Thursday, February 4, 2016


Do you have a spot to deposit your wishes, your best intentions, notes of gratitude? If you did, what would it look like?

This started out as a project with a very definite purpose and the associated constraints that come with that. I like constraints because they flex the creative muscles. I think a lot of people believe that it works the other way; that you need to have freedom and lots of choice. But really, too much choice, too many possibilities is debilitating. Constraints give you something to flex against. Try pushing against the air. Now a wall. See what I mean? 

I've been working on this creature since August when the project was suggested. It started with some pretty crude sketches and took some thinking to come up with a suitable plan to achieve some of the functional requirements. I sculpted it over several weeks, with some, no, lots of trial and error and at least two fresh starts. The next three months were spent drying slowing to prevent it from cracking apart as it dried. Periodically peaking beneath the layers of plastic to see it was showing signs of stress from drying too quickly in spots. 

Around Christmastime it was finally, delicately (dry raw clay is such an incredibly fragile thing) and awkwardly loaded into the kiln taking up almost all of the 7 cubic feet interior during the bisque firing. 

Loaded in the kiln for the bisque firing
Since the final glaze firing it has shrunk down to a reasonably manageable ~17" x ~18" sculpture, but it's still a commanding presence and trust me when I say you wouldn't want to carry it around with you.

Depending on where it ends up there may be some additional details added, but I wouldn't want to ruin all the surprises. 

I've really enjoyed this project! It's been making me wonder if I should keep making mugs...

Monday, January 11, 2016

Speak Up Now for a Collective Arts Centre!!

As many of my pottery friends now know, I've decided to take back my studio for a while so that I can work on my own projects... things that have scaled up in size and occupy a lot of my studio space. That means no more classes and workshops. BUT... I hope you know how much I enjoy helping to guide you through your own clay experiences and I've been saying that a more centrally located public space would be a wonderful addition to our community.

If you think so too the time to speak up has come!!!

Shiretown Media, Arts and Creative Services Business Collective is currently soliciting your opinion on the future of this project.

PLEASE take 5 minutes to take this survey and if you can come to the public meeting or send them a message. 

Take the survey:…

Public Meeting
Thursday, January 28, 2016
6:00pm – 9:00pm
Kings Arms Pub, Second Floor
390 Main Street, Kentville

Friday, December 18, 2015

The Alewife's Pottery and Apothecary

Maybe you have noticed my large ceramic sign at the market and wondered what the hell it means. You would be in good company. The term "alewife" has certainly dropped out of our lexicon and those who still use it are almost certainly referring to the fish, more commonly known around here as gaspereau.


I've been living here in the Gapsereau Valley for a while now and I have my connections to the fish, but the alewife I'm referring to is not a fish.

Alewife was the term for working women with expert knowledge in ways of using herbs and fermentation to create beverages that are nourishing and medicinal. Much of their knowledge has been lost to us over the centuries, but some remains. In the 16th century “beer purity laws” were enacted in England and Germany that limited the ingredients allowed in beer and ales. This first step in commercial control of food production led to the consolidation and large scale commercialisation of beer brewing and, for the most part, eliminated the small domestic, artisan beer producers, many of whom were women or alewives.  

These hand-sculpted, hand-carved and hand-painted ale cups are a tribute to these professional women, their knowledge and the importance of traditional knowledge.

Four years ago I made seven of these. I haven't made any since until now. This year there are 6 cups on offer. Each one is unique. $45

The Alewife's Cup


Yarrow Ale
(brewed for 700 years as commonly as hopped beer is today )

5 lbs malted barley
3 oz recently dried yarrow tops or 6 oz fresh yarrow tops (plant & flower)
6 gallons water

Mash malt with water at 150 degrees Fahrenheit for 90 minutes. Boil the remaining water and sparge (run the heated water through the mash). Boil all with half the yarrow. Let cool to blood warm (70o F) and place in fermenter. Place remaining yarrow in a muslin bag and hang in fermenter; add yeast. Allow to ferment until complete. Prime bottles, fill and cap.
Ready to drink in 2 weeks.

from Sacred and Herbal Healing Beers,
by Stephen Harrod Buhner 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

A Pilgrimage to a Pottery Festival

Every two years, the International Ceramics Festival is held in Aberystwyth, Wales. It was on my bucket list to go at least once and this year I made it happen.

