Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas! (2011 Edition)

Because I failed to fulfill any of the promised "Coming Soon!" posts, I wanted to throw up this quick message to wish you and yours a blessed and joyous holiday season, and a very Merry Christmas. If you don't celebrate Christmas, it is still a holiday season and I hope you find your days full of the aforementioned blessing and joy, even if it's just another weekend to ya. 

I still fully intend to unleash upon you my narcissism in the forms of a "My Favorite Musical Albums of 2011" list, ideally even this year. Because of course the world will be ending in 2012, as John Cusack so eloquently educated us. But it's unlikely to happen between now and Christmas. So no promises, except to its eventual arrival. Preferably before the world ends.

In the meantime, we've been marveling over our relatively mild weather. This horribly grainy photo shows one of our permanent collection pieces basking in afternoon sunlight not often seen this side of Easter in our part of the world. 
Sunshine! Also, amazing glazing!
For a time of year that often asks for traveling, this freedom from weather is quite the novelty and I'm very much looking forward to not driving through any blizzards or ice storms int he near future. Please.
Sweet Baby Jesus says, "Relax!"
I was reminded again this year when visiting Christmas at the (State) Capitol that I do appreciate living in a state that can fill its halls with Tannenbaum and not become embroiled in controversy. The above creche is part of the display also held in the State Capitol. There's something to be said for living in a place that allows Sweet Baby Jesus to just do His thing. So, thank you, South Dakota, for being so sensible about these things.
My lovely wife, our lovely Tannenbaum.
So with that, please accept my seasonal salutations, my wishes of good cheer and peace and hope and joy and love come down to earth in a manger, the sweet babe who changed the world. May the promise of all love and grace fill you with hope and peace and joy as never before.

And get along with your family.

And to the Grinches: please accept this Happy New Year's greeting, that 2012 be better than 2011, and the promise that in 11 months the election season will be over. At least for a few weeks. Until the prophesied Mayan apocalypse and all that.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

things that should have been posted months ago

Just a few pots that I selected for slide-shooting from this fall's body of work. Some of these are still available. Some of them are not. The ones that aren't, I probably have similar. It's a bit late for Christmas gifts, though, probably. Sorry. Anyhow, these were "some" of my "favorites" from this summer/fall. Mostly that bottom one there. Beautiful. I'm glad it's going to a good home. Cause I sold it. And now I'm rich. Muah-ha-ha!!!

(p.s. - most of these can also be seen by clicking on the "gallery" tab at the top of the page. In the future I'd like to keep the gallery page sort of rotating favorite current and past works, a sort of Ceramic C.V., if you will. But not really. Because you won't.)

Coming soon: 2011 in Review, My Top 11 of '11, and Post #200!!! Maybe not in that order!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Here Hast I Beenst

Sometimes I like to imagine that there's a whole throng of folks out there that read this blog with regularity becoming a Swiss watch.

That aren't my mother. (Hi, mom!)

And in this imaginary world, all of you have been desperately wondering just where I went for all of November, as I seem to have missed an entire month of posting opportunities.

But really: "Hi, mom!"

The way it hangs there (above, see: "where I went for all of November) it almost looks as if I went on some great expedition. But mostly I didn't do a whole lot, and I'm so sorry for being absent. I've been in and out of my studio, and a little travel here and there, and back into the studio...

But generally, I feel as if I used up about 2 years' worth of discipline, motivation, and drive in the preceding three months. And while it was wonderful, and all things went great, that was just an awful lot of exertion in a short amount of time and so, intentionally or not, I took a little break. And since I don't depend on the selling of pots for the buying of food, I can afford to do so. For this I am thankful.

But I've kept myself sort of busy. Some pots, some travel, some pictures? Here:
Mugs! Yes, real mugs! And bowls. These have been drying since the first week of November. Waiting for some friends to justify a bisque firing. I'm getting there.
Spent some time in Phoenix to eat some turkey. My mother-in-law's bobcat has a thing for fine footwear of the smelly, leather variety. Seriously, look at that sublime state of bliss.
Drove up into the mountains and met a week-old zebra. Cutie-for-surie. (we call that a "Slant Rhyme.")
Got up close and personal with a giraffe. Krystal got to feed him. He was wrinkly, but friendly.
May I also say, the pinnacle of this experience was the "Predator Feed" which was essentially a parade led by a beat-up pick-up pulling a trailer full of seven hundred pounds of raw meat which was shotgunned over the fences by park staff (shotgunned in the football sense, for anyone following along at home). First of all, if you've never watched another human being chuck a 12 pound turkey in the air (and I mean, intentionally chuck - because I'm aware that Thanksgiving brings about all sorts of mishaps) - if you have never observed as someone shot-putted a 14-pound roast in the air, you are missing out. Because it's amazing. All on its own. Standalone entertainment in a heartbeat. Worth it.

