Olla Pots…

IMG_0840A couple of years ago, a friend gave me a ton of clay. Literally, a ton of clay. We know that because as Herb was unloading it out of the truck, he was doing a calculation in his head and it was more than we should’ve carried in our little truck. The repair bill later was proof of that. But the clay is piled up under a tarp in the back of our lot and I need to start working through the pile and using this clay.

Last year, I went through the clay and made an inventory of what was there and now, looking at the list, there is a low fire terra cotta. It fires to cone 2, which is low for what I normally work in. So, I was looking at a video this morning from a homesteading family. The Dervaes Family in California who are harvesting 3 tons of food on 1/10th of an acre of land. It is pretty amazing what they have done. So, it occurred to me that I could make some irrigation pots like these from that terra cotta clay. They are called Olla pots and they are a way to conserve water, which I am all about.

Olla pots have been in use for many centuries and are buried in the garden. The idea is that the terra cotta clay weeps the water into the ground and allows the plants to take in the water that they need, at the roots, where they need it the most. According to Wikipedia, it is a very efficient method because very little water is lost to evaporation because the water is stored underground. You can also see how to make your own Olla pots here at this awesome site Global Buckets whose goal is about growing food in 5 gallon buckets. Another good site that shows how they are used is Walden Labs. And here is a great illustration of how the pot works in the ground at this Permaculture link.Old-Pot-Technology.slideshow

This will be a way to use up the clay and give me a new item to make and to help with the Community garden

This is what an Olla Pot looks like...

This is what an Olla Pot looks like…

or my own garden with water usage during times of drought.

Now to find the clay in the pile of clay and get some water added to it so that I can start the process of making a batch of these pots.

If I were to get a Tattoo…

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Tattoo sleeves I bought for fun.

I have been thinking about tattoos lately. I notice that everyone has one. They are very trendy and have been for a while now. As an artist, I see so many that are not well done or are just blurry and just scream tacky but I know that each person probably gets them as a symbol of something significant in their life, something that they need to be reminded of in a way that only a tattoo can do for them. Many things in my life I never want to forget but I am not sure that a tattoo is how I want to do that. I have things that I may someday need to remember that I will have forgotten. (Nowadays, just remembering where I put my glasses on a regular basis is difficult but, I don’t think I want that tattoo’d on my arm somewhere.) I have always said though, that if I were to get a tattoo, I would want it to be in white ink. It seems that white ink would fade but would still be PURE in some way. Then you would need to have pure words to live up to the purity of the white. Symbolically, white is something pure, something fragile, something sacred.72564_1545542570169_2782734_n

Many people now also tattoo their cars. Putting a tattoo in the form of a  tombstone or a tribute to someone in their life, which is just weird to me too. I know this is another topic but, like a tattoo, should we put a dead person’s birth and death on our vehicle? Should we tattoo that information on our bodies? It just feels disrespectful to me in some way. What does that say about the deceased? That they earned the right to be worn on glass, on flesh, on metal? We know nothing of the person, just a timeline of their existence. Please don’t ever do that to me… I hope I am more than a timeline sandwiched between two dates. Tombstones hold the same purpose for me though. It is as if the dates are bookends to a life. I want to read the book. I want MY book to be read. I don’t want to be sandwiched between two sets of numbers.

But, in thinking about what a tattoo would signify for me, I would have to look to words. Not words from a language that I don’t speak, ( I always would be afraid that the tattoo artist had played a sick joke on me and put the wrong words on me) but words that would truly capture my true self. I want the world to read and know in that word ( or just a few words ) who I am. As an artist, I am not sure that an image would do the trick unless it is just a circle. A circle symbolizes so much. The ever changing life that I have had, the ever connection of my life to others, the unlimited amount of love I want to share. But I don’t want it to look like a doughnut or a condom or something other than a circle. I want it to be taken seriously, just like I want to be taken seriously.

