Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Little sweater refashion...

Excuse the bad photos...but I did an easy little project this past week on this sweater I got from Gabes this semester. It was missing a button. So...

I replaced all the buttons with colorful ones I scrounged up and sewed lace around the top.

I like it better this way. :) It was so hard for me to get any good photos of this project. I think my camera is on its way out. This is just to give the general idea I guess.

Seagrove Pottery

Yesterday Dad and I drove out to Seagrove to check out the town and some of the potteries. Our first stop was at the North Carolina Pottery Center where we found information on some of the potters and viewed some exhibits they had up. My favorite part was this little set by Leah Leitson. I'd never heard of her before, but I really like her work.

We chose a sort of bad time to go look around because a lot of potteries were closed for the holiday. The best time to go would have been last week, but we still got to visit a couple of places. One of them being Why Not pottery. I got lucky and was given a tour of their studio space and a peek at their kilns! I liked her little wall tiles as well as the textures she had in her work.
Another place we visited was Jeff Brown and Michelle Hastings shop/studio. I didn't get a studio tour here, but I got a little info on applying textures to work and got to chat about kilns and woodfiring, etc.
And I saw the most fun and ingenius idea ever for making cone packs:
Way more fun than the kind that I ever make. I think my teachers will get a kick out of these guys.

It was a very nice day.

PS: Happy birthday to my brother-in-law, Matt!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

*things I find miraculous...

Charlestown, WV

*the fact that we have minds that think and reason.



*the way music makes us feel things we can't describe with words.

*the way dancing has the ability to make me so happy.

*language...that we recognize symbols as words that represent sounds that we all agree mean certain things. I mean, it's one of the only things that people agree upon.

*that things have smells.

*the way nature and our bodies work. It's so complicated, but it works so perfectly.

*that in spite of the fact that He knows EVERYTHING about me, Jesus wanted to save me so much that He died for me and loves me no matter what.

When you stop and think about it, the world around us is one big miracle. But we're so very used to it that we miss it all the time. None of us could have dreamed this world up. It's too fantastic. The colors, textures, sounds, sights, smells, cycles, beginnings, endings and so much more that we see and experience every day are so awesome. And the fact that we are allowed to experience it every day should make us feel so privileged.

One of my goals is to view each day as a gift and to be on the lookout for all the little miracles life holds.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas this year...

A few photos of our holiday...
Christmas eve with old family friends...only food was photographed since my camera does not take good pictures in dim lighting.
Skyping with my sister, brother-in-law and niece on Christmas morning...
The peppermint bark my sister, Holly, made.
The dogs watching the food preparations from a distance...
An afternoon drive around town with my dad including pit-stops to look at the park, an old house I like and the places he lived and worked as a kid and teenager.
Not pictured: the copious amounts of sugar consumed, wii played and computer surfing as well as sleeping. A very relaxing holiday.

Merry Christmas. :)

Old house

The photo doesn't do the house justice. So adorable. It reminds me of the house on UP. I wonder what kind of people lived there. What their lives were like. Does the house have a happy story?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas in the City

Tonight Dad and I took a drive into Raleigh to look at the lights. The city is decorated for Christmas and it looks pretty dandy.

I love Christmas lights.
When we came home I did a little painting for fun while my family watched a movie that I didn't want to see (I scare easily during's a flaw) and later my sister came up and showed me some paintings she has been working on this fall. They're beautiful! I'll have to show them off on here soon. I think we may have to do some crafting days. I brought some clay and watercolors with me to play with so there will be plenty to do.
I forgot to show off this little plate my friend Erica gave me. She was trying to clear out her extra pots and put them in the Christmas pottery sale and I offered to buy this one from her and begged her to let me have it. In the end she gave it to me for free. I LOVE it.
Because it's quirky and cute and completely unexpected. I mean, who expects cute woodland creatures to have a pistol?
Moral of the story: sometimes begging pays off. Did I just say that? ;)

Getting ready for Christmas...

