New Look

Time for a fresh blog-site look, like a new spring wardrobe, a makeover, spring cleaning of sorts. Open the windows let the breeze in and sweep away the musty fustiness.

I spent the week under-glazing mugs, and still working to finish them, and also took a drive up island, to Coombs market to buy corn tortillas. Yes, it’s a thirty minute drive, perhaps too long for a tortilla. But they make them fresh and plentiful stacked in a bag. And it was as good excuse as any to get out on a fine day for a drive. Like a vacation, something we see little of these days, but I’ll take it- humble as it is.

Laying out under-galzing palette colours

And visual stimulation is key. I need it. I am surrounded by trees on a tiny island and sometimes a long drive to anywhere sets things right. A long drive is like an “Artists Date” for me. An opportunity to reload with a bit of new stimulus. Images and sensations flood my visual field, my mind can wonder, yes even while behind the wheel. You know that sensation, the hum of the road, your eyes can stretch in all directions as can your mind, you’re on automatic pilot. Many people get their best ideas while driving.

What also works for me is walking around a downtown, an urban centre. In fact that is my favourite way to load up on stimulus, ideas, material. My downtown of Nanaimo isn’t much, although we have a population of nearly one hundred thousand, we have one old quarter street of any interest. (oops, I’m not being a good ambassador). The rest of the city’s development flows north in a series of malls along a four lane highway. Not lovely. But there is Victoria, an hour and a half away, and of course Vancover, a ferry ride away. These cities I love to wonder through.

Back to Coombs and the market. They didn’t have any tortillas. Next week the sales girl said. Deflated, but undeterred because next to the market in a rustic wooden a-frame is Billy G’s fresh gourmet donuts. Talking small batch.Totally not what we came for but it took the pout off our lips. Fresh donuts are magic. We bought six, which you can’t see in the photo because they are stacked, and in reality was four too many, but how can you not want to try dulce yum-yum or pineapple coconut rum, or strawberry delight, or that one with salted caramel inside?

A side note: The Coombs market is known for their goats that graze on the roof shown behind the box of Yumminess. Unfortunately, it’s too early in the season, so no goats on the roof in this shot. And not many people either. That will change when the weather warms up. Masked and social distanced of course!

This Week

Had an interesting connection with another blogger this week regarding my short story Pocket Watch. MerileeWein.com Doublegeneologytheadoptionwitness found my story and communicated to me that the man I wrote about, Robert McArthur, the owner of the pocketwatch, was her great-grand father. She knew only a little about the 1918 Protection Island mining accident and was happy to have a narrative to flesh out the incident. She told me Robert’s son, her grand father became Chief Mining Inspector for B.C. Obviously he had been deeply motivated after losing his father in such a tragic way. And though I made an attempt to personalize the men in the incident, to make Robert McArthur and the others real and not just names and statistics, that they had lives, and families, and worries, to hear from Merilee further made Robert flesh and blood, with a lineage; I don’t know, I was really moved when she notified me.

I’ve been working over another short story to get it ready for submission to the CBC Non-Fiction Competition. I should say a different story because I had originally began with a story about a sailing trip I crewed on but decided it wasn’t really right for this submission. The story I’m going with now is titled Sue, taken from an event from my childhood that may, or more likely my not, be interesting as an entry or as worthy material; but this isn’t the point. Having a deadline, in this case the end of February, and putting stuff out there is the point. To submit. And I found when I resuscitated the story- I had written the rough draft last year- I heard a “voice” in the narrative that I hadn’t heard initially that I want to expand on. I want to see if I can carry that through, as an exercise.

I still have all my pottery to underglaze over the next couple of days. And I haven’t yet made a mark in my Sketchbook Project. My resolve to “art” every day feels like Dis-solve lately. But all is well, spirit is high and life is good, and we had snow for a few days, so that was fun! (I’m serious, I LOVE when it snows here)

My evening walk, Protection Island, February 2021

Cheers~

Monday Motivation

“Great things are not done by impulse, but a series of small things brought together.” Vincent Van Gogh

Those lightening bolts of inspiration, the creative energy that can burst out like a broken water main to land on a page, or a canvas, or an instrument has had its long formation from a series of tiny elements of thoughts, and experience and observations collected; steeped and layered over a time.

In the Studio

I’ve had a productive week. Sixteen mugs, three small bowls, and a vase thrown on the wheel. I ran the risk of not getting handles attached to five of the white mugs and getting their bottoms trimmed up; I had left them to stiffen a day too long on the shelf, so it was a scramble in getting them trimmed, pulling handles and getting them on. As I was working I knew there would be cracks at the joins, and I really thought I’d missed the window, but with a good roughing and lots of slip I hoped for the best. Then I went on to work with red clay.

Sure enough the next day when I checked the white mugs they had indeed formed cracks where the handles joined the mug. I set to work with a paint brush, vinegar and a flat, wood tool and mended the fissures. I had to do this every day until all the pieces were completely dry. Why Vinegar? It moistens the semi dry clay without adding extra water to the clay because it quickly evaporates. So it gives me enough time to manipulate the softened clay to make minor mends.

Luckily I managed to save all the white mugs. The red clay pieces were carefully monitored as they set up. Then I spent a day trimming the bottoms and pulling handles and attaching them. But checking them the next day I spotted a few of them had small cracks, so out with the brush and vinegar.

I have been making a lot of mugs, trying to get them right. When I first started making them they came out of the kiln so small, not taking into account how much shrinkage happens. Then, when I think I have a good size mug and glaze them, I’m unhappy with the end product after the final firing. In the last firing for example the clear glaze applied over top of the underglaze, was too thick and caused some lumpy and cloudy areas in the final fire. So, trial and error, and practice, practice, practice.

I think I’m getting closer to the size I’ve been after, and the thinness. Tomorrow I’ll be under glazing. I’ve stumbled upon some designs I was quite happy with on my last batch and I’m excited to get to work. Fingers crossed this batch is the charm!

Then I made a mini-Apple Pie and Orange-Fennel Ice Cream, because- balance.

Cheers!

New Look

I’ve made some changes to my Blog- it was time. I feel recovering the creative life, my creative life, is a primary focus now, and felt my blog should reflect that. Art, Photography, Music, Writing, anything and everything that feeds the creative process in living a more richly textured life.

I’ll see where it leads. Kind of excited about it.