Monday, May 13, 2019


My beautiful mother,
Rose Patricia,
who cooked for her family every nite except on Sundays
(broasted chicken nite while watching 60 minutes and The Wonderful World of Disney).
This year I'm kicking myself in the butt for not learning her crazy wonderful 
Italian recipes that her mother passed down to her.
I remember her asking "Debra Ann, do you want to watch me make raviolis?"
"Nope" was always my answer.
As I look back today I'm sure I was a bit of a disappointment to her for many reasons.
We were so very different in so many ways.
The list is pretty long,
I'll save that for a therapist one day.
But it really helps me with my own daughter as she is so very different than myself
which can sometimes be frustrating.  
For me though, 
she is no disappointment.  
We live in a different time,
and I'm incredibly proud of her. 
I admire and respect her strength of character, 
her strong work ethic,
 her passion to go after what she wants. 
 She has a fiery spirit 
and is so very smart and savvy. 
She is only 24 years old and already owns her own home!

My mother said I was stubborn,
I say my daughter is strong willed.
Same thing I believe.
Rose Patricia "Patti" in 1968
at her oldest sister's home making ravioli for Easter Sunday

But as much as I annoyed my mother
(and I know I did),
and as much as my daughter won't listen to my reasoning,
my mother was always there for me,
supporting me, loving me,
giving of herself no matter how mad I made her.
She taught me so much about love and giving.
And now I do the same for both of my adult children,
my son who has always been the easy one,
and my daughter who has always been my biggest challenge.
I was my mother's biggest challenge too.
Mom and Myself  1980,
the year I began teaching at Whitney High School

Patti never looked her age.  
She was 64 years old here.
A year older than I am now.
She would have been 103 today.
We were 40 years apart.
She tried for 8 years to get pregnant with me and had 2 miscarriages in the process.
I was her only child,
and I miss her dearly.
We talked everyday on the phone until she developed Alzheimer's at age 82.
She passed away 10 years later in a coma.
Not only had she forgotten us five years earlier,
but she had forgotten how to eat, swallow and finally breathe.
My daughter and I were with her the last night of her life playing her favorite music,
singing and dancing around her to her favorite songs 
by Tony Bennett,
Dean Martin, Andy Williams and Frank Sinatra.
We witnessed her last smile as she listened to her music.

I hope to one day be surrounded by my two babies and my grandchildren 
when I take my last breathe as well.
I'm hoping they will play for me all my favorites and sing and dance too.
Neil Young, Linda Ronstadt, The Eagles, Willie Nelson, Elton John, Joni Mitchell, Rod Stewart,
 Al Greene, Jackson Browne, James Taylor, Marvin Gaye,
and most importantly
 Tony Bennett, Dean Martin, Andy Williams, Frank Sinatra,
and of course The Rockits,
my sweet husband's band.
I guess we were similar in our taste in music after all.

I love you Mommy.
Happy Mother's Day!

Thursday, May 9, 2019


Anthony at 5 months,
rolling over and almost sitting up by himself.
He's a happy baby with so much personality already,
and he can't wait to crawl so he can mix it up with his big brother Syd.

Sunday, May 5, 2019


Ten years ago former Ceramics student Bill Sevedge,
Class of 1984,
built this blog for me and taught me how to use it.
Before then I rarely used the computer.
I was scared of it,
not having grown up using it.
He dropped by for a visit recently and we talked about how much I've learned
since he gifted me this blog site,
and I wanted to give back to him in appreciation.
I asked him to pick one of my current demo. pieces.
He chose one of my favorites,
this black beauty.
It was thrown last school year for the Intermediate Ceramics students 
to show them an Altered Vase Form.
After completely turning back the lip of the pot on itself,
I stamped the shoulder with the head of a large acorn from the cabin.
To finish the piece I stained it with Red Iron Oxide 
and then poured our Black glaze into the inside
then partially dipped the piece for outside coverage.
I was really pleased with how it turned out,
and was so happy to gift it to Bill.

I frequently think of Bill and how grateful I am to him.
He was one of a handful of students to reach the Ceramics IV level back in the 80's.
He enabled me to connect to so many artists around the world thru my blog,
and to be able to share my students with them.
Thank you Bill. 
I hope you occasionally check my blog
and are proud of your student.

Thursday, May 2, 2019


at 6000 feet up our mountain
Looking  towards Big Bear Mountain, Ca.

Close-up of Big Bear.

Opposite Direction.
Seeing the very peek of Catalina Island, Ca. in the Pacific Ocean.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019


clay, glazes, & oxides

I always love to see all the students heads loaded onto the cart.
So many personalities, cultures, hairstyles and expressions.
So much fun.
Here is another assignment that the kids fear going in, 
but end up giggling and really enjoying themselves.
Let's take a look.

