Monday, September 29, 2014

The Walking Dead is Coming!

So it's the perfect time for some Bad Lip Reading...
Click on the pic to watch...

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Annual Mug Shot

Hurried annual mug shot, which doesn't include the ones which sold at Scare LA.

Still pretty cool, though, even though I would have changed a few things...

A last Raku firing today, before the show, so there will be more! Mugs are cooling in the kiln, along with some shot glasses...

Yes. It's crazy around here! But it's the best season of all! :D

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Halloween and Vine

I simply can. NOT. Believe. Halloween and Vine is this coming Saturday!

I always wish for an extra week before a big show like this, I have to admit! I've been working hard--you know me, right? Work really hard, then crash and do nothing, work really hard and then crash again. It seems it's just the way of the artist!

But anyway, the kiln is cooling from a bisque firing of a bunch of jack-o'-lanterns for Raku firing (It's at just a little over 770 degrees right now). I put them in still damp and set my new, super-spiffy kiln for a five-hour pre-heat and a slow cone 04 bisque, and am crossing my fingers that all my jacks will be OK! If so, tomorrow is Raku firing day!

As an aside, I started numbering my jack-o'-lanterns this year, so I could keep better track of them on my inventory list. The last Raku jack I carved on Sunday was number fifty! That's the most I have ever made in one season! And I'll be making more after the show to put online and for my annual Open House, which will be on October 18th (after the Wisconsin Badgers game, so Mr. ShellHawk can watch his beloved Badgers in peace!).

I have a load of "Boo!" cups and shot glasses which hopefully will be getting into the kiln tonight, so I really have my work cut out for me. Thankfully, I have great friends who have been helping me out with entering things into my inventory list and into my GoPayment log.

By the way, are there any artists out there who do art fair type sales? Because I'm looking for a more efficient system for my inventory which still allows me to take credit cards. The system Microsoft came up with has been universally panned, and is also $1000! Why would I spend $1000 on a crappy point of sale system? Call me crazy, but it sounds like a waste of money.

I'm just at that awkward in-between stage where I don't quite need a larger point of sale system, but the old system I devised is not as efficient as it could be!

Anyway, if you're local-ish to Petaluma, California, come on out to Halloween and Vine on Saturday! And if you're local-ish to Folsom, California and would like to come out to my Open House, please send your name and email address to shellhawksnest (at) ya hoo dot calm (Misspelling is intentional to beat the robots. I'm sure you can figure it out!), so I can add you to my mailing list. You'll get a notice a few days before the Open House.

Can't wait to see you Saturday! 

Friday, September 19, 2014

Happy International Talk Like a Pirate Day!

Ahoy, Mateys! It be International Talk Like a Pirate Day, so release your inner pirate!

