make a lid is to throw it upside down, like a little dish, this way the inside rim is already done. It’s sliced off the wheel or hump and the top knob is made the next day by placing and centring the lid right side up on the wheel and with the surplus clay left when the lid/dish was removed is trimmed into the knob. Genius. No mucking about with a chuck. Wait, I don’t want to speak too soon, not until I actually try the other method, and see how they come out. That is my focus the next couple of days; Dish With Lid Project! These little dishes, when finished, are intended to be sent to my daughter in Sorrento. She has a business called The fridge Light, (on instagram @thefridgelight /www.thefridgelight.net) and she’s asked if I could make her little brie pots for her Charcuterie boxes, how could I refuse her and the practice I need?

My songwriting I think has taken a vacation. I have been working on a song off and on but nothing seems to be jelling, so I won’t push it. The previous ones I have written and posted came together each week- many times on the challenge’s cut off day- almost of their own accord. But I did spend a lot of time letting themes and lyrics stew in my mind over the challenge week, then would cram an entire day or two with the guitar in finding chords and a melody, then hours rewriting, well, you get the idea. I was like a college student cramming for finals with pin point focus. I loved/ love the process, but these days my energy is on other things I guess, so I’ll just go with it for now.

Today I received my second vaccination of Pfizer, and hoping I won’t wake tomorrow with a reaction of covid symptoms. Bob had none with his a few weeks ago, nor my son or daughter. But I know friends who were hit hard after their second, so fingers crossed.

Cheers~

Monday Motivation

“Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity, and change.” Brene Brown

It has a bad rap. We see being vulnerable as being weak. Letting our guard down means we can be susceptible to the slings and arrows from others. We can be “taken down.” We are tacitly encouraged through life to keep vigilant watch over the armour we wear in public; never let ’em see ya sweat, or cry, fall or fumble. Never let them see you be afraid, silly, or frivolous; never let them see you be human. We all have the desire to avoid being seen in our vulnerable states, and we do our best to keep up appearances by angling a flattering light on our qualities and strengths just so. Because what if, horror of horrors, while in a vulnerable state we have just met someone whom we probably will not see again? We won’t have the chance to show them our more solid, intelligent, confident, brilliant sides. We say to ourselves, oh off they go, thinking I’m this wing nut, or this sad, or frivolous, or untalented person. They will have an untrue image of who we think, who we know, we are, which now only muddies the vulnerability waters with the, What Will Others Think neurosis, followed close behind by its bothersome cousin the People Pleaser. The whole business is exhausting!

A large part of my creative recovery is trying to be conscious of my vulnerable states, and to allow them room. The songwriting I’ve been doing is the most vulnerable for me so far because it was a whole new thing for me to “put out there,” and because lyric writing feels very intimate and personal. And I already know I feel vulnerable about painting because in my head I’ve seemed to have created a critic who is waiting to pounce on the first brushstroke with, what the hell is that? I am still avoiding starting a painting. The easel sits at the ready with canvases stacked beside it. What will I say with paint? It’s been so long since I’ve painted anything, what if the work I produce is shallow, boring and trite? Am I shallow, boring and trite?!

Just writing that makes me cringe and say, Oh Pa-LEEEse, spare the dramatics, and get over yourself.

Yet I know down to my deepest self that to expose our soft underbellies, worts, beauty marks, and all, is to break through self imposed static and limitations and allow real growth to happen. I know this. Practicing it is the tricky part. Getting comfortable with vulnerability and allowing others to see it is masterclass league. Baby steps y’all.