Since my family doesn't seem to get too into Christmas we keep things pretty low key around here. We bought a tree this week and decorated it. We never really used colored lights before, but we did this year and I'm glad. I think they're fun.
I told my sister on the phone before coming down to NC that "this Christmas I don't want to eat super junky, but I want to eat a little junky." So I dug up that old nutella fudge recipe and made some and let me tell you that it is pretty good.
Thus far since being home we have gotten a tree, made fudge, seen cousins I hadn't seen in about 13 years (it was really nice to catch up with them) and stayed up late talking and watching stupid TV shows and sleeping in. I found a cool little thrift store that I want to visit more. I keep trying to motivate myself to make stuff, but so far I haven't. Maybe I'll dig up some motivation and manage to get a few things done this break. It's nice to just rest though.

So now I think my sister and I and perhaps our brother (if we can convince him to come with us)
are going to go shopping. Maybe Christmas shopping. Because we still like surprises even if we're all adults (almost). :) And then we're all going to dinner. Who knows? Maybe I'll even dress up a little. Why not?


Friday, December 16, 2011

And now the semester is over...

And while I'm quite relieved I also am quite shocked and unsure of what to do with myself. Maybe I should be cleaning my disaster of a room and packing for a 3 week break!

So my roomies and I along with friends from our Bible study made paper snowflakes and hung them all over our wall. I LOVE it! I felt so silly because I was so excited each time I made a new snowflake. I'd fold the paper and start cutting into it and open it and be surprised each time when I saw how it came out. I felt like a kid. In a way it's nice to know that essentially I'm the same person I was when I was 8...I love cutting up paper and playing with mud (except I now I've switched to clay).
Yes, our Christmas tree is bubblegum pink. :)
And here are a couple of photos of what I've spent the last 3 weeks of my life working my tail off over. And by "working my tail off" I mean not sleeping more than 3.5 to 6 hours per night, missing meals, spending 12+ hour days at school, firing kilns till 3:30 am...etc. And now that it's over I feel shocked and unsure of what I'll do with myself. Sleep regularly? Eat three times a day? Stay clean? I can do that? It's a bit of a shock. :)
So this past Tuesday was one year since I got back home from China. And I think I'm finally over it. This semester has been so insanely busy and full of exhausting, stressful and wonderful times that I feel quite content with being exactly where I'm at. I feel like God has blessed me immensely in allowing me to know the people I know, attend the church here and study something I love. I seriously sometimes feel so happy that I might burst. I'm sure it's way better than winning the lottery. Last night we had a goodbye bowling party for Bangmin since he's going back to China soon and almost everyone from ceramics was there. It was the best time I've had with everyone in a loooong time. And I'll miss Bangmin for sure when he leaves.

Not to say that I haven't gotten super frustrated, angry and discouraged from time to time. I have. Especially with ceramics. But I don't think I could put up with all the frustration, hard work, long hours and let downs involved in every aspect of it if I didn't enjoy it as much as I do. And this semester I can see that I've improved so much in my work and have also deepened and forged friendships with my classmates. I love them all so much.

So now I guess I'll get off here and clean and pack and get ready to head home tomorrow. First stop is at my sister's home to see her, my brother-in-law and my niece. Then it's down to NC to see my parents and younger sister. It will be so good to see them all and relax together. I definitely have plans to work on things while I'm home though. Right now my list looks like this:
1. study Chinese and get a head start on next semester's work.
2. hand build with clay that I'm bringing from school.
3. start writing about my work and what I want to accomplish with it.
4. do a little sewing and is the holidays after all. :)
5. sketch and watercolor.

So yeah, I think it will be great. I think my parents and sister have held off on decorating for Christmas until we get down there which will be great because that means all the paper-snowflake making fun can continue! Let snowflakes and merriment abound!

Okay. Peace out.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


So in the past month or so quite a bit has taken place. For one thing it's pretty much no longer fall. We have definitely experienced some winter weather recently and even had snow flurries during kiln building class.

So yeah, all those beautiful yellow leaves are history.

We had the symposium. It was one of the most exhausting whirlwind weekends I've had. It made me feel like I was back in China.
Master Feng demonstrating overglaze technique.

