A Room of One’s Own

Having a room to yourself can not be underestimated. I have been given this beautiful studio at the Whiteley Center for two weeks, and the thought that I have complete freedom to do what I want with it is so freeing. I settled in on Sunday, sweeping and arranging furniture to my liking. On Monday my wood blocks arrived on schedule and I’m ready to start drawing my whale for the Big Ink event. Big Ink is traveling to Hatch Show Print in Nashville for the weekend of September 14th and 15th and my work has been accepted for printing. Needless to say I have my work cut out for me! Pun intended ;-).

I have to include a ‘before’ shot of the blocks, 40″ X 90″.

Yesterday was my birthday and I also went for a long walk in the woods with Ashwin. University of Washington has the only old growth forest on San Juan Island. The woods are deep and varied, moving from open meadow-like areas to deep dark forest bordered by the Salish Sea. Any path taken on the right side of the trail ends up on the shore. Along the way I stepped off the path into the woods once, to take a photo at the base of a large tree. I heard an odd sound and when I looked to my left, there was an owl about 15 feet from me on a low branch. He flew up to a higher branch and we continued to look at each other for a long time. Ashwin was wearing a yellow kurta and the owl seemed particularly interested in him. I believe he is a Barred Owl.



What a lovely day, I can’t think of a better place to celebrate my birthday.

Mysticeti

Smooth cool water,

I glide, hold my breath,

Call to the others.

My voice is strong,

Resonant and clear,

She hears me.

We find each other,

Through miles of deep and dark,

Vast watery quiet.

I open my jaws,

Let the water flow in,

And expel it through baleen.

Rising to the surface,

I blow my captured breath,

And leap with joy.

We have dominion under the sea.

Shadow giants pass overhead,

A cacophony of sound,

I can’t hear the others.

I sing my song,

And get no response,

No one hears me.

I scoop up the rich ocean,

Obstructions catch in my throat,

I swallow, accumulate.

I’m curious, get too close,

Feel a jagged pain,

My blood mixes with the sea.

Evanston Made Open Studio, June 1st 

I’ll be participating in the Evanston Open Studios on June 1st from 12 to 5. Please visit http://www.evanstonmade.org  for an interactive map of all the studio locations. I’ll have artist books, drawings, and ceramics for sale. Please come by to see what I do, chat, and make a small plankton print to take home. 

This piece will be at the Evanston Art Center in June – opening reception Friday, May 31st.

Clay Birds

Just a quick one today. These are the results from combining old linoleum blocks with clay slabs. I hand painted the black image with underglaze (following the pressed pattern) and used a cinnamon glaze on top. If you look carefully, you’ll see that the image continues from block to block. I’m fairly pleased with the results!

My Small Tribute to Joe

I have had a tough month this past October but there are only a few people who know this, so I’m just going to put it out there. It doesn’t feel right to go on with a blog about pottery, without first acknowledging this big thing in my life. My ex-husband, Joe Rabel, passed away on September 27th, 2018. Out of respect for him and his family, I won’t go into the details, but I want to talk about this loss. I think that many might believe that an ex won’t be missed by their former partner. Our marriage dissolved right? Why would I still have feelings? In a way there isn’t a place for an ex-wife’s grief. Those who knew us as a couple 20 years ago, know that I still have strong feelings for him, but I walk around in a new environment now. There is no one to talk to in my daily life who knew him, or cared for him. Sometimes I just want to be with those who knew and loved him, but they are in Massachusetts, not in Chicago where I live. It feels strange to know that he is gone, that his family and friends are sorting through his things, getting ready to sell the house we bought together. He has lived many years without me, but they are still sorting through old pictures of our vacations, our record collection, and perhaps our old Christmas ornaments. That was my life too.

