Sitting in Sunshine

Well folks, I’m pleased to say that I made it to the Y four times last week.  It felt really nice.  But I ran for the first time in who knows how long on Friday and judging by the state of my calves this morning I think:

1) I need new shoes.

2) I need to run more often.  Ouch.

In other news, I’m giving a presentation on my time in Hungary on Tuesday afternoon.  I haven’t started putting it together yet.  Unless you count looking at pictures and watching video, which I’m going to go ahead and say is countable because:

1) I have to refresh my memory.  Maybe I should go back and re-read my posts too…  hmm.

2) It’s a slideshow so I have to show pictures, so I have to look at all the options first, right?  🙂

Apparently this is going to be a post full of numbered lists.  So, let’s continue the trend by showing two happy things in my studio.  Onward!

1) Four little molds sitting in the sunshine.  (Does that sound like the title of a kid’s song to anyone else?)  I made them last week to add to the two I had already made- they’ll be used to re-make my column piece, to be installed for the MFA show (opening April 7th – are you coming??).  I’m hoping that the wire I ordered to hang the piece will be here tomorrow, so I can get crackin’ on it.  I need to see the diameter of the wire (I’m having a hard time visualizing how thick 0.018″ is…) so I know how big to drill the holes, and the holes have to be drilled while the piece is leather hard or else they crack the edges.  So I’m in a holding pattern there.  My goal is to have all the “leaves” finished (fired and all) in less than two weeks, once I get started.

I’m also going to use these molds to make my piece for the show we’re having in New York in the middle of February, arranged by our professor, Jim Lawton.  Thanks, Jim!  I think I can get those parts made, fired, and out of the kiln in three days.  I’m waiting on that one too, to figure out how I’m going to mount them on the wall.  I have a couple of meetings tomorrow to get some ideas on that.

The molds, chillaxin' in the sun.

Here is #2 happy studio thing:

2) My orchid, sent to me from my parents last year.  I love it!  This is the third time it’s bloomed, but it’s never had two shoots (?) with blossoms before.  Matt B. from the studio took care of it while I was in Hungary.  I don’t know what sort of magic he worked upon it, but I’m grateful!

So happy!

Here are two other blogs you might enjoy:



and here are three etsy sites you should check out:




The end!


A Week (or so) in Pictures

Hello there.  I haven’t posted in a while and I’m feeling distinctly un-motivated towards writing at the moment.  So, I’ll upload some pictures and then maybe explain them in short blurbs.  Ready??  I’ll start you off with a good one.

It’s about that time.  That is, it’s time to start eating up my stores of food in the fridge and cupboards of the ICS.  Here are some pickles from my fridge shelf.  Want to join me for supper tonight?

Now that my weird flu (which I think was actually salmonella from some fresh produce I bought) has cleared up and I can eat real food again, I’ve been attempting to eat cake and ice cream every day.  This ice cream was chestnut flavor, I think.  Not the best flavor I’ve ever had, but fun to try.

I went and visited the storage area for the ICS’s permanent collection earlier this week.  It’s pretty amazing.  Here are a couple images of pieces in it (I have a lot more pictures and some video of the collection, holler if you want me to send you some others).


Piece from ICS's collection, by Wookjae Maeng (Korea)

Piece in ICS's collection (I forgot to write down the artist's name!)

The directorship of the studio has changed as of December 1st.  There was a small party for Janos Probstner, the former director and the man who founded the studio.  You can read more about these changes here.

Janos serving his homemade plum palinka.

It’s not too late to sign the petition to help the studio.  You can reach it here:  They have 900 signatures as of right now.  I think 1,000 sounds nice, eh?  Get crackin,’ people!!  Thank you to my many friends and family members who have already signed.  You’re great!


The old synagogue in Kecskemet is a strange place.  The main floor is now a bar and karaoke lounge.  The entire place reeks like stale cigarette smoke.  Up on the second and third levels there’s a really strange display of plaster (?) reproductions of Michelangelo’s sculptures.  I went up to see them the other day.  I was glad I was there in the afternoon rather than the evening, because none of the lights were on.  They actually seemed completely disconnected – I tried the switches.  It was a little creepy at first, but then I decided to ignore the shadowy figures and give myself over to the beauty of the stained glass windows instead.

Strange display of reproductions of Michelangelo's work by Tolnay Karoly.

Stained glass window in the old synagogue in Kecskemet, Hungary.

