Friday, February 26, 2010

Pottery Giveaway!

Here is the piece I chose for the
Pie in the Sky Anniversary Giveaway.

This is a high-fired stoneware bowl with a classic Japanese Tenmoku style glaze that we call "Hamada Brown Black." It measures 8 1/2 inches in diameter and is 3 1/2 inches tall.

I chose this bowl because it is one of my earlier experiments with texture. I used a rope to make a textured surface on the outside of the bowl where the glaze could pool (black) and "break" (brown).

The bowl is safe for use in the oven, microwave and dishwasher.

A chance to win this bowl is fun and easy! Take a look at my very first post and post your entry in the comment section. If you discover a wrong answer you can always enter again. Winner will be chosen in a random drawing. The contest is up until Monday, March 1. So far the odds are good for winning!

P.S. Yes! "Cheating" is allowed!

Tasting Cake and Throwing Stones

I had another consultation with a bridal couple yesterday to plan their wedding cake. It's been a good month and I have booked four more wedding cakes.

One of the things I enjoy about making wedding cakes is the contact I have with people planning their weddings. I really like being one of the behind-the-scenes people at an event like a wedding. I carry a lot of responsibility which can cause me to occasionally wake up in the night with a panic attack (What day is it? Did I forget someone's wedding?) but I get a tremendous feeling of satisfaction when I can present a delicious cake that is the centerpiece of the wedding celebration.

The consultations are always interesting matters. I've had every kind of meeting including brides alone, brides with their mothers, brides with their betrothed and brides with their entire wedding parties. Yes, one time I had nine people at the cake tasting. The parents, the siblings and best man were all included and voiced their opinions about the cake. It was an Indian wedding and there was even talk of having a cake that looked like the Taj Mahal. As I recall they had three different kinds of cake and filled cupcakes and had me write up three different estimates for all three kinds of cake. In the end they decided not to have any wedding cake since it wasn't an Indian tradition anyway. All of that and no booking! The funny thing was, that summer Mr. Dirtywrench and I were strolling downtown and happened to walk by their wedding rehearsal dinner celebration on the sidewalk of a hotel restaraunt. The bride looked lovely in her traditional Indian dress and jewelry as she was attending to guests with concentrated devotion. I sighed wistfully as I had been looking forward to serving the cake at what I was sure was a very interesting wedding celebration.

Wedding consultations can be tricky things. Usually the bride and groom have never planned a wedding before and I have to help them find out what they want in a wedding cake. Sometimes the bride knows exactly what she wants and the groom spends the time nodding his head. Sometimes it's the other way around and the groom is the creative and assertive designer with so many ideas that they can't be narrowed down to one flavor and cake style. It is always interesting to see the dynamics of the couple and hear a bit about their story.

A couple of weddings have been canceled when the wedding planning became the demise of the marriage.

The latest consultation has given me cause to contemplate. This couple was from out of state and all of their guests will be coming from far away to attend a destination wedding at a fancy hotel. That is quite an investment in the first day of a marriage. Since the meeting I have been pondering the Bible passage that says, "Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands." I am not a marriage counselor, just a baker, but I have been married for over twenty-eight years and have learned a bit about this house called marriage.

If our marriage is like a house, we want to spend our efforts building it up and making it strong. Words are powerful things and the tongue is a forcible instrument. With our words we can either add stones to build up our house or we can tear the stones out. We can fortify or we can weaken the structure. I know that an engaged couple is still discovering how to become a unit and learning how to work together, but when I spend time with a couple that I have only just met and they feel comfortable bickering in my presence, it gives me a bit of pause. Awkward? Apparently only for me. When it happens so freely, it seems that the habit is so ingrained that it isn't noticed any longer by the two participants.

Maybe I notice these things because I have a husband who is so patient and loyal. His words are always the kind that build up our house. Every night, regardless of what is on the dinner table, he ends the meal with "That was a very good supper." In twenty-eight years he has never cut me down with his words, or said something in a ridiculing, sarcastic way. When I hear someone else talk to their spouse with such words, I am taken aback. Do people talk that way? In front of strangers too?

