Bob’s Garden Summer 2021

It’s been a long month this week. Lots of stuff going on-I was thinking that not all of it is good, but who am I to say what’s good or not? Only time and perspective can make sense of some things. Maybe. In the meantime, all you can do is tend your own garden. And if you are lucky like me, you live next door to someone like my neighbor Bob who tends a lovely garden and shares it with the neighborhood. Here are some pictures.

Drawing Bridges at Cherry Street Pier

I went to Cherry Street Pier with the Color Wheels gang last week. It was the first Color Wheels outing I’ve been on for more than a year,

The Color Wheels Van

The art project was drawing the Ben Franklin Bridge which is right next to Cherry Street Pier.

It’s not an easy task to draw a suspension bridge, even with an army of erasers and rulers. But lead artist Maureen Duffy helped a lot of people tackle the project and walk away with drawings. Here are some I got to photograph.

A Walk to the Navy Yard

Mary Schneider draws and paints on pottery, but what she depicts is not always the usual fruit, flowers and leaves you might expect to see. The inspiration for her latest creation came from walks to the Philadelphia Navy Yard that she took with a friend during the winter days of the pandemic lockdown. She plans to trade the plate, with the image of the U.S.S. John F. Kennedy for a pen and ink drawing of the same vessel by her walking companion.

Meet the Von Trayf Family

My workspace at the pottery studio was taken over recently by a family of pigs. Ceramic pigs. It all started innocently enough when I saw a YouTube Video on how to make a piggy bank out of a thrown vase form. I decided to try it for myself but I threw my vases a little small and had to paddle them into shape. I also decided to add more expressive eyes than the ones I saw in the YouTube tutorial (which were just holes albeit more realistic. Pigs are not known for their cute eyes), real piggy trotters and wings because if pigs had wings [fill in the blank].

Where does the name Von Trayf come from? For the uninitiated, trayf means “not Kosher” in Yiddish. Pigs are trayf. So bacon and ham are considered trayf and not eaten by those who keep Kosher. I don’t eat pork because I am not a meat eater generally, and Babe is one of my favorite movies. Baa ram ewe.

I made the Von Trayf family for an assortment of pig and bacon lovers I know. Some of them are vegans, but that doesn’t mean they don’t love pigs. Just not on their plates.

Paddling the vase shape into a pig shape.
Ears added and eyes begun. This pig is in need of an expression!
Much better, and now he has a mouth too. The round hole is his piggy snout that will be stoppered with a cork.
And he gets a slot because he is a bank.
Deciding how to shape his wings
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Positioning the wings
Every good pig deserves trotters.

One Pig Done!
No pig stands alone
And here are the Von Trayfs in their first formal family photo. Each one is named for its intended recipient.
And here is the matriarch: Bubbe Von Trayf

Little Teapots

I don’t drink much tea, but have become intrigued with making wheel-thrown teapots. Teapots are considered one of the most challenging items a potter can make. Mostly, I suppose because so many elements have to work together at the same time. The handle has to fit ascetically and physically. The spout has to pour efficiently and be placed so you can fill the teapot up. And when you do fill the teapot up, it can’t weigh a bloody ton. It has to be east to handle. And the lid needs to fit properly. You need to be able to get it on and off easily and it has to fit whichever way you put it on. And it has to stay on while you pour the tea, either by itself or be capable of being held in place while the tea is being poured.

And that’s just the physical attributes of the teapot. It also has to look good or at least not suck. I heard someone describe a teapot as a jar with a handle and a spout. Why not a mug with a spout and a lid, I thought? A little teapot to hold a nice cup of tea. I started small and here’s what I came up with.

Here’s what I started out with. Two mug-sized pots, lids, and three spouts each. You’re always supposed to make more spouts than what you need because you are sure to screw one up. Good advice.

Here’s one of the first teapots I put together. You might think it looks OK, but it’s all wrong. The lid is clunky and what about that knob? It’s really not good for much. And who could get two fingers through that handle? The body and spout are OK. I decided to trim the top of the lid which had plenty of clay to spare, and replace the handle.

Here’s the teapot with a trimmed lid and a new handle. I trimmed the lid of the other teapot flat too. I didn’t think a knob would work for either teapot.

My solution? A birdy knob for one teapot and a circle for the other. One third of the circle makes the knob and two thirds of the circle makes a nice handle. And they look like they belong on the same teapot.

I’m usually do underglaze decoration for my pottery. I thought I’d fool around with stains this time.

And here are the finished teapots. The handle on the birdy teapot is not optimal, but it is a vast improvement over how I started. More teapots to come!