June 2013 Archives

Here we are on the longest day of the year. Each night this week our dinner has gotten later and later. We have been drinking in the long evening light, staying outside as much as possible. I have been collecting the profusion of shades of green that will sooth my soul in the depth of winter when summer has been erased from my vision.

_MG_6267.jpg"First your life is erased, then you are erased. Don't tell me that erasure is beside the point, an artsy fragment of the healthy whole. If it is an appropriation, it is an appropriation of every life that has preceded your own, just as those in the future will appropriate yours; they will appropriate your very needs, your desires, your gestures, your questions, and your words.

Or so I believe. And I am glad. What is the alternative? A blank page.

I am all the book remembers of itself."

-Mary Ruefle "On Erasure"

Mary Ruefle creates "erasure poetry," in which she takes an existing text and redacts the majority by cutting/deleting/painting over/scribbling out, leaving behind a minimalist poem.

#20 summer solstice 2013

| No Comments
I have been photographing rivers and rocks, fields, trees. I have been on the interstate. I have not had a map, but I check my trusty phone for directions every once in a while. I feel like I am letting the river of a few days off take me deep into blues, yellows, clouds, the moon and patterns in fields.

_MG_6237.jpgRiver Map by Mary Ruefle

Being human, I stop

for a moment of rapport

with the external world.

Being on an interstate

there are no robins, fields

or streams nearby.

Being nonetheless

resourceful, I have a map.

I see that I am somewhere on the map.

The road is like a river,

soon it will meet another river.

Better get with it

I say to the map floating downstream,

its blues and yellows still distinct,

folded, not yet wet, an object

of beauty and curiosity

to the birds overhead and

the fishes below.

#19 summer solstice 2013

| No Comments
"Irreverence is a way of playing hooky and remaining present at the same time."
Mary Ruefle

_MG_6228.jpgI have been playing hooky from my own project.

#17 summer solstice 2013

| No Comments
Last weekend I was vary aware of smell. Friday with a small campfire in the kiln the woodsmoke was friendly, in the evening every time I walked to the house I got the most luscious  wafts of honey suckle. Before midnight the smoke smell shifted with the heat to be a real kiln smell and Saturday the acid quality of reduction atmosphere kicked in. Today we shoveled coals out of the fire box and there is another familiar sharp smell of hot coals. As I remember I make connections between smell and place and time shape and use.

_MG_6223.jpg"We are all one question, and the best answer seems to be love--a connection between things."
-- Mary Ruefle, "Someone Reading a Book is a Sign of Order in the World," Madness, Rack, and Honey: Collected Lectures

#16 summer solstice 2013

| No Comments
We closed up the kiln around 3pm this afternoon. The weekend was full of people moving wood, stoking, cooking, talking and eating. The days and nights were broken into three hour shifts and the shifts are marked by twenty minute cycles of stoking: letting the wood burn down, listening for the change in sound and then filling the firebox again. Fragments of conversation fill my mind as the experience of this firing gets added to the progression of firings. It was a sterling crew and beautiful weather. Firing in the summer was a great contrast to our usual fall timing because the long days make the nights seem short in comparison.

"We have only fragments -- but even this seems fitting, for what is the moment but a fragment of greater time?"
--  Mary Ruefle, Madness, Rack, and Honey

#15 summer solstice 2013

| No Comments
By some miracle I cannot figure out, it was given to me to hear these voices, and all these examples of a human life were speaking, and when I listened carefully I could hear that they were speaking about speaking, and when I listen carefully to them speaking about speaking I could hear they were singing about listening. And that has been a long journey for me, of listening.
I continue to write because I have not yet heard what I have been listening to.
-Mary Ruefle, Madness, Rack, and Honey

The same could be said for pottery
By some miracle I cannot figure out, it was given to me to see these shapes, and all these examples of a form were speaking, and when I listened carefully I could hear that they were speaking about speaking, and when I listen carefully to them speaking about speaking I could hear they were singing about listening. And that has been a long journey for me, of listening.
I continue to make pots because I have not yet seen what I have been listening to.
the kiln is 2000 degrees F

#14 summer solstice 2013

| No Comments
At 11:30 pm the kiln is 750 degrees. Our friends, family and helpers have rallied. We are enjoying the breezes, the moon, the air temp and, unusual for the 14th of June in Virginia, the fact that there was a moment when we were cold. I had so many things I was going to do today but I let my grocery list be incomplete, my to-do list go undone and instead paid attention to the sound of the wood burning.