Cheers~

This week

My regular postings have lagged, yes I know, busy days are whizzing by and the hours within them seem like mere minutes. I tell myself I will write and post in the evening, but by then I’m done and in bed by nine. Currently I’m nursing a knee injury that I hope won’t incapacitate me for too long, but it slowed me down enough to allow me to get my WP post done because I have to sit! Previous to injury I have been getting some work done on the wheel, but I’ve done no writing on any of my stories. Finding that quiet, reflective time has been elusive to me lately but I am consciously moving to reinstate a set block of time each morning for planting myself at my desk and committing three hours to the page as I was doing not so long ago. Songwriting I suppose has been filling the “writing” quotient the last three months, taking the place of my other writing, but even songwriting has dropped out over the last three weeks; again it’s finding that reflective stretch of time. I do however have a song I’ve started working on, began writing two days ago and expect to post on Sunday. (Hmmm, maybe knee nursing is just the thing, I can’t do anything else right now but sit and write, play guitar!)

Last week in the studio I decided to make some large bowls. I had previously made some small bowls; I hadn’t gotten my new wheel or throwing bats yet, and I had some challenges removing my little bowls from the wheel head, but still managed to without causing much damage. Now that I have my new wheel, and removable bats, I knew the first thing I wanted to try out was to see if I could make a larger bowl since I now wouldn’t have to sweat over trying to slide the finished piece off the wheel head, or have to leave the bowl on the wheel to set up until the following day before removing it, tying up my wheel for hours.

So I weighed out and wedged nine balls of clay ( I have 9 Bats) at three pounds each. I would test myself to see if I could actually make something larger than a mug or cereal bowl. I had never thrown anything on the wheel over one pound, and if I may indulge for a brief second, I am happy to say each large bowl came out rather good- well, a true professional potter could likely squeeze out even bigger bowls with three pounds of clay, but mine came out well proportioned, not too thick, not too thin. Usually in a throwing session I’ll have a couple of pieces that go awry and need to be tossed back out on the board. This session however, all nine bowls were brought straight to satisfying completion. I popped out the bat and bowl off the wheel head, set them aside on the table overnight and the following afternoon removed them from their bats easily without warping the bowls. So, I was kinda thrilled. And I am loving my new wheel.

Fresh big bowls still attached to their bats, soon they’ll be removed and bottoms trimmed. I placed my little one pound bowls beside my three pound bowls for comparison.

Next I thought I’d try marbling my red, and buff white clay after watching a youtube video on it. I combined the two clay bodies and wedged out six, one pound balls, and started throwing. Very soon I was having difficulties. I had been careful when wedging the clay because I was attempting to not over blend the clay too much and lose the distinct white/red marble, but it meant I still had air bubbles in my clay, so after I scraped the two failed pieces off the wheel (see, I told you!) and tossed them back on the table I re-wedged the remaining four balls, hoping there will still be enough marbling running through. Not the case. The clay did become more on the homogeneous end of the marbling spectrum after more wedging, and the ones that I scraped off the wheel, after re wedging them they was no marbling at all in them, just a pale shade of red by the time they became mugs. But there was some marbling clearly coming through on two of the mugs which made me happy.

Some marbling came through

The shape and size of the mugs came out nicely I think; I just finished putting the handles on a couple of days ago. I have been pulling handles for all the mugs I’ve been making, but this time I rolled out a slab of buff clay and cut strips for handles. Next step is bisque fire and glaze and I’m debating if I should use underglaze again because I’m concerned as to how they may turn out due to the issues I’ve been having with the final clear glaze with my previous pieces. I do have a new clear glaze to try out that comes premixed, which should eliminate any clouding, or opaqueness problems I’ve been having; but, I’m still hesitant to commit this last body of work to a possibility of it failing again, so maybe I’ll just do some test tiles instead! I do have “regular” glazes I could use too, which are predictable in their outcome, more or less.

Handles on

So, with a hobble and a hitch I’ll see about finishing that song next. Cheers to all ~

Monday Motivation

“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost.” Martha Graham

Ok. No pressure there.

I love this quote because it dispels the acquiescence we (I) can slide into. This quote tells me I have an obligation to fulfill my creativity, to whatever the outcome. There is some gravitas to this quote.

