Category: Ceramics

Random Fall Happenings

pumpkins on fire mantle

Signs of winter? Really! Already? I'm sad to report that we have had our first snow fall. Yes, the snow stayed in the mountains, but I have a feeling that when I wake tomorrow morning, that might not be the case. We striped the garden tonight, saving the edibles --I think we might get our first frost.

And in order to stay positive and fight my negative feelings concerning winter, I’ve been trying to be festive –pumpkins on the fire place mantle and I made some trick-or-treat candy bags last night.  What do you think?

halloween candy bags with screenprinthalloween candy bags with screenprint

I still have one more bag to finish before this weekend.  My friend Nicole from Elsa Bags did the screen-prints on these.  Aren’t they fabulous!?  She got the idea from The Graphics Fairy.

halloween candy bags with screenprint

Monet is ready for her first trick-or-treating experience –Daddy has already given her candy and now she’s “hungry” for it, like a vampire is hungry for blood

Do you recognize the fabric on the back of the bag?  It’s left over from the custom quilt I finished binding on Sunday.

machine applique quilt with embroidery

I'm pleased with how this quilt turned out, along with the message it conveys. I think it's perfect for a young girl's room.

My husband has also been busy creating beautiful things.  Look what he made…

This bowl is going to be perfect for holding Halloween candy this weekend.

Josh also brought home this ceramic box and I am absolutely in love with it.

ceramic box with letters

ceramic box with lettersceramic box with letters

What do you think?

I think I saved the best for last.

A happy fall, to you and your family!

More Applique Quilt Patterns to Come

Here are the latest photos of one of my most recent machine applique quilt patterns. Both machine applique and felt applique techniques were used to make this handmade quilt full of applique embroidery design.
My daughter, husband, and I were out on a picnic one day, sitting on a handmade quilt given to us from Josh’s Grandma. It got me thinking, and in the sunshine, with fine food and family, an idea came to me. What if I made a literal picnic quilt. From there I designed and created this fun little masterpiece, full of Americana colors and sweet images.
machine applique quilt on bike
machine applique quilt folded on chair
machine applique picnic quilt ants food
machine applique picnic quilt ant strawbertty picnic basket
Josh made these matching ceramic dishes and I made matching cherry print napkins to go along with this handmade quilt.  You can buy the whole set, along with a vintage picnic basket at The Artists’ House Etsy Shop.  If you rather not purchase the entire set, the quilt is also for sale on it’s own.
I’m currently working on the pattern for this handmade quilt.  Soon it will be available in my Etsy shop.
Yummy, don’t you think?

Thrift Store Gold Mine

We descended the stairs into the musty basement of our local thrift store, turned right, and took a few paces before I looked up and saw Angela’s eyes grow two sizes in two seconds.  Immediately she started doing a little dance and squeaking with excitement.  She had made a find.  I have seen this look before; it reminded me of when Angela spotted an old dresser at this exact thrift store.  That dresser, stripped, refinished, and dressed up with some new hardware, currently looks marvelous sitting in our bedroom.
This time it was four metal-framed chairs that had her jumping with joy.  Two had been poorly reupholstered with some sort of red velvety material. We just wanted the bones anyway.
All it took was a little cleaning, a coat of Rustoleum paint, and some cedar boards picked up from Home Depot to make the former refuse good as gold.
Now these chairs are a welcomed addition to our back yard dining area.  They also served as great inspiration for me to refinish our old table that had become a little weathered, and Angela’s Picnic Set is the perfect accessory.
Have you turned any trash to treasure recently?  We would love to hear about it.
– Josh Flicker

Bob Marley? Gollum? Which is he?

Josh brought home a little friend yesterday –to either welcome or scare away our guests.
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He’s either very Bob Marley…
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Or very Gollum…

What do you think?  Which is he?


Introducing the Tagine; Moroccan Slow Cooking at Its Finest

If you consider yourself a foodie and you are not yet familiar with the word Tagine I urge you to do all you can to add it to your personal lexicon.  For those of you who already know what a tagine is I bet your mouth is already watering just thinking about your last tagine meal.  