Keith from NCECA sketched Master Feng while he was working. I loved his sketch. That's one of the things I love about being around artists. One of my goals is to have awesome sketchbooks full of fun drawings and sketches.
And if being around the Chinese artists wasn't enough to make me feel like I was back in China seeing the 8 foot vases hanging out behind the ceramics studio certainly made me feel like I was back there.
In addition to the Chinese artists who came in to demonstrate at the symposium Professor He also came back this year to work on an sculpture for our school. He was a wonderful addition to the studio. He left this past Sunday to go back to China and those of us students still at school before break joined our professors and other faculty and their families and had a goodbye dinner with him. It was wonderful. It combined two of my very favorite things: ceramics and China/Chinese. I will miss Professor He. And Bangmin is leaving in December. I will miss him too. Anyway, the dinner was so similar to the dinners we had in China. Great food, everyone was hanging out and having a good time. I felt so incredibly blessed and content to be right where I was. This semester has had its share of ups and downs but overall I am so grateful to be at my school with the people I know and to be doing work that I love.

I am taking Chinese 1 this semester and through my class I got a language partner. She is really fun and I'm glad we're becoming friends! She's from Hong Kong and speaks Cantonese, Mandarin and English. I found out recently that Bangmin speaks 5 or 6 different languages- most of them different Chinese languages. I'm so impressed with these folks who learn to speak so many different dialects and languages. I have actually decided to stay at my school for one more year to get a second major in Chinese studies. I enjoy it so much that I want to learn to speak the language and understand the culture. I'm really excited about it. I love my Chinese class a lot. The teacher is great and my classmates are too.
The roomies and I had a little Thanksgiving dinner party and invited all our local siblings and friends to come over. It was a good time. My roomies and I love to have people over and we like to cook so it was a good combination for us. I volunteered to make the potatoes and appreciated my roommate's comment on the board. I love those girls.

And now it's late and I'm tired. So I suppose I'll stop here and get some sleep. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. Goodnight!

more greenware...

at least I finally like these pots. After quite a few panicky weeks where I hated pretty much everything I made I finally made a couple of things that I am happy with. They're a start at least. Hopefully the ideas will develop into something better that the originals.

There are more pieces, but this is all I've taken photos of recently. I made some small and large bowls that I like as well.

My pottery has become quite feminine lately. I think it's a compensation effect since I've felt so dirty and messy all semester. I make up for it by wearing skirts and dresses whenever possible, going swing dancing and making girly pots.

You do what you have to do I guess.

Give Thanks

So once again it's been over a month since I've posted. In my absence though I've been busy busy busy and simultaneously hating and loving it. I'm now visiting with my family and trying to remember how to take it easy and relax. Funny how I get so used to being in a really busy routine and then all of a sudden it stops and I become very anxious. I don't think that's particularly healthy.

Since we're about to celebrate Thanksgiving I think I should say a few things that I am grateful for. In no particular order:
  • my health. Despite being really busy and not maintaining a normal eating/sleeping cycle each day I've made it through the semester with a cold and that's it.
  • Safety. And for the guys who got me a knife, flashlight and a can of mace for my birthday. And heck, for that matter I'm thankful for all the nice guys I know who I could call on if there was a problem.
  • My classmates. The people I spend more time with throughout the year than anyone else. As cheesy as it sounds they are a family to me and I love them dearly. I'm pretty broken-hearted over the fact that so many of them will be graduating or returning to China within the next month and semester. I'm so grateful for the community that we make up and for what they each contribute to the studio.
  • My church. I don't think I've ever been a part of a church that God has used to teach me so much. Their desire to serve God and see Him change lives and save people is hugely encouraging and inspiring. Their love toward me and so many other students has meant a lot too.
  • My family. For the fact that they're safe and healthy and that they love me. For the fact that even though we're spread out we're all doing well and busy and close.
  • For technology, so we can all keep in touch more easily.
  • For my roommates. I live with 3 lovely, godly young women who are wonderful friends.
  • For my unborn nephew. Due in March! Yay for little boys!
  • For my Bible study group. Getting to know other people and studying the Bible with them has been a highlight of the semester.
And for many other things. I hope everyone else has a great Thanksgiving!

Sunday, October 9, 2011


This past week was pretty wild school-wise. I had a critique and 3 tests to take as well as a project due in production. It wore me completely out. Friday was such a huge relief...I took most of Saturday off and hope to take most of today off as well.

