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Posts filed under 'Santa Monica'

New Onine Ceramics Gift Store for Jennifer Joyce

Jennifer Joyce, Santa Monica potter and ceramic artist, has launched a new online ceramic gift store! I take ceramics classes at Jennifer’s Santa Monica pottery studio and helped her set up the online store.

With the opening of the store, Jennifer announced some new designs and products. She has been working on some new glazes and designs including her Citrus line of bowls and mugs with a beautiful green texture on the outside and bright orange inside. I also really like the Moonscape bowls that have a stylish black and white texture outside and a blast of chartreuse on the inside.

Jennifer has also been working with a photo transfer technique in which the photo can be reproduced in sepia tones on tiles and ornaments. It has a very classic look and Jennifer adds beautiful glazed designs around the photos. Online she advertises pet memorial plaques and pet ornaments, but the process can be used for any photo.

Jennifer has also been working on a wedding section but it is not yet live. She can make custom bridal party gifts, on-of-a-kind table decorations and centerpieces. I also think her bowls and other table ware make a much better wedding gift than typical registry items.

A few of Jennifer’s ceramic sculptures and tiles are also available. And it is possible to sign up for pottery classes or purchase pottery class gift certificates.

February 15th, 2009

Ditching the Lawn to Feed the Butterflies in Los Angeles

I’ve dreamed of re-landscaping with native plants for ages. But, like our decrepit bathroom, we just hadn’t the time or energy to get around to it. Until now.

This is just a long-winded account of what we did to reclaim our yard, under the guidance the many online tips from folks at Las Pilitas California native plant nursery. Hopefully I’ll write up a full-fledged guide shortly.

We never really watered our weedy lawn much, out of environmental consciousness and a little laziness. It managed to survive pretty well until one drought year when it went really brown. So finally one day I saw a crew of gardeners ripping out a lawn up the street (to re-sod — ew), and I had em rip out our remaining grass. Then to make sure all was REALLY dead, I watered for months and waited through the rainy season for anything to sprout, spraying nasty, evil chemicals to dispose of the rest. Rampaging weeds and invasive grasses are a sure way to ruin a native planting before you even start.

After much soul-searching, we murdered our 40ft eucalyptus tree so that it wouldn’t destroy our new native habitat with its thirst for all moisture in the soil and constant rain of leaves, seeds, blossoms and bark. I will miss the shade and smell, but not the daily sweeping. Here in Santa Monica we are frankly lucky we didn’t get protested for chopping a tree, even if it is an invader from Australia. We offed it swiftly.

I did a modest amount of research and at first it was hard to track down NATIVE plants at the local nurseries. Everyone sells so called drought resistant stuff, but almost all of it is from the Mediterranean, Australia and Africa. The same handful of species is sold everywhere. It just doesn’t make sense — why not salvage a little of the local biodiversity with perfectly suited plants that need little or no care? I suppose it is just the economics of nurseries — they all get plants from the same national distributors and customers all ask for the same silly plants.

Finally I found this quite cool California native plant nursery with a brilliantly informative website (laspilitas.com) with easy online ordering and delivery. I picked out critter-friendly buckwheats, salvias, manzanitas and more. I carefully (more or less) diagrammed the mature sized plants across the yard. I contoured a couple of modest mounds into the yard. I even filled the Civic with 700 pounds of rocks to welcome the plants. The sprouts arrived by UPS, surprisingly tiny and a little smooshed. I planted the suckers as planned. Contrary to every gardening instinct (and against advice from our neighbor the professional landscaper) I followed the instructions from the native plant people – no soil amendment, no roto-tilling, no organic matter, no fertilizer, no composting. Just stuck the plants into the hard, minimally disturbed ground. Ok.

And now time to mulch. The one things the native plants do need is a few inches of wood chips to recreate the natural organic matter that would cover the ground in the wild. I carefully calculated how much I’d need and started looking for sources. It was gonna cost at least $500 to either buy the dyed crap they sell at Home Depot, or to get some nicer stuff delivered. It would cost more than I’d paid for plants and rocks! The City of LA also offers free mulch that you can pick up at several yards throughout the city, though I read reports that it often has a bunch of trash in it. Then I found a tree trimming company that would, for FREE dump FREE wood chips and it was completely FREE, including the FREE delivery. I was mighty excited about the free part. The minimum they’d deliver was a bit more than I needed, but I figured I’d easily find some spots in the backyard that could use a little mulch.