A Tagine is both the name of the food and the cooking vessel used to cook it.  In Morocco, the locals use the tagine similar to how we would use a slow cooker.  A variety of meats, vegetables, fruits, nuts, spices etc. are combined in the pot with a little bit of liquid and then are simmered to a stew like consistency.  The conical lid of the tagine helps condense the steam and flavors that would otherwise be cooked off, and infuses them back into the food making the dish both tender and wonderfully delicious.

I have very much enjoyed experimenting with various tagine recipes, as well as making my own clay tagines for use in our kitchen.  I am proud to announce that I have recently added a couple of tagines for sale on etsy.

Many great recipes may be found at epicurious.com

– Josh Flicker

My Husband the Cook

When my husband and I first got married, he couldn’t tell you the difference between a spoon and a spatula.  Ok, maybe that is a slight exaggeration.  Shallots, scallions and chives though, he certainly didn’t know the difference between those.  And while his mother boasted about his culinary skills before we got married, in all reality making eggs and pancakes is not what I call culinarly difficult.
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Josh has always respected my stubborn refusal to be solely responsible for the household duties.  He has always recognized that since we both eat, so we both should cook, and as a result I believe this has transformed my husband into an amazing cook.  He has learned to cook using a recipe as a guide, rather than a strict set of rules, substituting ingredients here and there to make a beautiful meal.  And so today I want to share with you some of the amazing things he has recently made.
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A good friend of mine introduced Moroccan cooking to Josh and I.  Ever since, Josh has been experimenting with both the cooking of Moroccan food, as well as the making of ceramic Tagines.
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tagine recipe
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tagine

Here are a few recipes that Josh has made.  And when I say these are AMAZING, I’m NOT exaggerating.  Honestly these dishes are mouth watering and perfectly savory.
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Chicken Tagine with Apricots and Almonds

(Pictured above – This recipe has been altered from Epicurious. Follow the mentioned link to see the original recipe.)

Ingredients
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons plus 1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 pounds organic chicken thighs
2 cups cut red potatoes or yams (remove the skins if using yams)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 medium red onion, halved, then sliced 1/4 inch thick
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
5 fresh sprigs cilantro
5 sprigs italian parsley
water
2 tablespoons honey
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 cup dried Turkish apricots, separated into halves
1/3 cup whole almonds
Sever over couscous
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Directions:
  1. Stir together ground cinnamon, ginger, turmeric, pepper, 1 teaspoon salt, and 2 tablespoons oil in a large bowl. Add chicken and turn to coat well.
  2. Heat butter and 1 tablespoon oil in base of tagine (or in skillet), uncovered, over moderate heat until hot but not smoking.  Add chicken and cook 8 to 12 minutes, turning once. Transfer to a plate.
  3. Add onion and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt to tagine and cook, uncovered, stirring frequently, until soft, about 8 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, 3 minutes. Add cilantro and parsley to tagine along with 3/4 cup water, chicken, potatoes, and any juices accumulated on plate. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, 30-45 minutes.
  4. While chicken cooks, bring honey, and one cup water, cinnamon stick, and apricots to a boil in a 1- to 2-quart heavy saucepan, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until apricots are very tender (add more water if necessary). Once apricots are tender, simmer until liquid is reduced to a glaze, 10 to 15 minutes.
  5. While apricots cook, heat remaining 1/4 cup oil in a small skillet over moderate heat and cook almonds, stirring occasionally, until just golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain.
  6. Ten minutes before chicken is done, add apricot mixture to tagine. Discard cinnamon stick, then serve chicken over couscous, sprinkled with almonds on top.
And follow this link to yet another great tagine recipe called Kefta Mkawra or Moroccan Meathball Tagine


