My Introduction to the Construction Junction.

My husband is a silly man who often claims, when I ask him a question, that I am “grilling him like a salmon.”  But he is a good sport.  After all, he married me, didn’t he?  So when we were in Pittsburgh last year for the opening of Into The Forest, he agreed when I told him I needed to make a stop at the Construction Junction. He even opened the door for me!


The Construction Junction is a nonprofit used and surplus building material retailer.  It accepts all kinds of donations-construction materials, old appliances, electrical supplies, plumbing supplies, tools, lighting, building materials and many other things too numerous to mention.  This keeps stuff out of landfills and gives it a second life when it leaves in the hands of a customer to be used in a new project.



But the construction junction is also a mecca for creative types.  I found some embossed tiles there that make perfect polymer clay texture sheets.  I got some brass pipe and metal parts that I will recycle into jewelry.   If I wanted one of the vintage stoves that seem to be all the rage these days,  I could pick one up at the Construction Junction and restore it to working order.




The place is HUGE, the staff is friendly and there is plenty of parking.  Check it out if you find yourself in Pittsburgh.



Into The Forest In Pittsburgh

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.  

Return to Thorpe Abbotts

My Father served in the 100th Bomb Group during the Second World War and was stationed at an airfield in Thorpe Abbotts, England.   After he completed 35 missions, the Army shipped him to a hospital where he learned how to talk again.   Then he started his life over.

He never wanted to return to Thorpe Abbotts and I can’t say I blame him. But I had always wanted to visit the place that must have changed him so much.  I finally got to visit Thorpe Abbotts on my last trip to England.  And I felt closer to him than I have ever been.  Strange that it took a visit to such a far away place to feel this way.  I made the  journey for me, but I had returned for him.

 I caught a train from London at Liverpool Street Station on the Norfolk line and traveled to Diss, the station closest to Thorpe Abbotts.  A few years ago, I found a stub a train ticket stub for a London to Diss journey in my Father’s old wallet among some family papers.  He had taken the same route from Liverpool Street Station when he returned to Thorpe Abbotts after a leave in London in March of 1944.  

Thorpe Abbotts is a country village surrounded by millions of acres of farmland near the east coast of England.  A perfect place for an airbase and there were many  of them up and down the English coast.  Before World War Two, Thorpe Abbots had a population of about 40.  When the airbase opened,  the Americans station there increased the population  to 3,500.

Now it is a quiet village again and the rich and valuable farmland  has been given back to the farmers to grow crops.  

Here are some pictures:







The tall structure on the left side of the road is All Saint’s Church.  Some members of the 100th Bomb Group were married there.  Many more had funeral services there.

If you are in the area, try to visit Thorpe Abbotts and the 100th Bomb Group Memorial Museum,  started in 1977 by the locals.


Dubliners for a Few Days

Here are some of the sights we took in on our wanderings around Dublin recently.


The Garden of Remembrance in Parnell Square near the Dublin Writers Museum


O’Connell Monument

2.GPODublinGeneral Post Office known as the headquarters for the Easter uprising in 1916

5.InsideRestoredGPODublinThe Interior of the GPO as it appears today.  It was virtually destroyed during the Easter uprising and restored in the 1920s.  The GPO now houses the GPO Witness History Museum, a chronicle of the 1916 uprising.   You should not visit Dublin without seeing this remarkable exhibit.


Christ Church Cathedral

6.Leprechaun MuseumSignDublinLooks like the Leprechauns have gone and started their own museum.   (We skipped this one.)


The Old Library at Trinity College

Another View of Edinburgh

This has been a good week for spinning my wheels, losing things and taking forever to get things done.  I will not bore you with the sordid details.

I had the good fortune to visit Edinburgh, Scotland recently and took hundreds and hundreds of pictures.  I decided to skip the scenic travel pictures and share the more unconventional ones  ones with you.


My husband, apparently encountering a clown on his way to  a circus dress rehearsal.


It’s no stranger than an English sign in China, but the juxtaposition of “Tartan Weaving Mill”  caught my eye.


What us this world welcoming us into?


A new world disorder?



We can meet at the pub at The World’s End



And if the Zombies find us.



We can escape to Edinburgh Castle









Clayathon 2017

Another Clayathon has come and gone.  There was a record attendance of 80+ this year from all over the US and a delightful contingent of clayers from Canada.  Clay retreats really are a wonderful place to make friends and to rekindle old friendships.

Lindly Haunani, this year’s guest artist, shared her color expertise with six hours of presentations stretched over three days.  In  between Lindly’s demos, the attendees shared their knowledge of techniques ranging from Kumihimo, wire working and wet felting as well as basic to advanced polymer demos.  

