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Crochet & Photography

I found a pattern for a crocheted runner for a small table. Thinking it would be a pretty tablecloth, I made row after row after row of pineapples. Then I crocheted the rows together. I forgot when I started this and have no idea how long it took me to make.

Yes, I should have blocked it before putting it on the table that Jim made. I just didn’t feel like it. I’m considering making a crocheted bedspread, but I’m going to hold off until I come to my senses.

It’s too cold today to work outside with clay, so I’m inside, writing and sometimes outside and taking photographs. I get an e-mail each week from Digital Photography School Click Here and I’ve been playing around with shadows, back lighting, and learning more about what the Canon Rebel T3i will do. It does a whole lot – and I’m still learning.


Looking east. With all the rain we’ve had, the trees are full of leaves and grass is growing. Fuzzy back lit.


It rained this morning which left clouds on the mountains and opportunities to take back lit photos. Looking north at the Dona Ana Mountains.


While I was taking photos, the sky began to clear. Looking West at the Robledo Mountains.


Still looking north, but after the sky cleared. We’ve had some rain the last couple weeks, and the desert is green. Normally, that view is brown with a few green dots here and there. It’s not often that the mountains are green.


Looking northwest at the very green desert.


One of the huge agaves we have in the back year. The bottoms of the leaves are smooth and the patterns are an illusion. img_2993

This is a cholla (choy-ah) in our backyard. Those light green things are where the flowers were.

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Up, Down, and Sideways

I’ve been playing with my art toys – sketchbook, camera, mud. Art keeps me sane and closer to center. Art is the only time I’m not wondering if my reactions/feelings/expressions are “normal” or the result of bipolar disorder. When I play with my art toys, I’m at my most calm and most centered.

The last glaze firing, I couldn’t see the cones and didn’t know that they had fallen. For those who don’t play in the mud, cones are akin to the thing stuck into the turkey. When the thing pops up, the turkey is done. When the cones fall down, the pots are done. That left me having to refire the entire load. This time, the cones went down as planned. I decided to try an experiment. I’ve tried doing a hold for 20 minutes, 30 minutes and 40 minutes after the cones go down. My version of a hold is to lower the gas and allow the kiln to slowly cool. A 20-minute hold doesn’t give me the colors I want. A 40-minute hold gives me dull colors. A 30-minute hold gives me colors that are alive.

On Saturday, I decided to try an experiment – 30 minute hold followed by lowering the gas a second time and holding for 10 minutes. I should have skipped the second hold. I had crystal formation in some of the glazes – but that wasn’t the effect I wanted. Because I had rushed the bisque firing, a number of my pieces cracked. I used them for test tiles to see how combinations of glaze would come out.


I used too much glaze on the leaves, and I didn’t get the nice color run I was expecting. Instead, I got crystals and pin holing. I don’t know if I want to retire this piece with the hope that the pinholes will disappear or if I want to just leave it as it is.


This piece cracked badly. I have been playing around with lids, and came up with this for a lid variation. I like the color combination so I’ll have to make another pot like this.

The pot on the left is how this one is supposed to look. The lid fired properly last time and I forgot that it was on the shelf rather than in the kiln. I put a lid that was in the kiln on this pot, and got the pot on the right. I like the color combination on the right better than the one on the left, but the lid on the left fits better than the lid on the right. I haven’t decided which lid I’m going to use.


The lid was made for this badly designed teapot. Yes, water will pour out of it, but the pot piddles badly.

A second pot like the one above.


Both pots together so you can see the size differences. I played with underglazes and pointillist technique. Then I carved stylized pine trees into the pots. Forest for the Trees. I was hoping the trees would stand out more, but maybe it’s better that you have to look for them to see them.


I was playing around making coasters in 4″ square and 5″ square sizes. The designs are decent, but the execution of the coasters is bad. I put feet on them, but it was really hot, the coasters got too dry, the feet didn’t adhere well…. and the bottoms are ugly.

My summer studio is on the back patio and my pots are exposed to the elements and the birds. A bird left a deposit on this tile and I didn’t want to reglaze it so I didn’t scrape off the deposit. Just in case you want to know what bird poop looks like when it gets fired. It doesn’t melt or burn off.


Another cracked pot that I sued as a test tile. I kind of like the glaze on this. I expected more flow and got unexpected crystals.


I might be about done playing with underglazes, pointillism, and pinch pots. Still, I kind of like the one on the left.


The last batch of soap dishes. I’ll have to see how well they sell before I make any more.

I’ve been playing with designs for temporary tattoos. I found a company in Tucson that makes custom temporary tattoos. The design on the left is a longitudinal section of plant reproductive parts. Sexy without fear of censorship. The design on the right is from my tree series pots and the design i the middle is me playing around with a leaf.

