Saturday, September 29, 2012

It Might Be Ironic

I'm just not sure if it purely fits the definition.

As I was puttering around in my booth today, I flashed on a not-so-pleasant memory of an alternate life I lived. 

Some of you may be aware that I had a previous spouse, and I may have mentioned he was a sculptor for the movie studios. We divorced over eleven years ago, for a number of reasons, but mostly (I think) because of instances like the one I'm about to relate.

One evening, I picked up some of his clay. I don't recall if it was oil-based, but I think it may have been. I played around with it for awhile, and came up with a small, fat wizard. I think that this pair of salt and pepper shakers, remembered from my days at my Oma's place, influenced his shape:
Image via Ruby Lane.
If I remember correctly he had a pair of pointed, if rudimentary, ears, and a crooked smile. Of course, he had a staff, too. What self-respecting wizard is without one?

Long story short, my ex looked at it, and something flitted across his face before he gave me a condescending verbal pat on the head and proceeded to  tear apart my technique. Now, I'm not under any illusion that that little wizard was the next statue of David. It was just a fun little experiment, and in my view at the time, he was charming. I ignored my husband, told him it was just for fun and I didn't really care about technique, and stuck him on a bookshelf so I could look at him from time to time.

I really liked him. His crooked grin always inspired an answering one from me.

I came home one day, and he was gone.

Of course, I asked what happened to him. He was up too high for my cat or dog to get a hold of him, and since I hadn't moved him, there was only one other living being in the house who could be responsible.

I came to find out there had been a leak in one of the drainage pipes under the kitchen sink, and my wizard was made of "the only clay" that could plug the leak. So he tore it apart and used it.

There was an Orchard Supply Store a few blocks away, and pipe threading tape wasn't more than two or three dollars at the time. He also had a three-car garage full of clay and numerous other sculpting materials.

And I really don't believe there was a leak under the sink in the first place. You'd have to know a lot more about that relationship to understand why I was 99% sure there wasn't a damn thing wrong with the sink. Looking back at the way he harshly criticized nearly all the working artists we knew at the time, I'm pretty sure he felt threatened. And it wasn't the first time he had destroyed my belongings. Nor, unfortunately, was it the last.

Fast forward to the present day. I'm puttering around my booth, which is so full of stuff that I had to pull some of it out of the display to make room for the new pieces coming. I have a short list of requests from people for special orders. I've been awarded a prize for my sculpture in an international ceramics show and had the same piece on display in a museum--the piece at the beginning of this post, in fact.

It took me quite a few years to pick up a piece of clay again. When I finally did, I wasn't thinking of my ex. I approached it with the same sense of experimentation and "let's have fun with this" as I did that other, doomed piece of clay, all those years ago. I've held and formed and destroyed many pieces of clay. Some of what I've made has been quite awful, and some has been middling good, and one or two very special pieces have been better than I ever thought could be made with my own two hands.

In spite of what that stupid, callow, vicious jerk said. I can only imagine he saw my potential and felt he had to derail it immediately in order to aggrandize himself.

Or maybe he was just an asshole.

I think sometimes, life is kicked off its proper path. I also think that if the path is truly worthy, and if one is truly meant to be on it, the path and the path-taker may just find each other again. Sometimes, if he or she is really lucky, the path-taker doesn't even have to be consciously searching for the path before it is felt under his or her feet. But pay attention. Pay attention very closely to the signs and signals, because you may miss it and wander in the dark even longer.

I, for one, am grateful the path found me, again, and that I seem to be doing something worthwhile. There are a couple of special people who have appeared in my life, offering to help me get further along on my way, and I am so very grateful to have found them, too.

Maybe I'll get kicked off again. If I do, I know I'll find my way back.

Vintage Haint

Image via Wish I knew from where it originally came!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Guest Blogger Reminder

A quick post for those folks who volunteered to help me keep up the October guest blogging tradition-please get your stories in to me as soon as you can! October is nigh!

