Friday, May 30, 2008

Art Clay SIlver

I don't know how this will show up on line, but this is a photo of an Art Clay Silver pendant I made. It is a recognition piece for the Volunteer(s) of the year at the Cancer Association of Anderson (SC). I have made them since 2005, this is one I made last year. It is about the size of a quarter, with a textured surface and the letters CAA incised in the front. I then hand apply a star. Each pendant is different, purposely. I will not draw the star as a precise, pre-measured image, I just go for it. One of the recipients last year is a family friend and she let me take a photo of it while she was attending Relay For Life. I have gotten the approval from the Cancer Association to make her a pair of earrings to go with it, and any of the other past recipients are welcome to order them too.
In October of 2004, I went to Orlando, FL, to a wonderful bead shop called Bead Dreams. There, I took the certification course for Art Clay Silver. My instructor was Demi and she is one of the owners, with Ursula. I had such a wonderful time there. They are very nice people and talented too. Since that time, I have been teaching Art Clay Silver classes at The Mercantile. In fact, I have a full class tomorrow afternoon. It is a wonderfully diverse medium to work in. One of these days I have to try firing it to a piece of my Ebonyware...

Monday, May 26, 2008

The process

I said I needed to take new photos of my Ebonyware. Well, I have some new photos (taken yesterday) of the process.

If I had been thinking about it sooner, I'd have photographed them full of the porcelain slip.
The photo shows the molds after they have been opened, but the porcelain is still drying a bit before handling to remove to dry.

Now there are still a lot of 'ceramic studios' out there that mold items and allow people to come in and do the trimming and decorating (for a fee of course) and take them home. This is the same concept except for the fact that they purchase their molds from 'Hobby Ceramic' mold companies. These molds were made by my ex and myself from models we designed and made ourselves. Nobody else has them but me. So, from an artists perspective, although I have not hand thrown or sculpted each individual piece, I am the designer and have had my hands on every single step of their formation. Even when my ex was making the models, I was there for consultation and assistance. He made some of the molds and I made others. And in the 17 or 18 years since beginning production, I have made 95% of the porcelain pieces myself. And in the last 14 years I have made 100% of it.

I know, I sound like I am defending myself, well, I am, sort-of. Some shows do not accept molded items. But they are referring to items from commercial molds, mine are not in that category.

Oh, if you go to the Celebrate Clayton web site, you can click on the 2008 Artist Award Winners and see a listing of the winners this year (including me!!!). Still no photos from this year's event there, and still none of my samples on the Washi Quilted card site. I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

It's time for raisins!

I am a sucker for cute pets... this is our friend Tony feeding the bunnies raisins. To the left is Bunnie, Cookie man is in the middle and little Chessie is on the right. This is one of 4 photos Sharon sent me of the bunnies eating raisins, one photo had all 3 of them climbing up on Tony to get their share. Here, Bunnie has already had her share, as well as CM, but little Chessie wants more!
As for my creative side... I bought a new kiln! I have not been able to make my coffee pots for quite a few years because my current kiln is about an inch too short for them to fit. I just bought a lightly used kiln larger than any I have personally owned before. This new one will fit several coffee pots, in addition to mugs and bowls and such... all at the same time. My last personal kiln could fire 3 coffee pots at once, but that was all that would fit. I also used to have use of the kilns at work (where I worked before I moved to SC), as long as they were not needed for the company's production. I am so excited. We just have to clear a spot for it and get the wiring set. In the meantime, a friend is storing it in their garage.
I am casting a few things this morning while my laundry is drying, then it is a shower and off to Arts on the Alley to see what there is and to help some friends.
I hope you all have a great Memorial Day weekend. And remember what the original purpose of Memorial Day is, a time to remember those who gave their lives for our freedoms. They made it possible for us to have BBQs and picnics and fun. We shall be forever grateful to the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for us.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Memorial Day