There is debate on “uniqueness” and “individuality” that argues these lofty attributes are false, they don’t exist but in our minds; we are told we are all the same, and to believe what we have to express is unique from any other is delusional thinking. You’ve heard the saying; Be unique, like everyone else. Yet when I consider a flower for instance, I can say to you, reader, I’m holding a flower, you would perhaps have a certain image of a flower in your mind you have seen somewhere, a favourite flower perhaps; a flower is a flower after all, you think. Then if I show you the flower, you will discover it most likely isn’t the one you imagined, because there are billions of diverse expressions of “flower.” And without that diversity the gardens would be a dreary place to dwell indeed.

Be a flower.

Hiatus

I followed my advice from my last Monday Motivation post on the 14th and took some time. Not to say I didn’t have a lot going on these last two weeks. I also took a break from my weekly songwriting challenge, I saw I was leaving the writing till the very last day before getting something down; although I have been happy with what I’ve been writing. When I am working on a song I tend to put everything (and everyone) else aside and want to immerse myself in the task, but I have been too preoccupied with other things of late, like selling my kayak and my old second hand pottery wheel, family visits, and garden work.

When I listed my kayak, I had several buyers contact me, so it went fast to say the least. Initially I hesitated in listing it, I had an image of me paddling through Dodd’s Narrows and following the chain of gulf islands down through the inside passage, camping along the way, until I reached SaltSpring Island. But I had to face the fact that I hadn’t used the kayak much in the few years I had it; my left hand had a tendency to go numb after a short time of constant paddling, and Bob was nervous about my safety and wanted to “escort me” in our powerboat whenever I went out. Sweet man. I had wanted him to get a kayak too, in fact the neighbour I had bought my kayak from had two to sell, his and his wife’s, but I couldn’t convince Bob to buy the other one- his reasoning was; why would I choose to confine myself into a short tube and strain my arms and shoulders paddling when we have a 30 foot sailboat with bunks, and a head (toilet), and an ice box (beer), and wind power (relax with beer while effortlessly slipping through the water) ? He has a point.

I reallocated my Kayak money to buy something to which I have a greater need; a new Shimpo VL Whisper electric wheel. It’s small and compact and entirely quiet when running- unlike my old wheel which was very noisy. I couldn’t listen to music or podcasts while working, and after working a short while my ears would have enough ! I listed my old wheel on our island community email, and Protection Island face book page and right away had several responses; I have someone coming to pick it up tomorrow morning. I paid $75.00 for it from a neighbour three years ago and selling it for the same price.

My old electric kick wheel

When I finally got my new wheel home I spent an entire day rearranging my studio space. The new wheel is so beautifully compact I actually have more workable space now. I also bought a universal Batt set up that comes with five removable Batt inserts. Game changer.

My new Shimpo VL whisper wheel
The Batt system with insert.

This is the Batt system in place; you can see that the centre square piece easily lifts out. Now I won’t have to worry about denting my freshly thrown pieces when I remove them from the wheel head; not so bad when removing mugs, but I’ve had real challenges removing bowls from the wheel without altering their shape, even after several passes with the wire. Now it’s time to get busy !

I will also resume my weekly song challenge. I have been getting a lot of personal satisfaction from this project and wish to continue it as a creative practice.

Cheers!

Monday Motivation

Sometimes the best thing we can do to tap our creativity is to leave. Go out, do something different, see something different. We may think we are being “unproductive” but our subconscious will be at work pulling in millions of bits of information, feelings, nuances that can bring a ton of inspiration; from a sound, a sight, even a smell can trigger some deep seated memory or emotion. Inspiration can come from the way light enters a room or spills across a street and onto a building. As a creative it’s too easy to dwell continually in ones own head. And yes, it’s what creatives need to do. That quiet concentration and focus requires shutting out the external distractions for a time. Then, we have to recognize when it’s time to leave our head or to look at it another way, open up the windows and let the fresh air in, let the view in. It doesn’t have to be much, or an expensive outing. Pack a lunch and be Huck Finn for spell.

That’s what I’m doing today. I’m heading up island with my sister and plan to hit the thrift, and antique stores. A good ol’ Rummage is what’s on the menu today, and maybe a walk on the beach.