My words often get misinterpreted. So much so that I wonder if I am speaking the same language as other people. So, maybe the circle would be best for my tattoo because I wouldn’t want the words to be taken the wrong way. I want the meaning to be clear without any need of explanation. I want to be understood. I need to have the message be clear and open, like a circle. But not open to misinterpretation. Would I use someone else’s words so that my own are not misconstrued? Should the words be a reminder to myself and screw what everyone else thinks? I think we get so caught up in what others think that we forget that we are our own selves and shouldn’t worry so much about others but with a tattoo, it is out there for the world to see. ( unless you put it in an obscure place, but then what is the point?) Circles are symbols that can start conversations. Is that what a tattoo is? Do people want you to ask them the meaning behind the ink? Are they just trendy conversation starters?

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Over 10 years ago, I pierced my navel. I don’t even think anything about it anymore. It seemed so radical at the time but now it is just like an earring. Not a big deal. And in 30 years, I don’t think it will be any different, but a tattoo is something that you have to have forever. I will have to think about this some more. But I am intrigued about a possible tattoo.

BTW, the tattoos in the photos are just silly sleeves that I bought several years ago for fun.

Fairy Garden Redo III…

now and then

now and then

The Fairy Garden that I built 4 years ago now is starting to show some age. I don’t take it in in the winter, like I should so the freeze this past winter has broadened the cracks that are in it. So, with Blandy Farm Mother’s Day Garden Fair coming up, I need to investigate what to do with it.

Each year I have replanted it. The first year it got small evergreens. The second year boxwoods. Last year, I used lavender and wood violets as you can see in the photo below.

The cracks had gotten so big recently that I decided to use a silicon calk to try and glue and seal them together. The clothesline rope is to hold it together and I am not sure if that will come off or not. I will have to see how the silicon holds and how the weight of the soil going back in helps to keep it together.

This image has been viewed thousands of times on the web. It is one of the gardens that shows up if you do a google search for fairy gardens in broken planters and many people have posted it, without my permission, as an example of how to build a fairy garden in broken planters. I have reached a point that when I come across one of these links on Pinterst or on Facebook, I just thank them for the free advertising and put a link to my Etsy shop. Currently, I don’t have enough of the items to put the kit as a listing but I will have enough soon.

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This was the second year with part of the evergreens and a boxwood off to the side.

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Then last year, I added some small lavender and a much larger house.

So, now I am at this stage of rebuilding.

What will the fairy garden look like in a few weeks? You will just have to wait and see. I wish I could get my hands on miniature lettuces and onions. I may have to make a batch of ceramic vegetables and put in a mini garden for the summer.

Cupcake Royale…

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My son Thomas and his wife live in Seattle and there is a cupcake shop there called Cupcake Royale. They LOVE cupcakes and even bought me a shirt from the shop for my birthday one year.  Recently, they were home for a quick visit and we met them at the Woodstock Cafe for lunch before they flew home. Herb’s birthday had been the week before and since we can no longer celebrate birthdays together, I thought it would be a fun treat for all of us to have personalized cupcake pots with chocolate cupcakes in them at the Cafe for dessert.

Thomas is following in his dad’s curmudgeon footsteps, apparently, and is known at his workplace as the Grumpy Cat and even uses an illustration of the Grumpy Cat as his Google profile image, so it was only fitting to make his cup with the Grumpy Cat on it. Each pot was different and were super simple to make. I went to Smitten Kitchen’s site and found a recipe called the “I want Chocolate Cake” Cake recipe and it is great because it only makes enough for an 8 X 8 pan of cake, which filled 6 cupcake pots.

The remainder of the cups are listed on my Etsy site and I have 8 more in the kiln that are to be glazed. The idea is to make a special cupcake for that co-worker or birthday someone and they receive their cupcake in the pottery cup and everyone else gets the cupcake in the paper liner. It provides a simple and inexpensive gift and takes cupcakes to a new level.

