Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Mole Wackery, Or "How I And Ariel Spent Winter Vacation"

The exhaustation of a well-spent day of inspirated work is, like, totally the greatest thing and stuff. I and Ariel have been working almost might even say, "obsessively" on getting a mole out of the back yard.

Usually such a project is light work and stuff. I or Ariel will cock a ear toward the ground. Then we will get ourselves totally and completely and positively and ....what's another synonym for "totally"? ...anyways, we get real still-like and wait for a scritchy dirt sound that only I or Ariel could hear. Or we detect just the ever-so-slightest movement in the ground. Then, suddenly -- and without warning -- we pounce. I should say, we POUNCE! I should say it that way because it more aptly depicts the aggressive use of force, speed, power, and stuff of which I and Ariel, acting as a two-dog mole-wrecking crew can reek on the unsuspecting blind dirt-dweller's world.

Carnage. That's what I and Ariel cause around the mole world.

I imagine that at the offices of the "Mole Times And Mole World Report" all the mole reporters and mole writers and mole pundits know I and Ariel by our names.........and those names bring dread and fear.


But I and Ariel are going through a little dry spell lately. Speedy, sly, crafty though we may be in employing our mole killing craft, it seems that the latest mole must be, like, Supermole or something. Yeah, Supermole. That's it. And I and Ariel have not yet found the mole kryponite necessary to weaken the varmit.

So far the devastation I and Ariel have been able to rain down on this world has been, like, totally limited to John Bauman and Dar Bauman's back yard. Specifically, one of the flower beds they tend in their back yard.

We haven't yet broken the news to John Bauman and Dar Bauman. But I'm sure they'll be understanding.

Yours in blog-doggin'

BZ Bauman

Monday, December 28, 2009

On The Pages

A very nice Holiday treat for me -- Christmas Eve I opened my mailbox to find the latest issue of Ceramics Monthly Magazine and found two pages of Bauman Stoneware -- inside. The magazine recently started what will be a regular feature called "Studio Visits". I was excited about the project and even more excited that they chose to feature my studio early on.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Guitar Love Story

How To Breedlove’s the Lowden.

Martin thought Taylor was a Goodall around person but Stelling seemed in Klien to Fylde Wechter....
.....if she’d just Gibson instead of Takamine it’d Turner from her Guild and Greven....

Still, he Langejans for her.

McCollum up!

So Collings Epiphone – can’t get that Galloup his mind, she’s so Deering.

He Godin his car, Santa Cruz over, Campellone on her porch, Wingert love, and Guitar to Merrill him.

Soon he’ll Tacoma Breedlove, Hohner, Carruth Sand Charis her forever. Weissenborn to love her but Stella something that he learned and loved Doolin. She became the Laskin he’ll ever need.

And they’ Leach live happily Everett.....

......Martin, Taylor, Andersen….

Sunday, December 20, 2009


Years ago my mom showed me a neat trick. She put a piece of paper on the table in front of me and then put a pencil in each of my hands. Then she told me to close my eyes and write my name with both hands at the same time. When I finished and opened my eyes to look, the two signatures were remarkably similar, given that I don't write with my left hand. I'd say that the left hand signature was darn near the same as the right hand signature....BUT....

....and here's the cool thing, so I hope you have your seatbelt securely fastened on your imagination...

....the left hand signature was backwards. Yup. A mirror image of the right hand signature. Not upside down -- just backwards.

I don't think I could write upside down. At least not very fast.

I take that back. If I was hanging upside down I could still write. Pretty fast too. I'd have to. With all the blood rushing to my head I wouldn't want to take too long to write. I'd probably write something like, "Can I stop hanging here like this? It's terribly uncomfortable."
I'm not so right handed that I can't do anything with my left hand. Oh, I'm not like my wife, Dar, who writes right-handed, but throws lefty. But I used to be able to shoot a basketball pretty well left-handed.

I seem to be able to wave hello with either hand. Some people say I look more sincere when I wave with my right hand. I've tried to see if there's anything to what they say, but the only way I can check is with a mirror -- and when I do that, I look like I'm waving left-handed. I must say though, I do look sincere.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Big Etsy Upload!

I've just completed perhaps the biggest upload of pots to my Etsy site I've ever done in one day. It's been a long day, and I'm a little too tired to be creative. But I said it all in the descriptions, so come on over to the site and see...