Cheers~

Songwriting Challenge

As per the weekly songwriting challenge this one is late to posting. I didn’t approach writing this song until two days ago, because I didn’t know how to distill down what I wanted to say into a few stanzas. I wish you to know these are personal opinions I’ve long held. I don’t wish to be inflammatory to the reader. It’s not this particular blog’s format to voice political/racial topics, but as it relates to expression through art, in this instance, music, I feel compelled to share the thrust behind the song I wrote.

With recent events concerning the Kamloops Residential School and watching the documentary Exterminate All the Brutes, by Raoul Peck earlier last week, my heart was (is) awash in a consuming sadness for the lack humanity we can inflict on others. I never will understand what it is that makes any one group subjugate another, and it’s sickening we build on this heinous legacy still today.

Why do we give our logic, reason and compassion over to charismatic individuals (dictators and religious leaders) believing we must do their will, follow their orders? What goes through the mind of someone under the influence of those characters? They surrender autonomy to their so called “greater cause;” they no longer think for themselves, falling under a kind of herd insanity perpetuated by delusional individuals in positions of authority. Fear plays the largest part in this scenario most certainly; fear of retribution by torture and death under a dictatorship (pressure from a physical presence, but one they could have, at the least, a slim chance to fight against) and fear of eternal damnation and suffering under religion (something invisible and deemed all powerful); both entities steeped in fear and control. What recourse does an individual feel they have within an existence of assumed hopelessness and incapability to rebuke their “authorities;” to think/believe it’s out of their hands because it comes from a “higher order,” which they interpret as exemption from all responsibility of any wrong doing. It’s easier to believe, to go along, than think critically.

Awareness, and courage to stand up and recognize social, religious and political madness when it presents itself, in all its guises, is lacking in us. I don’t have an answer. I wish I did.

We are ONE RACE. ONE SPIRIT. ONE HOME.

Believe D. Brint June 8, 2021

Before you did what can’t be undone, before the smoke blocked out the sun

What were you thinking just then, when you shut the doors and sealed them in

Did you question how this came to be or did you think, better them than me

It’s easier to believe

It’s easy when it’s out of our hands

Kneel beside that fresh running stream

The pure water washes them so clean

When you took that oath of love and light, what made you believe you had the right

To lay claim to all land and life, then chain the hands and force the knife

Believing your acts were sanctified, is this how your god is gratified

Its easier to believe

It’s easy when its out of our hands

Kneel beside that fresh running stream

The holy waters wash them so clean

Centuries long trail of blood and tears, carved under the boots of greed and fear

This merciless lust for domain over people, land and souls is profane

But we can find our crimes redeemed, cleansed in that pure water stream

It’s easier to believe

It’s easy when it’s not in our hands

Kneel beside that fresh running stream

The pure water washes them so clean

Monday Motivation

A friend shared this TED talk on her face book page and I’m glad she did. Charlie Mackesy is an artist, a cartoonist, an author of the children’s book; The boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse. In this talk he shares his experience of bringing together a group of elderly people and freeing them up through drawing. His story is quite profound and inspired. Be Messy !

This Week

I picked up my mugs from K’s yesterday and, sigh, the clear glaze, again, didn’t quite do what it was supposed to do. I have to admit though that most of the mugs, although they didn’t come out as I had expected, are still acceptable. One in particular though- the photo top left, came out particularly heinous, but K said I could re-fire it to correct the “holes”. As you can see, the clear glaze fired whiteish and a little thick in places and clouded the detail I had painted, but on some of the pieces it also kind of “works” as part of the overall glaze effect. So, feeling somewhat ok about this batch of ceramics, (looking for perfection in imperfection!) But, we do have another clear glaze we are going to try out. It comes already mixed in a four quart container, and if that doesn’t work I will put aside underglazes for the time being until we get it figured out- I mean how hard can it be?! ( well, apparently….)

In the meantime I will revert to the usual glazes we normally see on pottery.