What this observation and pondering really does is make me look at myself and realize how often I am guilty of tearing the stones out of my house. My words, even in private, need to be more careful, more fortifying. In a marriage, two become one. When we each build up the other with our words, we build up ourselves.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Pie in the Sky Anniversary Contest!

Time's up! Winner will be announced Tuesday morning!

One year ago today, February 25, 2009, I wrote my very first blog post.
My kids made me do it.

So to have some fun and to say thank you to all of you who read along and especially to those who bless me with your comments, I'd like to give away a piece of my pottery!

Uh...I intended to show you a piece of my pottery to entice you to enter the contest, but I forgot to photograph something. I promise I will do that today and get it posted so you can decide if it's worth the trouble to enter the contest. But still....I hope you'll join in the fun and enter anyway, even if you hate handmade pottery!

Here's what we'll do. Following this is a rerun of my very first blog post that only about three people saw. I thought it was worth a chuckle to post again. I know I still chuckle when I read it. It is pictures of my pies accompanied by well-known movie quotes with a certain word substitute. I think they sound much better (i.e. funnier) with my word in them. For the contest today, the challenge is to go to the comment box and tell me the names of the movies that these almost right quotes came from. You should have ten correct movie titles in the comment for one entry in the contest. I will take all the correct answers and randomly choose a winner for a piece of my pottery. I will only use one right answer per person for the drawing but you can enter as many wrong answers as you'd like! The contest will end Monday, March 1 at 9:00pm Pacific time so there will be plenty of time to ask your kids for help or check out Wikipedia if you don't like movies and don't know all the answers!


Name that movie!

(1) "I'll make him a pie he can't refuse."

(2) "You're gonna need a bigger pie."

(3) "Look Daddy! Teacher says every time a bell rings, an angel gets his pie."

(4) "You can't handle the pie."

(5) "May the pie be with you."

(6) "Show me the pie."

(7) "Leave the gun....take the pie."

(8) "Go ahead....make my pie."

(9) "I'll get you my pretty....and your little pie too!"

and one more:

(10) "I feel the need....the need for pie."

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

One little tool, so many ideas...

Earlier this month I did a post about my latest experiments in the studio. Using a trimming tool I faceted some mugs with grooves to catch the glazes.

I started out small and simple. These are the mugs.

I tried the same thing on some bowls.

A few vases.

None of these pots have been fired yet. This is how the clay looks when it is "bone dry" ready for the bisque firing.

All of the marks on all these pots were made with the same simple tool.

I learned a lot about the technique with my experiments.

One thing I learned is that the stages of drying are important in how the cuts look. I'm letting this one dry some more before finishing the carvings to the bottom and then I'll take off all the rough edges with a wet sponge. I think I'll put a handle at the top too.

These will have more done also.

I also really like how the cuts look on the rims of large platters.

I'm definitely doing more of these.

This week will mark this blog's one year anniversary.
I'm going to have a little contest to celebrate.
Stay tuned for a chance to win a piece of pottery!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

A Few Things

It's Monday again.

Schoolwork. Laundry. Dishes.
Rinse. Repeat.

I still haven't picked a color to paint the bedroom.

Tonight I lounged on a leather couch in a dimly lit bar with my honey and had a Limoncello Collins. Two of them.
Limoncello Collins. It's a Good Thing.

I booked three more weddings this month. This year is looking better than last year.

I found these pictures and many more like them on my camera.
Should I wonder how they got there?

It's still February.
A slow news month.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Picking a paint color... harder than choosing a name for a baby.

At least it is for me.

Even though I won't live with the color as long as I'll live with the name, somehow a baby grows into their name no matter what. A room will never grow into a color that is not right for it.

I've made some mistakes with room colors and had to live uncomfortably with the results. Maybe because I have an artistic nature, color matters to me. For instance, I really, really hate beige hotel rooms. So benignly boring. So lacking in imagination. Are hoteliers really so worried about losing a customer offended by blue or green or {gasp} a nice, sunny yellow?

So since I have lived with colors I wasn't happy with, I've decided to no longer commit to a color until I'm sure it's the right hue, tone and shade. I have determined to test, sample and cogitate before draping the furniture and popping the lid on a paint can.

