Show and Tell: Doing Dishes

Wheel-thrown dessert plates.

Woohoo! I made my first set of wheel-thrown dishes.

So what if the plates shrunk in the kiln more than I anticipated? So what if I made eight, but one was too thin and had to be scrapped? So what if the earth-tone glaze applied along with blue doesn’t show at all? And so what if I need to sand the bottoms more? These are the first plates I’ve made that look and feel like plates as opposed to, say, hockey pucks! I also made a set of four handle-less mugs, and am working on several Raku projects, which are in the beginning stages. Updates to follow when my pieces are fired.

Happy creating, hon!

Want to know what a wiggle-wire is? Click here to read more about this cool pottery tool.

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Three Berry Lovely Hostess Gifts

Chocolate-covered raspberries from Sweet Nothings.

One of the best things about summer is getting together with friends. With less carpools and craziness, it’s nice to hang out and catch up. I love that the day seems longer. Last night, we left a concert in our town’s park about 9pm and it was still light.

Summer invitations mean hostess gifts. Here are three berry-lovely ideas.

I found this adorable strawberry basket filled with chocolate-covered raspberries at Sweet Nothings, a chocolate shop in Summit, NJ. How easy is this to make yourself? All you need is a basket, filler “grass,” and candy or berries. How about making a berry mix? Wrap the mix in plastic wrap and nestle it inside the basket. Tie a bow and off you go!

Hand-thrown berry bowls filled with local berries.

Berry bowls aren’t just pretty, they’re practical since they are small colanders. I made the two ceramic bowls above, but I’ve seen them in several stores. How sweet would it be to give the hostess a berry bowl already filled? Want to make it even sweeter? Bring along whipped cream and (dare-I-say?) chocolate sauce.

Photo of Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries from bettycrocker.com.

I can’t believe I didn’t take a picture the last time I made Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries. Click here for a recipe. Know what’s fun about making these? Finishing up the leftover melted chocolate at home.

Berry-yummy!

Sources: Sweet Nothings  and bettycrocker.com

 

Show and Tell Ceramics II

“”Flower” small serving bowls.

This semester, my Ceramics instructor challenged us to make a set of small bowls that fit together around a center, chalice-shaped bowl, all resting on a plate. It really was a challenge! It took almost the whole ten classes to make, with a lot of mess-ups. My instructor said, “It’s all about the process.” When we’d had a particularly frustrating throwing day, the other students and I would remind each other to slow down and concentrate.

Hon, doesn’t “It’s all about the process” apply to so many things? That’s why I love my wise instructor and the patience Pottery teaches.

Closer look at bowls that fit together. Imagine them filled with different candies. You know I’m all about the sweets!
Unglazed outside of a bowl made with marbled clay.
Another marbled clay bowl.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bowl with visible “throwing rings.”

 

Aqua Lustre

Chesapeake Hyatt Infinity Pool and Chesapeake Bay, Maryland
Chesapeake Hyatt Infinity Pool and Chesapeake Bay, Maryland

Water is in the news.

I planned on posting photographs of water before predictions that Hurricane Joaquin was headed our way. Luckily, it didn’t reach our town and we avoided another Hurricane Sandy situation.

Along with patterns created by the juxtaposition of sky and man-made objects, I love taking pictures of water. Its’ color, translucency or opaqueness, movement and mystery are eternally fascinating.

Aqua water is especially alluring, which is why I love the Aqua Lustre Raku glaze offered at my summer Raku class.

There’s more to come in this Series of Blue (Serene Sky and Metal and Blues).

Hon, thanks for visiting Bmore Energy.

Ceramic plates I glazed with Aqua Lustre.
Raku ceramic plates I glazed with Aqua Lustre.
Ceramic vase and tea box.
Raku ceramic vase and tea box I glazed with Aqua Lustre.
Grotto in Israel
Grotto, Israel
Sandpiper Bay Infinity Pool, Florida
Sandpiper Bay Infinity Pool, Florida
Bar Harbor, Maine
Bar Harbor, Maine.  Check out the hammock.  WHO was planning on sleeping there?

Playing With Fire, Raku 2015

Ceramic vase and tea box.
Ceramic vase and tea box.

