Monday, April 27, 2015

The Colors of Cuba Photographs by Lou Plummer

Lou Plummer will be our featured artist for May and June sharing her photographs taken on a recent trip to Cuba. The opening reception will be held on Friday, May 9 from 5-8 pm. The show runs from May 1 to June 30.

Lou talks about her show.

"I was only months old when the Cuban Revolution began in 1953 and 6 when it ended in 1959.  

In 1962 I had no idea of what was happening in any world except my own. I was blissfully unaware, climbing trees, drawing hopscotch patterns on the driveway, playing in the forest surrounding my home with all the make believe magic I could conjure.

My father was an avid reader of news magazines and rarely, if ever, missed the nightly news.

Sometimes I do wonder what my mom and dad must have been thinking.  Were they aware, were they concerned?  Did they discuss this or was it as foreign to their world as it was to mine? 

I have read and heard the stories of Americans traveling to Cuba for fun and recreation.  After all, it is only a short 90-mile hop from the southern tip of the United States. 

Cuba attracted a range of Americans, from waitresses escaping their daily life in Miami, enjoying the anonymity allowed while experiencing the nightlife in Cuba, to famous American ‘mobsters’ doing the same.

I have been attracted to the romance, if you will, of that era and wished for many years to travel to Cuba and hopefully experience the same, as did those earlier, fellow adventurous travelers.

That was not a possibility, legally, until recently.

Travel is now possible to Cuba for citizens of the United States. These trips are termed ‘People to People’.

“It is a travel program designed to allow international visitors to get a first hand view of the Cuban reality, to learn about the authentic Cuba, meeting the people, learning about the Cuban culture, its traditions and nationality.”
“It will help, modestly but consistently, to improve the economic conditions of the people and the civil society key to Cuba’s future.”

Various events that touched my life during 2014 warned me to no longer delay any steps toward happiness.  So, I searched on line, talked to my travel agent and decided to take the trip to Cuba. 

I learned so much, met so many wonderful, charming and unforgettable people and came away with a little more understanding of the Cuban people.

It was a surprise to me how important education and the arts are to the people of Cuba.  Our visits included a primary school, a private studio of artists where different techniques in printmaking are explored, the Vocal Leo – a group of 14 talented singers known internationally for its distinctive interpretation of choral music…and that was just the first day!

All our days were filled with similar experiences and were never boring or tiresome.  And did I mention the music?  I thought I would have to search and find the famous sound of Cuba, but not so.  From the doorways of every bar and restaurant came sounds of jazz floating through the air, crossing streets and alleyways, morning, noon and night.

One of the world’s last remaining Communist states, the Cuban government continues to stifle its people, but through Communism the people have free education, free medical care and a rationing system that provides family minimums for rice, sugar, beans, matches, oil and other items depending on age and gender. 

Cuba today is the only Communist state to receive a “very high” human development ranking from the United Nations, and ranks well in measures of health and education.

Recent changes under Raul Castro have loosened government controls, allowing people to buy and sell their homes, own a small business as a restaurant, called  a paladar (previously all restaurants were government owned) or open up their homes to tourists as a bed and breakfast offering the opportunity to get to know real Cubans and the authentic atmosphere of their everyday lives.

I have tried to capture this everyday life with my photographs."

Lou attended Randolph Community College, receiving an associate degree in Photo Technology, concentrating in Photojournalism. She also received a bachelor of arts degree in Marketing from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Va.

Join us on May 9th from 5-8 to meet the artist - or any Monday, Tuesday, Thursday or Friday since we are lucky to have Lou working with us at Carolina Creations!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Necessity is the mother of invention as they say

Well my experiment with using my underglazes that I use on my low fire pottery didn't turn out so great, pretty much all the color burned out at cone 6. I just read that you have better luck at cone 6 if you use a zinc free clear glaze.

At least I think it burned out. I'll have to see if the clear glaze I purchased for this project has zinc or not. In many ways it would be easier to make your own glazes, but I don't have the patience or the time to do the testing. Just what I'm working on with these commercial glazes is enough for me.

I will test again and use only two coats on part of it and one coat on part of it and see what happens, maybe that was the issue.

In the meantime I have ordered some new Majolica Glazes from Spectrum, Spectrum is the brand of underglazes I normally use. This is a new glaze I think, or at least new to me. You can use it in the Majolica technique, as an underglaze, or as a glaze by itself, pretty cool. So if I don't like the Majolica technique I can use them in the way I normally work. 

