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Tuesday 28 May 2013

A sunny weekend, at last.

Hello everyone. Today Mike has gone back to work after 10 days leave. Suddenly I got inspiration for my essay, and I made progress by leap and bound, well, I have exaggerated. It was more like a hop and step! Yesterday I spent four hours wrapping and packing our ceramics made for a wonderful lady in U.S.. I packed six bowls in one box, and one sushi platter in another. The platter was easy. But not bowls. I had spent a long time to figure out how best I could wrap bowls with special protection at the rims. I really use all my brain to pack! Today we have posted them as well as one of my dog sculptures, which is for a lovely lady in UK. Luckily rain stopped when we went to the post office. I felt lucky all day! I hope all arrive safely. Now all I can do is just pray.

This is the sushi platter. It is the largest porcelain platter I have ever made. It is 32.5 cm long. I was worried it might warp, but no, it didn't. I was so pleased with the result, I am thinking to make one for my Etsy shop, and one for ourselves during summer. Believe me sushi taste much better on Japanese plate, and even better if it has a rabbit on it!

Porcelain sushi platter
I have been steadily working on my essay. I wrote introduction and definition and almost finished conclusion. Now I have to fill in between them. 6,000 words are not long, so I have to think what can be included and what not. Luckily my day work has been quiet. Once I finish the essay, piles of financial documents are waiting for me. They would be my bed time reading, I guess.

Over the weekend, we had marvelous weather; warm and bright. A rare combination here in UK. We took our dogs to long walks. When I think about something walking helps me. Walking stimulates my brain. But I found when we were four of us, that is Mike, I and our two girls, there is nothing pensive about. Still fun!
Campus. Full of buttercups


In the garden, we have had sparrow chicks fledged from our nest box, one immediately got trapped in our veg patch (we rescued her). Blackbird chicks are getting bigger. Now they can fly! But they mainly stay in our garden. We keep watchful eyes on them. They bring us such joy!
A blackbird chick with a short tail
A tiny sparrow chick
Also flowers! Cammasia had setback this year, only one has flowered. Yellow climbing roses are in full bloom right now. Flowers make us feel happy.

Climbing roses

Saturday 25 May 2013

Ceramics degree show

Hello everyone. Last night Mike and I went to a preview of degree show in ceramics in Christ Church Canterbury University. We have been to degree show every year for a while. But, this year is different because those girls exhibiting are our friends. I have seen them working so hard and long in the cold studio. Sometimes I have given some of them a bit of advice and encouragement. I feel connected to them.

When we arrived there, each girl looked so proud and beautiful. How lovely to see them like that! There were their family and friends celebrating their show. I had only seen their parts of works in making; of course, they look completely different in displays. They are very impressive.

Claire Sart-She made very atmospheric and sensitive space.

Lenka Bellova - Colourful pots hide very political messages. Visitors were intrigued by her works.

'Navy' Chung. H.T.-She uses ceramics and glasses beautifully. Lovely brains!
Carolyn Arnold - Her unglazed porcelain works are so feminine and delicate. With her porcelain corset

Viv- Impressive large wall pieces. Lovely piece of art.  
From right, Navy, Claire, Lenka and Claire's friend

At the reception, beautiful madame Jane and cute James.
They didn't empty the bottle. It was just very hot! 

If you come to Canterbury, Do visit the degree show. Ceramics department is in Augustine House near East rail station and just outside of the city wall. You won't regret the visit.

Thursday 23 May 2013

Rabbit mask and dogs' misery

Hello everyone. After recovering, I have worked 7/7 and 12/24 to catch up with the six-week-loss. As a mature student with day work, little Online shop to run, animal family to look after, 24 hours seem to be not enough. Still I sleep as much as I need. That's my priority. Mike calls me a dormouse! But I have trimmed down everything else.

Last night we had art critique class. Unusually, all students were present. The time is tight. We have an essay deadline and  the assessment of our works are looming. Those who finish this year had to get their final works to be ready for the MA show in early September. Even I started feeling a bit under pressure, although I am the first year of two years course.