#2:  Sangria

Sangria
Ingredients:
1 bottle white wine – we like sauvignon blanc
1/2 cup brandy
1/2 cut orange juice
fresh or frozen fruit
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Directions:
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At the bottom of a large pitcher, squeeze the juice from the fruit.  Pour in the remaining ingredients and let sit for 1 -3 hours, or as long as overnight.
Serve over ice.
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Wondering what to do with that left over champaign?  Here’s another Sangria recipe:
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Ingredients:
1 bottle red wine – lately we have preferred pinot noir or malbec
1-2 cups left over champaign
fresh fruit – anything from grapefruit, to peaches, to berries
A few Tablespoons of sugar
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Directions:
At the bottom of a large pitcher, use the sugar as an abrasive to squeeze juices out of the fruit.  Mix in the left over champaign and an entire bottle of wine.  Let sit for 1-3 hours.  Server over ice.
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#3:  Asparagus, Potato, Goat Cheese Pizza


Potato, asparagus, goat cheese pizza
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Ingredients
  • 5 ounces fingerling potatoes
  • Cornmeal (for sprinkling)
  • Pizza Dough
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 garlic clove, pressed
  • 4 green onions, thinly sliced, divided
  • 1 1/3 cups grated whole-milk mozzarella cheese (about 6 ounces)
  • 4 ounces soft fresh goat cheese, crumbled
  • 8 ounces asparagus, trimmed, each spear cut in half lengthwise, then crosswise into 2- to 3-inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Directions:
  1. Place potatoes in small saucepan. Add enough water to cover by 1 inch. Sprinkle with salt. Bring to boil and cook until potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes. Drain. Cool. Cut potatoes into thin slices.
  2. Preheat oven to 450°F. Sprinkle rimless baking sheet with cornmeal. Roll and stretch pizza dough to 16×11-inch oval. Transfer to baking sheet.
  3. Mix 1 tablespoon olive oil and garlic in small bowl. Brush garlic oil over dough.
  4. Sprinkle 3/4 of green onions over, then mozzarella, leaving 1/2-inch plain border.
  5. Top with potato slices and goat cheese.
  6. Toss asparagus and 1 tablespoon oil in medium bowl. Scatter asparagus over pizza. Sprinkle with Parmesan, then lightly with salt and generously with pepper.
  7. Bake pizza until crust is browned and asparagus is tender, about 18 minutes. Transfer to cutting board. Sprinkle with remaining green onions. Cut into pieces and serve.
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#4:  Thai Crab Cakes From A Life Sustained

thai crab cakes
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The funny thing is, while Josh is getting better in the kitchen, he still does funny things from time to time.  For example, when Josh made the Thai Crab Cakes for me on Mother’s Day, instead of buying crab meat, he bought crab legs.  And this was no big deal to him, to have to cook the legs and pull out all the meat.  I must say though, I didn’t mind either because by using the meat right out of the crab legs, well, the crab cakes were much better, mouth watering really.  So was it a rookie mistake, or maybe he’s just more of an expert than I’m giving him credit for.
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Surface…ing Cristin Zimmer

We at The Artists’ House are pleased to bring you a glimpse of artist Cristin Zimmer as our first featured artist.   Check out Cristin’s work in person at her Senior Thesis Show, May 12-27 at Gittins Gallery, located on the Campus of the University of Utah.



The Artists House: Please give us a brief bio, where you are from and how you started in this field?


Cristin Zimmer:  I am originally from Denver, CO, and got my BA at Pitzer College in Claremont, CA in 2001.  I studied Studio Art and Environmental Studies.  I went to Pitzer to study ceramics, a medium that has interested me since I was a small child.  As a child, I think I was interested because I had supportive and inspiring teachers who encouraged me in art classes and parents who did the same.  In high school, I had a neighbor who was an elderly potter, who had a studio in her garage.  She taught me to throw and I spent most days in the ceramics studio at school even staying after school ended to work on projects.  With the exception of about five years that I took off after I graduated from college, when I worked primarily as a river guide, involvement with clay has been a lifelong pursuit.

AH:  When did you first discover your creative talents? 

CZ:  My mom tells a story that when I was around three years old, I got into the cupboard and became fascinated with the papers that you line muffin tins with to make cupcakes or muffins.  I took the muffin papers that were multicolored and began to stack them into an abstract form.  My mom gave me glue and I glued them into a crazy stack that was taller than I was.  This was my first sculpture project and I have been trying to build and make things ever since.


