A Cure for My Wintertime Blues

I lost my hat.  I lost my favorite hat.  I suppose I should be seriously bummed but, with all the problems in the world, it’s not worth the effort it would take. Besides,  the loss of my beloved chapeau has given me the opportunity to go hat shopping. Traditionally,  I acquire my hats in one of three ways: online shopping, someone gives me a hat, or I find the hat.  Literally, find the hat.  I found my favorite hat on trash collection day a few years ago.  It was tucked into a Neiman Marcus box that was sitting on top of a pile of garbage.  I could not resist looking into the Neiman Marcus box and there was my hat.  It needed no adornment.  I could wear it right out of the box.  And wear it I did during the cold weather.  I have one more hat (given to me by a woman I hardly know) that I wear during the coldest weather.  I have an in-between hat.  I bought this hat in a store, but after I brought it home I put it away and could not find it for two years.  And then I set it on fire by accident.  Don’t ask.  It is a small hole in the brim.  I sewed it shut and no one notices it until I point it out.  Which I do.  And I have some summer hats.

So I have been auditioning new hats.  I like to decorate my hats with flowers made from cloth or felt.  Which brings me to the cure for my wintertime blues that is the title of this post.  Homemade bread and soup are good for the wintertime blues,  but they reinforce the fact that it’s winter.  Flowers, on the other hand,  even felt ones, point to the Spring and Summer that are sure to come.12.BigGroup2_1

So I have been making felt flowers.  Once I start doing something like this, I can’t stop.  (Before I got on this kick, I was making stacking rings like there was no tomorrow and only stopped because I filed holes in my thumbs and I had to let them heal. ) (And now I have thumb protectors.)

Needle felting can be tough on your fingers.  (I prefer needle felting to wet felting.)  I have gloves and finger cots and finger shields, but so far have managed to not innoculate myself with the felting needles.    I use felt sheets that I make from fulled 100% wool sweaters and scarves, and I adorn the flowers with roving, wool yarn and bits of craft felt.   I have not seen anyone who makes felt flowers in quite this way so I will post a tutorial sometime in the future.

You could use the flowers as brooches or corsages.  Each one as a pin sewn on the back.  But I prefer to use them to decorate hats,  Here are some pictures of my hats festooned with felted flowers.  Spring is just around the corner.

 

 

The Picasso Vase

I made a Picasso vase.  Or rather, the other people in the studio started calling the vase The Picasso Vase before I ever thought of it.  Probably because of the shape which would have been impossible to achieve without the tar paper technique (which I also used to make the menorah.)
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You can from the picture above see how difficult it would have been to support the vase in its wet state without the tar paper to support it.  It was three wet slabs with beveled edges, scored and pinched together.

 

    Paper covered vase on left (upside down).  Bone dry vase before bisque firing on the right.

If the vase was to be an homage to Picasso, I needed to decorate it with Picasso-style images.  I decided on a cat, a mouse, and a fish.   Here are some preliminary sketches I made for the mouse.  I started with realistic drawings and got more abstract as I went.

 

I had no problem deciding on the cat portion and the fish came to me all at once.

 

Here are the designs for the mouse and fish,  drawn on the bisque-fired vase with an underglaze pencil.

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The cat in progress.  I used underglaze chalks and liquid underglazes for color.

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        Right out of the kiln.

 

 

The finished vase.

 

New Year, New Look

I’ve given the blog a new, cleaner look.  I’m  still tweaking and plan to try CSS used CSS to make some more changes.  I’ve  designed a new logo and watermark and a new pull-down menu in the travel category.  I have added links to the tutorial category.   

And now for the tip of the week.   I needed a box for a small gift on New Year’s day and found that a toilet paper roll is a good substitute in a pinch if you have some pretty ribbon to tie it with.  The gift was a porcelain pendant on a silver chain.  I wrapped it with tissue paper and it fit nicely into the box.
 

 

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I could also see taping wrapping paper around the toilet paper roll.  You’d  tuck the paper in the sides of the roll and tie the whole thing up with a ribbon.

