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Yellow Garden Spider found by the wheel

I spotted this *little* fellow as I sat down at my wheel the other evening. These yellow garden spiders usually live outside but somehow this one had made its way inside.

Spider set free onto elephant ear leaf outside

These spiders (unlike black widows, brown widows, and brown recluses , among others) don’t really concern me too much since they are not aggressive and just eat insects. Still… the size, especially if you are not accustomed to them, could be quite disconcerting (hopefully the photo with my hand will give some idea of scale). Thankfully I’m not petrified of spiders so I trapped this one in an empty yogurt container and put her back outside.

Anyone who does anything with clay in the south, I am sure, are already quite familiar with the mud dauber wasp that takes bits of clay and builds tube-like structures where its larvae can grow to maturity. Apparently they are natural enemies to black widow spiders! Knowing that, I will think twice about removing a nest that’s stuck to a beam, wall, or post the next time I see one, especially around the studio.

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TweetLowell came in this morning with this little baby mockingbird he found hopping across the road with no parents in sight, no nest in sight, and on his way to getting run over. Pretty obvious he had fallen out of his nest. He is quite a skilled hopper, even for a little guy.

For now, we are spoon feeding him and hopefully we’ll be able to set him free once his flight feathers grow in. As anyone who has found little wild chicks like this can tell you, it can be a challenge to keep baby wild birds alive once you take them in. I hope this little guy, who my daughter has already nicknamed “Tweet”, makes it.

To feed him I am using a tiny baby spoon which is actually just a little narrower than the inside diameter of his beak. A teaspoon can also work well if you bend the edges of the spoon in and kind of over to fit inside the bird’s beak enough to get the food down its throat.

Pink AzaleasI’ve been down here on the Gulf Coast now for about 8 years now. While I don’t care for the oppressive humidity in summer or hurricanes, I do like the fact that when I get the Feb-March gardening jitters and break out the seed catalogs, I know spring really is right around the corner. The unfortunate thing is it makes it very hard to be in the studio because you just know that if you don’t get out there asap, the weeds will take over and you never seem to catch up.

Our area is considered ‘sub-tropical’ which means we can grow certain varieties of citrus that will tolerate mild winter freezes including Meyers lemons and satsumas, as well as other plants too that could only be grown as houseplants or annuals further north. Here are just a few examples of what we have growing: a spineless yucca, a philodendron, and a loquat.

Spineless Yucca

Philodendron

Loquat tree



Yesterday I was just getting ready to cut and slam wedge some native clay that had been sitting on the wedging table to dry out, as I often do to pick out the odd little rock or left over hard chunks of debris. Found this little fellow “hunkered down”, as they would say here in the South. He had chewed and burrowed his way about an inch into the clay.

Earlier in spring and summer, we are pestered by some much smaller black beetles, resembling this one, actually, only about 1 to 2 millimeters in length. They come out once the sun goes down and make their way into the studio, seeking out leather-hard pots and damp clay. Groups of them will actually burrow right through the sides of pots. Sometimes I think they make a point to go for those pots you have spent the most time on trimming or carving a design into …pure coincidence, of course.

Since we don’t have screens on the windows and the studio is kind of open, we usually try and wrap or cover pots with dry cleaner’s plastic. We have to also make sure we turn the lights to the studio off when we leave, since they don’t seem to nibble in the dark.

Absolutely beautiful day out today, here on the coast. While I do miss my fall days in Canada, on days like today, they couldn’t be further from my mind. Low humidity, sunny, slight breeze, and in the 80s F.

The deck on the studio (all built from wood gathered from the beach after hurricane Ivan) was finally(!) cleared of the last bits of refuse scrap lumber today. Gave it a good sweep off, cut back the blackberry vines that were working very hard at taking over, and I was quite amazed at the transformation.

Once the spot was clear, I just went ahead and brought out my wheel. Not sure why I hadn’t thought of it before but I am so glad I did. Made for a much more productive day. I was able to be outside, have a clear view of my much happier 3 1/2 year old playing in her wading pool, and able to throw for a lot longer with relatively few interruptions. Even the dogs and cat were happier as everyone now had an equally prime spot beside my chair.

I think I may do it all over again tomorrow. No rain in the forecast until later in the week.

Mark Saturday March 3rd on your calendars.

Artists around Mobile and surrounding areas are getting ready for the first of four outdoor art market days that will take place in Downtown Mobile. We have a growing list of participants including painters, printmakers, folk artists, potters, jewelers, glass artists, sculptors, and more.

For more info and updates in coming weeks, please visit our website/blog: http://artmarketdaymobile.blogspot.com/

Hope to see you there!

Further to my last post, and upon searching upon the newly updated Kiln Walk web site, they have four or five great and informative video clips about their 35 ft long anagama kiln and the firing last year that are bound to get your woodfiring juices flowing – the construction, bricking it up to fire, as well as other tidbits from Brian Harper and Don Reitz.

Brenda and Marty Stokes have worked very, very hard in the last 4 or so years at getting the Kilnwalk Society going (including donating a piece of their land for the project), and I can’t personally think of any better ambassadors for such an endeavour. This is one of the most exciting things that has happened to our part of the Gulf Coast potterywise and its open to everyone, not just academics.

(Remember their second anagama firing is coming up in just 3 weeks.)

Last weekend we took a ride down to Gulf Shores, to check out and take work to Rick Tino’s new gallery, Tino’s Fine Art & Frames. Rick, who lives in Gulf Shores, has been dealing with various frame shops and galleries in the area for years. He noticed that increasingly these places have been gravitating toward selling mainstream art, prints and work that one could find anywhere else.

So when Rick decided last year that he wanted to open a gallery again, he wanted to offer something unusual in a market that increasingly lacked distinctiveness. In his words, his vision was to create something less commonplace, an “oasis for beauty and things that are well made by local artists.”

Rick has invited artists who he feels would help him achieve his vision, offering an eclectic range of work from quality functional pottery to one-of-a-kind two- and three-dimensional works of art. Featured local artists are Laura Hensley(Glass), David Atwood (Glass), Chris Hartsfield (Realism Painter – Watercolor & Giclee Prints), Tommy Cannon (Oil) , Sea Oats Studio – Steve & Dee Burrow (Stoneware Pottery), Wilodean Brown (Pencil, Pen and Ink), Anne Webb & Lowell Webb (Stoneware, Raku, & Primitive-Fired Pottery), and Rick Tino (Acrylic, Watercolor, Gouache).

Feel free to contact Rick for more info, directions, or better yet, drop by when you’re in the area!
Tino’s Fine Art & Frames, 2200 East Second Street, Suite H, Gulf Shores AL 36542
Phone 251- 971-TINO (8466), Email: groktino@hotmail.com
Gallery Hours: Monday – Friday 9am to 5:30 pm, Saturday 9am to noon

My name is Anne Webb and I'm a studio potter living and working just outside of Magnolia Springs, on Alabama's beautiful Gulf Coast. Please leave comments!
Drawing Day 2008
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