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Process

Out of the Kiln, Out of the Fire…

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…maybe?

What a huge year!  So-long 2015, it’s been quite the ride!  Here’s the quick synopsis!

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January: My first wine festival Grand Tasting as a guest and not a server at Taos Ski Valle

February: Looking at houses with the hopes of buying!  Trip to Philly Winter Land for friends’ Wedding Celebrations!

IMG_9966March: Pat makes the journey from Minne!

April: We run the Valles Caldera 10k and adventure on scavenger hunting with the Swims

May: Our moms visit, Zumba at the block party, bachelorette party in SF, and we make the move to our new-to-us house!IMG_0577

June: … june?  not much happened in June right?… We get married and leave for southeast asia!

July: Bali and the Philippines

IMG_1965August: A quick visit with family in San Diego, then back to Taos, a long weekend in PA, and Ragnar

September: Tear up our floors, buy nice hardwood to replace it (still haven’t yet), with a conference in Utah somewhere in there, finish it off with our annual Fall Arts Festival with the growing and world class Paseo media arts bonanza!

October: A week in California with family to remember our departed cousin, then a weekend in Oregon to celebrate a cousin’s wedding with a quick trip to Washington to meet a new cousin IMG_0247

November: St Thomas “honeymoon” with both sets of parents for ThanksgivingIMG_3350

December: Holiday events, sales, making, firing, and travel east to spend the last weeks of the year with our family… Radio City Music Hall and Phish at Madison Square Garden… cue the new year!

Welcome 2016!

Thinking Smaller

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Just over a year ago a few friends joined me in attending my first Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta.  If you ever have a chance to go, please do.  It is one of the most enchanting experiences you may ever have, waking before light to see glowing orbs announce the dawn, then wandering through acres of inflating masses that eventually lift off and fill our yawning skies with rainbows of fire breathing beasts.  No joke, you feel like Alice in Wonderland wandering through oversized mushrooms in all manner of psychedelic patterning.IMG_7582

Taos hosts its own Balloon Fiesta, scaled back, less traffic, a more reasonable hour of the morning, and still an utter delight for all who attend.  Extra easy on the little ones in so many ways makes for a great family event!

It’s also the time of year to build inventory for the holiday push.  The studio rhythm has scaled down, become about making cups, mugs, and bowls in mass quantity, objects ideal for gifting friends and family.IMG_3346

Cowgirls have taken a back seat for the moment, still available in the shop here, on etsy, and at Gallery Mar.  I’m also working with tea-o-graphy to put together the perfect holiday gift of blended teas and your very own one-of-a-kind mug both made here in Taos, New Mexico.  It looks like we’ll be attending a few different events where you can buy these great little gifts, so stay tuned and come on out to see what we’ve come up with!

Where did January go?

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It’s been a helluva January that went by in a blink, my love got the flu right when we had agreed to take on two housesits on opposite ends of town.  I did the hustle back and forth to get the pups outdoors and exercised while he recovered from a pretty harsh take down that I know many of you can relate to.  In my last post I talked about keeping works in progress in the studio and while I barely made it in here I did pull reclaim buckets and began to reconstitute some creamy white porcelain I’d had sitting around for quite a while.

Though I hadn’t spent much time elbow deep in clay I did enjoy the mass postings of artwork from peers and <a href="https://www.facebook.com/laura viagra sildenafil citrate.brzozowski.5″>the challenge to go back through my own work and share 3 works a day for 5 days.  Seeing that work I had made and really enjoyed dredged up the desire to make functional and sculptural porcelain pieces again.  While my clay slowly comes back to a workable state I have pinched together a few cups and threw out slabs for slump plates and bowls.  The sculptures are coming together in my mind’s eye and I am looking to pick up a few more boxes of this porcelain and see what happens!

A little on process

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A wise potter once told me (and a class of other workshop attendees) to always have works in progress waiting for you in the studio, it will be sure to get you in to work the next day and everyday.  I try to keep this in mind.  Even with a few weeks away with the family over the holidays, a great time to hit the reset button, allow clay works to dry out, clean the slate, rearrange, and start fresh, I have paintings in progress, tea sets waiting for their cups, sewing projects cut and ready to be finished, and clay sculptures in mind for my return.Watch Full Movie Online Streaming Online and Download

Rarely do I have a sculpture project I can complete from start to finish in one day.  More complex forms, like independent arms, or forms that have a more dramatic bend in the body, require drying time to harden with the right amount of integrity to support the piece.  Thanks to the dry high desert climate, things can dry a little faster here in Taos, than, say in the Everglades, but it’s a fine line.  Let your work dry too much and you don’t have the freedom to reshape a portion you may not be happy with later.  With clay we have a wonderful material that we can allow to dry and rewet later, and a myriad of options when it comes to working the material at various stages, but there is a certain amount of timing and understanding that comes with experience to work in this medium.

