Ceramics and Skateboards


Green Pants, ceramic monster, about 2″ tall, pictured in ceramic bowl, by Cindy Schnackel

We missed a couple of ceramic classes and most of the open studios in April, but we’ve managed to make a few things.  Here are some of my small creatures. Above is one I’ve named Green Pants. His hindquarters are Hunter Green, which came out a very bright green and blue, very pleasing. I like the way he looks in a bowl.

Believe it or not, the speckly glaze on the larger creature below is Cranberry, which is supposed to be red! I had glazed another creature with Cranberry and Snow White a couple weeks ago and it came out really red. There was speckling I really liked where the glazes overlapped, so I tried to duplicate that on the bowls and the larger creature below, (Fleabitten and Green Pants photo). By the time we went back to see them after firing, I’d forgotten what glazes they were. I loved the speckled glaze but wondered what glazes that was. What a surprise when I looked on my notes to see it was Cranberry! Nonetheless I’m thrilled with how it came out, and feel it is better the way it is, than if it had been red. (Fleabitten is a name used to describe the coat of a gray horse where the gray and white are kind of speckly not solid.)


Two Ceramic Creatures, Fleabitten, and Green Pants, Cindy Schnackel



Small bowl with lovely though unexpected “fleabitten” effect. Cindy Schnackel, wheel thrown.

Above, is a little larger and better wheel thrown bowl than the one Green Pants like to sit in. Had we gotten back to class in time to trim feet on our bowls, this would’ve been among my most successful as far as symmetry and not being a heavy clunker. But even with a flat bottom, instead of carved out foot, it’s a very usable bowl and I liked the surprising way the glaze turned out, (Cranberry and Snow White). You just never know!

Below is Red, a spiky, legless creature with kind of flowy side fins.  He’s shown with little Lumpy, who also has a side view so you can see she has udders. I believe Lumpy is at least partly Hunter Green glazed.


Red and Lumpy, Cindy Schnackel, ceramic

I may be showing a painted skateboard this summer. A skate shop gave me a free used one that was too beat up for anything else. About all I can tell you is it’s almost certainly going to have a bird on it. I’ve started it, and it will likely go thru a few changes yet, before I’m done.  The show will be in downtown Phoenix at a pop up gallery, sponsored by {9} The Gallery. The show is called She Deck. I’ll share details closer to the event.



Revamped my Redbubble page

Due to changes on the Redbubble site I decided to just stop selling products on a POD, at least for now. I removed or put on private view, a lot of images, and removed all options to buy anything on a product or reprint. The page is now just a sample portfolio with links to pertinent sites or info.

My revamped Redbubble page: http://www.redbubble.com/people/cschnack


Drawing on “stone paper”


Stone paper notebook purchased at Whole Foods

One of the last places I expected to find an “art supply,” let alone a type of paper I’ve been wanting to try, was Whole Foods! They had two sizes, this was the larger one, about 5 x 7 inches. The paper is thin, and lined. Despite the thinness of the paper it didn’t buckle even when wet, and didn’t bleed thru. It did ’emboss’ if I pressed hard on wetted areas. The paper feels super smooth, but surprisingly has pretty good tooth for pencil. I’ve never used Yupon paper, a synthetic, but I’ve read that watery media kind of floats around on Yupon, and it kind of did on this, too. It’s not absorbent like regular paper. Just how dissolvable things were once dry varied. I used regular colored pencils, water soluble colored pencils, graphite, and several kinds of ink pens such as ballpoint, felt tip, and alcohol based markers. My source of water was a Pentel water pen, which has a nice brush tip and only holds water. Washes dried slower on this paper, and there were some surprising things about just which inks redissolved when wet.


Various doodles on 6 x 7 ish stone paper, April 2015, Cindy Schnackel

Even some inks that aren’t very soluble did allow me to push the pigment around a bit with the waterbrush on this paper. For as smooth as it is, it allowed some layering with colored pencils. For pen and paper nuts and hand writing nuts, I think you’d like this, as the pens and pencils just glide across it. Very smooth going.

Next time, I’m going to experiment with more layering of materials, and with gluing, to see what it’s like for collage.

This is the only source I know of so far in the US for stone paper as an art paper, Cheap Joe’s has it, it’s called TerraSkin. Curious to try it and compare. http://www.cheapjoes.com/mitz-terraskin-multimedia-art-paper.html



Getting back into the studio


The Oxpecker, Acrylic on panel, 6 x 6 inches, Cindy Schnackel

Yesterday, I finished two small paintings on Ampersand masonite panels. One, “Chicken and Egg,” and “The Oxpecker,” both of which I added to my inventory list here, and my redbubble page. They’re available as products on redbubble, and as originals from me. Unframed so far.

These are the first paintings I’ve done since the loss of Sassy and Jade. I had not painted since the last thing I finished for my March show.

