Tag Archives: gratitude

Art-Drop Off Objects

If you follow my blog Sometimes You Get So Confused, you are familiar with my art-drop off activities. These tiles are perfect for it and that is where they are going. Maybe some already have – I don’t keep track of the items I send into the universe, I just keep them in a box and refill it when needed or as I make new things.

There are always items that fit in this category, in every kiln-load. Something small and yet something a person coming along might enjoy taking home.

These tiles were done at various times over the summer of 2019.

Art Show Wrap-Up, Pennridge Gallery of the Arts

Every so often I think you might like to see some scenes of the art fairs in which I participate. This previous Sunday, September 15, we were at an event in Sellersville, PA, about 40 minutes from our house.

It’s a street fair that lines Main Street in this town, and it’s very festive and full of lots of things to see and do. I want to mention how well-organized it is, too – from a vendor’s standpoint, it’s an extremely easy show to do. I especially appreciate the high school students who volunteer (and there are a lot of them), helping with unloading the car and other tasks. It’s really nice.

Anyway, the day was a perfect early fall day.

Sellersville 9-15-19 #56

We got things set up and took it from there.

Guess what. My tall lady figurine, one that you might remember from a recent post, won 3rd prize in my category.

Sellersville 9-15-19 #78

I think she and I were both very happy. (Thanks to my friend John G for these following photos.)

Lots of friends stopped by the booth during the day – thank you to John G, Bill F, Chris and Mark, and Missy M.

What else happened? Well, all day we kept hearing a bell-ringing sound, the kind you associate with the fair activity where you hit the platform and spring a weight up to ring a bell. Yes, we heard many rings and lots of cheering.

Late in in the day I went down the row to see what was going on. Sure enough, just as we thought, but – the set-up was sized for six-year-olds. The fire department sponsored the activity and the fireman on duty said there was no age limit to participants. I stepped right up to the challenge, hoping not to embarrass myself since two quite young boys in line in front of me handily rang the bell multiple times

Luckily I could handle the job. As my reward, like all the kids, I got to try on the fireman’s helmet. My husband took this picture.

Claudia fire woman Sellersville 9-15-191

All right, I think this day was a success all around! And a lot of fun.

A Metamorphosis and Subsequent Whirlwind of Events

I’ll just tell the story the way it happened.


About three years ago I painted this image, Arbor, in acrylics. It was a large painting, 40″ x 30″.

Arbor 40 x 30 11-161

Well, I took it around to some shows, but it was hard to fit it into the car, and I had another one I liked better, the same size, and it got included if I had room, rather than Arbor. I will mention that I did use a detail of it for one of my books:

Vines Overpower Trellis and Run Book Cover 2018001

Nonetheless, I never felt Arbor had quite finished being whatever it wanted to be, but – lots of other things were more interesting for me to be doing, so I did them. Arbor waited in the basement in a box.

August 2019 rolled around and with it the Lansdale Festival of the Arts. I have participated in this show for decades and in almost all of my mediums – fabric, collage, mixed media, and now acrylics. I was packing things to go to the show on Friday, August 23, and I decided to take Arbor along. I am planning to do only limited shows with my paintings in the future and I’ve sold down my inventory. There was room for Arbor to attend this show.

As I brought it up from the basement the idea struck me to touch it up a little. Just a little. I could fix a couple of areas that have been bothering me, I thought. I worked on it the rest of the afternoon. In a devil-may-care type of mood not very typical of me, I decided to take the new Arbor to the show in the exact shape that it was now in.

So, on Saturday, August 24, we set out for the show. Let me set the scene for you – it’s held in a lovely park, and the day was pleasantly cool and sunny. Here you see the show set up but before it opened, and a shot of my booth, and then the show with its attendees.

By now you may be saying, “What about Arbor?” Let’s enter the booth and see.