Playing With Clay

This summer, I took a Raku class taught by master ceramicist, excellent teacher, and all-around wonderful guy, Peter SyakNot only did the hours fly by, the women I took the class with were great company. I was inspired by them, and by the talented students I take ceramics class with year-round. We learn from each other.

Pottery has given me a way to turn off stress, even if it’s just for a few hours a week.  And I don’t mind getting my hands dirty.

Since I took this class last summer and know how beautiful the glazes are, this spring I threw a bunch of clay pots with Raku clay at the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey.

Do you know what we potters call ourselves? ADDICTED!  I’m pretty sure someone in our class wears a T-shirt that reads, “I’m a POT-head.”

To find out more about the Raku process, click on these links:

Red Hot Raku (Part 1)

Raku Reaction (Part 2)

Cool Results From Hot Pots (Part 3)

Hon, what do you do to turn off stress?

Raku Kiln. Our pieces were fired at about 1,750 degrees F.
Raku Kiln. Our pieces were fired at about 1,750 degrees F.
Lace-patterned ceramic vase.
Lace-patterned ceramic vase.
Shallow bowl and darted dish.
Shallow bowl and darted dish.

 

 

 

 

 

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Small wiggle-wire dishes.
Wiggle-wire dishes.
Small bowls with appliques and a tea light vessel.
Small bowls with appliques and a tea light vessel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Three different pots.
Three different pots.

Determined Like a Turtle

Box Turtle found in my garden.
Box Turtle found in my garden.

What do a turtle and writing have in common?

When it comes to writing, I’d rather be compared to a bunch of other animals. I’d rather soar, roar and wag my tail. But, alas, progress in the world of children’s books crawls along like a turtle. 

Speaking of turtles, look at the colorful Box Turtle who showed up in our garden. She had bright orange legs and was quite brave. Just like the courage it takes to submit manuscripts, this little lady didn’t shy away from potential danger. Just like my determination to bring my characters to life, she plodded ahead with purpose when I set her down next to a river.  (How do I know she was a she? Her irises were yellowish-brown, rather than red.)

One of the things I do to improve my writing is participate in a Critique Group. I recently wrote an article about writing groups for the Children’s Writer’s Guild called the Critique Group Sandwich. Not only did the CWG publish my post, they included me in their list of contributors.  Yay!

Hon, maybe I’m crawling in the right direction.

Turtle kiss.
Turtle kiss.

Ready to re-locate.

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Box Turtle Source: Smithsonian National Zoological Park

Related Posts:  Stories and CeramicsQuotes and Notes (from the NJSCBWI14 Conference), My Writing Process (Bunny Hop) Blog Hop

 

Stories and Ceramics

Handbuilt Raku Lantern Boxes
Handbuilt Raku Lantern Boxes

I still play in the mud!

Technically, I play in clay, but I mush and squush, pat and pound, and get lots of dirt under my fingernails in ceramics class. What was great about a rain like the 40 day flood? Shampooing your hair outside. A muddy stream meant tadpoles to inspect. Wet sand on the beach? I still like the feeling of the gritty sand surrounding my sinking feet. Do I sound like a big kid?  Hmmm, maybe that’s why no matter what else I’m doing, I’m thinking about children’s books.

Each of my latest ceramics pieces has elements that can relate to children’s books. “How can you relate pottery to books?” you might ask. Hon, if you talk to me for a few minutes, you’ll find out that I often connect seemingly random things. Is that kid-like, too?

I’ve mentioned this before (My Writing Process (Bunny Hop) Blog Hop)–I find children’s books magical. There’s something lovely about words on a page that bring you to another world, make you laugh, let you to believe the unbelievable, teach you something, allow silliness to surface, relate to your own life, can be read dozens (hundreds) of times and always feel fresh. I strive to create magic in my children’s books.

I made the lantern boxes above with Hubby in mind, inscribing them with our wedding date.  I love the Little Bear books. In the scene below, “The skunks decided to get married. They had a lovely wedding.” What’s timeless about them? The characters are sweet yet wise, proper yet loving. Friendships and family, the underlying themes, are set in a world seemingly simple, but filled with depth of emotion. Little Bear stories expand my heart.

