Friday, May 20, 2011

Dragon's Breath

Tonight, my youngest asked me if we could have a snuggle story.  This is where both of my boys lay with me in my bed before heading off to theirs', tell me about their day, and I make up a story.  Tonight, between them, they decided they wanted a story about a Dragon Crystal.

So why isn't this post called, "Dragon Crystal"?  (lol)  (;  We'll get there!

And so the story began, "You know that dragons are known for being jewel collectors, didn't you boys?"

"Uh-huh." They chimed in unison.

"After all, we've all heard tales of the vast marvels of the dragons' horde."

"...Momma," my youngest interrupted, "what's a dragon's horde?"

"Oh, that's all the treasure they collect that they're always guarding.  You know:  gold, silver, diamonds, rubies, pearls and the like."

But all of these treasures paled in comparison to the one thing valued by dragons most:  The Dragon's Crystal.  You see, who ever possessed the Dragon's Crystal had the power to rule all dragons wisely, and was therefore made king of all the dragons.  And at the time, the dragon who had the crystal was the best king that had ever been.

But something happened.  The crystal was lost.  And the old king died.  And without a wise king to rule them, the dragons drifted apart and became loners, out to guard their own hordes and search for the Dragon's Crystal in hope of being the new king.

They searched for decades.  But the crystal was lost to the passage of time.  As was the story of the crystal.  And after a thousand years, no one searched for it, for no one remembered it had ever been.

Until one day, a little blue and red dragon (My oldest chimes in excitedly, "You mean like -my- dragon?" (referencing a glow in the dark dragon we got him at the Texas Renaissance Festival a year ago.)... "Your dragon is blue and red?" (a nod) "...Yes.  A blue and red dragon, just like yours.") and a little green and black dragon (which is the coloring of my youngest) were outside playing in their yard while their Momma dragon was inside making their all time favorite:  Dragon's Breath, for dinner.

They were playing tag, freeze tag and dodge the fireball...though if the Momma dragon had known about -that- one, she'd have put a stop to it, but they were having a good time and neither one got hurt.  After they got tired of doing aerial acrobatics and chasing their tails, the decided to play on the ground.

Now being dragons, and being boys, they were already prone to searching for treasure, so the two brothers decided to make themselves a treasure map.  They started under the big elm and walked 10 paces, counting it out.  Took 5 paces to the left, and lo and behold!  They found and 'x'!  (That the younger dragon has hastily scratched in the sand that very moment)

They began using their dragon claws to dig and dig and dig-- getting all sorts of sand in their scales.  When what should they find!  But a beautiful crystal!  They lifted it out together.  It wasn't very big, why hardly larger than their palm, but it was infinitely lovely and if you held it just right in the sunlight, it danced in a myrid of every imaginable color.

They decided at that moment to bring it inside to show their Mom, who happened to be opening the door to call them in, "Time for dinner boys, go wash your claws!"

"Mom!  Mom!" they shouted excitedly, "You have to see what we found!"

"Not until you've washed your claws for dinner boys."

"But Mom!..."

"I said go wash your claws for dinner." she interrupted, "You can show me -after- you've done as I've asked."

So the two little dragons huffed off to the stream to wash their claws.

"What did you boys want to show me?"

And they held up their lovely prize.

"What a pretty crystal!  You can keep it in your nest, just be careful not to break it, alright?  Excellent job on your first treasure, boys!  Now it's time for dinner."

Little did the three of them realized that the little dragons had found, the Dragon Crystal!  Remember, so much time had passed, no one remember it, and so the three of them did not recognize it for what it was.

That night, the two little dragons slept curled in their nest, each with a claw on the marvelous crystal.

And as they slept the stars danced across the heavens, shooting and sparkling in a way that had not been seen in centuries, proclaiming that a new king had been chosen!  The rest of the dragons looked to the sky and a trail of stars led them to the house of the three dragons.

In the early hours of the morning, Momma dragon was greeted by all the dragons of the world, kneeling and crying, "Please!  Tell us the name of the new king, for the Dragon Crystal has been found and a new king has been proclaimed!"

