Melissa Rohrer

Friday, February 14, 2020

ten minutes of sunshine

We had about 10 minutes of sun this afternoon so the pottery came out for a photo session.  These are a few mugs from the last firing.
 These mugs will be going to River City Farmer's Market tomorrow.
Also making the narrow window of natural light were a few birds and a moon.  Actually, the first couple of pictures below are earlier in the process on one of our all-rain days. Most of the time I do not stop to take pictures of the process because, for one, my hands are a mess so I don't want to touch my phone/camera.  Bigger reason is I just get engrossed in what I'm making.
 Its a bird.  I approach bird making three different ways:  1) Form by making two pinch pots which are put together for the body.  2) For smaller birds I may form a solid shape then hollow it out with trimming tools -or any tool I can find that works!  3) Make it on the wheel then alter the heck out of it.  This is what you see here, only I left out a lot of steps. Above is how the bird looks after being formed on the wheel. Below is the start of altering the shape.
 Take away some clay, add some clay, slip the seams, make a really big mess, repeat.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Welcome to Narnia, the levy, and the hernia

Things are running behind in the pottery area and I'm just going with it.  It started with the levy. No, it started when the Local Artists Show was cancelled. No, it started because we are trying to fix up the house for the eventuality of downsizing.

Ivin has been doing most of this downsizing work by himself. Then a levy to build a new school, concentrating all the grades in one area- basically across the street from us with the possibility of taking part of our front yard as a turning lane, was going on the ballot. So when the LAS show was cancelled, rather than applying for another, I became motivated to dive into the fixer upper business.

My first move was to fix up a guest bedroom- the former drum, um, studio/mancave which used to be our son's bedroom. In the meantime we've had a queen size bed, aka shin knocker, in the smallest bedroom which is smaller than a lot of people's bathrooms.  So logically, the bed should be moved to the larger former drum studio/mancave/empty nest bedroom.  Also logically, I thought I should clean some stuff out of that room first.  Welcome to Narnia, the black hole, or diagraming sentences in Mrs. Middendorf's 10nth grade English class.  Was it Middendorf or Middledorf?

The experience brought back a memory of the interminably long sentence Mrs. Middendorf (?) assigned me to decode on the black board.  Not that I remember the sentence, but I remember that the compound something or other stretched the entire 3 blackboards while I worked with the class looking on behind me.  I'm pretty sure they were in awe or maybe just glad it was me, not them. This was like that, without the awe.  The books, the vintage clothing, but especially the frames- I had some frames stored in one of the closets.  While pondering what to do with them I decided to look at some artwork sitting in my own closet which I had put off framing. So now I had a new crusade: get this stuff framed. This meant some frames needed painted, then a trip to the craft supply store for backing board, then there was artwork that I couldn't match up with a frame, so might as well go out and buy new ones.  Yes.  That was a couple of trips.  Then there was a painting I did in college.  I made the frame for that.  You could tell.  I'm not going to go into this one except to say it involved grinding glass- me grinding glass.
This is Michelle with a new, improved frame. Oil pastel and oil paint on paper. She was one of several people at school who sat for me. I can find several things about it that I wish I had done differently, but still like it- obviously since I've kept it all these years.
  I haven't actually hung any of the newly framed/re-framed art, and there is still some WWI and WWII music I thought would be cool to frame (belonged to mother and grandmother), but was sidetracked by The Hernia.

The Hernia and I have been co-existing for several years.  It was annoying, but manageable, then eventually became more annoying and less manageable- to the point where I scheduled an appointment to talk about surgery.  Tip:  I found out you can move up an appointment by several weeks when you find yourself in the emergency room!  I managed to avoid emergency surgery, but got that hernia situation taken care of in outpatient surgery about a week later.  Glad that's done, but it very much slowed me down.

In the meantime, the school levy to consolidate all the grades in our front yard did not pass, so I'm slacking in the house fixer upper area, and working more on getting pre-hernia surgery work glazed and fired.  I always seem to be running behind this time of year, but this time I have to accept that I am running behind and not catching up.

This chickadee cairn is flying away to Texas.  It is almost certain that I will not have time to make anymore cairns before Christmas.  I have a couple of crows made, and some rocks, but they are greenware at this point.  Though I enjoy making these, the whole forming, drying, bisque firing, glazing, glaze firing, putting togethering, is quite time intensive.  

Thank you to Tom Fagan for opening the market building so I could get little birdie on its way to Texas in good time for Christmas!
Cairn parts lying in waiting.

 While loading the kiln I found two mugs on the shelf near the kiln I forgot were there.  I like the contrast of white slip on the dark clay and added a little pattern with colored slip (the blue on right mug is very faint).  I was experimenting with shapes and have some roundish mugs in this style in a glaze firing right now.  The pictures I want to apply to those mugs will require yet another firing which isn't looking so likely to happen before Christmas, unfortunately.  

