Monday, March 31, 2008

Another kiln load

sI just unloaded my second kiln load. Cone 10 gas fired. It looks good. I got several show pieces from this kiln. Of course, there were surprises. I will post pictures tomorrow. My ladies in flight look really good, tall vases in celadon are looking good, nice cups and more. It was unloaded a bit late so I could not pack it tonight. Ill make selections in the a.m. and decide what to leave for the show. A few more pieces come out tomorrow morning from the bronze cone 1 firing. Pack pack pack. Then pay pay pay. I just hope the freight does not out cost the price of the pots. My friends tell me I severely under price and this may prove it.
More tomorrow with photos.

What I See When I Walk in Steve's Garden

Fresh bananas growing in the yard wait to ripen

My favorite found object the yard-I am basing several pieces from this shape

Potential platter like shape

Can I glaze like this?

Along the path

small yard pond reflextion

It is about time to come home. It is Sunday night and that means there is only one more night for me here.
Time and space are a very strange thing. I feel so here. I have been here so long it is hard to imagine not being here in three days and being back in my own environment where the season has changed since I left. The metal flying time machine does strange things. Because you don't walk outside and go up the steps to get on the plane, it feels like a strange time and space machine to me. You get in, breathe recycled air snap on the seat belt and wait. When you get out you walk down a metal hall and are in a new space.
There are daily familiar things to me in Hawaii now. Waking up to the roosters crowing. The chirping coqui frogs all night. Sleeping alone on a futon. Waking in someone's house or a little hotel room. Green green green. Rain. Fresh eggs and avocados, $6.78 milk, cheese and other basic foods at ridiculous prices, riding around in Jamie's $800 pickup truck, going outside to an incredible garden, feeling a bit homeless, talking to my family and trying to solve problems for them from a distance. The exotic fruits and plants are becoming familiar. Steve brought Jamie and me a fresh star apple when we were working in the clay studio. So many tropical fruits are now recognizable.
I guess I am getting that Hawaiian look on my face because a lot of people think I am local. I guess I fit in as I look around and see a lot of aging hippies. I have seen so many black men with heads full of dreadlocks. Too many over tanned aging women wearing flip flops walk down the street. Lots of tall tan lean young people drag there sandals and jump in there vehicles with surf boards on the top. Lots of alternative souls live here on the big island.
I have hardly seen the tourist areas. I have not seen a luau or many boat drinks or even sarongs. The art paintings here are awful. So many bad palm trees and dolphins. The wood work is great. There is not a lot of pottery. There is a lot of seed and glass jewelry.
Whenever I am somewhere foreign I think I will always come back some day. The world is so large and there is so much to see. I wish it was more affordable to see the world. There are so many places I have not seen yet. Will I come back here? I don't know. It feels so familiar now and like it has become part of me. It is so far and it is so close.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Firing and Packing

Homemade biscuits on a zoo plate. I made biscuits looked down and was amazed to see two jelly eyes looking back at me!

I leave Tuesday for Tulsa and I am firing and packing like crazy.
My first load of pots came out last night and I got a few show pots and a lot of little bright pots to bring home. I used the colors of Hawaii around me and it made for a lot of bright green and red pots. Overwhelming for an earthy lady. Then I look around me and I see the colors. I am a bit shocked and surprised. Surprises never end in clay.
I am packing. It costs so much it is crazy. $56 for a big roll of bubble wrap. Probably around $60 a box to mail a 20x20x12 around 25 pounds. And, I will need to pay for clay and firing. Was this a crazy idea? I learned a lot and have had terrific experiences but it has really cost financially.
Even milk is $6 a half gallon! I was in an art store and those painting supplies were looking real good. Should I change media? I remember the thrill of art supplies when I was a college student and had not decided to do clay for sure.
A load of cone 10 with I think my best pots is cooling now and a bronze cone 1 has just started. I guess I'll be packing up to the last minute. I re glazed some pots in a cone 1 luster. I have a lot of good ideas for when I get home.
My show will happen later, after I leave the island and I cannot afford to come back for it so I guess it will turn into a virtual kind of experience. I will probably mail a few pieces back after some ideas and techniques have jelled at home, assuming the studio can survive the new landlords. I have to deal when I get home. Oh please, give me a little work time and don't make me find the new cheap spot too soon.
I took more garden pictures today and wish I new how to make it into a slide show on this thing.
I made homemade biscuits this morning, french bread yesterday and chocolate brownies with chocolate coconut icing for supper. If you can't make pots, make food. The brownies were decedent.
I miss my family. I miss my friends. I'll be glad to come home.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Thoughts on Craft and Art

