This post is for my daughter-in-law Jen.

I knew Jen had been following my blog when she asked "how did the firing go?"  I felt so flattered that I want to share those small meditation pieces after the first firing and in the kiln ready for their second firing...

Meditation pieces nesting in a Costco peach box and ready for their 2nd firing

Meditation pieces nesting in a Costco peach box and ready for their 2nd firing

Detail....

Detail....

Two shelves, each with 3 small pieces, ready to fire.... This is my test kiln and comes in handy for these small pieces, especially since they are often fired 3-4 times to get the layering that adds depth to the glaze and the terra sigillata and oxide outside surface. My other kiln is one of those huge oval electric kilns that I use for large loads and large pieces.  Tomorrow, I will show some of the completed pieces, just for you Jen!

Two shelves, each with 3 small pieces, ready to fire.... This is my test kiln and comes in handy for these small pieces, especially since they are often fired 3-4 times to get the layering that adds depth to the glaze and the terra sigillata and oxide outside surface. My other kiln is one of those huge oval electric kilns that I use for large loads and large pieces.  Tomorrow, I will show some of the completed pieces, just for you Jen!

On the subject of the inspiring nature of the Southern Magnolia...

A commission for the MUSC medical facility in Mt. Pleasant, SC.  2013.  One of 5 niches on a long hallway.  The work I created for each niche reflected nature, the seasons, renewal, and hope.

This is one of two of the niches with work inspired by the Southern Magnolia.  This one represents spring and summer.  The other was representative of fall and winter.  The niches were approximately 5 x 6 feet.  All elements were created with white earthenware and colored with oxides and colored terra sigillata.  

This is one of two of the niches with work inspired by the Southern Magnolia.  This one represents spring and summer.  The other was representative of fall and winter.  The niches were approximately 5 x 6 feet.  All elements were created with white earthenware and colored with oxides and colored terra sigillata.  

Progress in my studio...

The new series of 7 half-pods are finished in clay and drying.

They are ready for colored terra sigillata but first I am testing some of the colored sigs out to see the results and make adjustments if necessary.

They are ready for colored terra sigillata but first I am testing some of the colored sigs out to see the results and make adjustments if necessary.

Small pinched meditation pieces serve as my test tiles.

Small pinched meditation pieces serve as my test tiles.

This group of pinched meditation pieces is firing to cone 05 in my test kiln at this very moment.  I should see the results tomorrow!  Of course, I can hardly wait.  One more firing and I will know better what I want to do about adding colored terra sigillata to the group of 7 half-pods... fingers crossed...

This group of pinched meditation pieces is firing to cone 05 in my test kiln at this very moment.  I should see the results tomorrow!  Of course, I can hardly wait.  One more firing and I will know better what I want to do about adding colored terra sigillata to the group of 7 half-pods... fingers crossed...

"Thinking with your Hands" - drawing workshop at the GCMA

The GCMA and I are finalizing details for a 1 day drawing workshop on Saturday, November 15, 2014 to accompany my show that opens the same day at the Greenville County Museum of Art. 

The workshop is called "Thinking with your Hands".  It is a process oriented drawing workshop designed to help people learn to experience and enjoy drawing as a great way of working out ideas for their work, regardless off medium... 

Contact the museum for further details. http://gcma.org/contact/

Number 15 on the left...

On the left is the 15th and final Pod to complete a 15 Pod Triangle for the exhibition at the Greenville County Museum of Art on November 16th 2014 - mid-January 2015.  A talk will follow at 2:00 on Sunday the 15th and there will be a one day workshop called "Thinking with your Hands" all day that Saturday the 15th.  Details on the workshop will be posted soon.

This Pod references our glorious Southern Magnolia Tree in this Triangle and is a must for inclusion in the 15 Pod Triangle.  Begin with the stunning beauty of the Southern Magnolia just as a tree with its large evergreen polished leaves.  Add to that the multitude of fascinating forms that make up the magnolia, from bud to bloom, to petals, followed by the fuzzy pink and green pod to the protrusion of crimson seeds and on to the handsome crusty black and grey highly textured pod left behind for the winter.  Let us not forget that heavy fragrance that permeates the air on neighborhood walks in the heat of the summer...especially at night!

Alice Ballard's studio.... The next blog entry will include images of the Southern Magnolia.  When you see them, you will understand my love and fascination with this special tree.

Alice Ballard's studio.... The next blog entry will include images of the Southern Magnolia.  When you see them, you will understand my love and fascination with this special tree.

"It's not a way of making a living, it's a way of making a life." Paulus Berensohn

"To Spring From the Hand" is a new film on DVD about the life and work of Paulus Berensohn.  I just viewed the trailer. The little bit I saw brought tears to my eyes... Paulus has always felt like a kindred spirit ever since my friend Jo Jeffers introduced me to his book "Finding One's Way In Clay" in the late 60's after I had finished my masters in painting at the University of Michigan. This book, in the words of Paulus, "bit me in the ass!".  It was so fresh and so full of meaning, process, and poetry that "Finding One's Way in Clay" became my "guiding star" led me right down the path to "clay".  It also became my "bible" for teaching.  Paulus was my mentor some 20 plus years before I met him. While living in Anchorage, Alaska, I decided to attend a concentration in clay at Penland.  Paulus talked to my group about his time in Australia with the Aborigines. I was so awestruck and shy, I said very little but just observed and listened... It was many years later before I got to know him a bit while having lunch with our mutual friend Kitty Couch.  Finally, when Jenny Mendes and I taught "Cross Pollination" at Penland, Paulus joined us. It seemed like we got to know one another as if by osmosis because the 3 of us shared a corner of downstairs clay for 2 glorious weeks. The whole room abounded with Paulus energy that lit the studio up with a quiet and soft glow....How very fortunate we all were to share that experience... I will always have a vision of Paulus greeting the sun each morning with head and hands raised.

Thank you Paulus for all that you have given us.....

I just ordered my copy of "Spring From the Hand" and can hardly wait for it to arrive.  I cannot recommend it highly enough so check it out!  wwwspringfromthehand.

Paulus, the teacher and mentor...

Paulus, the teacher and mentor...

 Downstairs clay during "Cross Pollination", the workshop Jenny Mendes and I taught at Penland in 2004. Can you see that glow?

 Downstairs clay during "Cross Pollination", the workshop Jenny Mendes and I taught at Penland in 2004.

Can you see that glow?

Every pinch pot is not only imprinted with the maker's finger and hand prints but the piece holds the energy and the essence of the maker.

Every pinch pot is not only imprinted with the maker's finger and hand prints but the piece holds the energy and the essence of the maker.

The pride and joy of my garden this summer!

The original black eyed Susans were a gift from my friend Ginny Tate, a friend, colleague and fellow gardener.  Now they are all over my yard but this is the best year ever!  The gold finches are going to absolutely be thrilled this fall as their seeds are one of the gold finch favorites.

Wanda, our mail person loves them!  Our mailbox is just to the right.

Wanda, our mail person loves them!  Our mailbox is just to the right.

All the conditions must have been perfect because they are in their full glory this summer!

All the conditions must have been perfect because they are in their full glory this summer!