My pottery lessons: Drying and glazing steps

May 20th, 2015

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Before applying the glazes, my pieces had to dry in the studio on open shelves for several hours.


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Golden Stars Kup Kollar on 24 ounce water bottle.

Some pieces I painted before covering with a clear glaze. My problem was deciding which colors to use because there were many bottles to choose from.

My pottery lessons – Post 4 of 5

Post 1. Beautiful pottery

Post 2. The Slab Method

Post 3. Throwing on a wheel


My pottery lessons: Throwing on a wheel

May 17th, 2015

Pottery lessons thrown bowl_72

I learned that throwing clay takes a lot of practice and then some more practice. My friend Lily said she threw over a hundred pieces before she did one worthy enough to keep.

I did throw one very nice small bowl. The teacher was very surprised when he saw the bowl and asked how I did it.

I answered, “I have no idea. I was throwing a large tea mug when all of a sudden it flopped into a bowl!” It’s the only thrown piece I have after five weeks of lessons. I call it “The Accident.”

My pottery lessons – Post 3 of 5

Post 1. Beautiful Pottery

Post 2. The Slab Method


My pottery lessons: the Slab Method

May 13th, 2015
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Golden Stars Kup Kollar on 24 ounce water bottle.

I learned how to do the slab method which allows for the most variation of creations. I used a rolling pin to roll over a clay ball placed between two yardstick guides. This process keeps all the clay at the same thickness. Then I used a knife to cut pieces to put together to form a pottery piece. It’s harder to do than it looks!

My Pottery Lessons – Post 2 of 5

Post 1 Beautiful Pottery


My pottery lessons: beautiful pottery

May 10th, 2015

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My daughter-in-law Pam invited me to join her for a beginner’s pottery class at a studio in Louisville, Colorado. My pottery experience is buying pottery from artists like these pieces bought in North Carolina and Colorado.


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I worked a few summers in the booth of a Raku potter at the Colorado Renaissance Festival. I have a friend who throws beautiful pots and dinnerware. But I’ve never created pottery.  I decided to join Pam and two knitting friends for the first class. Let the creativity flow!

My Pottery Lessons – Post 1 of 5


Travelin’ Kup Kollar & Baby Blue Eyes flowers in Ibaraki Hitachinaka Seaside Park, Japan

May 7th, 2015

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Colleen, who reports from Japan, was on vacation this week from her job teaching English in a private school. She traveled by bus from Tokushima to Fukushima to see friends.

After saying good-bye to her friends, Colleen went to the Fukushima train station. Needing coffee, she bought a aisu (iced) café latte from Starbucks located in the station. She slipped on her newest Cherry Blossoms cup sleeve to keep her hands dry. It’s her Traveling’ Kup Kollar!

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Colleen reporting in from Japan: “The ‘baby blue eyes’ at Hitachi Seaside Park! I walked 30 minutes to the train station, rode the local train, and then hopped the bus to the park. I made it!  There are a gazillion people here, but I managed to find a quiet, little forest path to type this out. Beautiful day!”

Growing like grass, these beautiful flowers are named Nemophila, or Baby Blue Eyes. Once a year from late April to early May, they cover the fields of Hitachi Seaside Park. They’re also found in the United States, Mexico, and Canada.

The plants are small and delicate, easy to grow, and ideal for rockeries, hanging baskets, pots and under planting. The species is named after Archibald Menzies (1754-1842) who was a Scottish botanist and surgeon.

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Hitachi Seaside Park in Hitachinaka is a public park attracting many tourists. It has many other blooming flowers year round. You will also find cycling trails and a small amusement park with a Ferris wheel.

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Colleen spotted this coffee cart but decided to look for another coffee source that had English written on the menu board. The only English was the cart’s unique name – Sweet Jokers Café!

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While waiting for the bus to continue on her travel adventure, Colleen rested with her Kindle. She enjoyed a piece of Hawaiian sweet mochi and refreshing aisu kohi (iced coffee). Next adventure for Colleen and the Travelin’ Cherry Blossoms Kup Kollar – Tokyo!