Lansdale 2019 #19

You still don’t see it? Oh, I guess I forgot to say – it’s now called Queen of the Birds, and it looks like this:

Queen of the Birds 40 x 30 8-198

And here are a couple of detail shots:

Yes, I did quite a bit to this painting, didn’t I? I know, and I think the same thing – what had gotten into me? No real answer other than, well, Queen of the Birds is where we are now.

At this show, prizes are given – I was competing in the Oils and Acrylics category. Each artist selects two pieces for the judge to review. I figured, why not? Queen of the Birds is my biggest piece and it’s extra brand new. And so, partly in tribute to Arbor, who hardly ever got to go to a show, I chose Queen of the Birds as one of my two candidates.

The show got under way. The judge stopped by and looked over my display, made notes on a clipboard, and after a short chat with me, she left my booth. I appreciated it that she spoke with me; many judges won’t approach or sometimes even acknowledge the artist while reviewing work.

In the afternoon, the awards were handed out.

Lansdale 2019 #65

Yes, that is Queen of the Birds with a 3rd place ribbon in its category. Fantastic!

Then I sold the painting. Yes. I did.

Well, that’s the end of this story. I’ve been doing art and art shows for a long time but nothing like this has ever happened to me, for sure. I was thrilled. Grateful. Very surprised. Laughing. Happy. And I’ll remember this experience, you bet!

Jewelry Class – Let Me Tell You More

As you know, I’ve been taking a jewelry class at a local art center. Yesterday was the last class of this session. I’ll show you and tell you what happened.

I have small box of bits and pieces I’ve collected over the weeks. Surely something could be done with some of them, I thought.

And, we had our back door replaced this last week, making its keys useless. It turned out we had quite a few keys for this one door. I decided take them into class, too.

By this time, I feel more at home in the jewelry studio. While having very little skill, if any, at most processes, I have an idea of how things work. It’s important to remember this fact when you start a new topic in life: it takes time to become familiar with the landscape, what’s in it, what’s not, and how the parts interact. You can’t get down to details until you have a map of what’s out there.

All right. I got out my keys and the instructor and I talked things over. One idea (quite practical, if not jewelry making exactly) is that you can use the punch machine (sorry, but I don’t know its name!) to punch out a hole in your key, so that you can find it by feel in the dark. Yes, I agree, I can think of times that would have been helpful.

Punching out holes is right up my alley. I got to work on one key, punched holes, and then sent it through the rolling mill for good measure:

Holey key 7-24-193

I set it aside. It will tell me what to do next when it is ready.

We took another key, twisted it in a vise. The shaft did a nice turn but part of the head snapped off. All right. I then took a hammered copper wire spiral and one of the punchouts from the first key and after some soldering, polishing, and filing, here is this uncategorized object:

Semi-key 7-24-192

Once again, I don’t quite know what will come next. But there is a lot I like about it now. The twist in the shaft, for instance. And the brass dot at the bottom. I think as far as the spiral, I would not wrap it as tightly the next time and let more “air” into it.  But…if nothing else, this item is pleasantly heavy and smooth to hold in your hand.

Next, I moved on to something I’d been thinking about ever since I made this guy at the beginning of the sessions:

Jewelry 1 6-25-191

It’s a piece of brass and I sawed out the nose and mouth. Remember my feelings about the saw? I can see, now that I have more experience, that it is useful to know how to saw, and I would profit by trying it again. I do like the shapes it made.

All right. Here’s what I did. I cut off the bottom section. I took some spirals I had made from copper wire and soldered them on to make eyes. Yes, I used the torch. I’m feeling less afraid of it. Familiarity is not breeding contempt, no, I will always be respectful of it, but maybe I can lose my fear of it.

Anyway, here is the result.

Face 7-24-191


Funny-looking guy, right? But I’m thrilled. We polished him up and I like the brass/copper finish he has now. I am not happy with the eye on the left (as you look at him). I now see that I should have chosen spirals with a similar opening in the middle of the spiral. The center needed to be darker, I thought.