Now, in retrospect, I now know that they dumped much more than the minimum portion I’d requested. But when it arrived I had no idea. I had already assumed the pile would seem astonishingly huge – I have no point of reference. But as the pile slid out of the dump truck, I started to feel a little sick. The mountain was much larger than our car – longer, wider, higher. Which sounds kinda big, but, really, when it is in your driveway and you can’t park there any more or use your gate, and all of the neighbor kids want to climb in it and everyone who passes points and starts asking questions, it is impossibly big and seems like a big mistake. And it radiated that nice piny Christmas smell, but multiplied by a gazillion so that the off-gassing made my eyes burn for days, even inside the house. Neighbors were gawking and some passers-by were outright laughing, though I may have been suffering from a little paranoia.

So for a week (during a nasty heat wave) I frantically and desperately hauled wood chips around the yard trying to make the mountain get smaller and prove that I wasn’t a friggin idiot for getting it all dumped there. And, besides, I had to make room to park the car, and get the trash bins out of our gate. Thanks to Mr. Peterson, my neighbor, who witnessed the delivery and lent me a wheelbarrow. I guess I had thought I was going to use a bucket to spread the stuff or something. Yea, right.

Well the pile was a crazy hodge-podge of wood. The stuff on top that I spread on my yard first was too big—giant chunks of pine that were really bright colored and it made the yard look like I was getting ready to light a bon-fire. You couldn’t even see the plants. It was sad and embarrassing. On the other side of the wood pile I found stuff that was equally unacceptable – really papery dusty crap that had mixed with some leaves so it was composting and steaming. A woman actually knocked on my door concerned that the giant dangerous looking wood pile was spontaneously catching fire. Somehow, by accident, I realized that if I spread the composty stuff on top of the absurdly huge pine chunks, it made neither look too ridiculous. So I dumped another layer on the yard. Not bad. Then I spent another few days dumping woodchips in every free nook in the back yard. Finally in the middle of the pile I found some really nice, modest sized, reddish wood chunks, just the kind any normal, self respecting suburbanite would love to have in their front yard. But no more space. Oh well.

I managed to use about 2/3s of the damn pile. Really. It was amazing to see the pile actually shrink, against all odds, as I dragged barrow-full after barrow-full around the yard.

The remaining pile mocked me for another three weeks as I posted Free Mulch on Craig’s List and met about a dozen very interesting people who also like mulch.

Two weeks after the first application, the wood chips settled and the color and scent actually became pleasant. The plants nearly all survived (surpassing all hopes) and after only a couple of months have grown nicely, begun bloom and attract some beautiful native butterflies and birds. I just want to hang out in the yard and water it to show it a little love, but I can’t because it doesn’t need water and in fact it would kill it.

3 comments July 8th, 2008

Donlad T. Sterling Homeless Center Investigated by LA Weekly

Donald Sterling Homeless Center Ugly Ad

In this week’s LA Weekly cover story Patrick Range McDonald investigates whether there is any meat behind the Donald T. Sterling Homeless Center ads. Our campaign to stop the ugly ads gets a little mention in the article. But the amazing thing about the Homeless Center ads is that real homeless service providers don’t know much about the homeless center, there have been no plans presented to the city about the homeless center, and, in fact, apparently Skid Row doesn’t really need another homeless center. I sorta mentioned this back when I first whined about the service center ads, “Donald Sterling is Homeless and Needs your Help.”

Now we find out that the ads are not just ugly, confusing and self-aggrandizing. They don’t really exist. But I’m sure Mr. Sterling is not intentionally keeping thousands of homeless people waiting for services. He is too busy designing his own ads.

This article is truly the best compendium of Sterling knowledge assembled to date and it gives us a window into how STERLING HIMSELF DESIGNS THE ADS!