AH:  What inspires you to keep going when you are in an artistic slump, and how do you keep yourself motivated?  

CZ:  I have a strong work ethic and I am stubborn so I just keep forging ahead even if I know I am not making my best work.  I make it through slumps by working and somehow my hands intuitively work things out eventually.  I have to trust myself.  In the end I only pick my best pieces.

AH:  How would you describe your style? 

CZ:  This is really hard.  I hope my style has not been defined yet, and I work in different media and genre depending on what my ideas demand.  I am interested in natural materials, the passage of time, trying to visually link human self-consciousness through time and place, gender roles and identity, and the interface of humans and the environment.
AH:  What is your approach to design? 

CZ:  I get ideas and let them swirl around in my head for a few days.  Then I sketch them very crudely just to get a general sense of form.  Next I may make a small maquette to make sure proportions are what I envisioned.  Some of my pieces are larger and must be built in pieces.  These require more planning.  On some pieces I have made several of, I have an idea in my head and I just trust the intuitive process.
AH:  Any influences or anyone you look up to when it comes to designing/creating art? 

CZ:  I love the ceramic artists Adrienne Arleo and Tip Toland, the earth artists Robert Smithson, and Andy Goldsworthy, and Spanish modernist architect Antoni Gaudi. 
AH:  What other interests do you have outside of creating art?

CZ:  I love being outdoors and am inspired by spending time in the natural environment.  I enjoy skiing, biking and kayaking.  I also like to read fiction and get many ideas for pieces for listening or reading peoples’ stories.  
AH:  How long does it take to create one sculpture? 

CZ:  Around two weeks to build, and I usually have a couple going at once.  Most of my pieces are fired several times so actually finishing a piece takes about two months when you factor in drying and firing.
AH:  Could you talk about your latest series of sculptures and what you are trying to achieve with them.  

CZ:  My latest body of work explores and attempts to commemorate the female psyche.  The work is essentially a series of busts that have psychological dramas playing out on symbolic settings that are materializing out of the figures’ heads and hair.  These dramas are metaphors for conflicting thoughts, feelings and emotions that I and other women experience everyday.  Colorful mosaic chips which represent the fragments that make up the self also reference ceramic tradition and history, become features such as eyes, and clothing. 
AH:  Where do you find your subject matter?  

CZ:  My latest body of work is extremely introspective.  Most of the pieces are exploring psychological issues that I have personally faced or that close family or friends have experience.  I think it is extremely hard to make engaging art about subject matter that you are not intimately aquatinted with.  I think that is why it seems like many artists make work about themselves or are self-absorbed.  I don’t really think this is the case, I just think that it is hard to capture the essence of something and then make it compelling visually when you are just trying to understand it yourself.  I just have to look within to find subject matter, but oftentimes I see these same issues and tendencies reflected in others.
AH:  Lastly, any words of advice for aspiring designers/artists? 

CZ:  You have to put in the work.  Even if it comes naturally, creative critical thinking is a serious pursuit and you should take yourself and your work seriously.  It is more important than ever in our society that we foster and value creativity.  Make with your head, your heart and your hands.

Visit Cristin’s website at czimmer.com

Beautiful Scars

Have you you ever had someone ask you about a scar and it turns into a 30 minute conversation?  Or other people you might not even know chime in on your conversation and everyone tries to outdo each other with stories of how they got this or that scar?  The trauma of the event seems to light up the neurons in the brain and people can remember with detail every little event associated with their scar.
Jeff Campana’s ceramics always draw me in because of their deep scars.  They display them proudly as a badge of honor.  The scars make his pottery delicately artistic yet add great structural strength.  
It also reminds me of different African tribes who use scarification as both a right of passage and a mark of beauty.  Sometimes in our culture we might not be able to get over the disfigurement but I think we are all fascinated on some level by the story behind those scars.  I’m sure the bearers of those scars would love to tell us all about them, and I personally would love to hear what they have to say.
With my advanced ceramics students I am hoping to create a project with them that focuses on wounded pottery.  We will take a perfectly fine pot and cut into it.  We will reassemble it or even sew it back together and hopefully we will have a pot that now contains a little more history, a badge of honor, and a story to tell.  
Check out more of Jeff Campana’s work and purchase items at his shop on Etsy