Now, on the receiving end of that roast is a 6 year old, male lion - and he catches the roast in his mouth and runs off with it, shaking it dead while roasty-juice flies everywhere; on the receiving end of that flying turkey is a regular old Hobbes who up and poaches that turkey out of mid-air with a disconcerting crunch of fowl - THAT'S ENTERTAINMENT.

 That said, aside from the carnivore's buffet, it was one of the strangest places I've ever been. And I've been sucked into some odd little tourist joints. But it seemed that most of the critters in the park were rescued private pets who would have otherwise been put down. Resident White Rhino Boom-Boom, for example, was originally booked as the main event at a canned hunt in Texas before being redeemed by Mark Ecko, "founder of the world famous rhino-branded apparel line, *ecko unltd., and a staunch supporter of rhino relief."  Boom-Boom is now on permanent loan to Out of Africa. So, apparently good for the animals. Right.
Got Christmasy up in here.
Home-made ornaments, even. Maybe I should be marketing these things?
My lovely ladies. Tempy was helping to set up the tree.
Finally getting around to more pots this week. So there's always that.
So that's what I've been doing. Pots. A little. Running. Catching up on my reading. Shoveling snow. Scraping windshields. Running the furnace. Making soups and chilis and such things. Also, plenty of music-listening. Today I've been getting into the brand new release from the Black Keys. It's pretty dope. <--Hip=Me. Thinking that maybe this is the year that I'll actually post a "Luke's Favorite Music/Top Albums of the Year According to Luke with some input from Tempy" post.

So there it is. Nothing too exciting, but it's what I've been up to. Finishing some Christmas orders. Still lots of pots in stock around here if you're looking for any specific gift needs.

Stay warm, and keep potting (if applicable).

Bye, Mom!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

I have finished the race!

"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." -2 Timothy 4:7

Boy, that sure feels like fitting words to share tonight. I thought it about time to pop in here and let y'all know that I have survived the last two weeks and come out relatively unscathed. Having successfully completed the IMT Des Moines Marathon last Sunday (10/16), I came home and tackled the back end of my "Marathon(ing) Week" with a show this last Friday and Saturday. Good times all around.

Friday and Saturday I had the great joy and honor to be selected to participate in the First Lady's Prairie Arts Showcase, a local event held in conjunction with the Governor's Invitational Pheasant Hunt. I certainly consider it to be a great honor to be among the 32 South Dakota artists selected to participate and would certainly like to take this line of text to thank First Lady Linda Daugaard, the South Dakota Arts Council, and the South Dakota Department of Tourism for their work in preparing a fine event.
My booth space. Click on the picture for a better view.
According to other artists that have done this show before, this was a bit of an off year - sales-wise, mood-wise, etc. Somewhat to be expected - with an election last fall, this is a new administration which translates to a new guest list and so no telling just what people were expecting. As a result, Friday evening saw very little action for the artists, at least in our section of the show. A handful of folks did stop by the artist booths to check out the work and do some pre-shopping, but there were very few sales to be seen.

Saturday was a horse of a different color. There was a bit more interest from hunt guests (and their accompaniments) as they congregated for the day's events. Mid-morning the show was opened to the public and things really started to pick up.  I had pretty regular sales throughout the better part of the day and got to meet a whole lot of great folks from town and made some connections that could lead to further opportunities to display/sell my work locally.  I had a great afternoon. Things slowed down again in the early evening as we transitioned back to a private event for the Hunt Guests and I made one or two more sales to guests in the evening - mostly local folks who were also contributors to the success of the Hunt, whether organizationally or hosting hunts on their land.

All that to say, despite the fact that the show was open for over 20 hours and I'd say 15 full hours were spent NOT doing anything remotely resembling business, it was a good event. I got to share a hall with some great South Dakota artists and managed to have some fun along the way.  I do know that if I were not a local artist I might not be so optimistic about the turnout - I had no travel expenses to do this show, no lodging, no gas costs, no on-the-road meals. If that were not the case, what I sold would barely have covered my expenses for the weekend. That would be, generally, a problem. But I got through.