She was startled, and stammered, "...Give me just a minute." as she closed the door and rushed to her children's nest-- where both of her boys lay sleeping holding the Dragon Crystal.

After waking her children and bringing them out, there was much rejoicing and the as the two dragon brothers grew, they ruled their people with kindness, wisdom and compassion.  And once a week, they had Dragon's Breath for dinner.  ("Because Dragon's Breath is excellent for having adventures!", my youngest chimed in as my oldest informed me that the brothers also grew up to get married and everyone lived happily ever after.)

Then there were hugs and kisses and my boys asked if we could have dragon's breath this weekend (:

Dragon's Breath, the recipe

1 lb ground beef
1 container of sour cream
1 onion diced
garlic, salt and pepper to taste

package of egg noodle, cooked per directions on the package

Brown the ground beef, adding salt, pepper, the onions and garlic.  Once it's cooked, stir in the sour cream while the egg noodles are cooking.  When the noodles have finished, drain and serve with the sauce over the top of it.

If you do much cooking, you probably recognize this recipe as Beef Stroganoff.  It's always been one of my absolute favorites. 

But when my sister Amanda was about 2, my mother was making it one night and my sister pitched a -fit- claiming to hate it.  So I told her that our mother wasn't making beef stroganoff, she was making Dragon's Breath-- which all good dragons should eat so their breath will scare away the evil knights that periodically show up trying to skewer them on a lance.  She giggled and we ate dinner without any issues, and since then, it's always been called Dragon's Breath. (:

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Rapture

Okay, so if you've been paying any attention at all recently, then you know that Harold Camping has predicted that the rapture is going to be this Saturday at 6 pm local time.  That's slightly less than 2 day from now.  The internet and social media are abuzz with it, and I'll admit, off and on all day, I've taken pokes at it.

It began when a friend of mine reposted this: 
Now here's an idea:
Margaret Heather posted:
I am laughing so hard right now: "Rapture prank: On Saturday, take some of your unwanted clothes and shoes and leave sets of them arranged on sidewalks and lawns around town."
Absolutely -brilliant-!! (:
Then a friend of mine made this the theme song for the weekend:
with the idea of making a mixed drink and calling it "Rapture".  It turns out there are already several, and I'm a fan of sharing recipes (;
Raspberry Rapture
2oz Raspberry
2oz Margarita
.75oz Bacardi Limòn
.5oz Grenadine
Martini Rosso Rapture Cocktail
2 parts red (rosso) vermouth
5 parts cranberry juice
Shake together with ice and serve with a slice of orange as a decoration.  
The Rapture
2 oz Bacardi® gold rum
2 oz Absolut® vodka
2 oz Hennessy® cognac
2 oz Jack Daniel's® Tennessee whiskey
2 oz Red Bull® energy drink
...1 oztropical fruit juice
1 oz cranberry juice
1 oz orange juice
1 splash grapefruit juice
Place all ingredients n a mixer, stir and serve.
Then another friend shared this video:

The friend who share this one:

also proclaimed this "Rapture Party weekend" this entails the following:  From Friday until Saturday has cleared, shots on the hour, every hour, accompanied with prayers of repentance. (Prayers are optional if you don't mind being left behind).
Then I had two songs of my own to share

before I found a wonderful post on NPR with a wonderful list of 'end of the world' songs in their comments.
Then two friends shared comics that I couldn't resist:

 All of this to say 1.  There have been so many previous 'end of the world' predictions (even from the same man making all the fuss now) that it's hard not to poke fun at them, as we all expect to wake up on Sunday morning.  2. That it seems to me that the people who make the largest fuss about the end of the world and the rapture...are the ones that expect to go.  I have to admit, it reminds me of the parable of Jesus and the Widow's offering (Mark 12:41-44).  Where the rich threw in much for their tithe-- expecting to be praised for it (possibly believe that they were buying their way into heaven), while the widow gave so very much less, but all that she had, expecting nothing.  and 3. It reminds me of a couple of passages by Mark Twain where Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn decide they don't -want- to go to heaven, if it's going to be filled with people like their aunts.
Many a joke has been posted about the freedoms and liberties that will be available once the raptured are gone.  One of the more prominent 'event's' for Saturday is Post Rapture Looting:  When everyone is gone and god's not looking, we need to pick up some sweet stereo equipment and maybe some new furniture for the mansion we're going to squat in. 
But my personal favorite, and the one I'm planning to attend is Non-Judgement Day, hosted by the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence:  **This event is not location specific. Participate wherever you are by using the day to build bridges, forgive others, tear down labels, and celebrate our diversity.**

