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Saturday, September 13, 2008

One Does Not Live By Henna Alone

It occurred to me that I hadn't posted much of anything lately, and that the reason mainly had to do with not being able to work much henna in the past week or so. However, I had this thought somewhere in between painting some pottery for our wedding anniversary (and as a demo piece for the studio), and plotting out the family tree I want to build, either as calligraphy or as wire sculpture.

As the CREATOR of the blog, you'd think I wouldn't keep forgetting that its purpose is as much to nurture my own creative spark, as it is to tell my imaginary audience what I've been up to. Maybe one of these days it will sink in.


A thought for the day, from my counselor: While we can discuss what love is until the cows come home, and never get anywhere, it's actually pretty easy to describe how love expresses itself - and that is through authentic, heartfelt, unconditional giving. You know, the kind of giving where you don't even realize you're doing it, because you really don't care about whether or not you get any sort of reward or compensation for it.

For me, often, that kind of giving is expressed through henna, through assisting a fellow customer at All Fired Up, through teaching anything to anyone who is even remotely receptive.

I used to be down on myself because I would think of myself as some kind of pathetic gratitude junkie, and in fact, in my last job I valued the gratitude from my clients WAY more than the paycheck from my department. But honestly, doesn't everyone crave acknowledgment, appreciation, a simple smile and thanks? I was going to use the word "recognition", but I don't mean awards and dinners and that (although they are certainly nice). I mean one person recognizing, and sharing in, the joy of the moment.

"The joy of the moment." What a nice phrase.

For myself, I get completely wrapped up in the joy of the moment when I'm helping someone put details on their pottery, or giving them henna for a ridiculous discount (ie, free, ie, PLEASE let me do henna on you, I haven't got anything else to do right now and I'm BORED), or showing some kid how caterpillars eat, or something like that. I am in a state where I'm honestly thrilled to be able to share with you something that I think is really, really cool. And if you're in that state with me? I'd call that Bliss.


Yeah, okay, didn't plan to be philosophical, but that was fun.

This week I proved to myself that sgraffito can work with two coats of paint on pottery, and finished the plates I'd started last week for our anniversary gift.

See, it's like this: My husband and I used to have a REALLY hard time buying anniversary gifts for one another, until we stumbled onto the idea to follow the traditional anniversary list: you know, the Paper Anniversary, the Silver Anniversary, all those (I've heard that the 100th wedding anniversary is either uranium, or chocolate).

Well, this year will be our eighth, which is the Bronze/Ceramic anniversary. Since we do a lot of historical re-enactment, we both agreed it would be cool if we had a set of dinnerware that looked authentic for when we're attending various "feasts" and such. So I went online and managed to finally locate a site with actual pictures of pottery from the Middle Ages, where the pottery wasn't the usual workaday brown. I found a picture of a fragment that had been found on an archeological dig (dated to about the 1400s I think), sketched the design, figured out waht it would look like if it weren't broken, and went to the levee and started painting.

The bowls came out ahead of schedule and are flippin' gorgeous. The green I used looks EXACTLY like the really old antique colors that I've seen online and in museums. The red came out a little too coral/pinkish, but it's still not bad, and the design looks "right" too.

I'll post a photo of the plates once they're out of the kiln.


After I finished the plates yesterday, I wasn't done with actually painting, so I went ahead and experimented with Sgraffito. The word is Italian for "scratched", and refers to a technique that originated in the Renaissance. Basically, you take your pottery, coat it with glaze, let it dry a bit (but don't fire it), and then take a stylus of some sort and scratch designs into the glaze, so that the underlying pottery shows through. THEN you fire it.

I did a little tile, since I was just experimenting, and coated it with a layer of red under a layer of yellow. Ideally, I would have left the red to dry overnight and then come back to do the second coat, and the scratching, but it still worked out really well. I was struck by the feel of the thing when I was done - I'd not really given it much thought, but all that scraping and scratching leaves TEXTURE behind that feels really cool. I'm looking forward to seeing how much texture can still be felt after getting a clear coat of glaze and then firing.


Monkey just woke up from her nap, so I need to shorten this last bit. I have trimmed down (heh) my plans for the family tree project. See, if you're an indirect ancestor, you marry twice, and have TWENTY-ONE kids over the span of thirty years, *I* get to choose whether or not to go into full detail about you on my layout.

I mean, talk about blurring the generation boundaries. Sheesh. I'm part of the eighth generation in this ancestry (ooh! ninth, if the immigration record we just found applies to the same guy), and somewhere back east there are people living who are only fourth generation, thanks to Peter Rabbit up there.


The mosaic still isn't finished. Just in case anyone was dying to know.




  2. So what happened to posting a picture of the plates?

  3. Um... I forgot.


    Pitchas to follow today.