Joe and I reconnected at the beginning of the year. He contacted my sister and her husband, and for some reason I felt very strongly that I wanted to talk to him. We emailed and texted through the year, talking on the phone only a few times. We patched up a lot of things, reminisced about shared experiences that no one else can share, and I had the chance to say I’m truly sorry. We sent music and quotes and book recommendations, but the thing that I will hold in my heart forever is poetry. Joe was a poet, and he wrote poetry for me. I know he wrote for others as well, but the poetry he wrote for me, touched my heart and made me find the love I had for him again. He said I was his muse, and perhaps that’s true, but I know I was certainly his audience and sounding board.

Perhaps Joe would feel uncomfortable with this, but I know he would have liked to have been recognized as a poet, so I will share some of his best. He even inspired me to write some of my own. We were just kids, but we were together for 17 years, and those were very formative years. I will always hold Joe in my heart. I joked with him earlier this year,  telling him he could have one of the larger ventricles. I hope he knows that he has some very valuable real estate! I have to save some room for my lovely husband, and child, (not to mention friends and family!). 🙂 Without them I would be lost.

Some day

In the clouds

Our thoughts

Will mix and intermingle

The true you

The true me

For everyone to see

And you will know the true me

And I will know the true you

And we will share that

With a million other souls

Floating aimlessly

Amongst the clouds

Joe Rabel  2/2/2018

I find my words in everything

In the leaves

The changing colors of Fall

The lack of them inWinter

But you bring me Spring

And new blossoms form

But still I yearn for Summer

When all comes to fruition

And the circle is formed

Such is life

And the circle turns

Until we ourselves are done

But then we are gone

Though we can’t see it

The seasons carry on

The circle never ends

Joe Rabel. 1/29/18

Like bonsai

I hurt myself

Not to be more beautiful

But to be more refined

The pruning is that of the soul,

Removing the small branches

And keeping the strong ones

That are old and twisted

But can take the weight.

A cleansing

Of that which is no longer useful.

With new eyes I see the world,

And I learn to look inside for beauty.

I glance your way

And you seem to glow.

Joe and Mardy  3/11/18

Progress

My studio mate and I have been making great progress. We spend hours in the studio, and yesterday Ashwin even went out to sell his wares. He made enough to buy a Lego mini figure. I’m still trying to figure out what works best for the octopus drawings and will begin a large one over the weekend. This afternoon we are going on a whale watch, but Ashwin and I already saw a pod from the shore on the West side of San Juan Island. I’m hoping to see some up close today.

 Below are some results, the good the bad and the ugly. Please let me know which one you prefer if you have a moment!

The drawing on the left is by Ashwin, it reminds me of Hundertwasser.

Day is done. I put some pages up for people who peek through the door.

A New Love

Who knew I could fall in love again after 50? …..with a new medium! I have been taking pottery classes since last November and although I have a lot to learn and I need practice, I absolutely love it. I didn’t take a picture of my first two mugs (not worth showing) but this is one of the first bowls I made. I like the black and white glaze with the yellow eggs.


I am enjoying making utilitarian objects and when I’m at the wheel, I don’t think about anything else in my life – just clay, just form. It is such a pleasure. I’m experimenting with glazes and I have to say, this is the part that I find the hardest to understand. I have had a few failures. These small ice cream bowls were all thrown from the same large mound and the interior was finished with a cd to make the curve.


My first attempt at sgraffito went pretty well, but I think I liked the bird vase better before glazing – although I do like the ‘sunset surprise’. I used a small sgraffito tool that was a bit difficult to control, so I bought a new set of small carving tools and my next attempt went much better. 

The bright colored tools come in many shapes and sizes. This shows the octopus in progress, before firing. I’m much happier with this one. I’m hoping to do a lot more work like this as my skills improve. For now I’m just experimenting but I will be keeping the glaze very simple on this one. Perhaps just transparent white.


I made some cups and played with glazes with some better results. These two will be going to India for my mother and father-in-law (please don’t spoil the surprise). 


I think this is my new favorite glaze. 


I feel that showing up at the studio every week and making something useful has made me feel more creative in other areas of my life. It keeps the juices flowing and I have been feeling very inspired when I sit down to draw.