Monday, August 9, 2010

A Followup on the PMC (3)

To finish up, there were craft tents for Pedal Partners
...special guests...

and an impressive finish line (with my Dad their for the 6th straight year!), with people crossing the line for hours on end. Some finishing with an average of 8 mph and some finishing at 19.5 mph. All for the same cause...

And most turning in for the night to do it again on Sunday. Most of the riders were then riding from Bourne out to Provincetown, another 70 mile day. I was a one day rider this year, although I have ridden on Sunday in the past. It, too, is a special day.

Finally, a portrait of the beast that brought me...

Final stats:
6 miles to the start line
84 miles to the finish line
8.5 miles to my aunt's house (family party there and easier than dealing with the traffic!)
1.5 miles around the block a couple of times to make the odometer a nice round number.

100 miles in all. A very special Saturday.
So far I have raised $1550 this year. $1450 to go by October 1. If you can help...

But most importantly, I want to thank my family and friends for making this possible. You are amazing and generous and kind with your encouragement and generousity. With your help over the years, we have raised over $18,000. It couldn't go to a better place.

A Followup on the PMC (2)

One of my fascinations with this event is the personalization of this somewhat abstract cause. "Fighting cancer" is hard for me to grasp at times. How many different forms of cancer are there? How does a $25.oo or $50.00 or $250.oo donation contribute to this battle? What can we really do to make a difference?

And then I see all these shirts...

and people with ribbons and photos and signs and messages. And all of them, ALL of them are just doing what they can - banding together, eating together, riding together... its really difficult for me to describe what I feel when I'm in this event: watching survivors pedaling along (one rider with one leg blew by me at 21 mph!), being helped by twelve year olds at rest stops, overhearing conversations about sisters lost (one was lost just 4 months ago), being pulled aside by families for heartfelt thank yous (one such family spoke to me at the lunch stop and introduced me to their son, survivor of brain cancer for 7 years so far!). I feel so inadequate and powerful at the same time...

One more blog to finish it all up...

A Followup on the PMC (1)

I want to get out a proper thank you to all who supported me for this weekend's ride. I am working on this electronic version and will be writing some old fashioned notes tonight and the next couple of nights. It is my hope that this version of a thank you will help illustrate what the weekend was about.

I have always been a relatively silent participant in the PMC. My family thinks I am brave but in truth, at this event, I am surrounded by a vast blanket of people who epitomize strength and bravery and character. I am always reluctant to stand out - there are so many people who have been affected by cancer, so many people with unique stories and heartbreaking battles, everyone one of us needing/wanting to do something...

And so I have been quiet. I am one of thousands. My very presence and participation in this event has been enough for me. I can raise the minimum. I can pedal the distance. That was enough. But I wanted to do something more this year. I wanted to be more of a participant. Baby steps, I know, but I decided to take pictures this year and show them. I always try and describe the event in my post-ride letter, but I thought images might help the visual among us. So here it goes...
Saturday morning was beautiful! Woke up at 5:15. On the road by 5:40...

...looking a little groggy...

...but arrived at Babson to a party. Volunteers, riders, family members energetically preparing for the ride. Donated coffee, yogurt, bagels, fruit, PB&J being consumed at an incredible rate. Disco lights and music pumping. It was high energy and a great way to psych oneself up for the task at hand.

My family showed up, bless them, at 6:30 - Liam a bit cold, obviously. They are always so good to come out and cheer me on at the send-off. My sister Kathleen and her boyfriend Randy also came (they've come every year as well!), although I didn't have the camera out at the time and I needed to wade into the sea of riders... get my bike so it was a brief hello. A cheery send-off from Larry Luchino, himself a cancer survivor and then a magnificent rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner by an opera-trained rider. Send-off at Babson was at 7am.

An even larger group of riders had taken off from Sturbridge at 5am! All told, there were about 5000 bikers on the road this day!

I will continue this story with more photographs on the next post...

Friday, August 6, 2010


Community: I suppose nothing is bigger in this particular community on this weekend than the PMC. For those not in the know, this is the Pan Mass Challenge, a two day bike-athon of 180 miles or so. This is a monster fundraising event - thousands of bike riders, hundreds of volunteers, millions of dollars raised. This is my 6th year riding. The PMC raises and donates its money for the Jimmy Fund, the fundraising arm of the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. Amazingly, the PMC provides half of the Jimmy Funds annual total and is the single largest contributor to the DFCI.

I started this ride in memory of my mother. She died of breast cancer in 1999. She did get to see Trish and I get married, but she died before Liam was born. It was wonderful to have her at the wedding - we were married on August 1 and this was before she got really sick. It was an awful fall - she died in January. While she was never officially a grandmother, she did know that the next generation was on the way, as my nephew Ian (my brother's first born) was born just six months after she passed. She would have loved holding court with her grandkids...