Firing done, just unloaded the kiln this morning.  For the gardener there are a couple of toad houses.  One on left comes with a mouse and has shiplap!  One on right has a thatched roof and a bit of floral stenciling on the side.
The owl ornaments will have branch perches (real wood) and will be wired to hang.  I have a few things at Riverside Artists Gallery as a guest artist and may bring one of the toad houses, and perhaps one or two other items to the gallery before the weekend.  They are holding an open house on Saturday, the 14nth.
The rest will go to River City Farmer's Market.
Another gardener gift possibility, these flower children will come with metal rods to push in the ground.  Definitely for the gardener who is looking forward to summer!

 Pictures from a recent hike on the trails back behind the community college near our house. We are lucky to live near several trails.  

Wishing everyone a safe and happy holiday!

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Poetry in Art 2019

Poetry in Art is an exhibit which pairs the writing of regional poets with artists.  Artwork is created for the exhibit based on the poems.
Usually I hesitate to show pictures of a piece before it becomes part of a show because I am afraid it takes away from the viewer's anticipation (for those who plan on seeing the exhibit in person).  This is particularly true of the exhibit "Poetry in Art 2019", as part of the appeal of this exhibit is the revelation of what the artist took from a poem to create his or her artwork.  It is different for each artist.  One may focus on a visual cue while another attempts to capture something less concrete- thoughts, feelings, mood.  Sometimes a poem serves as a springboard, directing the artist to a place seemingly unrelated to the writing.  Working on a project for this event is somewhat challenging, as I am never sure I am doing the poem justice.
I decided to show parts of the piece I created and attempt to explain the elements of the poem that influenced/ inspired me.
The poet who wrote the poem I chose, "Blue Moon", is Kristine Williams from Athens, Ohio.  There were plenty of visual descriptions throughout the poem.  In my first readings I was very focused on those images.
If this excerpt looks smudged and wrinkled to you, it is. It is a victim of laying on my clay table for many weeks.
While dithering with myself over the form the piece was going to take I read the poem several more times. Eventually the last few lines and the meaning they contained became more important to me than the images described in the poem. 
Whether or not I captured that meaning, I'm unsure. More likely, it pointed me in a direction only partially related to the poem.
Those lines brought to mind my grandfather who died when my mother was 13 or 14 years old.  I remember being told about him and there are some pictures, but that is all I know.  And I thought how strange it is that this man who was, by my mother's accounts, a large personality and had many friends, is truly gone to the world.  There is no one alive who knew him. 
I also thought of the little treasures we squirrel away, things forgotten in drawers, behind the cabinet, old wall paper revealed, letters written long ago- the things that have value because they are a physical reminder of someone, some happening, or a symbol of what went before. 
The name of the piece is "Remnants". 

The show will be up for a Sept.6 (Friday) soft opening 5-9 pm.  A reading of the poems will take place during another reception, Saturday, September 21, 6:30 pm to 9:00 pm, and will include an artist talk about how the poems inspired the artwork. Poems will be displayed near the corresponding artwork.

Riverside Artists Gallery
219 Second St.
Marietta, Ohio

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Where in the world is River City Farmers Market?

When we first moved to Marietta, Ohio, back in pre-internet days, sometimes I'd see an event in the newspaper I might be interested in but didn't know how to find- because the building was named but there was no address given. Apparently I was to drive around looking for it. Or, just know.

Even in these days of google maps and Facebook events it is not uncommon for me to run into people who do not know that Marietta, Ohio has a farmer's market at the Washington County Fairgrounds, and some who do not know where the fairgrounds are located. I hope to help.  First of all, the fairgrounds are practically in downtown Marietta. I don't know about you, but I expect fairgrounds to be a little more out in the country. That was my experience as a kid and I expect it to stay that way the rest of my life!  Second, there may be some confusion caused by the multiple entrances to the fairgrounds. Plus, there is no road sign at the main entrance for the fairgrounds, and the main entrance is where we're going.  There is a Washington Co. Fairgrounds sign, yes, but it is much higher than a road sign and out of the sight line of drivers.  So, here are some clues:

From Rt. 60:  Going south and passing Wendy's on the right, drop down onto Front Street where road forks.  Pass Eaton St. on right. The entrance you want for River City Farmers Market is the next right.  (.9 miles from Wendy's).

From the Armory on Front St.:  Pass Muskingham Park on the left.  Look for Fair Ave. on your left (after Front Street curves to the right but before it meets Second St.)  Take the next left after Fair Ave. (1.4 miles).

From Marietta College:  Take Fourth St. to Washington Blvd.  Turn left and follow Washington Blvd. to Second St.  Turn right and follow Second St. to Front.  Turn right then make a quick left. (1.6 miles).

Once there, you will  need to find the building.  Yes, there is a building.  Although I sometimes set-up outside, I do have a regular space inside the building as do other vendors.  Here is a link to a map of the buildings:  Washington County Fairgrounds  The market is in building #4.  This is adjacent to the Fair Board office which is building #3.