Yesterday, I went to Budapest for the day to meet up with some of the Hungarian students I met here.  Merci invited Bette and me to go to her hairdresser for fun haircuts.  Her hairdresser is a young guy who likes to do extreme styles.  I figured, I’m in art school and I’ve never had an “art student” haircut before… so he cut off half of my hair (please forgive my broad stereotype there).  I like it.

New mug shot.

After haircuts, we ate and walked around the town for a little bit, exploring the Christmas Market and strolling along the Danube.  It was a fun day, despite how it ended….

Merci and I ended up randomly running into Meredith on the streets of Budapest.  She had also left the studio (separately from me) to do some things in the city.  So, we took the train back together.  Merci stayed in town (the Hungarian students have already had final reviews for their studio work).  Anyway, when we were about 5 minutes outside of Kecskemet, standing near our car’s exit, the train stopped.  Pretty soon we heard there was an accident and we’d be stopped for an hour or two.  I debated walking the remaining distance but decided not to.  We returned to our compartment and chatted with the other women we’d been riding with.

Two were students from the Basque country, and one was a very nice Hungarian woman.  About an hour into our stop, we found out that the train had hit a man and killed him.  We still don’t know the whole story – we thought it might be in the papers today, but apparently it was too late to make it to the press.  So.  That was a sort of unsettling way to end the evening.  I don’t quite know what to think about it.

Probably not the greatest way to end this post, either, but I don’t have any other news.  I’ll try to put up something with a happier ending in a few days.


The other day I was having a discussion with one of the Hungarian students here.  We were talking about slip trailers.

 This is a slip trailer.  You use them to put designs onto clay.  Below is a picture of some slip-decorated pottery.  You can see how the blue and white areas are raised.  This is where lines of slip were laid down on to the pot.  You can think of slip as basically being clay that’s sort of watered down until it’s a thick liquid, with a colorant added to it (in this case maybe zinc or tin for the white and cobalt or copper for the blue).  You fill one of these slip trailers with the liquidy colored clay and then squeeze it out in patterns onto the pottery.

Slip-decorated pottery I saw in Instanbul.

Anyway, we were talking about slip trailers and somehow I mentioned that in the US we sometimes use those blue baby booger suckers as cheap slip trailers.

Here is one of those.

Then, I found out that in Hungary you can buy a special vacuum attachment for doing this particular job.  Hence this post’s title.  Apparently they’re good not only for babies, but also for when you have bad sinus congestion.  Sucks it all right out!  At first I was a bit appalled.  But now… I’m not gonna lie, I kind of want one… could come in handy some day!

1st photo: imagesq=tbn:ANd9GcQOJTGtImLvK8iCdjWfIe83K71b1GYveGLr0pzjym2_dKkJuGPnyA

3rd photo:

Handel’s Messiah, in concert

This evening I was invited by Lynn and Meredith (two other Americans at the ICS) to go to a live performance of “some type of classical music.”  They weren’t quite sure what it was going to be, but they’d heard about it at the tourism office and they were told it was free.  So off we went!

It turned out to be Handel’s Messiah, performed by the Budapest Strings Orchestra.  I’d never heard this piece live before and I’m glad my first experience with it was in the old Roman Catholic church here in Kecskemet.  We were sitting in the second row, and the acoustics were really amazing.  The tones reverberated in the air for several seconds after the musicians stopped playing or singing.  When the orchestra and choir were at their loudest, you could feel the sounds vibrate in your chest, much like when you’re out gettin’ your dance on and the bass is super loud.  This was different though, because the music was all acoustic, and it was the church itself amplifying the sound.

Naturally this made me interested in the acoustics of old churches.  There’s been quite a bit of research done on them over the years.  Here are two of the articles I read, if you’re curious too:

“Acoustic Characterization of Worship Ambience [sic] in Catholic Churches – Old Goa’s Capela do Monte: A comprehensive example.”


The Acoustic Characterization of Worship Ambience, a method used in Old Goa’s Capela do Monte (a significant Catholic church of Goa, a former Portuguese colony in India), introduces a new concept of describing the worship mood through evaluation of architectural acoustics results. [Bold is my emphasis.]  Three acoustically constituted worship parameters named Sacred Factor (SaF), Intelligibility Factor (InF) and Silence Factor (SiF) are presented in this study. The constituent subjective acoustic measures were analyzed and averaged in four listener zones within the church. The objective acoustic parameters RASTI, RT, EDT, D50, C80, TS, ITDG, G, and Leq were measured. All acoustic parameters were normalized using the data of previous acoustic measurements in Portuguese Churches.