Ok so I am now down to the nitty gritty. Glazing all these pots I have made here with new clays and new glazes. Flexibility, that is the key. You would think after 30-35 years or however long I have been doing this that I would know exactly what I am doing. Does any one ever know in clay what "on earth" is going on?
I am doing two kinds of firing. One cone 6 and one cone 10 reduction. I will leave the best pieces here for a show after I am gone and try and figure out how to safely and cheaply get the others home fast enough. I will mail some clothes home and hope the airline does not crash through my bags like they did on the way over here and they broke 2 pots. Airline security strikes again. Can't they just do it more carefully?
I using some bright Amoco glazes reflecting all the greens and reds I see here. I was supposed to be sent a flat Spectrum black matt, did not come, mixed on from Lana Wilson's book I have never tried before. I have my fingers crossed that I like these pieces and they don't become beach shards.

Next question:
How do I make art not craft? What is the difference, really?

Ok, it is easy to tell crappy craft stuff like concrete ducks dressed in doll clothes. But what about my southeast pottery heritage where craft is not a bad word and is part of art? For example, the incredible schools I attended, Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts. no blue ducks there! Penland School of Arts and Crafts, an incredible community of craft people at the school and living in the community. Craft is not a bad word there and can hold its own to any arty farty statements.

I love art. I love craft. I always thought the simple explanation was the crafts people actually liked each other, enjoyed life as they did their work and were less negatively competitive and might have some fine quality work that someone actually wanted to buy and might be able to make a living selling it. It is kind of the anti snob approach but a bit unfair.

Shall I elaborate and get myself in trouble? Why not? Or, have a fun time stereotyping us all.

Artists may not be craftspeople but craftspeople may be artists? Not exactly.
I don't usually think of the painter as a craftsman.
The artist and the craftsperson both use the same elements of design and need to communicate a message.
The craftsman must constantly bow to the artist and explain they are a quality craftsperson not the potholder maker or the cement duck lady and of course the rick rack in their booth was somebody else's idea of a good display.
Crafts people get and give more hugs than the pure artist and may wear funkier clothing with less spikes.
Artists get into galleries more often and the better fairs as well, once again putting the chunkier craftsperson in their place.
Craftspeople attend more potlucks with brown rice, tofu egg salad and large bottles of cheaper wine. Artists are found at smaller gatherings wishing more people had come to the opening but drinking a more expensive wine and probably finding a craftspersons handmade plate with brie on it.
Artist get more headaches and stomach aches as they look for complex problems to worry about and can't seem to get the big picture that life is sweet if you make it that way.
Craftspeople are relatively happy settled in, don't need adderal but should definitely exercise more and move a little faster.
Artists studios smell worse with irritating chemical smells but craftspeople are messier and have more dust of various sorts on everything to the point of being a health risk.
Artists have nice shoes and expensive boutique clothing.
Craftspeople buy expensive shoes but stand more and have sore feet. There clothing is more likely to natural materials like cotton and flax but they usually find it in a thrift store.
Artists are smartellicks craftspeople are smart asses.

Whoops got off the subject. What is art and what is craft? Who are artists and who are craftspeople?

Shall I stop avoiding the question?

I looked at my pots and thought, how can I make art and not craft. I can only begin to understand how I might try to make this happen.
First, don't just whip them out to get a lot complete without thinking about how they work as a unit. When I make little bowls I want them to look like I had an idea. I want them to be small work of art in the cabinet you want to pick up and use every chance you can.
Some will suggest a nature object, some simple bright spots of Hawaiian color. They won't be some ordinary rushed piece of clay to only fill a need. I divided them into areas of like minded forms, wanting to be part of a group and may be purchased together if the customer can afford to buy more so they have more impact. I wanted this group to feel more special so I put a symbol on the bottom kind of like a palm tree top scribbled and I put a gold rim on nearly every one. I want them to glow with color.
Some of my tea bowls have sentences on them saying how I felt that day I made them.
My favorite piece is my seven series of the lady flying to Hawaii with land and ocean. It is a little heavy and I am thankful I could take it out of the bisqued kiln with no explosions today. I have some other favorites based on the seed pods and they will come out of the glaze firing tomorrow.
I tried to make all my work here a work of art. Some are less complex in their message and thought but each was carefully "crafted" and some were thrown back in the slip bucket. A couple of the figures I made were too tormented looking and I tossed them. Yes, the quality control squad of my mind walked through and said, "No, stop it. That figure is just butt ugly. Dump it back in the bucket."