Our first colorful one was done by junior Sara Ryave.
She used all four of our oxides and stained the bisqueware first,
then put our Transparent glaze over top.
So unique and eye catching.

Junior Michelle Son brought in a picture of movie star Marilyn Monroe.
I was so impressed with how well she pulled this face off,
but it's the hair that really calls to me.

And junior Richard Montes chose his cultural background to pull from.
Love the strong facial structure and the very cool headdress.

These two highly expressive faces were done by seniors Augustine Lee & Ashley Scott.

Senior Christian Balbido & junior Jaclyn Dong both really got into this assignment,
Christian doing a portrait of his father that I felt looked very realistic.

We end with junior Lina Kim's grandmother.
I felt it was a beautiful portrait,
Lina expressed that she thought it was so-so.
These kids are always so hard on themselves,
so that when they do like something they've made I get really happy.
I love that Lina added the flowers on her grandmother's shoulder.
A very special touch.

Monday, April 29, 2019


recycled cotton sheeting, sharps needles, heavy sewing thread in "red", indigo vat
gloves optional

I love this assignment because I get to make a demo piece right along with the kids
and it's so creative, portable and therapeutic (relaxing).
I also really enjoy refreshing our indigo vats.
I keep two 5 gallon buckets going all year long.
And once you start one you can keep it going indefinitely.
I think my 1st bucket is going on 8 years now
since I first started teaching this assignment.

There are so many Shibori techniques to try.
I do folding and clamping with my 7th graders,
and hand stitched designs with my Beginning 3-D kids.
We make one practice piece and then each child makes an original design
with two or more of their favorite techniques they practiced.
That's what I'm sharing here,
their original, creative designs.

We start with the lovely piece above by senior Inna Sikar.
And below Inna's is her buddy Hana Kim's.
Both are so gorgeous and uplifting.
I especially love the varied shades of Indigo in each of the pieces.

The stitching of the design is fun and relaxing.
The most challenging part is the pulling and tying off of all the threads 
after all the stitching is done.
If you don't pull tight enough your design will disappear after all that stitching,
tying and dipping.

The one above was made by junior Kareema Mohamed
 and below hers is the work of junior Kiana Hernandez.
These two cuties sat right next to each other last year 
and it's so cool to see how different their designs are.

The next step after the pulling of the threads is the dipping of the crumpled up piece
 into the Indigo vat.
I try to refresh the vat with Pre-Reduced Indigo from Dharma Trading 
so that if the kids do at least 3 separate dips they will get a dark beautiful indigo blue.
What's really crazy is that I hate measuring out anything,
so I do it by eye and experience,
then I do a test before the students use the dye.
I usually get lucky.
It's kind of how I cook too,

Above we have the work of senior Ricky Gallardo, 
and below is a banner by junior Dustine Ansiboy.
I so wish I could have enlarged Dustine's so you could have seen it better.
I love that she worked it into a elongated rectangular banner rather than square.

The young ones get to pick the size and format they wish to work too.
I always tell them don't bite off more than you can chew.
Mostly they don't listen to me on that one.

I also loved this circular piece by senior Sophie Yang above.

I felt that 8th grader Bhumika Kalaimalai put the most stitching into her original piece.
She stitched and pulled on this piece for hours!
And the result was amazing as you can see.

But one of my favorites was this one below by 8th grader Yusuf Karan.
I adore the flowers around the bunny.
So sweet!
And I also like all the values of blue he achieved.
It really adds to the beauty of the design.
Thank you all for working so hard on this assignment.
It was such a pleasure showing off your work.

Friday, April 26, 2019


A small piece of the lovely geranium above 
given as a gift to me at Thanksgiving or was it Xmas,
grew into the pretty plant above and was falling over in it's pot.

Below in its new home with two succulents that needed a larger growing space as well.

And then there is our Bouganvilla on our upstairs patio
which came into full bloom this week.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019


After 5 years with no grapes,
we have grapes!
Little chardonnay grapes.
The trick says my son the Plant Scientist is don't trim it back at the end of its season.
 I had been doing that and using the grape vines in my classroom for baskets and such.

And look what the birds brought into one of my balcony pots,
a baby pine last year that has grown into a mini tree this below.
The rain has done wonders in all my gardens!

Tuesday, April 16, 2019


clay & oxides

My Beginning 3-D kids love this assignment.
For many of them it's their first time to work in clay,
and they are surprised by how much fun it can be.
They take great pride in their creations.
Let's take a look.

got to be honest. 
I'm guessing at a couple of these names.
This first one I think was the creation of senior Sophie Yang.
On these pieces I stress and require lots of surface design.
They have many choices:
inlay, stamping, applique, carving, incising & piercing.
Sophie has used 5 of those which really makes this piece sensory,
so very pleasing to the eye.

