Pottery, Please

It’s really kind of funny. I was a lucky brat who grew up in a neat ‘century modern’ house (though back then it was called ‘gently used’) with artsy parents who carefully collected and traded for lots of nifty sculptures, pottery, and a few drawings. Dad was an illustrator and taught classes at East Texas State University. At the time, pottery was enjoying a resurgence in popularity, and so I suppose when one of the other art teachers wanted to trade for an illustration they often had pottery to trade. There were (and mostly still are) some pretty awesome pieces. Yet the pottery was never my favorite. I always prefered the bright modern slickness of the plexi tube with multiple color rings that hung from the ceiling in the kitchen, and the weird shiny fiberglass piana-like-thing that hung on the wall in the playroom.

So why is it that I am only now growing a fascination for pottery? I love the sculptural shapeliness of course, but I’m also really drawn into the textures of the glazes. Check these out, from Heath Ceramics:

s13-14-heath-seasonal-hybrid-bud-vase-set-heath-orange-opaque-white-731by607

More posts on potters, pottery, and ceramics to come!

Austin delivers Succulent-astic!

 

tool timeWe feel pretty lucky to live only about three hours from one of our favorite places, and therefore strive to get to Austin as often as possible.  This time we hit the jackpot when Steve was called upon to do a few hours of work down Austin way right about the time Labor Day rolled around.  Since the gas and partial hotel stay was covered, we took advantage and booked a three-night stay.  During those four days, a very small portion of which actually had anything to do with ‘work,’ we challenged ourselves to get out of our Austin-rut (south Congress, yawn yawn) and see some new stuff.  One thing that I had really been wanting to visit was the East Austin Succuents/ Tillery Gardens store.  Turned out it was only about 8 minutes from our hotel.  We tried to arrive early enough that the temps (which quickly rose to over 100 every single day) weren’t *too* much of a problem.

Here we are wandering the awesome acreage, doing alot of chin rubbing and head scratching over all the funky/freaky native plant goodness!

Having devoured the last six month’s postings by Austinite (and award winning!) blogger Pam Penick’s wonderful “Diggin”, as well as the advice of others who’d been there, I was super stoked to check out this wonderland of plants.  Not only did they have the *garden variety* (groan) succulents I’ve been buying for years,but also a number of unusual and new-to-me species of succulents, PLUS a load of native Texas shrubs, trees, and my favorite… awesmome handcrafted pottery!  (okay, this was more than a mere journey to see neat plants.  I really wanted to check out what other hypertufa artists were up to!) My images didn’t do these pots justice at all.

I picked up a few tons (well, pounds) of glass shard rocks in beautiful blues and greens for a future display on the front-garden pond, and a goodly number of small funky succulents.  But my most amazing discovery was a potter whose work I will devote an entire blog entry to.  We were lucky enough to meet him in person at the succulent show that was going on that same weekend right across town at the Zilker Park Botanical Gardens!  How lucky could we be!?  Here’s me holding one of his pieces on display at East Austin/Tillery Gardens.  So glad I held out and waited till we were in the presence of the Man himself.  Not only did he offer up a ton of great pots with the most intense glazes, but many of them were potted up with incredible succulents and cactuses.  We displayed a good deal of self control in acquiring only three.  But we’ll be back.

chris likes pots

 

“Help, there’s a hog in my kitchen!”

Sometimes you just know you got the name *right* on a wonderful pet you adopted, yes?

Just sitting here with Lenny at my elbow, I am sure of a few things: 

We got the name right…We got the attitude right….Not too sure about the look, though…

250px-Lenny_and_the_Squigtones_LP Lenny on the edge Lenny gets the bug Lenny and squiggy vegas suits lenny squiggy no.1 sidekicks lenny-and-squiggy dumb face

I mean really, just LOOK at that face!  (the one on the left… so far we’ve never met a cat stupid enough to name Squiggy.  Mainly because we’ve never met a stupid cat.)  But check out these facts about Lenny.  Since I was never a huge fan of Laverne and Shirley, I think it’s doubly astonishing how accurate we got with this name!  What a character.  Love the part about his name…

  • Leonard “Lenny” Kosnowski (Michael McKean)—A lovable goof who pesters Laverne and Shirley along with his best friend and roommate Squiggy (who both live upstairs, on the third floor, from Laverne and Shirley’s basement apartment). Lenny works as a truck driver at the Shotz brewery, and prizes a stuffed iguana named Jeffrey. Raised by his father after his mother abandoned them, during the series it was learned that Lenny was the 89th in line to the Polish Throne. Lenny says that, while he is not completely sure, he thinks his last name (Kosnowski) is Polish for “Help, there’s a hog in my kitchen”.