I would say the past few weeks have completely worn me out. It seems like there is just never enough time to do everything I need and want to do. I've had a couple of days these past couple of weeks where I realized I hadn't eaten a meal in over 24 hours due to the busyness of my schedule. Needless to say, this lack of eating has resulted in me being pretty hangry at different times. I feel like my patience levels have dropped a lot the past few days and I feel rather despairing at times. I had a few moments this week where I was ready to crack. I was at school till midnight on Monday and having horrible luck with what I was making for my critique on Wednesday and I was so miserable. I wondered why I had to pick a major that made me feel so incredibly bad about myself. I sometimes equate being a ceramics major to being in a bad relationship (which I've never been in so this comparison is only based on what I've heard) where you do all the giving and ceramics does all the taking and it's never enough. Nothing I do is good enough, nothing works out the way I intend it to and I feel like an unappreciated failure. You might argue that I'm taking this too seriously. I probably am. My sister told me I'm a workaholic, but are you still a workaholic if the whole time you're busy you don't want to be working? Cause seriously, all I've wanted to do this week is sleep and watch movies in my bed and eat fall-ish foods.

The whole week wasn't awful though. Aside from being really stressful and exhausting I've had quite a nice weekend. On Friday I went to a friend's apartment and watched Inkheart and Stardust which was fun. And yesterday I had lunch with a friend and walked around Old Navy and the went home and napped and watched the Lion King with 2 of my roommates and some friends. It was so relaxing and nice to be with the girls all weekend. I'm really sad that the weekend is almost over and I still have Chinese homework to do. :(

I think I need to make it a point to get out of the studio more and relax on weekends. I feel guilty and irresponsible if I don't spend all my time working on things and I think I need to lose those feelings and realize that rest and down-time are important. I feel so much more refreshed and ready to go back to school when I make time for fun. I've been trying to convince my professors to start a school-wide "Professor skip day" so we can have a long weekend. It's not really working, but maybe if I suggest it enough they'll jump on it. Especially with the symposium happening this week...maybe they'll be so tired they'll want a break next week.

On top of all that I find other things to worry about. Family, school, future, etc. It gets me really down and I feel like I bottle things up and it just makes everything worse. I've been doing a Bible study that has been really good and helped me with my perspective and also kind of teaching me how to deal with stress and anxiety (cast your cares on Him for He cares for you). It's a work in progress, of course.

Anyway, so that wasn't a very interesting or light-hearted post, but it's what's been up lately. I'm hoping for a calmer week ahead...the symposium starts Friday morning, so I sort of doubt it will be that much calmer, but at least I'll get to see all my Chinese professors and watch them do demos and give lectures. It should be fun. :)

Sunday, September 25, 2011

new recipe...

My roommate, Mandy, made gluten-free peanut butter cookies for us one Sunday and they came out really well! I was surprised to find out that there was no flour in them at all.

Basically they are made of 1 cup of brown sugar, 1 cup of peanut butter, one egg, 1 tsp of baking powder, 1 tsp of vanilla and chocolate chips. Sooo healthy, right? :)

Bake at 350*F for about 10 minutes.

Super easy and actually really good.

Sneak peek...

Porcelain...with slip...awaiting bisque firing and glazing. Keep your fingers crossed that this turns out better than my last firing did!
Hopefully I'll have more successful results to show soon!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Wood kiln and pottery stuff

We fired our wood kiln last week. It went much better than any other firing I've been a part of, but it still didn't work out perfectly. I think I'm a curse to the wood kilns. You know how it was considered to be bad luck for women to sail on ships? Well I think it's bad luck for me to put work into a wood kiln because every firing I've been involved in has never made it to temperature all the way.
Anyway, we still got some good stuff out of the kiln. Most of my work was ruined though because I dipped almost all my pots into a bisque slip before I glazed them and did not know that glazes don't adhere to bisque slip very well so almost everything I made has big crawling spots on them. Some of them have glaze cracking right off them. See exhibit A:
Bad, right? Can you hear the sound of my heart breaking? All that work and almost all of it was RUINED! I think we're going to try to fire the wood kiln again in about 3 weeks. After all that trouble I still feel like I should try again. Maybe someday I'll figure this stuff out. I managed to get some sort of decent work out. These are my more successful pieces.