This morning, we found good results of glaze tests in the kiln. Phew! It is one of our favourite glazes, but still when we made a new batch we run a test. After that, we have spent a whole day decorating and glazing pots. It was so cold in the garage, we did it in the house. Messy! We have finished five bowls and one plate today. The plate is being fired in the university kiln right now. The bowls will be fired tomorrow here. I am anxious. When I fire tableware, I am much more anxious than sculptures because there are so many things to go wrong. We are crossing all our fingers!

This is the small rabbit mask I quickly made to fill the space in the kiln. What a fun! This crackle glaze looks so good on the white stoneware clay.
Small rabbit mask

rabbit mask-before


Our dogs have not been very happy this week. We took Topaz and Pearl to a vet for jabs. Pearl was petrified. She attempted to escape from the window of the waiting room. She also hid behind me, whined, barked and needed to go to toilet twice! In the meantime, Topaz was excited. She likes vet visits for some  reason we don't know. She even led us to the vet door, and tried to go inside by herself. Even so, she didn't  like teeth check. Notice the position of her tail. (picture below)

Then this week one of our neighbours is having workmen removing the existing patio and laying a new lawn in their back garden. The sight of the heads of workmen moving above the fence (that's what dogs see!) drove them crazy! They believe that the heads are new types of squirrels running on the fence. They become hysterical and wait for them to appear at the back door. They had to be locked in their crates for a long time. I hope the work would be over soon for everyone's sake!

Topaz will need teeth cleaning soon. : (
Pearl is hyperventilating with fear! 



Monday 20 May 2013

Packing puzzle

Hello everyone. It has been grey rainy Monday here in Canterbury. But I didn't mind it. I was too busy to be bothered by the weather today. First in the morning, I woke up, and got dressed straight away. Mike and I pit-patted to the garage to open the kiln. Ta-da! Success! A little dance! Ceramics were still warm; we picked one by one to check them. Glaze tests went well. Now we can carry on finishing bisque pots and sculptures.

I re-fired Miranda's curse 'Garrulous'. Her story is here. 

Miranda's curse, 'Garrulous'

Miranda's curse, 'Garrulous'
After breakfast at the table (the first time in about one month!) I continued packing my ceramics to be posted. In my experience, multiple sales frequently happen on one day for unknown reasons after a couple of quiet weeks. I had four sales yesterday evening. I packed one last night. I needed to pack two this morning. I am waiting for a confirmation from the last one. Packing the first order took a bit longer than one hour. But the second one took me a whopping two and a half hours!  He is the reason.

I asked Mike to make fitting polystyrene forms to protect a plinth. Luckily to me, he is on leave this week. I packed him like a cocoon. But I was not able to find a suitable box. I have tried two boxes, but neither fitted well. In the end, I had to make one specially. I made it from a large box; It became like a cradle for it. Now I just hope it will travel well. All my fingers crossed.
Triton Packed!
I usually think packing as a puzzle or a game, 3D free cell, so to speak. My sculptures are all different in shapes and sizes; they often give me real challenges. I don't charge my customers for my time for packing although Etsy told us to do it. I must get better at it! As far as there are suitable boxes, it's stress free. A problems is that I can't have all boxes of different sizes and shapes. About a half of customers purchase multiple works, so this makes even more complex than it is already.

I think packing is quite similar to making sculptures. You have to have three-dimensional planning and imagination. So I am making the most of the opportunities to train my brain. Who knows when I am eighty, I might be able to say 'I kept young by packing various sculptures in all sorts of boxes for decades.'    


Wednesday 15 May 2013

Minerva the cat, Ice age child, Miranda's curse and Peter

Hello everyone. Recently it has been cool, about 10-12C (50-53F)  max. in Canterbury. Our heater is full on, and I am wearing winter clothes again. What's wrong with England this year?

 I am thrilled to tell you that I was featured along with multi-talented artist, Joanne May, in a wonderful blog, Mrs Black's This n That, today. She loves fairy tales and vintage fashion. Her blog is full of beautiful images and lovely stories. Please do visit her blog. Minerva, the black cat always welcome you!