Now the problem is shipping. My bank account is still on low fuel and I need to have all the non-Hawaiian show pots back in Tulsa for the herb festivals They have to cost more because it has cost so much to produce them and get them home. If I bring them in my suitcase and mail my clothes the airline will not insure them. They broke 2 things rummaging through my suitcase on the way over here.
I will get some home that way in boxes and bubble wrap in my suit case. I may send some FedEx and pay big bucks unless the freight out costs the pots value.
Steve F said he would build me a giant box with a pallet box lift on it and we can ship it by sea and that would cost about $250 or so.
"Yes Houston we have a problem."
OVAC has grants to help with shipping but I still have not written an artists statement and all the other stuff you have to send in to get it and that seems very difficult right now. We may have the show in Tulsa as well for the pieces I leave here. Maybe OVAC would help with that if I have time to write a grant and if my block has not sold and is still in tack.
It all feels overwhelming but I will figure it out.
It is just "Bird by Bird." First, tomorrow I will see my new pots finished for the first time. Next, I will finish glazing. Third i will wonder why I made so much.
I just hope I made some impressive art.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Wonderful Art Quotes from Tom in Costa Rica

These quotes, and I love quotes, were sent to me by my friend Tom in Costa Rica. Visit his website and see his Bed and Breakfast in progress. Looks great. Thanks Tom!

The one important thing I have learned over the years is the difference between taking one's work seriously and taking one's self seriously. The first is imperative and the second is disastrous.
- Margot Fonteyn, 1919 - 1991

Deliver me from writers who say the way they live doesn't matter. I'm not sure a bad person can write a good book, If art doesn't make us better, then what on earth is it for?
- Alice Walker

So much has been said and sung of beautiful young girls, why don't somebody wake up to the beauty of old women?
- Harriet Beecher Stowe, 1811 - 1896

You have to admit that most women who have done something with their lives have been disliked by almost everyone.
- Francoise Gilot

In 1980, a well-meaning fundraiser came to see me and said, "Miss Graham, the most powerful thing you have going for you to raise money is your respectability." I wanted to spit! Respectable! Show me any artist who wants to be respectable.
- Martha Graham

Literature is strewn with the wreckage of those who have minded beyond reason the opinion of others.
- Virginia Woolf, 1882 - 1941

Tom Ackley
Vista Valverde Bed & Breakfast
Opening in 2008

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Returning the rental car, and the kindness of a stranger

Well, I guess I am more American than I want to admit. You know that American that must have their own means of transportation. Having a car here was great. My own car to get around in with good gas mileage, what a treat. When you travel for this long it helps you get out and see more and give you back that ever so needed sense of independence. We Americans and our little metal privacy boxes with wheels. How do you spell MASS TRANSPORTATION or TRAIN? There is a bus that goes around the island and it is free but it just did not quite work for me. I could not get where I wanted to be and when I wanted to be on their bus.
So I kept the car as long as I could and now I am back at Jamie's to finish my work.

A really nice man from enterprise gave me a ride to Keaau so Jamie could pick me up there.
We took the back road for a while and he told me about living in Hawaii all his life.
He had kids the same age as mine and he told me how he had explained to his daughter that "everyday is a special gift." He said it so tenderly I knew it was one of those times I needed to listen closely. She had lost a lot of friends to death from car accidents, drugs, illness and more and she is only 25.
Life is a gift and life is precious. Maybe it is not fun all the time or a barrel of laughs every moment but yes. He is right. We should not take it for granted. I was so lucky for a long time to know no one or have any relatives I knew who had died. It almost seemed like an abstract idea. Then wham. Reality hit and my Dad died, one of those "Why is he still alive when he is so ill in so many ways and then what? He Died? I did not think he really would." We should all just be grateful for what we have. Don't panic just enjoy.
I asked him if he was Hawaiian which was not a good question to ask and he told me "kind of" because he was born here. I assumed he was because of his accent. So, we got into the whole race and and where are you from discussion vs being native. Oops, I think I have been told native is the wrong word here. It is hard to stay correct. But he did not dwell on the negative at all.
He told me about some of the plants we were passing and how they were not young palm trees they were dwarf palms and how he went to elementary school in Kurtistown. He had purchased land as a young man around Volcano and inherited land from his mother and married land with his wife. He had plenty and some for his children as well. He was kind and friendly and represented the island friendliness very well. He was not rushed or harried and seemed like he would never understand road rage. He would be more likely to help someone along the road, not yell at them.
We said good bye and I must say it was a delight to spend time with him. It is funny how I meet all these nice people and it is strange to think of never seeing them again. What a strange big world we live in. It is nice to know there are so many kind people.

