Friday, February 27, 2009

Cause and Effect

What happens when the sun shines? Where do the ripples go when I drop a stone into water? Why does a good day have to end? Can everyone see me if I cover my eyes?

Sometimes it feels as if the whole universe is a conundrum, and each of us is in the center of our own special universe. Does anything we do make a difference? I hope that the things I do create good effects!

Well, I made it to Oregon (spent most of yesterday driving) and I'm staying at Nancy's beautiful ranch in the Applegate. Beautiful views and a very inspiring place to be! I think I'll post some pics of the ranch when I get home.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Smoke Screen

When I made this piece, I was thinking about the Redwood Highway in Northern California. It's a beautiful drive with trees all along the road...but behind this thin wall of trees, much of the area has been clear cut by logging companies. Our senses are fooled by the facade and I wanted this mask to be an allegory to remind myself that all is not what it seems.

I sold this mask 2 years ago and for some reason, it came to mind. I'm considering revisiting this idea very soon....

Raku today (i.e. playing with fire) and leaving for Oregon tomorrow!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A New Room in the Dreamhouse

I often dream of houses - many of which I visit over and over again. Every now and then I find a room that I didn't know was there and it's usually a wonderful discovery. I spend a lot of time in these new dream rooms exploring every detail and congratulating myself on my good luck. When I awake, there is the feeling that I've truly gained something. Since I'm not schooled in the interpretation of dreams, I can only guess at the meaning. It feels as if new areas of the subconscious are becoming available to me, and I await their manifestations in my work!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Down to Earth

She's on her way to being "grounded"... something I aspire to. Perhaps the wings will cushion the landing - or maybe she'll change her mind and head back to the stratosphere. Part of what I was thinking when I made this piece is about never being satisfied with where I am at the moment. There is always some place or some state of mind that is better. This way of thinking could be my fatal flaw....

I didn't get enough done this weekend and now I'm feeling some pressure. I'm heading up to Oregon mid week for a small winery show put on by my friend Nancy Adams. Whew, looking forward to the short getaway!

Friday, February 20, 2009

The Merry Prankster

Here again, my coming of age in the 60's is showing. I never was quite that "merry" but many of the concepts intrigued me and have stayed with me over the years. I like to think of the prankster as something that sneeks up from behind the persona and delivers a much needed dose of surprise and wonder. It is not so easy to dismiss the prankster because you never know when he/she will appear. The message is: it's important to keep an open mind.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Between Heaven and Hell

I think that this is one of my most dramatic pieces. I've done a couple different versions of this idea - but this is, by far, my favorite. I keep coming back to "choices", although I feel that this mask is more about acceptance! Most of the time we dwell in the middle ground until something happens to push us one way or the other. Anyway, that's my short and sweet interpretation of this mask. I usually hesitate to say too much about any of my works in the hope that there will be room for the viewers own interpretations.

The week is almost at an end and I wonder where the time went. Of course, I'm in full throttle right now with all the works in progress. Time really does fly when you're having fun!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Battle Weary

I sculpted this piece on my first stay at the ICS in Hungary (2006) and there it remains. While I was making it, there was a gathering of Hungarian ceramists working there to make sculptures relating to the October 1956 occupation by the Russians. Many of the artists had first hand experiences and the works created were full of emotional content. This prompted me to create something relating to my own struggles and emotions. At the time, I wasn't really sure where this piece came from. I'm even less sure now, but I do believe that it must have come from my heart! So many disappointments, so many chains - but hey, I'm a survivor and I have the scars to prove it!

It was a challenge to raku this work. The head, helmet and body were fired separately and assembled ater firing.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Power Play

Here is yet another mask that suggests struggle. Sometimes it feels like everything I do involves a choice....between right or wrong, good or bad, stubborness or complicity, etc., etc.. To my way of thinking, the devil/angel scenario says it all. Life is a constant battle between forces, but just imagine how dull it would be without the choices!

The mask is raku fired and finished with colored pencils and matte varnish.

I have a kiln going right now and am eagerly awaiting the results. I think most ceramists feel like it's Christmas morning when opening the kiln - I know I do!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Self Control

A number of people have been bothered by this mask - they just can't seem to handle the faucets in the eyes! But, most viewers "get it" and wish it was so easy to turn off and on at will. This was my idea since I often feel powerless when I must show some self control. Wouldn't it be wonderful to be the pilots of our own crafts?! Well, I can dream, can't I?

The mask is stoneware with engobes and glazes. The faucets were epoxied in after the final firing.

It's a busy time in the studio...getting ready for the Contemporary Crafts show (San Francisco) in March. I'm working on ten pieces at once and it's difficult to mentally keep track of where I'm at with each one...

Friday, February 13, 2009

Self Medicating

While in Hungary at the International Ceramic Studios, I made this mask. One Hungarian family has produced Unicum ( an herbal liqueur) for many years - even through the Russian occupation. Although, to protect the "secret" family recipe, it was changed slightly during the occupation so that the Russians would not be able to reproduce the original. When I heard about this, I just had to commemorate it. For such a long time the Hungarians have been downtrodden, but now they are free to self medicate with the original Unicum. I found this symbolic...with a dash of irony thrown in for good measure.

