Saturday, January 31, 2009


Like carefully polishing the rust off my newly discovered pottery tools! They were is a box in the workshop. Someone in our past gave them to us and now we know why. I made a painted cloth bag to keep them in! This is a sweet man......


Yeah, I love this stuff.........

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


The class is really taking off now as we all get more comfortable with handling clay. In case you think this pottery stuff is easy, that beautiful bowl on the top shelf left was done by The Master. Today we worked again on coiled pottery, trying to make the walls of the bowls arch inwards toward the center. The key is to have the bowl hardened a bit before additional coils are added to the rim. While waiting for my bowl to harden somewhat, I was able to add color to the " shard- like" pieces I created last week. Tomas had fired about half of them so they now have several colors of matte glaze as well as some shinier ones. This photo shows the fired pieces............and this photo shows them with the glazes applied. You DO know that the colors you see here are in no way going to resemble the fired finished look, right?I also am experimenting by adding a small flat- sided glass orb to one of the bowls I completed earlier. It will be interesting to see what happens to that glass when the bowl is fired again. The experimentation is the part I most enjoy about learning new processes! POST SCRIPT: On our way into town this morning we were greeted by several of the horses at the ranch. When we stopped to take photos they really seemed determined to get their heads in the window, presumably for treats? (I really have no idea what horse treats are). Check out that big ole horse eye in the rear view mirror! The low temperature last night was 14 degrees. It looks like a warm summer day doesn't it?

Monday, January 26, 2009


....because she really needs to be here.
Every afternoon Roy and I take a walk around the land, something that must be good for our hearts! Today I am taking you walking with us. The temperature is nice, around 55 degrees but the wind is really whipping! Makes it feel colder than it really is.
Our walk starts from the back porch and traverses the old ranch road ( going east and west but at an angle) that was here long before we were. It is no longer used for ranching (as we are not bean farmers) but you can still see faint lines where it was. This is me walking that path. And this is Roy.At the end of this road we turn left onto the real road which runs along the north side of our land. We continue this to the corner and turn left again, onto the road that runs along the west side of the land. We continue down this slope and then turn left again, back onto the old ranch road. It is a bit of a strange triangle route we walk! Occasionally Roy stops to examine an unusual rock and we are ever on the lookout for that rare piece of pottery. They are few but we have found some. Since the grasses are tall in places, it is important to be on the lookout for small cactus that hide underneath, waiting to attack unsuspecting ankles. We have learned how to avoid most. This, is our afternoon walk. I hope you enjoyed it!


I needed a way to carry some new business cards I made and Roy suggested I make a card purse out of painted fabric! He is a gem, always seems to find the answer when my brain is clogged up with other stuff. So, I printed off new cards, attached some painted fabric scraps to the backs and included some blue dots on the front (Tulip Pearl Dimensional Paint). The little card purse is closed with Velcro and has a decorative embellishment on the flap. Yes, the back side of an old watch face. How fun is that?

Sunday, January 25, 2009


You know the one I'm talking about. If you can think fast enough when you see a "shooting star" and you make a wish on it, it will come true. As long as I can remember, when I have seen one, I have quickly wished for "good health". My theory is that if I have that, all other things I need or want will fall in line sooner or later. My friends, remember when you found out Santa Clause wasn't real? Well, here is another pivotal moment; that "shooting star" thing is a myth. Yeah, I know. True. Deal with it. You want proof? Sure. I have proof. About eight weeks ago I was raking the gravel driveway (don't ask) and I pinched a nerve in my left shoulder. It hurts, every day and every night. I continue to sew and paint and do all the things I love to do, but am starting to get cranky. WebMD tells me to take ibuprofen, sit around all day with moist heat on it and keep my left arm immobile. Like that's going to happen! So there is your proof. This has been a Public Service Announcement. We now return you to your regularly scheduled program.