So, the instructor mixed up some liver of sulfur, a substance that oxidizes metals and darkens them. You dunk the item in and when it is dark enough for you, you wash it off. I carefully painted in the middle of the eye to darken just that section.

I liked it better. But I am thinking it needs more. Possibly a dark small bead-like object (think the tiny brass button at the end of the key thing I showed you earlier, only dark). Eyes don’t have to match but they need to go together.

Plus, how about some hair or something for this guy? No, he’s not finished yet.

Well, that was enough for this one day. I have accumulated more wire bent into shapes and hammered:

As I’ve said over and over, I could hammer all day. I love the effect of flattening wire and I love creating textures in metal. And I just like hammering.

Let me show you one more thing, this small piece of copper that got liver of sulfured by me in one of those “let’s see what happens” moments. Here’s the back with some L of S seeping over:

Liver sulfur back 7-24-194

Here is the other side, given the full treatment:

Liver sulfur front 7-24-195

and a close up:

Liver sulfur closeup 7-24-196

The subtlety and array of colors really appeals to me.

The sessions are over and I reflect on what the experience has brought me. I now have a picture in my mind of how jewelry gets made. I have worked with tools, raw materials, and equipment to put together some items and in doing so I’ve begun to understand the properties and behaviors of all these things.

I feel now that I have an idea of what interests me in this line of art-making. It’s not making jewelry as such, which I guess is kind of strange when what I’ve been doing is taking a jewelry class! But to me, it’s the making of small objects out of metal that is attractive – whether a person could wear them or not. I am fortunate that the instructor was open to this way of thinking and encouraged exploration.

I also like the small scale of the metalworking we did – the tiny details of the stamps, the gradations of color in the metals – the idea of making small artworks that you could hold in your hand and examine is intriguing.

Last but not least, it was fun. Thank you to the instructor and my fellow students who made this possible.

All right. I have a feeling my adventures in metal work are not over. We’ll see what happens!


Thanksgiving 2018 Art Drop-Off #3

This post is part of an ongoing series on my personal blog, Sometimes You Get So Confused, focusing on art I’ve left out in the world as I go about my days. This post concerns a Thanksgiving session (this post is 3rd of three) but I do this all the time and have for years. If you are interested in more drop-off sessions you can search under the category Art Drops In on the Confused blog.

Anyway, thought you might like to see where some of my art goes…

Sometimes You Get So Confused

After leaving West Park in Allentown, the site of our second Thanksgiving drop-off, we ate lunch at the Hotel Bethlehem.

Conf Bethlehem 11-22-18 #809

We had parked the car a few blocks away, next to God’s Acre, the historic cemetery of the early Moravian Church in Bethlehem. The city was founded by members of the Moravian Church and their influence is seen in all parts of the city, especially the historic section.

I wrote a post about a previous visit to this resting place for so many people, and it has a fascinating history, based in the customs of the Moravians. (Look here if you want to know more.)

Anyway, we set a figurine on a bench here.

I took a few minutes to look around at nearby gravestones. All lie flat to the ground, and the cemetery is divided into burial groups not by family but by status in society (single, married…

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Art Diary 2018 – Week Ending October 12


Art Diary. A weekly wrap-up of art activities. For earlier posts, search under the category Art Diary.

Art . Art plus. Art extra. More Art!

Saturday, October 6 – I gave all the clay items their undercoat of black, in preparation for becoming colorful. There is something appealing about them in this stage, though – very neat and classic look, black is, isn’t it?

I colored some 4″ x 4″ commercially made terracotta tiles in preparation for – something…

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Let me catch you up to date on my listening habits right now. I always have music or an audio book going when I am working. I can have an art stream of thought and listen to a book or music at the same time. I cannot talk and do art, though. Interesting.

I’m reading –

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and listening –

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Sunday, October 7 – This day looks like yesterday, only with more color…

Monday, October 8 – I meant to do some work on tiles but instead I had some more quality time with this painting. When you don’t know where you are going and you aren’t too picky about it, either, well, a painting can become a whole lot of things along the way to its finish.