Yesterday I have finished marvelous, The mind in the cave, and started another book, Prehistoric art, by Randall White. What a pleasure to read them! I have studied social anthropology for my MA. So it is almost natural for me to chose prehistoric art as the subject of my first essay for my current MA course in Art.

So, I am reading between 100-200 pages a day this week. One problem is that I suffer a poor circulation. After a chapter I get up and walk around the house to pat our sleepy dogs or go to the garden to briefly keep Pumpkin the chicken company. Due to work, I usually stay online for most of the day, but I shut off PC to concentrate on essay preparation, as soon as I finish my day work about lunch time.

Yesterday evening, Mike and I went to the studio to leave a couple of my works in a kiln to be fired; they are too large for our small kiln. We have collected my test pieces, too. Here are some photos I took today.

The charm of masks is that they look different with various light/shadow and angles.

 I took the photo above with natural light coming from below. Light comes from right in the photo below. They look very different!
Light from below

Light from left

This little chap looks same from any angles! I was thinking that he is a bit like a child in the Ice age, especially  as I made him just after I saw the Ice Age Art exhibition. He looks adorable! Nobody could believe that he started a life as a test piece for textures!

He keeps a child safe from harms.

 Now he also got a role to play. As soon as I saw him after firing, I felt that he keeps a child safe from harm. So that's he does!

Test went well. : )
I liked him so much that I made his friend two days ago when I realized that there would be space in a kiln. I hope his friend was safely fired. We will find out tomorrow morning. 

And here is Miranda's curse 'Garrulous'. I will touch up her colours in some parts, and she will get fired again. At this moment, she looks like this. 

Miranda's curse 'Garrulous'

'Miranda lives in a white porcelain house in a dark woods. Villagers live near the woods go to Miranda when there are some wishes or curses to be made. The most common order is from husbands whose wives never stop talking about nothing, the medallion to stop her talking. Miranda makes this and tells a husband to go home and to hang it over the back door in the house. Then when wife starts talking about nothing, her tongue will knot and she can't talk until next morning. Husbands are happy, because they love their wives so they don't want divorce, but can't stand her talking any more.' 
Miranda's curse 'Garrulous'
'The most popular curse from wives is against drinking husbands. There are also wishes, too.

Medallions are not free. Miranda takes a kitten and/or puppy for them. Nobody knows what will happen to them, and nobody has ever seen them again.'

There is more details in this story, but I haven't got time to write it here. I may be able to do once I finish all my must-do things!    
Spooky shadow!

Saturday 11 May 2013

Test pieces before firing and Pearl's joy.

Hello everyone. I have finally attended a class this week; it was my first in this term, I also had a tutorial before that. Due to exhaustion, I left the class early. Angela was showing us her very new works, a film and paintings. Her first ever film was very good. I hope she will publish it soon.

Today our class are supposed to be in the Saatchi gallery in London. Last night, I was checking their  website just in case I might feel better and be able to go, and then realized that all exhibitions are closed today. So I rang Tony who told me that there are only four students were interested. I asked him to ring a lecturer and I rang two, and asked one of them to ring the fourth. The lecturer couldn't be reached, but Tony left a message. So, I guess it was cancelled. Believe it or not, this type of thing is not surprising to me or the other students. Artists are not necessarily equipped with organizing skills, even if they are in teaching positions.

I am reading a wonderful book, The mind in the cave, by David Lewis-Williams. I picked it as my essay material, but it is so entertaining. It is not easy to write something complex and abstract for non-exert readers, but he does it brilliantly. If you enjoyed Ice Age Art exhibition at the British Museum, I highly recommend it.

Mike has thrown more bowls for the lovely lady in U.S.A. He is taking a great care on each bowl. They look good.

I have not gone to the studio for a week. Jane told me it is still like a battlefield. I have a couple of things to get fired as they are too large for our own kiln, but I don't want to leave them in a frantic place, so I will wait.

A week ago, I left some test pieces to be fired. I haven't seen them yet.

A test piece with a face
This part is actual testing part!
 Do you remember this one? I added a face to this snowman shaped piece. It looks more fun!

