Dec 31, 2009

I hear wedding bells...

Actually, it's true, since my daughter got engaged last month, and now copies of Brides and The Knot magazine are all over the house.

I got to thinking about how I am missing the boat in designing something for a wedding cake topper. I came up with this little sculpture of two sweet birds.

You know, the first time you make something, it's always harder than the 10th time
- and this was a pain.
The two birds are closed pinch pot forms that I modeled and joined
together while the clay was still moist.
I like how the color of the tan clay peeks thru the icy blue glaze.

I need to think of more wedding items I can make. It was a lot of fun making this one. It's newly listed in my Etsy shop, along with a few new spirit guides.

Here's the koala spirit guide in a much better photo.
He really came out pretty cute, if I do say so.

Dec 27, 2009

a sneak peek at something new...

I just pulled these guys out of the kiln; a koala, coyote, raccoon, and rabbit.

I think they all came out sweet, even if this photo is not the best.

I wanted to hurry and get it posted, and
couldn't wait for daylight.

The koala is my favorite. Probably because I wanted one since I was a child. Somehow I
got the idea we were moving to Australia. I was sure I would get a kangaroo for a pet. Or a koala.
Wishing for a pony was much to ordinary.

Dec 24, 2009

Merry Christmas, my friends!

Yesterday, I did the last (hopefully!) of my Christmas shopping. I went with my daughter, who's 24, and very sensible and organized, to the grocery store to finally get what we needed for our Christmas dinner and everything else that I'd forgotten.

This year, we're having a traditional German dish, Rouladen. Rouladen is a beef roll made from a large thin steak flavored with bacon and mustard. Now, that's not a picture of my dish, but ours will look just like that - yummy, yes?  My mother is from Berlin, and her rouladen has always been a family favorite. I know I can never match her recipe, but mine still come out pretty tasty.  In fact, this year in honor of making it an easy and no hassle, we are going to make our rouladen in the crock pot. After the beef rolls are browned in a pan, they go into the crock pot on a bed of carrots, the beef stock is added and the rolls braise for several hours. Then they are removed and the stock is made into gravy. Oh, I'm already hungry.

We're also having the traditional red cabbage (rotkohl) as a side dish and just like in the photo, potato dumplings. I love potato dumplings with a passion. Those are really the easiest things ever. I use a mix that comes in a box where you just ad water to the mix and let it sit, then form balls that you drop into hot water. These taste just like the ones you make by hand. They are divine with rouladen gravy.

Now for dessert. So many things to choose from, but we decided this year to have Bread Pudding with Rum Sauce. There are so many recipes out there that it's impossible to find the best one. Really, we're taking the best from many recipes and tweaking it for our family. I'm leaving out the raisins (yuk) and instead of using just the recommended french bread, we're also using  cinnamon breakfast bread. I think it'll be great.

Anyway, we still have tons of wrapping to do, and I need to get in the kitchen and make breakfast. My kids bugged me for homefries. They love my homefries and are always disappointed when we go out for breakfast and they get a bland plate of dry cooked potatoes. Here's how I make them - ( I don't really write recipes, so I hope it's not too hard to understand):

Golden Homefried Potatoes
4 medium sized new, red, or gold potatoes
1 large onion
3 slices bacon
peanut or canola oil
salt, pepper
Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning or other spice mix if you have it

1.) If you have leftover boiled potatoes:  cut potatoes in 1/4 inch slices or 1/2 inch cubes. It's not important to be that accurate.
1A.) If  using raw potatoes: With skin on, slice potatoes in hald lengthwise, then in half again so you have 4 long strips. Slice these no more than 1/4 inch thick.
2)  Cook bacon till crisp. While bacon is cooking, dice onion into 1/2 cubes (approximately)
3) Add 2 or 3 tbs of oil to a non stick 12" skillet. If your potatoes were boiled beforehand, add the onions and cook over medium heat until yellowed and lightly caramelized, then add the cooked potatoes.  If you're using raw potatoes, add onions and potatoes at same time.
4) Now the hard part- Cook slowly and over low to medium heat for about 20 minutes - longer if your potatoes were sliced thickly or you used the raw potatoes. Turn the potatoes with a spatula occasionally. You want to allow the potatoes to get a nice, browned crust. Add oil as needed to keep from sticking.
5) When the potatoes have cooked for a few minutes, add the bacon, crumbled. Add salt and pepper, a shake of paprika and a dash of Tony's seasoning or other spice mix you may like.

I think this dish is really super easy (despite my wordiness), so I don't understand why so many restaurants make the worst homefries ever. It's a great way to use up leftover boiled potatoes, too.Try making them like this, you'll love it.

Dec 21, 2009

Cool Clay On Etsy

A wonderful piece of fairy tale inspired art by a talented clay artist. I love the dimensionality of this piece.

Yikes, spikes!  This reminds me of a sea urchin or other sea creature. Very modern and cool!

Cute and whimsical, this little bird  is raku fired. He rocks, too!

These three items were chosen by browsing the Etsy Ceramics and Pottery category, subcategory, Sculpture. There are so many very good artists with high quality work that you'll find lots to love.

