Friday, August 21, 2009

Behind the scenes with Master Hroar the Potter

Earlier this week, we received an email from Master Hroar and I thought others might be interested in this peek behind the curtain.

Master Hroar is the potter behind Two Hearts Entwined Pottery, and has worked with clay as an independent potter for the past 30 years.

Now then, from Master Hroar:
I know you guys have seen the soup bowls glazed in shino before, but this time I used Dixon Clay from Arrdvarks. The results a pretty awesome, I feel. And the clay is damn interesting to throw with! 8-)

This one is in the Dixon clay, which is considered a sculptural clay. VERY course with tons of heavy grog. Which means I LOVE throwing with it! 8-) Besides the heavy grog, it also has lots of RIO in it. This influences the glaze color considerably.

The glaze inside is a brown I make, the covered inside and out with Coyotes Shino. It was dipped with the handle side down, and up to slightly beyond the middle. Allowed to dry, then the procedure was the same on the other side. So, in the middle, we have a double layer of shino, single layers on the ends.

the same as above is true for this soup bowl.

I wanted to show the coarse nature of Dixon Clay on a fired piece. Also, a rubber kidney was drawn across it to help somewhat smooth it. Still, the grog does show.

On these oil lamps, I used a blue glaze I make, and poised it off the Coyote Purple Blue glaze. I feel very satisfied with this glaze. It is very subtle, and seems to work at its best advantage on a white clay body. Any darker and the subtlety is lost. Here, the gold blush comes through nicely, as does the purple and the blue. Also, this is a single dip. Any more and there is the danger of it running. I know; I have had to grind a few pieces from that.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Computer Problems

Bjo's laptop hard drive died so she's going to be offine for a while. She fully intends to blog more regularly in the future!

In the meantime, why not check out the upcoming Fiber Frolic or perhaps the hundreds of photos we have of past Griffin Dyeworks Events?

Monday, June 22, 2009

Whew! Well, I thought I would get back to blogging in a big way, but several things happened to prevent that:

I had a series of fibromyalgia flares that were more painful than usual and interfered with getting a good night's rest. This left me very tired and depressed.

Potrero War, a large Society for Creative Anachronism event, where I taught a natural dye class and a period pigment class using natural earth colors. Though the classes were announced for adults, children showed up for them, too. That's fine so long as said children are mannerly and really interested in the craft. My youngest dye students were 13 years old and they showed a swift aptitude for color. My youngest pigment student was 5 years old and she did a very good job. But the event was long and tiring.

Griffin Dyeworks Fiber Retreat was the next weekend after Potrero War. I was not rested up enough to go into an intensive weekend of crafts teaching and learning. The Retreat was wonderful with classes being taught everywhere in the Verdugo Oaks Scout Camp, and participants learning as fast as they could. The Sunday display of projects was just amazing and inspiring. But I was left exhausted.

During this weekend we learned that three people were in the hospital; one with a burst appendix (she is recovering), one with a serious diabetes reaction (he is recovering) and one who died from a blood clot. Sigvaldr will be sorely missed.

The next weekend was another SCA event: Coronation and Queen's Champion, which we attended because friends were stepping up as King and Queen. This extra activity pushed me well beyond my limits and I dragged myself around for two weeks trying to recover. This was entirely stupid of me, and I need to stop treating myself like this!

So getting my act together to post really interesting blogs with nifty photos has been delayed. Be patient. I will get things sorted out soon, promise.

We leave on July 3 for a trip to Billings, Montana, to visit John's sister. This is our annual vacation away from all our activities. I'm taking my Mac laptop to catch up on blogging as well as edit my Dye Basics book to post on the Griffin Dyeworks website.

While on the Billings trip, we will visit friends along the way and I will teach a 2-day dye workshop (yeah, I know....) -- Bjo

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Busy, busy month of May

May has been a VERY busy month.

I am working on a mud-dye and rust-dye tutorial for our upcoming Griffin Dyeworks Fiber Retreat and sewing on several projects.

We saw the Star Trek film at Paramount Studios thanks to Gene Roddenberry's son, Rod. We saw it again the next week with friends in the Valley. We like it. Of course there are nits to pick: I don't like Vulcan female garb - on a planet with a standard 140 degrees F temperature, it would be illogical to wear anything close-fitting or heavy. Any starship THAT close to a black hole would be toast. Stuff like that. But in general, it is a good nod to the original Trek while allowing them to go in a new direction. That is a Good Thing, really. The old Trek was too tired to be revived with any success. Love the young actors who played Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Scotty and Uhura. Doohan would have liked this Scotty, I think.

The whole family participated in Minnie's Midnight Madness, an unusual team-builder held every year at Disneyland. This is held after the park is closed to the public. We get into costume and give out clues to teams of Disney cast members (employees). The teams have paid to compete for some really nifty prizes. Outsiders are used for the clue-giving to lessen the chances of cheating. And some of them do cheat. We've been clue-givers for the past 5 years and enjoy it thoroughly.