We didn’t even light our candles at the Cafe…. I did mention the curmudgeon thing, didn’t I? But, the cupcakes were a hit and hopefully they are now being used in Seattle for ice cream or to hold M&Ms or something as a reminder of our short time together. It is always good to see them both.

The Firefly Legend and the Thistle Flower…

There is a family in my area that grew up having to take the thistles out of the farmland so that the other crops could grow. The family members talk of this as a childhood memory that they hated having to do. Now, however, they are older with children of their own and have fonder memories for those times and have embraced the thistle as a type of family crest. At Christmas this past year, I made several items with a thistle design on them just for these family members to reinforce and share that bond. While I was working on a batch of thistle mugs for one of the family members to give as gifts to her many siblings, she wrote me an email which I would like to share part of here….

“I smile in so many ways over these mugs:

knowing the joy you gain through the creation of your hands and the understanding of using the gift God has given to glorify.

I think about what my dad and grandfather must be thinking when they see us reminisce over a flower (weed) we spent days eradicating from the soil.

In anticipation of my mother and siblings when they join in with delight.

and last, I anticipate the envy of the younger generation when they witness how the Thistle has bonded us together, knowing they will want this same bond (but also knowing they would revolt as much as we did when told they have to spend the digging hours to really appreciate the beauty of the Thistle).”

So, I have embraced the Thistle flower and now also embrace their bond of family and memories that it brings but also because I think it is a really cool flower. And I recently made a large pasta size bowl that I wanted to do an unusual decoration on and kept coming back to the thistles. The botanicals that I choose are usually my favorite flowers or veggies but I also went looking for some designs to compliment the thistle when I opened one of my quilt books and found a new story to go with my thistle flower.

Kumiko Sudo does wonderful origami quilts and quilt books. Lots of flowers and textural appliqué patterns. I immediately looked for the thistle, which she did have and found that she had written a legend about the firefly, in reference to the thistle flower. I don’t know if this is a story that she made up or if it is one of Japanese tradition (after a quick google search, there appears to be all kinds of different firefly legends) but I thought it would be fun to share it with you and then show you a quick video of how I used the legend on the bowl that is now in my kiln, firing and will get posted in it’s final form in a day or two.

A Long time ago, a fly thought he would take a nap on a  thistle flower. He loved the softness and the beautiful purple color of the flower. But as he was landing on the flower, the fly accidentally struck his bottom on some of the plant’s sharp needles. Hurt and upset, he waited for the wound to heal. To his great surprise and delight, he discovered that his bottom now glowed in the dark. In gratitude to the thistle for this special gift, he decided to become a night guide for all small creatures. To this day, we can see his descendants, which we now call fireflies, working hard throughout the night.

Kumiko Sudo

And after I got her legend drawn onto my bowl, I added fireflies and thistles and you can watch the bowl spin on my banding wheel. So, stay tuned and after it comes out of the bisque firing tomorrow, it will get a clear glaze and a soft green rim to compliment the legend and the beautiful purple flowers of the thistle. Enjoy!

rabbit, rabbit, rabbit…

I have a couple of Facebook friends who post the phrase “rabbit, rabbit, rabbit” on the first day of every month. According to wikipedia, this phrase should be the first words out of your mouth on the first day of the month for 31 days of good luck. I know it is just a silly superstition but I think it is fun, given that I have been doing a lot of rabbit themed work. And of course, back in the fall, I got a pet rabbit to have in the studio to keep me company and bring me smiles. I named her Tang, like the space drink because it is an orange theme name to go along with my Laughing Orange Studio theme. Tang looking at rabbitLast summer I started trying to throw much larger pieces and ended up with some rather large plate/bowl forms. I decided to decorate them with my rabbit theme and add variations of gardens, trees, and flowers. So, I thought I would share some of these pasta bowls here. The first of the month is in a few days so be sure and rise out of bed and let your first words be, “rabbit, rabbit, rabbit”.

Tree and Rabbit1 Thistle rabbit dish farm rabbit Anjelka Tray Crimson Rabbit