How did it start, you ask? Well, here be the legend:
Arrr! We be the pirate guys, matey.
Or, in another vernacular, we are guys, John Baur and Mark Summers. And that really should be all you need to know about the origins of Talk Like a Pirate Day. We're guys. Not men, with responsibility and suits and power ties. We're guys, with all that that implies. But here are the details.
Once upon a time -- on June 6, 1995, to be precise -- we were playing racquetball, not well but gamely. It wasn't our intention to become "the pirate guys." Truth to tell, it wasn't really our intention to become anything, except perhaps a tad thinner and healthier, and if you could see our photos, you'd know how THAT turned out. As we flailed away, we called out friendly encouragement to each other -"Damn, you bastard!" and "Oh, jeez, my hamstring!" for instance - as shots caromed away, unimpeded by our wildly swung rackets.
On this day, for reasons we still don't quite understand, we started giving our encouragement in pirate slang. Mark suspects one of us might have been reaching for a low shot that, by pure chance, might have come off the wall at an unusually high rate of speed, and strained something best left unstrained. "Arrr!," he might have said.
Who knows? It might have happened exactly that way.
Anyway, whoever let out the first "Arrr!" started something. One thing led to another. "That be a fine cannonade," one said, to be followed by "Now watch as I fire a broadside straight into your yardarm!" and other such helpful phrases.
By the time our hour on the court was over, we realized that lapsing into pirate lingo had made the game more fun and the time pass more quickly. We decided then and there that what the world really needed was a new national holiday, Talk Like A Pirate Day.
First, we needed a date for the holiday. As any guy can tell you, June 6 is the anniversary of World War II's D-Day. Guys hold dates like that in reverence and awe so there was no way we could use June 6.
Mark came up with September 19. That was and is his ex-wife's birthday, and the only date he could readily recall that wasn't taken up with something like Christmas or the Super Bowl or something. We also decided -- right then and there on the court on June 6, 1995 -- that the perfect spokesman for our new holiday was none other than Dave Barry himself, nationally syndicated humor columnist and winner of the Pulitzer by-God Prize. So, naturally, we forgot all about it.
For seven years we celebrated International Talk Like a Pirate Day pretty much on our own, with our friend Brian Rhodes actually reminding us that the event was coming up. Frankly, we usually forgot exactly when Talk Like a Pirate Day was supposed to be or even that there was such a thing. Brian is one of those guys who programs every important event into his computer so that a reminder pops up the day before. John and Mark may be the founders of Talk Like a Pirate Day, but Brian is certainly the midwife, or godfather or something. (Have a cigar, Brian!)
Things would probably have continued indefinitely on that low-key note until John, Mark and Brian were little old pirates in the Home for Retired Sea Dogs. We had a national holiday that almost nobody knew about, and we were content with that.
Except for one happy accident. One day in early 2002, John chanced upon Dave Barry's e-mail address. As the entire universe knows, Dave Barry is a syndicated columnist and the author of somewhere between four and 6,000 books and the second funniest man in the universe. We were two guys (three if you count Brian, and that seems only fair,) but Dave (we call him Dave now, though he probably doesn't know it. Mr. Barry would probably be more appropriate, but, well, you know.) anyway, Dave is like a whole parade with brass bands and elephants. We reasoned that Dave would be able to bring attention to Talk Like A Pirate Day in a way that Mark and John (and Brian) wouldn't be able to if we lived to be 200. Ambition suddenly burned bright, and sending e-mails is a very easy thing to do. Which is why we finally got around to contacting him.
The first e-mail introduced us, and told him about our great idea -- Talk Like a Pirate Day. We knew he wouldn't be able to resist. Then we offered him the only thing we had, the chance to be official national spokesman for the event.
We clicked the send button, casting our bread upon the water, if we may wax Biblical.
Surprisingly, we had an answer in a matter of days. We had assumed a famous guy like Dave Barry would have more important things to do than read the e-mail of a couple of louts with a hare-brained idea. It turns out, louts like us are where he gets a lot of his column material.
It's a great idea, he said, (actually "very excellent" were his exact words, in case you're keeping score.) But then he asked the fatal question.
"Have you guys actually DONE anything about this? Or are you counting on me to carry the ball here?"
Very perceptive of him. The way we answered would be crucial in bringing Barry aboard. We decided on the truth, with a lot of ass kissing thrown in.
"Well, we've talked like pirates every Sept. 19, and we've encouraged our several friends to," John wrote in reply. And Mark put it in perspective when he wrote, "We are dinghy-sized-talk-like-a-pirate kinda guys, but you, Dave ... you are like a frigate-huge-sized-talk-like-a-pirate kinda guy."
In early September, John got a phone call from the feature editor at the local paper, someone he had worked with for several years before leaving the newspaper business (But that's a different story.) She sounded confused.
"John, I was editing this week's Dave Barry column and it's about ... Is this you?"
It was. The nationally syndicated columnist and Pulitzer Prize winning writer of "distinguished commentary" (the Pulitzer committee's description, not his own) became convinced of the great potential of such a holiday. Or maybe he had run out of fresh column ideas and didn't want to do another one on toilet training his infant daughter. Either way, he had written the column.
And hell broke loose.
If you're really into the spirit of things, you could discover your Pirate Name here. So say your Captain, Black Ethel Rackham! (That's me, because I just took the quiz.) 

You can also brush up on how to talk like a pirate, and learn how to tell pirate jokes!

Golly, I do hope I have a job interview to go to today! Can you imagine how talking like a pirate would impress an employer looking for a professional person to run their office? :D

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Katsuyo Aoki

I am constantly amazed by the art others create! 
This incredibly talented, woman artist's website can be found here. Please, do yourself a favor and go check it out. Her work is nothing short of breathtaking!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Maya Lord of Death

Images via National Geographic.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Halloween is the ---

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Fur Kids

So now that I've written an utterly depressing post, I feel compelled to give you guys a little happy from my life.