I'm hoping the theme this year will be as much fun for the readers as it seems to have been in the past. But no spoilers, yet! ;o)

Another Day, Another Raku Fired Jack-o'-Lantern

That's what jack-o'-lanterns look like when they're heated to 1850 degrees Fahrenheit.
The insanity continues. With fourteen hour days the norm, I'm getting things finished up and getting other things started. (I am completely freaked out that I haven't done my segment for Hauntcast, yet! That will get done over the weekend, I suspect...)
Cooling off after getting out of the post-firing reduction process. After they cool,
I scrub off the carbon left on the glaze with a kitchen scrub pad. 
I did manage to get a Raku firing done with Mr. ShellHawk's help, however. I'm actually pretty happy with the results.
I had to include some daylight shots so you could see how the crackle looks in better lighting.
 If these don't sell this weekend at Abel's, I'll put them in my Etsy store on Monday. As usual, the shop goes on vacation from today through Sunday night, so I don't sell the same item to two separate people.

Meanwhile, happy building, peeps!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

End of an Era/New In the Shop

The Tippety Witchet plate is up in the ShellHawk's Creations Etsy store. I'm still quite proud of it, in spite of the small glaze flaw...

In other news, The Mighty Dodge sold today. (I also broke a jack that was ready to go into today's glaze firing.) To Mr. ShellHawk's horror and chagrin, I burst into tears. So much for letting go gracefully. :o(

She'll be driven to North Carolina. I hope the guy will love her like I do.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Insert "Halloween" Theme Music Here

I made time to post this jack-whose face I swiped from John Carpenter's "Halloween"-in my Etsy store.

Free shipping until October 1st!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Booth

The weather here in California isn't acting much like Fall, yet, but then again, it usually doesn't. It sometimes stays unbearably hot through October, and it looks like that may be the trend this year, too.

It's been very hot up on Apple Hill so far, which seems to keep the crowds away. We had a decent day yesterday, not too busy and not too slow. I made a few sales, which for September, is pretty good. The booth doesn't usually get seriously rockin' until October. 

The comparatively slower pace allows me to move things around and fine tune the display. One of my neighbors moved away and left a couple of small cabinets for me. With a sanding and a staining, they're doing well for giving my display some height. I wish I had a couple of larger cabinets, but then, I'd have to move them myself, and then there's that pesky storage issue!

I made a candy bowl with the little pumpkin guys. I pulled that out of a glaze firing this week and am reasonably happy with it...
After today, I'm going to pack up a bunch of the jacks and re-take their pictures. I'm just not happy with the ones I have, and they won't look good on Etsy, at all! I also need to take some nice pics of the plates that came out this week, below.
It's interesting to note the variations in how people think of hand-made things. I'd say the bulk of people are mentally trained to expect "Made in China" prices, so they get a bit of sticker shock when they see what I charge. If they're nice, I try to politely educate them, and they generally "get it" after that. I'm learning to ignore the not-so-nice ones!
 It's particularly gratifying to witness someone make a connection with something they see and make a beeline for it! That happened with the Dead Man's Finger Bones jar, above. 

Below, a small army of mini-Boos await a glaze firing. I'll be making a bunch more of these guys, for sure.
Well, time to hit the showers and get ready for another day in the beautiful foothills of the Sierras. I can't help but think what a great change it is from the antiseptic-smelling dental offices which used to be my place of work!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Happy Autumn Equinox!

On my way up to Abel's Apple Acres again this weekend, and thinking of Fall today. I managed to get a few more items out of a glaze firing, which I'll be posting here shortly. It just seems there is never enough time to get everything done!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Mighty Dodge: For Sale at Last

After years of threatening to sell her, I finally got the courage to take the pictures, write the ad, and post her on eBay.

Honestly, I still don't want to sell her. She has been part of my life almost since I was born. But it's past time, and I can't finish her restoration. I'm hoping she finds a good home, with a wonderful shade-tree mechanic who will love her as much as I do.

If you can, please share her ad around. I'd really love it if a very cool haunter bought her.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


I was looking for some inspiration and ran across this pic from Season of Shadows. Rest in Peace, John. We're all thinking of you this season.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Happy Almost-Autumn Equinox To ME!

I've been working my tail off, broken a toe and severely sprained an ankle. I deserve presents, dammit!

So I got myself a couple. So there.

First, my now traditional (if you can call two years in a row, "traditional") trick or treat bag from Eric Pigors.
The bag doubles as my purse during this time of year, and it glows in the dark! You seriously can't get much cooler than that. I even got a plastic coffin filled with candy. Noms!

