Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Off on Holiday

Just a quick note to let my blog readers know that I have been traveling and super busy with the recent holidays - thus no posting! I will return to posting shortly after the new year. I hope that everyone has enjoyed this holiday season. Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Inspired by Coral

Finally! I am working on a new tapestry!

I have been preoccupied this past month and unable to work with clay or fiber - and am so happy that my energy is returning so that I can begin a new piece. I found (bought) a beautiful little rectangle of coral a while back and have wanted to use it as a centerpiece on a tapestry.Yesterday I selected yarns that I thought would work well with the coral and warped the loom for a small project. Today, I began the actual weaving. The photo here shows just a few warp strings and the first two colors of the tapestry. I hope to finish it by the end of the weekend - but will see what the days bring.

It sure does feel good to be working again...even if it is at a turtle's pace!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Living at the Edge

We live at the easternmost edge of the United States in a teeny little town called Lubec. Living here is an experience like no other. How we got here was an unusual, unplanned bit of fate.

I am a native Mainer - but central Maine is a completely different lifestyle than "downeast." My husband is from Los Angeles. We were both living in Knoxville, Tennessee when the opportunity came up for us to move to Lubec. Chris' grandfather had a house here that was vacant and he felt it would be a perfect place for an artist and writer. So, we packed up the Uhaul and in three weeks time had a new home and life in a region of Maine that we had never visited before. Of course, we had a glamorous image in our mind...coastal cottage on a sea cliff.

As we continued our drive (a good 20+ hours) up route 1 in Maine..the road became increasingly more deteriorated, the treescape changed (spruce instead of lush maple and oak), and businesses were nearly non-existent. Now, being a town without a Wal Mart or McDonalds is fine, but this gave the word remote a new meaning for us! Here, there are no traffic lights for 50 miles. The eagles soar overhead and bear ramble through town. In winter, there is one, sometimes two, diners that are open for business, and the local market closes by 6:00. Gas and heating oil prices are higher, food costs more, and wages (if you can find a job) are pitiful. Sea smoke pours off the bay signaling another extremely cold day. If you lose power in a storm, Lubec is not the first town Bangor Hydro rushes to repair service to. If you need anything - say a new pair of underwear or a prescription filled - it is either a 70 mile or 100 mile roundtrip to Machias or Calais. And, our little coastal cottage on a sea cliff.....? We arrived to a house, no running water, trees overgrowing the barn entrance, kitchen ceiling being supported by a birch tree branch, no stove, and a 1920's era Westinghouse refrigerator that did a superb job of melting ice-cream and freezing vegetables. And, we have to barricade the cellar entrance every night lest the raccoons break in and tear things apart.

Yet, here were are, eight years later still living here. The first few years were challenging, to say the least. But sometime around our third or fourth year here we began to meet some of the most interesting and incredible friends. They are poets, authors, healers, musicians, artists, storytellers, dancers, peace activists, Buddhists, Quakers, Shamans, naturalists, world travelers, teachers, weavers, and organic farmers. These incredible people, coupled with the raw beauty of this area has us now understanding why people come here and call it their paradise. It is a hideaway from the mainstream where nature is still in charge.

We can walk out our front door and choose from a dozen or more hikes. We can launch our kayaks in South Bay behind our house or in Johnson Bay if we want to tool around the salmon pens. We once saw at least fifty eagles circling over Carrying Place Cove. There are ancient shells hidden in the clay beds at Mowry Beach. Here, you hear the real "downast accent" that the Stephen King movies never seem to get quite right. In summer, painters line the streets to capture the glow of sun's first light on buildings. On Wednesday evenings, Summer Keys classical and jazz music pours out of the Congregational Church. Crow Town Gallery has the tastiest food spreads at their art openings that feature "local" but accomplished artists. On Fridays we pick up the best tasting wood-fired bread from Ed and Diane's place, and we have the sweetest little natural foods market at Sun Porch Industries. Martha is always stocked with fresh breads, coconut milk, spices, rice and pastas which seem to be our main staples. And, if you feel like doing some international travel, just hop in the car and drive across the bridge to Campobello Island, Canada.