Friday, January 23, 2009


I am having such a good time painting on fabric that I wanted to show you the simple tools needed and to encourage you to try it!
Here, spread out on the next piece of fabric to be painted, are the tools I use to create texture and shape in the colors. The comb is dragged through wet paint and makes ridges. The chopstick is used to draw simple lines through the paint. I put some paint in the red plastic lid and use the now well worn sea sponge to create lace- like designs. That big wooden spoon continues to get bigger! I use it to scoop paint out of the cans and spread it around on the cloth. I wipe it off on the cloth, but not totally , so it continues to get fatter and fatter with paint. There is almost a giddy feeling when I use the spoon and leave paint on it! You know all those rules about cleaning your brushes and paint sticks and paint can rims? I DO clean my brushes, but the rest of the rules do NOT reside in my studio. And, no one is looking over my shoulder saying tsk, tsk, tsk. Really quite fun! As an aside to this reckless approach to paint, I now have a pair of "painting jeans". Yeah, they have paint on them and its great! The best tool in this picture is the yellow plaster trowel, which lost its handle long ago but is absolutely perfect for smearing around large globs of paint.
Here are a very few of the small bottles of acrylic paint. Remember that long ago post showing all my shelves of paint bottles? Many of my paints are running low and getting a bit stiff and unusable for fine line painting. But, if I add some warm water and give it a good shake, it is perfect for dripping and pouring over the surface. These are some of the cans of house paint I am using as base colors. And, finally ...........this is a stack of different colored pieces of painted fabric, hanging out there, waiting to be transformed into a handbag, or a tote, or maybe a piece of wall art, or an insert panel on the back of a jacket, or patches on a cool pair of jeans, or.........(you fill in the blank here) !! Now you know exactly how to do it. Go paint some fabric!

Thursday, January 22, 2009


While in town today I took a couple of quick photographs for you. This is the Mountainair Public Library (complete with a drop box). You know this because the sign over the door clearly states "LIBRARY". What more does it need to say?And this is the Municipal Court and Police Department building, according to the signs over the front windows. What? You don't believe me? You bet your sweet cowboy boots! (and may it never change)


Because I did NOT want to miss the most important inauguration on Tuesday, I attended the Thursday pottery class today. Of course you do know, I was on a mission! I have been thinking about the clay embellishments I want for my line of wallets, purses and tote bags. I did manage to get through the required elements today (coiled pot and a coiled cup) and moved quickly on to my goal project. With the blessings and help of Tomas, I created fifty-two little pieces that look like pottery shards with wonderful designs in the surface. About one third of them have a center hole in the event I want to attach them with colorful embroidery thread. The rest are solid and will need to be attached with a strong glue. The process was quite simple. I rolled out some clay using thin strips of wood on either side to get a constant thickness. Then, using some flexible rubber stamp sheets, I pressed them into the clay, again with the rolling pin. With a sharp tool I cut random shapes from the stamped clay. After gently smoothing the edges, I placed them on a board to dry. I wonder how much warping will happen when they dry? If they warp too much, I won't be able to get a good flat glue surface. Better hope for the best, huh. Does this mean I have to make 52 bags? Oh my.

Saturday, January 17, 2009


Did I need this? You bet! I LOVE trying new things and experimenting with fabrics and paints. This is a prototype of a line of purses, wallets and tote bags that I am working on. Since the pieces in question will be secured with Velcro, I am going to make some clay embellishments (think cabochons) to adhere to them. I have some very good glue called "The Ultimate" that seems to work well for this type of application. Since I don't yet have those "hand made by me in the pottery class" things, I used a stone piece I had in my studio.
I started by painting some canvas fabric with house paint and acrylics. That was the most fun! I have some large pieces of fabric so on they floor they went and I started smearing and dripping and smooshing paint until it looked the way I wanted. The best way to smear paint on a large surface is to pour it on and move it around with a plaster trowel. Each piece is about nine square feet. After it was dry I cut it in pieces and assembled this very cool wallet. The center of this tri-fold will hold credit cards and the bottom section is for bills. I also added some stamped images and stitched it all together with black thread. It is like carrying your very own piece of original art work! I have a tote bag in the making that I will show you in another post. I would like to think about creating a line of these funky and edgy accessories. I need some help naming the line. Do you have any suggestions? I came up with "The Gallery Collection" but seemed a little boring for such fun stuff!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


Oh my yes, we have improved! Today we made bowls, shallow and deeper. Then after they became somewhat hardened, we painted a slip on them, or painted a colored glaze, or inscribed in them, or a combination of all of those. I can't wait until they are fired to see what they REALLY look like! Here, for your viewing pleasure, are some of the pieces.
I have 2 pieces in the above photograph. The free form fish bowl in the upper right corner is mine, as well as the smaller bowl to the left of it with the contemporary design.