People often ask, “how long did it take you to make that?”  I know they want to know how long it took to sculpt, or form a single piece, not considering drying time, multiple firings, and finish work, but even with that in mind, most laymen don’t consider the development of an idea, the experimentation, the trial and error of learning the craft, nor the pulling together of thoughts and ideas that will later defend our works in artist statements and hopefully posterity.  Some peers even answer by saying it took them their whole lives to make that piece, and in a sense, it did!

Open Studio and Taos Clay Wood Firing

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IMG_5269Hey y’all and yippee kai yay!  We’re saddlin’ up for another open studio event on August 30th from 2pm-6pm.  Our building features 7 different artists working in a variety of mediums, painting, sculpture, upholstery, fibers, photography, collage, and more!

We’re cleaning up our work spaces offering refreshments, beautiful works for sale, and the pleasure of our charming company.  Stop on by, take a look around, relax in the yard, and buy some unique one of a kind pieces.

This weekend we’re also firing up the wood kiln at Taos Clay in El Prado, so be sure to check out the gang loading up the little beast on Friday August 29th and stoking straight on through til Sunday.  Hope to see you there, and snacks and beers are always appreciated!

This will be my first firing at Taos Clay and I’m looking forward to learning more about how this little wood kiln fires.  We wood prepped yesterday bucking up a little less than a cord of wood, just one scrap bundle from our local lumber mill.  In under two hours we had that bundle cut and stacked and ready for this coming weekend’s firing.  With another cord of wood we’ll be good to go!  Looking forward to sharing the results, so keep checking back and remember to stop by the studio any time and especially this Saturday!

Production Sort Of

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So a friend has recommended blogging regularly to keep my site updated and optimize my visibility on search engines.  So here I am trying to come up with something to write about on a regular basis.  (If you have ideas, I’m all ears!)   In the meantime, he asked me about my process and how the cowgirls have evolved.

Two of the very first cowgirls dry for the wood firing.

Two of the very first cowgirls dry for the wood firing.

For most of my life I have made work from the ideas in my head allowing them to evolve and take shape from whatever material lends itself best to my imaginings.  Clay is a great material for nearly any form one can think of, it is so malleable and responsive and easily works as the simplest of cups to the most elaborate of sculptures.

I love the idea of people using work that I have made.  I am happy making cups, and mugs, and bowls, but they don’t keep my attention enough for me to try to make a living off of them.  I just can’t pump out the kind of production required to survive on those kinds of sales.  I can make a run of 4-20 of something but I quickly want to escape the rhythm of throwing pots to play with sculptural ideas.

Cowgirls sculptures drying in the studio.

Cowgirls sculptures drying in the studio.

The cowgirl sculptures are always a pleasure to create, to watch them take shape, and be surprised by the expressions in their faces and postures.  The first cowgirl was riding a sea creature hand to brim looking out in the distance.  From there I started thinking about the cowgirls as freestanding characters you might stumble upon anywhere, in a niche, sitting on a tuna can, playing the guitar dangling her feet off the end of a shelf… I started with two cowgirls ready for a fight, one with two pistols drawn snarling at her adversary, the other with her hands poised to draw.  I stood them in front of the relatively giant squid sculpture and laughed out loud.  They also worked when facing each other.  I kept making more cowgirls, some sitting, some standing.  The seated ones were charming as individuals but looked really strong as a gathering around a campfire.  The standing ones also grouped together nicely and I started to think of ideas for creating groupings, “The Shoot Out,” “The Cowgirl Washtub Band”, “The Card Game,” “Laughing.”

Campfire-girls-3Some of these groupings have already taken shape, but all the cowgirls are currently sold individually.  Right now my mind is imagining the cowgirls as building blocks for slightly abstracted sculptures.  I’m not sure where this idea will go or for how long it will keep my attention, but right now the possibilities seem endless… I also like the idea of other typical representations of strong women… maybe Roller Derby Girls?  Love those fishnets!

 

The Big Joke

Why Cowgirls?

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I had just built and fired my very own little wood-kiln when I had the idea to recreate a particular project I had developed while I was in college.  I was going to construct my second octopus punchbowl.  And instead of a salt/gas firing, it would be finished in the Adobe Moby, the little whale-shaped wood-kiln we built from adobe style bricks replacing the earth part of the recipe with fire clay to survive the 2000 degree temperatures.