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Unclobbered Pottery

I was laughing right out loud. And I was doing so before the internet ever even invented LOL-ing. I was paging through the immensely huge "The Potter's Dictionary of Materials and Techniques" by Frank Hamer. I came upon a listing for "Clobbering". It's a term for over-embellishing pottery in a (vain) attempt to add value to it.


I love it.

Well, here's my TOTALLY UN-clobbered mug. It is nothing but simplicity, shape, glow, and function. Inspired in form by my love for the paintings of Bruegel the Elder -- paintings of taverns, dances, weddings, and gatherings -- all with contemporary pottery candidly captured throughout the paintings. And it was all pottery that was so compelling in form, I wanted to reach into the paintings and pull them out and hold them.

This mug is hand-thrown with high-fired porcelain. Additionally, it is glazed in my Millring Red glaze and sprayed with a light glow of golden rutile -- enhancing the more than ample globe shape that holds a generous 14 ounces of hot or cold liquid.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Tempting Ralphie

I know what you're thinking.

You're asking yourself, "If I touch my tongue to that icy blue platter, will it stick?".

I double-dog dare you to try.

This hand-thrown 14 inch platter is glazed with a wonderful discovery I made this past summer -- a celadon glaze with an almost unbelievable degree of trasparency that allows the pooling of its deepest-colored elements into every nook and cranny, while allowing its raised areas a nearly perfect white appearance. Yes, it pulls away from raised bumps a bit, leaving a bare patch here and there. But fortunately they fall right into that winter white charming look.

Despite that icy appearance (and don't fear -- it may look that cold, but it's no frozen pump handle) the platter is microwavable and dishwasher safe. Obviously, food safe as well.

The small bowl that comes with this platter -- that completes it to make it a chip and dip, or a cheese ball platter, or a veggie dip platter, or a... get the idea...

Anyway, that small bowl (volume just shy of 16 oz) is lined with my incredibly deep cobalt blue glaze. That extreme contrast makes the icy celadon even icier-looking, while also giving the bowl the illusion of impossible depth.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Snowmen Delivered To Etsy Site

Yukon Sledcat Moose (Indian name" "Dances With Polar Bears") has delivered the year's first snowmen...

Frosty the Snowman
Was a jolly, happy soul
With a corn cob pipe
And a butto….

…hey, wait just a doggone minute…

…it looks like we have an impostor! Not only does he NOT have a button nose (his nose is made of terra cotta, and looks just like a carrot), his eyes are not made out of coal.

In fact, nothing on this snowman is made out of coal. He’s made entirely of clay. Or, I should say, “clayS” – Because the charm of this little man is that I make him from many different colored clays. He has a stoneware body, a different, darker stoneware hat, and a yet different stoneware scarf. And that scarf is itself a blend of colored porcelains and raw stonewares -- feathered together to make the intricate and interesting pattern.

And buttons? …NOT his nose, but his eyes and up his vest, are just little bits of clay that I’ve rolled between my thumb and finger, pressed into place, and then poked with a needle tool to make the appearance of “thread holes”. If you look closely, you can tell that’s how I make them because those buttons will sometimes crack around their edges when I press them into place. That cracking often gives the appearance of a twinkle in the cold man’s eye.

These snowmen are about 11” tall – same as a Ken doll, but without Ken’s awful looking cap of plastic hair.

If you buy this fellow, I will have my sled dogs (Ariel and Breeze – Alaskan Malamutes) rush them to your house!

…okay, Ariel and Breeze nixed the dog sled delivery promise. But UPS assures me that they will come through for us and deliver the snowman WITH NO SHIPPING CHARGE TO YOU!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Art Of Animals

There was an episode of Beverly Hillbillies featuring a chimpanzee that painted on canvas ..... to great critical reviews. A good-humored jab at “modern art” no doubt. But I’ve had some pretty memorable experiences witnessing animal behavior that probably has practical reason if you were to insist on analyzing it scientifically, but that from all appearances seems as though the animal is performing – and usually for the sheer joy of it.

