Sunday, January 27, 2013

Home Remodel Gone Bad

One of my most recent projects - a collection of ceramic column vessels imprinted with American Can Factory brick remnants which were found along the shore in Lubec. The factory burned in the early 1900's.
Heading into major Herring Collectors Series production in a couple days.
I have been commissioned to create the awards for the 2013 Bay of Fundy Marathon.
 This is what my pottery studio currently looks like.
It's a real mess while I try to mud, prime, and paint.
Well, one thing is for sure. I shall never have a job as a drywall contractor.
My Christmas gift from family this year was several panels of sheetrock to enclose the ceiling and one wall of my pottery cave. This mini "remodel" is an attempt to conserve heat and contain clay dust. Funds did not include the finishing details so I have taken that task upon myself. While I actually found the process of applying the tape and mud enjoyable, I am not skilled at it. I made a huge, sloppy, bumpy, crusty mess. Everywhere. This morning I actually looked at a youtube how-to video and it turns out that I was lacking not only technique but also the right tools for the job. Why didn't I think to peek at the video BEFORE I began?
What I thought would be a one day project to mud, prime, and paint is now onto day three. The studio is in complete disarray. While trying to smooth the lumps, I cut my finger with the putty knife. Soon after, I stepped backwards off a step stool up against the kiln's metal computer module receiving a nasty scratch on my backside. Blood wiped up, bandaids and neosporin applied, I returned to the task at hand. This time, I resigned myself to the faux stucco bands of joint compound and began to apply the primer paint.
This just wasn't my day. The gallon of primer, which I thought would cover the one wall and ceiling did not cover even the ceiling. Tonight, the ceiling is primed with the exception of two 6x24 inch patches. I want to get this done and put supplies back on the shelves.Work is piling up and I am itching to dive in.
The past few days were busy with a few appointments and meetings and was mostly about getting things in order for the next few months. Lubec Arts Alive met and it is time to get ideas for this summer's project formalized. I also finished up some paperwork for a new project, submitted state sales tax, lined up summer vending venues, picked up my woven work from the show in Calais, and met with friends for a lovely afternoon tea and talk. I even spent some time at the library looking through the art book collection. I still have more tax paperwork to do but will wait for a nice rainy day to pull out the receipts and forms.
I have plenty of work to keep me busy up until the shop re-opens and craft show vending begins. Lubec and Campobello have joined forces in the Bay of Fundy Marathon and I was approached about making the awards for this year's event. I will be spending the next four months carving herring ware for the various category winners. The event will have both a full international marathon and 10k race. If you are a runner, check out the website for event specs. So far over two hundred people have signed on for the full marathon. Amazing! Get training and you just might become the owner an original handcarved Herring Collectors Series piece made by me! All my training will be in the studio. I won't be running, but you can catch me at the Expo.
I am in my seventh semester of the MFA program at Heartwood College of Art. I have been fortunate to work with some wonderful mentors and look forward to seeing what develops in the studio this time around. Even though I have a general plan, I never really know what the final project will be until the very end. A lot can change over the course of a few months. It's wild to think that I have six semesters behind me and that there are only four more to go. It's kinda hard to imagine life without my pod mates!!!

I just discovered that Chris's dad has officially been added to the North Carolina Chess Hall of Fame. Pretty cool! He was the youngest state champion at the wee age of fourteen. Congrats Kit! Check out the page, and be sure to click on Tom Hales account of meeting Kit for the first time. It's a good read!
Well, that's the current update from Lubec, Maine. Loving my life as an artist and learning as I go. It's time for me to retreat into the studio for a while to get some things done. February I need to stay focused. January was fun with all the socializing, but boy do I need some studio time!!!!