We Scout Wednesday – My Favorite Artist

Earlier today, I tried responding to “We Scout Wednesday” and unexpectedly found myself struggling.  Tara asked us to share a favorite artist, crafter, or blog.  Initially I was very excited because my list of favorite artists and blogs is tremendous in length and continually expanding.  However, when I sat down and tried to write I found my writing lacked heart.  I deleted my post and moved on with my day.

My day wrapped up by going on a date with my husband.  This is a rare occasion as it seems that we never want to leave our nine month old daughter.  But tonight we took the advise of a good friend, handed our baby over, and headed out to dinner, just the two of us.  There it dawned on me, in the quietness of our dinner and drinks.  Right across the booth from me, my favorite artist was staring me in the face.  No wonder my heart wasn’t in my writing earlier today, I was looking beyond the obvious.

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t just love his work because he is my husband, and I’m not trying to get free publicity here either.  I generally love my husband’s work.  In fact, I’m his biggest critic, and often tell him exactly what I think.  Don’t believe me?  Just ask him!  I think the reason his art touches me on such a deep level is because I love him dearly, but more so it’s because I have seen his work evolve and grow over the past eight years.  My goodness, has it really been that long?

When you live with a person, and truly know a person, their art speaks to you on a deeper level.  This may sound cliche, but when you see the processes and thoughts that go into an artwork you are able to understand it more fully.  Because of this, I think Josh’s art will always be my favorite.  Well, maybe until my daughter starts creating art; and in that scenario, I predict I’ll have two favorites.

Josh just set up a new Etsy shop called Flicker Ceramic.  I do hope that you too will fall in love with his work as much as I have fallen for him and all the beautiful ceramics he creates.

Foreign Ceramicists Invade The Heartland

While earning my BFA at Concordia University in Seward, Nebraska, I had the amazing opportunity to visit the Studio of Jun Kaneko. Actually, I should probably say I visited the studios (plural) of Jun Kaneko located in downtown Omaha.  He owns at least two giant warehouse buildings with different floors dedicated to his different crafts.  Floor one, ceramics.  Floor two, glass.  Floor three painting and drawing, etc. etc. etc.

When walking in to his studio you can’t help but admire the massive work produced by this man.  I use the word massive to describe not only size, but also volume and scope.  When you step in you will see multiple clay sculptures approximately 6-12 feet tall built on pallets so they may be moved with a fork lift.  His ceramics monoliths are so large that they must be dried for over 6 months and the firing process can take upwards of eleven days. Keep going on through his warehouse and you will see paintings that would each fill your wall from floor to ceiling arranged in what looks like a filing cabinet for giants.  Wonder a little further and you might see stacks of drawings dedicated to storyboards and costume design for the opera “Madame Butterfly.”  All this massive work pouring from a small Japanese man who maybe just hits the five foot mark.

Visiting Jun’s studio greatly inspired me and I urge you to see what he is up to on youtube or by visiting his site at junekaneko.com

Just recently I stumbled upon another foreigner who somehow emerged within the Nebraska art scene though it was after I had abandoned the cornfields to return to the mountains.  Gerit Grimm’s whimsical approach to ceramics may starkly contrast the seriousness of June Kaneko’s but I find her work inspiring none the less.  Who knew that the main tool of a sculptor of figurines could be the potter’s wheel?  Check out Gerits recent work on youtube or at netNebraska.org. You can also check out her website though it seems like it hasn’t been updated with much since 2006.  http://www.geritgrimm.com/

Keep the foreigners coming Nebraska.

On a side note,  it looks like the matching puzzle competition we made for our last post still does not have a winner.  Give it a shot and you could win a life sized poster of our daughter Monet.  Or maybe something else a little more useful, similar to what you might find at the Artists’ House Etsy Shop.

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