Sunday, November 16, 2008

How I can make one day feel like three

Phew! Yesterday was a very long, very wonderful day! I have discovered the key to my having a good weekend - going to sleep by 10pm and waking up before 8am! Friday night I went to my dad's house and watched Top Chef with him, and then had along heart-to-heart. I was at home, asleep by about 10:30. I woke up around 7am the next morning, and spent a few hours happily sweeping, scrubbing, cleaning... then I headed over to Amber's house, where we stopped at Whole Foods, and then went to Aardvark's for clay, and then went down to the Irvine Fine Arts Center!

Now -for those of you who don't know, ceramics has been an obsession of mine since I was about 11. It actually started at the Irv.FAC - we went with Girl Scouts once. I loved it (although the first time I went, I was so excited, I went and got a bucket of water, and set it down on the wheelhead. The first thing they said to do was test the peddle. So I did. And water went FLYING. It was so embarrassing, but I survived.) Then, I was at Cypress College when I was about 13, and walked past this door...

I peered inside, and there was Bob Dylan and Tom Waits playing, murals painted all over the walls, the wheels, and the cubbies, and a big flashing sign that said "CERAMICS" and this silver haired woman with the brightest shirt I ever saw going around and encouraging everyone. I signed up for ceramics the next semester.

That class turned out to be so much more than a class for me. I stayed there for 5 years - they helped raise me. Char and all of the lab techs took me under their wings and taught me everything about throwing, glazing, and firing. Les would help me load the kiln, Ducky would show me how to use the power chisel to clean the shelves, and Jeremy let me raku with him. Oh, rakuing. That's a whole separate post. Oh man. My heart palpitates just thinking about it. Greg Morissey was the handbuilding/low fire glazing expert, Jim used to come up to me when I was learning how to center and thump my elbow and say "oops, center it again" so I learned how to center really well and really fast. John Danner and I started the same semester, and stuck together - he ended up making me some incredibly useful personalized tools, Rebecca, Fil, and Tifani started a little later, and when I met them, my life was complete! Rebecca now lives in Utah, but is still doing ceramics out there (and is thinking of opening her own etsy!) Fil lives who knows where, but apparently resurfaces every once in a while, and Tifani is her own fairytale, which I ruined, and is also another post.

My point is - I loved everything about it. I loved the actual act of throwing, loved the smell of clay, loved sticking my whole arm down in a glaze bucket, loved the old film of Paul Soldner rakuing, loved the day when we got to watch the slides of Char's favorite cups, loved the first day of class ("WOW" day she calld it - for "Weed out the Wusses") I LOVED cleaning that big beautiful silver sink and singing, taking breaks and hanging out on the patio by the aloe vera plant with all the smokers, organizing boxes in the clay cage, helping to load and unload kilns...I loved the precision of loading a glaze kiln, but I loved the bisque kiln because it was so big I could stand in it to load it.

Raku - originally a Japanese form of glazing, was Americanized and made popular by Paul Soldner, known as the Father of American Raku. He also happened to be one of Char's instructors when she was in school. He would come and visit, and every once in a while select students of Char's would get to go to his house for parties, potlucks, and sitting in his hot tub surrounded by the bush that looked like a water monster, and 80 different bonsai trees. I lived for the day Char deemed time to raku. At our studio it was a three person process - and my two favorite parts were definitly actually using the tongs and walking into the kiln to get the pieces, and watching the golden-molten glaze lift off in cotton-candy-thread-like pieces if they were stuck to the kiln shelves, and opening the lid of the reduction barrel - and the backdraft and smoke that would happen every time it opened. I actually lost my eyebrows once from that, and lit my ponytail on fire! Arm hair was a thing of the past. ;oP

Char ran an incredible studio. It was, as she always said she wanted it to be, a mini Utopia in a world where it's hard to find a perfect place.

Then she retired. I stayed on as lab tech for a few semesters after that, but it was too hard for me without her, and without most of the people who had been in class with me for 5 years. I moved to Wisconsin for a little while - found a spot where I did ceramics once, and cried the whole time.

Discovered the Irvine Fine Arts center, and I remember that I hated it the first time I went, for the sheer lack of Bob Dylan music and Char's big booming voice. I pretty much stopped doing any ceramics for a while.

But you know what? I couldn't quit it! I don't do it as much as I used to, that's for sure, but every once in a while my hands just ache for clay. I still get Char's voice about technique in my head when I throw, and I hope I am not forming any bad habits, but throwing for the sake of throwing is now just as enjoyable as it ever was.

ohhh woe, woe, woe..

wow, I sure left my original post. Okay, I guess that illustrates how much I love ceramics..the point is, getting to go throw yesterday was a very good day for me. Amber and I threw from about 11am-4:30pm when they closed. I had to stop throwing because I ran out of clay, and did handles/trimmed cups for the last two hours. I forgot how quickly I can go through clay. Next time I will be bringing more.
I used Soldate 60 - which was our staple at Cypress College. It takes glaze well, and has enough sand in it that structurally it's fairly easy. Next time I might take some B-mix, just to get some really fancy schmancy glazed pieces.

There was a lady there yesterday that actually knew Char, and we started talking - she said she could see Char's influence in my pieces. I am not sure she meant that as a compliment, but I take it as one - Char was always after my pieces to be more dramatic and have more direction. I felt really good about these cups.

After ceramics, Amber and I went and had some sushi at a new little sushi place in Seal Beach, then got the dog and went for a run on the beach. It's day 2 of week 5 of Couch to 5k, and it wasn't so bad running with Amber. It helped to run on the boardwalk between houses and ocean - I LOVE running in neighborhoods. Imaginging the people who live in each house and looking at their design is what distracts me the best from running. Adam likes the gym so he can watch people and the tv, but that's not distracting enough for me. He also likes the park, which is nice, but I have to retreat really far into my own head for distraction.

By the time I got home, ADAM was also home, which was nice since I hadn't seen him since Wednesday morning. He left at 6am this morning after a good luck kiss for Ventura for his physical exam for the State Parks.

Alrighty, I think this post is now officially four times as long as any reasonable blog post should be. I am going to go get dressed and call Amber - today is a bike ride to the farmer's market, and going to my little sister's performance of And Then There Were None.


maryeb said...

Hi, Thanks for visiting my blog.
That makes 2 tags this month.
I better get busy.

I love the post about your martial arts test. I've been a bit lax about attending my class lately. Maybe I can get myself re-motivated.

Janelle Maluenda said...

Hey girl,

I work at Kobe Steakhouse/sushi bar in Seal Beach. You seem to live in our area and work with groups. I've got a bunch of gift certificates and such to Kobe if they will help your cause. Email me if you are interested. Love your writings,


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