2013-6072.jpg"Look how appropriately incomplete
I am"
Mary Ruefle

#13 summer solstice 2013

| No Comments
After the rain I walked down to the studio to check on the pre-heat burner for the kiln. we lit it at 5 and it should climb to 200 degrees Fahrenheit tonight and stay there until the morning to dry out what ever moisture is lurking.The red dirt floor is quiet and clean, the wind is blowing, the wood pile is stacked and this is the moment that I love.It is full of promise and potential. in this moment I remember other firings and look forward to this one. I remember two years ago preparing our fall firing  I had been noticing all the details of the work of the kiln and I forgot to look up at the foot long magnolia leaves in their sculptural dried forms until my helpers collected them in wonderful bouquets.
I tell my students to notice what they notice. Is it the weight of a piece or the feel of a handle or the way a rim meets your lip. Tonight I noticed the curve of the kiln, in front the rough wood pile along side the green of the trees. It was color against texture above form.

"They noticed, you see, that I was a noticing
kind of person, and so they left the dictionary
out in the rain and I noticed it,
I noticed it was open to the rain page,
much harm had come to it, it had aged to the age
of ninety-five paper years and I noticed rainbow
follows rain in the book, just as it does on
earth, and I noticed it was silly of me to
notice so much but I noticed there is no stationary
in heaven, I noticed an infant will grip your hand like
there is no tomorrow, while the very aged
will give you a weightless hand for the same reason,
I noticed in a loving frenzy that some are hemlocked
and others are not (believe me yours unspeakably obliged),
I noticed whoever I met in my search for entrance
into this world went too far (but that was their
destination) and I noticed the road followed roughly
the route of a zipper around a closed case,
I noticed the sea was human but no one believed me,
and that some birds have the wingspan of an inch
and some flowers the petal span of a foot yet the two
are very well suited to each other, I noticed that.
There are eight major emotional states but I forget
seven of them, I can hear the ambulance singing
but I don't think it will stop for me,
because I noticed the space between the waterfall and
the rock and I am safe there, resting in
the cradle of all there is, the way a sea horse
(when it is tired) will tie its tail to a seaweed
and rest, and there has not been, in my opinion,
enough astonishment over this fact, so now I will
withdraw my interest in the whole external world
while I am in the noticing mode, notice how I
talk to you just as if you were sitting on my lap
and not as if it were raining, not as if there were
a sheet of water between us or anything else."
"After Rain", Mary Ruefle

#12 summer solstice 2013

| No Comments

We finished stacking the kiln today and bricked up the door. It was getting late but the long warm June day made it easier to have find the patience to correct mistakes.Now is a day of pause before we light the flame. I had various helpers and friends stopped by as we chose the pieces and decided on orientation. The question is always how much is this guess work and how much is known quantity. I reply that we make educated guesses. We rely on our photos as a piece of our memory. What did we do last time around. What shape had what placement. We learn and vary from the last attempt. This process is a collaboration between our hands, the clay, the flame and eventually how they are used.


"The camera relieves us of the burden of memory. It surveys us like God, and it surveys for us. Yet no other god has been so cynical, for the camera records in order to forget."

--John Berger

#11 summer solstice 2013

| No Comments

#10 summer solstice 2013

| No Comments

Last night I dreamed about stacking the kiln. In my dreams I knew what pots I wanted where and in which orientation. Sometimes stacking the kiln is like an open book, and other times it feels like all the pots are wearing disguises. It poured rain and I was thankful we have a roof that covers us from studio to kiln. The humidity was like an animal under the table, furry and panting.


What we want
is never simple.
We move among the things
we thought we wanted:
a face, a room, an open book
and these things bear our names --
now they want us.
But what we want appears
in dreams, wearing disguises.
We fall past,
holding out our arms
and in the morning
our arms ache.
We don't remember the dream,
but the dream remembers us.
It is there all day
as an animal is there
under the table,
as the stars are there.

