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Ireland – Scotland Part 1

Exhausted from Hurricane Florence I guiltily decided to go on the trip I had signed up for last fall. I’m glad I did. We set off on a two day train trip from Dublin with Railtours Ireland. We traveled south west through the countryside of Co. Kildare.

We visited the Cliffs of Moher, among the highest sea cliffs in Europe. We were there for about an hour and by the time we left the fog had swept in and you couldn’t see any of the cliffs. This part of the country is breathtaking.

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We drove along “The Burren“. The word Burren means ‘rocky place’. It looks like a a lunar landscape of limestone. We were told that though it seems like there is no soil it’s noted for its diverse flora and fauna, more diverse than anywhere in Europe. Migrating birds from the North Pole and from theMediterranean and points further south bring the seeds that grow in the crevices in the rocks. This area also has many times more rainfall that Eastern Ireland.

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We stopped at Bunratty Castle and Folk Park in Co. Clare.   The castle was built in the 15th Century and is furnished with period furniture and artifacts. I found the grounds most interesting – a 19th century Irish village with buildings from around the region.

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We eventually arrived in Galway, where we had time to explore on our own. One of the highlights was hearing a group of young Irish musicians performing on the street.

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Galway has a lot of young people and lots of tech jobs, It’s history began with a fort built in 1142. Through the Middle Ages it was a thriving port, it was involved in many wars through the ages, the potato famine of the mid 19th century and never regained strong economic growth until the late 20th century.

On day two we went to the Connemara region. When thinking about the area these are the things that come to my mind – few trees – thousands of miles of stone fences – narrow roads – windswept landscapes – mountains – fuschia hedges – sheep – lots of lakes and the Atlantic Ocean.

We stopped at the Kylemore Abbey & Walled Victorian Gardens – which was built in the late 1800s by Mitchell Henry, a successful businessman and liberal politician. It changed hands several times and in 1920 it was taken over by Benedictine Nuns whose Abbey in Belgium had been destroyed in World War II. They opened a world renowned boarding school for girls and restored the Abbey and Garden. The Walled Garden covers 6 acres and had fallen into ruin. In 1995 the Nuns began restoring it and it was opened to the public in 2000. The garden had 21 heated glass houses and a work force of 40 gardeners when it was first established and was compared in magnificence to Kew Gardens.

We continued on the Connemara Loop which was hauntingly beautiful.

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There are only a few towns in the area and my favorite is Clifden.

We heard that if the sheep are on top of the mountain (in this case cows) the weather is going to be good….

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There are a lot of sheep in the area, and they are free range, so you have to be very careful driving on the narrow winding roads because you never know what’s around the corner.
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I loved this area – it’s kind of other worldly.
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We went back to Galway and caught the train to Dublin.

I realize that I know little about the history of Ireland, as part of my blogging after a trip I go back and research the places I’ve been. It was interesting that  looking around Dublin looks like a pretty new city, I made a stupid comment about maybe because it was bombed during WWII. I was corrected – Ireland was neutral during the war so was never bombed. I wondered what else I didn’t know! So have been reading up on their history.

Here is a great timeline.

My mom was a genealogist and I read in some of her papers that our ancestors came from Ireland way back during the time of tribes and clans around 200 A.D. in present-day Ireland. At that time the area a tribe or clan occupied was called a Lyne or Lynne. When the leader of the clan wanted to gather the people they blew a horn, our clan was near the sea and made use of conch shells for their horns, thus “Conchlynne.”  This tribe – Conchlynne – was located where the city of Belfast now stands. for some reason members of the tribe migrated across to Scotland and then south to Nottinghamshire, England where the name is found in the 1600’s. The name turned into Conklin somewhere along the line in the US. When first coming to the US they were glassmakers.

We aren’t going to make it to Belfast on this trip – that will have to wait until next time.

I wasn’t in love with Dublin but did find a few areas I liked. Here are few photos from around town.

Two things that have made a huge impact on this city – Heineken and the musical group U2.
Signs and decorations on buildings…

Learning about the book of Kells at Trinity College (founded in 1592) was really more interesting than seeing it to me, since you can only see two pages, but the lengths the monks went through to make it were extraordinary.  They made it on the isle of Iona, where we are headed when we meet up with others from New Bern.