It’s cloudy today and it’s supposed to rain of and on. As long as I had the camera out, I decided to play with scenery. I took a number of photos with the camera aimed at sky for 2/3; the camera  aimed at ground for 2/3 and one with 1/3 for the sky. I’m having fun seeing what I get and am grateful that I have a digital camera. I would have gone through 11 rolls of film this morning if I were using my original Canon 35mm slr.


This was sunset last night.

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Experiments or Sometimes Clay Doesn’t Translate

Recently, I read an article about tile found at an archeological dig in Israel. Assorted tiles, dating from the Second Temple period, were found. When the tiles were fitted together, seven different patterns were made. Each looked like a quilt block. I decided to take the one that was easiest to make a pattern for and do a test quilt tile. I think the title given to this quilt block is Square in a Square. Draw a square, put a square on point inside of that, put another square inside of that, put another square on point inside of that. How hard could this be?

Harder than I though.

First, I drew out how the block would look.


Squares are easy. The hypotenuse isn’t. Not a problem, I’ll just measure each side of the right triangle.

That worked, but I hand to add 1/4″ all around for a seam allowance. So, I used my quilter’s ruler to mark a 1/4″ seam.


More measuring, and I was ready to cut out squares and triangles. I started with the innermost square and added the triangles to form a larger square. Everything fit. I added the next triangles to make the next larger square. Everything fit. I added the final triangles and swore a lot. Nothing fit. I remeasured. I recut. Nothing fit. I pressed. Nothing fit.


I did not make any more quilt blocks. But…. I’m rolling around ideas in my head for making this into what it originally was – a square tile. I’ll play around with ideas for texture and then figure out which glaze goes where. A ceramic tile should be easier than a fabric tile. At least clay doesn’t need seam allowances.

Not having success with the quilt block, I worked on the experimental quilt. If I were making a sculpture, this would be a maquette. If I were going to do a painting, this would be a study. I’ve no idea what an experimental quilt is called. Probably an experimental quilt.


Here’s where I started yesterday. You can’t see in this photo, but I did a stem stitch all around the tree. I used some silk thread I have. Good thing I got the thread on sale for half price. It’s normally $16 a spool. Sure is nice thread, though. I did the stem stitch because I don’t trust Wonder Under to hold the tree for long and I didn’t want to do a blanket stitch.

The leaves on top were done with Inktense water color pencils. The leaves on the tree  and underground were done with Sennelier artist oil sticks. I had to wait a few days before setting the paint with a hot iron. Some of the oil in the oil stick bled out. I’m not sure how I feel about that. The water color pencils bled a whole lot and I’m  not sure how I feel about that, either.


I used some Razzle Dazzle to outline the tree. I used embroidery floss to outline the leaves on the tree and to form the stems.


I used a silver metallic thread to outline the leaves above the tree and used a holographic thread to make the veins in the leaves.


I originally planned on purple Razzle Dazzle for the veins in the leaves on the trees, but I’m now thinking another holographic thread would work better.

Eventually, I’ll get to the leaves under the trees. I won’t use holographic thread on those leaves because I want the  dead leaves to look dead.

I’ve been thinking about how to quilt the background, but I’m not coming up with anything spectacular.

When I get done with this one, I hope to have all the flaws corrected. I’m considering making the final quilt the same size as this, but I now have different ideas for the leaves.

One quilt at a time.

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Hurricane In The Desert

A hurricane is headed for Mexico and expected to travel up the Baja peninsula. For some reason, a hurricane west of here causes rain here. I’m sure there’s a logical explanation; I’m just not motivated to find the explanation.

I’ve been reading articles on the Digital Photography School site which is here. Lots of good articles. I’ve been taking what I learn on the site and playing around with the camera, a Canon Rebel.

When it rains, the desert comes alive, and it comes alive quickly.


My suddenly green back yard leading up to the Dona Ana Mountains.


Assorted cactus and I don’t know what any of them are called.



Because these only bloom in the rain and the rain isn’t that frequent, when it does rain it blooms with a profusion of flowers.


Only the very middle are buds about to open. The rest are spent flowers from past years.


This one has flowers just starting to open.


These are chocolate plants. No, you can’t eat them. They are named for the incredible chocolate smell they produce. The plants flower in the morning and the flowers are dead by late afternoon. You cannot kill this plant and it spreads everywhere.


I’ve no idea what this is, but it’s blooming.


I tried airbrushing the hose out, but that wasn’t successful. This is a Mexican Bird of Paradise. The most common one has yellow flowers and grows everywhere – especially where you don’t want it to grow. This is the less common red one. It’s fussier about growing and blowing.



This is an anomaly. It’s a pink yucca and it’s supposed to bloom only in the spring. Those odd pods are actually seed pods from the spring blooming. Because it’s been so wet lately, we get a second bloom.


The flower is pretty, but don’t get too close. The spines have a barb on them and they need little encouragement to leave the cactus and lodge in your leg.



I should have moved the hose. This is one of the cactus with barbed spines surrounded by a chocolate plant.



Me playing with the camera. I think maybe there’s a quilt in there somewhere.