Got out for a sail yesterday, and although the winds were iffy to none (still indoctrinating Squilly -aka Sequoia- to sailing, so picking gentle weather days) we were entertained by a small pod of five Orcas for two hours! They were too far off for my iPhone camera, but close enough to see their details with the binoculars. There was a lot of full body breaching and tail lobs (slapping) the entire time! That much action is a rare occurrence to witness so maybe there were two happy groups meeting up and communicating, or they might have been hunting salmon, and communicating about the school of fish they found, who knows, but it was spectacular. After the first hour people heard the news of the pod and three Whale Watching boats showed up and then a few private power boats arrived to have look. All keeping a respectable distance from the pod.

The garden is growing, I have three support structures I need to build for the pole beans that are now four inches high- better get on that, like Jack and the beanstalk they grow fast from this point on. The pollinators are out in full force. This one bush in particular in my backyard, a Grevillea type- Canberra Gem, really attracts the bees, hummingbirds and butterfly’s and I managed to sneak a photo of this Western Tiger Swallowtail beauty.

Cheers!

Original songwriting challenge

A day late and a dollar short but here it is. I wrote this song today beginning to end, and rushed to record and post so to at least get it in the ballpark of the weekly challenge I set. The idea for this song began, as per usual it seems with this practice, as a very different story. But after several re writes another story began to emerge. Let me first say the inspiration for the song came from a hike Bob, his niece, and I did on Saturday. We had intended to hike up Mount Benson, a local mountain in Nanaimo. We did a bit of a climb but decided instead to descend and walk around the lake at the base of the mountain. Witchcraft Lake. We had our picnic lunch on the gravel shore next to the long, narrow, brown lake. It was a beautiful day entirely; warm and sunny, Squilly was in her unbounded glory, but of course the lake’s name stuck in me and had to be the theme for a song. I mused over it yesterday, and then spent all day today writing lyrics about the lake in a literal vein. It was when I decided to turn the lyric and tone of the song into a tale of loss and magic that it seemed to gel and take some shape. I had fun writing this.

Witchcraft Lake D. Brint May 31/2021

At the foot of the mountain where columbine bloom

There’s a path my love and I did take

It was long and narrow and led through the woods

To the stoney shore of witchcraft lake

The water was cold and the colour so brown

With a hollow tree pale and sharp as a stake

And the wind whistled through it an eerie lament

That lulled my love at witchcraft lake.

The music was soothing, gentle and sweet

And he lay himself down on the cold grey slate

I saw his soul get spirited away into the depths of witchcraft lake

I ran to the waters edge calling his name all through the night until day break

Then I turned to find his body was gone

But his voice rose out of witchcraft lake

Turn and go he said, there’s nothing for you here to remain would be a grave mistake

And know that I love you but I’ll be free no more

My soul’s bound to witchcraft lake

I give you fair warning if you find yourself there to spare you from certain heartache

For if you tarry you’ll lose your love to the wiles of witchcraft lake

At the foot of the mountain where the columbine bloom

There’s a path my love and I did take

It was long and narrow and led through the woods

To where my love lies deep in witchcraft lake

Monday motivation

“Have no fear of perfection, you’ll never reach it.” Salvador Dali

These words bring me some comfort. Of course we all want to do things as well as we can, become “proficient” at our craft, take pride in a task well done, a skill mastered. And we do want it to be perfect. When it isn’t, many of us chastise ourselves feeling we’ve missed the mark (hello). I hold myself accountable to that, and with following through with a project, and I feel a little anxiousness build when I begin to slip. A fear of not perfectly accomplishing what I set out for myself; if I let that slip then all may be lost. (which, I am aware, is a ridiculous thought- but there it is). I also understand that to let this anxiousness dominate is counter-productive to creative thought and practice, nothing will come of it but tension. But, I can get caught up in a vicious cycle when this dynamic happens.