Every year, I ride with ribbons. On each ribbon is the name of someone affected by cancer. My mom, my dad, my grandmother, both my blood uncles, my ceramic mentors... Some are survivors, some are battlers, and some have succumbed. My ribbon bouquet gets larger every year. This year, it is extremely sad that I have added Sally Naser to my list. Sally is a young, elfin, energetic girl who is in my son's class. She is only 10 years old and is battling an extremely aggressive form of bone cancer. She has been getting radiation and chemotherapy all summer long and is due for an operation next week to amputate one of her legs in hopes of keeping the disease from spreading. Whenever I ride my bike, I always bring my mom along. This year, I'm bringing Sally as well.

For those wishing to donate, you can click here.

Studio: It ain't about the studio this week.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Fondue and Olives

Community: Haven't been out in the community of clay as much in the past couple of weeks. I did NOT make it to Smith College to see Emily Eveleth, although I still hope to (I am heading back to VT tonight to finish up the treehouse so perhaps on my way home on Wednesday?). I have been trying to keep up with what's going in the digital information sharing world, however. On the weekend that I got reacquainted with a form I have been fond of (produced by D. Lasser ceramics in Vermont), Jim Gottuso posted on his blog, Sofia's Dad's Pots, a form that was kind of similiar, although more baroque and elegant and beautiful:

I wrote to him about the coincidence and promised to get him some images from the original source. Alas, I can not seem to negotiate D. Lasser's website to find the original form. Wanted to give proper notation (no modern-day high school plagiarist am I...)


Studio: Here are some photos, then, of my interpretation of said form:

These forms are the closest - smooth transition from top form to bottom form. D. Lasser is a little psychedelic with glaze treatments and so likes really pristine surfaces for glaze spatters...

I like texture, myself, so I started to experiment with creating a zone of texture - almost like a handle - with a smooth bowl area. These are closest to what I think of as my aesthetic. I think these might be good for olives...

The next ones are a direct result of looking at Jim's work. I would never usually go as detailed as he does, but it was fun to work on these. I think of them as fondue pots - the opening nice and deep, with rests on the side for the forks. If I keep working on this form, I'll probably tone them down a bit, but who knows...?

Monday, July 26, 2010

Football at Fenway and the TreeHouse

Community: I spent some time away from the studio this week. We decided as a family to build a treehouse up in Vermont and the only way to really make it happen was to take a couple of days off and spend some time up north by myself to get the platform built. I headed up Tuesday night, spent Wednesday morning at ReNew - a building salvage center - a paradise for junk hunters! The afternoon was spent laying out the materials and measuring the space. THEN, jumped in the car and drove back to Boston to see Celtic v. Sporting at Fenway...

So cool to see the bandbox outfitted with sidelines and goals! We were in the thick of Celtic supporters - drunk Irish and Scotsman singing at the top of their lungs while standing the whole time - very Euro...of course, Celia had a tough time seeing over everyone so she and I retired to the top of the section where we could walk around, get some air and cotton candy. Still, a wonderful time.
THEN, back to VT (arrived at 1:30am). Building of the platform began in earnest the next morning...
Here's the site:

Got the platform built on Thursday and the floor laid out (purple!!!!) on Friday...

Trish and the kids came up on Friday night and we worked on the "house" as a family on Saturday. Trish took photos: I'll post progress later this week...

Studio: Not much to report, obviously. Filled the bisque kiln with new mugs and am firing as I write. More mugs today?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Studio Pics and Emily Eveleth

Community: Betsy came over for dinner last night and brought with her brochures from her travels to see Emily Eveleth at Smith College. I have seen Emily's work before and am glad she has gone back to donuts. She dallied briefly with bald headed portraits, which were nice, but I felt like she hadn't fully mined the donuts for all they were worth. From Betsy's report, and from the images I saw, Emily has really pushed the work - recalling northern European painting, Ansel Adams landscapes, Weston photographs - the paintings are luscious explorations of intimate landscapes, family portraiture, pornography, CSI cadaver studies...

...and they are just jelly donuts! The image above comes from Emily's website - go there! It's beautiful! Her drawings are just as powerful as her paintings!

I will try and see the show while I am in Brattleboro this week.

Studio: As promised, some photos of the revamped studio:

The new divide between show space and work space...

The window-turned-wall...

The improved shelves for work...

Monday, July 19, 2010


Community: Harvard came to Nobles and we fired in the heat! Kusakabe-san was back in town and we ended up doing a 16 hour firing - very different than how Nora and I have been firing. I certainly learned a lot about the possibilities of how to fire this innovative and versatile kiln. In preparation for the heat, I dusted off my sewing skills and created some shades - the kiln now has wings!
Kusakabe-san's trademark angels were again blessing the firing. The Harvard folks have been having fun posting their photos on Facebook. We had such a good time during the entire process - Wayne does a great job of teaching and the rest of the crew kept it lively and fun. We ate so well during the entire day, taking advantage of our "pizza oven".

A new goal? To write about this kiln and its genesis and submit it to The Log Book?

Studio: In my own studio, I worked hard in June to improve my space. I created more of a divide between the show space and work space, adding more shelves and a work table. I'll post images of the revamp soon. I needed more space for all the work we've been firing lately...