This year we were a Robin Hood clue corner so we could wear our medieval garb. I handed out the stickers for the clue-gatherers envelopes that they have to hand in. John played King Richard, wearing Lora's viscountess coronet. Lora and Kathryn were over in the 70s Disco Gong Show clue, which was so popular that people came back after they'd handed in their questionaires just to dance!

I made Lora widely flared bell-bottomed purple slacks for the game, and repaired a vintage lettuce green polyester leisure suit by adding rust-red fake suede cuffs and pockets for the game show host. Very funny.

We had several one-day and weekend SCA events to attend as well. In our capacity as Baron and Baroness of the Angels (greater LA area) we are expected to appear at these events. So it is lucky that we enjoy doing it. However, it does take up a good deal of our weekends if we let it.

Now we are getting ready for Potrero War (a large 4-day SCA event) where I will teach a dye class and a period pigments class where we make our own egg tempera. I thoroughly enjoy teaching crafts.

It is also important to bring Griffin Dyeworks & Fiber Arts to everyone's attention so we can build up the business. When I teach dye workshops, I always have flyers to hand out. We've only recently introduced the pigments and a really nice period pigment kit for people who would like to try the art of illumination without spending a small fortune. Go visit our website and see!

After that, over the May 29-31 weekend, we will have our ever-wonderful Griffin Dyeworks Fiber Retreat in the Tehachapi Mountains above Castaic, and that's the end of May! Whew!

As soon as I get a few minutes to sort myself out, I'll post some photos, too.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Back again after a short pause...

Only two years later, I am re-blogging (is that a word?) with so much more to tell anyone who has found this blog or who may soon find it. I will be showing a lot of my dye workshop photos here as well as dye recipes for those who would like to learn about natural dyeing. Watch this space!

Meanwhile, though we are still in Monrovia, our Griffin Dyeworks business address has changed to: 174 W. Foothill Blvd #343, Monrovia, CA 91016. This is _not_ a store front (don't we wish!) but simply a mail-drop to ship our online and mail orders from. If you show up at this address looking for us, you will meet some very friendly people who won't tell you where we live. Sorry!

The reason for having a mail-drop is because it's cheaper to get UPS deliveries at an official box than home delivery. I have no idea why this is.

The reason we don't have a store-front is lack of money. Nobody has shown up with scads of money to back our business venture, either. So we still have our Corporate Headquarters in one-third of the family garage.

One of my major dreams is to have a crafts center, not just a store, that could house a small crafts store, a supplies store, a large crafts work space, and perhaps even a tiny tea room so we can get snacks on site. This would not have to be in the center of town. It could be in a safely-lit light industrial area, or in a large old house in a commercial area, or other such building. One such fiber crafts center was in a defrocked church. It was really neat.

I have found a great building in Monrovia that was once one of Charlie Chaplin's many small movie studios. But there is no way we could afford the entirely reasonable lease for it unless we could round up a goodly collection of other artisans who wanted to rent a space. I don' have the business head for this kind of thing. Vision, yes. Business, no.

So it's not likely to ever happen for me unless I win the lottery or one of you Out There wants to set me up in my dream.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Disneyland, Christmas, 2006 recap

DISNEY DAZE: We’ve been going to Disneyland on Christmas Eve day with friends for several years now. It’s a loosely organized day starting when the park opens, going until fireworks. We don’t meet at someone’s house and leave in a group because that’s like herding cats and nobody gets anywhere on time. We go to the park individually and call each other once there. Naturally everyone must wear a silly hat so Kat and I wore our light-up Xmas trees, which is about as silly as you can get. We had a grand time at the Golden Horseshoe Saloon where a hillbilly Elvis impersonator flirted outrageously with Cate. Though John is rather ‘Disney’d out’, he enjoys people-watching plus the Peter Pan and Buzz Lightyear rides. He got a kick out of Fred, the humorous clean-up man, who informed a group of us that the bench we were sitting on was not a ride so there was no use waiting for it to take off. Fred also pointed out that it was already Christmas, since we were in Tomorrowland, and with a cheerful wave, he went off to sweep up more trash.

Our eldest daughter, Kathryn, not only loves every square inch of D’land, but has become an ardent pin-trader, as have Lora and me. Kat has no interest in value, she just loves the pretty pins that have some meaning for her; a memory, favorite movie, etc. Some pin-traders are very rude to cast members (employees), but Kat asks nicely and thanks them for trading with her so they usually give her tips for things to look for and let her trade from both the adult’s and the children’s lanyards. Lora looks for Stitch pins where all 6 legs show but made a concession for the 4-legged Elvis Stitch. She also likes Nightmare Before Christmas pins, especially the Jack Skellington. I collect whatever takes my fancy, such as the Norman Rockwell parody with Mickey painting his self-portrait: Walt Disney. I got an Edna Mode from The Incredibles in memory of my mom, who worked in Edith Head’s wardrobe department at Warner Bros, and would have appreciated the send-up of her personality.