This next one is the work of junior Sahana Ramesh,
and she has used all 6 design techniques.
We all enjoyed her elongated face and the way she moved the leaves thru the face.
These pieces are all concave,
and were draped over top a wadded up newspaper taped mold to hold their bas relief form.

8th grader ,
Bhumika Kalaimalai,
 made 2 pieces because her first one on the right broke in half..
I told her no worries;
use the first for extra credit and make a second for grading.
I felt she gave us the most beautiful and balanced surface design in both.

I'm guessing again on this super sweet one here,
could be junior Kiana Hernandez or 8th graders Shivani Kedila or Viviana Cruz.
I will hunt them down on campus and see if they can help me identify them.
Definitely check out the really clean craftsmanship of the construction 
and the staining of the oxides.

I know for sure this is the work of junior Dustine Ansiboy because it was memorable 
to me due to the fact my step-daughter Julie loves owls,
and I knew she would really enjoy this piece.
It also is beautifully crafted and finished.

And I''m pretty sure this belongs to junior Rachel Tibayan.
Rachel is a terrific designer and always comes up with super original ideas.
I also love how expressive it is
(a requirement).

And we end with 11th grader Sandra Chea (a guess here)
& 8th grader Yusuf Karan (who I remember did the one on the right).
I really like putting 2 pieces together so you can see how each student solved the same subject.

I think I've mentioned this before but I really dislike art teachers
who have all the kiddos make the same exact pieces.
I've been in classes like that and there is no critical thinking/problem solving going on.
I never learn in classes like those.
In fact,
I paid ahead of time and then walked out of that kind of  watercolor class
a few years back where the teacher explained nothing,
demoed nothing,
and gave us all the same xerox picture to copy in the exact same colors.
An almost paint by the number technique.
No thank you.

Monday, April 15, 2019


These roses were freshly picked from the front of our school 
for our Open House Art Show & Sale.
Because of all the recent rains they have never been this large and lovely,
their smell so sweet.
A shout out to our District grounds keepers who trim and care for them regularly.
Thank you!

Sunday, April 14, 2019


On these 2 tiny little coil pot demos I made last year
(1 3/4 " by 1 3/4 "),
I wanted to try out ceramic watercolors,
an expensive underglaze product I save for my Intermediate & Advanced clay kids,
for their works in porcelain.
Last year I introduced them to my Beginners for their tiny porcelain plates
and this year I've brought them out for the Beginner's bells,
slab boxes, plates and a few other projects that they've used on our Artic White grey claybody.
I feel the results are so worth the extra cost because if used correctly they can be quite lovely.
By correctly I mean to apply them in a transparent way like you would with watercolors on paper.
My T. A. last year,
senior Lynette Lee became quite good at applying these watercolors to my demo. pieces 
so I want to make sure I gave her credit for these beautiful finishes.

Thank you Lynette!

Friday, April 12, 2019


Right now my Beginning 3-D students are working with leather to hand make their journals,
so I've been looking around the internet for leather sites.
My husband and I also really enjoy working with leather
 and after being inspired by Fiber Artist extraordinaire Sarah C. Swett 
I want to try and make a pair of shoes from felt and leather.
 I happened upon this terrific new site called Simple Shoemaking and was so excited to have found it
(it is now listed under Artists I Follow)..
They offer pieces of leather, books, kits, soles, the whole nine yards.
Here are a few more images from their site.
I hope you get a chance to check it out.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019


clay, glazes, oxides & misc. plants

This is a wonderfully fun & functional assignment for the clay kiddos.
They made the planters and then for their 4th Quarter Final they were able to plant them.
Below is one of my demos. that I planted several years ago 
and gave as a gift to my son's wife's mother.
Under Mary's watchful attentive care the succulents are thriving as you can see
(she recently sent me this photo so I could see how lovely it's flower is).

So here we have last school years students out in the delicious sunshine planting their pots.
I buy them a big bag of planters mix and several small starter plants to choose from.
I try every year to have a different selection. 
I also encouraged the kids to raid Josh's succulent garden in search of the perfect plants.
And succulents are so hardy and easy to grow,
pretty much fail proof.

Here are a few of the finished planters.
I'm guessing here because I can't find the names of who made which ones so here we go.
I'm pretty darn sure the one above was made by junior Sara Ryave.

And this next one belongs to senior Catherine Lu.
Note those sweet tiny clay flowers in the left corner.

And I believe these last two are the works of juniors Richard Montes and Dustine Ansiboy.

Please correct me young ones if I'm wrong.
But aren't they fabulous?