Friday, January 9, 2009


I went outside this morning as usual to feed the birds. Now there is a bunny who is sitting by the sheet pan in the morning, waiting. He never moves as I carefully put the seeds down. I have opened up an auxiliary dining room about 10 feet away so the little birds can eat without intimidation. They appreciate that! This morning Roy sat down and wrote a poem, for me, about my birds. He makes me feel very special. I don't really "get" poetry. I don't see symbolism that others see, I don't see hidden messages that others see. I think I was ruined for poetry in school when the teachers insisted I "see" things and mediocre grades happened when I didn't. This poem is good for me. I get it. I also "get" Edgar Allen Poe. Should I tell Roy he writes poetry as well as Poe? Sure!
"Love Teaches Many Lessons"
A circle gives example
A loving heart gives
Giving children life lessons.
A Mother teaches her babe
Values soak through mind
Tender heart prepared to give.
A plan is happily made
Her heart is aglow
Little ones in need will feed.
With loving care she chooses seeds
Heart light she scatters
Quickly she retreats inside.
Small seeds spread upon the ground
So much fluttering
Makes a smile live on her face.
- Roy Kirby

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


One of my resolutions for 2009 is to learn new things, particularly those things that would require that I actually interact with other people. As a "hermit in training", this is probably the most important part.
So, today was my very first pottery class! As I thought about this, it occurred to me that this is the first time I have paid someone else to teach me anything in the line of creativity. Huh. Self-taught can be limiting I think. The class is taught by Tomas Wolff ( who unfortunately does not have a web site) in a charming little house across the road from our coffeehouse. Each room is painted a different and bright color and there are large windows that let in lots of natural light. There were about 8 of us in the class. We sat around a large canvas covered table and began to know clay. I liked the feel, the smoothness and the ease with which it could be manipulated. We started by making pinch pots, moved on to a small sculpture and then finished with seed pots. Here are some photos of our innocent and sincere beginnings. This is Scott's cantilevered wine goblet, leaning against a plastic tub in hopes of drying while still upright. This was my seat, with the ever present travel mug of coffee. Next Tuesday we will do more!

Monday, January 5, 2009


If you work with fabric you should have one. If you don't you better start one! Mine was out of control, all those tiny scraps I could not bear to throw away. So, the project was a tote bag made from some of those scraps. Be warned right now there will be a lot of photos!
The bag "base" was a piece of fabric given to me years ago. The bag covering was created using all of those little scraps. Here is the beginnning where I am working from both ends of a large rectangle of the base fabric. It is large enough that the final finished bag measures about 16 inches square. I hand stitched each one in place and did some layering as well as some decorative embroidery. The hand stamp was also a scrap as it was done as a test piece for another project. Here are some closeup shots of some of the pieces and stitching. Those bright curvy strips are hems from the tee shirts I cut for rug weaving. This is the back of the rectangle of fabric showing my stitches. In addition to using up little scraps, I was also able to use those leftover pieces of embroidery floss, the ones we wind on cardboard for a future need. Now all my cardboard thread holders are empty! The bag lining was a piece of an old skirt I have had for years also. The Velcro strip was left over from another project. You see? The entire bag , in its individual pieces, could have easily ended up in the landfill. Instead, it has morphed into a colorful and roomy tote bag to hold all my stuff! It is large enough to carry my art journal and a current sewing project. Ahh.....tis good!

Sunday, January 4, 2009


Roy has been working on a wonderful piece of string art, that geometric art form created by nails and thread. This was popular in the 1970's but is now often used by school math teachers as an addendum to their geometry classes. This is a beginning photo after he drew the design on paper, attached the paper to the board and pounded a million tiny nails in. Here is an "in progress" photo showing how the curves take shape with the stringing of different colored threads. Here is the completed art piece. I think it is quite stunning! He incorporated beads, silver buttons and feathers left for us in the courtyard by our resident doves. When it is finally finished it will have a painted border and possibly a wood frame to show it off. I am in hopes he will continue making these! I love having another artist's work in the studio. The medium contrast is fun!