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The best part about the visit to Trinity College was seeing the long room, the library in the same building (which houses 200,000 of the Universities oldest books). You would recognize it from the Harry Potter movies, They weren’t allowed to use the library in their filming but they based the one they created on it.

Next post….. traveling north to the Giants Causeway, Northern Ireland, and then Scotland. We really didn’t see a lot of either country but what we did see we really like.

 

 

 

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Road Trip Amsterdam

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Close to our hotel was the Opera House, The Hermitage Museum, the Skinny Bridge, Rembrandt Square and lots of great photo ops!

I loved all the 26 years at Carolina Creations but am also loving having more time to travel and do my artwork. The two – travel and artwork – go together – although I seldom do artwork when I’m on the road because I want to spend the time seeing everything I can possibly see. Traveling is inspiring to me, I see scenes that I want to paint, I see art I’ve never seen before and it gives me ideas to use in my own work from how to present something or a new technique. Creating art for me is a solitary endeavor so when traveling I also get to meet new people.

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This sculptures in Rembrandt Square depict the Dutch artist Rembrandt’s painting The Night Watch which is in the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam Museum. The sculpture was done by Russian artist Alexander Taratynov.

I decided this is my year to travel. Havana, Florida Panhandle, Key West, this trip, and more to come! Amsterdam has been on my list for a long time and it did not disappoint.
hook   Although the weather was cool and partially cloudy it was still beautiful! What was my favorite thing? I suspected the architecture and canals would be and I was right.
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I was going to do this whole trip as one blog post but after seeing just my photos from Amsterdam I’m not sure that the City by itself will fit into one!

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There was a lot I did not know about the city –
….     There used to be 300 canals and now there are only 100.
….     Most buildings have a hook coming out of their gable, especially if they are the tall skinny ones. In the old days it was used to raise and lower merchandise, a person had their shop on the 1st floor and warehouse above. Now people often live on the upper stories so when a person moves in or out they take out a window and use the pulley to raise and lower furniture.

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See the family playing chess in the background?

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….     Few Dutch go to church, so while there are quite a few church buildings, few are used for worship and many have been sold off for other purposes.
….     The semicircle of four 17th century canals is called the Grachtengordel, and while you can still get turned around, if you can identify the main canals you can usually figure out your way. Our sweet hotel, the Eden/Rembrandt Square, was on the Singel (The Singel was previously a moat around the old city.), which was a great location, across from the Opera, and from where I walked everywhere I wanted to go. The rooms were not large but were contemporary, very nice, and they have a great bar and restaurant.

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Lots of cheese shops.

After a brief introductory Tour with the tour group I tromped all over the canal part of Amsterdam by myself, not wanting to miss a thing. There wasn’t an area I felt uncomfortable in by myself.
I met two artists shortly after arriving at an outdoor show I stumbled across, it’s held only on Sundays and it was just around the corner from our hotel. Called the Outdoor Sunday ArtMarket .
Connie Van Rumpt works in paper mache.
connie     I got a sweet, tiny lady that sits on a shelf from her.
And I had a nice conversation about working in black and white with Wim van der Meij about his etchings and got this piece of one of the canals.
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I did find some neat boutiques in the Jordan district but I guess I wasn’t looking in the right place to find a lot of artist run shops.
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You (I) just can’t go incognito anywhere….. I walked into a store and immediately the owner said “You own a shop.” (of course I don’t anymore.)  I said “How do you know?” “The bag you are carrying. I have one just like it .” So we compared notes. Years ago, probably 10 anyway, maybe 14, when people were first buying reusable bag,s one of the first companies to make them was called Envirosax and we started carrying them at Carolina Creations. The particular bag I had in my hand was an ad for the company, which was a promotion for shops that ordered from them that first year, which gave me away. Go figure.
I also went into one of the coffee shops that sells marijuana – I just had to do it – and ONLY had a cup of coffee, but found it interesting that you could smoke dope there but you could not smoke a cigarette!

