Friday, July 30, 2010

Back to Boston

Last week, my one son and I had to make a trip to Boston to see a retinal specialist. While I wish that such a trip was not necessary, we decided to take advantage of our time in New England to visit a few colleges/universities that are on my son's "schools to be considered" list.

My son is not only kind and delightful, he is smart and a wonderful student. We reviewed his college wish list with members of the high school guidance office, and got to work. The presentations that we heard during our visits were so inspiring, I found myself wishing that I was back in world of academia.

I thought that the visits would help my son to condense his wish list, but he was completely enthralled with each school.

The odyssey is underway.

While in the Boston area, my son wanted to visit some of the places that he has heard stories of. I lived in the Cambridge/Watertown/Newton area for around 10 years and have my share of entertaining tales from that period of my life.
I showed him where I learned to sail on the Charles River. Community Boating Inc. in Boston is open to anyone who wants to learn to sail. As a young, single person I thought this would be a fun way to meet people and learn something new. The primary and most memorable thing that I learned is that the water of the Charles River is actually somewhat cold when you fall in.
We drove by my favorite third floor apartment in Newton Center that I found by leaving humorous fliers at homes where I thought I would like to live. One hundred fliers resulted in one phone call and the perfect apartment. How could I not love an apartment where I would wake up in the morning and smell bagels baking at the nearby Rosenfeld Bagel Company!

The spot that my son most wanted to visit was this Harvard Square corner. I spent many Saturdays under that tree.
After losing my job with a small landscape architecture firm in Boston, I did find a part time job as the 'Salad Bar Lady' in a Harvard Square restaurant. Thank goodness, for the public's safety, that restaurant is no longer in business. (Oh, the frightening things you learn as a restaurant insider.) Working part time allowed me to continue my search for a job as a landscape architect, but interviews were hard to come by. I unfortunately had a lot of free time and to avoid being in the apartment that I shared with a crazy boyfriend/girlfriend couple, I would spend the day walking around Cambridge since it was the only thing that I could afford to do.
During one of my epic walks, I stopped at the sidewalk craft show at the First Parish Unitarian Church at Church Street and Mass. Ave., just across the street from Harvard Yard. Being an aspiring ceramicist fresh from my class at the Cambridege Center for Adult Education, I stopped to admire a table of pottery. I began talking with the potter, asking him about his glazes (after all, the disappointment of my ugly, dumpy pot was brand new to me). He was so kind and generous with his knowledge and encouraged me to continue my pursuits with clay.
I thanked him for his time and had walked around half a block away when I heard someone yelling, "Oh, Miss!!". I turned to see the potter running down the sidewalk, calling for me.

When he caught up to me, he asked if I wanted a job selling his pottery on Saturdays. This was the most unorthodox job offer I had ever received, but I listened to my inner voice and said "Yes". (I remember it coming out like a long, questioning with just a hint of suspicion "Yeesssss??!") I think he appreciated and understood my surprise and told me that if I liked the idea, to show up at the corner the following Saturday at set-up time. One week later, I was there unloading pottery from his old Ford pick-up truck, and that was the beginning of several years of employment and friendship.

I found that I enjoyed being a part of the street fair community that included "the potter", his then-girlfriend who sold jewelry and imported goods from Guatemala, the other potter who became a friend (she on piano, a Berklee School of Music friend on violin and I on flute would get together every other week to play classical music), the sausage vendor who was working with Harvard law students to file a lawsuit against a major restaurant chain for stealing his name (I refused to take part in their crazy deposition), the Harvard Square homeless guy who latched onto the fair and who I saved soda cans for. We resembled a dysfunctional family. After finding a job with a Cambridge landscape architecture firm, I kept selling pottery on Saturdays.
Even dysfunctional family members can kind of love each other.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


The moon has been so beautiful this week that it provided inspiration for last night's work.

I started out with a sheet of silver nickel which I annealed and then milled with some plastic netting from the produce department of a local store.

I selected those areas with the most interesting texture to cut discs which I then filed, sanded and domed.
I had started out with the intention of making some pendants, but revised the plan when I had my domed discs ready. I thought rings would be the best way to capture the look of a full moon since I would not have to interrupt the surface to accommodate a chain (although I could have done that with a rear surface soldered bail, but...........nevermind). I chose some brass segments that I had on hand for the ring base.
The disc was soldered onto the brass segment. My first soldering attempt did not take, and I was a little startled when I unclamped the pieces and the brass segment came rolling at me. I couldn't react quickly enough and watched with wide eyes as the segment rolled off the soldering station, onto my lap and then onto the floor. Darn (actually....that's not what I said), and yet another piece of clothing ruined. Brass that is around 650 degrees will do that. The image above is what the piece looked like when I removed it from the pickle solution. I cleaned the surfaces with a brass brush and a little bit of pumice powder.