I threw some more little things and am trying some new decorating ideas on them. I've got the slipwork done, but I want to trail some glaze in the slip work and then allow for flashing and other glazing around the painted stuff...I'm having fun thinking about it. :)
I've also been trying some new handles. Tom gave me a little handle-making demo which was pretty cool. I was given the book 500 Cups before I left NC this summer too and that has been quite inspiring also and I'm getting some fun ideas from that. I'm really hoping to see a lot of improvement in my work this year!

Tonight was the first night of our Bible study with our church. Next week we will start hosting it at our apartment. I'm really looking forward to it! I think it will be really good!

Okeydokey...I'll end here tonight. I am going to try to get to the studio pretty early tomorrow to work on some pieces before my class so I should probably get to bed soon!

Friday, September 16, 2011

whew! almost a month I haven't managed to post even once! Shameful! Would it help if I said I've been reeeeally busy? Although I know I've been no busier than anyone else I have felt like I've been run off my feet lately. Part of that is good. Part of it not so good. Classes keep me extremely busy and I've managed to squeeze in a couple of fun activities like swing dancing classes at the Rec center on Tuesdays (soooo sooo sooooooo fun!) and Bible studies and other activities with friends. Unfortunately I've been feeling really under the weather for the past week and am now finally feeling a bit better. On top of a sore throat I've been having a lot of body aches and fatigue. This week I fell down a couple of steps on my way down to the PRT and scared myself. The first thing I thought when I hit the ground was "Oh my goodness...did I break something?" As a ceramics major if I broke a bone, especially a hand or arm, I'd most likely have to drop out for the semester. You just can't take 3-6 weeks to heal a broken bone...there's no time! I'm very grateful that nothing was broken, but I twisted my ankle and the next day I had to go to classes for 8 hours and fire a wood kiln until 9 pm. I was worried it would be really bad with a sore, slightly swollen ankle, but it went alright. In fact it was quite enjoyable. Jeremy and I took the 4-9 pm shift and at one point Erica brought her class down to watch us stir and stoke the kiln (which was about 2000 degrees at this point) and when we opened the box door and flames shot out the kids all said "whoa!!!" and as lame as it sounds we felt pretty cool for dealing with all that flame and heat and impressing the 240 class. Jeremy was a good wood-firing partner and he didn't get mad at me for asking a billion questions about what we were doing. I just hope that the following shifts were able to get the kiln to temperature. I have yet to be a part of a wood firing that makes it all the way to temperature...maybe this will be the one.

So far this semester art school has been kicking my hiney and I feel exhausted all the time. And physically sore either from lifting heavy items or from dropping wood onto my feet while moving wood or firing a kiln, smashing my fingers between heavy objects while moving things, etc... Not only am I exhausted I'm tired of feeling like I look like a 35 year old male construction worker at the end of each day (not that I have anything against 35 year old male construction workers...I'm just not one of them and I'd like to feel more like a 22 year old girl). I find that on evenings and weekends I wear lots of skirts or cute shoes and things like that to compensate for how icky I feel during the school week. I don't remember feeling quite like this in past semesters...this year has been particularly dirty so far.

All in all I feel like this semester is good in that it is pushing me to see how much ability I have to make quality pieces in a short amount of time, and it is making me look forward to the day that I (hopefully) have my own studio and run my own schedule. I also feel like it is reminding me that my whole life isn't just ceramics. I have passions and interests outside the studio that I want to develop and friendships that I want to build and maintain and my appreciation for them is greater now. Chinese class has been great. I am really enjoying it. I got an English partner from Hong Kong. She's awesome! I think we're going to be friends. :) She helps me with my mandarin and I'm supposed to help her with her English, but she's pretty fluent already. I think if I wasn't a ceramics major I might want to be a Chinese studies major. It's pretty great. Swing dance lessons have been a huge highlight of each week and when I leave the meetings I feel so happy and can't stop smiling. I'm so grateful to be back at my church and involved again. It is so lovely to see families and work with kids and alongside adults and see families and people of all ages instead of only college students. My roommates and I are going to be hosting a Bible study at our apartment through our church this semester and I'm really looking forward to that as well. My roommates are both encouraging and inspiring to me. They're such godly women who are so intelligent and kind and have different interests and goals. I couldn't ask for 3 better girls to be friends with and live with.

