Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Purple Pluggers United

A few of my favorite purple things.....

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Spirit of Christmas

I'm absolutely thrilled that the lovely Manamoon of Manamoon-studios awarded me the Christmas Spirit Award. It's an honor I don't take lightly at all! I believe in the Christmas Spirit in all things I try to do and say.

I'm supposed to blog about five reasons I love Christmas and then pass the award onto others.

So here are my five...

1. The Christmas tree, the symbol of Christmas. I have 5 of them up right now,one I never put away. I know it is just a symbol, but it is my living reminder of how I want to live my life.

2. Christmas music- The joy, the wonder, I listen to Christmas music all year, especially whenever I am feeling low, or uncreative, or if my spirits just need a boost.

3.The decorations- Of course I had to add this one to my list, after all it is what I love to make most of all the things I create. Lights on trees, houses,stores, Christmas Ornaments....

4.The Presents- I love receiving all of the things I have denied myself this year, I really enjoy the artwork and jewelry I got from the many artists I know, I adore giving things from artists that are truly unique and shows much more thought than a mall gift certificate...

5- The most important- The Giving... This year I have donated my earnings not only to the IRS, but I was able to donate to Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary as well as 2 other pet rescue groups locally and I also was able to give my time this year all year, to help train puppies become great dogs and to help their people become better owners.

"If you want to arrange it
Thais world you can change it
If we could somehow make this
Christmas thing last
By helping a neighbor
O even a Stranger to know who needs help,
You need only just ask"
-Paul O'Neill
Trans-Siberian Orchestra"

I pass this award on to
Freida -Deer Mountain Wood Art

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Sculpting in Porcelain, lets make a Unicorn

So, you want to sculpt?

I can’t always tell you what to do right, but I am very good at learning what not to do.I have had explosions, meltings, kiln malfunctions, and clay failure, and that is just in the past six months. Although I have been sculpting since 1992 in porcelain, the past few months have been a challenge on my ego as well as on my purse.
Why a Unicorn? ok, there are fun. You can make them anyway you want, as far as your imagination will take you. No one can tell you you made it wrong because other than resembling a horse, they have a horn. The rest is up to you to define and create.
Starting with a bag of porcelain clay…..
Ok, get out your notebooks here, Porcelain is a ceramic material made by heating raw materials, generally including clay in the form of kaolin, in a kiln to temperatures between 1,200 °C (2,192 °F) and 1,400 °C (2,552 °F). The toughness, strength, and translucence of porcelain arise mainly from the formation of glass and the mineral mullite within the fired body at these high temperatures . (
Got it? step one complete, -got clay.
Now, let’s sculpt.
First shape the body and add some legs, I make the legs by rolling out cylinders, then shaping the forms. Use water, as porcelain will start to crack as it dries out. When attaching legs and other parts, use a wet clay slip (really runny wet clay), it will act like a glue to keep your legs, arms etc attached.
After adding the front legs, add the back

Shape a head, attach it to the neck, obviously, unless you enjoy some sort of weird modern art.
With a reverse side of a small paint brush,, poke 2 small holes for eye sockets. I rolled two small balls of blue porcelain and inserted them in the holes.
At this point, I add a small piece of black porcelain for pupils then a white dot for a highlight.
I then swirled 2 small cylinders together to make a horn, and added ears. Remember at this point, the clay is kept soft, and changes can be made to the particular pose you may want.Is he looking at you? Behind you at the faerie, floating over your shoulder? What ever he may be looking at or thinking, think of this when adding the eye lids, too heavy, he may look sleepy, nap time. Too high, he is just surprised.
I use a small extruder for the next step, adding the mane and tail, this part is fun, you can make the hair as long, thick,this or curly as you want. There are different sizes of the dies inserted into the mini extruder, for the look you want. Squirt it out, have fun. Don’t forget to add water to the neck area where applying this, or it won’t stay attached as it dries out. A hairless horsie!

All of a sudden you have a creature looking at you, can he breathe? have you created nostrils, how about a mouth?

Here I decorated him, I guess he is now a she, with some pink flowers and green leaves, still needs a little something, so I add a bird for her to talk to.