And a couple of details.

Wednesday, October 10 – That painting again. I’m deciding to be finished with it. I feel the people in it are begging me to stop bothering them.

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I packed these tiles away in their boxes in the basement, awaiting a show. Since I work on them in the basement and the kiln is up in the garage, I transport items around in a variety of containers – these old baking sheets are very useful.

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Thursday, October 11 – Last night I did some sofa art – cut out some figures and so on, and worked on a page in my current Large Artist Sketchbook.

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This morning, I had a block of time – usually I like to exercise in the morning, but today I have a doctor’s appointment at noon and could not make the schedule work out. So I spent it doing some art. First, I got the box I keep the (growing number of) odds and ends and arranged it.

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I wanted to get things in more order so that I could do some sofa art and then, when it gets to that stage, I’ll be ready with a lot of postcards and ATC’s to finish up in the studio. I’m sure you see some familiar things from earlier Diary entries.

I had unwrapped this set of 24 5″ x 7″ canvas boards I had bought – they are the cheapest possible grouping, 24 for about $10. Today I looked them over, anticipating…
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I plan to paint them with acrylics and then draw over them with a pen, sort of how I did with these items you saw not long ago:

You may remember that they were originally paintings, giveaway items that did not get given away – so I gave them another life. I loved doing it and I wanted to do more, so – the next step is to paint these little canvases I have with colorful backgrounds.

After I did this organizing I went to the basement to do some more color work on my clay items:

After my appointment I came home and finished them up. Now they are ready for firing.

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Friday, October 12 – I loaded up the kiln, on a whim, and got that firing done. It took little time because I put so little into the kiln – I just wanted to get the things done that you see on the table from yesterday. No photos. Just imagine the kiln and the really really hot and the clay turning colorful.

I returned to my Minuscule project – I have gotten the whole book’s text all set up and now I want to get the illustrations done. I am using India ink and a Chines brush. I often do three-four-five versions of the same illustration.

AD 10-12 #203

I do this because I do better work when I have free confident strokes of the pen or brush, and that never happens if I pencil something in and then follow it. I know it may sound like a lot of extra effort, but – I enjoy it, I’m not in a hurry, and ink and paper are cheap, at least my versions are! Sometimes I will rehearse a composition (I have a separate notebook for that purpose) and then, darn it, the rehearsal is better than the real performance.

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Well, that’s fine – since these pictures are getting scanned, it doesn’t matter what the original is like, exactly. And then sometimes, I get the picture right on the first try.

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Sometimes I feel as if the inspiration is coming in on some radio waves or the like, and maybe the signal is stronger at times and staticky at others. Well, let’s just say it’s all a mystery, right?

OK, that’s it for this week! Thank you for coming along with me.

Art Diary 2018 – Week Ending October 5

Art Diary. A weekly wrap-up of art activities. For earlier posts, search under the category Art Diary.

Art every day and all week.

Saturday, September 29 – This afternoon we took a trip to the Ceramic Shop in Norristown, PA. I needed some underglazes. This store is always a treasure trove. I worked my way past the shelves of glazes:

AD 9-29 (9)

…stopping to look some over, for future projects, before I came to the Velvet underglaze display and chose my items.

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After that I wandered around the store a little. As always, I am fascinated by the huge array of tools that can be used in clay work.

Here is a sample board showing various clay bodies sold here. Different clays fire in different temperature ranges and are additionally of different consistencies – some very smooth, some gritty. It all depends on your purpose as to what clay you chose to work with. Additionally, each clay can be fired within a range of temperatures – the different samples show the same clay fired at various levels. As you can see, this display is very useful in choosing clay.

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Here you see a selection of kiln shelves. Since each firing requires the shelves to be configured to fit the clay work being fired, there are a lot of choices.

Here is a display of pyrometric cones. You may remember me as describing a clay item as being fired at “Cone 06” or that kind of thing. Before computerized controls, each firing required the use of a pyrometric cone, created to be specific to a firing temperature, which was designed to bend or slump when the correct temperature was reached (you needed to view the cone through the peephole in the kiln wall).