I keep saying I will get new photos of everything, and still, I am pulling up older photos to post. This photo shows my sugar & creamer set and in the foreground is a sauce/pin dish and to the right of the photo is a napkin ring. The napkin rings are something I cannot make anymore. The molds got severe water damage back in MA and could not be repaired. I hope to get a new design of napkin ring going sometime.
Do you have anything planned for Memorial Day weekend? I am working today and am teaching an Art Clay Silver class this afternoon. We are open on Memorial Day Monday, as we have been for the last 20 years.
If you are looking for something to do in the SC upstate area this weekend, The Ram Cat Alley Merchants Association in Seneca is having their Arts on the Alley festival this Sat. & Sun. in conjunction with the new 'Meet and 3' BBQ fest sponsored by the city of Seneca. They both run Sat. 10 - 8 and Sun. 11 - 5. I would have loved to do this show, but it is a busy weekend at the Mercantile so I could not break away. The show focuses on art and encourages the artisans to demo if they can. One woman weaves wonderful free form baskets in her booth, and they are usually sold before she can finish them. It is a great way to spend your weekend.
And while in Seneca, take a trip on over to Pendleton and stop by our store to see me. (We are closed Sundays, but you can leave a note...) Sometimes I wonder if anyone out there reads this at all...

Monday, May 19, 2008

Other interests

I have mentioned that I also enjoy rubber stamping and other paper arts. This is an example of one of the Washi Quilted Cards that I teach at The Mercantile. The company we order the materials from has 10 kits with 4 - 5 patterns in each. And, as beautiful as their designs are, I would rather create my own for class. Each time I teach a session, I add at least one new design. The company has asked if they can post some of my designs on their web site, giving me & the store credit, of course. And I couldn't say no. They were not posted as of Saturday, but I'll keep checking. This is one of my favorite techniques. Washi (decorative Japanese paper) is so wonderful to work with, it is almost fabric like. It is difficult to tell from my photo, but the vase is padded and puffy. I have embellished with gold cord, beautiful ribbon and paper flowers.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

doggie photos

Above are photos of Hops (to the left) who is still just a puppy, and Gertie. These photos were taken at the end of the afternoon. All three dogs had played their heart out for hours. After Leia went home, the remaining two just kicked back and relaxed before their trip home to Seneca (SC).
Leia just didn't want to sit still long enough for me to get a good picture of her. You can see her out smelling the flowers. This is a view of sister Sue's (and BIL Jim's) beautiful back yard garden. To the left is the house, and to the right is the pool.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

A stitch in time...

I really did take a couple of photos of one of sister Sue's quilts. This is one of MANY she has made over the years. I have one I keep at the foot of my bed, perfect for a little cat nap, or on a chilly night as an extra cover.
This is a quilt she has in her living room. It goes beautifully with the rich earth tones of her sofa and chairs.
I have done a little quilting, but the big drawback for me is that it involves sewing. Sewing is not my favorite creative outlet. It is too much like work to me. I end up 'un-sewing' more than sewing. Then I get frustrated and I may as well quit. I have done a few small projects, but I have to really work hard at knowing when to put it down and walk away to relax. I can truly admire the work that goes into a quilt.
Now, my porcelain and bead work, those I get true enjoyment out of. I also enjoy pyrography (woodburing) and paper folding and rubber stamping, and... those don't stress me out like the sewing does.
Tomorrow, some photos of my niece & nephew's dogs...

Rise & Shine!

I know, I like flowers... this photo was shared by a friend from an Internet group I used to belong to.

I did get a couple of photos of a quilt made by my sister Sue, but I haven't gotten around to downloading them yet... sorry.

We had a wonderful time Sunday, Sue's two children and their spouses had surprised her the night before by coming to visit. The Grilled Shrimp & Chicken with Peanut Sauce were delicious! The grand-dogs were a riot! I have photos of them too... tomorrow.

I just felt like posting a little bit this morning, I'll post more tomorrow morning.

I am off to go for my walk this morning.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day

This is a photo of my first great neice with her grandfather Don. Don is my ex-husband's brother. This little cutie just turned 6 months old this past week.

I don't feel old enough to be a great aunt, Don is not old enough to be a grandfather, and Mellisa is definitely not old enough to be a mother... but then again, she's in her 20's... I just haven't seen her in person for 10 years or so and can't imagine her being a mom. But, my denial of growing older aside, HAPPY MOTHERS DAY to Mellisa and to all of the Mom's in my family! My Mom, Verne's Mom, my sister Sue, Mellisa's Mom Jan (not old enough to be a grandmother), my brother's wife Miwa, my sisiter Terri, My younger brother's wife Alice, and my sister Regina.

I also hope that anyone reading this remembers their Mom and whether she is still around to call or not, please wish her a Happy Mother's Day. Some of you may not be on the greatest terms with your Mom, don't let that stop you. Wish her a Happy Mother's Day anyway.