I had a lot of concerns as this was my first show in nearly two years and certainly a different setting than I've showed in the past. At the end of the day, I think I did a fair job at things. I could elaborate if any of my loyal readers have questions, but for now I'll leave it at that and say that I'm certainly glad to have that one under my belt and thinking that I'll be much more prepared for the next one to come my way.


Before I could prep for this show, I had a marathon to run. So yikes. As this is not a running/fitness blog I'll spare any nitty-gritty details.  Like, I'm not going to post a picture of my toenail that went from deep red to ink-stain-purple and is still hanging on quite tenaciously. But, as it's quite a significant accomplishment, I'd be amiss not to share a bit. Including pictures. Great big thank you to my parents for being our "pit crew" and cheering all morning! So, the short story: we finished! All three! In reasonable times!

Read on for the longer version...
At the start - me, Krystal, and Krystal's dear friend Sandy.
It was a great day for running. Specifically, a great day for running for multiple hours. It was a bit chilly at the start, but reasonably temped as the sun came up - starting around 45 degrees and warming up not much higher than the upper 50's with reasonable sun and mixed breeziness. Krystal and her dear friend Sandy ran most of their race together - significant as they ran their last marathon together in 2004. Well done, kiddos.
I'm not sure what we were talking about, but I couldn't pass on this photo. I call it "Anticipation" and I think I need to blow it up to 16x20, frame it, and hang it prominently in our home. Waiting at the starting line, listening to the Star Spangled Banner.
I settled into the starting corral somewhere around the 4:30 pacer (that's four hours and thirty minutes total, not a per-mile pace) and quickly found myself keeping pace with a nice runner who would stay with me for 24 miles. Martijn was a very nice fellow originally from the Netherlands who has been living stateside for the last 15 years or so and works for an Iowa Ag company as a corn breeder. I told him that sounded like a pretty kinky job and he thought that was pretty funny.
Me and Martijn somewhere around mile 13, I think. Still feeling pretty good at this point.
Somewhere around Mile 8 I said to Martijn, just that two more times and a little bit. It doesn't sound so bad when you say it like that. Again, around Mile 13, the halfway point, you have this moment of "I feel great. Everything we've already run, run it again? No problem!" Three miles later, 16 miles in, with 10 miles to go, you realize you're rather bored of the run. Over the next six miles boredom turns to irritation turns to discomfort turns to something resembling pain. Martijn and I parted ways just before Mile 24 - I was fighting my first bad cramps of the run, my quads were seizing up (<--nitty-gritty?) - and I was falling behind. No words to share, I was just slowing down and he was still feeling good. Turns out he felt good only for the next two miles and got hit with a nasty cramp within sight of the finish line. I had to take my time through the last two water stations at miles 24 and 25, but finished strong to the finish, banishing the cramps to far away places.
At the finish - I'm a marathoner!
It felt good crossing the finish line, mostly to be done running. But I felt great otherwise. My ever-supportive father's response to my good feelings? "Then you must not have run hard enough." My final chip time was 4:12:14 - a very respectable time, and a good pace throughout. My goal was to land somewhere around 4:30, I thought 4:15 was an optimistic goal #2. Finishing under four hours would have been incredible as goal #3, but we certainly didn't train to run at that sort of pace and given that I felt really good about my run I'm not sure that there was anywhere I could have realistically shaved 12 minutes from. Besides, now I have a goal to strive for on Marathon #2 :)
Me, Krystal, and Sandy - we all made it!
Krystal came in a bit after me (she hasn't disclosed me to share her time, but I'll say it was much better than her last marathon) and Sandy was about 10 minutes after that. Good looking trio, huh?

So that was that. Went back to my brother's place, showered, took a nap, grabbed some barbecue with a dear old friend in Ames and on to my childhood home in Clear Lake, IA. Monday we spent six hours in the car which is exactly the sort of thing you want to do after running a marathon (<--sarcasm). Upon arriving home I got to finish sanding, pricing, and packing up pots for the following four days which leads us back to the top of the post.

Looking forward to a break from things long-runnish and super-pottish for a bit. I do have some throwing to do to get some Christmas orders in, and I'll be back to running as soon as my joints tell me it's okay. In the meantime, trying to enjoy the last bits of temperate weather that we might be having for a while up in these parts. The last week (running Sunday through Saturday) represent the culmination of a lot of hard work and discipline set in action nearly 5 months ago, and it mostly feels good to have come out the other side stronger for it, rather than buckling or falling short in any significant way.