The other gift I got for myself was Montague, one of Ghoul Friday's Little Minions series. He's pictured with what I call "The Bluebird of Unhappiness," part of her Plague Doctor Series from last year (or two years ago. I don't recall.).
"And then she stuffed me in a box! Crazy, right?"
Montague immediately began regaling Blue with stories of their maker and his adventure-filled trip to America. Blue listened patiently before asking Monty if he felt well and when his last checkup was...
When I unpacked Montague (Just call me Monty) and showed him to Mr. ShellHawk, he had two comments:
"Oh, he's kinda cute."
"I can't look at him for too long just before I go to bed. I'll have nightmares..."

Nice work, G.F.!

Toxic Toons website.

Ghoul Friday's Etsy store.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Hallowe'en Chandelier: You Need It.

None of the pics I have really do this justice. Buy it, anyway. ;o)

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Madness Has Begun

Another busy weekend in a series of increasingly busy weekends has just passed. I got to attend a wedding (which I would not have been able to do had a friend not stepped in to cover my booth up at Abel's Apple Acres.) I got to set up my booth at Abel's (with Mr. ShellHawk's help as my ankle is still swollen and painful).

Of course, after all this got set up, I decided to move it around some more.
I think next year, I'll need a 10' x 20' stall...

Abel's is on a major thoroughfare, so every time a truck or a big car goes by, the entire tent shakes. When you sell breakable things, that makes you nervous, as flapping tent walls could conceivably knock something over. I was compulsively adjusting the shelves and tables all weekend, which didn't help my ankle at all.

Even though it was very slow over the weekend, those who did come were immediately drawn to the Hallowe'en chandelier.
I spent a small portion of today out in the studio, trimming and carving pumpkins, which are now drying. I've also got a bunch of mini-ghosts drying and a bunch of stuff waiting to be glazed. I'm going to be hard-put to find space for everything!

I'm actually resting now, icing my poor, swollen ankle. I really overdid it this weekend. *sigh*

Friday, September 7, 2012

Hauntcast 42-Furries Gone Wild


So very stoked that my personal BFF, Robert Santos of Mantooth Manor, CalHaunts NorCal,  and Necrotic Creations (he doesn't make any decisions without me... O.k. that's totally not true, but I had you going!) is this month's super-spectacular guest! He is truly an awesome human being and fantastic haunter, though he is so very self-effacing and humble, he'll never say a word about what he's accomplished. (I mean that with zero irony. He is truly a wonderful guy! And he's single, ladies!)

Elsewhere in this new, spectacular episode of Hauntcast:


Wes Branton of Composite Effects (CFX).


Master of the Ethermuse, Virgil Franklin.


Revenant with theme and setting ideas for your haunt.


Grimlock with haunting news and some fresh links.


The Mistress of Mayhem percolates some party planning.


Dick Terhune with cheap and free haunt advertising.


Denhaunt returns to reclaim his fingers!


Eric Vysther walks you through the World’s Largest Haunted House, Erebus Haunted Attraction.


Wick-Ed Gannon and using storytellers to add value to your haunt.


Four thumbs up for David Andora’s Spooky Face in the Mirror prop.


This month we’re giving away an ultra-realistic Jotnar the Troll silicone mask worth over $500 from Composite Effects. (See the tension-riddled giveaway on YouTube here.)
Congratulations to this month’s winner: Chris Tillman! Chris won the Jotnar the Troll mask from CFX!
Subscribe to Hauntcast, or totally lose on your opportunity to hear the best Halloween podcast on the internet. Period.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The American Scream

This looks like fun! From Chiller Channel's page:
From the same director/producer of the critically-acclaimed hit documentary Best Worst Movie (2009) comes The American Scream: an unconventional look at the Halloween cultural phenomenon of homemade haunted houses, and the enthusiasts behind the scenes.  Filmed in the sleepy enclave of Fairhaven, MA, The American Scream follows the creative minds behind three local homemade haunts and their spirited, passionate and sometimes harrowing efforts in igniting their town’s Halloween spirit each year.  Slated for an October 2012 premiere, The American Scream is produced by Meyer Shwarzstein of Brainstorm Media and Michael and Lindsay Stephenson for Magic Stone Productions; Michael Stephenson directs.  
 I'll have to program this into my DVR so I can watch it!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Labor Day Wrap-Up

Well, it's over kids. The last hurrah of Summer has come and gone (even though the Autumn Equinox is later this month), and we are all earnestly building and making for Hallowe'en.

