Most of us grad students either taught or assisted with the summer art camp for children (having no skills or teaching experience, I just assisted). Linn came to pick me up every morning. There was a small black cat around our apartment complex. Since he was always out front in the grass, Linn called him Grass Cat.
I was assigned to Candi’s little kids' painting class as well as a clay class by a guy whose name I cannot recall. I made some little freeform clay pots as well as some necklace medallions. These were only put through the first kiln firing and were not glazed. If I had access to a clay studio, I would have these properly glazed and fired now.
The top left is me and Steve. I wore that one on a string the whole summer. Top right is Self Esteem self-portrait. Lower left is Mom- I was still getting over the loss. Lower right is a Mom Love symbol.
My friend Linn also worked in clay and encouraged me to try a ‘Smoke Firing’ and also to make my own homemade kiln in a tin can. NOTE: This is very bad advice and if anyone ever tries to talk you into this, DO NOT DO THIS – it’s a ridiculous and dangerous waste of time. Clay firing should only be done properly by experts in appropriate studio settings. And all Smoke Firing does is turn clay black. But, of course, I thought Linn knew what she was talking about so I brought home a giant empty oil tin from Squash and made some little clay items and got some sawdust from the wood shop and thought this was actually going to work. HINT: Sawdust doesn’t burn. Seriously, it doesn’t. Once while I was in the wood shop a clay student came in looking for sawdust to do his own Smoke Firing. Shortly thereafter he came back asking if anyone had some lighter fluid. When I did my own Smoke Firing, one of the pieces exploded with a bang. Later in the Fall a new student suggested a metal trash can – she told me to carve vertical vents in the side and then ventilate it by lifting the lid off and putting it back on. I actually tried this. Don’t ask me why. Shortly thereafter I threw away all this nonsense and didn’t try to fire my own clay ever again.
I displayed some of the clay pots in the Horn Island art show in a terra cotta potted plant tray with some Horn Island sand I brought back. I also put together some roughly-made homemade books and wrote in them about the experience. I also carved my own printing stamps with two figures based on two ocean photos taken at Horn Island and printed up little cards. The professor who organized the Horn Island trip didn’t like what I did at all. He said to me, “Couldn’t you just do some drawings?” I guess not.
The Cats and Steve
Griffin was a very friendly cat who liked just about everyone.
Button was a very quiet, shy cat who mostly kept to himself.
Mooshie didn’t really like anyone. If we reached out to pet her, she’d move away, only occasionally demanding attention. Well, she decided she loved Steve. She crawled up into his lap and settled down, and I was shocked. It was a few weeks after we met. One morning Mooshie just crawled into Steve’s lap. I came in and said, “OH MY GOD!” Steve said, “What? She just crawled up here. Is that okay?” He thought maybe she wasn’t allowed on the couch. I scrambled for my camera and took a picture. I said, “You don’t understand! She’s never done this! She rarely comes to me!”
NOTE: You can see the pyramid box for the beaded velvet flower Linn made in the photo above.
Mooshie just adored Steve.
In July of 2002, one morning as I was writing these notes in The Journaling Project in Seattle, Steve was making coffee, and he asked me, “Do you remember when I moved in, and I asked where the coffee maker was?” It was in my studio. I don’t remember exactly when he moved in, but it was sometime over the summer of 1996.
Linn left by the end of the summer. We kept some of her stuff at our apartment, since we had so much room. I think she went to Florida for a semester to teach. Eventually she went back home to Maine. At some point she swung back through Memphis and picked up her stuff. We talked on the phone several times, but then lost touch a few years later.