We are off to Aiken, SC to visit my sister Sue today. Maybe I can get some good photos of a quilt or two for me to show her wonderful creativity.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

In progress

This photo shows some of my Ebonyware porcelain in progress. In the far background are the sake bottles, the mid range has both the mugs and the sugar bowl , closer to the front is my small rice bowl and the forefront shows the small sauce/pin dish. These are all in various stages of drying, as is evidenced by the varying shades of grey.
I am currently working on filling orders for some roly sake cups and some large rice bowls. And in the process, I am trying to get some sugar bowls that are not warped (so the lids will fit properly).
Don't forget to check out the POP Studio tour this weekend. And, while you're out and about, visit the other small business in that town. You may find things you never knew were so close to home.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

P.O.P Studio Tour

Another image from my computer. I need to download some of my photos to the new/used laptop.
There is an event going on this weekend in the Pickens, Oconee, Pendleton area (P.O.P.). It is the first annual P.O.P. Studio tour.
If I remember correctly, there are over 40 artisans showing off their talents. Some are located in their studios, and some are located in places such as Pendleton Gallery & Graphics, The Arts Center in Clemson, The Blue Ridge Arts Center in Seneca as well as places in Easley, Walhalla and more.
The tour runs both Saturday 10 - 6 & Sunday 12 - 6. Please get out and see what wonderful talents abound in the area. There are jewelers, potters, painters, quilters and woodworkers. You will see necklaces, vases, sculptures, wall hangings and more. The artisans will be demonstrating their talents as well as having some of their work available for sale.
For more information, please call the Blue Ridge Arts Center at 864-882-2722 or visit them at

More on my creative family

Another entry to the creative family is my sister Terri. Pictured is one of her necklace designs. This was designed for a bride to give to her attendants and went on to be a class. It contains two sizes of freshwater pearls as well as Swarovski crystals and sterling accents.
Terri is an extremely talented illustrator and designer. At one time she owned her own decorative rubber stamp company while living in the UK. She designed and manufactured the stamps herself.
If you are ever in Anderson, SC and have a craving for delicious pizza, go into NY Pizza just off Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.. Hanging on the wall to the left as you go in are a series of mixed media collages which Terri created in less than 2 weeks when the owner was redecorating. Each features a region in Italy. One of them even features the doors of the church in Sicily where our great grandparents were married. And while you are there, enjoy some wonderful food! Mom & Dad have even gotten take-out to bring to Churchville, NY when visiting Regina! We usually go every Wednesday & Saturday for dinner.
Terri can be found at our family store creating with beads or paper and rubber stamps. She also has taught bookbinding both at the store and at the Clemson Arts Center ( ). And this year she has volunteered at her son's school and helped the students in his class create fun things for different holidays. Not to mention the several Open Studios she has had at Hospice of the Upstate for staff and patients family members.
No headache this morning. YAY!!!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Cookie Man & Chessie

Sharon was able to send me some photos of her bunnies. Earlier I posted a photo of Bunny & Cookie Man eating. Here is Cookie Man (CM) with the newest member of the family, Chessie.
Sharon assures me that their eyes are not red, it is just the camera's flash.
I'm told that Bunny hasn't bonded with Chessie as well as CM has, but at least they are not fighting and have accepted her into the family.
This appears that the 2 rabbits are in a very small cage, but if you look to the left of the photo, you will see that the door is open and they actually have a small room all their own. They still like to sit in the cage though, it gives them a view of the livingroom and what is going on there.
Once Sharon's finals are over we'll have to get together and do something. Between her schedule and mine, we haven't gotten together in a while.
In case you're wondering, I didn't get any sleep since my last post, but I did get to rest for about an hour or so before I just felt I needed to get up (or fall asleep and miss the day completely!).

