Sunday, April 30, 2006

The Process Can Be Tedious

Busy glazing today. Little pieces of clay. Each measuring about 2" x 1/2" or smaller. I've only glazed 260 pieces with one coat and have about 200 more to go. These small bits of fired clay are the finishing pieces for the edge of the horse mosaic and bird mosaic that I'm currently working on. After these pieces are fired and added, I then have to consider the grout I'll be using. It's weird with mosaics because the background goes in last. Why don't I make this color decision in the beginning? Because, I don't always know exactly which tiles I'll be using especially when it comes to the smaller ones that I suppose one could call middle ground.

And, for those of you, who have never seen one of my mosaics, they're not the broken tile, shattered plate or little squares of color that are commonly seen. Nor are they like a shape puzzle or stained glass window. I make my own tiles in a variety of shapes. Some resemble broken ceramic pieces, some are shaped like birds, fish, flowers, horses, plants and whatever else strikes my fancy. Then I add plenty of other stuff like faux pearls, stones, shells, jewelry, etc.

And that's all I have to say today as I no longer care to write. Tedious as the process of making art may be sometimes, it's all about the tactile.

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Monday, April 24, 2006

Horses, Horses, Horses

The things I care most about in life are family, friends, art and horses. Horses are the core of my art. I paint, sculpt, create mosaics & prints and write about horses. One magazine article I wrote about horses garnered me a first place in a tri-state journalism competition and a profile of a rodeo barrel racer earned me first place in a Southern California competition.

Several of my equine artworks have been juried as well. A portion of my living is derived from working with horses. I could fill a book with the life lessons I have learned from horses and perhaps someday I will. For now, I will say that horses have provided me a direct connection to nature unlike anything else I've experienced.

What I want to write about today is the Pierce College Mounted Drill Team's performance at the annual Farm Walk yesterday. We had eight scheduled practices for Friday nights, but the weather didn't cooperate and we had to double up our hours, practice on Wednesdays, Sundays and whenever. It was challenging. Mind you, the horses we ride are part of a herd used in the summer for week long mountain trips in the Eastern Sierras and wild horse areas of Nevada. Most are quarterhorse draft crosses and some are Mustangs. In other words, large, rough and tumble kind of guys. Nothing refined about these bad boys.

From September to May they come to Pierce College to work as lesson horses for the horse science and pre-vet program. Yes, horses have to earn a living. Expensive animals to keep, they must earn their way.

Anyway, all year-long they have misbehaved during practice. Pinning their ears, biting and kicking at each other, bucking and resisting commands. Totally terrorizing some of the inexperienced riders.

The day before Farm Walk is bath day. This is their first cue that something is up. This herd does not get bathed very often nor should they. Shampooing, detangler in the manes and tails, trimming uneven hair, bluing for the horses that have white on them and polish on the hooves are the finishing touches for this spa treatment. The second cue is when they are put in separate stalls rather than in the paddock where they will very quickly destroy our day-long grooming work by rolling in manure. Not pleased with being so confined we tell them how cute and what good boys they are, followed by lots of carrots, of course.

Sunday arrives, another grooming, saddling and dress rehearsal. They're still acting out, but not quite so badly as before. Finally, it's time for the first of four performances. We mount, our drill captain introduces each of us as we trot single file into the arena to a cheering and clapping audience. All ears are perked, they respond to the whistle, no biting, no threats. Suddenly they are perfect gentlemen and we have four perfect performances to the delight of all in attendance and most of all 10 grateful riders.

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Saturday, April 22, 2006

Can you believe this?!?

Check this out... I go to the post office with my 40 lb box measuring 28x28x6 on a hand truck. A clerk looks at me and yells "Too big! Too big! We no take! You take someplace else!"

Say whaaat? I immediately start sweating bullets and am torn between jumping the counter to throttle her and say something insulting about using complete sentences, but I need their services. My 'baby' is leaving my hands for a trip into limbo before arriving at her new home. You know what I'm talkin' about.

"It measures less than 108 inches," I tell her. "No! You wrong! Too big!" she insists.

The clerk next to her motions me to come forward and asks can I lift it on the counter. My adrenalin is so high I can lift the entire post office by now. The first clerk is still ranting "Too big! She go!" on and on and on.

Thankfully, my clerk refuses to engage her and gets her measuring tape, measures it (I'm freaking... did I make a mistake in my calculations, did I misread the instructions for large parcels?) writes some figures, measures again, writes more figures. All the while, the ranting is still going on. Everyone in the post office is
dead still watching this mini drama.

My clerk turns to the nut case and says "We can take it." Whew! Finally the rant stopped, I finished my business and walked out feeling quite surreal.

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Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Packing heavy art piece

I sold Under the Sea on auction at artbyus which made me very happy. I would have liked more for it, but I'm pleased nonetheless.


Now, the bigger challenge is packing it securely to ship to it's new home in Tennessee. My son-in-law built a wooden box and I purchased a variety of packing materials. By itself, the mosaic weighs 15 pounds, the box weighs more, at 25 pounds.

First, I wrapped the mosaic in two layers of bubble wrap and laid it in the box on a sheet of styrofoam. Then I partially filled the box with packing p-nuts and sprayed some insulating foam into the corners. Once the foam expanded and hardened, the piece was immovable. I then put a bead of Liquid Nails on the box edge and placed the top on partially securing the screws.

There was a narrow space between the top and the box. Through this space I inserted the nozzle for the foam can and filled in the spaces around the bubble wrap and p-nuts. This done, I finished screwing in the screws.

It's fairly difficult for someone my size to shake a box measuring 28x28x6 and weighing 40 pounds, but I did manage to tip it on all sides and nothing moved inside. Thank goodness.

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Saturday, April 01, 2006

WWAO Brainstorm

Today I've been brainstorming with members of WWAO (Worldwide Women Artists Organization) about how to get more notice for our artwork both online and off, and more sales. So far, we are in the seminal stages of working together as a group to accomplish this. I'll post the best ideas as they come up.

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