"Some have declared that May 21st is Judgment Day, the destruction of the world as we know it. They say that wrath is upon us and unless we think, believe, and behave exactly as they do that we are under condemnation. The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, declare ...
May 21st to be NON-JUDGMENT Day. We say that universal joy and acceptance is upon us. No matter who you are or where you are on life's journey you are loved and worth loving just the way you are.

Gay. Straight. Queer. Lesbian. Fag. Dyke. Tranny. Slut. Whore. Fat. Skinny. Christian. Fundie. Atheist. Conservative. Liberal. Black. White. Brown. No matter what your label, no matter if you embrace it or reject it, ALL ARE WELCOME HERE.

On May 21st, do something to celebrate who you are. Reach out to someone who is being labeled and judged. Extend a hand. Build a bridge. Have fun. but most of all, be yourself!

If you’re in Portland, Oregon join the Portland Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence for a night of judgment-free fun. The Fat Out Fashion show at Crush will be all about body acceptance, and owning your own beauty. And then follow us to Candy Shop at Red Cap to shake your groove thing. If you are in other cities, look up your local Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence and find something to do. Get out there and celebrate yourself!

The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence is a leading-edge Order of queer nuns. Since our first appearance in San Francisco on Easter Sunday, 1979, the Sisters have devoted ourselves to community service, ministry and outreach to those on the edges, and to promoting human rights, respect for diversity and spiritual enlightenment. We believe all people have a right to express their unique joy and beauty and we use humor and irreverent wit to expose the forces of bigotry, complacency and guilt that chain the human spirit.
...Although I have to own up to being every so slightly biased against the rapturists (;

Final Assignment in Advanced Print Making

As our final assignment, we were each allowed to choose four cards from a standard deck of playing cards and required to create a design for it, so that between us, we would generate an entire deck of cards.  As Mr. Skaggs was talking about them, he said, "Take the 2 of diamonds.  It's not a very interesting card, but if you try, someone could make something pretty cool with it."  And as he was opening the deck that we would use as the size guide for making ours, I thought it would be an awesome idea to have one card from each suite.

Then I decided I'd take that 2 of diamonds...and all the other 2s as well.  Once I had them, I laughed-- I had "Noah's Ark"-- two by two (;  Once I had that idea, I decided to incorporate that into my cards as well.

The first thing that I did was look up the history of the playing cards, other symbols that were used to represent them and what they meant.  It turns out that historically, each suite was assigned an element, so I decided to put alchemical symbols representing the given element around the edge of each card:  earth, air, fire or water.  I also decided that I would put the name of each card on the card in the upper right across from the top number, and my signature in the bottom left across from the bottom number.

My first idea was for the 2 of diamonds.  I decided to call it "Diamonds on the soles of her shoes" and make a bellydancer/ ballet dancer in coins (an older symbol used for diamonds) and a tu-tu (2-2).  To keep with my 'Noah' theme, I placed 2 camels in the background.
Now available for purchase in a variety of prints, cards, skins, phone covers, tshirts, and totes from society 6.

Then I worked on the 2 of hearts.  I decided to put to -harts- on there, as well as 2 lovers entwined walking them, under a linden tree-- a tree in ancient times that lovers would swear their fidelity under.  I titled it "Two Harts Entwined Eternal" as the harts' leashes are tangled, and the lovers will forever be in an embrace.

Now available for purchase through society 6.
 For my third card, the 2 of clubs, I decided to play on the different meaning of 'club'.  Clubs is considered the agricultural suite.  The birds are kestrels in a olive tree, a sign of fertility and harvest, while beneath them, two women are gardening.  I titled it "The Second Meeting of the Gardener's Club".