With that, stay classy and thanks for stopping by. I'll let you know when potting of significance resumes.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Lots of Firing Around Here

Busy busy busy. I seem to be starting a lot of note that way these days. The final firing before my show is cooling to be unloaded tonight. I've been firing nonstop since last Friday night: a final bisque load and now into my third (I think?) glaze firing. There's no way I'll be able to log all of my pots as "slide" quality images, but the bottom line is that a lot of them aren't portfolio worth pots. I'll hopefully find time in the next 9 days with enough good natural lighting to get some good photos of my favorite pots to come out of the last couple months work. In the meantime, here's a taste of what's been coming out of the kiln.
I did a baker's half-dozen cups like this. I may be taking a break from my sgraffito this winter to do more pieces that emphasize carving, relief, and glaze work. Mostly I love these two glazes together. Wishing I had a whole set of work like this.
Another mountain vase. They're coming out pretty regularly lately. The brown still isn't as strong as I'd like, but what can you do?
Bowls and bowls and bowls. These are itty-bitty ice cream dishes. Or whatever. Beautiful reds.
Still not avoiding disappointment. Here are two stacked bowls with the glaze doing this. In addition to the 6 from the earlier firing that didn't turn out in this combo. And the six small ones that I tried with an alternative glazing that didn't pan out either. Argh. Went back to my glaze/firing log and discovered what I've been doing wrong here, but too late to help these bowls. Blurgh.
This is a big one - blue and sandstone. Should have stayed with the red-sandstone combo, but it's a pretty blue, nonetheless.
More cups.  A whole palette. And remember: Choose Natural Energy!!!
And last, but not least, I think my favorite from this round of work. The glaze, the shape. It's a winner. Now, to make sure I don't arbitrarily price this one head and shoulders above the rest just so I can keep it...
That's it. Don't know how much more news I'll be able to get up in the next week. On the road this weekend to run a marathon - hopefully I don't die. Then home to finish sanding and washing and prepping and pricing for the show. And then the show. And then I may sleep for a week or two straight.

In addition, if you're not already, listen to the new records from Switchfoot and MuteMath. They are amazing.


Thursday, October 6, 2011

Unloading the Kiln

Top shelf - opening the kiln. Love that agate-y bleed on the top of that vase.
Second shelf.
Bottom of the kiln.
All the pots. Chillin'.
Just a quick preview for y'all. Back to the grindstone...

Friday, September 30, 2011

Untitled Post for a Friday

From the looks of the blog, it's been a little quiet on my end lately. But from this side of things I've mostly been super busy! Lunch hours that could normally go to updates here have been devoted to the pots themselves - trimming, decorating, firing, waxing, glazing. I've also been committing to squeezing in half an hour or so of throwing/trimming into my morning routine, in addition to my runs. As great as all this productivity has got me feeling, I'm looking forward to getting past Marathon/Show week so I can take some time and just be. "Cut back" my studio hours to "just" ten hours or so a week. Spend less than a third of my waking hours on the weekend running. That sort of thing. But overall it's been nice to go to bed at the end of the night knowing that I spent my day doing. And not just going, going going, but doing things that are valuable and important to my being. But like I said, I'm looking forward cutting back on a bit of the doing so that I have more time for other all important being activities such as abiding with family and friends, something that Krystal would confirm has been not so much happening as greatly as preferred this last fortnight. Or so.

All that to say, I don't have a whole lot of photos to show for my work, but I do have a few things to share.

I ran a glaze firing last weekend to mixed results. Actually, disappointment was the word of the day when I cracked the lid. My beautiful running blue combo did not so much beautiful this time around. I'll get to that later. But to start with the good things.
A few things glazed in the Retro Blue Green. The plate was supposed to have carvings in it, but the RBG seems to have had different feelings on the matter. Still, at least a pretty color.

Rusty Red did the same bang-up job it always does. A couple spots it got a little thick in the middle of the bowls and looks like iron ore deposits. Not my standard preference on functional ware, but beautiful colors and unique textures.
Ah, disappointment.
What I didn't take into account was that the two places I tested the combo were relatively flat surfaces - a platter and a shallow bowl - and the base glaze involved is a floating blue, which is to say that the desired result is for the surface colorants to bleed and create a streaking effect. Which, I'm thinking, is what happened here: it did exactly what it was supposed to do. And on the taller bowls, it bled the Dark Cobalt top coat with it. So, the centers of the bowls are beautiful, with deep blues and streaking effects. The further up the walls you go, not so much. These may still constitute "seconds" but unless my stock runs quite low will probably not appear at the show in October. The outsides are still gorgeous, but the insides are not what I would consider prime results at all. Yikes.