Early morning rambles

No, these aren't my water lilies, but I thought it was a pretty picture.
I am awake early in the morning with a migraine and just felt the urge to post. This photo was stored on the computer, like the blue flowers in my profile.
Mom and Dad and Aunt Celeste returned from their trip to Maryland safely. They had a good time. It is great to have them back and also that schedules can return to normal. Terri and I doing the work of the 4 of us takes it's toll on our energy.
Back to the creative vein in the family, our 'matriarchal sister' Sue is an avid quilter. She has loved sewing since she was young and used to make a lot of her own clothes in high school, along with clothes for the rest of us too. She did some wonderful smocking when her son Bobby was young (he is married now...) and then ventured into more quilting. She has worked part time in a quilt shop while also teaching 3-year old pre-school. And has been teaching quilting classes for many years. One of her favorite pattern makers is Lazy Girl Designs which you can access by going to my younger sister Regina's blog . Regina refers to Sue as 'Lazy Sister Sue'. (Please note the corrected address for Regina's blog - Thanks Sue!)
I guess that's all for right now. I may post again after I get a little more rest... not sure if I can sleep or not.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Porcelain Mugs

I still have not had the chance to get all my photos taken. This is another shot from my Sunday display last weekend at Celebrate Clayton.

Pictured here are my mugs. Right now they are the only size I have. They hold 8 ounces. They were designed with the tapered shape to have less surface area for the coffee/tea/cocoa to cool. They also were designed with a large enough handle for the comfort of even those with larger hands.

I am in the process of developing a larger mug for those who don't like going for refills all of the time.

I need to give credit where credit is due. I learned what I know about model and mold making from my ex-husband and his father. Their professional expertise was in industrial ceramics. They both did this for a living. My father-in-law (Wally Higgins) taught Industrial Ceramic Design at the NY State College of Ceramics at Alfred University for over 25 years. My ex (Verne Higgins) received his degree there and worked for companies such as Lenox, Pfaltzgraff, Syracuse China and Sherle Wagner. In 1989 we went to work for my father-in-law. I started out decorating pieces and soon moved into other areas. I learned on the job. I may not have made all of the models for the pieces I make, but I worked on their design. The plaster wheel was Verne's area, I got to do some, but he was so experienced, it was easier (and quicker) to let him turn most of the pieces. I made a larger percentage of the original molds. Now I make all of the molds myself and am working on making more models. I do not have an industrial wheel to work on, so I am making do with what I can put together.

But, that all being said, from the beginning, 95% + of the production was done solely by me. Now it is done 100% by me. I may ask for input from friends and family on glaze colors and applications or new shapes, but the work is all done by me.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

My Max

Last night I talked about my friend Mike's sweet Savannah. Here is a photo of my buddy Max. This photo was taken several years ago when my ex and I were visiting Pendleton. It was taken in the garden outside the back door of the house. About 2 feet to the right of where this photo ends is where Max is at rest today. He died 7 years to the day after our move to Pendleton. Max was a wonderful friend and companion. Some nights I am sure he is curled up on my feet in bed as he did for a good part of his 18 years. I still miss him today. We had some nick-names for him like 'Tubby Tuna' he was 23 pounds at his heaviest, the vet even had to weigh him on the dog scale! And when we got him they said he was the runt of the litter and would stay small... I can't imagine what his siblings looked like fully grown! I can still remember the day we got him. We had to put down our previous cat Samantha the day before because she was so very sick with Diabetes (the worst the vet had ever seen). Our hearts and home were so empty, we searched for a new kitten. We ended up travelling 75 miles to Rochester, NY (we were living in Alfred, NY at the time) to a pet store where they had 4 kittens. 2 were orange tabbys and 2 were grey/black tabbys. Max was on top of the cat tower and the others were down below. We fell in love with his beautiful swirled markings and his white paws, not o mention his bold personality. On our way home in the car, we tried to decide on a name for him. We tried several and none seemed to fit. I had some t-shirts with a label of 'Sam & Max' and since our last cat was Sam, I said 'What about Max?' He responded to that name. We always said he picked his own name.
Hopefully Max and Savannah are playing well together somewhere and they are free of the pain of their last days. I will remember them always.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Goodbye Sweet Savannah

For all of you out there who have loved a pet, this entry is for you.
My dear friend Mike had to say goodbye this morning to his beautiful sweet chocolate Lab Savannah. She had her 9th birthday just yesterday. She has been ill for a few weeks now and the vet has not been able to determine what the problem was. Last night she took a drastic turn for the worse.
She was Mike's constant companion since she was a puppy. She went on the road with him when he was a sales rep. A sweeter, more faithful dog you would not find. And smart - wow - she put some of those 5 th graders on TV to shame!
I wish I had a photo of her that I could post. She was a beautiful dog.
In the last year or so she had become a good friend to me too, always excited to see me.
I could never miss her near as much as Mike does, but I will miss her too.
Goodbye Sweet Savannah, memories of you will live on in our hearts.