Getting to Wales is definitely something that should be approached with patience. From here, it was two planes, three trains and a bus ride over the course of two days just to get to Cardigan. From there I started the 100 kilometre walk along the Wales Coastal Path to Aberystwyth. It was a great way to get over the jet-lag, take in the stunning landscapes and meet many kind and interesting Welsh people along the way.

Admittedly there are probably faster ways to get to Aberystwyth, but only slightly.

Wales Coastal Path - near Llangrannog
The walk felt a lot like a pilgrimage. Walking is a really lovely way to travel across a landscape. You don't have that feeling that things are passing by too quickly and it's easy to stop whenever the mood hits you, take photographs, even stumble into a pub or cafe for a little liquid replenishment without the hassles that come with other forms of transportation. The UK has an amazing trust of public land and walking paths that make it possible to spend years walking around without ever repeating your route. In Wales alone the entire coastal path is 1400 km. 

I confess that it was a bittersweet moment as we crested the last hill and looked down over Aberystwyth. Although with the rain threatening a proper downpour and after a long day of walking I was happy to be headed indoors to a bed and a shower. As we walked the long, last mile along the promenade below with the wind howling and the rain beating sideways a van pulled up along side the road and a group of kids poured out. Seconds later they emerged from an alleyway between two building with surfboards. They scurried quickly across the road and into the water for their surfing lesson. Another testament to the saying "There's no bad weather in Wales, only poor clothing choices." Ironically though, we were pretty well prepared for rainy weather on this trip. We were less prepared for the scorching summer sun and heat wave that was happening during our walk. 

Aberystwyth as the sun is setting.
The International Ceramics Festival is a relatively young event, started in 1987. It's held every two years at the Aberystwyth Arts Centre, University of Aberystwyth. 

The Old College - Aberystwyth University
The festival has developed quite a reputation for itself since its conception both for the caliber of presenters from around the globe it attracts (this year was no exception) but also for the unusual kiln firings that happen during the festival.

The "Eco-Kiln": a small wood fire kiln.
A pizza kiln/oven.

The Lual Kiln by Rita Gudino 

Unloading the Lual Kiln

Sergi Pahissa's kiln from local reclaimed material
Not shown here is the medieval Japanese anagama kiln by Gas Kimishima. And that's just a highlight of the kiln firings... The workshops and presentations were a LOT to take in.

I probably would have benefited from doing a second 100 kilometre walk just to let my mind digest some of the wisdom and creative spirit from the festival. Here are a few more photos of some of the gorgeous coastal path from the Ceredigion Region of Wales.

In my next post I'll talk about how the festival and the landscape is making me rethink how I work with clay.

Aberystwyth Castle- photo taken around 11 pm (long summer days slightly further north) on the way back to my flat after the kiln firings 

This section of trail on the hot sunny day required some focus on footwork.


Trail marker on top of another hill near the end of the day.

North of Aberystwyth

The extensive sand dunes of Ynys-Las

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Cyber-Browse My Pottery Inventory

If you're wondering what I have available for the Christmas season, you can browse my market inventory at the link below. I will be adding new inventory and deleting sold items on a regular basis, so if you don't see your wish list item today, check back later. There may also be some goodies at my booth that don't appear here.

Happy Holidays.

cheese boards $25-35

Thursday, November 13, 2014

'Tis the Season

Come find me at the Wolfville Farmers' Market EVERY Wednesday evening from 4-7 pm and Saturday from 8:30-1 pm or at one of these great local events.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Hand-Building Workshops!!!

I have FINALLY set the dates for the Fall workshops.  See the "Classes" tab at this website for more information, or check out the Event listing on my Facebook page or talk to me at the Wolfville Farmers' Market.