Hangin Loose

Honeymoon Yurt and my rental car

This is in Orchid Acres and they bloom naturally here

Handmade bed from local wood, notice the egyptian wood headboard of wedding scene, added by Jan

Looking out to the added on kitchen

big screen tv and couch

Close up of the headboard

my office

looking down the stairs to the outdoor shower

more kitchen

more kitchen

looking out to the bathroom
as you come in

the skylight where I saw the moon both nights
Here are the photos of hangin loose and the beautiful yurt where I stayed. We all should get yurts somewhere cool as summer homes.
This is the clothing optional vacation rental owned by Steve's third wife Jan and her husband Michael. I gave her a free private pottery lesson in which she did very well and enjoyed it and when I came to Hawaii she extended an invitation for me to stay in her yurt and then was kind enough to offer me another night. How could I refuse? She and her husband Michael were so kind. I made biscuits in the morning and french bread at night.
OK I did not teach pottery nude. The rumor is over. It was fun however to sunbath topless. The girls were out of their cage and enjoyed the fresh air. That was more fun than teaching anyway although that would be a unique experience. Maybe sometime we will try it but I don't think we had enough people for a class anyway. Any takers for a class in Tulsa? So we drank some wine had fun talking and listening to her 2 parrots mimic laughs and relaxed by her pool.
We had a great steak dinner with my homemade bread and enjoyed our evening. Remember they took me to the flowing lava the night before.
So enjoy the photos of her yurt and maybe we could all pool our money and put us up a timeshare yurt in Santa FE. Any takers? We'll need several mechanical souls, a researcher to find materials, a promoter to help gather enough people, a plumber, an electrician, a good painter, a banker, a landscaper, an interior designer and a lot of wine and some cash. And, a sense of adventure.
And, since it is a time share you have to share and play well with others.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Want to comment?

I think I have adjusted this blog now so if you want to comment , you can by pressing comment. I have had a lot of terrific emails of people reading but unable to comment. I would love your feedback if you care to leave it. So we will try this setting and see if it works.
I will be home April 2nd.
Thanks for reading and caring.

Lava Flow Pictures

Lava at night hits the ocean

Heaven or Hell?

On the way to getting dark

Shelves in the distance are not good to walk on because they often break off into the sea

lava hits the sea

Jan and Michael Smith, my hosts from Hangin Loose as we approach our picnic site

We had a 30 minute walk to the lava from the parking lot

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Fire Water and New Land

I saw earth being made. Lava flowing into the sea, making new land at night with fire exploding.
It was magnificent. Explosions of fire and salt water. Kinda like heaven and kinda like hell. Thank goodness I don't really believe in either one. They come hand in hand you know.
I came to visit Jan and Michael Smith owners of Hangin Loose. Google it if you have not heard me talk about it. It is a beautiful place and they are both gracious.
I must say this is the most interesting invitation to someones house for dinner I have ever had. Instead of all the polite stuff, they had the great idea of visiting the lava flow as it hits the sea with chicken salad. What a great night picnic. I brought brie, crackers, a good red wine and grapes and brownies.
I made my way to their tucked away clothing optional island rental and it is lovely. And yes, dear friends as you would expect, my clothes are still on and so is everyone else's. They showed me to my own yurt which is fabulously decorated with its own little kitchen and outdoor shower and I changed my clothes for the lava adventure.
I walked up to their really cool main house and talked to their parrots.Next we hopped in their cute little honda jeep like vehicle and headed for the spot below Pahoa where the lava hits the sea.
It was really different and fascinating to think we were walking on land formed in 1990. Lava is pretty spectacular and flowing lava is even more so. We had to walk about 30 minutes back to our viewing and picnic spot. Jan suffers from back problems so the walk was not really easy but she is a real trooper.
We sat on towels on the lava just above the shelf (sometimes shelves break off and people die) and then we ate and waited for dark. Giant junks and lava flows to the sea explodes and makes new land. We could not get real close because it is so active right now, about 25 streams flowing into the sea.
It is powerful. Fire water lava. I just stood there mostly saying WOW. What else can you do or say? It is overwhelming. If I believe in astro sings and I am fire that was a lot of insight to the nature of fire. And the force of fire vs water was fierce.
Or think like the ancients saw it. No wonder they respect it in their religions.
The sounds were fierce too.
I saw something really significant and beautiful tonight. We stayed till after dark and then walked back with several hundred people later. Photos tomorrow.
Yes, it was quite the dinner invite.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Waipi'o Valley Mule drawn wagon, Sacred Hawaii

Photos of the ancient lands of Hawaii where the Kings met and the land flourished. It remains unchanged. Over time people feel protected here. There have been as many as 4000 living there. Recently 400 lived there until the Tsunami in 1946. No one died. Now about 50 live there with no water, sewer, electric, cellphones etc.
A few centuries ago there was a severe drought and this valley fed the island. It is rich in fruits, vegetables, fish and prawns.
It is a special place.
I visited it in mule drawn cart.