Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Real Meaning of Embedded Journalists

Government approved journalists are embedded.

Unapproved journalists are chased by Interpol for getting into bed.

See your First Amendment for clarification.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Where do you draw your inspiration for the designs from?

Sun Flower
Originally uploaded by la_v_i_k_a

I have a flickr friend to thank for this question. It's something I should probably address more frequently.

Where do I get my inspiration?

I do a lot of reading with my eyes, the text is secondary.

Within this photo are designs inspired by: bricklayers' paving patterns, the repetition of Talavera tile designs, Asian family crests, Islamic iron screens, and Japanese etegami.

I chose a palette from Central Asia, from Islamic tile work, almost twenty years ago, after visiting Kazakhstan. I stray from it in places, but those colors are still at the core of my work, appearing again and again. Carpets from the region also influenced me. When I struggle with reds, I am always thinking of the wrestling with materials that faced the region's carpet-makers, who arrived at deep to fading watermelon, and reds that leaned toward violet, using madder and various insect products. Now, we both struggle with modern reds so potent they are unnatural.

Considering more recent events, I'll admit it's curious that my inspiration comes primarily from this region. But, I grew up near Saratoga Race Track, a land of horses. An elementary school infatuation with dinosaurs, combined with the presence of horses, led to an interest in Mongolia, home to some of the earliest horses. My interest in the region took off from there, and has never left me.

So, at root, maybe my biggest inspiration is having an elementary school girl's curiosity.

Thursday, November 4, 2010


Originally uploaded by la_v_i_k_a

I've made some lovely art over the years, but none so lovely as that given to me.


Sunday, October 17, 2010

Playing With a Full Deck

Full Deck
Originally uploaded by la_v_i_k_a

I don't often photograph my buttons on their cards, all together, but time and delivery constraints left me with precious little time to photograph my work this last week:

My first Trunk Show!

Over 150 buttons, along with brooches and fibulae delivered to Janna's Needle Art -- the shop is a focal point for local knitters and embroiderers.

The cards are just as much art as the buttons they hold. With patterns like fabrics and fiber, I try to pick matches that will challenge and inspire those who might go for simpler combinations in their work. Each button has a lot of potential!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Fall 2010 New Buttons

Fall 2010 New Buttons
Originally uploaded by la_v_i_k_a

A small portion of the latest kiln load, one that included pendants, fibulae and tiles, as well as these new button designs.

You might notice the glaze on the button on the lower right that appears to have some blue in it. In reality, there is no blue there, at all.

The color you see is a function of the refractory properties of rutile, or titanium oxide.

The same ore of titanium causes the effects seen in natural stones: the cat's eye and the asterisms, or stars, found in sapphires and rubies.

And, yes, if you know stones, it is also the source of the golden needles seen in rutilated quartz.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Not Trader Joe's?

I was shocked and sobered to read about Trader Joe's lack of response to the opportunities outlined in this article.

As a result, I went to their contact page and submitted a letter, beginning with the paragraph, above, and continuing with what follows:

As a counselor for one of the largest hospitals in this area during the late eighties, I personally witnessed the effects of poor labor practices, lack of protections and inadequate wages on agricultural workers and their families. Their lack of legal and labor status is mentally, physically and socially debilitating.

You do have the power to make a change, and so do I. I didn't realize the good prices were being had on my neighbors' backs. I can't in good conscience continue to shop at Trader Joe's and won't until this changes. I've passed the article along to friends on twitter, FaceBook and my blog; I know it will matter to them, too.

Our children go to school together and we all live together. It does matter; it's a good decision. I hope Trader Joe's will see it that way and make its own good decision, quickly.

Best Regards,

Victoria Cochran

Sunday, August 29, 2010

From Germans to Muslims

During WWII, when my father was of late elementary age, his New York home was raided and family belongings were confiscated. Because his mom and grandmother were Americans of German origin, he and his family were treated as if they were Nazis and denied their rights under the Constitution. Meanwhile, in Germany, other family members were being arrested, tattooed & incarcerated by the actual Nazis. Never mind that his father was a "real American" whose paternal family's boat ride predated the Revolution; due to ignorance and fear, not even marriage entitled them to their rights as Americans, under the Constitution. 

We have a bad problem. We are a country of immigrants that repeatedly treats its own as enemies during times of conflict. We become un-American and deny constitutional rights and protections to our fellow citizens.

It is a matter of record: this has never resulted in national protection, only in alienation and the ruin of families and childhoods. 

It is not enough to admit we were wrong after the fact. What is reparation, if we continue to take the same path in the present? Repeating the wrong makes any reparation hollow. And, acknowledging the wrong while nevertheless repeating it also suggests we are not making a mistake, but willfully following a plan, and then paying for the privilege.

We have penalties for hate crimes. What we need now are increased penalties for the violation of citizens' constitutional rights during external conflicts--starting with incitement to commit the crime.

That would change some campaign speeches in a hot minute.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


Originally uploaded by la_v_i_k_a

These caps have fascinated me since childhood. My grandmother always used Palmolive. I had no idea it was two words spliced together.