Now the hard part, waiting she goes into the kiln after thoughly drying out, if she is wet, KAAABOOMMMMM!

Shrapnel everywhere in kiln. Pieces destroyed, a big mess to clean up, so we wait and let her dry out, usually about 2 weeks.

Here she is , sitting in kiln with the others.

Updates coming soon, watch for bisque firing, next, the glazing, then golding……..

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Blessings

While everyone in my family was not home for the holiday, we had a wonderful day enjoying each other, playing with the pets, and treating each other to a wonderful day. We took many pictures of each other, here is me and Kira. (this may be the only time you see a picture of me!) Life is a blessing, as we may not all be together, we are together in our heart and soul, and wait for the wonderful day which we all may be together once again.

"When the cold of winter comes
Starless night will cover day
In the veiling of the sun
We will walk in bitter rain

But in dreams
I can hear your name
And in dreams
We will meet again

When the seas and mountains fall
And we come, to end of days
In the dark I hear a call
Calling me there,
I will go there
And back again"

Tuesday, December 23, 2008






-Paul O'Neill

Christmas Eve and other Stories

Trans-Siberian Orchestra

Merry Christmas from The Magic Sleigh!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

My Christmas Mural/Tree

This is my wall of my studio. (4' wide x 6"high) I painted it for a couple of reasons, its hard to keep making Christmas Ornaments in July in Florida, and the second was for my beautiful kitty. This kitty is the reason for all of the ornaments I make throughout the year. He has passed to the rainbow bridge many years ago. he was my best friend, my heart kitty, his name was Merlin.
Merlin is what got me started in making Christmas Ornaments. I had a tree, and no money, so I wanted to make some ornaments. I thought, I have cats, I could make an ornament to match each kitty. So, how do I make them? I learned how to make bread dough ornaments. From there I sculpted in bread dough, making several hundred of these ornaments, selling them at craft shows, friends and family. Then I got frustrated. I couldn't do with the dough what I wanted to do, so I took a pottery class and learned how to work in fired clay, bought a kiln, now 16 years later, here I am still making kitties! (Yes, doggies too!)

I also make a White Angel Kitty Christmas tree every year. I love the way porcelain shines in the light of a tree, every ornament, with a couple of exceptions are white angels kitties. I decorated three full sized trees this year. (one of the benefits of being a Christmas Ornament designer!)

Hey! Who put the Husky Ornament on the Kitty tree!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary

We adopted a Bird! A special Thank you goes out to my customers, without your support of my art, I could not afford to support the many animal rescue places which need our help.
From the proceeds earned the last couple of months I have "adopted" a Sandwich Tern from the Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary.

The non-profit Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary, the largest wild bird hospital and bird sanctuary in the United States, based on the admission of up to 10,000 birds per year. For over 37 years, the Sanctuary has helped injured wild birds. The Sanctuary's mission is dedicated to the rescue, repair & rehabilitation of injured birds and then their release back into nature.

Founded in 1971 by zoologist Ralph T. Heath, the Sanctuary is world renowned for its innovative rehabilitation techniques, and was the first facility to breed Eastern Brown Pelicans in captivity. The Sanctuary is staffed by experienced professionals and dedicated volunteers. Similar to a human hospital, it is equipped with emergency facilities, a surgical center, bird injury recovery areas, and an outdoor wild bird recuperation area.

Display areas feature permanently injured birds that have been given a home at our bird sanctuary. Any offspring they produce are released into their natural environment. At any given time, visitors can view in excess of 600 wild birds. So come our wild bird sanctuary and see how we help injured birds.

The Sanctuary is a non - profit 501c3 corporation which depends solely on the financial support of caring individuals.