Also yesterday, after we both got a good adjustment from the chiropractor for our various back problems, we went to ceramics class for the first time in nearly a month. Made two creatures. Another creature I’d made a few weeks ago had miraculously made it thru bisque firing, so I did a double dip glaze on it, and will be curious to see how it comes out by next week. I was surprised it came thru bisque because that last night we went to class, my back was out, and Sassy was still alive and needing a great deal of attention and care. My mind was definitely not in ceramics that night as I just jammed on the body parts to the creature and hoped for the best. I fully had expected it would fall apart but it didn’t.

Although I love working with ceramic clay and glazes, I think some of the things I want to do in 3D really call for a lighter weight air dry clay, and painted finishes. So, I’m going to get back into that again, too.

Some big personal blows this spring, deaths of beloved birds


In better days, but not that long ago, Sassy on my shoulder during some out time.


Since December of last year, my husband and I had been battling illness in one of our birds, nearly 18 yr old Sassy, a cockatiel.

At first it was arthritis. And then it was more.

It was discovered this spring that he had testicular cancer. The only realistic option was Lupron shots that ‘might’ slow it down and give him some more quality time before it took his life. Surgery was extremely high risk. Little birds don’t tolerate anesthetic well, and he was already weakened by the cancer.

We decided to try the Lupron but it didn’t help. He took a severe downturn in April. We had to make the hardest and saddest decision of our lives, to have our vet put him quickly and painlessly to sleep so he wouldn’t suffer. We always knew that once he appeared to be suffering, we would have to make that decision. Up until then he’d had a relatively quality life, but we could tell he was going downhill. We knew that unless the Lupron did something pretty amazing we were looking at having to say goodbye soon. Nothing can prepare you for suddenly seeing a beloved’s eyes implore you, “Help me!” As he slipped away, my husband and I fell apart, and can only hope he was aware of our presence, petting him, and telling him we loved him, and that he wasn’t in any pain.

An internet friend, Juanita March, wrote this poem for the many bird nuts like us, who’ve lost their best friends.  http://photos.imageevent.com/featherbutts/poemsfrommyheart/On%20the%20Other%20Side%20of%20the%20Bridge.JPG


We didn’t know you long enough, my sweetie!


Sassy’s death came on the heels of our recently adopted budgie, Jade, dying. She’d had two checkups in the short time we’d had her, all clean, but I felt something was wrong despite tests. One day she was overly tired and refusing to eat much. We took her to the vet again, where they determined she had a respiratory infection, (though not any of the scary contagious avian diseases). This kind of thing is often a sign something’s gone wrong and a normally harmless bacteria has “opportunistically” taken over. (Sassy also had problems like that while battling cancer, and antibiotics and probiotics became part of our routine.)

We medicated Jade that night at home and she promptly regurgitated quite a bit of food even though we’d seen her eat almost nothing all day. In the morning she again regurgitated food. She died shortly after. We took her back to the vet, for a necropsy, (autopsy/post-mortem), where preliminary results indicated inflamed lungs and crop stasis, (no food was moving out of her crop and into the digestive system). She still had food in her crop even after all that, so it probably hadn’t been passing thru for a day or more. We are still waiting for complete necropsy results for Jade and hope we get some definitive answers.

Because two birds died, we had our other two birds back to the vet for more exams and tests, too, to be sure nothing infectious or toxic was going on. They’d all tested clean recently, but things happen fast in birds, and tests aren’t always 100%. So far, nothing has shown up as to why we lost TWO birds in such a short time. I would suspect Jade may have brought in something except for one critical fact; Sassy became sick before we ever met Jade.

My husband and I are heartbroken. So are our two remaining cockatiels, both adopted from a bird rescue, and both geriatric also. We’re trying to get through it all together, and heal. It’s still hard to believe Sassy is gone. Our other birds didn’t see him die, so they hold out hope he’s going to appear in the living room or something. He left a huge hole in our hearts and our lives, and a deafening silence where there used to be the secret cockatiel language of squirks, chirps, clucks, chuckles, clicks, and even whispers, as well as that frequent and cheery “Hello!”

It hurts that we had Jade only a few months before she died. Barely time to get to know her. She had already picked out which of our other birds was the easiest to tease, and she was the prettiest blue-green and yellow. We so looked forward to her coming out of her shell and letting us know who she really was.

Rest in peace, Sassy and Jade. We will see you on the other side, if there is an other side.


“Everything After” a success, concludes this month; New work


Our two person show, “Everything After,” at R. Pela Contemporary Art in Phoenix, AZ went very well, and there are still a few days to see it by appointment if you missed it! See the gallery site for contact info to schedule a viewing:


The gallery is moving to a new location for its fall 2015 season. Watch the site and/or my blog for info on that!