And these two are a test piece for an idea and colours.

Miranda's curse and Peter
 I also did some finishing on this piece. I made her a long time ago, and finally decided to finish it. I will glaze her lower body.
Millet sprays as ear decoration.
Am I starting a new Japanese calligraphy? Nope, I smashed a bottle of black iron oxide!

Today Pearl had great joy with a packet of Japanese snacks my mother sent me.
Every crumb I can find is mine!


Monday 6 May 2013

Bank holiday weekend

Hello everyone. We have had a busy and lovely three-day weekend. Mike kept himself busy with throwing, and I also made one large sushi plate. We are working for a lovely lady in the U.S.. After making the plate, I started an experiment with an idea I have brooded.  I made a wall hanging with high reliefs.
Red riding hood and a wolf
Initially I was going to make a large wolf alone, but added the little girl. This was not intended to be fired, but after my spending about 7 hours, it might get fired after all.

Between throwing, Mike was attending the garden. Throwing causes back pain, so it is a good idea to do something else for a break

Mike's veg seedlings.
 Pumpkin is hopefully looking up the fork pushed into the soil. She is wondering if somebody is going to cultivate her land so that she could find some delicious grubs.

Is somebody there?
Of course, Mike came and did some weeding for her.
Where are my grubs?
Hurry up!
I came out to put the laundry (dog beds!) in, but couldn't help joining these two. So I started looking for Cave art in the place Mike dug. I looked at several flint stones, but there wasn't any, probably because there is no cave around here!

Lilly flowered tulips opened. 

Left one is has a virus. 
Flowers in the garden look fabulous. Spring has sprung. Warm and bright. We are so delighted. I thought we will not have spring this year.

The cherry blossom in the garden.
Once I had taken photos, I went back to pack my orders; I will go to the main post office by bus tomorrow. Topaz, the post office dog, would be left behind.
Topaz pretends to be dead. : )
After dinner, we popped out to the library of the University of Kent. I got more books on primitive art. They look interesting!



Thursday 2 May 2013

Another dream and Udon, my favourite Japanese noodles

Hello everyone. Two nights ago, I had a vivid dream. The studio was all empty. There was no tables, desks, shelves, throwing machines or any clutters, which are always there. Whole floor was washed clean sparkling. There were three or four children, aged 5-7 were sitting on the floor and playing very quietly. The studio technician, Jane, was standing with a mop or some kind of a stick in her hand. When I woke up I felt some kind of strong feeling that I should go to the studio.

Yesterday I did my first outing since I got unwell. We went to a pet shop to get Pearl's food, and popped in to the studio to leave some of my work to be fired. When I opened the door to the studio building, the room in front of the door, metal workroom, was empty and all white. It was painted for the graduation show. When I went to the ceramic studio, three girls were working busily in silence.

Imagine my surprise! I am still wondering if I have become psychic. I have been interested in shamanism, sacrifice and other kinds of rituals. I have studied them for my MA. But I have never had any psychic power or have never dreamt of having one. But in recent years, I had once received a cow's thoughts (it was simple, 'get me out of here'), and then felt being pulled/called by a large entangled beech tree (once).  Or am I becoming more perceptive? When I told this dream to Jane via email, she asked if I had a dream of the all exhibition preparation had been done magically overnight. Nope, I haven't seen that one. Jane, unfortunately you have to use your muscle for that!

I am getting slowly better. My target is to feel better than the day before. I take about an hour rest each afternoon. I am a workaholic; it is difficult for me to rest. I try to take a nap in the bed, but end up reading a book. Still better than flogging myself at the desk!
So, our dinners have been light this week. Neither of us wants to make an effort. So tiring! I cooked chicken Udon this evening. It is Japanese noodles made from wheat. Udon in soup is a very good sick food. I served mine in the bowl that Mike threw and I recently reduction-fired. I love it. It looks so authentic. I was so pleased with the appearance of the bowl that I will make a couple of sushi dishes for next reduction firing in June.

Chicken breast, Chinese cabbage, broccoli and carrot Udon with ginger

In my own bowl! : )