Monday, May 24, 2010

swim with annie ...

I've often said that a lot in Asheville reminds me of my home state Vermont, which is probably why I've landed here so happily.

I think it's a nice mixture of geography, a bit of weather and the creative spirit, interest in social issues and community generosity that I see in both, and today's story is about one of my Vermont friends and what she's doing in her little part of the world.

My friend Annie isn't a native Vermonter, but she has adopted her community as if she were its first born, and champions many community activities as well as runs several swimming programs for kids and families.  If you're in the Burlington area and want to know more about swimming with Annie, check out her site: Swim With Annie.

On June 2, Annie will swim for five hours to raise money for medical supplies and personnel in the ongoing effort for relief in Haiti.  Here are the details:

SWIM FOR HAITI will take place at The Spa at The Essex between 4pm on Wednesday, June 2nd and 4pm on Thursday, June 3rd.

Swimmers will arrive and swim at any time of their choice, within that 24 hour period.

All donations go directly to the VERMONT MEDICAL RESPONSE TEAM, a local non profit which sends Vermont Medical personnel/supplies/support to Haiti for ongoing earthquake relief efforts.

Not only swimmers but water walkers, water joggers, lap swimmers, young swimmers, old swimmers, noodle swimmers, ALL SWIMMERS or anyone willing to step into a pool are welcome and capable of raising funds through sponsors.

Participants choose a length of time to swim and get as many sponsors in their category as possible.

15 minutes = $5 per sponsor
30 minutes = $10 per sponsor
1 hour = $20 per sponsor
2 hours = $40 per sponsor

There is also a swim duration called EIGHTY FOR HAITI
5 hours = $80 per sponsor

Jackie Bombardier and Annie Cooper will be swimming from midnight to five am and seeking EIGHTY FOR HAITI level sponsors. On Tap, in the former Lincoln Inn space in Essex Junction, was the first sponsor at this level and has set the bar for other businesses to step up and donate to this great cause. T.S. Peck Insurance has also donated to EIGHTY FOR HAITI.

Swim tips and pointers provided to anyone who asks, courtesy of Annie, Jackie and Sue.

For more information call Annie at 802-922-6700. If you are staying overnight from out of town, call The Essex at 802-878-8050 for hotel rates. 
I'll be adding to the sponsorship by sending a mug to five EIGHTY FOR HAITI level sponsors.  Not sure how many are left, so contact Annie if you want to sponsor!

And the parallels continue...

I learned recently, for instance, that Vermont tops the list of US state breweries per capita, with one brewery for every 32,698 people, and each of those breweries being a craft brewery.  very proud.

And then Asheville wins the online 'Beer City USA' poll.  The connection is strong indeed!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

tiles, tiles, tiles...

Last summer it happened that I taught a one-on-one week-long workshop, which I thought would be a one time thing.  But it turned out to be a pretty darned good success, and so much fun for me that I decided to offer it this year on purpose.

My first victim ... er, student this season, Ginny, was here this weekend from Atlanta.  Extra fun for me as Ginny and I go back to those days of yore, and she'd just started working in clay again this year after a pretty long hiatus.  

workshopper Ginny, starting with stamps

We officially began the workshop at Echo Gallery, where I'm on duty most Fridays.  It was a perfect setting to get into the mood for creating textures on clay, as there are many visual and tactile textures to be found in the current exhibit of work by both gallery members and our current guests for the "Threads" exhibit, in clay, painting, textiles, photography and more.  If you haven't been out to see it - you've got another few weeks so get going!

 making stamps for texturing tiles

Ginny's project goal was to make tiles to cover three small mirrors she brought along, so Friday's clay work was to make stamps we could use on Saturday to decorate those tiles.  I made a new stamp of my cone flower for my own new tile tests as well.

more texture, courtesy of a doily

Saturday we had a full day in the studio, slabbing clay, impressing textures and cutting tiles.  We took a mid-afternoon break for lunch downtown so we could check out the crowd at Fanaticon, swung by the Chocolate Lounge and then back to West Asheville to see all the lovely bird houses and lawn art laid out for Bountiful Cities' annual Birdhouse Auction (off-topic shout out to friend Melissa Weiss who won first prize for her birdhouse entry - it rocked!).  Then it was back to the studio to clean up the tiles and prep them to dry out some more.

planning the layout

Sunday morning, Ginny laid out her design on the mirrors and then carefully numbered them - she's got lots of extra tiles which will be great for glaze testing when she gets back to Atlanta.  I can't wait to see what else she does with all the new information she sucked up this weekend - even though we only made tiles for this one project, we talked about various firing techniques, other decoration techniques and she picked up a new book on making and installing tiles.  Watch out Atlanta!  I'll send her the bisque fired tiles, and she's promised to send pictures of the finished project, so check back for that.

coneflower accent tiles

And because I teach to learn myself, I also got to play around with some ideas that have been swimming around in my head waiting for a spare minute to spill out.  I only took a picture of the first series, so stay tuned for more (and I'll be making another one of these cone flower stamps for Ginny so I don't have to say goodbye to this one after the bisque)!

extra prezzie for the dishwasher...

I also slipped the back of a platter to show Ginny some sgrafitto carving, and just couldn't stop once I got going ...

