20 July 2010

Buy This Book!

    I feel like a proud parent introducing you to this fine novel written and self published by Father Paul S. Naumann S.J.. PS was the first teacher to become a real mentor to me when I went to high school. He directed  the theater department (my FIRST love in the arts) and taught classes that ranged from Shakespeare to the existentialists and 17thc Italian comedy.
    The novel follows Crispin and his quest to save the great pine tree that is dying in the forest. He receives guidance from a wolf, a falcon and young man who drives a Pierce Arrow (the only car made in Buffalo, NY!). It's a fine adventure novel and I encourage you to buy a copy. Or three! They are available through EXLIBRIS or AMAZON. PS spent his life inspiring and encouraging thousands of students and now he's 'doing his own thing' and it is fantastic!

18 July 2010

Bird Identification in Virginia

Since I've decided to make an entire flock of these critters, I need a tracking system of some sort or other. I once did a '100 Fishes" project, a limited edition of small vases, no two alike, numbered and recorded in a lovely book that Paul made for me. Of course, it wouldn't do to repeat that trick, so I've decided that, like the National Weather Service names hurricanes, so shall I name the birds...alphabetically...starting with mens' names. These smaller lidded guys are, from left to right, Ignatz, Hiram and Knute. Laurence didn't make it into the photo. Of course, I don't name them until each is done, since I'd like to think that in some way their character helps suggest the correct moniker.
Dennis Allen suggested, and Megan identified, the similarity between the long necked bird in my last blog post and Feathers McGraw from the Wallace and Gromit claymation series. I often show their videos when I teach workshops!
    These are the last things I'll make stateside this summer, I leave Wednesday for Scotland and then back to my old home away from home in England. Hannah, Toff and Doug are all on the itinerary as well as visiting the pottery show at "the Pens" in Penrith.

Last evening we had a ferocious 'microburst' storm that ravaged trees all over town. I watched a neighbor's ancient oak tree go over in what seemed like slow motion. Another crushed a big fence at LibertyTown and others went down in a very localized area. We've been in big drought and I believe that it has undermined the stability of some big old beauties. If you look close you can see the manhole cover that was lifted right out of the ground!

15 July 2010


 After some extra large sculptural birds I'm now working on some smaller lidded ones. I have some very small ones to finish tomorrow and I continue to be excited by these regardless of the scale. I have always enjoyed changing the scale of an individual form..there are obvious and subtle differences that keep it  challenging.
I'm trying to figure out how to make a long 's' shaped neck, but this long straight one sure ended up with a lot of character. I added some fearsome feet to it after this photo. It's about 20" high at this point.
This is a good 'before' photo. There are 4 pieces here...the pedestal, the container and a two part lid.

10 July 2010

Flock of Seagulls

I'm not sure what kind of bird these are really, Steve Cymrot called them crows. I think of Heckle and Jeckle (check 'em out on youtube)  sometimes...and I don't think that I've shown any good photos of the birds that came out the last firing but they've been a big hit and I really enjoyed making them. So much so that I'm devoting a big part of the next firing to our avian friends, both big garden sculptures and smaller lidded ones. It is a very different way to work than making breakfast bowls and mugs, but I'm interested in playing more and this is really cracking me up!
 This two faced bird has me really excited...I only had a vague idea that two might be better than one and for some reason this form made it easy. It has given me a bunch of new ideas to try...
 So far this is the biggest, reaching almost 40" tall. I'm guessing that there way more than 1000 'feathers'
Here is a thrown piece before I have my way with it...
This is a 10"x10" cylinder with 4 faces. A champagne bucket for four! It is a study of sorts for a totem-like piece that I'm dreaming of...stacking a bunch of pieces together with giant birds wrapped around it.
These will be smaller lidded birds, starting with 1 -2 pounds of clay.

08 July 2010


I've been a bad blogger boy lately and I have been feeling more than a little guilty about it. I know we shouldn't apologize, but sometimes the vestiges of a Catholic upbringing get the best of me. The photo above is of 5 of the 6 Finnegan kids, brother pat's wife and their 3 and photos of my grandparents, mom and aunt Donna. A lot of Finnegans for a Murray family reunion! We met at Chestnut Ridge park which is a real nostalgic place for me and played bocce, cooked out on the grill (Buffalo is home to the world's only meat-a-tarian people...potato chips and pickles count for vegetables!), and told stories about the generation taht preceded us. My only remaining uncle got us all together, which took some effort. He tells us that this is an annual event!
    I also visited the house that we grew up in, something I haven't done in 20 years or more. Humble beginnings...
    Before I arrived in the Queen City I wandered through the Finger Lakes for a couple of days. We used to go camping and fishing there when I was a kid and it is just as beautiful as I remembered. Long, skinny glacier lakes surrounded by hills covered in vineyards and orchards. New York is the 2nd biggest grape producer in the US. I have lots more to report, but I just needed to crawl back into the computer's saddle and take it for another ride. I'm leaving for England in a couple of weeks and there is lots going on!