For years I walked trails in the woods with my now departed malamute, Aspen – a dog who loved life so much that I have no doubt that his very musical howls were him laughing aloud. I didn’t often let him off leash because he wouldn’t always come immediately when I called. But if I was certain that the woods was clear of other hikers or runners (that’d really shake up someone’s day to be walking along a trail, only to be surprised by the approach of a large wolf-looking dog) I’d let him run.

The minute Aspen was off leash he would make a mad dash off-trail. He’d run in circles. He’d run in figure eights. He’d look for fallen trees and other obstacles just to jump over them. And it was beautiful. A silver streak. A blur of white fur, gleaming eye, hanging tongue, and a smile – joyfully jumping over branches and making hairpin turns around obstacles that weren’t there.

Potter that I am, I wish my pots had half the whimsy of an Aspen dash in the wood.

Betty is a friend who has always taken in strays and injured animals. I remember one year when she took in a very young flying squirrel that had obviously been orphaned. I was actually shocked to witness the circus act this little under-aged Rocky performed. He’d circle the small room, climb the curtain, tightrope walk the curtain rod and then, like a gymnast dismounting a balance beam, he’d throw himself with wild abandon into space, only to glide gracefully down to his starting point in the room and begin the circle again. And for what?

Again, science may analyze this playful behavior as some survival practice. It sure looked like the joy of art to me.

And what got me thinking about the art of animals?

On my daily trip to the trails I always drive by Winona Lake. Winona Lake is the second biggest natural glacier lake in Indiana. That’s not big. That’s just big for Indiana. At this time of year when the disparity in temperature between water and air can be so great, it’s not unusual for a mist to come off of the lake. And if the air is very, very still, as it was the other morning, that mist can hover heavily above the water. You can see clearly above it to blue sky, and you can see clearly below it to the water, but you cannot see through it to the opposite shore of the lake.

That’s just how I found the lake on my way to the trails last Friday. A low mist hung over the glassy surface of the water.

And just as I turned the corner toward the lake, a great blue heron rose up out of the water right in front of me. But it didn’t just fly up, up, and away. Instead, it flew just barely over the surface of the water and just below the mist that hung above. So with each slow, methodical beat of its wings it created an image that I’ll probably never forget.

For what seemed several long minutes the heron flew like this – each upward stroke of wing getting lost in the mist …… then beating again downward until the tip of its wing nearly touched the surface of the water. What’s more, this heron dance to which I was witness occurred in tandem, as the reflection of the heron appeared to be traveling just beneath it. Two birds flying in perfect formation, belly to belly...

Black wingtip touching black wingtip then parting and nearly disappearing back into mist.
Black wingtip touching black wingtip then parting and nearly disappearing back into mist.
Black wingtip touching black wingtip then parting and nearly disappearing back into mist.

...on and on for more than one hundred slow, lazy yards. A graceful waltz.

Go ahead and tell me that Aspen, Rocky, and that heron didn’t know what, or even that they were creating. I might half believe you.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

License Revoked

  I used the word "irregardless"
I also wrote "happenchance"
My poet's license has been revoked
I find myself cardless
Maybe it's in my other pants

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Gates, Sidewalks, and Doors

I wonder sometimes how close we really are to knowing stuff. Really knowing stuff. I mean, when we look behind us, we amaze ourselves with the knowledge we've amassed -- and maybe even moreso the apparent explosion of knowledge in the past fifty years.

I sometimes get the impression that we think that we've been on the sidewalk leading up to the front door that will open to the "everything house" -- and we think we're really almost all the way up to that door. But I kinda wonder if there isn't quite a bit more sidewalk before we reach that door. In fact, maybe -- shockingly -- we're not even that far up the sidewalk after all. Maybe we're still relatively close to the front gate.

I think about these things and then I mostly just go grab a bone I've been working on, take it under the big spruce tree in the back yard and gnaw on it a while. Sometimes a gate is just a gate, a sidewalk is just a sidewalk, a door is just a door, and life's pretty good anyway.

--Breeze Bauman

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

New Etsy Uploads

Yesterday I spent several hours uploading pots to my Etsy page. I've had a very good month on Etsy and it was time to try to catch back up.