So that's about it. Lots of throwing last minute bowls and cups, lots of trimming said bowls and cups, trying to get all set on the business side of things - bags, boxes, business cards, display - lots of stuff that needs updating/restocking/first-time-decision-making. I'll get there.

In the meantime, a couple "businessy" things regarding my site.
  1. I'm proud to announce that you can now reach my site via - no Blogspot required! I'm still hosted by Blogger, so there's no need to update your blogroll or feed - it will automatically redirect. But this is very exciting for me!
  2. You may have noticed (as they've been up for a while) but there are now additional "pages" here to supplement the blog. You can find them at the top of the screen. "About the Artist" is what it is - currently you can read my personal artist statement and I will be updating a bit of bio as well. "Links" is a listing of sites I consider to be of importance in my artistic journey, including teachers, supporters, and fellow artists. Please check that out, as if you like my stuff you will most likely find "else" of interest somewhere in there.
  3. Finally, if this blog is not nearly enough Luke for you, I can now be found on Twitter (if you're into that sort of thing) where I have been a little bit more regular in posting quick pics and thoughts from the studio, as well as complaining about the weather and blathering about music. You can find me under the moniker @EarthAndClay.
That's all I've got time for folks. Lots of glazing, and thus lots of new pots, in the near future. 21 days, 3 hours, 42 minutes to show time. Yikes.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Cups and Videos

Some busy nights in the studio this week(& end). What have I been up to?
A couple vases, and some cups.
Still trimming away at that great big vase, and more cups.
And just a whole lot more cups!
And a great big vase. Maybe 24 inches tall? Will be several days of process before this guy is finished up and ready to dry. I hope it will fit into my firing schedule (drying-wise) before I'm done for the show.
So that's what it's been. I did lose a handful of cups while trimming - I had an incident where I tried to pick up the plank full of cups seen in the 3rd picture. It's a remnant of (I believe) some cementboard siding from our house. I tried picking it up apparently too far to one end and the board snapped, springboarding the cups on the other end into the air. Three cups made the unlucky journey all the way to the floor. Five more just tipped on their sides, but they were soft enough that they did still flatten a bit. I think those five have been salvaged - reshape, rub out the flattened side of the rim, and set upright to keep drying. Hopefully they will dry back to their circular state in a healthy manner.
So that's about all I've got right now. I received word that my copy of Switchfoot's upcoming album has been shipped, so that's exciting. They've also debuted the video for their first single, "Dark Horses." It's pretty standard fare, as performance based videos go, but a nice preview for the album. I've embedded it below for your viewing pleasure. "Dark Horses" is a hard hitting rocker, but the rest of the album sort of runs in the whole range of Switchfoot's sonic palette. On my first listen through (the online streaming version) it reminded me a whole lot of the sounds heard in their first three records as a three-piece coupled with the musical growth they've demonstrated as a maturing five-piece band. It's really good stuff, and I'm looking forward to having the real thing in hand.

On the other side of the "performance based music videos" spectrum, MuteMath has debuted the video for the second single ("Blood Pressure") from their October 4th release (Odd Soul). It's a bit trippier of an affair, and worth checking out (also embedded below). For a band that values video as a creative medium entirely, not just a promotional object, they're going to have to up the ante soon and film in outer space or in a shark cage or full motion capture and turn each band member into an awesome CGI ape or something because they're getting close to repeating themselves. But it's still an interesting video. As someone who has worked in 2D and now lives in 3D, trying to work in a 4D art form (motion picture adds the dimension of time, right?) I have no clue where one would even start in making a video like this. But they do! Fun note: drummer Darren King was one of the directors of the video. Should be a great album. Looking forward to it.

That said, check out the videos if you need some groovy tuneage, and have a great weekend!

Pictures sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Monday, September 19, 2011

The (Last) Week's Work

In addition to the glaze firing, I also did get to do some throwing/trimming/studio work in last week. All sorts of trimming and decorating. I'm reaching my self-imposed deadline for production of new work for my October show, so gotta really crank out a few more things this week before It's fire-fire-fire mode!
And lots of pots waiting to be glazed. Gotta get on that sooner rather than later.  In the meantime, Switchfoot's new album is streaming on right now (why ESPN? Because they have good taste, obviously). And it's pretty grand. So that's what I'll be doing from here until the record releases. And then I'll just be listening to my copy. Because it is really that good.

Back to the studio. Not a lot of time yet to do quite a bit of work still. In addition to work, household stuffs, and running for hours at a time every weekend. It's been a full fall here. Not sure why I thought that was a good idea.

But yes: back to the studio.