Settling in

Hey! Did you know it’s possible to burn food in a crockpot? I didn’t. But I learned about it last night. I put some pork, potatoes, water, and bouillon in my trusty cooker on Tuesday night so I could take some tasty food with me to the studio for lunch on Wednesday. It worked well and lunch was delicious. But I only took half of the crockpot’s contents with me – I left the other half in the pot on low, thinking I could eat it when I got home.

Well, I didn’t get home until 11pm, but I thought it would be fine since I added more water before leaving in the morning. How wrong I was…. Apparently it’s not a good idea to leave things in there for 24 hours, even if it is on low the whole time. Despite the fact that there was plenty of juice left, the meat and potatoes were more than a little toasty by the time I got home. I ate the meat, figuring it was a “smoked bbq” flavor anyway, so the scorched flavor just added a little something extra, right? But I couldn’t choke down the potatoes. Bleh.

At any rate, some of you have been asking for pictures of my new place in Iowa. So here you go!

We’ll start at the very beginning (they say it’s a very good place to start):

All of my stuff, crammed into the first 3 feet of a 28′ long trailer, ready to move from MA to IA.

I moved using ABF Moving. I’d highly recommend them to anyone out there, and I’d use them again in a flash. They were super nice, flexible, and their prices were by far the most reasonable of all the options I looked at.

My lovely carrrr. (Now that I’m back in the Midwest I can start pronouncing my Rs again.) Full full full.

ABF lets you pack all your stuff in their trailer. Then they fill the rest of the truck with freight that they drop off en route to your destination. So, that meant I drove myself and my car from MA to IA. The last week of August. With no air conditioning. Good times. Needless to say, I got a lot of strange looks when I stopped to buy gas or food or sunseeds. Why? Because the back half of my clothes was sweat-soaked from being pressed against the seat and the front half was dry from being blasted by my open window at 70-75mph.

“Fruit flies” in the Super 7 motel in Coralville, IA. STAY AWAY. STAY FAR FAR AWAY.

While I’m happy to recommend ABF to anyone under the sun, I can’t emphasize enough how far away you should stay from the Super 7 Motel in Coralville, Iowa. My room was filthy and it was filled with what I decided to tell myself were “fruit flies.” I’m really hoping they weren’t fleas. I killed about 20 of them on the bathroom mirror without making a dent in their population. I gave up and complained. It didn’t get me anywhere. I was told the manager would call me, but of course she didn’t. (I didn’t have much hope after reading the note to employees, posted behind the counter where I wasn’t supposed to be able to see it, stating something along the lines of, “Don’t call me unless the person complaining ABSOLUTELY refuses to leave and you feel unsafe. -manager”) Lovely.

I got to the studio the first week of September. Here are some pictures of that:

Classroom at the studio (to the left of the main door)

Classroom (to the right of the main door)

Plaster/moldmaking area

Some of the cottle boards I made for my moldmaking class. (I was very proud of myself!)

As you can see, it’s a really nice classroom/studio! I’m teaching four classes this session – Families in Clay (kids + parents), Wheelthrowing, Moldmaking, and Special Topics (open exploration). Next session I’m going to teach the same things, except I’ll swap advance wheelthrowing for moldmaking. I’m enjoying teaching, mostly because everyone who comes to the studio is friendly and fun!

My studio space (it looks different now, John built me a new table and he and Brian cleared off a lot of the shelves).

After much ado, I moved into my apartment in the middle of September. It’s tiny. The picture below shows pretty much all of it. The kitchen is to the right and the bathroom and closet are through a doorway in the lower right hand corner. The windows have a great view, though! My room looks out onto the park in front of the public library.

What my apartment looked like up until last week.

I slept on an air mattress generously loaned to me by one of the people at the studio until last week, when I finally had both the time to buy a bed and a place to put it – there wasn’t room for a bed in there with all of the boxes!

I like my new place, now that I feel sort of settled in it. I’m having trouble with beetles in the kitchen though. I didn’t clean that room before I started unpacking, because it looked pretty good and I was in a hurry. I wish I had. I decided to wipe up the floor to see if that would help with the bug problem. I soon discovered that it needed much more than wiping up. The tiles I thought were grey are actually white. Yuck. Lauren, if you’re reading this, it was almost a repeat of the floor you and I spent 20 hours scrubbing with comet. There was a definite, visible line where my Bon-Ami (my weapon of choice, in conjunction with Lemon-scented Softscrub disinfectant foaming spray) and scrubby pad had reached and where it had not. The floor in there is 2′ by 6 or 8′ and it took me 40 minutes to clean. Yuck.

