Monday, December 30, 2013

Dirty Jobs, But Someone's Gotta Do It!

Face jug, via Skinner Inc. Mid-nineteenth century, Aiken County,
South Carolina.
I always loved watching "Dirty Jobs" when it was still on. I got to learn about a bunch of different jobs I had never thought about or just took for granted. The show exposed me to things I never would have known about, otherwise.

It exposed me to American folk pottery, even if I didn't realize it at the time.

Fast forward a few years, to this week. I settled down to read a book I had had on my wish list for a couple of years. I finally ordered it with some leftover Christmas money: The Potter's Art (Material Culture). It covers pottery from a number of different cultural perspectives, including that of the American potter, and, more specifically, Face Jugs. Reading about face jugs reminded me of an old "Dirty Jobs with Mike Rowe" episode, one in which someone suckered him into trying his hand at pottery. I went looking for the episode today, but could only find some clips...

Those of you who have seen potters throwing at demonstrations at a craft fair or the like might say, "Oh, that's easy! Look at how fast he/she's making that!"

Oh, really? Try it.

And that may be how Mike Rowe got sucked into that episode.

In that particular episode, he went to the Meaders Pottery, which started in 1863. I had just started in my explorations in ceramics at the time, and knew just enough to know that Mike was in for a tough time with his first throwing experience. (That first ball of clay was pretty big, for a beginner!) After the throwing came the glazing part. I have to say, watching these clips now, knowing what I do, I have a greater appreciation for the expertise in which these "simple" jugs are handled. I truly wish I could have found the full episode, as it showed almost the full process of making these cool and quirky jugs!
Face jugs by Chester Hewell, 1993, via Cowan's Auctions. Hewell,
by the way, was interviewed in The Potter's Art.
The fact that these jugs are so "ugly," by today's demand for homogeneous ware, brings me back to the idea that quality and individuality will always hold a place over mass-market offerings. While I know that there are some great potters behind the designs from highly recognized companies, something about handmade ware from potteries that have been family-owned for generations just speaks to me. (Oh, and did I mention that they're wood-fired? I mean, getting to do a wood firing would be super-cool!)

I guess what saddens me is that ceramics are now being reproduced with 3D technology. My potter's soul just feels this to be not only sacrilege, but just not right! I mean, if just anyone with a 3D printer can whip this kind of thing out, where's the art? Where's the hard-won skill? Where is the actual value? The thought just makes my skin crawl.

It makes me feel sick to my stomach to think that something with such a long tradition can be reproduced with what I feel is such a lack of respect for history, although I suppose those who do this feel they are rediscovering and preserving history. Maybe.

What do you think?

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas, Everyone!

Whether you have your big, family celebration tonight or tomorrow, I wanted to wish you and yours a Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year! People who read this blog at this time of year are the hard-core peeps, and whether you're here because of our shared Hallowe'en obsession or you're here because you're a ceramics junkie as I am, I appreciate that you're here and that you take the time to comment every so often. You're why I keep writing this blog and why I sometimes totally overshare! Lol!

Because you're such good kids and I know that you're all on the "Nice" list, I thought you might like to participate in a tradition that's been going on for a number of years:

Tracking Santa.

Who tracks Santa? NORAD. Why? Because they're badass, that's why!

Here's their explanation:
For more than 50 years, NORAD and its predecessor, the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) have tracked Santa’s flight.
The tradition began in 1955 after a Colorado Springs-based Sears Roebuck & Co. advertisement misprinted the telephone number for children to call Santa. Instead of reaching Santa, the phone number put kids through to the CONAD Commander-in-Chief's operations "hotline." The Director of Operations at the time, Colonel Harry Shoup, had his staff check the radar for indications of Santa making his way south from the North Pole. Children who called were given updates on his location, and a tradition was born.
In 1958, the governments of Canada and the United States created a bi-national air defense command for North America called the North American Aerospace Defense Command, also known as NORAD, which then took on the tradition of tracking Santa.
Since that time, NORAD men, women, family and friends have selflessly volunteered their time to personally respond to phone calls and emails from children all around the world. In addition, we now track Santa using the internet. Millions of people who want to know Santa's whereabouts now visit the NORAD Tracks Santa website.
Finally, media from all over the world rely on NORAD as a trusted source to provide updates on Santa's journey.
In Memory of Retired Colonel Harry Shoup, NORAD's First Santa Tracker
I, for one, have never stopped believing in Santa, and follow his flight every year.

Click here for a video of Santa's test flight with NORAD.

Click on the pic to be taken to the Santa Tracker. While you're there, take some time to wander the site a bit. It's super cool!
Merry Christmas, everyone! I hope Santa is good to you!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Best Group Costume, Ever!

O.K., maybe not ever, but certainly in the top ten!
I am spending far too much time on the internet since my surgery...

Photo via Pleated Jeans.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Before and After

Before and after. I picked up a screw, and lost a little round bone!
I know you guys are just sitting by your computers, waiting for pictures of my foot surgery, right? ;) Well, wait no longer, friends! Here they are!

