Wednesday, October 26, 2011


Some of this, some of that...
Naughty Slit

     Some goings on here at the wee studio. Some of this will go into this weekend's wood-firing in Waco, some will go toward getting into an upcoming anagama firing at EKU if there is room. The sculptural work will be fired in the electric kiln later on with additional functional work.
     While some of my younger EKU colleagues are off at graduate school, I look at this time for me as my own "graduate" work. I see evolution and development, exploration and refinement.

Unwelcome. Surprise.
   Photographer Nathaniel Miller mentions in his interview with Frances Figart that he does not think of anything when he is photographing the moment. This statement got me thinking about my own process. I think I'll expand on this at a later time but it revolves around the zen process of creating.

Maternal Appetite
Chop wood, carry water.

Friday, October 21, 2011


     When I was little, oh about 5 to 8 years of age, I'm guessing, my mother scolded me with these words, "You're such a selfish little girl!" She only said it once; it wasn't a repetitious thing with her. I don't remember the context or what the reason was for her scolding me in the first place but I do remember the words because they made a mark so deep, they have haunted me since then. Mom didn't intend to wound me that deep. She probably just wanted me to stop fighting with my brother and being bossy with him just because I was a year older. Nevertheless, it still had an unintended impact. It happens all the time. Parents routinely do things or say things that they don't think twice about because  they see it with eyes with a longer, mature perspective, but children process it differently and so throwaway lines and experiences have the potential to become baggage in addition to the major traumas of growing up.

     My mother's words that day have become this sticky, heavy baggage that I've been trying to cast off for years, ever since I became re-aware of its impact as an adult. I was so shamed by being identified as selfish that I have spent my life trying to fix that perceived problem or character flaw. Intellectually, I know it's a sham and a false identifier of who I am but the baggage part of this long-ago experienced shame has a knotted grip on my psyche.
     I eventually ran out of gas trying to be all good things to everyone else except me some time ago. Because I overcompensated for my belief that I was inherently selfish to the core, I routinely did things for other's needs, ignoring my own. It did bring me some sort of satisfaction. I was a good person. I was being good, not selfish. And giving can be a very rewarding experience—if it's done for the right reasons with the right frame of mind. In my case, however, it became all about everyone else and I began to resent that my needs weren't being met, even though I couldn't identify the feeling as resentment nor acknowledge that I had needs in the first place. And so I collapsed, emotionally. I essentially told everyone, including my husband eventually, to fuck off. Since then I've been trying to learn what my needs are and how to feel okay about taking care of myself and not feel guilty about it. I've learned and I practice boundaries.

     But there is this nagging feeling that hangs like the smell of fried food in the air no matter what I'm doing, where I'm going, what I'm making. The feeling that says that no matter what I'm doing, I should be doing something else. More to the point, it manifests itself most strongly when I am doing something for myself. If I'm making pots, I should be cleaning the house and getting ready for dinner. If I'm getting ready for a show or sale, I should be visiting a friend. Going away for a vacation or even just wishing I could turns into feeling like I should be visiting my elderly parents. In fact, what's wrong with you, Cindi? You should be moving back to NY to live with them and take care of them. Yes, it gets that crazy, that I should sacrifice my identity to make someone else more comfortable.

     It's nuts, I know. It only produces resentment and exhaustion within me.  When I do help others out, I end up feeling less fulfilled about it, usually because I've neglected something about my own needs in order to be there for someone else. Intellectually, I know how this works and I know how I need to re-organize my thought pattern. Emotionally, it's much harder and frankly, discouraging that I'm still trying to sort this out at my age. However, I do try to be kind to myself with this knowledge: it took me years to develop this neurosis so I should expect to spend many years unravelling this mess. Better to at least be aware of this than wallow blindly in self-pity.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Enlighten: Curatorial Christmas

Stoneware Teacup in Pink and Yellow, $30
     Summer is over but we've been enjoying an Indian Summer here in Kentucky. As we prep for the colder weather, I'm prepping for upcoming wood firings. I'll be uploading as much of my wood-fired work as possible on my Etsy site after the firings so check out the shop over the next few weeks for updated items as you start to peruse the internet for your holiday shopping.

