extra-curricular activities: pottery

On August 7, 2016 by theseventhsphinx

“Why should one reject the perfect in favour of the imperfect? The precise and perfect carries no overtones, admits of no freedom; the perfect is static and regulated, cold and hard. We in our own human imperfection are repelled by the perfect, since everything is apparent from the start and there is no suggestion of the infinite. Beauty must have some room, must be associated with freedom. Freedom, indeed, is beauty. The love of the irregular is a sign of the basic quest for freedom.” – Soetsu Yanagi, The Unknown Craftsman

I often wonder what people are actually doing with their time. What are they really doing? What are they doing, and why? They are doing every imaginable thing, I suppose, and a number of other activities I can’t yet imagine…but I cannot help but be curious about the micro-level specifics here.

I wonder, too, what am I doing, and why?

Sometimes it seems to me I am not doing very much, and ought to do—somehow, in some way—more. I am surely right about this.

Here is something I am doing. I began, this spring, to take a course in wheelthrowing. I love it, and wish I had taken one sooner. I have every intention of becoming a competent potter, a title that is far away right now but achievable. [Any of you who have tried your hands at pottery will know how challenging it is, and how dispiriting your first attempts can be.] It is deeply satisfying to create a useful, beautiful object. I appreciate how tightly any art or craft is tied to a conversation about beauty/aesthetics, a conversation I have barely begun here but one which occupies me constantly.

Now, about three months in, I am…let’s call it enthusiastic. To approach a craft with discipline and high standards is a supremely humbling exercise. I thought I would show you a bit, pottery being my current vehicle for expression (expression being always, amidst whatever else it  may be, a matter of style) and the activity taking up most of the time not already taken up by work. Being so new I am still feeling out a style, trying out different ideas of what a plate or cup or bowl or vase might be and focusing on learning good technique. These are not exactly useful or beautiful (not useful or beautiful enough to even give away yet, for example) but they are drafts of those things.

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Centering, where it all begins and where it can all go horribly wrong.

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I am just now making my first attempts in porcelain. I like its responsiveness but I also like the warmth of dark, rough clay bodies.

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The glazes are another world of complication on top of the variety of clay bodies and shapes.

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Handles are difficult! I am otherwise pleased with this pitcher, with its squat, toddlerish proportions.

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I am drawn to many of the traditional Japanese glazes like this shino glaze.

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I also like a lot of traditional Japanese silhouettes, like the tea bowl.

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Lately I like to make little creamer-like pitchers. Did I mention that handles are really tricky?? I have a new, powerful appreciation for all ceramic handles everywhere.

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Things at this point rarely turn out how I imagine but sometimes there are nice surprises. That red part…I thought that was going to be green.

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Wheelthrowing involves beautiful tools and accessories.

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Trimming is an art in itself. My favorite stamp at the moment is this oak tree.

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we like: Urban Art Bar

On December 13, 2014 by theseventhsphinx

Urban Art Bar is a cool concept, a bar in Southie where those with or without experience with acrylic painting can follow [or not remotely follow] an instructor painting a certain image. You check out their calendar and select the image you want to paint, then just show up, drink, and paint away.

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The painting on the night I went was Starry Night, a favorite. For the most part they are not known paintings, just simple, approachable images one could create in a couple of hours.

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Revlon Matte Balm in Standout

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It’s great to walk around and see how differently everyone interprets the image. And some people clearly focus more on the drinking part. I’d never done acrylic painting and found the experience to be a great introduction, with a fun, supportive atmosphere.

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Check it out if you’re in the area!

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distraction: Retro Butterick

On September 7, 2014 by theseventhsphinx

I’ve been itching to sew lately. Getting great inspiration from these 50’s and 60’s Retro Butterick patterns, especially these bell or swing/rockabilly skirt styles.

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$_12

$_57 (4)

$_57 (5)

$_57 (2)

$_57 (3)

May need to take a stab at this last one.

images via pinterest

crafted: multi-strand necklace ft. pearls, coral, lapis lazuli

On August 29, 2013 by theseventhsphinx

I recently made a multi-strand necklace, inspired by a challenge on the pearl-guide beader’s forum to put something together with three strands or more. [If you’re here from PG, you may have seen this already.]

Provided it’s feasible*, I love to make stuff. Maybe even more than the making, I enjoy thinking up stuff to make. Or rather thinking up stuff I want and, when I can’t find it, concluding that I’ll have to make it. If I have or can acquire the know-how, there is that undeniable appeal of being able to make myself precisely what I want (and such good gifts they make, too), with no compromise. Well, unless I muck it up.

*at least roughly within my abilities, i.e. the project won’t be abandoned, or a disaster, or impossible, or an ‘educational experience’ with no tangible results…(there have been a lot of those)

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IMG_6236I used lapis lazuli chips, coral branches, and 5-5.5mm button pearls (all from JP Stachura). I knotted the pearl strand (on Power Pro, if you’re interested) and simply strung the others.

[Possibly you remember how much I  like pearls. How very much.]

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IMG_6235I love, love these colors together. Separately, too, but especially together. From the beginning I was set on weaving the strands together (rather than making a torsade), to emphasize the jagged quality of the elements, and break up the chunks of color.

IMG_6234Part of the challenge was naming the piece. With the coral and the pearls together it seems like the necklace of a sea nymph to me, so: The Nereid.

I like naming things.

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lipstick: keeping things organized

On March 5, 2013 by theseventhsphinx
top row: Maybelline, NYCbottom row: NARS, Lancôme, Shu Uemura, MAC, Lancôme

top row: Maybelline, NYC
bottom row: NARS, Lancôme, Shu Uemura, MAC, Lancôme

Rimmel, Revlon, Origins, Korres, Clarins, Victoria's Secret...

Rimmel, Revlon, Origins, Korres, Clarins, Victoria’s Secret…

I’d been sticking all of my lipstick in this drawer from a stackable set I got at Target (in a manner not quite but something close to higgledy-piggledy) but at a certain point it was more than a drawer is inherently designed to handle.

One night I got out the scissors and came up with this setup. It’s not the sleekest thing, using chopped up cardboard, but it was free (I am totally cheap about certain things), and it is effective.

Can you tell that I really like the Kate Moss Rimmel collections and the Revlon matte lipsticks? Ditto the Wet 'n Wild semi-mattes.

Can you tell that I really like the Kate Moss Rimmel collections and the Revlon matte lipsticks? Ditto the Wet ‘n Wild semi-mattes.

I’m pretty pleased.

I’ve seen instances of people standing everything up and being able to get at the individual bullets that way, but the drawers would have to be just the right height to avoid wasted space, and it sounds kind of troublesome to keep everything in a grid, not everything is the same height/size, etc. You can get those quite nice looking acrylic grids, but those cost the money.

I briefly considered organizing by color but that’s not how it works in my mind, so I went roughly by brand/price point and consistency. Is this quite dull? I can never tell with this kind of thing. I never tire of seeing how people organize stuff.

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