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Preparation is key

Sometimes mistakes have to be repeated before a lesson is learned. I finally got it, though. When it comes to paid studio time, have everything ready before you go in. Well, duh.

This photo shows one of my newer pieces, "Beyond the Pale." (More about the meaning of that in a minute.) This is what it looked like before I put encaustic on it and added the texturing. (Finished pics below.) This piece is also a great example of how well it works out to have everything ready when you enter the studio. I had a great day at Northwest Encaustic that day, and walked away with a "magical" piece.

In the right background in this image is a sculptural piece that I'm also working on, which I'm going to call "Phoenix." It will feature two clay masks, back to back, suspended by twine on a burnt-out oven rack. I'll turn it upside down and drip shades of orange, yellow, red, and blue encaustic to make it look like a flame. The masks will have encaustic on them, too, except where the glaze is for the eyes, nose, and mouth. The base is a nice chunk of wood. "Phoenix" would be done by now had I had it ready when I last went to Northwest Encaustic a few weeks ago. But I had to take the masks (pictured below right) in to Seattle Pottery Supply twice to have them fired. (Someday I will have my own giant studio with kilns, encaustic stuff, a neon setup, and everything I need for glass casting [majorly expensive equipment], but until then, I make do.)

The second firing on the masks was completed the day before I went into the encaustic studio, and I didn't have time to string everything together with twine until I got there. But when I went to do that, the twine didn't fit in the holes because they'd shrunk more than I anticipated during firing. So I had to work on something else that day. I donated the twine to the studio and got some thinner string from my housemate. Next time I go in, I'll complete "Phoenix."

Now, back to "Beyond the Pale." Here are a couple shots of the completed piece. I've been getting a lot of compliments on it, and even have a potential buyer.

The black and white photo in the little "cage" shows me at age 8 in the Summer of Love, 1967, in Boulder, Colorado. It was my first communion. My mother was ultra-Catholic, and I often argued with her about religion. At age 12, I quit going to church. She didn't speak to me for three weeks. At the dinner table, she'd say, "Would you please ask Teri to pass the peas?" She died when I was 17, and since then I've often thought I should have waited until after she was gone to become an agnostic.

When thinking of a title for this piece, "Beyond the Pale" sprang to mind immediately. Today this means "unacceptable; outside agreed standards of decency," which works well with how my mother felt about my leaving the church. But in the older usage, a pale was a large fence or enclosure, the bounds of which the people inside were not allowed to go beyond - so "beyond the pale" came to mean going where you weren't supposed to go.

One well-known pale was located in Ireland. The Irish Pale's boundaries varied from time to time, but it included an area of several counties centered on Dublin. Some of my ancestors fled Ireland (and perhaps the Pale) in the 1800s to escape the potato famine, in which over a million people starved to death.

This piece has many layers of meaning, but I think it represents, on some level, my need to raise my financial vibration. My family was very poor as I was growing up, but it only occurred to me recently that poverty consciousness has been ingrained on both sides of my family tree for generations. I come from a long line of peasants!

In fact, we were so poor when we lived in Boulder that my mom used to get all our clothes from the laundromat. There was a big box, and people just took what their kids needed and then added their outgrown clothes - that is, whenever there were any that weren't completely worn out. (The first-communion dress I wore was borrowed.)

But I believe in free will and self-determination (although not in a selfish, Ayn Randian way - more like a "let's all work together and help each other" way), so I believe poverty consciousness can be overcome, with conscious effort.

The "starving artist" cliche is not for me. Can you tell?