Monday, February 25, 2013

Crazy for Bowls!

A sample of the results of my bowl-making fixation
I love ceramic bowls. When I lived in South Lake Tahoe there was a great ceramics studio at the local community college. For the last couple years that we lived there, my husband and I enrolled in a class every quarter. Our relationship was just blossoming and our time together in the pottery studio brings back fond memories. Almost a dozen years ago already!
circa 2002
There we are. Fresh and full of youthful innocence and love for clay and one another! Once I started making bowls, I could not stop. Note that I am working on a bowl in the photo. I snapped the above photo with my digital camera of a page from a photo album. The original photos were taken using film (a thin flexible strip of plastic coated with light-sensitive emulsion for exposure in a camera) before we owned a digital camera. Man, we've been together, like, forever!  ;-)

Our ceramic courtship ended abruptly when we moved from South Lake Tahoe to Quincy. While the small town of Quincy is blessed with a community college all its own, it unfortunately lacks a ceramic studio and all clay-art options.

In some ways it is just as well. Our cupboards and counters are full of our handmade plates, platters, mugs, lidded jars, and bowls. Especially bowls! And how many bowls does one really need?

Well, a few months ago, over Thanksgiving holiday, I decided maybe our home could accommodate one more bowl. 

One of our longtime, dear family friends is an accomplished potter. She has been working with clay for something like 60 years! Her name is Mardi Wood and she rocks the house. The weekend after Thanksgiving my parents, husband, son and I piled into the Prius and took the windy, breathtaking drive down Hwy. 1 from their farm to the not-so-hidden hamlet of Bolinas, Ca. Mardi was having an open studio along with numerous other artists who make their home in this unincorporated coastal community of Marin County. We did not have time to visit other studios but she was in good company: check out the studio tour webpage here. She is number 17. You can also view photos of her work on her website here.

Her work makes mine look as clunky and rudimentary as it is. She works in porcelain and some of her pieces are nearly paper thin. Many of her pieces are adorned with sketches of these regal long-horned cows that she grew to love in the Italian countryside. I love what she has to say about these cows. As taken directly from her website, let me share:

To tell a story through an use its story as part of an ancient narrative...while at the same time bringing to mind today's plight of our “engineered” cattle, their disguised flesh wrapped in plastic at our supermarket meat counters...I want to reveal ancient truths...visual stories of the ancient auroch of prehistoric caves, of the sacred and revered cow of pagan myth, the giver of milk and nourishment to man, of the Sumerian epic story of Gilgamesh whose mother was ‘Lady Wild Cow’...of the bull with great horns over which ancient Crete athletes vaulted and summersaulted...of the Maremma cattle still carrying the genes of prehistoric cattle and still revered by Italians as ‘tradizione’...of the poem, “Il Bove”, by Nobel prize honored poet, Carducci,..still studied by Italian school children...of the imagery of long horned cattle pulling the fine carts of Etruscans and Romans depicted on their ceramic forms... and later pulling the farmer’s plough...before tractors...I draw these animals who still forage in their native environment in the Maremma country of Italy.

believe someone bought this piece while we were there. It is an example of one of her cow images and way out of my price range!

The little bowl I fell in love with is the color of honey, mead, the desert, a sunrise, Tuscany, antique paper, tanned flesh, and the warmth of a late summer afternoon........... It is similar to the one on the right in this photo and as you can see below. It was the glaze I was first drawn to but I also appreciate the feel of its conical shape and sturdy lightness in my hands. 

This special little bowl has been a welcome addition to our colorful bowl collection. Yay for functional art! It now graces our table and makes me smile.
Lastly, a photo of my two other treasured Mardi Wood creations.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Purple Sun Carrots and the Exquisite Ice Crystals

One of the local growers for our food cooperative produced these gorgeous carrots. I meant to call and ask them what variety they were but now the smart growers have fled to their winter getaway in Carmel on the California coast. A Google search led me to this site: Purple Sun carrot seeds from Territorial Seed Company. My guess is that they were Purple Suns. Their inky color was beet-like with tie-dye and sun-like patterns when sliced. They were so juicy and saturated with color that they stained my hands as I worked with them.
I am a big advocate for eating your colors and these sweeties were super-charged with color. I kept buying them until they were gone. I roasted them in the oven with other root vegetables. I grated them raw on salads. I fried slices in hot peanut oil and then salted them to make crisp on the outside, tender on the inside, treats.

Roasted Purple Sun, red cabbage, avocado salad
Perhaps I will order some seeds and try growing them this year. It will be awhile though. Our house and yard have been encased in an icy snow since Christmas. It was a very cold January and the dry conditions were such that the Christmas snow began to grow! Each day the ice crystals that formed on the snow grew taller and more intricately beautiful. It is really quite amazing to see.

The crystal forest beside our driveway
Remember the stock tank full of potato plants last year? Well, here it is now:

Ice blossoms!
As you can see, I have reverted back to a variation on my original blog format. I was approached by a woman at an art opening here in town recently. "Are you, by any chance, the 'hungry farm girl'?" she asked. Why yes, I said. I didn't know you were a follower. She explained that, while she doesn't cook (not sure how she obtains nourishment?;-) she loves to read my posts and look at the pictures. At the end of our conversation she gently added that she missed the old format. "It was so beautiful!" I also received a comment from an old friend who follows my blog from Colorado. He too preferred the old format. My uncle liked the white background of the new format I tried, so I've incorporated that into this new version. Hope y'all like it!

Happy Valentine's Day tomorrow. If you are looking for a decadent chocolate cake that happens to be gluten-free, this one rocks: flourless chocolate cake