Wednesday, December 9, 2009

I'll come to thee by moonlight, though hell should bar the way

Lately, I'm in the mood for The Highwayman. It makes me think back to high school, back to the time when I was sitting in class, learning about this poem. We were lucky to have a good English teacher. I must have like this poem since then. I love it even more as a song (even though it didn't cover the complete version of the poem).

I was listening to this song early this morning, and I did a rough sketch for The Highwayman. For some reason I just love the part where she let her hair down for her lover to kiss it.

And here's the finished drawing of the highwayman kissing the sweet black waves (I know, she is supposed to be at her window, not right next to him).

I guess deep down, I really am a romantic person.

My Happy Place part 2

A lot of magic happens at the Desert Dragon/All The Hands Studio, especially on Saturdays when there's a raku firing.

When there's a raku firing, you get to see cool things like pottery and sculptures in flame! (LOL)


Raku firing is a technique originated in Japan. If I understand it correctly, the process goes like this: Once the temperature inside the kiln has reached a certain point, we pull the ceramic wares out of the kiln and set it on a bed of flammable material (like paper, saw dust...etc) and the heat from the ceramic wares will trigger the fire.

Next, we cover the ceramic wares (while still in flame) to deprive it of oxygen.

The fire will burn off all the oxygen inside the cover. The lack of oxygen will cause a chemical reaction in the glazes. After a while, we remove the covers and there you have it. Raku wares, emerging from bed of ashes like the Phoenix.

Here are some more pictures of raku firing, taken at the Desert Dragon/All The Hands Studio:

Raku is a wonderful and magical experience.

My Happy Place part 1

This is the place where I usually spend my Saturdays, the Desert Dragon/All The Hands Studio. If you are in Phoenix and wish to do some pottery work, this is the place to be. It's a place where good people go to get creative :)

I love spending my weekends in this studio. There's definitely a lot of good energy here. This is the table where I usually do my work.

And this adorable fur ball is usually around when I work. I think we have become friends. He seems to like sleeping next to me while I work.

And this is what my work space looks like. Yes, it's a mess. I love making a mess! Check out my muddy tools and the pictures that I spread out on the table.

Yup, this is what a good weekend looks like.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Not your usual ornaments

I like stop motion animation. Sometimes I wish I could be sitting in a studio, sculpting tiny little characters for a stop motion video.

Anyway, we recently watched Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Were Rabbit. I immediately fell in love with Gromit (who doesn't like a dog who could take care of its owner?). I just have to make a Gromit for my tree.

Wrap a scarf around him and he's all ready for Christmas. I love having my Gromit on my tree!

This black creature here is a Mokona. I made him because husband and I are fans of xxxHolic. Mokona is surprisingly hard to make.

And this little guy in red is a Daruma...I know, you're probably wondering what is a Buddhist monk doing on a Christmas tree...I just love Daruma very much (and kappa, manekineko, kokeshi doll...etc)!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Roast penguins and other festive animals

Last year we didn't decorate our Christmas tree. And it was also the very first time in my life that I have a Christmas tree. So this year I determined to decorate it with my own hand made ornaments. First, I started out with some roast penguins...

And a teddy bear.

My daughter likes tiger so I made her one.

She likes dinosaur too.

And I know my husband's family has a thing for pigs so we have to have a pig on the tree.

After putting these animals on the tree, I realized the tree is more about who we are and what we like. I am quite pleased with it.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Black and White Dream

When it comes to finishing a sculpture, I am usually in favor of cold finishes (methods that do not involve firing in a kiln).

So here's Dream's Song, in black and white.

I do not intend to leave this piece as it is right now (though I am a little tempted to). I thought it looks quite interesting like this....but a black and white dream? That doesn't go quite well with the meaning of the work...does it?

Anyway, this piece is still in progress. It will have have colors, eventually.

Plant Woman

Last night I sat down and doodle some more...I was thinking of a pair of sexy eyes and lips...And the next thing I know, it evolved into some sort of evil-looking plant woman...

It's like Jack Skellington trying to do Christmas but inevitably turned it into Halloween.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Drawing as a form of meditation

I'm not very good a nurturing the artist child in me. I'm good at writing my artist pages, but I hardly allow myself to go on an "artist date" and just play freely with my art (see Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way). On top of that, a few issues in life have been stressing me out lately. So here I am, a little blocked; haven't been able to produce any sculptures that are to my satisfaction.

To remedy the situation, I started sketching since yesterday. Without any planning, I just sketched whatever that's in my mind.

Drawing is like a form of meditation. I managed to drag those demons and monsters that have been disturbing my inner peace out of my mind, and sealed them away in my drawings.

So there, I feel so much better now.

Stare all you want, bird creature. I feel really good right now. And you can't do anything about it.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Lessons learned

Remember this little darling from a few weeks ago?

She blew up in the kiln, didn't survive the first firing. I am so sorry. I thought she was ready for the kiln, but apparently there was still moisture inside. It is clear that I still have lots to learn. Sigh.

I do feel a little crushed about losing this sculpture, but on the other hand, I think Buddha did say something about the impermanence of things and non-attachment etc...In other words, I'll live and move on...Also, is it weird that I find this pile of rubble fascinating and maybe even beautiful in its own way?

Friday, October 30, 2009

Monster drawings

First of all, the serpent woman would like to wish everyone a very happy Halloween.

The one with horns is my first version of the serpent woman. I like to imagine this is how she looks when she's just a young monster.

And the second version is how the serpent looks when she matures. I wish I had done this in color, I'd like to see her as a crimson serpent.

Anyway, happy Halloween, and beware of monsters and ghouls.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The more I do it, the more I realize...

I have come to a conclusion: the more I glaze, the more I hate it.

There, I have said it. Yes, sacrilegious. How can a ceramist not embrace the art of glazing? Well, it's not my cup of tea, but I'm not rejecting it totally.

For now, I'm exploring two alternatives to glazing/overglazing: 1. using color slip, and 2. using oil paint, acrylic paint...etc.

So today, I made Kappa-san here, and I put color slip (that I painstakingly made by myself. Seriously, it's a lot of work to prepare color slip) on him. I think I like what I see so far.

It seems that with this slip I can get a painting effect.

And yes, I may have a Kappa obsession. But we are getting closer to Halloween, so why not? It is a water sprite, after all.

Oh, and another thing, this is not how a traditional Kappa looks like. I stylized it, just for fun.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Not your usual Kokeshi doll

Another new work in progress. This one is based on the traditional Japanese doll, the Kokeshi doll (well, loosely based on). I tried out a new method of sculpting, and I'm quite pleased with the result.

I think the nose has improved a lot.

This is probably the first time I put eye brows on my work! (pssssst...let me tell you a secret, I never put ears on my sculptures. Never! Weird huh? I wonder why is that...)