Wednesday, April 27, 2011


Groups. How do we identify ourselves? I'm not just talking about the human-constructed ones like "Chicago Cub's fan" or even superficial ones like race or ethnic background. What the about the deeper identity of sexual identity? I find this subject fascinating because there are so many assumptions about what is "regular," "normal," or "healthy" and they change from person to person. What's interesting is that how you identify yourself, sexually, isn't necessarily the gender you were born with. Take the transgendered. If you are born with elements of both male and female genitalia and reproductive organs, how do you identify yourself? Or perhaps, the question is less about how the individual identifies themselves but how others need to group a transgendered person into a neat category for their own comfort. Indeed, even with obvious female/male characteristics, the popular media-centric, modern American society as a whole still needs people to be clearly identifiable with one gender or another.
     Mind you, I'm speaking about sexual identity not sexual preference. Homo/hetero/bisexuality is a related but separate issue.
     I was watching a show on television last night that dealt with sexual identity and ambiguous physical sexual characteristics. They spoke with a psychologist who dealt with the transgendered and others with sexual identity issues and in his experience, the longer he studied sexual identity issues, the less well-defined and clear cut male vs. female becomes. It was heartening to hear that coming from a psychologist because my experience with them stems from the custody-related evaluation my husband, myself and his ex and boyfriend went through several years ago. Based on the extensive testing, one conclusion the psychologist summarized as "problematic" for my husband's ex was that she had gender identity issues. That struck a nerve with me and I was immediately suspect as to what that meant and how that was problematic. The key indicator identified revolved around her answer that she regretted being a girl at times and her heavy interest in "male" activities, sports and the like. But how was this a problem? As quite the tomboy myself with three brothers, I, too, have a strong interest in sports and have many female friends who share that interest. I, too, sometimes regretted being a girl. Wanna know why? Because when I grew up, I often encountered situations where boys got treated more favorably so why wouldn't I regret being a girl?! Who the hell sits around enjoying being stomped on, left back and left out of opportunities simply because of their gender and identity? My opinion of my husband's ex notwithstanding, I felt that particular evaluation of her was unwarranted, irrelevant and unfair. All it did for me was give me some insight into the psychologist's own misogyny and insecurities about his gender identification.
     The question of naturalness was also asked in this program if blurred sexual identification, transgenderism and other sexual ambiguities were really unusual at all? Ambiguous sexual identity exists in flowers which contain both male and female elements and in organisms like starfish. Of course, these are not human beings but they are still life and it's not so clear that strict demarcations of sexual identity are "normal" and anything else is freakish. Sexual identity, it would seem may fall more frequently into female/male identity but probably exists more on a continuum than anything else. Our discomfort with those who are not clearly "one or the other" is more about societal constructs than biological norms and for me, paid psychological shills have little business passing judgement on what is "normal" and what is not.

Monday, April 25, 2011

A few new items from the salt firing...

Recent salt firing at EKU. I had just a couple of pieces in it. These were made with a white stoneware called Moon White by Highwater Clays. Left unadorned, it turns a nice creamy white in the salt firing. The avery slip flashing adds a nice touch, I think.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Animal Farm: Diva and the Cone of Shame

"I thought you loved me?"
It was inevitable. All dogs have OCD when it comes to licking stitches and Diva is no exception. So off to the vet I went, yesterday, on a quest for a Cone of Shame. She looks pathetic and she knows it, that's the saddest part. I was discussing her injury with my friend, Sandy, yesterday. She suggested that Diva may have actually gotten kicked by one of the horses and not run over at all considering the lack of road injuries, cuts, scratches and the like. And in thinking about it and discussing it with the husband, we're inclined to accept that explanation. She may have gotten trapped in a stall with one of my horses and in the process of trying to get out, got kicked, cracked the bone and then tried to squeeze out through the gate, displacing the bone. Possible. But the reality is we'll never know. What I do know is I need to protect my $1,000 investment and she better stop licking her damn scar.
     I have sold more items from Etsy and this pleases me and my new credit card bill. I have more items to add in the coming weeks.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Animal Farm: Diva, Post-op

Bruising is evident towards the point of her shoulder.
If Diva's 12, for her weight and size, that makes her older than me by about 25 years. So breaking her leg and recovering is quite the trauma but she's a tough old broad.  She came home today and is pooped. I don't blame her. But then I get to thinking, if I was 75-80, would I be playing in traffic? Dogs live a different life, indeed.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Tea Horse Studio: Animal Farm [Diva]

