It is the little events, the ordinary things in the garden, the pots on the table, the length of the light of the day. They are contrasted and photographed and marked down on the page. Once combined there are new meanings. Another year of summer light and long days is marked. Suddenly the bleached expanse of days has reached its turning point.

21-white-garlic-2015.jpg"Little events, ordinary things, smashed and reconstituted. Imbued with new meaning. Suddenly they become the bleached bones of a story."
 
--Arundhati Roy, from The God of Small Things (HarperCollins, 1997)

#20 summer solstice 2015

| No Comments
We tripped over shadows, Richard Tuttle poems informing textile musings, humanity, exhibits, architecture, sidewalks and meals--filling our souls with Philadelphia heat, family stories and urban variety. We filled our bags with Pennsylvania cherries, strawberries, and Virginia dill to keep us going. And, at last, stopped on a porch to watch the world go by.

20-white-dill-2015.jpg"Here, even the light trips
over its own shadows."
--Richard Jackson, from "Self-Portrait as Window," Resonance: Poems (The Ashland Poetry Press, 2010)


#19 summer solstice 2015

| No Comments
It feels like the true beginning of summer. The public schools have ended or are almost over depending on where you live. The heat and humidity have settled in and the long twilight hours are a welcome respite from the heat of the day. The air has been so thick it felt like we could have caught the light with a butterfly net. It's hard to imagine that the days won't just get longer and more languid.

19-white-onion-2015.jpg"There were days when we could catch light in a butterfly net."
 
--Richard Jackson, from "That's What I'm Talking About," Resonance: Poems (Ashland Poetry Press, 2010)


#18 summer solstice 2015

| No Comments
For the December holidays Warren gave both Zoe and I copies of A Year with Hafiz: Daily Contemplations, a translation by Daniel Ladinsky. The idea was that we could have a Hafiz reading club to periodically exchange poems. Our exchanges have been very sporadic, but I dip into the book, using poems as fodder for text brushwork. I have found that random words find their way deeply into my imagination. Today I painted with a long handled brush and water on the studio's concrete floor--part calligraphy, photo-op and floor washing.

18-white-caligroahy-2015.jpgA Coat Rack

Let this page be a coat rack you leave something
on.

Something that you will be better off without.
Something that if you no longer carry it's weight

you will look less cunning and dangerous, less
inclined to explode. And you will know more mirth if a thorn in your
mind you let me keep: a pin-cushion my being,
why not, for you?

--Hafiz, excerpt from A Coat Rack, June 8, Daniel Ladinsky, A Year with Hafiz

#17 summer solstice 2015

| No Comments
This week we have started each day picking high bush blueberries. Most of my local friends also have bushes and we have been comparing notes on when and how we pick and mulch and protect our crop. Mostly I go out and pick and smile and think of the book Blueberries for Sal. I have very fond memories of the blue-black illustrations by Robert McClosky of a mother and daughter picking blueberries. I related to Sal in her overalls and her inability to fill her bucket because she ate most of the berries. The short version of the story is that Sal and her mom go out to pick berries. Mom heads uphill filling her bucket so they can preserve them for winter, while Sal sits and eats most of hers. On the other side of the hill a bear cub and her mom echo their actions. When both youngsters are done eating their fill they go in search of their Moms and somehow Sal follows the mother bear and the cub follows Sal's mom and how will they all find their way safely home?
  I can understand Sal's impatience with her inability to fill her bucket and the sound of berries hitting the near empty bottom of the bucket. And there were times as a kid when I reached for the wrong Mom.


17 white-berries-2015.jpg "Keplink, Kerplank, Kerplunk," the sound of berries hitting the bottom of the empty bucket.

#16 summer solstice 2015

| No Comments
We dipped into suburban Virginia on our errands this afternoon and as the returning highway looked terrible we chose to mosey home along back roads. The summer daylilies bloomed in clumps along the road speaking of summer like painted islands along twisting blacktop. The deep green of shade, the blazing hot sun, and the stacked up clouds were the odes in a chorus singing to these long days. The vision of lilies was exactly the taste of summer I needed.

16-white-lilly-2015.jpgMorning Poem

Every morning

the world

is created.

Under the orange

sticks of the sun

the heaped

ashes of the night

turn into leaves again

and fasten themselves to the high branches --

and the ponds appear

like black cloth
on which are painted islands

of summer lilies.

If it is your nature
to be happy

you will swim away along the soft trails

for hours, your imagination

alighting everywhere.

