October 12, 2009

Fun with clay

I'm slowly getting back to our usual life. Yesterday morning we took the kids to a concert, which was only partly fun but still nice. And then in the afternoon we played with clay.

I just love it and find it very relaxing. The way it feels, the kneading, the way you can shape it, the way you can smooth it out with just the use of your fingertips... My last experience with clay was the pottery class I took way back in California. I had been wanting to do this for the longest time and then I found a class not too far from where we lived. It's actually at that pottery class I realized I was pregnant: the spinning of the wheel right under my eyes made me feel sick to my stomach, something it didn't before. A couple of days later I took the test (I felt sick to my stomach even without looking at a whirling wheel by then) and - yes! - I was pregnant, of little H. that is... I didn't get much further than making a couple of crooked bowls, which I still have. The "health hazard" signs in our classroom, however, got me all worried so I quit and unfortunately I never returned to pottery. Anyway, that's a long time ago - she turned six last July.

So last week - while I was waiting for my camera to get cleaned - I ended up at the crafts store and bought some clay. The kids had asked for it several times. They like it as much as I do, and now I found some that doesn't need any baking.

Now, before I continue - there's a lot of sidestepping today - a quick word about my camera, so maybe you won't make the same stupid mistake I made. The sensor of my camera had been collecting dust for some time now. It's unavoidable with a DSLR, and changing lenses or taking pictures on a sandy beach certainly doesn't help. The dust only showed up at long exposures, but it started to bother me. So, one night - it was really late, I should have been in bed - I decided to deal with it. I tested the canned dry air spray a couple of times on my hand, to make sure only air would come out. Everything worked fine. I opened the camera, locked up the mirror and sprayed. All that came out were tiny wet droplets which landed right onto the sensor. Result: a sensor with the dust still there and on top of that droplet marks all over the place, which showed up with even "not so long" exposure times! I freaked out, to be honest. I thought I'd ruined the camera. I checked the many online forums - should have done that first. They all said the same: don't use canned air unless you want to ruin the sensor... The thing is, you have to hold the can perfectly straight to make sure you get a stream of dry air coming out. Something I clearly didn't do, focused as I was on the camera in my other hand.

Luckily, the next day I ran into a neighbor who happens to be a professional photographer. When I told him about what had happened he said there was nothing to worry about. I simply had to get one of those sensor swab kits and that would do the trick. He added he did stupid things all the time with his cameras. Does he really, I wondered? Or was he just trying to be nice, seeing the state I was in? Anyway, since I had messed up once already I decided to take the camera to the Nikon repair shop I found a referral for online. They took care of it for just about 30 EUR, which is less than what the kit would have cost me or, worse case scenario, a new sensor. And it took them only about half an hour - just the time to get some clay at the crafts store. So, unless you know you'll be able to hold the can perfectly upright, don't use it. That's my lesson learned. Next time, I'll stick to the soft brush and bulb method - no more canned dry air for me...

Fun with clay

But back to our clay business. Little H. had the highest turn over, though she joined in last. I love the little frame she did and the face with spiky hair. Both girls made a peace sign (inspired by Obama's Nobel-prize? I'm not sure.) And M. loves Paris that's clear... And I tried something "organic" (left photo at the top, don't take this too seriously, LOL), inspired by an sculptor-ceramist I saw on TV and whose name I forgot unfortunately.
Clearly, I have more talent for photography, but I don't care! It was a very relaxing moment of fun with my girls. We'll do this again for sure...
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