Some of the vendors will only set up outside and can be found from spring through fall, while others are year-round inside the building.  The market is a favorite Christmas shopping stop, in fact, for many customers.

On to pottery, here are a few things out of the kiln this week.  I will have these at the market Saturday.

Above and below:  Flower children.  In the past I have attached these to steel rods.  The last few I've made are on sticks.  Let me know what you prefer.  The steel rods, of course, are going to hold up much longer, but the sticks are easier to attach (whittle, whittle) and I also whittle a couple of bucks off because they are free.  Easy to replace, too, obviously.

I really like the above bowl.  The stencils were a last minute decision.  They were cut from newspaper and difficult to work with on the bisque fired bowl. I tried moistening the stencils with water, but it really wasn't that helpful.  Had I thought to do this when the bowl was still somewhat moist green ware it would have been much easier. Hindsight!  Black and blue engobes used here and some rutile wash splashes.
More stenciling, but this was a store-bought stencil. Actually, I think I may hold onto to these two bowls.  This was supposed to be a set of three.  The middle sized bowl developed a surface crack in the bottom. I have another set of three that are not yet fired and now I am thinking that it might be best to hold on to these two until I see how the other set fares. Just when I thought I had gotten past the S-crack issues!
Hope to see you at the market!

Thursday, December 20, 2018

a little walk

I have put the clay away this past week, trying to get ready for Christmas.  I did wire a few things together (some fish and driftwood ornaments/wall hangings) last Saturday at the market- sorry, did not take pictures.  Still have a few mugs, a couple of berry bowls, one bluebird ornament, honey pots, vases, planters (mostly for small succulents), wall hangings and a few wall pockets and other items at the market for this Saturday.  When they are not there right in front of me it's hard to name them all.

This morning, I headed to the woods for a walk.  Here were a few of the sights along the way. Click on the pics to enlarge.

No snow, but a little ice.

 I often see holly trees in the woods.  I don't know if they are indigenous in this area or if  the birds gifted the woods from plants people have purchased.  Below: some succulents at the base of a tree.  This is the only place I have noticed succulents growing in the woods.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Local Artist Show 2018

Here we go.  Getting ready for this show which starts tomorrow (Friday) 5-9pm and continues Saturday 9:30am to 4:00pm. (Not 2 weeks from tomorrow, which I somehow got stuck in my head until just recently.)  So, there's been a lot of sawing and sanding and putting togethering this week.  You would almost think I had a wood shop instead of pottery.  As I am still in the midst of preparations (boxes, tags, display, packing...) this is going to be a very brief look at some of the things I will bring to the Local Artist Show 2018.
 The rocks in these "cairns" are wheel thrown, some altered after throwing for more variation.

Some knob hangers for necklaces.
Below:  Flower children, or maybe I will call them moon flowers.
And I have a few small planters with succulents. Middle one has a loop in back for hanging. 
I do not have as many ornaments as I would have liked, but there are a couple of bluebirds, and chickadees, and a few oak leaves made.  
Also have the usual- some mugs, honey jars, berry bowls...etc.
Stop by if you are in the area.  There's lots of good stuff made by, um, local artists.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Seeking salvation on the bluebird of happiness

This is my piece for the Poetry in Art 2018 exhibit at Riverside Artists Gallery based on the poem, "An Invitation to My Sister" by Athens, Ohio poet Jean Mikhail. 
Poets submitted poems for the event and artists created works inspired by the writing. 
Poetry in Art will continue through Sept. 29.  The gallery is open 10-5 Tues. through Sat.
To make this piece I formed the bird on the wheel, just like any pot, with the beak being the top of the form.  I left a little extra clay at the bottom so that I could pull (yes!) the tail- a lot like the traditional way of making handles for a mug. The figure was then hand-formed and attached, and a little carving done here an there to define some details.  I hoped to use colored slips for the entire piece but found I did not quite achieve the colors I wanted so parts are painted with acrylic paint- mostly the figure. It was finished with a protective  spray varnish after mounting on the wooden base. This piece sold at the August 25 opening. 

Below is an excerpt from Jean's poem.  The full poem is on display in the gallery. 

A big part of the show is seeing the artists' responses to the poems. This is very personal, of course, and may be tied in with their own experiences.  So it is all the more fascinating to hear what the poets have to say about their own poems.  They had the opportunity to do this during a reading of the poems on the opening evening (Aug. 25) of the exhibit.

Below is another version I made- because working with ceramics you never know what can happen.  Always good to have a back-up plan.  This one is going to the WOAP exhibits, curated by Kari Gunter-Seymour.

Also going to the WOAP exhibits is another piece that was inspired by a poem, this one by Lisa M. Pursely.  Her poem, "Where Catfish Bloom", was submitted to Poetry in Art in 2016.  It was not chosen by an artist for that exhibit, but is one of those poems that stayed with me.  I could name several more.
It does happen that some great poems are not chosen by artists to work with simply because the artist cannot envision what direction the poem will take him/her when it is first submitted.