I'm also doing an experiment with some different clay to see if I can't revive an old favorite. I stopped making the snowmen when the clay I was using became untrustworthy. Yesterday I finished up four experiments and the preliminary results are hopeful. If they make it through the firings, I'll be introducing all new snowmen in 2009

Another favorite that I had given up on was the pear teapots. The shino glaze wanted to leave tiny chips around the lid after firing. I now have a new strategy for firing those. Again, if these make it through, I'll thankfully have another old favorite back...

Friday, November 6, 2009

Save Me From The Dolby'd Life

I remember when I got my first cassette player with "Dolby® Noise Reduction". It was pretty cool. Gone was the hiss of the tape. Gone were the crackles and pops from the LPs I'd recorded into homemade cassettes.

But the polish came off that apple pretty quickly. Gone along with those vanished hisses, pops and crackles were the sounds of fingers on guitar strings, and breathing woodwind players, and sounds of picks on fretboard ends.

Dolby sucked the life right out of my favorite recordings. Perfect was, in this case, not perfect. Those extraneous noises were very much a part of the vitality of the recordings. The noise reduction that Dolby offered me came at a too high price -- lifeless listening.

Perfection, as a craftsman's goal is admirable. There's a strange balancing act. Always a balancing act -- achieving an end result that, in its perfection both appears to transcend the means of its production -- while at the same time leaving the hint of the humanity behind the creation.

Craft has historically thrived when technology is perceived as a threat to our human expression. Man vs. Machine. John Henry vs. the Steam Drill romanticism. In this digital age when even much of our "art" is computer generated, there are still those of us who aren't ready to give up the hands-on exploration of human trial and accomplishment.

So, should thrown pottery be perfect?

Yes. In the sense of a craftsman's results coming close to meeting his intentions, yes. Perfection is a worthy goal. Control the medium. No excuses.

But just maybe that craft should also be a celebration of the idiosyncratic material -- clay -- a cussed substance that doesn't always stay where you put it, warps, shrinks, and cracks when handled poorly.

And just maybe the marks of the potter's hands as a reminder that process matters -- matters to lots of us humans -- should not be erased from surfaces, rather, be enjoyed as the part of a better whole.

It's not about celebrating imperfection or rationalizing lazy practice. It's not trying to accept a "it's good enough for..." mentality. The striving should always be there. The striving should always be evident.

I want my recordings to hiss and pop if it means I also still hear the squeek of fingers on strings letting me know that there was a living, breathing human behind the recording -- a human who was participating in the activity of filling the world with exciting, beautiful, thoughtful work.

And I want my pottery to have finger marks, double stamps, bent walls, irregular trailed lines -- not for their own sake -- not as added affectation to elicit calculated response -- but as evidence of process. I want those things that remind me that there was a striving human with lofty goals willing to risk time, talent, and not a small amount of hope that he/she'd be putting something of value into our shared world.

Friday, October 30, 2009

The Craftsman's Raison d'être

Maybe, after many years of being tangled in the midst of it, you remember that the choice of a craftsman's life comes down to what attracted you to the arts and to the biz of making stuff and the biz of selling that stuff you make in the first place.

And it might have something to do with whether you are (as I) a hopeless romantic about the incredibly cool processes that many of us go through in the production of our work...

...the smells of linseed oil and turpentine, just cut wood, OM5 ball clay (it smells like chocolate)...

...the visuals of incandescent lit, late-night workshops, floors littered with sawdust or clay shavings, kilns belching two foot flames out of ten foot chimneys, pouring molten metals, or glass pulled from glory holes...

..blistered or cracked and dry but skilled hands that can take materials of next to no value and turn them into something that could -- generations from now -- still be treasured...

...guided by eyes educated, not just to see what others miss, but also to convey interesting ideas from that which is less obvious...

...the pleasure derived from slaving night and day, sweating for all you're worth, risking everything you have so that you might master the nearly impossible ... just so that others might enjoy your "gift".

Different thinking people on the road less traveled.

That sort of thing.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Kahuna & Wahine

I have again snuck in a little computer time from the hapless John Bauman, who is off loading a kiln full of pots and not watching the computer which is why I, Breeze, have commandeered computer central to tell about my latest adventures and stuff.