Little Bear books by Else Holmelund, illustrated by
Little Bear books by Else Holmelund Minarik, illustrated by Maurice Sendak
The Wedding
The Wedding.

 

 

 

 

Wheel Thrown Bowl
Wheel Thrown Bowl

I make lots of ceramic bowls! I’m not at the point where I can tell the clay what I want it to be. The clay tells me what it wants to be. Boy, is that clay bossy! And a bossy character is part of what makes the Max and Ruby books funny. My kids and I never got tired of reading Bunny Cakes.  The scene below sums up the whole book.  “Max wanted to help. ‘Dont’ touch anything, Max,’ said Ruby.” You know I have triplets, right? My kids could relate to the sibling rivalry. Guess what theme I explore in some of my books? 

Max and Ruby books by Rosemary Wells
Max and Ruby books by Rosemary Wells
Baking the cake.
Baking the cake.

 

 

 

 

 

Handbuilt Raku plate
Handbuilt Raku Plate

Forests are infinitely fascinating to me. I made the plate above with a forest theme:  wood grain, foliage and a brick path. I even pressed a piece of wood along the edges.  Owl Moon teaches readers about owling, or looking for owls in a forest at night.  Not only does the text make you feel the hush of winter snow, the anticipation of calling the owl and the wonder when you see it, the illustrations beg to be studied and explored (look for other night creatures hiding in the branches).

Owl Moon by Jane Yolen, illustrated by
Owl Moon by Jane Yolen, illustrated by John Schoenherr

 

winter forest
Winter Forest.

 

 

 

 

 

Handbuilt Raku plate
Handbuilt Raku Plate

Water is the theme of this handbuilt plate. I glazed the pebble impressions, wavy, watery and slim, rope patterns green and blue. I was thinking of the beach when I made this plate. The Pig in the Pond isn’t set at the beach–its set on a farm–but a hot day, farm animals, Neligan the farmer and a pond are all key elements in this funny picture book. My kids and I laughed every time we read it, especially since Neligan gets naked!

The Pig in the Pond by Martin Wadell
The Pig in the Pond by Martin Waddell, illustrated by Jill Barton
"Sploooooosh!"
“Sploooooosh!”

 

 

 

 

 

Handbuilt Raku plate
Handbuilt Raku plate

Picking out the red in this plate and accenting it with green and blue took concentration. Loving Mouse Paint did not. Just because this is a board book and it’s about white mice doesn’t mean it isn’t huge in excellence.  The mice jump in jars of paint, hop around and mix colors to make other colors, wash themselves off in the cat’s bowl, then paint paper instead. But they leave some paper white “because of the cat.”  Genius!

Mouse Paint by
Mouse Paint by Ellen Stoll Walsh
Mice as artists.
Mice as artists.

 

 

 

 

Wheel Thrown mugs
Wheel Thrown Mugs.

I also make lots of mugs. What’s better in mugs than tea (or coffee or hot chocolate)? A constant source of my childhood imagination was tea parties, whether it was with my stuffed animals, friends, or underwater at the town pool. Mommy Badger carries a tea set in the scene below. The Frances books were written when picture book word counts were longer. They’re perfect for children ages 4-8 who want to sit and explore a story. Frances sings silly songs, likes to rhyme, is a picky eater, gets jealous of her baby sister and has to learn how to share (she reminds me of me!). Her parents get annoyed and frustrated with her, but Frances learns about the world around her with their guidance and, of course, love.

Frances books by Russell Hoban, illustrated by Lillian Hoban
Frances books by Russell Hoban, illustrated by Lillian Hoban
Mommy Badger
Mommy Badger holding a tea set.

 

 

 

 

 

 Hon, do you relate things in your life to books, children’s or  otherwise?  I’d love to compare notes!

Sources:

Little Bear by Else Holmelund Minarik and Maurice Sendak

Max and Ruby by Rosemary Wells

Owl Moon by Jane Yolen and John Schoenherr

The Pig in the Pond by Martin Waddell and Jill Barton

Mouse Paint by Ellen Stoll Walsh

Frances books by Russell Hoban and Lillian Hoban