I excited to get them and test them on the new clay. If I use the Majolica technique I could start with red clay if I wished which would add another dimension. The problem with that its hard to keep the red clay contained and I would end up contaminating my equipment that I use for white clay, so for now I'll just stick with white. Even with that I have to keep the low fire from getting contaminated with the high fire white.

What is Majolica? Here is a definition I got from Ceramic Arts Daily - 

In this technique your bisque piece is coated with opaque white glaze and then colored overglaze decoration is applied.

Sounds simple, right?? Well maybe.

I've been searching on the internet and don't see anything like what I have in mind for my bench project using majolica. But for future reference I see lots of pieces of pottery in a style that would be a new look for some of our other pieces. Maybe the reason I don't see anything like what I have in mind is it can't be done??

Here are some old pieces of scenes I found by searching on the internet, done in the majolica technique.

This next one looks more like my style, not what type of a scene I would paint but the "look".

So will post again when I get to the point i have something to show.

In the mean time I Love Linda Arbuckles work. She works in the Majolica technique, teaches workshops, and is a wonderful potter.

Here are a couple of her pieces.

Very nice!  See how rich the white looks? It's because she is working with red clay. The way she applies her colors is how I paint on clay, more so than the top two photos, except my lines are thinner and her shapes are more bold.

I'll continue to post updates on this project as I make progress.

Friday, April 24, 2015

What is a Tell

A tell in poker is a change in a player's behavior or demeanor that is claimed by some to give clues to that player's assessment of their hand (in our case a clue to our state of mind).

It's also a type of archaeological mound created by human occupation and abandonment of a geographical site over many centuries.

Our house is kind of both kinds of tells.

The fact that our plant boxes on our porch have stood for at a year and a half, without any plants in them, and our yard was kind of a mess, is our "Tell". It tells you that we were so involved in getting Michael healthy that we had no time for the yard or a lot of other things for that matter.  On the other hand it could also tell you that we have been so busy with work that we had no time for the yard.

The last two years were both things.

When we WERE home I had quite a few big commissions I needed to do. One for Sound Bank and a very large triptych for the Convention Center. Both took me several months to finish, as well as the usual special order pottery pieces and a house portrait or two.

So I appropriately spent Earth Day weeding, trimming and planting, the last time I remember doing this was in June of 2013. The past two years really changed our lives and focus. Now that that is behind us maybe we can now get back to some kind of normal.

The other kind of tell, the archaeological mound kind, will come in the future. Not all our pottery pieces turn out and many of them end up in our flower beds for future owners to scratch their heads over!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Sabra Richards Glass Artist

We only get to see Sabra every couple of years, so are pleased that this is the year!

Sabra talks about her work 

"Kiln formed glass is the medium of sculpture I presently work in.

It has been an interesting journey learning and working in several media and now I find the challenge of glass and combination of other materials, to enhance the glass very exciting and challenging.

I start with sheets of Bullseye Fusible Glass. The method is very bold and direct.  I choose the color, individual ones and others layered to achieve other colors. I create the design, adding and subtracting glass and, most importantly, adding cane and components made at the furnace, usually at the Corning Glass Museum. Sixteen pieces of glass, formed into a block, fired and then put into the furnace, turned and heated until malable, and then “pulled” into the cane that you see in my work.

Then I combine the finished glass with previously welded steel, or layers of metal or constructions for wall pieces. The process is long and involved and wonderful to do."


BFA CUM LAUDE (Syracuse University)
Graduate work: Parsons School of Design, SUNY Cortland, Syracuse University, Bennington College
Who's Who in American Art
NYArt Reveiw: A survey of leading artists
Printworld: Who's Who
American Art Collector: listed 2005, 2006

Her unique sculptures can be placed indoors or out. The results are striking pieces which leave the viewer in awe of how a delicate medium of glass can be combined with the boldness of steel. 
She creates decorative tables and benches, a lot of garden sculpture, and wall pieces. Her work varies in size from very small to as much as ten or more feet. Sabra’s work is in many public and private collections, IBM, KODAK, Xerox to name a few. She is also listed in Who’s Who in American Art.
We can help you commission a piece of Sabras work for inside or out.
Check out a few more pieces on our website.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Color of the year

Each year Pantone picks a color of the year. This year they have chosen Marsala.

Here is what their website says about this color and why they chose it.

"Much like the fortified wine that gives Marsala its name, this tasteful hue embodies the satisfying richness of a fulfilling meal while its grounding red-brown roots emanate a sophisticated, natural earthiness. This hearty, yet stylish tone is universally appealing and translates easily to fashion, beauty, industrial design, home furnishings and interiors.