And if your spirit

carries within it

the thorn

that is heavier than lead --

if it's all you can do

to keep on trudging --

there is still

somewhere deep within you

a beast shouting that the earth

is exactly what it wanted --

each pond with its blazing lilies

is a prayer heard and answered

lavishly,

every morning,

whether or not

you have ever dared to be happy,

whether or not

you have ever dared to pray.

--Mary Oliver, from Dream Work

#15 summer solstice 2015

| No Comments
When we are stacking the kiln we have a kind of short hand for how we refer to different series of pots. Generally one of us is in the "driver's seat" stacking, another is wadding as we go and a third helper is outside the kiln handing us pots. I might say, 'bring in the largest of the bird vases or the rest of the poem cups or the skinniest tulip vase." Our helper said, "usually I get the names, the bird vases look like birds, the poem cups have a hieroglyphic-type text on them, but I don't get the tulip reference." I had to explain that when I first started my studio Korean stores in NYC were just taking off and I loved the tulips they sold. I wanted to make vases that held a bunch of tulips with ease.

Now that the tulips are long gone in Virginia I have been putting all sorts of other things in these vases including bolting lettuce. I don't know what my assistant would have thought if I said, "please pass me the fattest lettuce vase." I often let some lettuce go to seed. They grow into three or four foot towers of color and sculptural blossoms that, in turn, self-seed for next year's salads.

15-white-lettuce-2015.jpg
"It began in the cold light of the A&P by a rotating seed display that had been placed beside the lettuce bin. There, side by each, the lettuce and the lettuce seed. I stood dumbstruck. This lettuce and this seed had something to do with each other. I knew, of course, that the seed made the lettuce. But I had never once wondered how the lettuce made the seed. I suddenly needed to know. I decided to buy a packet of seeds, plant a few, and watch very carefully."
--Mary Anne Mclean, Mary Anne's Garden, page 7.


#14 summer solstice 2015

| No Comments
A few lavender blossoms waving like flags.

14-white-lavender-2015.jpg

#13 summer solstice 2015

| No Comments
It has been said we make our world by what we choose to see but potters might say we make our world by what we choose to use. These are what I call my poem cups holding red mustard greens. They can hold water, tea, wine, or the unsayable.

13-white-poemcups-2015.jpgPoet Marie Howe defines poetry as "a cup of language to hold what can't be said."

#12 summer solstice 2015

| No Comments
When we were kids my oldest brother often made up games with changing rules. At one point he declared that Ornette Coleman's album Something Else was music for new sneakers. That declaration stuck in my heart and every time I see the album cover or hear its music my feet itch for the squeak of new sneakers. I used to think that I wanted to make pots that were classical in nature but with a contemporary twist. However the longer I work the more I understand that what I make are Jazz-like pots full of syncopation, playing with the rules of harmony, rhythm and symmetry. When I am at my best creating work for the wood kiln, full of momentum and ideas, I feel like I am wearing my new sneakers and following my own path with the heart of someone like Ornette Coleman.

12-white-magnolia-2015.jpgOrnette Coleman died on Thursday June 11 at the age of 85. I remember walking by his loft on Prince Street often and seeing him going in and out his door a few times. He is quoted as having said "I don't want them to follow me. I want them to follow themselves, but to be with me."


Recent Assets

  • 21-white-garlic-2015.jpg
  • 20-white-dill-2015.jpg
  • 19-white-onion-2015.jpg
  • 18-white-caligroahy-2015.jpg
  • 17 white-berries-2015.jpg
  • 16-white-lilly-2015.jpg
  • 15-white-lettuce-2015.jpg
  • 14-white-lavender-2015.jpg
  • 13-white-poemcups-2015.jpg
  • 12-white-magnolia-2015.jpg

Recent Comments

  • Catherine White: Sorry; comments not working. read more
  • Catherine White: Sorry, but we haven't been able to get the Captcha-authorization read more
  • Emily Hancock: Exceptional. Moving. Beautiful. read more
  • Ken Davis: Hi Catherine, In 1985 I wrote a poem in memory read more
  • Emily Hancock: Wonderful. read more
  • Teresa: Catherine, your post was so lovely and moving. I cried read more
  • Emily Hancock: I love your posts and pics and quotes. Thank you read more
  • Jessie Duff-McLaurin: Could you include me in your solstice entries? Thanks so read more
  • Lucy Fagella: oh those images in the sketchbooks... it's always such a read more
  • Matt: It is always nice to look back to the year read more

Pages

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.