Happy New Year

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Christmas at Laurel Hill

Laurel Hill Mansion in Fairmont Park is all decked out for the holidays.  This year’s theme is “Celebrating 250 Years of Designing Women.”  The Christmas Tree in the main room is decorated with ornaments showing women’s fashion plated from Godey’s Lady’s Book.  If you never heard of Godey’s Lady’s Book, you are in for a surprise.  Godey’s was the premier woman’s fashion magazine in the United States from  1837 to 1898.   But it  was more than a magazine.  Women relied on it for information and articles on everything from cooking to housekeeping to health to etiquette.  It contained sheet music, short stories, book reviews, etchings and essays by the leading intellectuals of the day.    Its female editor, Sarah J.  Hale, wrote “Mary Had a Little Lamb” and convinced President Lincoln to make Thanksgiving a national holiday.   Hale was also a trend setter who knew what her readers wanted. In 1850, she started a fad when she introduced the American public to the Christmas tree when she published a picture of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert  and their family gathered around their holiday tree.  

Here are some pictures of Laurel Hill.

If you want to take a look at Godey’s Lady’s Book,  press here.  You can download articles and other materials here. And enjoy your holiday.

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The Menorah . . . and Boris

I made a menorah for my stepson and his family to welcome them into their new home.  The shape of the menorah was inspired by a vase I was working on (still unfinished) and I used the tar paper technique of hand building ceramic shapes that I described earlier in the year.  

Here are some construction pictures.  The menorah is hollow.

And here is a picture of the final product after bisque firing and glazing.

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Ever wonder what happens if you give a cat a dreidel?  If he’s Boris he’ll play for treats and clean you out.

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Happy Holidays!

Ornaments and Other Good Stuff at Handmade For The Holidays

Fleisher Art Memorial is hosting the annual Handmade for the Holidays craft show on December 9, Noon to 5:00 in Fleisher’s Sanctuary, 719 Catharine Street in Philadelphia.  For complete information, press here.

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In addition to a Small Press Faire and Make and Take classes,  thirty vendors will be offering handmade goods at reasonable prices and you are sure to find something for everyone on your list.  

 

I am sharing a table with the Mighty Open Studio Potters of Fleisher and will have plenty of tree and window ornaments and some brightly-glazed, functional earthenware trinket holders, butter dishes and funky bowls.  My colleagues will have beautiful vases,  mugs, bowls and maybe even some terra cotta flutes that really play music!

 

There are two other craft shows in the vicinity on December 9th.  The Philly Handmade Brigade will be at the 1241 Carpenter Studios  and Crafty Balboa will be at 1901 South 9th Street (former Bok School).  For more information, press here  and here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Line by Line

TPA Winter 2017

I am happy to announce that an article I wrote, The Art of Emily Squires Levine” appears in the latest issue of The Polymer Arts.   You can access a sample version of the magazine here.   Besides writing about the gorgeous, colorful, vessels works of art that Emily constructs from  the dinky plastic dough made for children that we call polymer, writing the article sparked a personal exploration of why the process of artistic growth, or any type of growth at all, can be so achingly frightening.   Even when we know what we must do.   

The process of shifting from one stage to another involves leaving part of one’s self behind.   This process can be made less painful when it is part of a ritualized experience  (think of your first day of school), or a group experience.  But we are usually on our own when it comes to personal transformation.  And it is so hard to let go of what is familiar  and what (we tell ourselves) has worked so long.  Why change?

I think that all change involves letting go, but our human nature and instinct for survival can make us resist letting go.  Letting go involves a death of sorts.  But without letting go, things don’t change.  We don’t change.

How to let go?  Acting in love is one possibility.  Love can help us do things we never thought possible.   There are  concrete examples of this in The Art of Emily Squires Levine. ” 

 I am still thinking about all of this and would like to know how you feel if you care to share your thoughts.  

 

 

And A Happy Thanksgiving To You, Too!

Whether you are into taxidermy, (or not) or just plain turkey (or not.  If not try this great recipe for Vegetables Wellington here.  It takes forever to make, but boy is it worth it!)

 

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I hope you are able to get together with friends or loved ones (or both) and have a safe, enjoyable Thanksgiving.

 

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1.IMG_6359.jpgAnd Boris asked me to remind you that cats like turkey too.  

Into The Forest In Pittsburgh

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Spinning Plate Gallery Pittsburgh

We drove across the state last week to attend the opening of Into The Forest.  There was so much to look at!  And the opening was packed.  I’m glad I was able to go back to the gallery the next day and get another look.  I was constantly seeing things I hadn’t noticed the night before.  What a treat!  But I’m afraid I have run out of words about now so here are some pictures from Into The Forest.

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You can  buy the exhibition catalog which contains a picture of every contribution along with the name  and locale of the artists.  For more information, press  here.   But the pictures and the catalog are not a substitute for walking into the forest yourself.  The exhibit runs until December 3 and is worth a trip to Pittsburgh.