Sunday, November 28, 2010

A visit to Jennifer Prichard's studio

This tour really knocked my socks off. I knew it would be cool... Jennifer's really nice and I absolutely love her art.... but I didn't realize she was just a natural-born teacher who presented all this interesting information about the making of ceramics with so much clarity and charm and good humor. It was all so interesting and she got our hands right in some clay just as soon as possible, too... it was all so calming and delicious that even the two two year olds that were tagging along with us (who one might worry would be crashing around like 2 year old bulls in a china shop) were totally Zenned out. And she had us do just the coolest project, I'm so excited about it. We made rattles. We shaped our balls of clay into two half-spheres, and then filled each half with crumpled newsprint. Then into the crevices and crumples of the paper we placed little rolled-up balls of clay, and then sealed the two halves together into one whole sphere and decorated as we wished. When the rattle goes into the kiln, the paper will burn right up, so the sphere will be hollow inside, except for the little rattlers inside! Isn't that cool?

We were all totally hypnotized by the potter's wheel, too. Seriously, this woman was just so calm and relaxed... I don't know if I would be able to remain so calm with 9 kids in a small room with hundreds of my incredibly delicate creations that represent hours and hours of painstaking and delicate work.... she's either a very calm person or she's able to mask her anxiety incredibly well. Either way, gee whiz THANK you Jennifer Prichard! How lucky we were to get to spend a couple hours in your world!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Jigsaw puzzle

I bought this Dremel Trio power tool recently and we made a jigsaw puzzle with it tonight. I have high hopes that it will be a light and easy tool that kids can use to make detailed cuts. Bruno (age 4) made a straight cut with it (with me holding it steady) and enjoyed it. Jack (age 7) was excited to use it but got bored or tired quickly trying to cut up the jigsaw pieces. I'll have to keep experimenting with it, and maybe try for an easier project next time.

He did enjoy the puzzle he made and it would make a neat gift for a friend's birthday or something like that.

Monday, November 15, 2010

A morning of tinkering

I think I've written before about how I sometimes feel like my kids just aren't very keen on the tinkering. I guess that's the classic scenario... the music teacher's kids disdain the cello, the gym teacher's kids would rather read, the tinkerer's kids would rather run around chasing each other and screaming like maniacs. Well fingers crossed, that paradigm seems to be shifting and they've been doing a fair bit of building and creating (in between screams and chases, of course).

I got so giddy about this State of Tinkering that they were in that I lingered at home for hours past the point when I was supposed to take myself out on a hot date to the East Austin Studio Tour (one of my number one most favorite times of the year). Then after I finally dragged myself away for a few hours, I came home to learn that they had set up a hot chocolate stand (first a boomerang stand, but apparently those weren't moving quite as fast as they'd hoped they would) ALL by themselves (and I know it was a completely solo effort because Matt was deeply involved in his construction work out back and there's no way he would have stopped to chaperone a hot chocolate stand)... and made 12 dollars. I am proud, proud, oh so very proud, very proud indeed! Tinkering kids + Free Range Entrepeneurs = A quite delighted mama who feels that her kids are capable and competent and creative and quite well equipped to go forth in this world and do good work. Yay kids! You done made me proud.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

My birthday, hey

I tell you this really because I think I did such a fine, fine job of enjoying some of the fruits of Austin's bounty.... and to give you some ideas for fun times if you live in Austin, TX but are feeling blah.

