Five years ago before Brandon and I were married, he asked what I wanted for my birthday.  I told him I wanted a good ol’ classic mix tape (CD).  So, he delivered on the request with not just one, but two albums full of music for me.  He did such a good job that I haven’t relinquished my request each time my birthday rolls around.  “What do you want for your birthday this year?”  he’ll ask.  “Will you make me a CD?”  I reply.  Then he patiently retreats into the bedroom with the laptop and headphones and spends a few hours searching and scanning songs for just the perfect mix of music for his lyrics-obsessed and overly analytical wife to listen to and disect for the next year.

This year marked my fifth birthday CD.  Each year there is usually some cute theme (last year was “in the Company of Birthday Folk” and contained some fantastic folk music), and this year B totally surprised me by the playlist title–Studio Hero. He explained to me that it was an art making mix for the studio.

It’s no secret that I’m still kind of struggling to find the balance between motherhood and art making.  With baby #2 on the way, I’ve noticed that my most notable pregnancy symptom is this feeling that I need to make a whole new body of work before my due date. I figure art time will be non-existent for the next year as I sacrifice my body to breastfeeding, nurturing, and focusing on a newborn baby along with entertaining, teaching, and loving my toddler.  I have already accepted that starting now, I will not sleep a solid 8 hours for the next year.  Yes, that “crap, it’s 2AM and I have to pee” stage has already arrived in this pregnancy, and I know that in a few month a new baby + breastfeeding means no sleeping longer than a few hours at a time for at least the first six months of baby’s life.  That totals for about a year of sleeping no longer than a few hours at a time.  This time around, I am just embracing it.  But I’m feeling frantic about the reduction of creative time, even though I’m still not spending as much time making art as I wish I was.  I worry that art is like a radioactive isotope that has some ridiculous half life when separated from my soul–if I isolate it from my heart for a few years, what if there is nothing to come back to?  Or what if by the time I ‘have time’ to make art again, I’m into happy little cottages and have no desire to engage in a contemporary dialogue at all?

Well, you remember that Studio Hero CD Brandon made me? With a good supportive husband like that, you’d figure I’d be listening to that mix every night while I bust out the bags of clay under my bed and let the juice start flowing, right?  I wish.  It’s taken me the past year and a half just to figure out how to do dishes every day.  That has been my major accomplishment.  I can do dishes daily.  My kitchen is semi clean by 9 PM.  Go Katie.  Oh, and I learned how to laundry once a week when the bins are full in my house.  So that’s good, too, I guess.

But not much art making has happened.

I was listening to the “Studio Hero” mix tonight (while making dinner and bathing my baby girl), and I was struck by the lyrics of “Happiness Loves Company” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers.  I know Brandon very purposefully chose this song to be on the CD, and not because the RHCP are my favorite band (poor Erika, how many times did I make you listen to the By the Way album while in the OHHS clay studio?), I just never picked up on the subliminal message he wanted me to get until tonight. Check out these lyrics:

Make time for love and your happiness.
The mothers of invention are the best.
We all learn and struggle with some loneliness.
A tender mess for everyone I guess.
I guess.

Half blinded,
I’m reminded how to find myself
Nickel and dime I think,
It’s time to play some musical chairs.
Dirty laundry, what a wandering,
Ask her if she cares.
I’ll be yours and more,
Better than ever like never before!

Most of the time, my spiritual moments are from reading the Bible or the Book of Mormon (or just pondering things on my own while I’m being creative or just sitting still), but hey, if they decide to come during a Red Hot Chili Peppers Song, I’ll take that, too.

I recently taught a class about ceramics/art to the teenage girls in our congreation at church.  After my lesson, a number of people made comments out how they had “no idea” I was into art or pottery or anything.  I was totally shocked.  Something that was so much a part of my life for almost the past 10 years is totally absent in the way people in New Jersey view me–after knowing me for two years. It’s bizarre.

A day or two after I gave that presentation, I was playing PlayDoh with little D.  My not-quite-two-year-old was entertained by PlayDoh for an hour. This shocked me since this kid barely has the attention span of 5 minutes.  And then I realized that D doesn’t know me as a an artist.  That was even stranger than the church presentation since I spend every minute of every day with her, and she has never seen my throw pots (even when she was little, I’d leave her at home sleeping when I’d go make stuff).  I don’t want my kids to grow up saying, “yeah, my mom was kind of an artist, but she stopped making stuff when she had kids and never really got serious about it”.