As you know, we lost Josey last year, just before Hallowe'en (which was extremely inconsiderate of her!). Coda, our "new" black German Shepherd, came to join us shortly after, from Westside German Shepherd Rescue. I posted a couple of pics when we got her, but not too many since. Here's a collection of them, celebrating her becoming a year old and a month more...
On the way home from Los Angeles.
German Shepherd: Face-hugger edition
 She was a very girly love-bug from the start, I have to say. Cute and knows it!
With partner in crime, Sam, who is still my tiny little puppy, even though he's 85 pounds!
I happened to walk by this photo op, and couldn't resist taking this shot.
How darling is our girl? :)

"Of COURSE I'll smile for the camera!"
 She is definitely the apple of our eyes. Always happy and smiling, sweet and loving. We really scored with this one!

Oh, and? We're guessing she's around 100 pounds, now. She's about 1 1/2" taller than Sam! And still clonking her head on tables because she's not used to being so tall and keeps trying to run under them without ducking her head! Totes adorbs!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014


I guess I can talk to you guys, right? I mean, I'm writing this before the "tourist season" (October) of this blog begins, when I get thousands of hits per week vs. the staunch supporters of the "everyday" ShellHawk, the person you "see" the rest of the year.

So here it is. It's been a really, really rough year at the Nest. Our beloved fur-daughter, Josey, passed, and the anniversary of her passing is next month. And things just have been difficult ever since then. Foot surgeries, while great because things are now, blessedly, fixed, are tough to get through, particularly for a restless and active person like myself. Surgery is just hard on the body, I guess. Then there was getting laid off, another surgery, and absolutely not least, my grandmother's passing.
My dad, Oma, and Opa.
Mixed in there was my second acceptance into an international ceramics show, which was a huge high! But FedEx broke my piece in the process of wrapping it for shipment. Wah-wah. There goes my amazing exposure and professional cache. Wins turning into losses.

Hauntcast released its last episode. Another loss, even though I valued getting that time back in my schedule.

To top it off, I've got a partially torn rotator cuff, and have been in pain every day for months while we're trying to sort out our new insurance from Mr. ShellHawk's new job. I've got a lot of ceramics to make, and wedging (kneading) clay with a torn rotator cuff is not on my top ten list of most fun things to do, particularly when the ibuprofen is doing nothing to take the edge off. And I haven't had more than three full, uninterrupted nights of sleep for months.

My other old dog is on the verge of needing to be put down. My mom is old and really not doing well. My dad is getting older, and every time I look at him, all I can think about is how much it's going to suck when I can't pick up the phone and call him, anymore, even though he's doing well for his age.

I'm not having the success I'd like at finding a part time job, since in my area, one job opening gathers hundred of applicants. (Time to head to a recruiter, I think!) And I need the money to keep paying for supplies and help Mr. ShellHawk with household expenses.

It's all focused my mind on things which aren't the positive. 
Commission in progress
At the same time, it's not like this entire year hasn't been without wonderful, life-list fun, right?  I mean, I got to go to Ireland for my 10th anniversary! How many people get to do that in a lifetime? I got to go to Irish Beach here in California, which is stunning as only the California coast can be. I finally got my new, larger kiln, and I did my first live talk on creating a home haunt while I was at Scare LA. I got a really nice commission to do a set of plates from this nice couple from Colorado while I was there!
My glazing crew, who work for food!
Very importantly, I've had friends step in to help me prep for that Scare L.A. show. From glazing to cataloging, to figuring out the cost of items and pricing them, to putting together my inventory spreadsheet and putting all the hang tags on everything, these incredibly wonderful people took the time to step in and help me out. I've gotten better at throwing, so I had more stuff than ever ready for sale. If I hadn't gotten help, there was no way everything would have been ready in time. And Mr. ShellHawk put up with the entire house looking like it was hit by a very artistic tornado, inside and out! Seriously. All the public areas of the house had my crap everywhere, since all my product was in various states of being finished or packed, and the poor man had to deal with it for weeks!

I have friends! I keep reminding myself. I have friends who take me for pedicures and lunch, who invite me to cocktails and dinner, and who actually get me.

We finally replaced our old SUV and got a new one, which is a great, 2011 Ford Explorer Limited. It already has been tricked out with various "Firefly" accoutrements. I'm so happy to have it!

I mention the positives so you understand that I'm not completely lost in the Pit of Despair, even though I'm having trouble seeing the top of the pit right now.

I think the worst part of the Pit, is that I've started to doubt myself as an artist. I've endured a lot of the "flaky artist" judgmental attitude from both strangers and some who are closer to me. While I know I am most definitely not a flake, that kind of judgment takes its toll on me, especially when I'm looking at all the hours I put into what I do, and how little I have to show for it, financially. I feel like I'm constantly under attack, and it's wearing me out. Try defending your life for months on end and see how you feel. I feel effing beat up.