I am noticing more often now what my mind set is when I enter into a creative head space; funny I never paid attention to this before. But I do believe that over the last several months, maybe the last year, and with the help of committing to this blog, I’ve been conditioning myself to build and recognize the climate that allows creativity to expand and to overtake the mundane, and I have become aware of how this “feels.” I have been able to keep more ideas for art/creative work as the frontrunner in my thoughts and daily structure. Interestingly, I am becoming familiar with how I prepare myself internally, how I encapsulate my attention and focus. And I’m familiar with how satisfying it is to blur my surroundings and sharpen my vision to only the creative work at hand. This is a space I love to be in. A space I had forgotten I once inhabited a long time ago when an art student. I can honestly forget everything (and everyone) else and submerge into that space. An alienating prospect for an artist’s non artist spouse! (fortunately, he understands and supports)

Life has had, and continues to have, its myriad of distractions, pleasant and otherwise, that will always vie for attention. My aim now is for balance while keeping my inner eye trained on a soft but protective boundary that encircles my creative space. I can find a modicum of perfection in that arrangement. As for the work coming out of that arrangement, I will look for the perfection in its imperfection.

A bit of a ramble.

Cheers~

This Week

I suppose the title should read The Last Two Weeks since I didn’t post last Thursday. As I had mentioned on my Sunday Songwriting post (that was posted a week late)- things got busy with putting the vegetable gardens in, errands into town to get stuff for the gardens etc. We also managed to get out for a sail one beautiful sunny day, our first of the season, and Squillie’s first sail ever. We picked a calm day with light winds so she wouldn’t feel threatened when the boat leaned when under sail. She did great! Nervous, but she held her composure like a champ for our four hour cruise in the Strait of Georgia

Sequoia’s first sail

I’ve been getting some writing done in the mornings. It’s funny that I am retired, my schedule is of my own making, and yet to lock myself down in the chair for three hours in the morning is harder than it sounds. Especially this time of year. I’d already been out for my two mile walk at six thirty, I make breakfast, wash up and now, I say to myself, sit down to work. But the sun is up and the day outside beckons me like a cheerleader with a bullhorn. So I think, maybe I should do the outside work first, then come in and write. And many times I do that, because I feel guilty for being in the house at my desk until noon when the day is gorgeous. That arrangement doesn’t help my writing, I know my best time for doing anything creative is at the start of the day, when my energy is winding up and I really need to honour that. By the afternoon I really lack any creative focus other than making dinner.

I spent three hours today putting the final clear glaze on my clay work- at last! That was a long wait for the first firing. I was excited to see my mugs, it’s been a couple of months, and I was concerned about how much they may have shrunk in the firing, as has been the case with my past pieces. When I saw them today I was really happy to see their size was just what I wanted, and really happy with my designs and underglaze colours. K usually has the clear glaze already mixed up, but not this time, so I made up a big bowl of clear glaze and set to work dipping the mugs. Now the wait for the final firing and keeping my fingers crossed the clear glaze doesn’t come out milky and too thick this time. This last firing phase has been the frustrating part for me, the time and effort spent in making the pieces, and then the end product is less than satisfactory. But here’s hoping for a stunning reveal this time!

This is how the pieces look before I coat them with clear glaze, which doesn’t look clear at all when its applied just white and chalky. Now they wait for the glaze firing – the final fire- and oh I hope they emerge like little jewels!

Cheers!

Monday Motivation

For this Monday’s motivation I am sharing a bit of what I had written in my Morning Pages the other day. But first I need to clarify, in case you haven’t read the book The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. He writes about The Resistance. It doesn’t relate to any political agenda, not waging a war and overthrowing the powers that be. But it does relate to a war of sorts. The Resistance is the critic, the chattering monkey in your ear that says; just stop doing what you think you can do, because you know and I know you can’t do it. Why are you wasting your time? “Resistance is the war within.”

We’ve all had this inner dialogue at some point, if not all the time, anytime we take up a new venture or work away at an ongoing project and self doubt rears its poopy head. The chattering monkey, the self doubt, the self defeating inner critic IS the Resistance.