Now available for purchase through society 6.
 And my final card was the 2 of spades.  Spades is the suite of warriors, so I knew that I wanted soldiers and war horses-- I chose Samuri.  And they are playing the game of Spades.  I titled my last card, "Call A Spade A Spade".

Now available for purchase through society 6.
Once everyone created their cards, Mr. Skaggs loaded them into the computer and generated an -awesome- poster!

A tribute to MC Escher

When I was a little girl, I saw an MC Escher print.  I absolutely adored it, and he became one of my favorite artists from that moment on.

My second semester in college, my art teacher required us to research an artist-- go ahead.  Take a wild guess who I chose (;

Not only were we required to write a five page paper about our selected artist, but then she required us to create an art piece based on one of theirs.

I chose MC Escher's "Snakes" as my base:

And created this:

"Dragons and Snakes Entwined Eternal"  8" x 10".  Pen and colored pencil.
Prints and other merchandise available at:

I've always been fascinated by the Chinese zodiac.  I knew that my 'sign' was the serpent.  And Mark, who has always been my best friend (since I met him when I was 15), is a dragon.  So I created our signs around an infinity and sent it to him.

I used to pride myself on imperfections.  There are 2 in this image.  See if you can find them (;

On an aside, I didn't realize until after Mark and I were married that my infinity sign could just as easily be interpreted as 2 wedding bands entwined.  This Halloween we'll celebrate our 12th anniversary...but we've been best friends for 19 years this fall (:

Aesop's Guide to the Birds and the Bees

Our final in conceptual drawing was to create a 'zine (a miniature magazine) consisting of 16 pages on any theme that we wished.  I've mentioned before that I was working my way through some of Aesop's Fables, so I decided to stick with it and share several of them.

I had already accepted that a side theme I'd had was death, so I thought that I would mix that in as well.

Several weeks before, when the assignment was first mentioned, a random conversation came up in class about Troy being confused as the origin for Trojan Condoms.  At the beginning of the school year, the dean of Troy had announced a new policy regarding "the Trojan Way"-- which meant no one would be allowed to wear pajamas to class, and people needed to dress nicely on campus.  It made me think of making an advertisement, because...well...magazines are full of ads.  So I decided I would add spoof ads to my 'zine.  And if I was going to have a spoof ad referencing sex... well, the title of my 'zine was born:  Aesop's Guide to the Birds and the Bees.

This is side one of my layout.
This is the other side.
I created the 2 page spread in adobe illustrator, printed it out, drew and painted my pieces in, then loaded it back into illustrator so that I could print out my 17 copies.

Title page


When I made the cover, I titled it, "Aesop's Guide to the Birds and the Bees", written by Aesop, butchered and illustrated by Janin MLK Wise (;

Well, there goes "You Can Ring My Bell"

as a title.

Turns out that song is about sex.

And this blog is about actual bells.

Our final assignment in advanced ceramics was raku for raku firing.  Raku firing happens outside, with lots of open flame, smoke, heat, and flying newspaper.  It's kind of like a controlled miniature fire-fighter party.  We even have fire-fighter coats and gloves.

One of the important things to note about raku firing is that nothing that comes out of it is food safe.  So I decided right off the bat that I wasn't even going to -attempt- to make anything that could be confused with food safe.  I wanted to make something for my yard.  My original idea was to make a series of stepping stones... until I started working on them and realized you can't make stepping stones out of ceramics and walk on them for 2 reasons-- 1.  if you make them thick enough to walk on, you can't pick them up, dry them out, or fire them, and 2.  if you make them thin enough to pick up,dry out and fire-- you can't walk on them.

Well crap!  After a small freak out and 20 minutes of thinking, I decided to make bells instead.

So I fashioned my first bell.

Complete with attachment inside for where the wire would hang and the clapper would go.  Then I made 2 more, getting progressively smaller.  I decided that these bells would be used to make a wind chime.

The finished piece, as it looks when you head up to my house.