The surgery, as I believe I posted earlier, went pretty well. I was expecting to be in the most excruciating pain, because of stories I'd been told (why do people do that?), but through the magic of painkillers and a talented surgeon, I was off the pain pills in just a few days. Even when I was on them, what I felt couldn't even be described as discomfort. Whew!

Yesterday was my first post-op, and it looks like everything is healing up just fine. I was hoping he could correct the angle of my big toe a bit more, but he explained to me that it was about as far over as he could get it because of the shape of the joint. He also mentioned he thought it would loosen up a bit over time, which is fine with me! I'm excited that he was able to do as much as he did!

I've rented one of those knee-walker thingies and have been pretending that I'm a graceful ice skater again as I've been scooting around the house, to the horror of Mr. ShellHawk, who keeps begging me to slow down before I fall off and kill myself. Too fast, too furious, baby!

I've also been screaming at the dogs like a fishwife, to get away from me because I'm terrified they'll bump me and mess up the surgery. Thank the gods that dogs are really, really forgiving, and they just get out of the way and give me kisses and wags when they can get close to me!

So while I've been healing (only eleven more weeks to go!), I've been slowly working on a few ornaments for the family (which will likely not be done on time, but whatever!) and watching a lot of TV. 

I'm fairly bored, but I think I'll be able to get some things done that need doing and catch up on some reading, too. It's weird not to be able to do things for myself and to force myself to stay on the couch with my leg elevated. I'm more of an "activity junkie" than I realized! Years ago, someone told me I was a "human doing," not a human being, and this last week has really taught me the truth of that statement. I need to learn to just "be."

Next week is the trip down to L.A. for the obligatory family visit. I am not looking forward to getting through the airport, since just taking a shower is a major effort and leaves me exhausted, but I am looking forward to seeing folks down there!

So if I don't pop back on here before Christmas, Merry Christmas to all of you and yours! Have fun!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Less Than Two Hours...

Only a couple of hours left to bid on these Jack ornaments, here at my eBay store!
I won't be offering these again this season, and provided no one else bids on them, you'll get these for less than my usual price!

Good luck!

Sunday, December 15, 2013


I listed the last of the Jack ornaments on eBay, so if you want one, now is your chance. They're only up for a three day listing.

Happy bidding!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Almost Human

My foot surgery was on Wednesday, and went pretty well, as far as I know. Today is the first day I feel that I don't need any pain medication, which is all to the good, in my book! I am under strict orders not to put any weight on that foot, period, and I've been managing with one accidental touch-down on it. That hurt!

I've made sure not to do that again.

Asking Mr. ShellHawk for help all the time has been almost as hard as sitting around all day with my foot elevated, watching TV and posting my ornaments to my Etsy store. The loss of independence is almost maddening. He will later be assisting me with today's big event: a shower! Woo-hoo! Who knew that taking a shower by one's self was the mark of independence? He's been great about everything, though, and I'm very grateful to have him.

It's been hard to track what's going on around me with the pain meds. They make me sleepy. That should get better now that I don't seem to need them, for the moment, at least.

So anyway, since I've taken the trouble to post ornaments, go buy some so that Mr. ShellHawk can get out of the house for a little while, o.k.?

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Ornaments in the Shop!

I've started to put my Christmas ornament in my Etsy store!

 Head over to the ShellHawk's Creations Etsy store and pick up a pretty ornament for yourself!

Aspiring Mad Scientist Seeking Evil Lair...

 See more nifty space observatory images at io9.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Folsom Christmas Arts & Crafts Show Tomorrow!

The kiln is cooling with one last load of plates for tomorrow's show. Unfortunately, the cake stand above will not be there, because I plain old ran out of space in the kiln! :( The up side is that if I do well at this show, I will be able to buy the new kiln I need! W00T!

My popular Jack ornaments will be hanging on their sweet little Halloween tree, along with a ton of other ornaments and goodies. Since I have a larger booth this year, I've decided to bring the Halloween things left over from this past season to see if anyone would like to buy them for a Creepmas gift!

The ShellHawk's Creations booth will be on the 900 block of Sutter Street, so if you're in the area, please come on out and see me! There will be lots of fun things going on for the whole family, and there are a bunch of cool shops that will be open for your Christmas needs, too!

See you there!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Historic Folsom Arts and Crafts Fair Saturday!

My kiln has been working extra hard these past couple of weeks. I've been glazing like there's no tomorrow, plus trying to get ready for my surgery, which is next week, already! The Folsom Christmas Arts and Crafts Fair is this Saturday, already, and though I'm in overdrive and short on sleep, I'm chugging along!
These last weeks have not been without setbacks. A few casualties, such as the plate above (along with half a kiln load of mid-fire ware), have occurred. Even so, I keep going. Mr. ShellHawk has been great about pitching in, keeping me fed and putting clear glaze on ornaments and plates so I can get things in the kiln faster. At this point, I'm only limited by how long it takes for the kiln to cool between loads!

I've already been thinking about how I'll need to plan my time for next year, and how I can add some creepy elements to my Christmas offerings. It should be interesting!

I haven't even had time to take proper pictures of everything, so you're getting the raw, in-studio snapshots!
In any case, if you're in the neighborhood this Saturday between 8:00 A.M. and 4:00 P.M., please swing by the booth and say hello! I'd love to see you!