After that triumphant cleaning (it looks really nice now!) I decided I’d better scrub the bathroom floor too. It’s a smaller space but it took about the same amount of time. Then I threw the scrubby away. I figured I could spend a dollar on a new one next time I go to the store. Who knows what was on there…

This was my second greatest moving-in accomplishment. The first was finding a real bathtowel in all my boxes. I had been using one of those little camping ones. Switching from that thing to a beach towel felt like a pretty big luxury! Anyways, back to the shampoo holder shown above. My bathroom has an old clawfoot tub in it, which is neat, except the bottom isn’t flat, so you can’t set any bottles on the floor of it without having them tip over onto your feet. The novelty of that wore off after about 10 seconds. So I was extremely excited when I figured out how to get this shower caddy to hold my bottles – because did you know none of the ones for sale these days have backs to keep your crap from falling out? I stretched pieces of an old therapy band across the back of this caddy and now it works like a charm.

Okey dokey I’m all out of random stuff to write about. TTFN

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“Put a 10DKK coin in the slut”

FYI… It’s been a while since I last posted, so this post is going to be a lot of random things thrown together.

Okey dokey. For some reason, I’m still able to access a US-based VPN despite my being in Denmark. I’m a regular/certified member of this particular VPN, but until recently, I didn’t know I could access it outside the US. At any rate, it must do something to my IP address, because I discovered that when I logged in to the network, I could watch the Olympics online. NBC’s coverage was a little strange (I didn’t know there were only four women’s gymnastics teams in the entire world!), but it was nice to watch a bit of the Games every now and then.

I hooked my computer up to a projector one night so other people could watch too – here’s a picture of Christin trying to point her toes like the synchronized swimmers. We all agreed that those women (who are very talented!) have semi-frightening feet.

The Olympics have somewhat inspired me to start working out again (my other inspiration is insomnia). I didn’t bring any running shoes, so I’ve been doing some barefoot sprints in the park behind the studio. It’s a nice place to run. I always make sure to scout my running line in shoes before getting started, though. (Think: park + dogs + bare feet.)

Working out means sweaty clothes, which in turn means laundry. Here are the instructions for the washer and dryer at the studio. I laugh whenever I load them up…

The tile project is coming along, slowly but surely. As of this evening, I have 347/388 made and ready to go into the kiln. I think I can start loading tomorrow, which is a good thing because I’m out of storage space. I need to empty a few boards of them into the kiln so that I can reuse the boards to finish off the last few. Right now the kiln is filled with (cooling) work by a Danish artist named Susanna LastName?, who’s going to sell her mugs and plates at a big craft fair in Copenhagen this weekend. Masako and I are going to go check it out on Saturday. Want to come with us? Those are Susanna’s glazed but unfired mugs on the cart in the picture below.

 

Because I know you’re dying to see it, here’s a photo of one of the grocery stores. I usually ride a studio bike there, but if it’s not raining I try to get a little extra Vitamin D by walking instead.

This is how you leave your bike while shopping in Skaeskor. Coming from crime-ridden New Bedford, MA, the sight of all these unlocked bikes still blows my mind (in a good way).

 

I’ve been eyeing the fancy cheese in this store for the past 3 weeks, and today I finally broke down and bought some. Food is super expensive in Denmark, and some things are particularly, strangely expensive (for example, there’s a heavy sin tax on butter, but none on alcohol). I rationalized this purchase by noting that while definitely not cheap, Camembert and Brie are still less expensive here than they are in the US…

This snack was worth every penny!

 

 

 

Front-row seats to a surprise concert, lasagna

Yesterday there was a random (to us) concert on Guldagergaard’s back lawn. I say it was random to us because most of us didn’t know what was happening. At about 2:00 I heard someone tuning a guitar as I worked in the studio. I brushed it off as a wandering music-maker. The Danes seem like a pretty happy bunch, so I thought maybe someone was just taking their guitar out for a Sunday stroll. The yard backs up to a park, so it didn’t seem like that much of a stretch, despite its close proximity. About five minutes later, I went into the kitchen and saw a bunch of old people sitting on the grass in lawn chairs and a little table where two women were selling coffee and cake. That seemed kind of strange.

Crowd on the lawn.

