Saturday, January 31, 2009

True Colors

A visitor at a show once asked me if I was a devil worshipper! I was showing a lot of different works - devils and angels among them. I find it interesting that many viewers will zoom in on the pieces that disturb them the most.

I'm not a devil worshipper, but I do like to point out that there must be two on the teeter-totter or it will just sit there. I'm constantly focusing on opposites and trying to find the right balance in my own mind.

The little imp shown here can't hide its true colors....

Friday, January 30, 2009

In Fool Bloom

Ah, the Fool! What would we do without him or her? I choose to depict the fool not as an object of ridicule, but of wisdom. I believe that there is much to be learned from the fool and that we need only look inside ourselves to find it.

One of the first masks I made was a fool - the piece shown here is one of the latest. I don't think I've come full circle quite yet, so there are sure to be more!

The mask is stoneware with engobes and pencils.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Down the Rabbit Hole

I've always loved Alice and followed her journeys in Wonderland. Even though I'm past the "one pill makes you larger" phase, I'll continue on down the rabbit hole to the game. There are just too many delightful characters to ignore.

This is a small mask - 4 1/2" high x 3 1/2" wide (about the size of a rabbit hole?!). I felt that making it bigger wouldn't have made it better. Small prototypes don't always work as larger pieces and vice versa!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Just a Little Bit Longer...

Don't we all want to stick around just a little bit longer? The title is a reference to one of those old songs that I can't seem to get out of my head. It surfaces now and again with its simple lyrics and repetitive chorus. The message here is that it seems to be those catchy little moments that leave lasting impressions. If only we could choose which moments would affect us so!

This yet another mask from the "leaf" series. It was sculpted with raku clay and the glaze is a mix of raku clear and copper matte. I was pleased at how the combination became mottled.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Getting a Bit Rusty

Here is another of the "flat faces"... this one looks like it has been forgotten somewhere and left to the elements. Although I don't like to admit it, I feel like that when I realize that I'm not getting any younger. Yikes, where did I leave that oil can?

It is a busy time in the studio - I'm just beginning to get out of my winter doldrums and pushing forward like the trees that are bursting to bloom. Working on this blog is getting me motivated to come up with some new stuff - wish me luck!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Parallels of Attitude

I used to slipcast many of my masks and then sculpt on top of the "face blanks". I'm doing less and less of that these days - for the joy of sculpting! This is one of the last cast pieces that I made (about a year ago). At the time, I was also experimenting heavily with raku techniques - especially copper mattes. This mask is the culmination of those efforts.

The title of the piece came as I worked on the glaze combination. I felt that it expressed my own changes of attitude while discovering new methods, and incorporating the best of the old....

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Guardian Angel

I don't really believe in angels, but I know that there is something watching over me. You can call it what you like! I've chosen to express it like this because the angel gives a feeling of protection in a tangible form. I can't always see what I know is there - and to explain, or prove it is impossible.

This fits in with another of my favorite subjects: the balance between good and evil. Over the years I've been exploring this idea, but I'm sorry to say, I don't have any answers.......yet.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

On the Way to the Masked Fall

If you haven't noticed, I love plays on words and phrases. Even though many times they are cliches, they have become a part of our tradition and I respect that.

Without a doubt, this is an autumn mask. Instead of going to a ball, this leaf is headed for a fall (in disguise). I had a great time working on this and trying out some new combinations. It is very satisfying mixing up my own glazes and trying for different effects. I hope that it keeps my work from becoming boring, for me or for the viewer.

The final firing was raku - the branch is from a tree in my yard.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Green Cover

Last year I began making some masks that are almost flat. So far, they have all been swathed in coverings and I'm not really sure why I'm doing this! Perhaps it is my own insecurities coming out...

I do think a lot about being "green". It's such an important concept that I feel guilty every time I waste anything. I truly admire (envy?) those in the vanguard of the green movement.

The mask is raku clay that is painted with engobes after the bisque, fired again, decorated with underglaze pencils, then fired again - and finally, glazed and raku fired.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

By Any Other Name....

A rose is a rose is a rose - and roses are sweet....this is about as "girly" as my work gets! There are times when I just can't resist doing something pretty and flowery. I also rely heavily on literary references, so it was natural to combine the two in this mask.