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The floating flower market Bloemenmarkt was ok, selling mostly bulbs but this one stall did have nice fresh flowers.
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The city has a museum for just about everything, 100+… the ones you might expect The Tulip Museum, The Cheese Museum, The Houseboat MuseumHeineken Experience, and some you might not expect like the Sex Museum, Torture Museum, Prostitution Museum, Erotica Museum, Hash, Marihuana & Hemp Museum,  Nederlands Uitvaart Museum Tot Zover the museum about funerals, Tassenmuseum Hendrikje the museum of bags and purses, just to name a few.
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I’ll have to admit I’m not a huge museum goer, it’s walking the streets I want to do when I travel, but the Van Gogh was one I didn’t want to miss, it was great and very well done. One thing I noticed in the extensive gift shop i saw no images of “Starry Night”, or  his “Cafe Terrace at Night” , they can’t use the images because they are not in their collection I was told. They are my two favorites.
If I would have had more time I might have visited the Rijksmuseum, the National Museum of the Netherlands with nearly one million Dutch works of art, The Amsterdam Museum, or the Museum Van Loon, (which is a canal house owned by the Van Loon family of the Dutch East India Company), the Ann Frank House, The Jewish Museum, Verzetsmuseum or the Dutch Resistance Museum.
amm10            We strolled through The Begijnhof, passing through this gate, which was built in the 14th century and donated to the Beguine for a place to live. It is at the medieval street level which is a little over 3 feet below todays street level. “The Beguine women lived as nuns but not within a monastic community. The Catholic Faith was banned in the 16th century, but the Beguinage was the only Catholic institution that survived, as the houses were privately owned by the Beguines. However, they had to give up the chapel. Later, a new church was built behind the facades of some of the houses, a so-called ‘schuilkerk’ (hide-and-seek church). ” (thank you Wikipedia).              Today women rent the houses and the outside gates are locked at night, but during the daytime anyone can wander through.

The brown wooden building is one of the two oldest wooden buildings in the city, built around 1465.
It was interesting to identify the types of gables on the buildings, Triangular Gable, Bell Gable, Neck Gable, Spout Gable and the Step Gable. Often depicting the period in which the building was constructed.
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You see wall plaques on many houses , before numbering was introduced, houses were identified by illustrated plaques.

As usual I had to take photos of signs.
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I knew there were a lot of bikes in Amsterdam, but I didn’t really know just how many, over 800,000. Almost every street has a bike lane and you take your life into you hands if you don’t stay off them and look both ways when crossing them.

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You might not be able to tell what this is but it is a parking deck for bikes, holding not nearly enough. Throughout the city there are tens of thousands parked on the street and we were told they pull about 12,000 a year out of the canals.
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Surprisingly I saw no bike accidents. But guess there are some!

There were lots of interesting things to see.

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assort3     There are eight windmills within the city limits, only one is open to the public. But in May they have a National Windmill Day. During this weekend you can visit hundreds of them all over the country, for most, it’s the only time they are open.
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The canal ride and dinner at night was enchanting.
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I’ve got more photos from Amsterdam I’ll share in the next post.

Next up – Luxembourg, Trier, Brussels, Bruges, and Antwerp.

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More custom Celebration Pottery pieces

One day (years ago) a customer asked me to put names on a platter for a wedding, that was just the start!

Since them I’ve done hundreds of churches with names and dates on tiles and platters…

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houses…

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baby sets…
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new bern scenes on things…pot2

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special pieces given to visiting dignitaries….

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back splash….
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and lots more!

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How a piece comes together

I’m often asked to do commemorative pieces to be given as gifts for retirements, birthdays, weddings, etc. The piece I’m showing here was for someone whose career lasted over 30 years and she was involved in many of the projects that have shaped the way our downtown looks today.

First we started with a list of the projects…

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…I took reference photos…


…I built this pot using slabs of clay…

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…bisque fired it to 1950 degrees…
…did rough sketches of the places that were to be included on the pot…


…figured out how they could work together on the piece…
…sketched them on the pot – btw the pencil lines burn out in the kiln…
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…using underglazes painted the image then outlined the image with black line…


…covered the entire pot with a clear glaze…
…fired it again, this time to 1911 degrees…
…and it’s done!
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A one of a kind, special gift.
If you have an idea for a special gift for someone let me know! In my next post I’ll show some other pieces I’ve done for people that aren’t quite so elaborate!

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Tammy Leigh a sculptor I admire

People are always asking me what inspires my work, a lot of the time it is seeing what other people do. Sometimes it’s just in awe of what they are doing and how they are doing it. It encourages me to go out on a limb and try something I’m not sure I can do, not copying their work, just pushing my own to another level.