Cherry Blossoms, Smithsonian Institution, Freer Gallery in Washington DC

May 4th, 2015

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On a recent visit to the Smithsonian Institution, one of my favorite areas of Washington DC, I bought this souvenir mug at the American History Museum because my daughter is living in Japan teaching English at a private school. In 1912, the people of Japan gave 3000 cherry blossom trees to the city of Washington DC as an expression of friendship. Every year the city celebrates a cherry blossom festival.

I decided to add a Cherry Blossoms Kup Kap to the online store. Who doesn’t think cherry blossoms are beautiful?


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I toured the Freer Gallery, the Smithsonian’s first art museum opened in 1923. The founder, Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919) was a Chicago business man who made frequent trips to several countries in the Far East. He loved the art. He began purchasing and bringing back pieces to the United States for his private collection which now fills the Freer Gallery.

I loved the art exhibit called Seasons which showed the importance of seasons in Japanese art. Artists changed their creations throughout the year according to the season. For example, a pottery artist changed clays each season. Tea utensils were made in rough stoneware that conveyed warmth for winters while porcelain is cool to the touch for summers. During Spring a painter would create pictures of foliage that grew in that season then change to plants that grew in the Autumn later in the year.


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This tea caddy in the Spring and Summer collection is for storing tea. The artist is Kashu Mimpei (1796-1871) from Awaji Island in Japan. It’s made of porcelain with iron décor under a cobart-tinted glaze which gives it the unique blue tone.


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The tea bowl is Koto ware from Hikone, Japan made in the mid-19th century of porcelain with white slip and cobalt pigment under a clear glaze. The design is a quick sketch of three blossoms and three leaves from the yuzuriha, a small evergreen tree which blooms in early summer.

Thank you, Mr. Freer, for founding this lovely museum as part of the Smithsonian Institute!


Chasing Rainbows Museum at Dollywood

April 29th, 2015
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Garden Floral Kup Kap

In the Dollywood souvenir gift shop, I chose this mug because it’s glitzy with butterflies. She’s well known for her sparkle and shine saying, “It costs a lot of money to look this cheap.”

I saw butterfly replicas all through Dollywood. Butterflies represent freedom and beauty to Dolly. She enjoys the loud colors, gentleness, and movement of the insects. When she was a child, she followed butterflies from one flower to another. She often got lost and her mom would have to look for her!


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There were framed photos of Dolly with celebrities in the Chasing Rainbows Museum. Some of you will remember actor Tom Selleck as Thomas Magnum in the TV series “Magnum, P.I. Or you may know Mr. Seleck as Monica’s doctor boyfriend in “Friends”.


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Many of her costumes are displayed. Dolly quote, “I’m no natural beauty. If I’m gonna have any looks at all, I’m gonna have to create them.”


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This colorful quilt was sewn in 1974 by Aunt Dora Valentine. It’s made from Dolly’s costumes.


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Dolly Parton is the most honored female country performer of all time. On the CMT Artists web site, it takes five paragraphs to list her awards. Along with winning many awards, she’s also won many hearts throughout her life.

Dolly says the statue of her standing on the courthouse lawn in her hometown is her “greatest honor because it came from the people who know me.”


Exploring the outdoors at Dollywood

April 26th, 2015
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Go Green Kup Kollar on 24 ounce water bottle

The coolness of my water bottle and resting at the Friendship Fountain was a refreshing break from exploring the grounds of Dollywood. I read the names of Dolly’s celebrity friends who have performed at or visited the theme park.

Written on the fountain sign Dolly said, “In my career, the moments that shine the brightest are those I’ve shared with my friends and family, and I’m truly honored to make them a lasting part of my Friendship Fountain here at Dollywood.”


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The landscaping of Dollywood is as beautiful as the surrounding Smokey Mountains. I shot this peaceful photo while standing on a small bridge.