Even though I'm not much of a girly girl or even much of a rose, I appreciate the idea. And, we all have something inside that is special - even if it isn't always apparent.

This piece is a combination of laquer resisted stoneware and raku. The parts were assembled post firing.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Pipe Dreams

This mask is an "evolutionary" piece - which means I did another, very similar, one. The first was left behind after my residency at the ICS in 2006 - so, at least I know that it has a good home! But this past year, I felt a need to make another. Of course, it's not the it the up to date version.

The ideas that come from dreams are some of my most cherished, and this mask, with all its layers, is one of these.

It was sculpted with raku clay, painted with colored engobes, fired to cone 5 and finished with pencils.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Night Owl

This mask is a close relative of "Birdgirl"....perhaps a cousin or a sister. I can't seem to resist the birds showing up in my work - maybe because they represent, for me, the ultimate freedom.

The night owl thrives at night for it is a time of quiet and rejuvenation. All things seem possible in the stillness, and then there are the dreams where one can soar.

The mask was made using the "naked raku" technique.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Two Halves

Do two halves make a whole? Sometimes I wonder! I often feel divided or indecisive about something only to end up like poor Humpty Dumpty. If only there could be some space between the divisions, there might be a place where the parts could reconcile. Wow, this is surely the most cryptic entry yet....

This mask is my first attempt at overglaze painting and I am pleased at the prospects of having a new tool in the box. First, I fired the stoneware piece with a matte white glaze. After firing, it was covered with black overglaze enamel and allowed to dry. I then used sgraffito techniques to make the pattern and it was fired again to cone 018.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Unexpected Journey

Here is yet another piece from the leaf series. As with most things unexpected, there are mixed feelings. What is it here? Could it be surprise, delight, fear of the unknown, or even resolve? Since we all have our own reactions to the unexpected in life, the idea behind the mask is up to you, the viewer, to decide.

My own life is full of these journeys - and many of them are of the mind. I do my best to face them in the spirit with which they come to me.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

How Does Your Garden Grow?

And..with what do you feed it? Do you weed it, or let it grow wild? Is it perennial or annual? Ah, the questions!

Here, I'm using the garden as a metaphor for inner thoughts and imagination. If the imagination is well fed, then the "garden" will grow. How it grows will depend on how much attention we give it - or how much it demands.

I've been accused of having an over-active imagination... guilty, I am! This can be both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, I am lucky to be able to express my feelings through my work. On the other hand, it can be overwhelming at times. Though the imagination is nourishing for the soul, it can also be a major distraction!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Inside a Bubble

At times, I feel as if I'm viewing the world from inside a bubble. And, though the bubble surrounds and protects me, it is a fragile shell that could be burst at any time by the smallest thing. Of course, this means I must always carry my bubble wand and magic soap.

Seriously though, most of the time it is painful to see the world too clearly. And so, we all construct our own protective devices....

This little (4 1/4"high x 3 1/4"wide) piece is raku fired, with engobes and glaze. It is finished with colored pencils and matte varnish.

This piece is available for sale at :

Thursday, January 15, 2009

At Your Own Risk

I've done a number of masks with hearts as the focus. I also like to use doors that open to expose what's inside. Here, I've used them together to express the idea that we take a risk when we open our hearts. Even though risk is associated with danger, the key is there to assist the opening. I'm not really sure why I added the key, but it seemed hopeful somehow. Isn't there usually a key for a locked door? I seem to have more questions than answers.

So, I'll leave off for today with one of my favorite addages...Nothing ventured, nothing gained.......

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A Little Bird Told Me....

A few years ago, I began a series of masks based on things that my mother would say to me when I was a child. These usually took the form of mild warnings or ways to counter the slings and arrows from other children (i.e. If you can't say something nice... or Stick and stones..., etc).

I recently added to the collection with this piece. Whenever I had done something that I probably shouldn't have done, my mother always seemed to know. At the time, I failed to understand the concept of parental networking. When I would ask how she knew of my deed, she would reply: "a little bird told me". When I think about it now, I'm pretty sure that's when "Birdgirl" became a part of my psyche!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


Here is another offering from the leaf series. I wanted this "leaf" to appear surprised about its separation from the tree and a bit excited about the journey (as in free falling...). The leaves are becoming expressions of my own personal struggles with the challenges that life throws at me. Can I surrender? Can you?

