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Monday 31 March 2014

Mike and Midori go to the ZOO!

What a fun! We went to Howletts wild animal park yesterday. This animal park is focused on breeding and conservation of rare wild animals. So you won't see ordinary zoo animals here. There are no giraffes, no zebras or no hippo. They are world leading institution for gorilla breeding.

Luckily we live about 15 minutes' drive from the Howletts. I wanted to visit there last year, but due to the murderous schedule I had then, I couldn't find time to go. If you visit once, it is expensive, about £24.  But at the same price you can get an annual pass. So we bought passes, planning to visit at least twice more!

Zoo has been one of my favourite places to visit since I was young child. To be able to see animals close is so exciting!  It was a warm day, up to 21C (70 F) and Mothers Day! It was fairly crowded. There were loads of toddlers on buggies. I had never seen so may little ones in one place before!

Mike's back. English (and Japanese) are so used to queuing up! 

First we went to see Black rhino.  Each one is in each paddock. This one was the farthest end when we arrived. But soon it started coming down, I shot a few photos with zoom.

Woah, he is coming!

He came to the gate to a next paddock where another rhino is in. 
 Then he stopped and sniffing around the gate.
We witnessed live action of marking! 
Then he did marking! This was the first of many markings we would see on that day! 

Close- up - the white line is his... mark! 
In the end, we saw him marking backward several times.  It is such wildness or what!

Then we saw young elephants, sleeping wild dogs and several monkeys.

We walked to red river hog enclosure. They are so sweet. They have bodies like little barrels. Their ears and tails  have tassels. The spooky thing about them, though, is that they have human like eyes! I just imagined each has a human inside!  
Their noses are always on the ground.

Red river hog
Meal time! Eastern Javan Langur are more peaceful than macaques.

I have got an itch eye. 

I like eating alone in peace. 

I have got an itchy foot! 

But the highlight of the day was the Anteater! We were completely taken back!

What an unusual animal he is! I had only seen one once in London zoo from a distance a long time ago. He was busy looking for something. Putting his long nose into the soil here and there. Incredible animals! The eyes are so gentle. I talked to him, and in the end, he came close within 1m. The he sniffed at me with his nose in the air. Snif snif snif, you live with nasty dogs.... snif snif snif.  How delightful!

A half of his nose is under the ground! 
The estate has a mansion and and vegetable gardens as well as large greenhouses. A small walled garden was very colorful!

We had such a good time. We only stayed there about three hours, but our legs hurt! We are thinking to visit  there before Easter to see baby animals!

Howletts Wild Animal Park

Thursday 27 March 2014

Creation and destruction

It has been a strange week. Creation and destruction are going together in my studio.

Today I did bisque-firing. Before loading yesterday I had to do mock-up to make sure that it all will fit.

15 minutes of puzzling.
 They are all tall pieces, except for this important being, Ice Baby.

Ice Baby
The female figure is as high as I dare to make. There is no much space above her in my small kiln.  That's why I have to make heads and bodies separately!

This it one of the tightest loading ever.

Regarding destruction, I have removed ears and hair from the rabbit head. She returned to a round head. I decided to fire her as it is.

Over the last few days, I have made five heads, and destroyed two of them. And one became a small mask. Something is not right, and I can't get into the groove.

She will be fired as a mask.
Despite my frustration, dogs are lazy and happy. It has turned chilly, so they don't want to get out of their beds. Pearl has never been early riser. Look at her. :D

I don't like cold.

Tomorrow morning, I will see if all is fine in the kiln.

Monday 24 March 2014

Flow? In the zone? It's madness!

What a weekend! Saturday was our wedding anniversary. We wanted to visit London to celebrate, but direct trains were not running due to track repairs after the flooding. So we went for an anniversary dinner on Friday evening at our favourite restaurant. We also thought we would visit somewhere local, a gallery or a quaint town.

But I ended up working in my studio for about 10 hours! How unromantic! How un-anniversary-like! Not only did Mike put up with it, but also he gave me a box of champagne truffles and a bouquet of red roses. I always told young female art students to find a man like him!

The round box is mine, and he bought himself the cat one!

I had tried to build the body of this boy. The first one failed. And I had to coil-build it in the afternoon.  I am not very keen on coiling because it is a bit repetitive!  In the end, I was very happy with the result.
About eight hours work!
Next day, Sunday, I was planning to do a half day of creating and to go out for the celebration. But, yes you guessed right, I had spent another 10 hours in the studio. Once I started I found it difficult to stop. It's a bit madness! I felt I must carry on and have to finish! Mike says it is a bit obsessive, but I really feel it is slight madness coming from inside me!  

Over the weekend, I had worked for 10 hours each day and slept 10 hours each night. I did everything else in four hours! I didn't even take dogs for a walk once! Mike did grocery, cooked, shampooed dogs, vacuumed and did laundry! Thank you, Mike! 

I made the body for the round face finally. I had been puzzled what she really was.  I thought she wanted to be a rabbit girl. I haven't made one for two years. So I have tried.