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

2013 in Full Swing

 Playing around with encaustics.
A friend told me that fish are good feng shui for luck and prosperity.
It is that season again!
Chris shoveling our first storm of the year. This was nothing....four days later we had over eighteen inches of the white stuff drop into our yard!
I visited my artist friend Diane Langley on Westport Island for our annual brunch. She lives in an old one room schoolhouse and the space is filled with her various artistic projects: encaustics, rug hooking, spinning, painting, quilting. I love all the colors. All my senses are filled.
The living room wall has been pink since we moved in, and probably long before. I absolutely, positively, do NOT like painting walls. I finally, in a burst of inspirational energy, patched up the walls and slapped on a new coat of paint.
When we first moved to Lubec, Chris' grandfather pointed out to us the various bullet holes in the house. Apparently someone enjoyed target practice at our house.
I actually thought that I might lament the loss of the pink walls. I knew I would miss the bullet hole and was kinda sad to cover that over along with Chris' grandfather's handwriting....but....I am loving the new warm beige tone and simplicity of space. For the record: the furniture is older than the bullet hole!
 My beautiful mom visited this past week and tried her hand at encaustic painting.
For Christmas, Dad made this railing for Chris and me.
He installed it a couple weeks ago. Love it!
I'm holed up in the one room in the house without windows in an effort to conserve energy. A small  electric heater is warming this enclosed space that is the most protected from the outside elements. Today the temps plummeted to near zero and with wind chill taken into consideration, some parts of Maine may be seeing 45 below tonight. Yes...that is below zero. I was outside a few times today for errands and my hands quickly numbed and ached. This is not weather for the faint of heart. While downeast may be considered balmy compared to northern Maine, I doubt that any Floridian or Californian is jumping at the chance for a non-tropical mid-winter excursion to the northeast.
I have not blogged since just before Christmas. It was a studio frenzy of activity for a few weeks as I prepared for end-of-semester MFA presentations at Heartwood. For the first time I think I truly felt what it is like to be a full time working artist. The production pottery was put to the side as holiday sales began to wane and I dove full throttle into sculpture and encaustics. What am amazing feeling that was to roll out of bed each day and devote eight to twelve hours insanely obsessed on the project at hand. I am truly grateful for this interesting and fulfilling life.
Let's see, so many things have been going on and not having blogged in nearly a month, I doubt I can recall all. First of all, the holidays were wonderful spending lots of time with friends and family. There are years-old traditions that never feel redundant. The traditions keep me grounded and knowing that there are things that you can come to depend on in life. With so many unknowns, it is good to know that some things remain intact. Christmas eve with my family is one of my favorite nights of the year. Another tradition is to spend time with my friend Diane in her home and studio. It's always a feast for the senses to visit her space and see all the projects she has been working on since the last time I visited. I always return home inspired.
We rang in the new year doing what we love most: art and writing. Chris spent time in this study working on novel and poetry and I immersed myself in the creative project du jour. In the evening we found ourselves enjoying a quiet meal, conversation, and pillow time long before the sparkly ball in times square or the herring in Eastport dropped. New Year's Day took us to our friends Jean and Dick's for their annual potluck. It was a packed house with lots of yummy food and a chance to catch-up with everyone we hadn't seen since autumn or summer. Winter seems to bring out the bear in many. I for one relish my time to "hibernate".
Despite my usual winter hibernation-like behavior, the past couple weeks have been uncharacteristically social. In one weekend, I enjoyed homemade jambalaya and southern hospitality at a friend's beautiful cliffside home, then the next day stretched, chanted, and shared stories with an amazing and powerful group of women. Come Sunday,  the weekend rounded out with an intimate gathering of  friends for homemade chili, ukulele serenade, and gut-splitting laughter. In between the gatherings, I managed to paint the living room and develop a mild case of the flu. I guess all that fun in one weekend was just a bit too overwhelming for my socially introverted self!
After that super active few days, the flu did indeed take me down for a forced retreat. I spent a few days on the couch or in bed drinking lots of tea, guzzling nyquil, and trying to find food nourishment when I had no appetite. Most everything tasted bitter but turns out that the perfect meal was canned peaches and sucrets. Once I discovered that I was rocking and rolling. Well, maybe not rocking and rolling, but once mom arrived for her annual winter visit and brought all kinds of medicinal stuff and a vaporizer, I was moving toward the mend. Only a mother would put herself in harms way of highly contagious germs. I would not say that this was the most exciting visit to Lubec that she has ever had, but she is sure to be well rested since we didn't do a whole lot. Near the end of her visit and myself on the mend, she did have the opportunity to try her hand at encaustic painting. I'm not sure that she will go out and invest in the supplies any time soon, but I do think that she was intrigued by the process. 
Before the flu, and before mom's visit, dad came down for a day to deliver our Christmas gift which is a gorgeous handcrafted railing for the hallway. He is such an amazing woodworker. I wish I had half that talent with wood! We have been fortunate over the years to have dad's expertise with various home projects.
Well, it has been a whirlwind of activity. Toss into the mix my one day of jury duty and dealing with some business stuff it has turned out to be one of the busiest Januarys on record for me. Every year I look forward to January for some down time, but that just wasn't in the cards for me this time around. Though I guess I can count the few days of couch time while recuperating as vacation??? Um, maybe not.
Things are back to full speed from this point forward. I have several appointments and meetings this week and need to get working on some intensive projects both in sculpture and pottery. Exciting times ahead!