Stop! Whoa yes, wait a minute Mr. Postman

The Dexter Mailbox - Classic

I used to love that old song.  I always thought it was written by the Carpenters, but like so many of my youthful assumptions, I would be proven wrong.  Apparently it was first performed by the Marvelettes and shortly thereafter by the young Beatles.  (I must not have been the only one who got caught up in the catchy hooks.)  To my childish ears, it was like candy – a wee fluff of cotton candy on a warm summer day.  I didn’t try to delve too deeply into the angst-filled words of the singer, who was hoping for ‘just a card, or just a letter… saying that he’s coming home to me!’

I am thinking about mail more and more lately though, and not because it’s summer or I’m craving cotton candy.  No, I am not awaiting some long-lost suitor either.  It’s the weighty issue of locating the *perfect* mailbox for our newly constructed front yard/fence/driveway combo.  When we moved in over a year ago, we were well aware that the little tiny old-fashioned mailbox someone had installed was not only silly and unsuitably styled for the house, it was woafully small and inadequate for the vast quantities of junk mail we seem to generate.  (disclaimer: the majority of catalogs we now get are the result of forwarding my mother-in-law’s mail to our house.  She was a huge fan of catague shopping.)  So now that we installed a cool courtyard enclosure, the idea is to save the mail person a few steps and put in a new, improved model of mailbox.  One that not only fits the modern style we are trying to go for, but has some vast tracts of land associated with it… enough at least to support the amount of future recycling we’ll be receiving. 

Contenders included these lovelies:

mailbox blue

Let’s face it, a mailbox is like the ‘earrings’ of a house.  It’s the little sparkly thing we get to choose that actually says something about our tastes that is semi-affordable and do-able, unlike a new swimming pool or fountain with Bellagio-style timing.  Although… that would be pretty cool.mailbox teak

This one is a work of art by a gal on Etsy… she uses real teak and lovingly joins wood to wood to create a smooth pull-out box that is a joy to behold.  Too bad ours is going to be under full sun and rain.  This one needs protection from elements.

We liked this next one for the simplicity…but ultimately it lacked the ‘it factor’ that the last one did, which we are planning on ordering from the manufacturer in Austin, TX!

Stainless Steel Mailbox - Standard - Vertical Style

And the winner is….

The Gibson Mailbox - Classic

STeel mailbox winnerSo the Gibson Mailbox by AustinDecor/ Steelworks is customizable, with space for our address letters where the word “POST” is on the first photo.

What do you think?  It’s heavy and strong and should hold up to the elements pretty well.  Very modern but also has a slightly crunchy artisan feel to it.  Large enough, but not out of control.  Not least of all, we won’t be feeling as bad for the poor post-person, forever trying to wedge our mail into that tiny old box outside the door!

Sssssssooo…. how’s about them snakes?

Steve and I found a snake today in our backyard.  He was rather predicatably hiding under my sandbox (meant for castings but not used much since I found out how hard it was to make anything that looked half way decent). We had to move his happy place over a few feet in order to mow the lawn.  Steve went to find a stick and when he came back, neither of us could locate our new-found friend.  We can only hope he slithered to a better (read: underground) space before Steve got after the yard with the lawnmower.  He didn’t look much like this one, but I couldnt’ resist:

silver snake ring emerald

Seeing the small brown grass-snake reminded me of a post I had wanted to write a few weeks ago.  About snakes.  I tend to obsess a little bit about trends (although you could never tell that by looking at me), and I think I am seeing one toward snakes… which makes me happy.  Why?  Well maybe I’m strange (or worked too many years at the zoo), but I think they are beautiful.  Plus, it *is* the Chinese year of the Snake.  And I was born in the year of the snake… maybe that has something to do with my fascination. 