As it turns out, there’s a free concert at 2:30 on the first Sunday of each month. It just so happens that the concert is in Guldagergaard’s backyard (not the park). The organizers pull in different performers every time. I’m not sure of the name of the duet who played yesterday, but they were pretty good! They played a variety of songs, from Willie Nelson to John Denver to patriotic Danish classics and Simon and Garfunkel.

Because we live in the house, we got front row seats! I was really happy – I love live music, and this was a nice break in my day. I briefly felt a little guilty about sitting to watch the whole thing because everyone else eventually went back to their studios, but after asking myself, “how often am I going to get to see something like this?” I felt a lot better.

Here’s a shot of the Dynamic Danish Duo (as I’ve decided to name them), and two of my favorite characters in the crowd.

The Dynamic Danish Duo.

Great Beard.

Motorcycle Cowboy. He rode in, sat on his bike through most of the concert, then abruptly rode off into the sunset.

Click here to go to a short clip of the concert: hereherehereitis! (my facebook page)

Tonight was my night to cook again. I decided to try Kate Frazer-Rego‘s lasagna recipe. She assured me it would “bring marriage proposals.” Alas, there was none of that, but it did get gobbled up!

Before

After

Thanks for the recipe, Kate!

 

 

 

 

A few days in pictures

Masako (Japan), Stephanie (USA), Sten (DK) at a bbq we were all invited to at another studio. 

Egle and Christin at the bbq – waiting for some bubbly to pop, I think!

Stephanie and Christin riding back from the bbq (Egle (Lithuania) in background)

Me in my studio space, doing what I do best: making rectangles.

My Favorite Tools. Several months ago I repeatedly complained to my friend Lauren about how dull my studio knives were. Finally she said, “I just don’t understand why you don’t go on Amazon and buy some disposable scalpels.” Huh. I actually hadn’t thought of that! Now I can have a brand-new blade every day if I want to. I LOVE it! The handles were about 3 bucks each, and I think the blades (I like nos. 11 and 15) come out to a few cents a piece. Maybe the best money I’ve ever spent. Way cheaper than x-acto…

I’ve decided to do an outdoor installation in the garden. I did the math today and I think I need 388 of these squares. So far I have 42.

Tests of porcelain-dipped fiberglass (fired).

Some of my recent castings (unfired).

Christin Johansson’s (SWE) studio space

Sten Lykke Madsen’s (DK) studio space

Stephanie Stuefer’s (USA) studio space.

Hiroe Hanazono’s (USA) studio space – she mostly works in the plaster room.

 

This is how they mow the lawn in Denmark. (It’s also where I plan to put my installation up for a few days.)

Hiroe making another amazing meal.

One of the many trays of sushi Hiroe prepared that night.

Christin’s family came for her birthday, which was a couple of days ago. Her kids decorated the cakes. Cute!

Egle with some of Christin’s birthday cake.

 

Malena (DK) in an after-birthday-dinner “Lambrusco ad.”

Cat named Steven who likes to hang around Guldageraard, even though he has a family down the street.

Stephanie (AIR), Rachel (assistant), Masako (assistant), and I (AIR) went on a nice after-dinner walk tonight.

 

Eating ice cream at the harbor.

There are lots of rosebushes around town and near both bodies of water. I picked some rosehips and am going to have them in tea tomorrow morning. They remind me of the time Lauren and I picked them at West Island while Piggy the dog went crashing merrily through the bushes, chasing all sorts of other creatures.

The slugs curl up into little balls when touched.

Make a wish!

Walking out on a pier at the lake.

On the pier.

Stephanie, Masako (Japan), Rachel (USA) on an after-supper walk to the harbor and a nearby lake.

When we wanted to get back to the road after walking along the lake, trying to find a way through/around this building proved to be a little difficult. We thought it was an apartment complex and we could just walk through these doors and out the other side, but the building turned out to be a nursing home. Whoops! (We went the long way around.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Current projects at Guldagergaard

Hello everyone,

I thought it’s probably time for me to upload some photos of this place! I’m enjoying my time here so far. I think I’ve talked about this before, but one of my favorite parts is that everyone takes a turn cooking dinner for everyone else, and then we all eat together every night. It makes a really nice sense of community and it’s a fun way to get to know people.

I still haven’t signed up for a night. I better do that today!

In the studio I’ve been making molds. I’m going to do some regular slip casting of some cups (of course) and bowls, but I’m also going to try slumping some porcelain-saturated sheets of fiberglass. I think it could be really cool if I can get it to turn out. Right now my biggest problem is that I don’t know the appropriate firing temperature for those pieces – I think the fiberglass might melt quite a bit earlier than the porcelain, so I need to be careful not to over fire them and cause a huge glass puddle to form in the kiln. That would not be fun for the other artists who use the kiln and it wouldn’t be much fun for my wallet, either!