There is a lot I am not mentioning but I am still recovering from the experience. When I got home, I went straight to bed and got up 14 hours later.

Here are some pictures.



The Kiln Waster

I had jury duty and when you are on jury duty in Philadelphia, you bring a few books, maybe a crossword puzzle, some snacks and whatever else allows you to pass the time because there is a lot of waiting before you are either selected to serve on a jury or dismissed. You serve for one day or one trial. 

I brought a couple of old catalogs from a pottery auction in the early 1990s.  I spent my waiting time pouring through pictures of work by the likes of  Bernard Leach, Lucie Rie, and  Mary Rogers.  

Which brings me to The Kiln Waster.  The Kiln Waster  is the opposite of inspiration.  If it were possible to have a front-end car collision in a kiln, The Kiln Waster would be the result.  See for yourself:

Kiln Waster refers to tin-glazed earthenware dishes that collapse in a kiln during firing and fuse to each other and to the  kiln furniture.  The above example is from Delft, Holland  circa 1655.  

I came face to face (or face to plate) with the Kiln Waster at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.   I had gone to the V&A to see its well-known jewelry collection.    I did not know, however, was that the V&A is also home to a fabulous, HUGE (huge as in rooms and rooms and shelves upon shelves) collection of ceramics and pottery dating from ancient times to the present day.  And while pottery from the Americas is not largely represented,  you’ll find just about everything else in the V&A collection.

Unfortunately, the V&A does not have a book or catalog of the collection for sale in its museum shop.  I would would have loved to buy one.  But the museum allowed visitors to take pictures and I snapped and gawked and gawked and snapped.    If you get to London, run to the V&A to see this astounding collection.  The next time I am in London, I plan to go back.  If you want to search the collection online, press here.

Here are some  pictures of pottery that fared better than The Kiln Waster





Rembrandt Huis

Rembrandt bought a house on Jodenbreestraat  in Amsterdam in 1639 and lived there until he went bankrupt in 1656 and lost everything.  There is a debate over whether Rembrandt’s  lavish taste caused his financial problems or whether he was a victim of  a shift in the art market.

16.Rembrandt Huis Amsterdam 3


Rembrandt made his fortune as a portrait painter (and-this was a surprise to me-an art dealer!)  Prior to Rembrandt’s time, only the nobility could afford to sit for portraits. But social, technological and economic changes changed that.  By the early the 17th century,  the social fabric that had carried Europe through the last 1000 years was starting to fray at the edges. Holland was a Protestant country where to profit by one’s hard work was considered a virtue. Amsterdam was a commercial town with a wealthy merchant class. Then as now, the existence of a group of people with disposable income  was  good for business and a boon for artists.  Rembrandt did so well that he was able to buy his  grand house  on Jodenbreestraatin.   The house  is still there  and it’s open to the public

Rembrandt Huis was a must-see for me because I have always loved his work. Rembrandt’s paintings make an impression on the viewer  because they do more than reproduce people and scenes in pictures: the tell stories. When you look at one of his Biblical paintings, or example,  you think about the people in it and what they must be doing and thinking. They look like they are engaged in something  rather assuming poses for a painting. Their engagement, in turn, engages us because on a fundamental level, we humans are story telling beings.

Rembrandt is also known as the master of light and his skills were unmatched.  He could make the paint look like lace, gold, sunlight, or gossamer layered fabric. He did not use gold paint, but he could paint gold so convincingly that it is hard to believe he did not use gold in his paint.

Rembrandt  was an art dealer as well as an artist, and sold the work of other artists that he displayed in   a showroom in the main room of his house.

21.Rembrandt Huis display

He also ran an art school on the top floor of his  house and taught several students at a time.


Rembrandt  had a well-stocked room full of costumes and props that he used in his paintings. Some say that he was more of a shopaholic, buying anything that caught his fancy.  His profligate collecting  did not do his pocketbook any good and when he was forced to declare bankruptcy, all his belongings and his house  were sold at auction to cover his debts.

I learned about how Rembrandt’s paints were mixed  when I went to the Rembrandt Huis this past summer.  I made a short film in which a docent explains how it was done.  I hope you enjoy it.  Be sure to visit Rembrandt Huis if you are ever in Amsterdam.




Lessons from London Street Art

Two photos taken on the streets of London this week seem to provide timely advice given recent events.


Graffiti in Bordeaux

Some cool graffiti seen in the streets of Bordeaux, France this summer.

1.Bordeaux Graffiti PP 102.Bordeaux Graffiti 1004.Bordeaux Graffiti 205.Bordeaux Graffiti 306.Bordeaux Graffiti 407.Bordeaux Graffiti 508.Bordeaux Graffiti 609.Bordeaux Graffiti 710.Bordeaux Graffiti 811.Bordeaux Graffiti 9