Life, I feel, is not about giving up, but about surrendering to the possibilities. I hope that's the message this piece sends!

The mask was sculpted with raku clay and fired 4 times (bisque, engobe, underglaze pencil and glaze).

Monday, January 12, 2009


I think a lot about spaces and the spaces between the spaces. Does that make any sense?! Well, whether it does or not probably doesn't matter too much in the scheme of things. But, it's what I was thinking about when I sculpted this mask.

After the raku process, I decided to finish it with designs that represent growth and roots. The space between is the interlude.....a calm place where everything stops for a moment. Although I made this piece in Hungary, I had made a sketch of it before I left. I wasn't sure I would even make it since it was an idea I brought with me. However, the idea wouldn't let me go.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

In One Basket

Eggs are an ongoing theme in my work. There is something unsettling in the question "which came first?". So, I use eggs to express some of these feelings of doubt. In this case, it's about risk and taking chances.

Is it a good idea to put all your eggs in one basket? I'll never know the answer to that one, just as I'll never know which came first. But I will keep blundering along - taking chances and wondering.

The mask is stoneware with mid-fire (cone 6) glazes and engobes with a final firing of gold lustre. The eggs in the basket are raku fired porcelain.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Birdgirl's Prize

I've done a series of "Birdgirl" pieces over the past 6 or 7 years. This is the latest entry and one of my favorites (it seems that the newest ones are always my favorite!). Birdgirl happens to be one of my alter-egos and the series represents the dreams and flights of fancy that are possible.

The "prize", in this mask, is meant to be something like building material. What will you or I feather our nests with? I hope it is something special.....

Friday, January 9, 2009

Blue Queen

What can I's about the blues, and I've had plenty of them! I often tell people at shows that I try to stay away from "the dark side", but all is not sweetness and light. Anyway, this is the lighter side of dark.

With this mask, I'm combining several factors: My love of Medieval art, the idea of myself as the Queen of my own universe and the reality of my day to day existence. Working alone in the studio every day does have its upsides and its downsides. I guess that makes me upside-down!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Postponing the Inevitable

This is another of the "Hungary" pieces. I was feeling a bit old while working there! Many of the artists and students at the time were young (at least, younger than me) and, as always, I felt a need to fit in and to keep up. The mask suffered a "raku accident", so I decided to make the best of it. Sometimes, the accidents are upsetting, but I feel that this one actually benefits. The fact that it is broken and repaired highlights the fact that no matter what we do, the end result is the same.

Well, I'm officially back in the studio...but I'm taking things slow. Been researching and mulling over some new ideas-it's kind of like weeding the garden!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

If You're Going to San Francisco

Being a child of the 60's has left its mark on me and, though the times were turbulent in many ways, I remember them fondly. It's the rose colored glasses I suppose!

This mask is my ode to those times, and if you remember "the song", you'll understand. As time goes by I feel a need to look back and commemorate, in my own way, some of the important passages of my life. It makes me feel less alone knowing that others might have had similar journeys.

Monday, January 5, 2009


This is a stoneware piece from last year and is one of the original masks for the "Leaf as Metaphor" series. The title is "Denial". I'm in denial about so many things that it's hard to give an explanation of the piece! It is more about a feeling I would like to express that I hope is universal. Does the leaf know that it is falling from the tree? Does it care to know?

I was fortunate to find a good home for "Denial" with my good friend Sally Ryan. In return, the queen got some new clothes made by Sally's talented hands. Ah, the joys of bartering with talented pals!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Just a Little Piece of My Heart

This is the offering for today - it's "Just a Little Piece of My Heart". The New Year seems like a good time to share this mask since it's all about beginnings....or is it about endings? I don't know, but I do know that it is about sharing.

I made this piece during my second residency at the International Ceramic Studios in Kecskemet, Hungary (May to July 2008). Of course, it is Raku - as was most of the work I did there. I'll be showing some more of these as the days go by. It's always inspiring for me to work in another country as I get ideas that I don't think I'd get at home in my studio. Then too, I bring away thoughts and images that will affect my work for years to come.

Right now, I'm gearing up to get back into the studio in a serious way. I never seem to get much done during the holidays - so many distractions. And these days, I'm easily distracted anyway. So - Here's to the New Year!!