These cones are still used today, even in computerized firings, for a variety of reasons – to make sure a certain item gets to the correct temperature, as kilns can have hot or cold spots; or to check that the kiln’s controls are accurate, for instance. I don’t use them, as my work is not that temperature-specific and my kiln has computerized controls – but obviously lots of people do. There is a large display of them here.

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Sunday, September 30 – My husband and I went to a play this afternoon at Allen’s Lane Art Center. You may remember other productions we’ve seen here – it’s a small theater and the seating is cafe style. This show was lightly attended, being a Sunday matinee, and we got a place right up on the edge of the stage.

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I got out my trusty sketchbook:

AD 9-30 #203

but I didn’t have much time for drawing the audience as I usually do here, because I was downstairs for some time chatting with my friend Lisa, who runs the box office. Just saying. Anyway, here are a few quick things:

Monday, October 1 – I fired up the kiln. It may look like it’s just sitting and doing nothing, but that number on the front means it’s 1200+ degrees F inside. And that’s not the whole story – it will go up to about 1830 degrees…

AD 10-1 #103

Let me back up a little. I forgot about these. Remember when I went through that box of little scraps last week? I pulled out some that I wanted to color. I’ve spent some of the last few evenings doing just that with my markers. I’ll figure out what happens next soon.

Back to today. I felt like slapping a little paint on a surface. I got out one of the 18″ x 24″ 1/8″ thick masonite boards I recently bought, as well as two of the 11″ x 14″. They have already been gessoed in black. I started working away. We’ll see what happens. I remind myself that the large board cost $3.50. I have nothing to lose.

Tuesday, October 2 – I opened the kiln.

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I was happy to see everything sitting in its place, nothing blown up, nothing fallen over. There is a variety of objects and tiles in this load. Tiles -(commercially made terracotta base):

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Sgraffito tiles – made from terracotta that I rolled out myself. I realized after I’d done them that they are only 1/4″ thick, and these days I like 3/8″ – but I was using up already-rolled clay, that’s why. Anyway, all good.

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Various figurines:

and remember this vessel? It came through the firing well – no seams opened up. I think I will do a little work on sanding some rough areas, and I’ll clean up the rim with a better black coat around it. Then I need to decide – will I glaze just the inside or the whole thing? Because for it to be functional the interior (at a minimum) must be glazed or it will not hold water.

Then there was this little stray tile…

AD 10-2 #1003

After congratulating myself and the clay items for completing a safe trip through the firing, I decided to go upstairs and work on that painting thing I’ve got going on. Today, I decided, would be ink day. I pretty much stuck to adding only India and acrylic inks to the picture, though I did put some more paint on, too.

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Where is this thing going?

Thursday, October 4 – First, a few more of those ink drawings turned colorful.

Ink drawings colored with markers 10-18 (4)03

I worked on the large painting. It continues to progress. Then I brought it upstairs to sit in front of me and let itself rest for a while.

I worked a little on the small painting, too. Really, all I did was to decide to turn it the other way around and to outline the person in ink, but…it’s still something…

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Friday, October 5 – I brought the recently fired clay into the laundry room/face painting venue to start the coloring process.

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Using Jet Black Velvet underglaze, I did my usual routine: paint the faces and other relief details in black and then wash off, leaving the color in the crevices.

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I got the whole gang done and set them on my work table. Next step: giving them a black coating all over their bodies to form the base for the bright colors I plan for them.

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I may do that this afternoon. Or I might work on that painting. Or I might sit on the sofa, watch TV, and finish up odds and ends of art tasks and paperwork. I don’t know. So I’ve decided to cut off this week’s Diary entry here. I’ll post this afternoon’s work (if I do any, as there is always option #4: I might just lie on the sofa and read) tomorrow. Happy end of the week!

OK, that’s it for this week! Thank you for coming along with me.