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Strand Ephemera, Stockwellia trees and more...

Posted by gabi on November 6, 2013

What an fantastic experience the Strand Ephemera in Townsville was! I enjoyed being amongst sculptures large and small, which is quite liberating from the usual pots and vessels my profession usually gets lumped into.

I was very busy during the Strand Ephemera. I was booked in to facilitate 7 workshops over 10 days. The last workshop had over 70 drop-in participants! Luckily I had 2 assistants who were a great help.Strand_ephemera_workshop.JPG The tables were set up under the tree in which my owls were perched. They gazed down serenely at the noisy proceedings, apparently unfazed by all the activity. I really enjoyed being part of a sculpture show - it makes me realise I need to think beyond the size of my kiln and think big! I have spent so long working with clay, it is difficult to think outside the square and even start using other media. I have so many ideas that don't make it beyond the sketchbook stage. 

I have to very selective at what ideas I put my effort in as I find that my time is at a premium, and my 'bread and butter' side of my business takes precedence, especially at this time of year when I have plenty of orders to fill. It is interesting to note that the Hardtofind orders have really slowed this year, but my local retail outlets have increased their orders. I can't seem to make enough Candlenut pods!

I was very fortunate last month that our friends Tam and Terry, Riley and little Finn showed us a very rare stand of Stockwellia quadrifida trees in a secluded pocket of rainforest at the bottom of Mt Bartle Frere. The are an ancient link between Australia and New Guinea, rainforest trees and eucalypts. They grow up to 40 metres tall, and you can see by the photo of Tam and big Finn standing in the hollow tree buttresses. I was lucky to find some gumnut like pods which I  Tam_and_Finn_in_Stockwellia_tree.JPG am currently working on for the next YVA exhibition later this month. I have thrown the pods on the wheel, and then turned, cut and altered the pods to look like the pods I found under these magnificent trees. I intend to glaze them with my basalt and ash glaze.

The weather has been glorious lately, not too hot for this time of year. Finn is anticipating a nest full of chicks to hatch in the next day or two. We are waging war on a pair of Myna birds who keep making a massive rat-like nest in the top of my kiln shed. It makes a terrible mess, dropping all manner of grass, feathers and bits of rubbish, you name it, it's up there - even a snake skin! We keep knocking the nest down, hoping they get the hint, as we really don't want them here. They are incredibly persistant. They are a dominant feral species that chase away the native birds. Rats of the air!

The other weekend we had quite an experience yarding up our cows and bull calves so they could have their ID tags in their ear and for the bull calves to be castrated. Imagine 4 bulls in one paddock! Our cows are quite spoilt and didn't appreciate being rounded up and having an earring put in their ear. The calves came away with rings on their nuts and feeling a bit sorry for themselves. Mushroom the cow went mad and went to charge our neighbour before leaping over the fence and galloping down the road. I gave Mushroom the benefit of the doubt when she charged me earlier this year when she had her newborn calf, but this time there was no excuse - even her calf went with the others into the yards. Unfortunately we can't keep her even though she is a great mother but she is too dangerous to have on our small farm. Astro the bull is back in with our girls, so in another 9 months we will start the whole process all over again...

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