SaF was found to relate with Initial Time Delay Gap (ITDG) (R2 = 0.99) with a “F-Statistic” probability (p < 0.01). InF related with D50 and EDT (R2 = 0.99) (p = 0.07) and with subjective Directionality (R2 = 0.95) (p = 0.03). SiF showed correlation with G (R2 = 0.99) (p = 0.05). The tested prediction equations derived from regression analysis showed the possibility of evaluating and designing a “Tranquil Worship Mood parameter” in a Church, from measured and calculated acoustic parameters.”

I should probably come clean and tell you I might have skimmed parts of that one (it’s a little too heavy on the math for me).  The sections I did read were highly informative, however! 🙂

The other one is a lot easier on the brain but no less interesting: Acoustic History Revisted


This paper will attempt to show that after the Roman Empire yet before the acoustical experiments of the eighteenth century (which are considered by too many acousticians as the true beginning of their science), there was a profusion of acoustical ideas, practices, and accomplishments. This text is above all for architects, a document reviewing sonic architectural expression of the past. It is one of many ways of “reading” a building, of understanding it Traditionally, visual sensations are considered predominant, yet other sensations can be acknowledged as well. It is possible thus to study architecture from a tactile, thermal, olfactory, or auditory point of view. […]”

That particular text talks quite a bit about using built-in eccentricities of architecture to spy on people (through eavesdropping), way back in the day.

Apparently I’m attempting to educate you this evening, because I also became curious about Handel and I’m going to link to a short text on him:  Messiah

“The establishment of Messiah as a venerated English institution for Christmas and Choral Societies has a long and complicated history. A few excerpts are familiar to almost everybody, unlike any other work by its prolific and misunderstood composer. Messiah remains Handel’s best known work, although this was not a status that it enjoyed until the last few years of his life, brought about by annual performances in Handel’s oratorio seasons and charitable benefit concerts at the Foundling Hospital (an organisation for underprivileged children, and which still exists today as The Thomas Coram Foundation). It was not originally envisaged as a Christmas tradition, but its microcosm of Christian doctrine and faith was intended as a timely thought-provoker for Lent and Easter. ”

This is a paper that’s about a page long, and it gives a pretty nice synopsis of the history behind the Messiah.  I don’t know how accurate it is because the author doesn’t cite his sources (although he does give a bibliography at the end), and the place I chose to double-check his statements was wikipedia, but… meh!… I think it probably gives the general idea and that’s all I was after.

Once again, the audience was uber-respectful, which made the whole experience that much more pleasant.  Hungarians could teach the rest of the world a thing or two on attending public performances, I think.  Anyway, here is a picture of the inside of the church and some people’s heads, since I didn’t want to raise my camera very high and be the only annoying one in the crowd.  There’s a short video clip on my facebook page as well.

Hungarian orchestra

Budapest Strings performing Handel's Messiah

Kecskemet Catholic Church ceiling

Ceiling of the church. (Bad picture, I'm sorry!) Does anyone know how to get rid of dust specks that are under the camera's lens?

Review Today!

I just found out that my mid-semester Skype review will be at 2:45pm EST today (8:45pm my time).  Wish me luck!

This morning I had a nice conversation with Jona Gudvardardottir about my piece.  She mentioned a lot of things, but one in particular was that I need to decide whether or not to allow people to view it in the round.  While I do think the silhouettes that happen (see pic below) are pretty neat, I don’t think allowing people to walk behind this piece furthers my so-called “agenda,” if you will.  Light is a major component of the installation, and if I let people wander behind they’ll have an experience other than the one I’ve intended.  So, I need to figure out a non-obtrusive way to block off the open spaces on either side of the work.  Any ideas?

Jona also recommended I check out an Icelandic artist’s work – Ruri.  If you have time, you might want to take a look; some of it’s pretty interesting.  (My favs are “Moderation” and “Dedication.”)

Flea Market, Revisited (with pictures this time!)


Peter making soup for everyone at the ICS with a "hearth" made of kiln shelves, a spit (?) made of table legs, and fire fueled by wood for stoking the wood kilns. It was delicious. And no, I did not add the ever-present sour cream.