Here are some pictures:

 

My room.

Front of Residents’ house.

My studio space (notice the great apron I bought at the thrift store this afternoon!). My slump molds are on the left and my casting molds are in a dry box in another part of the studio.

Two more aprons, a spoon for my collection, and a tea strainer found at the thrift store today. I also bought an egg slicer for the studio kitchen – all together it was about $8.

Pond near the studio that houses an extremely loud but somewhat charming family of ducks.

Funny bird (took this picture in Florida but thought you might like to see him) 🙂

TTFN…

Remember to cheer for Amanda Smock in the Olympics! She’s from Melrose, MN and she’s the lone US Women’s triple-jumper at the Olympics. We ran together at NDSU and she’s one of the nicest people I’ve ever met 🙂 Triple jump prelims are on the morning of Friday, Aug. 3rd. Click on her name to read a little bit about her story.

Denmark is just as flat as North Dakota :)

(Note: I’m starting a 5-week artist residency at Guldagergaard International Ceramics Research Center in Denmark today, but have spent the last 10 days in Madrid and Paris and hope to have time to blog about those cities soon.)
I made it to Guldagergaard safe and sound. I’m sitting in my room now. It’s quite a bit bigger than my hidey-hole in Kecskemet, but just as cozy! I didn’t have any trouble with the metros or super rude people today, just one lady who yelled at me in the Paris airport for going out the wrong door (I’d accidentally gone to the wrong airline counter – “Madame. MADAME. The exit is to the RIGHT.” Okay, okay. Jeez…).
But when I needed to get on a train in Copenhagen’s airport, I asked a family for directions and they ended up letting me tag along with them since their final stop was the place I needed to change trains. When we got to that stop, they pointed me toward the right platform to pick up my next train. They were super nice. I totally misinterpreted the written instructions I was given and wouldn’t have gotten here without their help. I think I might have ended up in Sweden. For real. Anyways, they were Danish and they were on their way back from the Galapagos Islands. They’d been travelling for over 24 hours, but I never would have guessed it because they were so friendly and didn’t look tired at all!
When I got on the 2nd train I didn’t know if I had a ticket that let me sit down or not. In Paris you had to pay extra for those and on the way to Kecskemet you could sit down but only in certain cars, and I sat in the wrong section and had to pay a fine, so I wanted to avoid that. So I stood in the place between the cars for about 15 minutes before I realized that the seats to the right were pretty fancy compared to the seats to the left. I decided to try the ones to the left. It must have been okay because the conductor didn’t say anything to me when she punched my ticket. I was glad I sat down because it was about an hour long ride and there were some drunk people in the space between the cars. I got off the train in Sla-somethingIcan’tremember to transfer to a bus, because the town where the studio is is too little for a train station.
The bus was nicely situated right next to the train platform.  I rode it to the bus station in Skaelskor, which was abandoned-looking and all boarded up with plywood for some reason. During the ride, I had seen everyone else showing the driver their tickets when they got on, but he wasn’t on the bus when I boarded so I hadn’t shown him mine. I took it up to the front and showed him it when we stopped at the station. He was an old man so I wasn’t thinking he would speak English, but he did, and he just smiled and said, “Yes, yes, that’s a very nice ticket.” Ha! So then I decided he seemed like a pretty good guy, and I asked him for directions to the studio.
I showed him the address and asked if he knew where it was. He said, “Yes,” and then just sat there, giggling. He was getting quite the kick out of himself! It was pretty funny. So then I laughed and said, “Would you be able to tell me how to get there, please?” And he laughed some more and said yes, and then he told me. So that was fun. I talked to an American couple on the train from the metro station to the Paris airport and they said they started their trip in Denmark and loved it. They also told me I would be really happy here because everyone is so nice. They said that about 5 or 6 different times, giving me the feeling they must have had some bad experiences in Paris too!
I’m going to take a shower now and go to bed. I got here 10 minutes before supper started, and was invited to join in, which was nice. I guess everyone takes turns cooking supper for each other and then we all eat together. That’ll be nice. Supper got kinda lonely sometimes in Hungary. Everyone here seems really fun, good sense of humor all around. I have no idea what to cook for 12-14 people though!  Any suggestions??