My pottery frog plate.

October 8, 2011

As many of you know, I do a lot (A LOT in capitals) of volunteer work for Friends of the North Fork of the Shenandoah River. Seven years ago, we decided to do an annual fish fry as a way to fundraise for the issues surrounding the Shenandoah River. Four years ago now, we have been asking local artists to participate in this event by decorating an object that we then auction to raise funds for that purpose. Initially we were going around to local businesses to find items to auction and that idea became stale very quickly. I had the idea to obtain large fiberglass sculptural fish to have local artists decorate and when I began the research I soon realized that it was a huge expense just to purchase the fiberglass pieces. Horse Mania in Lexington, KY supports much of the arts with the proceeds from this kind of event. They are actually repeating the event again in 2011 from 2000.  So why not scale the idea back and find something less expensive. That first year we did terra cotta planters, with a River Visions in Terra Cotta theme and they were wonderful. The idea took off and we had artists wanting to know how they could participate. The next year we did floorcloths. And last year we did wooden cottage benches.  The items have been so successful that I overheard some grumbling from some of the attendees that the items were selling beyond their means. And really, each year it seems the prices have risen to certainly more than I would pay for some of the items. And while we don’t seem to raise the kind of funds that the LexArts folks do we still need to make the items reasonable for our local demographic.

The idea to offer a silent auction item was put into play and I came across a site for a gallery in Oregon that was doing a benefit for CERF (Craft Emergency Relief Fund) and asking potters to submit a plate to be auctioned online. The submissions for the gallery in Oregon were wonderful and I contacted the Mary Lou Zeek, the gallery owner and found out the details and decided to give it a try to offer a less expensive item at this year’s fish fry. The minimum bid will be $25. Hopefully the prices won’t rise too high and folks will see that we are making an effort to make items available to everyone. Even those of us that the recession has hit.

My plate has frogs that are coming out of the pond of fish. The frogs have expressive faces and the fish in the center is a slip trailed image of a fish. Not necessarily a Shenandoah Fish. Water lilly  leaves form a circle around the outside edge and they are glazed in a celedon with a slip detail of the leaf showing through.

As this year’s  fish fry gets closer, there will be other potters submitting works and the collection of plates will come into view. We weren’t able to get 100 plates or potters on board but the dozen that we have will hopefully give us a starting point to getting a new item of our fundraiser off the ground.

Tickets will be going on sale soon and the event is October the 8th this year. Mark your calendars and plan to attend. The larger item that other artists are decorating this year are Adirondack chairs with a river theme. Those should be lots of fun to see too. I didn’t do one of the large items this year with my fall being full of family events but I can’t wait to see what the other artists come up with as their vision appears on the chairs.

The Frog Plate…

when the cows come home…

I finished painting the cow floorcloth yesterday so, now I will wait for the paint to dry for a couple of days and then it will get a couple of coats of poly and then I will turn the sides under about an inch. They will get glued down giving the edges some body and a finished look. At that point this one is complete and I have another one to do for Jan’s laundry room.

I really like the image that I found to do for the laundry room. I found a stock photo image of two shirts hanging on a clothesline and it looks like they have their arms around each other. Such a sweet image. Jan’s laundry room in green and blue so I plan to do one of the shirts in blue and the other green.


The process that I take is fairly straight forward. I download the image from the photo site and take it into photoshop and enlarge it to actual size. I then have to print it out in chunks and tape it together.



Then I transfer the image to the canvas using a transfer/carbon paper. That basically gives me an outline that I use to fill in the detail and do the painting. I will use oil paint on this one too because I want to be able to blend the colors so that the folds of the fabric will have shape and depth. It will then get the same process of coating it with a polyurethane and turning the sides under about an inch for the finished look.


As my blog states, I can’t do just one thing and just as soon as I get one thing finished my attention goes to something new. In this case, I have been commissioned to do a couple of floor cloths for a friend. She has an entryway coming in from her garage, (must be nice to have one of those) and it is decorated in cows. She is originally from Missouri and grew up on a dairy farm and ironically her street name is Holstein Lane here in Toms Brook so she has a history with cows. When I do one of these, I usually search the internet for examples to look at. I have excellent drawing skills as long as I can look at something else. I can’t just draw from my brain, I wish I could, but I can’t. Anyway, I found some images of cows and am combining several images into something that will be “my own painting” and hopefully won’t look like the image I started with.

So Jan ordered the floorcloth material from Dick Blick Art Supplies and had them shipped to my house. I then mined the internet for cows. Holstein cows. Then started drawing the cows and landscape onto the canvas that comes primed and ready to go. Normally I use acrylic paints for my floor cloths but this one I wanted to use oil paints so that I had more time to work the image and blend the colors more. The palette is basically earth tones. Sap green, burnt umber, white, payne’s grey, yellow ochre, and a blue for the sky.

These floor cloths are 2′ x 3 ‘. When the painting is done, I will turn about an inch under and glue it down to give it a finished edge. Then I will put a couple of coats of polyurethane to seal and protect it. I think a lot of floorcloth artists then wax the entire surface with bowling alley wax but I haven’t done that to any of mine that I have in my house and they seem to be wearing just fine. I think Jan’s will be fine without that.

So I have one cow detailed in pretty well and have a few more to go.

Jan’s laundry room is in that area of the house too, so she also wants one for the laundry room. I will post that one when it gets going.

The table is set…

Several years ago, Herb was teaching a unit on manners at school and we thought it would be fun to have a visual aid for him to do that with. I had been making floorcloths for the house because they are maintenance free rugs and with dogs that is good, so we decided to do a floorcloth that looked like a table set with dishes so that when he discussed going to a restaurant with the children he could show them the correct way to behave at a table. I made the floorcloth to fit our dining room table and recently it has been showing some wear so I gave it a touch up and thought I would share it with everyone today.

As you can see, by itself on the table it has the illusion of having dishes on the table. I put a tablecloth under it and can change that out as the seasons change and usually take it off the table during the holidays because I want to decorate more festive then.

Below is a detail of one of the settings up close. I know the salad fork is normally on the outside but in our Joy of Cooking Cookbook the illustrations had a smaller fork close to the plate. Reading it just now, it explains that that is a seafood fork. So, I guess this meal would include a seafood cocktail

Sometimes it is really deceptive and you reach for a piece of silverware and there isn’t really one there.

The small shelf on the wall was in the living room until yesterday. I saw some of the last zinnias in the yard and used some of my white pitcher collection to add a small vignette on the shelf and add some color to that wall.