I would stand on a chair and help my great grandmother wash the dishes after a Sunday meal. Everyone said I would fall off, she said otherwise.

I fell off.

My lip split!

The doctor was called and we went to his office, in his home!

They were not anesthesia friendly in those days, even less child friendly. I stood at his knee while he stitched my lip. I felt the needle go in and out, and it hurt very much. I still have the scar, though not really visible unless I tuck my tongue there, pushing out so you can see the silver line.

Omi was appalled to have let me fall. She fed me lots of jello and milkshakes for several days. I was very happy.

It was worth it.

I love dish soap...and their special caps.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Morning Coffee & 1/2" Water Curb

Morning Coffee & 1/2" Water Curb
Originally uploaded by la_v_i_k_a

They go together when it's time for clay.

The drywall is an excellent work surface, smooth and slightly absorbent.

I like working on the floor, and always have. On my knees, I can use my full weight to roll out slabs-- and things don't fall so far when I drop them.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Owl's Box

Owl's Box
Originally uploaded by la_v_i_k_a

Kraft box, with torn paper and metal leaf abstract of what lies within.

Each necklace I create comes in its own original box.

This one made for the Owl Necklace below!

See more?

Porcelain Owl

Originally uploaded by la_v_i_k_a

Unplanned piece of whimsy that turned into a delightful pendant, and finally, into a lovely necklace.

The pendant is approximately 1-1/2" in diameter, translucent porcelain. Swirled bail handmade, of pure copper.

Its custom made box follows!

Friday, May 21, 2010


Originally uploaded by la_v_i_k_a

After two weeks which included eight 12-hour days with middle school students of all sorts, poetry? Yes, poetry.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Latest to Emerge from the Fire

Latest to Emerge from the Fire
Originally uploaded by la_v_i_k_a

I do many production firings. Periodically, I invest in experimental firings, usually of at least 100 buttons, in new designs. In the case of glaze combinations, that means numbering the buttons on the reverse and then recording the glaze process and any other pertinent info (such as where they were fired in the kiln). Afterward, it's very educational to match up the recorded process with the finished results!

In this case, it was a very successful load...many successes from which many new buttons and pendants will spring.

more examples can be found:

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Nuns Don't Watch Oprah

As of today, I've read one too many articles citing the Catholic Church's claim to naivete-- 30 years ago we didn't know what we do now about pedophiles, so, in ignorance, we moved them and prayed. I don't hear anyone, not even some of the best, challenging this assertion. Oprah has been covering the subject publicly for almost thirty years. Large swathes of the general public (especially those concerned for children) have been informed for at least that long and, contrary to their assertion, so has the Catholic Church--and probably far longer than Oprah.

How do I know?

The Catholic Church has given birth to and nurtures some of the best universities in the world-- managed and staffed by clergy as well as lay professionals. Notre Dame initiated its psychology department in the mid-1960's. Their counseling program "has been continuously accredited by the American Psychological Association since 1972." That means they've been current on contemporary counseling issues for over 35 years.

In 1984, I began a masters in counseling at a very small protestant seminary in California. At the time of my studies, modern information about pedophilia was already available. It was not presented as something that could be cured by repentance and pastoral reassignment. After my studies, considering chaplaincy, I did an internship in a closed psychiatric unit, with children. The professionals I worked with reiterated what we'd learned in the classroom. Because chaplaincy occurs within secondary institutions (the military, hospitals, etc.), interns come from a variety of denominations. One of my fellow interns was an employee of a Catholic diocese in south Germany.

The Catholic Church has a long history of involvement in hospital care, social work (including clinical psychology) and chaplaincy. They run adoption agencies. It is inconceivable that information about the nature of pedophiles would not have been available to nuns and priests in their work, as a part of their licensing requirements and in the course of their continuing professional development, in these fields, more than 25 years ago.

Every public decision has the potential to affect the way the Church does business. Catholic adoption agencies in D.C. shut down when the law was changed, allowing gay couples to marry. Senators hear from bishops and nuns when legislation will affect what matters to them. The church, and its leaders, are not cloistered; they are actively engaged and educated about all matters that pertain to them. Over 25 years ago, California made teachers and counselors (among others) mandated reporters of suspected child abuse. This change would have affected every Catholic diocese with a school, adoption agencies, teaching credential programs at Catholic colleges, as well as licensed Catholic counselors and clinical social workers. As they considered the requirements for reporting and the signs of abuse they were required to recognize, it's impossible to think there were no discussions of pedophiles framed in modern professional terms.

Thirty years ago they were naive, so they moved priests and prayed? No. The Church has provided professional psychological education to its own leaders for over 35 years. Within the same time frame, its agencies--which include the nuns and priests working within them--have been subject to both professional and legal requirements mandating that they have a thorough understanding of pedophilia and its victims.

Because our upbringings have instilled in many of us a deference to persons and things of God, we are vulnerable to the promotion of nuns and priests as naive and cloistered, in spite of all that we know. The Church, however, is a veritable powerhouse of human knowledge -- and it knows us, often intimately.

Let it claim to be naive, in spite of the evidence. We, however, dare not be.