Linda Pastan, Carnival Evening: New and Selected Poems, 1968-1998

#9 summer solstice 2013

| No Comments
"Take me to your trees. Take me to your breakfasts, your sunsets, your bad dreams, your shoes, your nouns. Take me to your fingers." Margaret Atwood, Good Bones

2013-6045.jpgTake me to your garlic and I'll show you my new garlic jars.

#8 summer solstice

| No Comments
When I am in the middle of making work for the kiln I have multiple lists in my mind and a couple of lists on paper of shapes and scale and commissions but to tell the truth it is a confusion. As I get to the dead line I begin to let go if things and I grieve for the unmade. They are like icebergs floating below the surface of my imagination. When Warren and I begin to stack the kiln that is when the story really unfolds.
We were glad for some sun today to dry the last wet things.
We begin stacking on Monday.


 When you are in the middle of a story it isn't a story at all, but only a confusion; a dark roaring, a blindness, a wreckage of shattered glass and splintered wood; like a house in a whirlwind, or else a boat crushed by the icebergs or swept over the rapids, and all aboard powerless to stop it. It's only afterwards that it becomes anything like a story at all. When you're telling it, to yourself or to someone else.
-Margaret Atwood, Alias Grace

#7 summer solstice 2013

| No Comments
As I copied this years inauguration poem "One today" by Richard Blanco for a set of plates I focused on each idea,  then each word and finally each letter.  I committed phrases to memory and as I did I saw my mothers hand in the way I write a "g" I saw my daughters love of poems and typography.  The genetics of poems and making things was collaged in my heart.

"Everything is biographical; What we make, why it is made, how we draw a dog, who it is we are drawn to, why we cannot forget. Everything is collage, even genetics. There is the hidden presence of others in us, even those we have known briefly. We contain them for the rest of our lives, at every border we cross."
  Michael Ondaatje from "Devisadero"

#6 summer solstice 2013

| No Comments
In my sleepy, predawn interior space I could hear birds and horses in the field up the hill. I slid back to sleep and landed half awake in the morning light. My mind was full of to-do lists for the last days before we stack the wood kiln. This has been a time of asking, how do I make each step easier, how do I break my ideas down to simple tasks so that they do not become the green algae of a summer pond. My garden is full of weeds and the shelves are full of pots.

Summer Interior

by Anne Carson

Summer smeared the day, you slid
landing in a strange country.

So the contemplative soul--so those "dawn horses"
half-awake in the original green algae

spoke to themselves low, near
and tenderly.


I behold the daybreak, I foreshow
that the sun is about to rise.
          (Augustine, Confessions)

#5 summer solstice 2013

| No Comments
From the poetic moment of leather hard leaves of clay to the now bone dry Pillow Vases waiting to be transformed in to the strong long lasting  fired state like its  moon vase cousin. The pots wait in the shade.

2013-5885.jpg"Here the frailest leaves of me, and yet my strongest-lasting:

Here I shade and hide my thoughts--I myself do not expose them,

And yet they expose me more than all my other poems."
Walt Whitman, from "Here the Frailest Leaves of Me," in Leaves of Grass (originally self published, 1855)

#4 summer solstice 2013

| No Comments
2013-5890.jpg"So plant your own gardens and decorate your own soul, instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers."
Jorge Luis Borges

#3 summer solstice 2013

| No Comments

i have found what you are like
the rain,

        (Who feathers frightened fields
with the superior dust-of-sleep. wields

easily the pale club of the wind
and swirled justly souls of flower strike

the air in utterable coolness

deeds of green thrilling light
                              with thinned

new fragile yellows

 lurch and.press -in the woods which stutter and sing And the coolness of your smile is stirringofbirds between my arms;but i should rather than anything have(almost when hugeness will shut quietly)almost, your kiss

e.e cummings, i have found what you are like
Enhanced by Zemanta

#2 summer solstice 2013

| No Comments
Big jars in honor of the big thunderstorms that rolled through last night which knocked down lots of old trees and our power. I am glad to be up and running again flicking light switches, flushing toilets, spinning my wheel and using my high tech gizmos.

 "Seeing into darkness is clarity. / Knowing how to yield is strength. / Use your own light / and return to the source of light. / This is called practicing eternity..." Tao Te Ching

#1 summer solstice 2013

| No Comments
Here is the first of a series of images my aim is to post 21 images in 21 days.