In my M.P I wrote:

I’m fighting against Resistance right now. I’m fighting against the challenges and expectations I’ve set for myself. I’m fighting to believe I have anything worth saying. One part of me says why set challenges or goals? The other part of me frets over each hour of the day when I’m not meeting the challenges and goals I’ve set; not doing the work. I can be near frantic if I let time slip or lapse one day- then two, that it will be too late to regain ground. I worry I will lose all momentum. I have a raging conflict of interest within. A part of me appears to have an interest to give up with the self imposed expectations, hang out, I’m sixty-three, it’s done. Any work I do or input I have from this point on has no merit, so chill. The other part of me says the exact opposite.

The other part of me ( the stronger part) has an interest in the exact opposite.

This is classic Resistance at work. My inner dialogue was sliding under Resistance rule, I was almost believing those words to “give it up”. It was only as I was writing it out in my Pages that I saw it for what it was. In fact as I was in the act of writing it out, I recognized immediately the seductive, slithery, slippery voice of Resistance.

How could I tell? Looking at what I wrote I knew I didn’t believe the words “give it up”. I think I saw those words as what others would expect of a sixty-three year old woman. The status quo who says, why put yourself in situations of having to meet “unnecessary,” self-imposed expectations, why challenge yourself when you don’t have to? What do you really hope to gain at this point? Because I recognized where that voice was coming from I had an opportunity to rally my better self and shake off the self defeating babble.

Setting personal challenges is the prodding, pointy end of the stick I use to ignite, motivate, to see what I can do. What I want to do. Because it can be too easy to succumb to acquiescence and let self discovery, and growth atrophy; and to allow that to happen is a kind of long, slow death with missed opportunities to blossom. And there is no excuse or reason under the sun to deny ourselves that privilege.

Cheers ~

Sunday Original Songwriting challenge

I hadn’t planned to take a week off from my blog, but it happened. I have two words for that, Spring and Garden. The season is amping up with lots to do. The past few days were busy with buying seeds, preparing the soil, plotting, and planting, and the days flew by. Vegetable garden is in, now only to wait for signs of promise.

I wrote this song Sunday, May 16 but didn’t get it recorded in time for my deadline (and neither Monday or Tuesday), so I decided to surrender to tardiness and carry it forward to this week.

For this week’s song a lullaby came out. But, I do have four small grandchildren, so it’s a handy song to have, uh, on hand, and the Ukulele seemed like the perfect instrument choice, and my first song written on it.

Little Baby Mine D.Brint May 16, 2021

The sun is heavy and low in the sky

See how he slips down behind the trees

The deer have all gone back in the woods

The birds have hushed their singing

The stars begin to blossom in the night

Their twinkling eyes look down from heaven

And the moon glows so bright

To watch over your safe keeping

Hush little baby mine, sleep is nigh

Hush little baby mine, close your eyes

You float like a leaf on a breeze so soft

Drifting and swaying to and fro

The moon peeps out from her starry loft

In the wink of an eye you’re sweet dreaming

The stars begin to blossom in the night

Their twinkling eyes look down from heaven

And the moon glows so bright

To watch over your safe keeping

Hush little baby mine, sleep is nigh

Hush little baby mine, close your eyes

Monday motivation

“Don’t think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding make even more art.”

Andy Worhol

Shut out the chatter and carry on!

P.S. The feature photo is the art of my three year old granddaughter who love to draw all the time 🙂

This Week

Spent a day with a good friend, then another day with my sister as we walked through Little Qualicum falls, and also rummaged in a vintage store where found a sweet small cake stand. Then I spent a bit of time wondering the abandoned exhibition grounds at Beban Park while Bob got his vaccination, and took some photos. All in all a recharging week off the little rock I call home and found some inspiration in my escapades.

Motivation Monday

“The chief enemy of creativity is good sense.” Pablo Picasso

Easier said than done! As we grow up we become layered over time with so many “should’s” and “better not’s” and “what will people say” that we shrink into a homogenous, bland, colourless expression of our child selves for the sake of “fitting in” to the stats quo.

I’m going to keep looking for ways to allow some of my actions/ activities to fall under the definitions of Just because and Why not.