At least those who didn't have any sort of unfortunate accident over the weekend. (Blatant begging for sympathetic comments to follow.) Those people are wondering how in the Hell they're going to set up their ceramics booths this weekend. (Oh, wait, that's just me!)

Yes, while finishing up a lovely, fun day with my niece (who is the most amazing girl!), my dad, Mr. ShellHawk and some of the best neighbors ever on Folsom Lake, I was walking back to the truck to leave and slipped on a patch of loose gravel on pavement and into the dirt, (the difference in height between the pavement and the dirt was about an inch or so, with the dirt being the lower spot), was in the process of free running as a part of my intense ninja training and slipped off a rooftop, rolling my ankle. Literally within seconds, there was a golf ball-sized swelling. I also managed to tear a respectable chunk out of my opposite knee. 

I went to Urgent Care yesterday, and had the grand experience of getting the asphalt further cleaned out of my knee. We had already cleaned out quite a lot which was a whole mound of painful no fun. But the rest got picked out with a needle by a nurse-practitioner who was very sweet and gentle. I didn't scream or cuss, but I was really frustrated that this happened. 

I'd warn you about the grossness of the pics, but you're haunters and will use them for makeup reference:
So much for gorgeous gams. This sucker is gonna scar!
Cankles are sexy, right?
The up side is that Mr. ShellHawk is going to be waiting on me quite a lot over the next couple of days. And not that he isn't already aware, but he'll be more aware of what an awesome housewife I am because he gets to take over for me for the next little while. 

The down side is that I'm supposed to start at Abel's Apple Acres this Friday and had planned to get a bunch of stuff set up on Thursday to make things easier for myself on Friday. This involves lifting boxes and a lot of walking back and forth.

This is not possible in my current condition, and I'm really concerned about my ability to get help to get this set up. Other people have real 9-5 jobs and aren't available. I can't not show up, because I'm under a contract, and it is simply mandatory that I be there. Not only that, but this is my first season in a new location with new management to whom I must prove my dependability. I can hardly blow it off. I'm hoping Mr. ShellHawk will be able to help, but I'm not holding my breath.

On the positive side again, before the Epic Ankle Sprain of 2012, we had a great time with my niece. She's twelve, wakes up happy, and is the most chill and easy-going, non-high-maintenance child I've ever met. And she likes Hallowe'en and monsters and all that good stuff! 

My dad came up for a visit with all of us, too, which is a big deal. My mom and my grandmother (yes, she's still alive at 103!) are both invalids, and although my grandmother has full-time care, my mom does not, so he has to line up a caregiver while he's gone. It's a huge production for him to get any kind of break at all, so for him to come for an overnight visit was amazing.

I hope your Labor Day didn't leave you injured. Now, get out there and finish those props!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

A Busy Week!

My vase in its new home!
This week has been one of the busiest of the Season, so far. A few jacks and my Hanged Man Raku vase have sold. My niece has come for a rare visit, and I had to drop everything and run up to Abel's Apple Acres to set up my booth (in a total panic! Maybe I'll post on that some other time.) on Tuesday, a day I had originally set aside for making more jacks. The good news? My jury duty has been discharged without my even having to make an appearance. Whew!

My niece's visit has been a bunch of fun! She's a great kid-polite and helpful, kind-hearted and always happy-and it seems like we may have actually been separated at birth. I feel a little sorry for my brother, who is not even slightly of the dark, goth-y persuasion, and is no doubt baffled as to why such a sweet child is in love with Jack Skellington and loves horror movies, let alone as to why she was born into his family, in particular. (I'm sure my mom felt the same about me, too! Hopefully, he'll learn to embrace her the way she is!)

Upon hearing another comment out of her mouth that could have come from mine, Mr. ShellHawk commented (after a meaningful look into my eyes) that she was "born with that wrong gene, too." I smiled sweetly and told him he was outnumbered, so be nice! Yes, it's been a great time, and my dad is flying up from L.A. today to stay with us, so hooray for the small family reunion!

Needless to say, I need to pop into the studio for a little bit to throw a few more jacks. I will get some more up in the ShellHawk's Creations shop as soon as I can!

Happy Labor Day, everyone!