I and Ariel, like, totally won the costume portion of the Halloween holiday proceedings at the training club Halloween party last night. ( a training club is where I and the most mischievous Ariel train the most excellent Dar to run around obstacles screaming at us. heh. )

The shorts tend to ride up a bit behind and then hang on my tail. I was, like, totally ready to bail on them by night's end. And as for standing on the board that John Bauman made out of duct tape and insulation board ... I, like, totally biffed it and stuff. No pictures of that, dude. Just me in bitchin shades, and Ariel in her total wahineness.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Two Mals and an Autumn Afternoon

Breeze LOVES piled up leaves. Aspen (the male mal we had just before Breeze) was the same way. It's been an afternoon of gathering leaves (barely making a dent in them, with five trees left to drop most of theirs) playing with Ariel and Breeze in the leaves, and being just a little pleasantly haunted by Aspen.

Saturday, October 24, 2009


"Can you turn that down!? " Eve said from across the room.

Ed gently leaned his guitar against the wall and made his way over to the TV. But even as he bent to adjust the volume control... suddenly wasn't enough.

Muttering to himself, "For every commercial I've endured - many over and over and over.... - and always at that annoying heightened volume level to make sure I can hear it from the kitchen with the 'fridge door open! Always telling me of the wonders of the latest product that I need to make me happy -- I've bought 'em.....they didn't.

And with that, he reached around behind the TV, and with a jerk on the cord, pulled the plug on the set.

That felt a little better.....but not much.

The TV was quite an armful as Ed hefted it up from its stand. With a few grunts, and opening doors with a shove of the hip, he finally managed to get the thing out to the garage workbench.
A plan was brewing.

He looked around the shop for some rope but finding none, his eyes rested on the 50 ft. orange extension cord hanging from the peg rack. "That's appropriate." says he.

With great deliberation, as one might put into a ceremony, Ed proceeded to turn one end of the extension chord into a noose. After trying every which way to get the noose to stay put around the TV, he finally found that he could kinda wedge the protruding picture tube from the back through the noose twice and, with the TV entirely circled with cord, it was now secure.....enough.

Ed, by now sweating just a bit with the labor of it all, hauled the huge TV into his large back yard and half set, half dropped it on an old wooden chair at the foot of a big old oak that grew there. Throwing the loose end of the extension cord over a big branch, and then securing it to the tree trunk, he said, " ...and here's for every mindless PSA re-informing me either what I already learned in kindergarten, or what common sense taught me almost from the time I could first talk. I don't need some Government or corporate expenditure to remind me of the obvious --- and God save me from the TV viewers who do!"

And with that he kicked the chair out from under the TV and left it to dangle there - hanging until dead.

.....except it wasn't dead, and Ed knew it. And Ed wasn't through...
...the TV didn't know that.

Ed pulled on the extension cord to raise the TV up a few feet. He then walked over to the nearby firewood pile and got a few armfuls of kindling and wood and stacked it under the dangling TV. With one more trip to the garage for some kerosene and matches, he was now prepared to finish the task.

As he lit the match to throw on the kerosene soaked wood pile, he shouted, "And for teaching my kids to, like, talk, like.....whatever...." he said in his best adolescent impersonation (which admittedly wasn't very good). "I'm not going to take it anymore! This is for teaching a whole generation of over sexed, over violent, over entertained youth that there's no difference between smart and smart-aleck........but infinitely worse, that there's no difference between fame.....and infamy!" he said. And with increasing anger in his voice he continued, "And for choosing your right to speak over the good judgement to shut the hell up from time to time!!".

As he watched the fire slowly disfigure the plastic parts as they curled and buckled slightly, he felt moved to be a little more active in the TV's demise. This watching thing was too passive. Ed retreated to the house and quickly returned with his 12 gauge and upon loading the single cartridge into the chamber took aim. As he did he shouted, " ...and for stealing the reality of life and replacing it with spectating! For every game watched...and not played. For causing me to forfeit my own creative potential - as well as the potential of my own creativity - to the expression of another's.....way too much of the time!" At that, his shoulder was kicked back with the force of the shell blast. And the glassy screen of the dangling TV all but disappeared, leaving a jagged crown in a mal-formed plastic frame.

But Ed was just getting warmed up.

He untied the TV from its mooring on the tree trunk and with a few swings to put it wide of the still burning fire, he let it fall crashing to the ground. He then dragged the TV carcass, cord and all and tied the cord to the bumper of the old pickup truck he used for gathering firewood.