Rejection Lessons

Let me ask you something, what is not art? ~Author Unknown

I am usually the happy person, the glass is always half full, I have a smile on my face when the worst is happening around me.
I admit it. I hate being rejected, really who likes likes it? When it comes to my craft/art, it stings. It is personal. This is my art. this is a part of me, my personality, my life. When a major art show rejects me, I understand, maybe the judges wanted more Art, less craft, more ,contemporary, I accept that. When a group of my peers forming a local co-op of potters and jewelry artists rejects me because my work is "cute" and doesn't fit into there idea of art, that hurts. I wanted to be able to contribute and teach others what I know. There are only a handful of artists working in colored porcelain in the country. I know techniques that I am more than willing to share. I would like to be around other artists, for inspiration, to bounce ideas off of one another.Not art

Why is a pot thrown on a wheel, or a beaded bracelet more artsy than a hand built critter ? I will tell you why, art hates cute. If its cute, it does not belong in any form of an art show. If I made colorful yellow and red dogs, and put pink polka dots on them, it is art.Does that make sense to the real world? It is an unusual world the artists live in. I guess to them I am an outsider, despite the fact I have been making a living at this for over 15 years, I have never belonged to that exclusive network of being an artist. I will go back to working alone in my studio, licking my wounds, I will recover, tomorrow is another day, and I will continue to make what is true to my soul. I will be happy again, just give me a little time to recover from being rejected by my peers.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Sculpting Angel Ornaments

Today, I am showing how I sculpt Angels, I had previously posted this a long time ago in another blog, but have many requests that I show how I make these here we are.....

First, I get out a lump of porcelain clay, work it a bit to remove air bubbles and then roll it out with my roller.

The clay is cut with a small knife into a rectangle for the skirt. I then fold and gather the top edge around its self into a circle.

Sleeves for arms are made from cone shapes, and attached to the body with wet clay slip.

Then a circle of clay and another cone are added fto the top of the dress and neck. Wings are then shaped.

Wings are attached to the back of the body,

Then I get out the flesh colored clay and make feet, hands and a head. The feet are attached under the skirt…

Then the head is shaped… eye holes are made… eyeballs!

Tiny aren’t they?

highlights placed into eyes

I mixed some brown and yellow clay together to make a light brunette hair

There now, isn’t she cute?, but she still needs details….

small roses are made from pink clay. Green leaves are added to the dress….

I decided she needed a little dove friend….

Now she is done being sculpted, she waits for about 2 weeks to throughly dry out, and is bisque fired in a kiln, hand glazed then re-fired to 2246 degrees, to a fine porcelain china. 14k gold will be applied to her halo.

Watch for upcoming photos

Another Day, down the road......Glazing

Ok, today the pieces that are in the kiln were glazed, including this little Angel.

First I open the kiln cautiously, in case of any explosions, It looks like a perfect bisque firing.

Ok, then I unload the kiln, while inspecting each piece for faults, cracks, then dip them in hot wax. If you don’t do this, when putting on the glaze, it makes it much harder to get the glaze off of the bottom of your piece. (If you ever have noticed on any porcelain piece you may own that anything that touches the kiln shelf must not have any glaze on it, and you can’t stilt porcelain, so the bottom rim of your porcelain china will not have any glaze on it.)



The work is then dipped into the clear glaze…

dipping into glaze bucket

dipping into glaze bucket

Then they dry out on paper,

the wax is wiped clean and the work is placed back into the kiln to be fired to 2600 degrees.The firing will take about 12 hours, then the kiln must be completely cool before opening or hairline cracks will appear on the work. So sometime tomorrow I open the kiln an see what I get.



And Another day.......

Ok, the work is ready to have the gold applied, and this is how I do it. First of all the second glaze firing is done. The peices are unloaded and inspected for faults.

Here is our little angel again, after glazing, before gold, the gold is painted on, it is real gold in a liquid form that burns out in the next firing. Its called an overglaze, because it is put on top of existing glaze, which makes it shiny, and then fired again on.

The work also gets another overglaze, called mother of pearl which I add to the wings of angels and I also add it to my fantasy figurines, such as the mane and tail of the unicorn. It produces a lovely iridescent color.

As you can see from the photos, I try to do a lot of pieces at the same time, to conserve on my electric usage of the kiln. I also am very detail oriented, I enjoy adding all sorts of details to my work, from making sure the back of my designs are made just as good as the front, I add feet under the dresses, the back of wings and roses are mother of pearled.

The work is placed back in the kiln and low fired to 1156 degrees Fahrenheit.This firing takes only around 5 hours. After the kiln has cooled I get to see what I have made.

My Angel