Saturday, December 11, 2010

Allison, the mice and the mushroom

When I was a teenager, I accompanied a friend to an arts fair in our hometown of Saranac Lake, where she had rented table space. She brought an assortment of mice intricately crafted from construction paper and made durable with a clear coat of something that appeared to be shellac.
The mice were posed in various occupations with the instruments of their trades, but the one that impressed me the most was the rock band. She sold that set to a local music store that displayed the rocking rodents in its window. Not bad for a teenager with a bunch of construction paper.
But that was her.
Always creating.
I reconnected with my friend, Allison Moore, on Facebook last year and was thrilled to see that she had pursued art as a career. Allison lives in Seattle now, where she is a tile designer and a potter/sculptor. Her work is amazing. She makes a variety of detailed, high-relief clay images using intricately designed plaster stamps. Some of her designs require a good deal more scuplting to bring them to life and most of her pieces are one-of-a-kind functional art that is dishwasher and microwave safe.
They are original, just like Allison, and she was the first person I thought of when I recently experienced an art emergency.
It happened like this:
My sister had hosted a family reunion at her home outside Kingston, N.Y., this summer. She had lots of artwork on the shelves in the living room and my 3-year-old twins were immediately drawn to the ceramic elephant collection. By the end of the weekend, one elephant had lost its tail. The elephant had sentimental value. It had belonged to my sister's mother-in-law, a wonderful, kind, intelligent woman who died too young more than a decade ago.
There were other young children at the reunion and some of them possessed the same kind of destructive curiosity as my boys, but I think it would be a pretty fair assumption that one of my guys broke the elephant, given the attraction.
No, wait.
Knowing them, they probably broke it together.
My sister was wonderful about it.
She didn't get upset and she didn't ask for compensation.
Still, I felt bad.
I could not replace that elephant and the memories it triggered.
But I wanted to give her something that might someday hold equal sentimental value. I immediately thought of Allison. I told Allison that my sister has a backyard garden that she would like to fill with little surprises -- earth-tone creatures and faces peeking out from behind trees, from around rocks and from within beds of flowers. I wanted to give her something for that garden, something different.
Here is Allison's creation:

The mushroom is 13 inches high and 11 inches in diameter. She even made it extra heavy, so it won't tip. Allison just recently shipped it, so my sister hasn't seen it yet. Hopefully, it will arrive before she views the photo here. I'm guessing I got a friend rate because her work is worth far more than I paid her.
I feel like I did that day at the fair almost 30 years ago, like I am experiencing someone on the verge. Like something exciting is going to happen any moment. Maybe it is, in part, because she is a friend. Maybe it's because I am particularly drawn to her style. Maybe it's because I sense the complexity of the mind that could create such things, but that's what her art does for me.
For me, Allison and her work will always be on the verge.
And, in my opinion, that's a wonderful place to be.

Here is a little more information about Allison:
Allison is a member of the Moshier Community Arts Center in Burien, WA . Visits and order pick-ups by appointment. Allison is a crafts vendor at Seattle's Pike Place Market and also a 10-year member at the Redmond Saturday Market, which runs from May 1st through the end of October. New website link will be available at; Send request to the above email address to receive email notifications of show dates. Photos of her work are also avaialble at Please include note indicating interest in her ceramic art with friend request.
Many thanks~ Allison

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