I feel like I have so much to think about.  But at the same time, I think that ‘thinking’ is the problem.  I never seem to have time to make art, but I have plenty of time to complain that I’m not making art, write about how I’m not making art, and search Craiglsist for possible solutions to the kiln dilemma.  I’ve even tried suggesting that we just drop a few hundred thousand Gs on a house so I can have a basement with space for a studio and a kiln (thankfully Brandon talked me down from that impulse buy). I don’t get nesting pregnancy crazy, I just get studio crazy.

On the very first CD Brandon ever made me, he included the Elvis song “A Little Less Conversation (A Little More Action)”.  (We were dating at the time and I think he partially put it on there just to make me blush).  I think what I need now is to listen to the message from the Red Hot Chili Peppers to “Make time for love and your happiness/The mothers of invention are the best” and then follow Elvis’ advice and just get busy.

Wow, I just reread that last sentence and realized that I am speaking from the pulpit in church in a few weeks.  I don’t think the congregation knows what they just got themselves into.

Anyway, hopefully I’ll have some new images of work in progress to post soon.  Wish me luck.

Typically, when you hear that a potter found a surprise in their kiln, it’s a good thing.  You know, maybe a sweet shino, a luscious crystalline matte, or a blue celedon the color of a tropical beach.  I could wax nostalgic and talk about my first wood kiln opening and the sight inside of such beauty that it moved me to tears….but I’ll save that for another day.

Anyway, when Kath and I discovered this surprise in her kiln, suffice it to say it caused a scream, but NOT of elation:

Yeah.  That’s right.  You are looking at the biggest, nastiest, fuzziest spider I have ever seen (minus a tarantula in Costa Rica).  Isn’t that thing huge??  I spent a good 5 minutes debating what to do with it…seeing as it was already in the kiln, I was tempted to put the lid on and cremate it, but there were still more pots to load into that kiln.  So after a few minutes of debating (and maybe a few clucking noises on behalf of Kath) yours truly cut a piece of cardboard to trap that sucker in the cup and then I took it outside and freed it.  Yes, essentially I carried that thing outside in my hands.

Hopefully the next surprise we get out of the kiln is a good one!

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Sometimes the best place to start is the place you left off. I made a few mugs with similar handles a year or two ago, but revisited the forms for the sake of finding a little momentum. This is the start of a ‘dessert service’…it’s like a tea service, but for dessert. I think it will get a little tray to go with it. Can’t you imagine scoops of homemade ice cream, mini brownie a la modes, or servings of fresh fruit salads in these sweet tiny cups?

After a summer of travel and time away from clay, I’m back again.  Baby is finally sleeping through the night, which means evenings are free game for art-making.  Combine sleeping baby with wonderful husband who tells you to pick 2 nights a week to go throw pots, and man, you get one happy Katie.

I’ll post pictures soon of the newest creations that are resting under a blanket of plastic trash bags at Kath’s house.  Nothing I’ve feeling like bragging about–right now it feels like I’m still doing ‘scales’ to warm up my fingers again instead of creating a masterpiece.  Fine by me, though.  At least my fingers aren’t stagnant.

 