On my birthday eve I was going to take Jack to Playland for some roller skating (as per his suggestion) but I got lost so we ended up going to Madras Pavilion for lunch, which was quite capital, I must say. Not only was the food divine but sometimes I forget that Jack (at least when I get him alone) is some of the finest company around. " Let's try to say something that no one else has ever said before. I'll go first: 'Your brain smells like moon pies'. "

Then I actually got to go out on the town with my man, which is an all-too-rare occurrence, and re-discovered that he'snot too shabby as company goes, himself. We went for a drink at Takoba (very nice outdoor seating) and then we went to Eastside Kings, which is this food trailer in the backyard of the Liberty Bar on E. 6th St. The Liberty Bar is just this dank hole of a bar with saggy picnic tables in the back and smokers everywhere.... so not my scene anymore. But one must endure if one intends to partake of the divine food at Eastside Kings, which was featured on Anthony Bourdain's food show, No Reservations, when he came to Austin recently. Ooh la la. We had this green papaya salad, a brussel sprout salad (really good), and chicken buns. They also had pork buns and maybe even beef buns, and they all make me giggle just thinking about them.

Then the next day was my real real birthday, and I had all my kids all day long (no school) which coulda been sorta oy gvey but I was pretty down with it so it was cool. We went for a ramble in Shoal Creek and came home and made a chocklit cake and I have to say my kids are pretty damn cool. Though even though we had the cake with candles and the whole deal and had spent the whole day together they all bawled when I left (to go treat myself to more pleasures, as per my birthday wishes).... craving even more celebration, I suppose.

I had some birthday cash burnin' a hole in my pocket so I decided to spend it as frivolously as possible on bran' spankin' new books which I hardly ever do. I had a yen to go browsin' at Domy Books.... that place is just beyond the beyond. It's got a whole 'nother world of books that you are just not going to find at your average book store, even awesome alterna-stores like Bookpeople. I need to go back... there was still loads more I yearned to peruse. I ended up buying two James Kochalka kid books to sock away for the young ones for Christmas. They're so great! One is called Dragon Puncher. I can't wait to give it to my testerone-riffic four year old. He's going to love it so much. They were tons of great kids books there... I did not know this but I will be back. I almost bought the new Lynda Barry ( I love her so and was SO Excited to see this follow up to What it Is!) but.... my bro is so sweet and always remembers that she's my favorite (he bought my One Hundred Demons, which is one of my favorite books of all time) so I thought I'd better leave it lest he buy it for me at some later date. I ended up buying this in my effort to be fun and frivolous.... not sure if it was the best choice... maybe I should have bought this....

Then I rode my bike to the Alamo Drafthouse to see the Magnetic Fields documentary but it was sold out (update: I went and saw it later.... I love the band but the doc was rather pointless, I'd say) so I went to Blue Dahlia and had my favorite goat cheese salad. And had the enormous fun of getting to peruse the East Austin Studio Tour booklet and fantasize about all the great art and cool folks I'm going to see. Ta-da! That was my two-day birthday extravaganza. Are you shocked at my decadence? That's just how I do. Happy birthday to ME!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Vision board...

...for Austin Tinkering School. I made it yesterday and I have to say I just love it so much. I can't believe I found those images in the lower left-hand corner. This is exactly my dream: a big, beautiful workspace full of tools (the great high ceilings and light with a cool office up above are just a bonus, but I like it), and then right next door an airy and bright workspace full of art supplies.... doesn't that just sound SO dreamy? And lots of space and land outside... trees to climb, and space to build some big stuff. Ahhhh! So fun!

This picture of the deck and the room with the sliding glass doors.... you probably can't see but there's an electric guitar in there. That symbolizes to me this other piece I want for this school... a room full of instruments and recording and mixing equipment.... because I just think it would be so amazing to get to learn how to build songs and tinker with them at a young age. Or at an old age... any age, 'cause that's something I'd really like to learn too.

Obviously the scissors made from the circular saw blade are just really awesome and reuse-y....

And these last images at the bottom of this post.... I love the boys in the giant soft squishy chair, it reminds me of this giant GIANT beanbag sofa which I really REALLY want to make someday. And the guy with the shovel is working in a glass-blowing studio.... of course you know I want us to get to work side by side and interact with all these wonderful and skilled and super cool artisans that we are lucky to find that Austin is replete with.

Now that I have visioned it, please make it so, dear Universe! Shazam!