Porcelain teacup with blue roots, $30
     However, the variety and simple numbers of handmade items out there is overwhelming. There are many handmade portals on the internet but even searching on Etsy can be mind-numbing separating the cool, worthwhile stuff from the crap. I offer a couple of suggestions. My first is to let me (and others) curate for you! Etsy sellers (and buyers) have a link on their profiles called "Favorites." If you click on that link and the person has enabled it to public viewing, you can see items that they have already found on Etsy that they think are worthwhile and interesting. So instead of browsing through thousands and thousands of random items, you can narrow your browsing choices to people with similar taste to yours.

Hot flashes? Porcelain cream
and sugar set, Red Eruptions, $44
Feel free to start at my shop! Be bold and buy that cup you've been wanting to give to your best friend, or to yourself! Then hit my "favorites" button and peruse items and whole shops that I think have some great hand made items.

Add your email to Frances' mailing list for regular updates!
     Maybe you want to get more involved, more in-depth. Maybe more than just handmade items, you're looking for some interesting art, interesting sounds, interesting ideas — not just now but at any time when you need to massage your creative appetite. Then let Frances Figart, curate for you! Frances has started a new email newsletter called "Coming UpArt". Frances, a writer who has focused mainly on sustainability and eco-tourism, describes the impetus for her venture:
"Artists are the least compensated members of the work force proportionate to the amount of joy they bring to human beings. Even in the face of difficulty, the inspiration of art, music, film, theatre or literary composition can make us feel that everything’s coming up roses."
 Amen to that! Frances has graciously included me and seven other talented artists — Nate Miller, Mike Coykendall, Patrick McNeese, Joe Lamirand, Kathleen Farago May, Paul Ramey and Hans Peter Jorgensen— in her inaugural newsletter. If you are interested in getting to know interesting artists and artisans, go to her site and add your email to her list by clicking on the link in the article to be a part of this newsletter!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Wood fire in Waco

Ready to burn, baby, burn

     We had a big bonfire in Waco this past weekend and managed to fire a few pots while we were at it! The bourry-box wood kiln comes courtesy Bill Whitt. Attending the Big Flame-Out was Bill Lennox, Matt Trimble, Kristal Gilkey of Alley Cat Pottery, Sara and Jeff of Tater Knob Pottery, Buddy Dobbins and various neighborhood friends who love to eat 16-20 hour venison chili, drink beer and wine and  chomp down on some chocolatey brownies. Much stoking was done.
Ready to be loaded
The wadding for the pots. If only it was pfeffernusse!
     The glazing and loading began on Wednesday through to Friday afternoon. The kiln started on Friday evening around 8 pm and we reached cone 10 on Saturday evening, around 11:30pm. The bourry box set-up allows for a more leisurely stoking pattern, in my opinion. I find that the front stoking of the anagama and Phoenix kilns at EKU to be fussier and more involved. Bill's kiln box opens from the top, you throw in a few logs, close the lid, sit and wait, drink a beer, note the temp change, lather, rinse, repeat. During my shift on Saturday, we started at 1900°F and steadily climbed to nearly 2200°F with no stall. When the shift change happened, they were able to climb to cone 9 to cone 10 and do some heavy raking to get plenty of ash on the pots.
Use every spot!

Flames in the firebox
     However, upon opening the kiln, it was a little bit of a hit or miss. Although we had plenty of great looking pots, we also had quite a few dry pots. We think our error was in stoking to cone 10 and not taking it up to cone 11 or higher. We think that when the kiln was shut up, ash was still circulating and dropping on the pots when the temperature was already dropping, hence, no fluxing and some dry pots. We're doing another wood firing, this time with a little bit of salt added. We'll adjust the firing schedule and push for cone 11-12 this time.
We crammed pots everywhere.
Crusty skull!
     In the mean time, these are some of the pots that came out of the kiln. Some great shinos, some great flashing. We had way more pots than room in the kiln for this firing. More of my pots did not make it in than did. I'm still working on teapot forms, experimenting and honing my skills at attaching the pieces. My porcelain pot came out way too dry but more importantly, very warped. Back to the drawing board on that front. Next firing I hope to use a Highwater Phoenix clay, a Standard 153 and, oh, why not, Helios porcelain again.
Two of my teapots didn't do so bad but time to make more...
Warm colors
More booty from the kiln. Another firing later in the month.