At any rate, it’s very fitting that they should be featured in jewelry and decorative goods.  Back in the turn of the century, the Art Nouveau movement captured them to great effect in staircase railings, necklaces, rings, tiaras, chandeliers, light fixtures, etc.  But what I find so interesting is just how far back our fascination with snakes has gone.  Of course there were the regal cobras featured in the headdresses of the pharoahs of Egypt, but the trend for snakes of all backgrounds and species existed even throughout the early and middle ages, from the heydays of the Greeks and Romans on through the dark ages.  Found in tombs and sacred sites all over Britain and the north countries were fairly large numbers of arm circlets, neck torques, and finger rings making reference to that particular reptile.  

In fact, much like my friend in the yard, snakes really never went away. They just slithered somewhere and hid out for a bit, until another civilization picked up on their simple, graphic beauty. 

These simple snake rings from Etsy are lovely. 

snake crossover ring etsy

The Celts were known well for the cladaugh design of the heart and hands, but did you know about the much more ancient symbol of the orobouros?  This ring design was found in many tombs across the pictish areas of what is now Norway, Finland, Scotland and Ireland.  The rings are being reinterpreted by modern jewelry artists in the same spirit.  Just look at this design; graphic and simple and kind of creepy.  But beautiful.

snake ring silver

Wow.

And this is why we love succulents…

…they come in all sizes, shapes, and forms.  Oh, the forms!  How can one doubt that whether by creation or evolution, the cosmic forces were having a good laugh when they came up with these:

penis crop large

…and you say, “But Chris, get your mind out of the gutter.  Clearly they resemble pickles.”  To which I say, “There’s only one kind of pickle these resemble, and Vlasic does not make them.”  I’m just saying.  Hiariously, along with the vertical part there were also two rather bulbous parts growing in almost all of these pots (you can find them now at Redenta’s on Skillman).  With spikes.  Long, scary spikes emerging from them.  As much as I wanted to include them in one of my pots for mother’s day, the spikes did deter my enthusiasm.  I know mom would have laughed, so that’s enough for me.  Would you like to see a closeup of these?  Of course you would. 

penis crop2

Wow, I bet you’re thinking, ‘that’s huge, get that out of my face!’  But just try to look away, I dare you.  It’s like a trainwreck.

And for those of you who might be actually wondering what they are called, I must say I am going to have to make a return trip to find out… I was too busy laughing the first time around.  Enjoy the spring,  Chris

 

The Head and the Hand… or

…..a succulent in the hand is worth two in the bush?  Either way, there’s been more movement in the blogosphere about concrete anatomy parts that it bears my saying something, or at least sharing some pretty pictures.  For instance, these amazing hand molds are actually quite simple to make, or so they say, using surgical gloves as molds in which to stuff your hypertufa mush solution.  Am wondering if they are hard to peel off between the fingers?  At any rate, you just KNOW I am going to be trying this at my first opportunity:  (the first picture was reproduced from a great site called drought-smart-plants.com.  Lots of neat advice and commentary there.

hand planters

hand with succulents

I have received a few requests now to try and make lifesize adult human head molds, but lack the ability to mix this much concrete in one go, nor also to make a big enough mold in one pour.  So it remains on my bucket list of  crafts.  Till that magic day when Steve and I rent a concrete truck, I’d say that folks who really want these will do well to do a general search for ‘concrete head planters.’  Here is what I found using that phrase:

Does-anyone-know-to-make-concrete-or-like-material

Those are some craaaaazy updo’s, ladies!  Love the red one especially! 

Still and all, my world of hypertufa is kind of focused on the affordable small, gift-able plant in a container that will easily fit on a kitchen windowsill.  I was tickled last week in fact to hear one smart-ass young man come up to our booth at White Rock Local Market, carefully peruse our wares (while still wearing his giant 1970’s rock star sunglasses) and proclaim, “gee, these are nice, but I just don’t think they are SMALL enough!”  I laughed and laughed.  That was a kid to my own heart.  Snarky but sincere.

And to sign off, let’s take a quick visit beyond the head and go to the other parts of the human anatomy, like hands, feet, etc.  As immortalized by some fast-food chicken ad campaign once a few years back, “Parts is parts!”    Right?  Nuf said.

baby parts