Of course there are obstacles too. I feel quite discouraged a lot. I feel insecure about what I'm doing...but I'm trusting that God allowed me to be here and will use this time and degree in some way in my life. I'm more convinced that life is all about serving God regardless of your degree, job, location, etc. I read Ecclesiastes this summer and feel like I'm watching it played out before my eyes. I also miss my parents and sisters and wish I could see them more often.

Anyway, all in all the semester is going by rather well and although it has its share of things that wear me out and drag me down it also has its share of encouraging, lovely times and people. I am trying to choose to be grateful for all of it.

So maybe my next post will include pictures of things I'm doing at school and around town. And maybe it will not be a whole month before I get to another posting. :)

Happy weekend, folks.

Sunday, August 21, 2011


In about 22 hours my classes start! I'm both excited and nervous! I've got butterflies and feel restless and I'm hoping that by the end of tomorrow or Tuesday at least I'll feel better about what to expect from the semester.
2 of my 3 roommates are here! I'm looking forward to spending the fall with them. I missed experiencing fall in America last year so it will be fun to see the colors and do fall activities. I must say though that part of me feels like I should be getting ready to go back to China. September 7th will be a year from the time I left the States to go there and part of me wishes I could go back to Jingdezhen. It kind of brings up some mixed emotions since so much has happened in that time and although it seemed long at times the year really has gone by quickly.
I think this year should be interesting too though. I had a meeting with 2 friends and our pastor this week to talk about starting a Bible study home group for college and career age folks. Although there are lots of campus ministries here it seems that a lot of them focus on the freshmen and getting them settled and providing an alternative to the party scene that our school is known for. And that's great and they provided a lot of encouragement to me. But we're hoping this will be something that offers more in-depth study and discussion of the Bible so hopefully something great will come of it. If we can get it going it should start toward the end of next month so we have to get cracking on planning and such. It's exciting!
Yesterday one of my roommates and I went to the new location our church is leasing to help paint it and get it ready for services. Our church hasn't had a permanent location up till this point and they have finally found a place to meet more permanently but it needs a lot of work to get finished. Some folks from out of town came in yesterday to help paint too which was so kind of them. I was there for about 3.5 hours and boy was I tired and my arms hurt later that afternoon. Maybe that means I should go down there more and help out and build up some stamina. :)

Thursday, August 18, 2011


As I said before this silly drawing was inspired by a conversation with a friend about being single and waiting to find Mr. Right or Prince Charming or whatever. And we decided that maybe our future husbands are still in the process of scaling (metaphorical) mountains, braving forests, slaying dragons and cutting their way through thickets while trying to find us too so maybe we should chill and be more patient instead of being sad that we don't know who our future husbands will be.
I wish we could wear pointy princess hats while waiting though. ;)

Summer pottery

These are some of the pieces of pottery I made over the summer while working at the Parks and Rec center. While none of them came out without some problems (will I ever reach the point where my pieces come out really good?) I did try a lot of new things and I think I learned a lot!
Like with this cup...I tried to focus on making bigger handles and I used underglazes for the first time.
I tried to oval this plate, but ended up with a big bumpy seam in the middle. And some weird glazing lines. But I liked the indentation and the alteration that I put in.
Inspired by a fellow classmate I tried my hand at pitchers and had a lot of fun with them! I think I'd like to make more.
More underglazing...
Remember how I said the ladies at the studio in NC were stamping geniuses? Well they definitely inspired me so I stamped this little cup and I think stamping is something I'd like to continue to play around with!
That pitcher on the right is probably my favorite item. Again, all my glazing is messed up, but I got a lot of ideas for things I'd like to do.
Lidded cup with flower detail on top...

Thrown and altered cups. Another idea I'd like to work on this year.
This cup is a different shape than I normally make. And it's also altered but it's not very extreme. As usual my forms, rims, feet, handles, glazing, painting, etc all need a lot of work, but I tried some stuff this summer that I've never tried before and had a lot of fun. And I'm really grateful for that!