But today, on Monday, when I came back from a dog walk, the voice told me that she shouldn't be a rabbit girl. Uh-oh! Why didn't she tell me yesterday? I severed the head without hesitation, and recycled the body. There is no point ignoring the voice because I ended up obeying it anyway. And I think that is a part of creating!
This poor head was severed, and body-less again! !

In the meantime, dogs have been miserable because they smell like shampoo! But Topaz, the studio dog decided to help me while I work today. She wears T-shirts. Her red blanket sticks to her T-shirts as if it were velcroed. She walks with red blanket on her back everywhere. We call her red anteater! 

If you look carefully at the photo she is using my foot as a pillow. And I have to go around to work on my figures. Still she is such a lovable dog. I enjoy her company! 

There is a nice pillow here.



Thursday 20 March 2014

In the studio

Hello everyone.  The bisque-firing was successful. I became so nervous to carry the storm head from the garage, aka the kiln room, to inside. I held my breath. That exhausted me!

One of the strands of hair seems a bit loose! I am hoping it will be fixed with glaze.

All others were intact, luckily.

These three whippets are commissioned. They came through fine, too. 

Today, I built a torso for a young faun. I somehow built a well-built mature man's figure, which would be more suitable for a rugby player than a young faun. With a thick chest and six pack!" What was I thinking? I had to shave most muscle and to pat it to rounder shape.

After shave - front
I changed square shoulders and bottom round. I had to shave off kilos of muscles! Mike suggested that I should start from a scratch, and/or make a new head for the torso. Not a nice suggestion when I don't have too much time at hand.

After shave - backside
After reshaping it, I added a goat tail. Then suddenly he looks like a faun! Sorry no photo today. 

Do you remember that I made a trio of little animals over Christmas holiday? They finally finished. They were quickly snapped up within hours of their debut. So nobody has seen them together. Here is the photo.

Little lamb, goat and bunny
 And the last but not the least! Today's Pearl. It was windy today! She was happy to have a coat on. 

 And bendy Topaz.

Saturday 15 March 2014

Storm, Oracle and EarthBoundWomen

Imagine my delight when I saw this photo sent by a wonderful lady, ceramic artist, in Germany. She kindly sent me a message that the chameleon had arrived safely. She says the chameleon would stay there. How funny! I just imagine guests' surprises!

Now she lives in a beautiful loving home in Germany

I have been busily working everyday. 'What is the weekend?' is the world I live in. I prepared the work for bisque firing, and started this evening.  On of of my target this year is to improve efficiency of firings. To load the kiln as full as possible, and to start preparing work in advance while they are greenware are two things I particularly had in my mind.    

Top shelf
Although the kiln doesn't look full in the photo, it actually is. The arm of the body is very close to the lid. The lower shelf is also fullish. I forgot to take photos!   

Loading the kiln is sometimes tiring. This evening it was very much so because of this, Storm. It has been a headache to dry, handle and carry.  Literally I held my breath so many times, so I feel exhausted. The hair may not surviving firing. We will see!  


Oracle was finished yesterday. Her head is being fired, and her body is drying slowly. She is a large girl.   

 She has a bird spirit on her head.

Oracle- details

Talking about bird spirit, Pumpkin the queen chicken, looks beautiful with shiny feathers. She rarely digs the soil now. She is 10, and she is definitely slowing down.  So Mike (main pig)  and I (assistant pig) dig for her once a while so that she could pick juicy white grubs! She thinks we are her pigs. 'My pigs came, and dug the soil for me. Find tasty grubs for me! Work, work! '

Pumpkin, the queen chicken. 
Mid-afternoon, we went to a PV of EarthBound Women exhibition at Horsebridge in Whitstable. Six female artists are showing their works; painting, ceramics and prints. They are diverse and so interesting to see them together. It will be on the show until the 18th. You should pop in and take a look if you are in Whitstable!

The Horsebridge in Whitstable

We had a good chat with the ever chirpy Harriet there. Glad to hear that she got rid of flu. She is geared up for her presentation next week! : )

That's it today.  They say it will be another warm day tomorrow. I might be able to work in the garden. That would be wonderful! Have great rest of the weekend, everyone!

Wednesday 12 March 2014

A long day in the studio.

Hello everyone. Mike took a day off to do some gardening today. There was a quiet day on my Etsy shop front, so I have worked in my little studio for about 8 hours.

I have finished this piece this morning. He is a strange boy! He appeared, and had quietly demanded something, which I didn't know until yesterday. Now he looks happy. Don't you think?

Studio dog, Topaz was lying in an awkward position again. She was looking at the garden from the glass door on the right side. 

Topaz, studio dog.

Mike was going to stake a pole for raspberry patch. 

Last night I made these little ones. They are shields. :D

Oh, first in the morning, Mike baked a lemon almond cake. I wanted to have it so much yesterday. Yes, it was delicious! And there will be some for tomorrow! 

Mike's lemon almond cake
  I am chilling with music right now. After this, shower, and then to a bed.  I could sleep for 10 hours!