Something amazing happened this summer. In the backwoods of Arkansas, I discovered that I really do like New Jersey. I’ve spent a lot of time and energy over the past year complaining to my family, friends, and even God about how much I was less than thrilled to be living 3000 miles from the west coast….things are expensive here, I wish we lived closer to family, the winters are cold, the summers are hot, the property taxes are too high to even think about buying a house, etc, etc….
But the more and more I focused on the one thing I thought I needed to be happy (living on the west coast), the more miserable I became. And not only did I become increasingly unhappy, but I blinded myself to actively receiving other blessings that Heavenly Father wanted to give me because I was too preoccupied with what was lacking in my life.  I can see now that what the Lord desires to bless me with is much better than anything I could have dreamed of. I was so silly–I thought i needed one specific thing to be happy when in reality, the Lord had already prepared something 100 times better for me…I feel like I was so busy searching for a lost penny that I didn’t take the time to see I had a winning lottery ticket in my hand.
 I learned a good lesson from my dinner plate dahlia this summer.  It was uprooted a few month ago right before blooming. My landlord mistook the floor for a weed and pulled it out of the ground. When I noticed, I was heart broken. I was pessimistic that it would re-root and bloom after spending day in the dumpster, but with the help and faith of a good neighbor, we replanted the sad looking stem. It took a few days, but eventually the flower thrived and produced half a dozen of the biggest dahlia blooms I’ve ever seen in my life.  Bloom where you’re planted, right?
I think I saw NJ much the way that New Yorkers do…as a big, fat weed. I didn’t want to be associated with any part of it. But with the help of the still, sweet Spirit and some patient friends, I finally feel like I’m seeing this ‘weed’ bloom into a splendid array of experiences, opportunities, and friendships.
I guess now I realize that New Jersey is my home. After all, it is the land of my child’s nativity! And sure, it’s home to crazies like Snooki, the highest percentage of Lyme disease carrying ticks, a huge population of bears, and Chris Christie, but it’s also home to Kath and her generous studio, lightening bugs, the best sweet corn I’ve ever had, and scenery that the Hudson River school painters couldn’t pass up the opportunity to paint.  I’m happy here.

Do you ever have those days where you think, “Dude, if I could just have 15 minutes to _______?” I definitely do. Most days, I just want the 15 minutes to make art.

This post is devoted to ways to find 15 minutes. Please, PLEASE, if you have any more ideas as to how to find 15 minutes, post a comment and share with the rest of us ways we can find more time in our day. Sorry boys, some of these are geared towards the ladies. Here we go:

1) Skip putting on make up
2) Wear your hair in a pony tail
3) Make a quick meal for dinner (or eat left overs…or order in…)
4) If you have a small child, give them a large pot to play with (or some other kitchen utensil…I can usually get 5-10 uninterrupted minutes if I give baby girl a spatula)
5) Facebook Fasting–skip checking Facebook for a day or two.
6) Put dishes directly into the dishwasher all day long, and by the end of the day, you’ll have 15 minutes free since you’re not loading the dishwasher
7) Turn off your cell phone for a few hours (you’re sure to save yourself 15 minutes in there somewhere by not answering a call)

Uh, that’s all I can think of.  That list was a little lame. I need more help brainstorming.

Thank you Google, for helping this post.  Here are a few more links if you are interested in finding more time. They’re all about finding 15 minutes for exercise, but whatever. I’d just my 15 for art. Or sleep. Ha, I guess you know where exercise ranks on my list! (Just kidding…I love a good run or some yoga, but right now, I have higher priorities. LIke….art…and….sleep….)

Anyway, here are the links:

15 Ideas for 15 minutes

15 ideas for 15 minutes for men

 

So, obviously I kinda took a bit of a break after the show went up.  It’s funny how excited I can get about a show, and then how much I want to swear and curse the whole thing about 24 hours before it happens.  My husband says I thrive on the stress (I totally deny it), but on the inside, I am starting to wonder if he is right.  There is something about the deadline of time and creativity that makes you really, really productive.  Anyway, things came together really well, and by the time time opening started, the show was up, title cards were in place, and my giant vinyl sign was hanging in the breeze outside.  The outcome?  A great opening for a terrific show!!   I’ve included a few pictures for your viewing pleasure. My pieces are the cairns/stacking rocks on the shelf, and the large hanging ‘birth quilt’ of 10 cm circles sewn together. You can also admire the work of Aundrea Frahm (painter), Dorothy Wasserman (b&w photo collage), Laura Reynolds (mixed media collage), and Elizabeth Allen (ceramics…the egg like wall pieces).  If I can ever figure out how to put captions onto the photos, I’ll do it.  I’m still figuring out wordpress.  Oh, and just for the record, I hung a lot of this show with my baby strapped onto my back.  I think I should become an official Beco baby carrier spokesperson.

Sometimes I feel like I’m dangling on the side of a mountain while trying to keep a grip on my baby, husband, life, church responsibilities, art, house cleaning, dinner making, budgeting, etc.  I’m scared when I look down and worry that if I let go of anything, it’s going to bounce and slide down the mountain into oblivion where I’ll never see it again (then again, maybe I do want to see my laundry fall off a cliff….)