Thanks Ginny for coming up and motivating such a fun weekend - can't wait for us both to share the finished tiles we each started (and for more of your great brainstorming on behalf of my business)!

And now back to the regularly scheduled programming... the studio's (mostly) put back in order, and after a slight delay, pots are in the finishing stages of decoration and glazing and will fire tomorrow.  But I'll be thinking about more tile designs myself, and making notes for the next workshop fun ... more tiles with Lisa in July!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

my 'big fat art' interview and...

You've heard me talk about my friend Karen, who is a textile artist, painter, art therapist ... well she's an artist and that will encompass these and her many other talents.

Her blog, Big Fat Art Cloth, which I have encouraged you to read and follow, has started a series of artist interviews, and she's ventured away from her own medium to pick l'il ol' me for her first subject. Questionable as that sounds, it was a very nice experience for me and I look forward to reading what other artists have to say in future interviews.

Interestingly for me, while I've received many lovely comments from friends and family about the interview, it seems one of the most interesting things mentioned was the fact that I appeared in a Freddie Mercury video. Anyone who has seen my work should not be surprised, the influence and effect are still resounding in my current body of work (and anyone who doesn't know I'm kidding...).

So here's the story, just so I can refer people to this post when I get asked again:

20-somethin' years ago, I visited my friend Anne in London, where she was getting one of her many degrees and teaching Australians how to play quarters with home-brewed beer (ok, so I helped on that). An opportunity came for local students to be a part of a video shoot at a West End theater, and she couldn't go but arranged for me to go. At the time, when a West End musical was a hit, the soundtrack was often covered by pop artists. For this show, "Time", Freddie Mercury was recording the title track, and shooting the video in the theater. At that time, I was working in theater so it was a huge thrill to get an on-stage look at such a production, and it was the 80's ... who didn't love Queen?! So there I was along with several dozen students from one of the local performing academies. We spent the day learning the lyrics, then got onstage and Freddie Mercury joined us for the shoot. When he arrived, we may have made even bigger news as a good portion of our chorus, perched on hastily assembled risers, started stomping and clapping the beat to "We Will Rock You", sending the techies and producers into a frenzy trying to stop the motion before we collapsed. But we all survived and lived to rock another day.

Another big bonus was a free ticket to the show after we ran over a couple of hours. The show never made it to the US as it was based on the existence of the Cold War, and before it could move across the pond, the Berlin Wall came down. The show was a lot of fun, and the highlight for me beyond seeing the stage effects in action was the projection of Sir Laurence Olivier's head on a sculpted form inside a giant planet that opened up for his appearance (yes, he was the Big Giant Head). It was a memorable experience all around.

For years it never occurred to me to look for the video, as I figured it was lost on some obscure collection only available in England. But now we know that if it's been filmed or taped, it's bound to be on YouTube! So here it is - I'm part of the blur in the back somewhere.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

bowls, bowls, bowls...

Imagine/Render Studios, ready for some Empty Bowls action!

Empty Bowls season has now officially begun.  Last year I threw about 100 bowls for the October event in Asheville, and I aim to at least match that again this year.  A few bowls a day on the throwing schedule makes it an easy goal, and hopefully I'll gather some studio members into the frenzy as well.

Lisa & John, welcoming a participant from Tennessee

Imagine Render is the non-profit behind Empty Bowls -  John Hartom & Lisa Blackburn started the first one 20 years ago - and we in this area are very fortunate that they're based close by in Burnsville, and I'm honored to be a member of the I/R Board.  John has created a lovely studio looking out at rolling fields and mountains (with Lisa's VERY cool letter press/book making studio above), with a dedication to making and firing only bowls for Empty Bowls.  Today, working with the NC Clay Club, we're having an Empty Bowls event in part to thank all the past volunteers and to get the bowl making underway.  I say 'having', as it's still going on as I type.  I was happy to get out early and throw some bowls, but duties back at my own studio called me back to town before the party was over.

pal heather tinnaro & CGS member Matt Clark
& I went early to get things going

The studio is set up to show off the great facility, as well as some of the bowls that have been made, fired and donated by area potters.  Participants today will throw some, trim some, decorate some and then later tonight the Clay Club will meet and there will be general good-time-having.

by the time we left, the decorating/hand-building tables were filling,
and a second shift was moving on to the wheels

In and around my own studio schedule, I'll be trekking up to John's studio with other friends about once a month to make and decorate bowls there, plus the stocking of bowls will begin at Crazy Green.  If you're in the Asheville area and want to visit the studio and maybe throw a bowl (or 20) - let me know and we'll get you there!

We were greeted by a lovely Michael Kline vase,
recently acquired at his kiln opening

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!

God's Masterpiece Is Mother
by Herbert Farnham

God took the fragrance of a flower...
The majesty of a tree...
The gentleness of morning dew...
The calm of a quiet sea...
The beauty of the twilight hour...
The soul of a starry night...
The laughter of a rippling brook...
The grace of a bird in flight...
Then God fashioned from these things
A creation like no other,
And when his masterpiece was through
He called it simply - Mother.

Happy Mother's Day Mom - I Love You!

And love & appreciation to all the moms I know! xoxo