I met such a person a couple months ago, Tammy Leigh.

The sculptures she does of birds are astounding!


Tammy is a potter from Hickory. After taking a pottery class at the Hickory Msueum of Art she quit her telecommunications job of 16 years and became a full time potter.

Knowing how fragile unfired clay is I don’t see how she can sculpt it without knocking pieces off as she works, then more importantly gets it into the kiln once dry.


One thing we have in common is our ability to promote our work. What good is it to do a lot of artwork and have it pile up in a corner? The joy for us is in the creating, once it is done it is exciting to see someone else that has to have it in their home.

 

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Garden Sculpture in the works part 2

So instead of just finishing the sculpture I decided to also do a bird bath, so got the bowl for the top built and now letting it dry. Actually its not unusual to have many pieces going at once, since I’m building for out doors the pieces have to be somewhat robust (thick) so take a long time to dry. Even when I think they are dry – room temperature to the touch, the piece is cool to the touch if there is still moisture – I put them in the kiln and heat it to about 150 degrees and shut it off. I’ll do this a couple times until I put my head in and my glasses don’t steam up!

For the totem I decided to make 2 tops for now, a simple round topper and a bird. Both are in the drying stage.

My glaze samples all turned out – very unusual! These are Potters Choice glazes.

My favorites are

I think earthtones are more appropriate for outdoor sculptures so am going looking for a few more greens/yellows/browns. Of course I could always just fire this clay to vitrification with no glaze or just a clear glaze.

The neat, well one of the neat things about Steve’s technique is that I can add or take away components depending on how tall I want it to be (or how much money the customer wants to spend!).

 

 

 

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Celebration Pottery My Christmas Pottery Designs for 2018

Last year I was talked into doing Christmas Pottery. I did some and was really surprised at how it was received, I sold a LOT of it!! So this year I’ve come up with four newish designs.

But the best part was how happy people were that I had done it!

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Santa and sleigh

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Christmas Trees

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Santa Face

xmas holly

Holly with Cardinal

A 9 1/2 ” plate   $32

Wavy Dish

Long Skinny Dish

Candy dish

Mug $26

Large Turkey Platter $94

thanksgivingI can do these pieces with names and dates on them for a small additional charge.

I won’t necessarily have every piece at Carolina Creations  at all times but you can say what you want and I’ll do it for you.

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Road Trip All Who Wander

One of my favorite sayings….. All who wander are not lost.

I’ve written about this before but I’ll do it again. I love to see what is around the next corner, I love studying a map, and there is always something else I want to see. So on my way home from Hart Square (see previous posts   Hart Square and Hart Square Part Two) I wandered into Lincolnton, NC.

Along the downtown streets I saw several of these pots. How cool is that!!?? It was from a  project called Pots on Parade celebrating the fold art tradition of pottery in North Carolina.

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I then ran across this Kerr Mill, in Sloan Park, an 1823 grist mill that houses a museum of Early Americana. Open 1 pm until 7 pm Saturday and Sunday. By appointment Monday, Thursday, and Friday.

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There is my turtle shell in the background!

There was a nice gentleman there taking photos too and he suggested I go see this church.

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And my last stop was in Spencer, I was too late to tour the NC Transportation Museum in Spencer, NC but still got to see the Depot.all20

North Carolina is a beautiful and diverse state, I’ve lived here since 1989 and wander every chance I get but there is still more to see!

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Hart Square 2018 Volume Two

Here is a video I shot about Hart Square and the Cotton Gin.

 

Inside the cotton gin.

This is how they baled the cotton.

Underneath the cotton gin.

Rug Hooking.

Cutting, carding, and spinning flax to make linen.

Leather working.

Steaming and bending wood.

There were 4 or 5 groups in different areas playing.

Grinding apples.

I LOVED watching this little girl clog and seeing the expressions on her face.

Grist mill.

This mud covered fire box for the still made a hotter fire so moonshine making more efficient and it created less smoke so they were less likely to be detected!

Chair caning.

Lady making lace.

Carving toys.

As I was getting ready to leave they took the top off the kiln.

What a great experience!  Here is a link to the website. 

There is a beautiful coffee table book you can purchase.