Diva Dog
My farm, where my studio is located, is home to my family of animals. I started out with the four cats, Stalin, Kool Mo Dee, Ariel and Murray and now only Murray, the cat with eyebrows, is left out of the original Gang of Four. Over the years I've lived here, besides the husband and stepson, I've added several cats, some who made it (Possum, Nietzsche, Izzy], some who met an early demise [R.I.P Chief], four to five dogs and two horses, including Three Wishes aka Tee, Tee Bear and Mr. Tee. My first dog was Diva. I got her as a puppy. I would say I picked her out but she picked me out. Followed me around the barn even though I had my eye on another puppy. She's been a wonderful dog for about 11 years so far. She's tolerated Sport and puts up with Maxx, attempting to play with him until she can't deal with him anymore and she whips his butt into submission, even with her hip dysplasia.
     Diva, it seems, got hit by a car yesterday, and suffered a bad break in her front, left, upper femur. I had three options, amputation, surgery or euthanasia. Amputation was out of the question since she has hip dysplasia and uses her front end as her primary muscle group. Her back end kinda hippity-hops along like a rudder when she moves. And as bad as the break is, I just wasn't ready to say good-bye to her this way at this moment. The surgery is about $1,000 to put in a rod and plate and screws. Ouch, double-ouch and pass the ammonia. Time to make more pots and gourd badges.
     I found her lying on the front lawn last night while it was still light.  When I came out, she attempted to get up, very slowly. "You old dog," I called out to her. But as she turned around, her left leg was hanging low, paw curled, bearing no weight. Good lord, I thought, what has she done now? I thought it was her paw or lower leg so I bandaged it until I could get her to a vet but as I was letting the paw down across her chest, she yelped and that's when I realized it was her shoulder, or what I thought was her shoulder. I thought, maybe, she had dislocated it while playing with Maxx. She had no other marks on her, no scratches, no cuts, no road rash.
      I brought her to a vet in Richmond this morning, to get x-rays. My biggest worry: how to get her into the car? She's not a little dog, about 65-70 lbs., and I knew moving her could cause her so much more pain. When I went out of the house in the morning, she was in her dog house, waiting for me. I looked at her and said, "Diva, honey, we gotta figure out how to get you into the car today. You hang here while I make some calls." I know it sounds weird but I truly believe when you bond with an animal, in times of stress and pain, they know and you know. You both understand what has to be done and you help each other out. I think that's why service animals work well when a good match is made. Anyway, I went back into the house and spoke to the vet who said, "Find a way to get her into the car and then call us when you're on the way." So it was up to me, one way or another, to get her into the car. I walked out the back to her doghouse and she was gone. Huh? I went around to the front porch and there she was, on the porch, on the cushion on the porch, laying on her bad side. She had dragged herself around the house and up the two steps to the porch. She must have been in tremendous pain. I looked at the porch height. I looked at the bumper height of the hatchback of my Subaru. Same height. I backed the car up, over the lawn with the hatch up and lightly touched the bumper to the porch. Level. I dragged the cushion with Diva on it over to the car and I'll be damned if she didn't lay perfectly still until we got to the back of the car where she hoisted herself up until I could lift her across the threshold and into the back. She laid down, panting from the pain. It was as if she understood the dilemma we we're in so she said, "I'll get on the porch and meet you halfway."
     Some friends and family say they would have put her down, including my husband, but Diva is my first dog, ever. Growing up in an apartment in lower Westchester County, it was cats, fish or birds - no dogs. She is my special girl. Maybe if I had had dogs all my life I'd have opted to let her go but I still don't think so. Not after she showed such understanding and courage. I owed her that. I'm not happy about the expense and perhaps if she had been in worse shape, bleeding, in shock, multiple fractures, I would have made another decision but that wasn't the case. Surgery is tomorrow, assuming all goes well, she comes home Wednesday, gimpier than before but still my Diva.
Heart with Wings
I've added new gourd badges to the Etsy site. I'm making more. I'm attending a salt firing this week; making more cups and pots. I've got a fire lit under my ass to take care of the family I love, including the furry ones. I can't move fast enough.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Tea Horse Studio -Crotch

Crotch Badge with Red and Green Rim -Available on Etsy
Nothing says "I Am Woman" or "I Love Women" like a crotch pin made out of organic material like the sexy gourd. Tell the government to back off our bodies! Okay, maybe that's not really what this screams but still... New badges on Etsy. There will be new listings to come in the next few days in the Gourd category. Still working on clay stuff...

