A Hungarian Birthday

Hello there!  Today’s my birthday.  I’ve had a very nice day.  I started it off by sleeping in and then opening my packages from home while still in my pajamas.  One gift was a pair of slippers, so I put them on right away.  Perfect!  (Thanks, Jen!)

Then I downloaded some Micheal Jackson with an itunes giftcard.  Heck yes.  Some of the greatest studio work music, I believe.  Right?  Another grad student at UMassD and I used to have Micheal Jackson Sunday Mornings, where we’d crank his music in the studio because we were the only ones in there at that time.  It’s a nice little slice of home, to have the same songs pouring through my headphones here.

I scrounged the studio complex for ware boards today and was moderately successful.  I’m making 300 tiles that are 15cm square, so I need quite a few boards to put them on until they can be fired.  I’d used all of the ones that were up for grabs in the student workroom, so I had to hunt through the other common areas.  I found 5 or 6, which will get me through the weekend.  I’m hoping I can do a firing of 100 tiles on Monday, even though I’m not scheduled until Wednesday.  That would free up the boards to be used again for the next round.  Wish me luck!

This evening, Meredith and I walked to an Italian restaurant called Cezar’s.  It was really good.  The menu translations were funny – this is what I ordered:

Hungarian menu translation

"tortellini, whipping cream, ham, parsley"

This is what I was served:

my meal

"tortellini, whipping cream, ham, parsley"

It was really good, and enough for two meals, so I’ll have it again tomorrow 🙂

Before I say goodnight – Thank you to everyone who’s written on my facebook wall, sent a card, or emailed me birthday wishes.  I feel lucky to have so many kind people in my life.  Several people here in the studio also wished me a happy day today and gave me small gifts.  This is a really nice community and I’m blessed to have met everyone here too!


Why Hungary?

How did I end up in Hungary this semester? That’s a very good question, and it’s one I get asked quite often here.

The answer is tri-fold:

1) I didn’t study abroad as an undergrad and I’ve always regretted it. Both of my older sisters spent semesters elsewhere (one in Puerto Rico and one in Australia). They both loved their time in these other places. This semester is kind of – well, not kind of – it is my last shot to have my own semester abroad. This spring I’ll be working fiendishly on my thesis show and report, so it won’t be possible to be anywhere other than UMass-Dartmouth. And then the plan is to graduate, so it follows that there won’t be any more study abroad opportunities!

2) I know the current director of the Pottery Workshop in Jingdezhen, China. (Eric Kao, a UMassD grad: MFA Ceramics, 2009.) I saw him at NCECA (national ceramics conference) last year and he mentioned that he thought it would be great for UMassD to have some sort of an exchange with his program. When we spoke, I was really busy, so I didn’t really take time to immediately think about his suggestion.

3) After final reviews last May, I had some time to reflect on the year, and I thought, “Hey, maybe I should take Eric up on that offer, and see if I can study abroad in China for a semester.” I love porcelain just a little bit, as I’m sure you can tell from the byline of this blog, and Jingdezhen is referred to as the porcelain capital of the world. It has a 1,700 year history with the material. Pretty Amazing. But then I had some health issues (everything’s fine now) and I decided China was maybe not the best place for me to be at this point in time. I still wanted to study abroad though, so after talking to my adviser, I decided to apply here, to the International Ceramics Studio of Hungary. This place also has a strong history with porcelain (not nearly 1,700 years, but still good); I believe this is largely due to its proximity to the Herend Porcelain factory.

So, here I am! I’m grateful to have this opportunity and I’d like to thank everyone at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth for making it possible. Instrumental in the process have been: Profs. Jim Lawton, Susan Hamlet, and Deborah Carlson, Dr. Memory Holloway, Artisanry Department Chair Alan Thompson, as well as Dean Adrian Tio and Assistant Dean Heather Bentz. I’d also like to thank my fellow graduate students at UMD in ceramics and many other departments for their support.

UMass-Dartmouth’s College of Visual and Performing Arts is home to many talented, hardworking, and kind professors, administrators, and students. I remember being amazed when I first got here at the depth of skill and originality shown in the undergraduate and graduate work, across all departments. This is a school where the students are encouraged to find their own voice and make their own work, something I think is somewhat rare in universities. I can quite honestly say that this program has shaped who I am, what I make, and how I regard the act of making.

Want to see some work by some UMass affiliates? (Sorry if I link to you and you don’t want me to! Email me and I’ll take it off. Also email if I didn’t link you and you want to be linked.)

http://bethanyrusen.com/, http://laurenldeserres.com/home.html, http://abbierpowers.com/,

http://averylucasart.com/home.html, http://www.katzceramics.com/, http://dhameehahn.com/home.html,

http://tomshieldsart.com/home.html, http://jodistevensart.com/home.html, http://www.lasseantonsen.net/Site/Home.html,



Green Apple Games

Today Merci (Hungarian student, very nice person) gave me some fruit she’d purchased at the farmer’s market downtown. (Grapes and an apple.) I tried to learn how to say the word for grapes and I finally succeeded, after about 35 attempts. I promised to remember it for tomorrow, as we’re going to do one word per day. But I’ve ready forgotten. I don’t even remember what letter it starts with! How lame is that??

Anyways, after that failure came a success. I twisted them stem off my apple, listing letters as I went (playing the game where you supposedly find the first letter of your love’s name when it breaks off). Merci and Betty loved this idea! Apparently in Hungary you count the number of times you spin the apple: if it’s odd, you have a boy apple, even means a girl. They liked the American version better. So do I! 🙂

Studio news: My saggers came out of the bisque today. They all survived so I’m glad about that. They’re not my most favorite things to make and I didn’t want to have to redo any of them. Here they are. (The ones square to the camera are “old” – they’ve already been high-fired. The others will shrink so that stack will fit together nicely.)


I’ve been making tiles all day. Here’s a shot of some of them. I can’t figure out why some remain perfectly flat while others curl. That’s about it!