The Versatility of Marsala

  • Equally appealing to men and women, Marsala is a stirring and flavorful shade for apparel and accessories, one that encourages color creativity and experimentation
  • Flattering against many skin tones, sultry and subtle Marsala is a great go-to color for beauty, providing enormous highlight for the cheek, and a captivating pop of color for nails, shadows lips and hair.
  • Dramatic and at the same time grounding, the rich and full-bodied red-brown Marsala brings color warmth into home interiors
  • An earthy shade with a bit of sophistication, texture is the story in print and packaging. A matte finish highlights Marsala’s organic nature while adding a sheen conveys a completely different message of glamour and luxury."                 
This season there is a move toward the cooler and softer side of the color spectrum. An eclectic, ethereal mix of understated brights, pale pastels and nature-like neutrals take center stage as designers draw from daydreams of simpler times. Remembrances of retro delights, folkloric and floral art, and the magical worlds of tropical landscapes restore a sense of well-being as we head into warmer months.

Many feel compelled to be connected around the clock because we are afraid we’ll miss something important. There is a growing movement to step out and create ‘quiet zones’ to disconnect from technology and unwind, giving ourselves time to stop and be still. Color choices follow the same minimalistic, ‘en plein air’ theme, taking a cue from nature rather than being reinvented or mechanically manipulated. Soft, cool hues blend with subtle warm tones to create a soothing escape from the everyday hustle and bustle.
Leatrice Eiseman Executive Director, Pantone Color Institute®
We got to meet Leatrice a couple years ago at a show in Las Vegas and hear her speak about the the Pantone Color Institute and how they go about choosing the colors, it was very interesting!
What colors "pair" with marsala?
Well they have come up with a selection of colors they call "plein air" which is perfect for us since so many of our artists are doing plein air paintings!

In some upcoming posts we'll show some pieces we have at Carolina Creations that will go with these  chosen colors, so you'll be right in style! But for now how about a beautiful painting by Brenda Behr?

Some chalcedony jewelry from Anna Balkan....

Hand crafted pottery by Geoffrey Lloyd...

Blown glass by Berni North....

In the beginning Pantone was primarily used in the printing industry to tell you how to mix a particular color. I worked in the printing industry in the 70s and early 80s and always had a deck of pantone chips by my desk. 

To read more about Pantone and what they do visit their website.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015


I didn't discover until I was 40 that I was born to be self employed!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Sallys Painting Party

We are having one of those paint and sip parties!

Field of Poppies
Sally Sutton Painting Party
Paint a field of poppies with artist Sally Sutton!
Thursday June 11 6:30pm - 8:30pm
Sip, snack and paint!
All supplies and snacks will be provided so all you need to do is be ready to enjoy some time with friends creating your own painting! Wear clothing that is casual or bring an apron. Cost $48  location: Francoeur Studio, 229 E Front Street, New Bern.  Register online at or call 252-633-4369. Deadline for reservations: June 7. Sign up early, space is limited!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Its been a busy week in New Bern

I realize I have been gone half of the year! Shows, vacation, picking up art, no wonder I am so far behind.
     But I'm slowly catching up.
     This week I finished 6 very detailed tiles to be inserted into a backsplash in a kitchen in our Downtown.

     I'm working on trophies for a regatta coming up. Spent two days painting on the porch of the Blades house, during the home tour. 

This was my view

I saw a bird land on this pillar, it would make a nice painting for an upcoming show - Flight - that opens in September at Carolina Creations.

I was painting this on the porch in between talking to people.

Almost got it done - the Jewish Temple, just down the street from where I was sitting (oldest Temple in North Carolina). When we moved here I did ink drawings of all the houses of worship in our Downtown, now I am going back and doing them all using just watercolor. In another post I'll show you the original ones along with the new ones.

Just have to finish the door.

Did 2 "Nothing is worth more than this day" wall hangings that people like to give for weddings, also a wedding platter and a bowl, several baby sets for the gallery, a special order piggy bank for a birthday and one for CC, a going away platter with a painting of a house, a tile of a wedding venue in Costa Rica, whew!

These don't have the clear glaze on them yet which makes all the colors brighter.

Wall hangings, they don't have the wires attached to them yet.

Lou and I have been adding new work to the website and doing a lot of shipping. It's fun to wake up in the morning and find that people have ordered things in the night off our website.

I still have a graduation box to do, a tile of First Pres, and test my glaze colors and glaze fit for the tiles for the benches, a postcard for an upcoming show, brochures for two upcoming workshops, and redo images for coasters. Hopefully I'll get this all done in the upcoming week so I can break out the oil paints and do some paintings while our town is so beautiful this spring.

But before I do anything I am going to go for a bike ride and shoot some more photos. Will post those later!