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Tea Horse Studio

Three Wishes aka Tee
Spring is sproinging around here, finally. Tee is losing his winter coat, most of it on me, I have to admit. The redbuds are out and even their leaves are replacing their purply-pink buds. The hillsides are taking on that pale green-yellow hue that is lightly layered over the brown of the trunks in the distance. I've begun to feel like I've always got a tick crawling on me after I've taken my walk in the woods. Yes, Spring is here. Time to get my pea plants and bean plants in the ground and out of the flats where I started them.
     My mother says she prefers living in a place where you get four distinct seasons. I have to agree, if only because you get such different discoveries in nature each season. New plants and fungus in the Spring, vines and thick growth in Summer, gorgeous colors in the Fall and the bare bones of nature in the Winter. And after a cold Winter with frost, ice and snow, things move and shift, trees fall, rocks crack open, ground slides and a whole new world can be awaiting you come Spring. Just bring tick spray and ivy block.
     Due to the heavy rain lately, I've found some creek banks that are pure clay. I may have to make a side project of digging it up and experimenting with it to see what I've got. Maybe it's the next great glaze or clay body. Well, I think I'll have to add something to make it a workable clay body but it'll be fun trying (she said in ignorance).
     Sales building slowly. I have a demonstration at the end of the month at the Mountain Mushroom Festival in town. Just keep swimming, just keep swimming....

Monday, April 11, 2011

Progress Report

Tiny Monster; 2011; Mixed media

This is a new tiny piece of work in gourd and metal. I have a things for slits. I love this little thing. Tiny Monster is what I call it and it looks like it's getting ready for a fight.

And this is a sample of one of the teapots I've carved. I am planning on hooking up my kiln this month so I can bisque these in the future. I need to do it here in the studio for several reasons, not least of which is that transporting items all the way to EKU for bisque firing that are this appendage-y is pushing the limit on assuring damage before it gets to Richmond. Glazing? Haven't got a clue. Make more, make more.

And guess what!? It's Morel Mushroom season in Estill County! Found this one in the county today! I found one - ONE - once on my property 12 years ago and haven't seen one since then until today. My property is not conducive to morel growth I am told. Boo hiss.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Tea Horse Studio

Life at Tea Horse

Been a little quiet on the blog lately. I had to make a family trip out to Iowa recently so that always puts a damper on my momentum. Now that I'm back, I'm trying to finish up six teapot forms I'm working on. They're derived from the organic textures and imagery that make up much of my sculptures. After I knock off these guys, I'm in the mood for some new sculptural forms.
     The other things that I've been pre-occupied with have been getting my ass in gear about proposals for shows and calls-for-entry. So far, I've been working on proposals and CFE's with two other women artists here in the Central Kentucky area, Crimson Duvall and Lyndsey Fryman. We all have an Eastern Kentucky University connection and we're all older artists, recently graduated with families in different configurations. Right now, our work all seems to relate and compliment each other's, but most importantly, being recent graduates, we're good cheerleaders for each other in furthering our careers. That's something I find very necessary when you're out of the cocoon and incubator that is school.
Dog Humiliation

For Tea Horse Studio, plans are still to build the brand and promote the Etsy shop, hit the fairs when I can afford it. The goings-on outside the studio doors are the same as ever on the farm. The animals, like me, continue to get older, grayer and creakier. My dogs are all slowing down. Today it was very warm, in the mid-eighties, which I think caught the natural world off guard. I had a buddy of mine come over to help with the horses to get them back in to riding mode. Because of school, graduation and starting the business, they haven't been ridden in two years.I'm not concerned about my boy, Tee, inspirational namesake behind Tea Horse Studio, but Ruby, the mare, needs a bit more TLC on the riding front. All in good time!

Thursday, April 7, 2011


Brown Ripple Vase

Thanks to W.R. of Texas for his purchase of this vase. The donation of the proceeds to the American Red Cross has already been made toward the relief efforts in Japan. This makes me so happy!