“A business associate who often visited Sterling in his penthouse office in Beverly Hills in the 1990s says Sterling actually cuts and pastes many of the flamboyantly unattractive ads himself, with scissors, tape and marker. He has spent hours getting just the right look, sometimes elongating the images of buildings to look more Sterling-worthy. For years, Sterling paid half the going rate for space in the Times, according to the associate.”

(Check out the Weekly’s fantastic archive of Donald T. Sterling ads.)

March 19th, 2008

Pico Artists at Work in Santa Monica October 14

I’ll be doing a little demo at Pico Artists at Work! The day after my big art opening is a great walking tour of Santa Monica’s Pico Blvd based artists’ studios. Pico Artists at Work takes plase on Sunday October 14, 12 – 5 pm. Jennifer Joyce’s Pottery Studio will be open and my art will be on display!

I’ll be there from 12-2 and I’m going to do a little demo from 1-2. I’ll throw some shapes on the wheel and show how I connect them together and distort them to make my funky vases.

There hasn’t been much info online about it, but this showed up today. I don’t think this event has become too huge yet, but it sounds like a lot of fun. There are specific events for kids and children always enjoy watching artists in action. Hope to see you out there.

October 8th, 2007

unearthed, art pottery show reminder

Wow, the big pottery show is this week. Preparing for this show has been fun in so many ways.
Having a show has been a great incentive to make some nice new pieces. The new ones I’m completing this week are the best so far — though I shouldn’t say a thing until they come out of the kiln! I have some very large pieces that came together really naturally, from sketch, to wheel to glazing. I still can’t wait to see them after they are baked. And then I get to share them!

And this has been a great chance to invite people to a party and talk to all kinds of people about something I’ve been having fun with for a while. Putting this together has forced me to think about what I’ve been making and has helped me realize that there is a lot of intention behind it. I actually do have some kind of vision behind what I’m making. And since people are enjoying it, I have even more reason to make more.
So I’m looking forward to seeing friends and meeting some new people a the big opening this weekend — Saturday night at Jennifer Joyce Pottery Studio and Gallery. You can see the official unearthed pottery show site here. And read some blather about the pottery here.

1 comment October 8th, 2007

unearthed, my first solo art show

unearthed, art pottery exhibition, marc grobman at jennifer joyce galleryYou’ve got to come check out my first solo art show! I’ve been doing ceramics for a couple of years now and I guess people have been diggin’ it, so Jennifer Joyce offered me a show at her gallery!

Working in clay has been so satisfying — plunging my fingers into something substantial, away from the computer, in real life. And being able to create things that just ooze out of my brain. No flow charts, no code, no organization, no usability testing.

So, with complete disregard for utility or what anyone else thinks, I’ve somehow been making some nice pieces that people like. I don’t want to whine… I’m not quite satisfied with the work I’m producing. I feel like I’m just now starting to control the clay more than it controls me. But I’m pleased with enough that I’ll be able to fill a small room with some interesting stuff I’ve made.

Anyway, the show is called ‘unearthed’ and you can check out a few pieces of pottery at www.quixo.com/unearthed. You can give each piece a little spin with the fancy interactive-online-art-spinning-widget. And I hope you’ll join me at the opening Saturday, October 13, 5-8pm.

I try not to analyze it too much, but I like to think of it as punk pottery, all spiky and pock-marked. But, you know, not the punk rock of pure oblivion, destruction and fury, but more the throw out the rules, start over from scratch, anti-pop punk. And I’m sure you can see the other influences banging around in my head too. It is abstract but with enough direct connection to the natural world that the forms are sensual, grotesque and maybe a little humorous. The kind of thing you might find in the forest or under a microscope or possibly just after a meteorite has made landfall delivering artifacts from a lost or future civilization. Or whatever. I’m just making this stuff up. Come on out and you can take from it what you like…

Oh, and the art will surely be upstaged by the yummy munchables crafted by Stacy TenHouten who is firing up her new business, Butterlove Bakery.