Worse, I've fallen into the "comparison" game, comparing my work to others and seeing theirs as better/more worthy. In my darker moments, I don't feel like I've grown enough, and I deeply envy those who went to school, got their MFA degrees, and know what they're doing.

I find myself wondering, "What's the point?" more and more often. Why make art? Why bother with anything, even?

When I catch myself doing that, I turn my mind to my eventual goal of being in a larger, dedicated space. I dream of being as skilled and fast as the production potters I've seen on YouTube. (I mean, being able to produce sixty cups an hour? That's a goal!)

I dream of buying my own building and making it a workspace with gallery space, and maybe some room for students. I dream of growing it so that I can employ production potters to make my designs and free me up to focus on the creative end.

I dream of paying a bookkeeper to do all the paperwork I hate and am no good at.

I'm doing everything I can to pull from whatever reserves I have inside of me to keep going. I'm just having a hard time finding my happy place. I know this because the nasty voice in my head catches me dreaming and tells me I'll never have any of those things, and will never be good enough.

I know others have things really hard right now, too, like my friends over at Davis Graveyard, who are struggling to find employment and keep their home. Others have lost family members, had health challenges, etc. I try to remember that and send them good vibes.

Meanwhile, I'm holding on by my toenails. And trying desperately to remember that I love my life, my family, and, of course, Hallowe'en.

Monday, September 8, 2014

The Season is Creeping Up!

It looks like Creepy L.A. has just released a listing for all manner of scary events going on in L.A. and Southern California during the greatest season of them all! It makes me want to go for a visit, especially since the Bloodshed Brothers Field of Screams Haunted Stadium is going to have five different attractions set up this year!

Creepy L.A.'s haunted attraction listing here. More haunts are being added every day, and if you know of one which needs to make the list, contact them and give them the 411!

Friday, September 5, 2014

You Learn Something New Every Day

This morning, I was going through my emails, when a AAA Member Deal came up for Rosetta Stone.

Me: I wonder if they have Rosetta Stone for Klingon?
Mr. ShellHawk: I don't know.

I checked. They do.
Of course, everything worth buying is over at Think Geek, including "Learn to Speak Klingon."

Loving the product description, too:


Rosetta Stone - Learn to Speak Klingon
Klingon may be a difficult language for humans to wrap their smooth heads around, but it's made even more complicated by the constant threat that saying the wrong thing might accidentally land you in a battle to the death. And that's why you need the comprehensive Learn to Speak Klingon course from Rosetta Stone.
You never want to find yourself in a position where you're flipping through a copy of Introduction to Klingon Grammar, trying to sound fluent in front of a group of native speakers with photon torpedoes. This complete Klingon software package will enable you to express your thoughts safely and effectively in Klingon and master the conversational skills required to conduct negotiations, request medical assistance, and partake in the rich Klingon culture.
Why Rosetta Stone? Rosetta Stone is the world's most popular and most advanced program for learning a new language. Having helped millions of learners from around the world, Rosetta Stone is uniquely situated to be able to broaden the reach of the Klingon language so that it can become truly universal.
Rosetta Stone® - Learn to Speak Klingon
  • Everything you need for conversational Klingon
  • Compatible with Windows XP+ and OS X+
  • Requires CD-Rom drive and headset with microphone
  • Learn at your own speed
  • Master the use of inflected prefixes and situational suffixes
  • Let our speech recognition technology improve your pronunciation
  • Don't sully your reputation by sounding like a hur'q
  • Package includes
    • Language software that will take you from simple greeting to arguing about sports over a bottle of Bloodwine
    • Live conversation sessions with native speakers (guaranteed to be from Beta Quadrant)
    • Language-enhancing games
    • Free, downloadable mobile companion app
And of course, there's a commercial! (Click on the pic to watch.)
I think it's wonderful, how accessible learning a new language is these days!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Clearing Space on Labor Day!

I have a few candle packs, pillars, and votives left over from Scare LA, all made by the wonderful Dark Candles company! I'm selling them on my eBay store at a discounted rate, along with those adorable Hallowe'en- and horror-themed voodoo string dolls, so amble over there and pick yourself up some Hallowe'en love!

ShellHawk's eBay store.

Feel free to spread the word. Dark Candles candle packs are a staple around our house at Hallowe'en, and make great hostess gifts during the season.