He still had some things to say like, "For the Sunday morning talking heads who parade their professional liars week after week, giving them a forum for their manipulations until meaning has lost all, well..... meaning! And for foisting your pretty-boy political candidates on a public too ready to listen with their to people's desire for a symbol not a substance, an image rather than a reality!" This he shouted out the truck's open window as he proceeded to drag what was left of the TV behind the truck, over the uneven ground of the pasture behind his house.

When the extension cord noose finally let go of the TV, and the TV came to rest appropriately on a pile of cow manure, Ed slowly drove back to the house, and parked the truck. He then walked back in, calmed and refreshed, picked his guitar back up and started playing again.

“The guitar…” said Eve. “I was just wondering if you could play it a little quieter.”

Thursday, October 22, 2009

It’s Code, Not Cliché

It’s Code, Not Cliché

Chuck, the owner of the local Ace Hardware, has made a practice of tapping a great, knowledgeable but inexpensive workforce -- retired old guys.

One day after I had spent about forty minutes getting one of the old guys to cut me 50 feet of 1/16" cable, Chuck approached me in the aisle as I headed toward the checkout. He wanted to know if the service I got from the old guy was OK.

"You know, Ed's 88." he said, "I like the idea of these guys having something to do besides wasting away sitting on their butts 'til they die. Still, I'm hoping the service they offer here is to the customer's satisfaction."

“It was fine”, I said. For some reason the forty minute wait suddenly didn’t seem to matter as much to me anymore.

The Ace guys talk in old man short hand. They never tire of an old joke or a good cliché. In one short(er) visit to the hardware I heard: “I don’t get mad. I get even”, and “No matter how many times he cut that board, it was still too short -- ha ha”, and, “You don’t like the weather here? … just wait five minutes”.

I don’t think that they think they’re being original, clever, or even funny by these ritual repetitions. I think they believe themselves friendly. I believe they’re right.

My wife and a few of her friends used to take their dogs to the local nursing homes each month for “pet therapy”. The more infirmed older people really seemed to respond well to the affection of a dog. The more coherent ones would regularly launch into tales of the dogs in their past. The reminiscences seemed to bring them joy in addition to helping them pass the endless, empty hours of nursing home life.

In a very short time it was evident to me, in the few times I’d go along with her on her pet therapy rounds, that the old folks had taken a real liking to my wife. By really listening to the old folks on her visits, she showed a kind of interest that meant a whole lot to those people.

I remember a story I read of a woman looking for the right nursing home for her mother who was going to require constant care. She went from nursing home to nursing home – each seemingly loving and caring, but for some reason the woman didn’t choose them. The place she chose seemed little different in any way from the many others she had rejected. When asked about her choice, she explained that it was the first place where they addressed her mother as “Mrs _______”. All the others referred to her by her first name or, even worse, as “honey” or some other sweet nickname. The daughter wanted her mother in a place that respected, rather than patronized her mother. She felt as though a woman who had lived a respectable life didn't stop deserving respect just because she lost the ability to care for herself.

I was standing in line at the post office a few months ago. One older gentleman, probably in his 80’s, was standing right behind me. Another, younger -- maybe 70’s but farm-work rugged -- was almost up to the window. The man behind me said “Hey Jack.” and the fellow up-line turned, smiled and said “Hey Ed. How’s life?”

“Every day this side of the sod, y’know?” replied Ed, and then he added, “I’m just thankful to be on my own still. After seeing Alice into Miller’s (local nursing home) before she passed on, well, I just….well, I’m just happy -- happy to be at home. Glad I still get around on my own.”

They talked a while longer until it was Jack’s turn at the window. Jack wished Ed well and then turned to the postal clerk. “I’ll have a book of those left-handed stamps please.”

Monday, October 19, 2009

My Shenk Guitar/My Avatar

I've been asked about my Google avatar and if I wouldn't mind posting the story of that guitar. So...

First time I saw it was through the window of Jim’s shop. I was up in Goshen for one of the first of what has now become 5 years of old-timey jams held in the farmer’s market of Goshen.

The guitar hung on a rack between several others – most of those others being repairs that Jim was working on. It didn’t have a pickguard and so I mistakenly assumed that it was a Larrivee (Larrivee’s had clear pickguards back then).