2 comments September 19th, 2007

Beautiful Orb Spiders Coming Out for Fall in Los Angeles

The crows aren’t the only ones coming out for fall in Los Angeles. Huge, beautiful (creepy?) orb spiders have come back. Every evening in a couple of choice locations around the yard, about 15 feet in the air, they start weaving. Before bed I can usually spot a couple not far from where they were the night before. These orb spiders have huge bulbous bodies and, unlike the many jumping spiders, cobweb spiders, house spiders and other crawly friends around here, these guys make big old classic webs. They shoot out long strands between the trees and the eves of our house and then make the circuit, around and around, filling them in for a couple hours. And it looks like they capture big old moths. I hope so, for all that work. Frequently they are still hanging there in the morning with their webs slightly broken, and they seem to hide out during the day.

Lots of good info and photos can be found at the Natural History Museum’s Spider Survey page. You can even participate by dunking your spiders into alcohol, filling out a form and sending them to the museum. (I prefer to leave them in my yard). And we love this book, Insects of the Los Angeles Basin for all of our figuring-out-what-bug-this-is needs, also written by folks at the Natural History Museum.

September 5th, 2007

Crafty Goods for Kids

I’ve fallen in love with a website for hand-crafted kid stuff. Well it is more like a crush, I’ve only known about the site for a few days, but I just dig the whole hand-crafted movement, the beautiful design of the site and the idea of one-of-a-kind toys that are not plastic and were not made in China.

Mahar Dry Goods is a Santa Monica based web store with clothes, toys and other paraphernalia for kids. The site and brand are reminiscent something by retro comic hero Chris Ware. It is a wonderful world to visit where you can buy hand made objects or just check out the blog for the latest on hand crafted toy food or inspiring crafty art.

A couple of weeks ago I posted a bunch of the best toys that were our favorites when my kids were small. It was a few years ago that we struggled in our search for more obscure and natural toys. I even designed a bunch of odd custom stuffed toys for babies and almost even finished sewing one (hey, twin babies are a little time consuming). And now it seems like there are tons of crafts people making brilliant original toys. (We also used to, by the way, search long and hard for cool, interesting or punk toddler clothes, and now you can’t open a trendy magazine without getting them crammed down your throat — hello, it is not cute any more. And toddlers shouldn’t have ‘juicy’ on their butts.) Anyway…
What I really enjoy about Mahar Dry Goods is that there seems to be a movement of people creating craft that is art and is still new and modern and is anything but mass produced. And the latest internet mumbo jumbo makes it possible for online communities to develop and share these very low-tech pleasures. It helps me understand a little better my appreciation and enjoyment of pottery. We are hooked into and inspired by this digital world, but there is still a place for tangible objects that are made from the earth and show the imprint of the person who made them.

1 comment August 26th, 2007

The Crows are Back

Well they’re back, whoopin’ it up at dusk in huge numbers in the local trees. I refuse to believe summer is over, but the flocks of crows that like to party around here have started their antics. Last month it was a very very loud mocking bird making some kind mating call through the warm summer nights. Now it looks like the crows are getting together for some nice fall roosting.

For a few years I had wondered about the raucous crow festivities here in LA, so in January I asked asked Kimball L. Garrett of the Natural History Museum a few questions about crows in Los Angeles. He has some insights into crow behavior and some perspective on why they seem to take over urban areas. Basically, we’ve replaced the native scrub habitat with crow-friendly trees. And we don’t shoot them like farmers do (it is against the law, so don’t try). Read the article to learn more.

And I’m sure we’ll hear more complaints about the flocking crows this year. I’m still betting that someone here in Santa Monica will come up with a bazillion dollar crow birth control program. So stay tuned for that….

August 26th, 2007

Ceramics in Construction, Remodeling and Design

Jennifer Joyce Potter Studio WindowI take weekly classes with Jennifer Joyce in her Santa Monica ceramics studio. It is not easy being a traditional potter in Los Angeles. Amazed at the variety of work she produces I thought I’d share her work through a little interview. Jennifer creates all kinds of amazing sculpture and functional items in here studio. She hosts wine and clay parties and even helps Girls Scouts get their badges in pottery. But some of her most intriguing projects are larger scale works she produces for home construction and interior design. Check out this interview with Jennifer Joyce to learn a little more about the difference between creating small ceramic forms and large pieces for architectural use.

If you have any comments or questions, this is a good place for em.

July 23rd, 2007

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