So what do I do when I have those days?  I procrastinate whatever I should be doing, and I watch documentaries about Mt. Everest instead.  Small stuff seems small when you’re climbing a mountain.

I wrote down a quote I heard while watching “Everest: Beyond the Limits” (yeah, pretty much obsessed with that show…well, I love it until I’m so disturbed by people having to loose fingers and toes to frost bite that I stop watching it, and then a few months later end up addicted all over again….).  Anyway, Scott Parazinski, a climber who was also an astronaut, commented on how difficult it was to climb the mountain.  “The secret,” he said, “is don’t look past your feet.”

I think that’s my new mantra. I won’t be overwhelmed by the balance of laundry/life/love/and creation.  I’m just going to focus on what I’m doing today, and the rest will take care of itself.  Good advice from a mountain climber, and didn’t Jesus say something like that, too? “Sufficient is the day unto the evil thereof” or something like that?

I have two pieces (almost) ready for the show that is now 4 days away.  I’m trying to bust out one more piece, but it’s not coming the way I’d hoped.

Then I stumbled upon this article this morning, and I found it uplifting for me or anyone else out there struggling with art making…here are some steps to be more artistically productive:

First, go where the Spirit directs. Be still and listen. Your Heavenly Father will guide you as you draw near to Him. Immerse yourself in the holy word of the prophets, both ancient and modern, and the Spirit will speak to you. Be patient, ask in faith, and you will receive guidance in your creative efforts.

 

Second, don’t be paralyzed from fear of making mistakes. Thrust your hands into the clay of your lives and begin. I love how Rebekah of old responded to Abraham’s servant who came in search of a wife for Isaac. Her answer was simple and direct, “I will go,” 3 she said.

 

Rebekah could have refused. She could have told the servant to wait until she had the proper send-off, a new wardrobe, until she lost a few pounds, or until the weather was more promising. She could have said, “What’s wrong with Isaac that he can’t find a wife in all of Canaan?” But she didn’t. She acted, and so should we.

 

The time for procrastination is over. Begin! Don’t be afraid. Do the best you can. Of course you will make mistakes. Everyone does. Learn from them and move forward.

 

Third, support others along the way. Every person on this earth is unique. We all have varied interests, abilities, and skills. We are each at different levels physically, spiritually, and emotionally.

 

Finally, rejoice. Creation isn’t drudgery. Creation flows from love. When we do what we love, we rejoice along the way. ” –Mary Ellen Smoot

 

 

My first show here in New Jersey is really coming together.  My house is a tornado of creative energy–paper laying out on the floor ready to become sculpture, clay objects drying on the dining room hutch, the making of another piece sprawling comfortably across the top of the entry way table.  Somehow I’ve managed to involve every piece of furniture in our house into supporting my creative acts. 

My car is full of tacks, tape, and fliers.  My email inbox is full of messages back and forth from artists participating in the show with me.  The door step is home to works sent to me from all over the country.  My telephone has the local newspaper on speed dial, and even my kitchen table bears more artwork than food this week. 

I am working on a show.

I love it; when I was younger, I used to love the way the art work takes over.  Now, as an artist mom/wife/neighbor, I love that the artwork only takes over when I want it to.  Yes, that’s right, I loaded the dishwasher this morning.  I cooked dinner last night.  Finally–being passionate without being obsequious.  It feels so good–the final push before the opening night, the last details to take care of, the goal just a week away.

This is the same feeling I used to have when I would join my friends and go sail boat racing.  It’s like the last moments before rounding a mark and throwing up the spinnaker. There is shouting and commotion (well, at least on our boat), lines seem to be everywhere, everyone hops into action, and focusing on anything but your own specific job is impossible.  Then, out of the jumble of activity and movement and mess, up rushes the giant spinnaker, and with one giant, satisfying ‘puff!’ the sail catches the wind, fills to capacity, and the boat surges forward in a quiet rush of wind.  Everyone leans back, looks up, and even if they don’t say it audibly, there is a feeling of ‘ahhh!’ as the race continues.

Yup, that’s what it feels like the week before a show.  Can’t wait for Wednesday to stare up at the sails and have my ‘ahhh’ moment.

 

 

Earthworks Studio

Kelly Averill Savino

365 Trinkets

Purging the clutter, one trinket at a time.