I like the end result and think that the disc did retain some of the 'lunar' character that I saw in the milled sheet metal.
How appropriate that the name Cynthia has its origins in Greek mythology and means goddess of the moon.
(My trick for photographing a ring? A small dab of Sculpey can hold a ring of this size in place while remaining hidden from view of the camera.)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Bridal Project

Oh happy day!! A storm came through and it is finally less than 92 degrees in my kitchen!
Also, I am making good progress on a special project for my oldest niece who will be getting married later this summer. Shortly after she was engaged, I offered to make her wedding jewelry. With a description of the look and color that she wanted, I gathered materials and came up with a design.
I finished this necklace late last night using sterling chain and wire, olivine Swarovski briolettes and icone beads, and clear crystal beads. A sterling extender was wire wrapped onto the chain so that my niece can have some flexibility with the length of the necklace. I wire wrapped a tear-drop shapped crystal bead to the end of the extender for a bit of sparkle. I am completely happy to hear that this is what my niece was picturing in her head. Now...onto the earrings.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Weekend in the Park!


I am so pleased to find out that I was juried into an upcoming festival organized by Wallingford Community Art Center. This will be the 8th year for the show, and there is typically an interesting assortment of talent. I am very excited to be accepted because I know that one can never assume how a jury process will go. I do know that the images submitted need to communicate enough to capture the attention of the jury members. When only 3 or 4 images are allowed, I always struggle with the decision of what to include. These are the images that I sent in with this particular application.

I chose images that show variety (earrings, necklaces and pin) and also suggest a loosely cohesive character to my work. Equally important, I chose images that were well focused and uncluttered. I find it a constant struggle to effectively photograph my work- the lighting, the focusing, the lighting and the lighting.......arghhhh! I have learned from past experience that good images may not only get you into the show, they may also get your work on the promotional postcard.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Lustrous Pearls

I often find it hard to pass by pearls when looking for supplies at a bead show. I love the lustrous surface and the variety of subtle colors that are available and have a preference for freshwater pearls because of the irregular shape. I frequently use pearls as accent highlights in some necklaces and bracelets, but chose to let them be the main feature in this necklace.
The primary pearls have what I would call a khaki-silver color. Each of these pearls was coupled with a small, hand-cut brass disc that I center-drilled and domed in my dapping block. I used enough force during the doming to slightly distort the circular shape thinking that would better complement the organic shape of the pearls. Each disc was then sanded to create a matte finish. The pearl and disc combinations were wrapped onto sterling chain with sterling wire that I had balled with my plumber's propane torch. Smaller, pale salmon pearls are interspersed for color accents.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Ugly Pot Siblings

Back in March I wrote a posting that highlighted a particularly ugly pot made during my post graduate school pottery class at the Cambridge Adult Education Center. My brief time in that studio was not a complete waste of time. I did actually make some pieces that I liked enough that they were never covertly abandoned at my parent's home.

This bowl still makes it's home in my kitchen cabinet and is frequently used for the dinner salad. I remember thinking as I made this hand built (as opposed to being wheel thrown) bowl, that I was soooo creative using fork tines to make the texture on the outside surface. How delusional I was, probably due to the fact that I was living on a diet consisting primarily of popcorn during my unemployed tenure. Regardless....I like this bowl. I think that I got the proportions right and I like how the foot elevates the bowl just enough to fully appreciate the curved form.

I used a shell to imprint texture on the inside surface. Unlike my ugly, dumpy pot, the glaze on this piece works for me. The colors and splashes of highlights always make me think of Cape Cod where I found the shell while visiting my Aunt and Uncle.

I made this bowl following a similar form, but tried a different technique by layering strips of clay. A wax resist was used on the vertical strips to help highlight the textural pattern with the glaze treatment. While I like the visual effect of the foot, I think I made it a smidge too high. This bowl is frequently used by my son as his popcorn bowl and it has fallen over more than a couple of times. I wish he would just choose another bowl, but I think he enjoys the challenge.