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When I turn 90

I looked into my grandfather’s eyes and knew it was almost our special time, as he handed me a dollar bill.  We sat on the left side in an old church pew, waiting for the call to the altar. But this altar call had nothing to do with our eternal life, it was more for the fun of living.  We sat patiently waiting, as it only came around once a year. “Any one with a birthday or anniversary this week, please come up” That was the time to make our move. Granddaddy and I left our pew and walked together to the front to give our dollars to the offering plate resting on a chair in the center of the altar.  It was like an announcement every year, that Granddaddy’s first born grandchild was born on his 54th birthday. I am not sure who was more proud to be born on whose birthday, but those walks to the altar were the most sacred.

Granddaddy and I shared many birthdays before his passing in 2009 at 85 years old.  These last several birthdays since his passing have not been the same for me, but I am grateful for those cherished and sweet memories of my childhood.

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As I will be turning 41 years old on June 13th, I am thankful to say that I have 2 other grandparents still with us.  Jeff still has a grandmother here, as well. And as fate does so well, my paternal grandfather’s birthday and his paternal grandmother’s birthday are within a month of each other where they both turned 90 years old.  To our delight, both families threw birthday parties!

What to get a few 90 year olds for their birthday? Make plates, of course! But not just any plate, plates with an image, with a meaning.

Jeff’s grandmother, we call Granny Pat, has always enjoyed handmade pottery and has collected several pieces over the years. As I have always enjoyed seeing her collection when we visit, one common thread I always noticed was the blue heron. But through the research and studying of this prehistoric bird, I decided to focus more on the close up of the bird’s head and neck.
 

The blue heron underglaze drawing being transferred to the wet clay.  This is the back of the newsprint.  It will be peeled away soon to leave the bird’s image underneath.

The blue heron underglaze drawing being transferred to the wet clay. This is the back of the newsprint. It will be peeled away soon to leave the bird’s image underneath.

We affectionately call my grandfather, Pawpaw. And I knew right away I would create tiger lilies for his plate. The significance of these orange beauties only came about after the passing of his wife, my Memaw in 2016. During one of my summer visits with him after her passing, I saw a large bed of these gorgeous blooms and asked Pawpaw if I could take a few and try to grow them in my yard. He said to take all I wanted. Somehow they survived my yard and I was thrilled to see one orange bloom the following year. I felt like Memaw was hugging me and telling me “you go gurl” like she used to say. I shared all this with Pawpaw and just like that this one simple (and easy to grow) flower holds a great deal of meaning for us.

The tiger lilies are coming.  This is showing the newsprint being lifted from the wet clay to reveal the image underneath.

The tiger lilies are coming. This is showing the newsprint being lifted from the wet clay to reveal the image underneath.

Both plates pressed and ready for drying time before the first firing.  A special thank you to Marsha Rogers with Back Porch Pottery for firing my work!

Both plates pressed and ready for drying time before the first firing. A special thank you to Marsha Rogers with Back Porch Pottery for firing my work!

The back of the plate:  Happy 90th birthday Granny Pat

The back of the plate: Happy 90th birthday Granny Pat

The tiger lily image transferred and ready for cutting out the plate shape.  Once cut out, you press the wet clay against the plate shape to give it the lifted edging.

The tiger lily image transferred and ready for cutting out the plate shape. Once cut out, you press the wet clay against the plate shape to give it the lifted edging.

First firing complete, now ready for a clear glaze and final glaze firing.

First firing complete, now ready for a clear glaze and final glaze firing.

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More on the monoprinting technique: I am not directly drawing on the clay, instead I am drawing the image on newsprint with underglazes, starting with the fine details first. Once the underglaze is dry, I cover it entirely with a slip color of your choice and then apply the semi wet newsprint face down on the clay. Squeegee the back and allow the newsprint to adhere to the clay, just enough. Then gently peel away the newsprint to leave the underglaze drawing on the wet clay.

The plate’s edge that shows the speckled brownstone clay.

The plate’s edge that shows the speckled brownstone clay.

Both plates finished and ready for wrapping.

Both plates finished and ready for wrapping.

I enjoy the watercolor effect of the underglazes on this plate.

I enjoy the watercolor effect of the underglazes on this plate.

Back of the plate:  Happy 90th birthday Pawpaw

Back of the plate: Happy 90th birthday Pawpaw

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Pawpaw and I at his 90th birthday celebration.  He looks great in his suit and tie!

Pawpaw and I at his 90th birthday celebration. He looks great in his suit and tie!

Granny Pat and I at her 90th birthday celebration.  She always looks lovely in her blue!

Granny Pat and I at her 90th birthday celebration. She always looks lovely in her blue!

Blue Heron plate

Blue Heron plate

Tiger lily plate

Tiger lily plate

Both plates are food safe, so I hope they enjoy using them often.

My blog post in a doodle

My blog post in a doodle

As I heard lovely stories and understood all they have each accomplished in their lives, I have realized it’s not so much about when I turn 90, but rather about the days between here and there that makes for one amazing life.

Building this creative life once experience at a time~

Hannah

Hannah KochComment