So, we have to live miserly to get by here and we are sometimes cold with all the drafts in this old house, and traveling to visit family is a huge production and expense...but the treasures of this little village are worth the extra effort.

To visit some sites about this area check out:{216C09B5-1156-4827-833E-B285802A912B},_Maine

(In the painting above: The view from Klondike Mountain - overlooking South Bay, behind our house. The posts from an old pier are still visible at low tide. The pier once was attached to a business that was part of the Klondike Gold Rush - yep, right here in Lubec! It turned out to be a scam.)

Saturday, December 6, 2008

The Machine

I began this series of work about four summers ago. At first, I just referred to these pieces as "spike pots". They were not typical of my usual work. They were spikey, menacing, ugly, and painful to pick up (mind you, some of these pots have literally hundreds of little prickly spikes).

I work intuitively. When I go into the studio, I often don't have a plan or sketch. It sometimes takes me a while to figure out the meaning (if any) to a particular work. I knew that these pieces were full of pain, far from the joyful and spirited works that I am accustomed to creating. It took me a while, but I finally found the connection. In my studio - I listen to either music cd's or NPR. At this point in time, I spent many hours listening to reports of war in the Middle East. While working, I would become emotional, and not able to comprehend how people could think that killing would be the answer to any problem. I thought about the children and innocents that are killed, or the young soldiers who have been told what to do, or what is right, before they are even old enough to form their own beliefs and values.

So evolved this series which I call "The Machine."

When folks see these pieces for the first time, there is no middle ground. They either love the pieces or hate them. I am not offended at all when someone doesn't like these sculptures. Even I can admit to their ugliness. They serve no function, won't look pretty in the den on a shelf, and aren't exactly the kind of gift you would send grandma at Christmas. After all, they do represent war. And what can be more ugly than that?

(Pictured above: "The General")

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Figure

I love to draw the figure, especially when I have an inspiring model. Modeling is more an art than one would think - to be able to find the perfect pose, then hold it, steadily, for an hour or more. Even ten minutes would be challenging for me! So I am extremely grateful when a skilled model comes along. I was fortunate a couple summers ago that Bonnie Beard hosted a wonderful model at her Crow Town Gallery studio space, here in Lubec. (You can see some of Bonnie's artworks at her blog, linked under my Blog List section, to the right of this site...scroll down.)

My first experience with the figure was as a freshman in drawing class at USM. I had never drawn a nude before, and fell instantly in love with the rubenesque shapes. It was in that same drawing class that I sculpted my first torso. I didn't know at the time, but I would continue to sculpt that similar figure until current days - twenty years later!

I hope to begin drawing the figure again. It's one of those things that gets put to the side when I have a deadline for a firing or need a tapestry to replace one that sold. Maybe I can add it to my list of goals this coming find an inspiring model.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Mini Pots

The mini pot is the one item that I have produced easily thousands of over the my last twenty years of clay work. So when I say to people that I am not a production potter, well, this one throwing ritual of mine may debunk that myth.

The thing with the mini pot is this - I am amazed that I can throw such petite little pots - with such large, awkward hands. These little pots may be my one testament to grace. My usual mode of operation is anything but graceful. I bump into things, knock things over, break stuff all the time.

But I love to make these little, vulnerable pots.

Each throwing session in the studio begins the same way. Chris helps me by carrying out a big bucket of warm water. I grab 25 lbs. of clay and cut 12-24 small cubes off the block. I form each cube into a ball in my oversized hands, crank up the tunes (Shawn Colvin or Delco Ray perhaps), and sit at the wheel.

Now, I lost the on/off knob years ago - on moving day from Knoxville, TN back to Maine. The moving fella was carrying my wheel - I heard a thud - Yep, wheel on ground. Amazingly, the wheel still works, but...the knob never to be seen again.

So, I grab a pair of pliers, turn on switch, clunk the clay down, and center this mini-sized mound into a little beehive. From there, open, form, trim off wheel, place on board to my left.

Repeat up to 24 times.

Boring? No.

This is my ritual - my centering meditation, every time, before I throw the larger pieces. I use this time to experiment with form - like a little drawing thumbnail, only three-dimensional. And, I sell gazillions of them.