Also, my essay was published in Studio Potter this month - very exciting to receive it in the mail! My headmaster happened to be in the mailroom when I opened the package (they send you four copies) so I gave him one - he seemed pleased! At the same time, Laurie Erdman featured me in her Wood Fired Wednesdays - seemed like a lot was going on in a short amount of time...

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Woodfire Wednesdays and Greece

Community: I have really been enjoying Laurie Erdman's blog - The Spirit of Clay. We met at the NCECA pre-Conference: Making Through Living - Living Through Making". I love her format of "Wood-Fire Wednesdays" (great work there today - John Butler). The format reminds me of radio formats when I was growing up - Double-Shot Thursdays or Two-For-Tuesdays on WBCN or WAAF or whatever rock and roll station I happened to be listening to - usually hoping for some Doors or Creedence or Dire Straits. Some other ceramic possibilities? Free-Form Fridays? Slip-Cast Sundays?

Studio: My aunt Connie is coming over today. She is the Teacher Specialist with The Examined Life: Greek Studies in the Schools. She and her crew will be filming me at the wheel in order to get some visuals for their website. While my own influences aren't specifically Greek, I am a strong believer in travel as a means of learning and growing and understanding. We travelled as a family to Greece a couple of years ago and loved it - wonderful food, spectacular scenery, plakas, islands, history...and we happened to be there for Euro '08 - a great place to take in a soccer tournament. Afterwards, we determined every town in America should have an outdoor movie theater on a rooftop...the best place to watch a James Bond film!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Community and Studio

Trying a new format for this blog: Community and Studio. I always seem to do better when I have a structure for my writing. I think this blog has been a little too freeform so I'll see how this framework works. The goal will be to write about work/artists/happenings in this part of the world and also give some updates of what I am working on in the studio.

Community: went to Warren Mather's talk at Lacoste Gallery yesterday. Warren's work speaks to the beauty of the ephemeral. He shoots images of water (lakes, streams, ocean) and presents them in ways that speak to the personal. Moonlight on river becomes a gorgeous calligraphic line. Raindrops on snow becomes a broadside of bulletholes. Seagrass in front of the sea becomes abstracted into a hairy hole. Snowman in a field becomes a brainscan searching for tumors. Warren uses fisheye lenses, symmetrical printing, and a glazed ceramic surface to create objects that entice the eye and invite deep observation. In addition, Warren is such a kind and nice man - it is such a pleasure to talk to him about his work.

Studio: I've continued working on gridding my pieces. I like that it allows me to explore pattern, symmetry, historic fabric like the harlequin, architecture like IM Pei, mathematical graphs, weather maps, etc. The work has progressed in a way that recalls what I wrote about Spanish architecture. I like trying to fit the contemporary with the classical, like an old city. Here's a couple images of some greenware:

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Kids Get to Glazin'

The kids had a chance last week to begin to glaze some of their work that they had worked on earlier. As you can see, Celia is still very much aware of the camera whenever it is in her vicinity and Liam continues to focus on the task at hand. So interesting how the two can be so different even though we have tried to raise them with the same loving hand.

Of course, we long ago realized how different they were and now handle each kid in their own way - the trick being to keep it as fair as possible - for we will be called out instantly by one or the other if their seems to be a sniff of imbalance.

Also, last week, I got the opportunity to chaperone Liam's class to the Kennedy Museum. It was a great trip - had no idea that Kennedy's ordeal with PT109 left him and his crew stranded on islands for 9 DAYS!). Was really taken by the gathering room designed by IM Pei. Took a couple of shots with the phone of the shadows that were created:

Thought they related to my Harlequin grids and decided to play with them a bit:

We'll see where they go...

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Harlequin Milk Jugs

Been playing with pattern lately - gridding out the bottles, texturing in very specific places. I like that the staid form of the milk jug is livened up by the harlequin design. Harlequin was one of the old world jesters and seems a fitting way of giving these vessels some personality.

Now the trick will be to figure out how to glaze these puppies - leaving some skin available for the wood firing, of course.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Meet The Potters

Meet The Potters in Brattleboro was a very fun event. Not quite sales worthy, at least for me, but it was worth it to go up and connect with all the local potters. It was held in the River Garden, a great place to show - right downtown, with skylights and plenty of room for all. We had two local acoustic bands play during the afternoon and coffee was always right there.

Here's my little setup:

I did get to trade a piece with one of my favorite Brattleboro artists: Natalie Blake. She was able to set up her stuff but had to leave to catch a plane. Her mom Mary sat the entire show. I traded one of the tokkuri's for one of her carved wall tiles - spectacular!

Also, it is always great to talk to Eric and Noelle of ZPots - so cool and hip and Vermonty...

One of my other favorite potters was there as well: Maya Zelkin. She woodfires some beautiful pots - clean lines, perfect proportions, sturdy yet loveable...

Monday, May 3, 2010

Open Studio Weekend

The weekend Open Studio is over and it is time to get back to the wheel. We had a nice flow of people throughout the weekend although Celia's First Communion took priority on Saturday. Here's a couple of shots of the new display areas:

Next up is Meet The Potters, in Brattleboro - this Saturday I will head up there with a carload of the work and see how Vermont reacts to the stuff...