Dec 20, 2009

I'm now on Zibbet

Have you shopped Zibbet yet? It's a great place for handmade items, with a clean, sophisticated look. I'm just getting my shop up and running, and I have to say I'm quite pleased with it. I love how I could use my blog banner for a cohesive look.
I'd like to invite you to come by and see my Zibbet shop. I'm called Little Clay House over there, otherwise, it's pretty much the same old me. You can get there by clicking here.

Please feel free to leave me comments about what you think of my Zibbet (or Etsy) shop. I love constructive criticism - maybe from my days back as a graphic artist. Art directors always like to have the last word!

Dec 19, 2009

Avatar- A Visual Feast

If you haven't heard the hype about this movie, you've probably been living on an island somewhere. I saw it last night (opening night) and I have to say it's fantastic. For anyone with even the tiniest bit of love for sci-fi, you'll like this movie.

For the unitiated, here's a plot summary:
 "Avatar" is the story of a paralyzed ex-Marine who finds himself thrust into hostilities on an alien planet filled with exotic life forms. As an Avatar, a human mind in an alien body, he finds himself torn between two worlds, in a desperate fight for his own survival and that of the indigenous people.

As we watched the movie, we all commented how completely immersed we felt, and how easily we accepted the environment as a place that could actually exist. The landscape of Pandora, the alien world, is filled with lush visuals; glowing plants and insects, pristine forests and colorful creatures. The use of 3D  enhanced the feeling of 'being there',  leaves fluttered down to the ground as you looked up at the giant Hometree; glowing insects buzzed around the characters and off the screen toward you, as examples of the careful use of this technique. The scenes of CGI mixed with live action were incredibly seamless, as well.

The CGI of the characters was really the most amazing. Every subtle facial movement was captured, making it possible to read the emotions the characters were feeling even if they didn't speak. Most amazing to me was the avatar of the Sigourney Weaver character. It looks incredibly like her, yet alien.This movie radiates with color and life. Pandora is a real place by the end of the film. The 2 hours and 40 minutes went by so fast, and we all decided we would see it again, if only to enjoy the stunning visuals the second time around.

As an artist who's been in a love affair with color and creativity my entire life, this movie was a showstopper. I absolutely loved it. For anyone in the creative field, there's a whole lot to enjoy in this movie. Don't get me wrong, there's plenty of action to keep your big guys and little boys happy - but for me it was the dazzling creativity on display that will have me coming back for another look or three.

Dec 15, 2009

Paper Shades and Sunny Days

When I first moved into my house, I didn't have enough money to buy curtains for all my windows.
I used those paper shades you can find at Home Depot for the windows in my studio.
Then I decided to jazz them up....

At the time, I was going through my stained glass phase. It didn't last long, since I quickly discovered I didn't have the patience to cut, grind and solder lots of little pieces together. I guess you could say I have a short attention span when it comes to crafts.

I had lots of suncatchers left over from a craft show where no one wanted to buy suncatchers.  Sometimes craft shows are like that; you come home feeling discouraged and doubting yourself.

I had a brainstorm and hung them in my windows. They've been there for about seven years now. I like the way they look hanging there; catching the morning sun. I still have the paper shades up, too. I guess I'd rather look at something I made that makes me smile than at a piece of fabric. They remind me that no matter what anyone else thinks, I'm doing what makes me happy - and that makes me feel good.

Dec 14, 2009

Extreme Clay on Etsy

The realistic texture on this mug is amazing!

I am a huge fan of clay sculpture, and this artist is an amazing sculptor. I love this teapot.

The raised dots add a wonderful sculptural quality to this eye-catching bowl.

This artist has an amazing ability to capture the gestures and essence of animals in their natural state. These are tiny miniatures.

You have to look twice to see that this shoe is made of clay instead of twigs and leaves. Wonderfully whimsical!

I hope you enjoy these examples of the wide range of clay art and pottery that can be found while browsing the Ceramics and Pottery category of Etsy.  No matter how many times I look, I can always find something new and exciting. Check it out-

Dec 13, 2009

 I was looking through some of my storage bins for something the other day and came across this handful of clay faces my mother made for me years ago. I wanted to set them in silver bezels at one point, or add them to my gourd projects. Somehow, I never got around to doing either.

Do you have any half-finished crafts or projects laying around? Share them with me in the comments.

Dec 12, 2009

Merry Christmas and Welcome!

Welcome to a new incarnation of my blog. I've been blogging for over a year now, off and on and not quite regularly.  For the new year, I'm making a resolution to make blogging a bigger part of my life. But that's all fodder for another post.

This blog is dedicated to my love of clay and a little bit more about my personal life, what appeals to me and what I'm working on, too. Sometimes you can get so involved with your art or craft, that the blog becomes just one big, "look at me" that gets old real fast, don't you think? So anyway, here's a new, fresh blog named for my clay shop, Iktomi.

In Lakota mythology, Iktomi is a spider-trickster spirit, as well as a shape-shifter.  As I work with clay, shape shifting it from something raw from the earth into something beautiful, I take inspiration from the artists who came before me, making things both useful and decorative ~ and the spirit of creation is my motivation.