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Attracted to the unique characteristics of cephalopods I had once designed a fairly functioning punchbowl after a cuttle fish.  The physics and visual appeal were so engaging that I had continued to build forms modeled after the liquid forms of various sea creatures.  Years after that first punchbowl, I decided to have another go at the form and function with some alterations.  I typically think through the physics and logistics of a sculpture before diving in with music or a book on tape.  This particular sculpture took shape to the tune of Tom Robbins’ Even Cowgirls Get The Blues.  And when the body of the octopus was finished, complete with punchbowl, removable lid that flipped into a chip and dip, and its eight cups, I wasn’t quite finished.  With no serving function, I sculpted a rider for my party bowl monster.

octopunchcowgirl

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prepping for the May Wood Firing

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With schedules swirling around spring travel during our slower season in Taos, we took our usual team of 12-20 potters that fire the two large Tres Piedras kilns and split it up into 2 firings.  They just finished the April firing and for those of us firing in late May it’s go time for making work.

I just started making the first cowgirl sculptures.  It will be a little different type of wood firing than the last time I wood fired the cowgirls.  We will only be firing our ground hog kiln that we typically add baking soda to enhance certain effects.

Groundhog Soda

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Building the the cowgirl sculptures is a fairly straightforward process.  For standing cowgirls I start with a sturdy base and model the legs and boots.  I need to consider the final gesture I want to achieve from the placement of the feet to the balance and pose of the legs so they can set up in position long enough to support the rest of the sculpture.  The strong forward stance of the guitar player is planned from the first steps, and the angled bent pose of the protector is set up to curve the body off center facing left.  The entire sculpture is built solid from the bottom up with all the arm gestures, clothing details and facial expressions carefully worked into place.  Props, pets, and cowgirl hats are the finishing touches on each piece.

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Cowgirl Sculptures, Pots, and Sales

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It has officially been 3 months into 2014 and so far so good, ok, getting by at the moment…

As a maker, it is a scary and daunting task to give up a regular paying job and go all in and invest wholly in yourself.  Fear and intimidation has kept me from it for many years, and in September 2013, I surrendered my steady pay check for a full time gig in the studio.  In that time with the help and support of friends and family, I have built a website for the clay cowgirl sculptures complete with the ability to sell directly from the site, (you’re looking at it), established representation in a gallery outside of my own town (Gallery MAR), and opened an etsy site (www.etsy.com/shop/BrZart).

I’ve gotten a lot of great feedback, commissions, and even some direct sales along the way and in the Taos, area I display my cowgirl sculptures in Rottenstone Pottery in Arroyo Seco, NM, as well as Su

bstance of Taos, women’s clothing store right downtown.

mini octopus

I’m still not making a living, and the day to day of allotting all the funds coming in to the steady bills that hang over my h

ead monthly has been a bit uncomfortable, but not discouraging.  I continually make headway on getting the structures of running my own business in place and I am doing what I love every day (except for those two random days in a row where I got a flat tire… they asked me if someone was out to get me!  I hope not!).

Glad to be follo

wing my dreams, celebrating my heroes through the cowgirl sculptures, making functional handmade pottery for friends, family, and fans, and staying active as our ski season comes to a close and river rafting is just around the corner, it’s time for biking, hiking, and exploring the area on the cheap while I slowly climb my way back into the working masses that have some kind of income!

girls in the kiln

 

Thanks for the support!

Etsy

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Last week I opened an Etsy store for some of the clay projects I have worked on.  I don’t have any cowgirl sculptures ready for the site just, yet but they’re on their way! I’m still producing about 12 cowgirls sculptures each month along with mugs, bowls, platters, and other ceramica.

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A couple of summers ago I started biking with some amazing girlfriends on the various high altitude terrain here in Northern New Mexico.  Glad to have a team of strong women to get outdoors with I love getting out on the trails on my mountain bike, and thanks to a generous gift I have fallen in love with the meditative rhythm of road riding too!  I am also really impressed by the genius invention that is the bicycle.  Beautiful design, highly functional gear system, ideal mode of transportation, excellent piece of simple and complex machinery all in one fairly light weight man powered gadget!  So I’ve been playing with my brushwork and have taken on the habit of embellishing many of my functional pieces with bicycles.  Thanks to a crew of amazing women and a brilliant pair of wheels, while they aren’t actual cowgirls, for me there is certainly a clear link.