I let myself into the shop and after introducing myself to Jim, I was able to inspect and play the guitar for the first time. It was wonderful. It probably had had its first set of strings put on it a week or two before. Still, it had a wide-open sound – dry and clear. Great for fingerpicking. Stellar for flatpicking.

Jim got busy that year with mandolin after archtop after jumbo order and, as such, the guitar stayed on his wall for months. Every time I went to Goshen for the bi-monthly jams, I’d often spend more of those Saturdays playing that guitar in Jim’s shop than I’d spend across the parking lot at the farmer’s market jam.

Jim and I struck up a good friendship trading stories and tunes over that guitar. We talked for hours about our shared life as craftsmen -- making a living by our wits and learning the finer points (often the hard way) of trying to market our aesthetic ideas in a subjective world. The joys and trials of working with our hands.

And over those months (that ended up turning into more than a year) I watched Jim tweak the guitar – buffing the varnish (Jim hand rubs all of his guitars – it started out because health concerns didn’t allow him poly spray. He kept it up because there is just nothing that compares to a fine rubbed finish) to a fine, warm glow, adding a pickguard – little details.

Eventually, the inevitable happened. The guitar was sold. For me, it was an opportunity lost. I never had the money to buy the guitar and I knew I was playing it on borrowed time all those Saturdays. It went to a good home.
Rayna Gellert’s (Uncle Earl/Freight Hoppers) mom bought it. That was cool for two reasons: Uncle Earl is cool, and I would still have the chance of seeing the guitar from time to time, as Rayna’s mom is part of the Goshen music scene that I bump into from time to time.

Truth is, early this spring the farmer’s market was closed on a jam Saturday and the jam was moved to Rayna’s mom’s house. And I went for one reason. I went with camera in hand, determined to get a few photos of the guitar. Got ‘em too.

Well, I got the heart-breaking email late one night a few weeks ago. Rayna’s mom had to sell the guitar. For long enough she had fought the tendonitis that the big guitar gave her. She loved the guitar but couldn’t play it.

I was broke. I couldn’t possibly get the thing. I can’t tell you how often I thought about that guitar over the past few weeks now, knowing as I did that it was most probably going to be sold to someone I didn’t know and I’d never again see it.

Well, yesterday was a jam Saturday. And I went up to Goshen as usual. I hung out in Jim’s shop as usual (he’s got a freakishly great small-bodied – his own design – walnut-backed guitar he built and that I now play every time I go up there). And for a good fifteen minutes all we talked about was the guitar, it being for sale, the sense of loss in it all.

And it just happened to be a Saturday when so many of the friends that I’ve made in Goshen were all there too. I was sitting there playing “Her name was Joanne, and she lived in a meadow by a pond…” with Joe and Jim. I’m not sure if Jim and Joe were rolling their eyes at my odd 60’s choice in music, but we sure seemed to sound good on it. I looked up to see that Rayna’s mom (and her husband) was coming up the walkway toward Jim’s shop with a guitar case in hand.

The ONLY thing that crossed my mind at the sight of them approaching was that I MIGHT get one more chance – one more song out of that guitar before I never saw it again.

Rayna’s mom walked through the shop door. I smiled up at her and said, “MAN, your ears must have been burning, ‘cause we’ve been talking about you ALL morning!”.

She smiled back down at me (I was still sitting). Then she stepped over, set the case at my feet and said, “Happy anniversary. Dar (my wife) just bought this for you.”

Well, I’m not a man of few words. I became one.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Siskiyou Summit Tunnel #13


Three of my favorites...

1. one of my favorite singer/songwriters (LJ Booth)...
2. provides storytelling (Siskiyou Summit Tunnel #13) ...
3. as background to a video about a superlative guitar builder (Petros -- not the one banned from the baseball hall of fame)...

....all rolled into one, and all to watch and listen to on a sunny Sunday morning.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Thinking About La

“Do” is not a deer, female or otherwise. First, even if she was a female deer, to point that out would be redundant anyway. Right? ...I mean, if she wasn’t a female deer, she’d be a “buck”, right?

But “Do” is not a deer, “Do” is a verb expressing the imperative mood.