Now if the park would only set up a Living History section in Frontierland where pioneers in period garb could gather with spinning wheels, dyepots, and table looms to show visitors how it was done ‘Way Back When. Seems to me that if the reprieved White House Thanksgiving turkey has a place at D’land, you’d think they could find room for a few fiber artists. Even if done only on weekends and holidays, it would be a valuable educational attraction.

Looking back: 2006 had its ups and downs, but at least we have moved forward a bit. Christmas was loads of fun. We don’t really observe it religiously, but we like the decorations, music, gifting, getting together with friends and relatives, plus a few orphans of the storm who for whatever reason don’t have anyplace else to be. Lora got more penguins for her collection, plus a Swiss rifle to shoot skeets with Jason. John got a beautiful hand decorated griffin box from me (made by Judith Kingsbury ska Miriam bas Levi); I’m trading SCA garb for it. Kat got several of her favorite gifts: Target cards. I got money toward my Mayan Highland trip (yay!) and the dogs got new wubbies to tear apart.

This year we had 20 people sitting down to a haphazard table arrangement of good food, great conversation, and family games after dinner, with a few more showing up for dessert. The family tends to ignore the dictum to invite only same-age people of like-interest, so there is never a lag in conversation. Everyone brought a “Gee, Aunt Edna, you shouldn’t have” gift to fob off onto someone else, which was great fun. One person’s Aunt Edna is another’s beautiful gift. New Year’s Eve will be a games night; a good way to end the year. We raise our hopeful eyes to 2007 with the sincere wish that all of you get everything you ever wanted.

THANKS: We continue to owe heartfelt gratitude to many people who helped our little business grow. Our son-in-law, Jason, quietly does nifty things like feed a pack of people without notice, keep pitchers of iced tea and fruit punch on the table when we need it while packing for events or making up kits. Daughter Lora takes time away from her own business at The Big Tease Hair Salon to help at workshops and in booths. Daughter Kathryn helps refill rinse buckets and run errands at dye demos and workshops. Kathy Santineau and Todd Etzel have been wonderful helpers in our merchant booth as have Katherine Zon and many others. Roberta Brubaker cheerfully shows anyone who stopped in our booth how to spin on her 150 year old Great Wheel. The Blue Nails Dyers Guild and the Dyen to Ply Group pitched in wherever they could and we are very grateful to them. Overall, we’ve got a huge amount of things to be very thankful for, and all the wonderful people who have helped are at the top of that list!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Dyeing with friends & teaching

BLUE NAILS DYERS GUILD: Another Yahoo list I’m on is the Blue Nails Dyers Guild, a loosely organized group of fiber enthusiasts, particularly dyers, but it is open to all who love fibery things. We welcome all like-minded souls who enjoy dyes of all kinds: natural, laboratory-made, earth oxides, even powdered drink mixes. Those of us who live near each other in Southern California gather for occasional hands-on dyeing and experiments with all dyes and dye processes.. Online, we talk about dyes and dyeing, exchange research, give out information, answer questions that newbies come up with, and enjoy each other’s company. “Blue nails” was a medieval derogatory term describing the color of indigo and woad dyers’ hands so it’s time the term got some respect. The nails shown here are medieval finishing nails; heraldic puns were common practice back then. Though many of us are members of The Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA), the Blue Nails Dyers Guild is not strictly limited to this group, but open to all. Join us for discussions, announcements, workshops, and dye demos!

TEACHING CRAFTS CLASSES: For an all-too-brief time this fall, I taught 24 to 32 developmentally disabled adults in the Villa Esperanza Services Adult Day Program. The ADP is held at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Pasadena, California. My students’ disabilities included dementia, cerebral palsy, severe rheumatoid arthritis, Down’s syndrome, other types of retardation, hearing and sight impairment, Alzheimer’s onset, and a variety of other problems. Some of them had several disabilities, which made teaching even more challenging. It was daunting but exciting to redact crafts and sewing projects to a level that many of the participants could handle. For some students who had no eye-hand coordination or whose physical problems would not allow them to use the floor pedal, I put it up on the table to press on by hand. That got very exciting because the person holding the fabric through the sewing machine had to say “Stop!” early enough to avoid a well-sewn thumb. We turned out some fun items, including elegant pillows with woven trim centers that delighted my students. They had never had such beautiful crafts materials to work with.

But there came a sad day just recently when I really could not deal with some of the administrative personnel without appearing on the evening news. So I am no longer collecting crafts and sewing donations for ADP. My wonderful former students don’t even understand why I left, so it would hurt them to see me arrive with donation boxes but not stay to teach. Locals are welcome to drop by the church or bring donations to the Villa Esperanza office, corner of Craig and Villa, Pasadena. Alternatively, collect crafts and sewing donations for your local retirement homes, which are always in need of something to do. Or bring donations to your Youth and Children’s Activities people. All these agencies are on severe budgets, so can use just about anything you can donate.