When we painted the exterior of house it took weeks to decide on the color. We took trips around the valley looking at newly painted houses. I painted sample colors on poster board and nailed them to the house. At least eight times. It worked. We like the final choice.

Now I'm working on the bedroom- because it's winter and in winter I have uncontrollable urges to make changes and improvements. I'm almost done with the kitchen and moving on to the bedroom before the crocuses bloom and the urge dissipates.

We live in a little country cottage of a house. The rooms are small and have posed many challenges for a family of nine. This bedroom is crammed with furniture and the clutter is suffocating me. I have big plans to rectify this problem and Ikea is helping me with that. But first I need to paint!

The design experts recommend choosing a color by matching it to an object. I did that last time by looking for the green that was in the bed quilt. I ended up with a minty green that I hated from the first swipe of the paint roller. I hadn't sampled the paint on the wall first to make sure it was what I wanted and I paid the price by living with the mint ice cream color for years.

My first thought was to simply repaint with a better shade of green. Ha! HAhahahahaha!!!!

Green, you say? {snort}

I know I don't want minty green...

how about "grey" green?.....

....or yellowy green?....

....or a "heritage" green?.....

And what tone of that hue is right? Dark, light, medium? Medium dark, pale light?

Oh, nevermind!

How about gold?

Or soothing steely blue?

But which blue??

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Spring Cleaning

It's not spring yet. Technically. But here, I'm sorry to tell those of you who are still snowbound, here- it feels like spring. Nearly (brace yourselves)...60 degrees. Don't blame me. Blame El Nino. The same one causing slush at the Vancouver Olympics. The Boy is causing some sun and temps that mean we can hold back on loading the woodstove every two hours. It's nice.

Usually I head to the big city to attend the garden shows this time of year. Though we decided to skip them I still have the same urge that the garden shows usually trigger- to clean up the flower beds and get them ready for the spring eruptions. There is so much to do!





And this is only about 1/50 of what needs to be done around here. Beautiful gardens are wonderful but they require so much work and attention. It's nice to have the winter break.

It's been so mild that the window box plants are still surviving.

But all it took was a few weeks of real winter back in November and December to break the water pipes in my studio. As usual, I am without water in the studio in February since the plumbing repair will require pulling the walls apart and I just can't deal with that nonsense right now while I am trying to produce some salable pottery.

But at least I'm not digging out a path in the snow like the rest of you. So sorry.

Monday, February 15, 2010

I promise! Spring will come!

So it's February. Still winter. The weather here in the Columbia River Gorge is mild. Very mild. 50 degrees. Overcast. Occasional, very occasional sun. But I hear the rest of the country is experiencing real winter. Are you having fun yet? Building some biceps with those snow shovel work-out routines? Have you taught the kid how to start the car yet so you can send him out to warm it up before you have to get in it?

Well, how about we take a walk in the garden. Let's put on our hat and, not that stocking hat and not those furry gloves....a garden hat and some garden gloves! Let's take the mind off the snow and slush and ice and wind for just a few minutes.

Let's take a garden tour!

Let's try to remember that this too, shall pass and the sun will come out tomorrow....
and the flowers will bloom once again.
Someday. Somewhere.

Without a doubt, the prettiest garden in my neighborhood belongs to my friend Karen. She's just a hop, skip and a jump down the road. Sometimes we cook together or walk her dogs. I often skip down there to tour her garden. Karen is a talented landscape designer and a tenacious gardener. She spends countless millions of hours in her gardens and the love shows.

I can tour Karen's gardens often but the landscape will look a little different every time I see it. Something new will be blooming, or some new shrub will have been added or the order of springtime will give way to the chaotic lushness of summer.

For instance, here's a little arbor that is the entrance to her lovely back garden where raised beds of vegetable plants are surrounded by creeping thyme. This photo was taken in late spring.

Here's the same arbor in its summer glory. Makes me want to cry tears of summer longing...

There is a delight around every turn in Karen's gardens. Water features, bird houses....

...quiet spots for contemplation...

....aahhh.....can you feel it? Take a deep breath! Can you see it?

It is! It's coming!

Some day....I promise.