The finished piece, as it looks when I walk out the front door.
 Very pleased with the end results.  So it's 3 bells, raku fired, with a copper based glaze, assorted sea shells and copper wire.  It even 'rings' when the wind blows.

The Raven and The Serpent

In conceptual drawing I worked my way through several of Aesop's Fables.  This assignment was what Mr. Skaggs called, "Nuclear Steampunk" -- combining both the ideas of steam and mechanical technology with nuclear technology.  I used the fable of the Raven and the Serpent.

I decided that the serpent would represent nuclear.  His venom are 2 atomic bombs and across his skin, as his scale pattern, are different atomic/ atomic related symbols.

I decided that my Raven would represent steampunk.  His heart is a clock with a key that controls it, gears under his left wing and a cyborg like plate around his right eye.

Detail on the gears and the clock-- which at at the 11th hour, as the raven's time has run out
Detail on the key, which is being pulled out by the serpent-- who now bears the key to the Raven's life
And so I share with you Aesop's Fable:

A raven in great want o food saw a Serpent asleep in a sunny nook, and flying down, greedily seized him.  The Serpent, turning about, bit the Raven with a mortal wound.  In the agony of death, the bird exclaimed: "O unhappy me!  who have found in that which I deemed a happy windfall the source of my destruction."

The finished piece:


"The Raven and the Serpent" pen and ink, water color, ink wash, and colored pencil.
Prints and other merchandise available here.

Return of the Geisha

 A large portion of advanced print making was dedicated to screen printing.  Our final screen printing assignment had to be a minimum of 4 colors, with registry (meaning that things line up and you have to know where everything goes to get them to do so).  I decided that I was going to revisit the geishas that I made in screen printing one original geisha prints  but add an intricate background and more detail.

This is my screen, ready to be printed.
 I have to admit-- absolutely LOVE this new screens!  They allow for intricate little details.  Looking back on it though, I would have been better off NOT putting them all on the screen at the same time.  I had to use contact paper to block sections off... a -lot-...

But the end result turned out like I had hoped:

I also took a picture with the flash, hoping to catch the sparkle of the gold coloring in the dragon on the fan and in the green in the background:

In the end, I ran 15 prints of it and decided not to run the other geisha.

Ceramics, Sgraffito and Underglazes

The biggest thing I learned this semester in advanced ceramics is that I absolutely adore underglazes!  They allow me to pursue my favorite part of ceramics-- the decorative glazing. (:

One of our required assignments was sgraffito.  This is where you put a glaze down, cover it in a layer of wax, then use a scribe took (think of a metal toothpick) to scratch a design through the glaze and wax that you will then put a darker stain in.

This was my first attempt at sgraffito.
I liked doing sgraffito so much, I did a second one as well (:
 This is actually the -first- bowl that I made this semester.  But I didn't know how I wanted to glaze it.  I ended up spraying it, using my friend Carrie's technique.
Seven years ago, I bought a bowl with holes in it.  Less than a year later, Mark accidentally broke it.  I've looked for a bowl to replace it off and on since then, without any luck.  So I decided that if I couldn't find one-- I'd make my own (:

the underside of my favorite bowl that I made this semester (:
The inside of my favorite bowl.  I got to eat out of it the day we made breakfast outside and did the raku firing.  I have to admit, absolutely thrilled to have made a bowl I can -eat- out of!!
My friend Carrie liked my square bowl so she asked me to glaze one for her as well (:  This is the inside.
and this is the outside.  The single spiral continues from where the one on the inside is.  We're both very pleased with the way it turned out (:

 We were also required to make an 'organic' bowl (not a traditional geometric shape) and this is mine:
I decided that I wanted to try out the underglaze 'crayons'.  A couple of months ago, I saw a painting similar to this and like the design, so I thought I would make myself an 'Easter' bowl (:

The underside of my 'Easter' bowl
I also learned about using plaster to make molds.  Originally, I created these designs in the hope of using them for stepping stones for our Raku project...until I realized you can't use ceramics for stepping stones.
So I decided to create coasters instead.

Going to Michael's this weekend to get cork to put on the bottom of them so that I can put them in my living room.