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I think if I were a bird, I would live in this unique bird house!


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This is a working barn for making a variety of hand crafted wagons. The sign on this beauty said Painted Parade Spring Wagon. If I had had $7654.00 and a horse, I could have driven it out of the park! “Yee Haw!”


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The Grist Mill was built in 1982.It’s the first fully functioning mill built in Tennessee in more than a hundred years. It’s a replica of mills used to grind bushels of corn and wheat for people living in the Smokey Mountains over a century ago. The Dollywood mill is famous for its fresh-baked cinnamon bread!


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Near closing time, it began to rain. My spirits weren’t dampened anymore than these ducks because I had a fantastic time exploring Dollywood!


Spotlight Bakery and Sandwich Shop in Dollywood

April 22nd, 2015

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We started our day at Dollywood by eating in the Spotlight Bakery and Sandwich Shop which is located near the entrance. We split the large serving portions of lunch but we each had our own dessert. :-)


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Fiesta Kup Kollar on 14 ounce cold cup.
Tools Kup Kollar on 12 ounce hot take-out cup.

The club sandwich made with a buttery croissant was fresh and filling, every piece of fruit was delicious, and the desserts were wonderful. Perry said his coffee was very good. My only complaint – they didn’t serve ice tea only soft drinks! I had ice water in my take-out cup.


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In the window of the Spotlight Bakery, I discovered a happy birthday cake for Dolly. I assume it was a prop because her birthday is in January and we were there in August.


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We left the bakery and walked to the Dreamsong Theater to see a musical show called “My People”. This musical instrument was one of several unique aspects of the show. It’s a remodeled dinette chair, baking pan, tin cans, and a glass milk bottle. The musician is using drum sticks to play it.


Singer Dolly Parton and Dollywood

April 19th, 2015

2015 Aug 11 Plane Koll knitting

There are always two things I bring when I fly — a Kup Kollar and a knitting project. Before boarding at the Dallas/Ft Worth International Airport, I stopped by Freshens Smoothies and Yogurt for a “Citrus Mango” smoothie. It was excellent! I like to drink smoothies because they are healthy, easy on my stomach, and no smells to offend other passengers.

As I sipped my Freshens smoothie and clicked my needles, I thought ahead to fulfilling my dream of going to Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee!

2015 Aug 18 Dollywood front entrance sign_72

I became a fan of Dolly Parton about 1970. As I followed her career, I admired her on stage and off for her continual work to make the world a better place for others. She began the Dollywood Foundation which oversees the Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.

It began in Sevier County, Tennessee where she was born into a family of twelve children. Every child in the county is eligible to receive a free age appropriate book each month by mail until they are five years old. The program has expanded across the USA and into Canada and the United Kingdom.

2015 Aug 18 Dollywood coat of many colors

Dolly Parton and I share some similarities. We are war babies or Baby Boomers born in 1946. We were children of the 50’s and teenagers during the early 60’s. We both graduated from high school in 1964.

My mom sewed all my clothes too but she only had two daughters to clothe! I was thrilled to find the coat Dolly’s mom sewed for her that inspired her to write one of my favorite songs, “Coat of Many Colors”. It was in the Chasing Rainbows Museum.

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Dolly and I married handsome young men in our very early 20’s. We both wore knee length wedding gowns and head veils. She and Carl Dean are still married. She’s quoted to say with a smile, “He’s good for me, cause he’s so different in nature from me.”

Perry and I are opposites also which brings balance and turmoil to our relationship but never boredom!

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And of course Dolly and I share a love for country music written and recorded long before we were born. Dolly’s music was so familiar to my family that my two year old daughter recognized Dolly’s singing voice every time she heard it. “Mommie, Mommie, it’s Dolly!” she would exclaim.

We enjoyed a musical show “My People” at the Dreamsong Theater in Dollywood.  Many of the performers are Dolly’s family members. A video of Dolly ran on a huge screen. Throughout the show she “talked to and sang with” the band. The show was unique and well done!