A new, short-lived creative endeavor

Lately, I’ve just been putting down various thoughts on paper and posting them on this blog titled “Creatively Annette.” Some of the them are ruminations related to the different sectors of my life or recent activities – programs in the community, writings and other scattered topics, museum musings – not always evenly spaced between creative endeavors like cooking, jewelry, t-shirt quilts. Blah, blah, blah!

Friends and others frequently ask me what I’m doing since I’m no longer employed in my long-time profession – though thinking about museums and observing museum practice is an extension and continuation of the same. My immediate answer is usually, “Nothing.” Then I think about all the arts and other activities I take part in by myself and with Constant Companion. I don’t always stray too far from the long-engrained and highly opinionated endeavors with which I earned a living – museums and academe. And I have my volunteering.

On my table right now are some crafty activities that I’ll share as they are completed. They include a jewelry-making endeavor I was enticed to take part in by a new friend and two long-promised t-shirt quilts for two long-time friends. I also have some cooking adventures already written up but not yet posted.  I don’t want CreativelyAnnette to take over my life!

In the meantime, I recently tried a new-for-me creative activity. Our city’s senior program – with which I do tai chi (love it), water aerobics, and so-called dance fusion – started the New Year in September with a ceramics class at the nearby senior center.  Another center about four miles away (could be a lifetime away) has long had the ceramics class as well as more tai chi classes. I prefer, however, not to stray too far from home and was thrilled with the new opportunity and to learn something new. Who knows where it could lead!

Well, it took about a month for the organizers to get their act together – where to teach, what the materials were, how much to charge, how many pieces could be made each session, etc. It was a combined senior and adult class, so some confusion about registration reigned. Sometime in October another woman and I valiantly started making our ceramics, with different tasks in mind. She is a lovely young lady with small children and was making and glazing molds of bears and bunnies and one lone turtle for the kids. So cute.

Inspiration I

While on the Gulf Coast a few years ago with Constant Companion, I had seen these really cool large ceramic leaves and structures embedded in a beachside garden. I fell in love. I filed the photos I took of them at the back of my to-do list, hoping for the opportunity to try to make my own. The day finally came for me to try my hand with making them.

Inspiration II

Working with the clay was a process. I’m good with processes and instructions, doing stuff step-by-step.  First, I had to strenuously roll out pieces of clay to make my shapes free-form. We worked on tables with benches attached, e.g. picnic tables, covered with slippery plastic table clothes. They were suitable for sitting and painting molds. Rolling out tough clay was another story. First, was there a rolling pin to open the clay? No. Our really good instructor did not have an alternative. Is there a spray can? I asked. Yes, an aerosol can materialized to fill the place of a rolling pin. It worked, just barely.

Day I
Day I

Despite the discomfort of working on tables at an uncomfortable height, I persisted. I have a bad back from a long-ago injury which has not bothered me for quite a while. Well, nevertheless I persisted for two sessions, until my back started complaining (readers, listen to your body, it’s the only one you’ve got!) …

Waiting to be Fired
Glazed and finished
In the kiln

I had already started imagining other stuff I could make … One of the additional ideas that crept into my head was to combine ceramics with jewelry. I brought in a selection of cookie cutters on the second day – hearts and a moon. The resulting pieces are sloppy – my patience had worn thin. I should have been taken more time and care with finishing them. They might make pendants one day or maybe a collage with buttons.

Along with my “jewelry pieces,” I ended up with five leafs of various sizes (a sixth broke in the first firing, perhaps a sacrifice to the kiln god) and four curlies. I’m not so crazy about the glaze colors, but as with the entire endeavor, I was working with what was on-hand. 

The leafs join White Chicken

And thus, another chapter in CreativelyAnnette is closed, for the time being. My mom often said that she’d done something twice – the first time and the last time! I could say the same for this adventure. I am pleased with what I made, even though the experience was not what I envisioned. Overall, I enjoyed. Time to move to something else!

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