“Do this. Don’t do that. Can’t you read the sign?!” –Five Man Electric Band

Besides, if “Do” was a deer, a female deer, I’m just sure that with that misspelling, during her elementary school days she suffered no end to being called “Dew” or “Due”. There’s just no way to get “Doe” (rhymes with “go”) out of the spelling “D-o”. How embarrassing for “Do”. No doubt she constantly had to explain the spelling to her teachers…

"It's French", I can almost hear her say.

And “Re” isn’t a “drop of golden” anything. “Ray” is my plumber. “Re” is a prefix. If Ray could prefix my plumbing, he wouldn’t have to make house calls. But I’m not waiting for my basement to fill with water on that possibility.

And when referring to myself, I don’t spell me, “mi”. And it’s really not a “name” I call myself. It’s a pronoun that refers to me, but that’s technically not a “name”. Technically, it is a referent.

“Mi, a referent by which I refer to myself, but spell differently.”

Fa may be a long, long way to run if you live down south and are given to droppin’ final consonants. Which brings up an interesting anomaly…

A southerner might drop the final “r”, making “fa” out of “far”. But this dropping of an “r” is obviously not because of the lack of ability to actually articulate the final consonant. I’m guessing that it is for clarity. I’m guessing that it done so as to differentiate between the long, long way to run, and observable combustion.

Which brings up another interesting observation:

A southerner would NEVER yell “fire!” in a crowded building.

"So". Again with the unnecessary misspelling. “So” and “sew” are homonyms, even if “sew” looks as though it might be pronounced “Sue”. And yet, it, not "so", is the needle-pulling-thread word. I can almost hear the songwriter….

“So, sue me”

And that brings me to the pathetic, “La”. No identity in herself. She is merely “a note to follow So”.

Totally codependent.

I wonder if there is any kind of support group for co-dependent major scale notes. Going through life only finding identity in the act of "following so" would, I believe, eventually lead to neurotic behavior, if it isn’t already indicated.

And just to function in the musical world? ...I imagine it would be such a burden to ever be wondering things like, "So, how closely do I follow so?". "If it's an oriental piece do I follow further back?". The pressure to perform must be overwhelming at times. At times I'll bet that like most co-dependent relationships, la has almost lost the sense of where so ends and la begins.

Just guessing here, but I’ll bet La has trouble ever being any more than a 64th note

Monday, October 12, 2009

Using cat-like wit and wilyness -- and throwing all seventeen pounds of his cat-muscle into the effort (but certainly no dogged determination), Crush has single-caspawedly sold more than a dozen Cat O'Lanterns.

But Crush's sales success has led to him getting a big head. Moose tells me Crush is getting hard to live with. So, in the interest of equal time and restoring ego-balance around the house, here's Crush's twin brother Moose...

Moose is ever-so-slightly smaller than Crush. Together this pair of bruiser brothers could tag-team wrestle a pair of hundred pound Rottweilers to a draw....that is, if the cats were so inclined, which they're not because they are more into lounging and peace and stuff.

Anyway, the Cat O'Lantern that Moose is uncooperatively posing on, beside, over, and behind, is thrown of high-fired stoneware on my wheel . The stem is clay I've pulled into a handle and finished with a twist. It comes with a candelabra socket that can be plugged into the bottom.

When I pack this for shipping, it fits into an 8X8X10" box (the 10" being the height) fairly snuggly. That gives you an idea of the size. Because Moose, being huge, does not.You may notice that this Cat O'Lantern has a bit of a sardine-ic crooked grin. I appreciate the animation. Moose didn't seem to notice.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Big Week. VERY Big Week

Back from the big St James Court Art Show this past weekend. The show was a smashing success again. I sold out of most of my new items (like the new gourd-topped casseroles), re-connected with old friends and faithful customers (the Louisville pottery buyer may be the most faithful in the country), met some new friends (like Jim Gottuso -- a fellow potter/blogger). It was a great weekend.

We got back home at about 1 AM Monday and then turned around and headed back to Indianapolis Monday night to see the Samoyed Nationals being held there. We attended the nationals because we wanted to see the pottery trophies we'd spent the last 1 1/2 years making. Here's the first public look at them:

Finally, I spent the entire day yesterday uploading pots to my etsy site for sale. The pots were selling as I was uploading them, so I intend to find time today to upload a few more.

The week was huge, it was busy, and we're tired!