The mask was fired multiple times and cold finished. By the way, Unicum is an acquired taste!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Be Careful What You Wish For

Here's a mask fresh out of my studio! I've done a number of masks using charms, milagros and talismans. I'm ever hopeful that some of these will work their magic and yet, mindful that having a wish or a dream come true is not the be all - end all. Everything is connected and once the weels are set in motion, there's no going back. That said, I still have lots of wishes!

I had intended to raku this mask, but after all the time I spent drawing the milagros, I was afraid that the crackles would obscure all my hard work. So, in the end, I just put in the electric kiln...

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Lookout

I like the idea of having someone or some thing being the lookout. Here, I was thinking about how a flock of birds or animals are warned of danger by one of the group. The bird, for me, represents my own instincts always on the lookout.

This mask is one of my first forays into "naked raku" (a technique that involves peeling away a slip/glaze combination after the raku firing). The process is very exciting since you never know how it will turn out and it couldn't be duplicated if you tried!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Just Under the Surface

So many things are just under the surface - lying in wait to appear at opportune moments. This is one of the rare pieces that I didn't have a title for until it was completed. The idea suggested itself as I thought about all the ideas that are waiting inside me.

This is another of the last cast stoneware masks. I used a shellac resist to wipe away layers of the greenware and then bisque fired it. The mask was then painted with a white engobe and fired again. The final glaze firing was raku.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Stressed Out (the edge of reason...)'s one of the difficulties we face in our day to day existence. Of course, there are different levels of stress and that is what I'm trying to show with this mask. I try to keep myself on an even keel, but often find that I'm hovering on the outer edges. It's hard to deny its presence...

This mask is another "mixed media" piece. I used to paint a lot of silk which would then be cut into bias strips and sewn into cords. Now and then, I use these cords as "hair" for a mask.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Hide and Seek

The title refers to one of my favorite childhood games. I wanted to show how the game continues in my own mind. Even though I consider myself a seeker, I seem to spend a lot of time the studio, behind a mask or constructing obstacles of all sorts. The hiding seems to suggest protection - but is it really?

In order to keep showing newer masks on a regular basis, I've decided to start bringing in some "Golden Oldies" to fill in the gaps. This is the first and it is a mask from 2005. Although this mask can be seen on my website, there is no "behind the mask" info there. I'm really enjoying writing about my work and it has become a daily habit!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Stick Figure

Ok, Ok, I know this isn't a mask....but I also make small sculptures. Originally, these were made to hang some of the smaller masks on. I still use them in that way, but I've begun to make them as stand alone pieces besides.

I'm working on another out in my backyard studio...probably the most outrageous one yet. But, you'll have to wait till next week for that!

I love to use found objects in my work. Besides being very "green", it's satisfying and challenging to incorporate different materials. In this piece, I've use driftwood gathered up in beautiful Humboldt county.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Under the Influence

I've found that when you're under the influence, even a mask won't help! Although, depending on what that "influence" is, it might make you feel a little less obvious. I've always had trouble blending in with society and perhaps that is because my influences are just a wee bit disturbing for some. In any case, I have learned to be a little less obviously "out there" and the masks have been therapeutic in that respect.

The mask was made in two parts and joined after finishing. This is because I couldn't mix the naked raku of the lower face with the gold luster in the "hat". Any refiring after the raku will burn out all of the wonderful smoke patterns.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Lucy in the Sky

And here's Lucy...

This, of course, refers to the song, but I've given my own twist to the mask. Lucy has her "diamonds" and I've merged her with an image of the Virgin Mary. Is this a saint or a sinner? I'll let you decide!

I've been influenced heavily by travels in Mexico and I love the different portrayals of "La Virgen". It was an exercise in whimsy mixing the images and is not meant to have any religious significance.

The mask was sculpted with stoneware clay, painted with engobes and glazes, and fired to cone 5.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Red, White and...

I made this trio about a month before our presidential election. Although I felt hopeful about the election results, I also felt a bit of distrust with the process. For me, the blue mask represents the Florida debacle of 2000. Fortunately, my fears have been allayed and we can all move forward!
These small masks were press molded and altered, painted with engobe and glaze - and raku fired.

Monday, February 2, 2009

The Devil's Playground

For Groundhog day, I'm showing an older piece (2006). Even though I usually claim not to have favorites, this is one! I worked on the mask for a while - till the vision was complete and many of my demons showed their faces. You know what they say about an idle mind....not that I have one, but I'm aware of the possibility. Needless to say, but I'll say it anyway, I try to keep busy.

I made the mask at the ICS in Hungary. It is raku and survived both the fire and the journey home!

detail -The Devil's Playground

Here's a close-up of the "playground": The bad little birdie, the idle mind demon, the not so saintly "father", the bad seed and the twisted nun....