So I went back to the flea market today for 2 hours with Meredith and Astrid (a Norwegian artist).  There was more stuff this time.  I didn’t even know it was possible!  The place is great; most vendors are really friendly and have a good sense of humor.  I thought pictures would be more interesting than a written list of the stuff I saw this time.

baby birds

Chicks for sale at the flea market in Kecskemet.

stuff for sale

good stuff

furniture for sale

Astrid (Norwegian artist) testing out some furniture for sale at the flea market. It's kind of amazing that the vendors haul all of this stuff in and out every single Saturday.


Do you need a unicycle? It's missing a pedal, but you could probably find one a few vendors down the line!

more junk for sale

More junk. This guy looked a bit like Chris Gustin, I thought. Hee hee!


A nice display of coffee, nutella, and the like...


Stockings for sale!

electronic cigarettes

Electronic cigarettes. This place also sold perfume and a lot of "name brand" athletic clothes. It seems like most people in Hungary smoke. I think I made this seller kind of angry when I took this picture. She got a tish animated and started talking and gesturing to me. Too bad I had no idea what she was saying.

pigeon off

Why not buy a guitar, some Pigeon-free, a figurine or two, old needlepoint, or some glassware...? Get all your Christmas shopping done in one stop!

old teddy bear

Same seller as above, to the left...


looking down one of the rows


Sporting equipment. Last time, I saw lots of ski boots but no skis. This time I saw both.


You hardly see any children at the market - this is why! Can you imagine trying to drag a kid past all this stuff? I can hardly drag myself past all of it!

old car

I loved this car. The man would have sold it to me, too! Ha!


Two little cups I bought, for $1.38 (total). I think they might be pewter? Not sure, but I like them.


Meredith and Astrid with their flea market treasures! (alarm clock and tiny cast iron tub)

Ah-nold Schwarzenegger… and a Box Full of Acorns

Want to know the greatest way Ever to listen to different accents?  Wait for it…… Wait for it……  The secret’s in the Schwarzenegger.  For real.  All you have to do is ask someone how to pronounce the name of California’s former governor.  I don’t quite remember how it came up, but at the birthday party on Saturday night, I happened to say his name, and everyone around me said, “Whaaat??  Say it again!”  So I did, and then we went back and forth with everyone saying, “Arnold Schwarzenegger,” according to our language’s accent.  So we heard his name in Hungarian, Portugal’s Portuguese, Spain’s Spanish, Finnish, Irish, and French.  We each thought how the others pronounced it was hilarious, but I think we all agreed that the French accent was the best.

Other news that will blow your mind:  I have a kiln firing right now.  Aren’t you excited??  I thought so!  I packed my saggers this morning, and Jakob loaded them into the kiln for me early this afternoon.  It’s kind of nice not having to load the kiln.  (It’s one of the rules here, and it’s not one to be ‘bent,’ trust me on that….)  I’ll put some pictures below.  Most of the boxes are packed full of sawdust because it makes a really nice black, but I have one stack of “experiment” saggers in the kiln too.  Those are filled with a variety of things like acorns, acorn hats, dried up geraniums, juniper bush “leaves” (What are they called?  They’re not leaves and they’re not branches.  Hm.), and wire.

The saggers are really packed tightly because they haven’t fully shrunk yet, as they’ve only been bisqued (fired once, to a much lower temperature than this second firing).  I was worried Jakob would tell me I needed to take one stack out, but he just smiled and waggled his eyebrows and crammed them in the kiln.  Aha!  I wasn’t able to get as many tiles into each sagger as I thought I could, so I’m going to have to do four firings, at about $125 a pop.  Yikes.  Oh well.  It’s just money, right?  It’s not like I have to cut off a body part and put it in each firing or something.

With that lovely thought, I’ll take my leave for the evening!

porcelain tiles

Some tiles and saggers. I was happy; only three tiles crumbled into dust when I was packing them!

clay saggers

Here are the stacks of saggers. You can see that the bottom four on the left have been fired to temperature. That's what they'll all look like after this firing. Also notice the small blue plastic bag, which contains wad clay that (pardon my language) Smells Like Ass. For real. It was bad enough to drive everyone but me out of the kiln area when I was packing. It's the white stuff you see pressed into the cracks between the saggers here. And no, despite having washed my hands at least 5x since this afternoon, I haven't gotten rid of the stench. Yech.

Gas Kiln

Jakob and Klara debating how to best pack the kiln, with Abel documenting (he's working on a special video project for the ICS with Janos, the director). Abel and I are going to try to do a collaborative piece, using my tiles and his videos.

Full Gas Kiln

The kiln is full!

Herend Porcelain

Jakob, Ilona, Peteris, unloading Ilona and Peteris's kiln today.