I sold roughly half of the thriftstore makeovers and small framed drawings, so far! Comments from viewers were delightful, with many people remarking that there were different possible ‘meanings,’ and yet people obviously just enjoyed the wackiness, too. Also appreciated, were comments that my techniques were ‘seamless’ in blending the alterations with the existing reprint. Of course, most knew that Monet never painted Bigfoot on one of his famous bridges, but it was nice to hear that upon seeing my version, they felt it ‘belonged’ there all along.

We also got some nice press coverage! Besides reviews, we were included in a number of the “must see” shows lists that circulated before the art walks this month. Here are a few:






Suspicious Chick, Acrylic on panel, 6×6 in., Cindy Schnackel

I got some matte acrylic paints from Dick Blick here in Tempe, and painted this little chick yesterday. They are interesting, and different to work with, and I think I’ll like them for more bold, graphic type work. Not sure yet if they’ll become a staple for me, I’ve just started using them, and they won’t replace my beloved Golden fluid acrylics.


That Quarantined Family, Cindy Schnackel

A piece I planned on including in “Everything After,” but there wasn’t time to finish it. I finished it over the last weekend. The ‘house’ frame is roughly 20 x 20 inches, and made of plastic. It was painted dark brown all over. I cut a piece of mat board to fit the back, drew the outlines of the windows, and created the monsters with fluid acrylics, colored pencils, and ink. I also enhanced the frame a little with some paint, to bring out the detail.

As I worked on the monsters it seemed they began to look diseased. They had spots and hairs all over. I decided they looked like a big sick family who was quarantined in their kind of haunted looking old house.  They’d be the talk of the block. And yet, they were perfectly content. The family has many diverse characters, perhaps some that are pets, not sure. The head of the household happily greets an unwary visitor. You may see a different story; feel free to share it here!


Show update, ceramics, Petcasso


“Bullies,” acrylic on thriftstore reprint, 17 x 20 in.


Show Update

The opening reception at R. Pela Contemporary Art went well! I saw lots of familiar faces and met some new ones. Sold around 20 pieces so far, including some of the thriftstore makeovers, and also quite a few small drawings. It was good to meet Jared and talk to him about his art, too.

Art Detour weekend, we stopped by with my family during the day so they could see it, then hit a friend’s show before heading home. We had originally planned to come back Sunday on the train and really see Roosevelt Row’s shows, and Grand Avenue’s galleries, too. But, we had a sick pet that weekend who needed our attention so we stayed in. I’m glad to report he’s doing a bit better now. Geriatric pets have the same ailments older people do. I am sorry we didn’t get to see much of the art event. I will try to catch up as I can thru the month of March before shows come down.

The show will open a 2nd time on Friday, March 20, at 6 pm.  This may be the last show at this location, 335 W. McDowell, as R. Pela is looking for a new location and may be in it as soon as April this year!

Gallery site for more info: http://rpelagallery.com/


Bisque fired bird heads, half inch to about 1 and a half in. tall.


Bisqued and coated with various glazes, ready for glaze firing, a bird head and breasted torso, about 2 in. tall.


Hollow Chicken, about 7 in. tall, glazed.


Higher, shallow, and with more texture to prevent slipping, hopefully these will be better dishes for our handicapped bird.


Lidded ceramic box creature, about 6 in. high


Creature trio. Foreground, “Ghost,” background 2 as yet untitled monsters. By Cindy Schnackel. Vary from 2 in. high to 8 in. long.



Most things from this spring’s handbuilding class are out of the kiln now! New classes start soon, and there will probably be a few pieces that aren’t fired until then.  I was pleased with everything so far except the glaze on the hollow chicken. No one really was thrilled with that glaze firing where it seemed most things came out gray or mauve. I reglazed the chicken with Snow White. Debated whether to go white or black, and now wish I’d gone black. I think Satin Black would’ve combated the mauve better. The Snow White didn’t. A 3rd glazing would probably obscure way too much detail, if it was advisable at all, so I’ll just leave well enough alone and make more chickens. For those who like mauve, this might be the perfect piece!

The lidded box creature was coated with iron oxide after it was bisque fired, sponging some off and leaving it in the depressions. Then the whole thing was dipped in Snow White.

Snow White glaze did well on everything else where I used it, including a white clay creature, which had ONLY white glaze, as I thought it looked ghostly. The Ghost was made from white clay scraps from the strainer in the sink. Some were probably stoneware but some were porcelain, (all cone 10 clays in our class). The larger creature in the Creature Trio pic is about 4 in. high x 8 in. long, and has udders, teeth, but no eyes.



Metal cut out cat by Misty Mulleneaux, painting by Cindy Schnackel, PETCASSO 2015

This is the 2nd time I donated a bit of my time and paint to the AZ Human Society’s fundraiser, Petcasso, for the animal shelter. Misty Mulleneaux did the metal cut out shapes which are about 20 in. high. Various artists painted them. This is my contribution. I titled it, “All the mice I’ve loved before.”

AZ Humane Society Petcasso 2015 page: http://www.azhumane.org/cwf/petcasso-collection/