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.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

My Slow Pottery Movement

So... you may know that I'm into "Slow Food". I guess I could even be accused of being "a Foodie". I like to imagine that my foodie traits are primarily rooted in eating well (with health in mind, for the body AND the environment... as if you can separate the two) rather than some kind of food elitist constantly in pursuit of a rare and/or difficult to acquire edible item.

Creating food that's really worth consuming takes time. That's what slow food is about. Sure, you can pick a fresh juicy peach from a tree and eat it in the sun in all it's naked, dripping glory and say "how is this slow food?", but you'd be ignoring the time it took to select and cultivate the tree. The time it took for the bee to pollinate the flower, the time it took for the blossom to transform into the 'sparkle in your eye' of the juicy fruit that you have just picked. That's slow food... the time and also the acknowledgment and the appreciation that it takes time.

Some of my recent mugs. Be kind to bees, they're kind of important if you like to eat.

I've been eating for quite a few years now... Pottery on the other hand is a more recent occupation. But, it's been a few years (more than a decade) that I can say I've been hacking away at clay and I think I can officially say (based on keen scientific observation) that I am a "slow potter". That is to say, not the kind with immediately obvious talent, or the kind that overwhelms with productivity. I am the slow, plodding kind. If I am going to truly embrace "slow pottery" I need to accept that. To embrace that it takes time.

In the spirit of Slow Pottery... here is the result of the project I started nearly a year ago. A large mosaic, that I'm using as a sign. I would do some things differently if I were starting over, but in the end I am sufficiently satisfied that, in my slow and plodding way, I managed to hang it up next to the entrance to the studio. It'll be there to welcome all who come here to experience slow pottery with me.

mosaic piece (the poppies have a special significance at the studio)

the sign - finally mounted on the wall of the studio

I should probably also note that you can now find my "slow pottery" at my booth at the Wolfville Farmers Market every week for the rest of 2014! Look for this fabulous old cabinet... I'm working on filling the shelves with new and always unique stuff.


Saturday, February 22, 2014

Scope for Growth and Adversity

In my last post I got a little whiny (maybe even a lot)... feeling pretty overwhelmed with the work that's required to be a professional artist-artisan. For the most part I stand behind my previous comments, but I would be an ass if I didn't acknowledge that throughout all the trials and tribulations of this journey (that nobody forced me to take) there are a LOT of amazingly kind and generous people. These people offer all sorts of support, knowledge, advice and assistance. They hold me up when I need it and they'll even pick me up when I'm already down.  They do it all from the goodness of their heart and the kindness of their being. It's really inspiring.

Thank you!

"Thank you" seems insufficient.

In my feeble attempt to offer something back here, I realized that this is a recurring theme in life. This scope for growth and adversity. Several years ago I created this piece (below) that I knew would be the first in a life-long series on this theme.

Scope for Growth and Adversity  - 2011

This is the kind of piece that kids love. You get to interact with it. You have to interact with it or you will miss a major component of what it's all about.

Are you inclined to look inside? I hope so. 

If you ask me what it is, I will be hopeless inarticulate about it. I'm still discovering the answer. 

Inside there is a vaguely humanoid figure. Folded in a not-exactly fetal shape. Is it trapped in there? Is it developing? Is this an adverse environment? Or one that offers scope for growth?

There's no right answer. Where am I on this continuum? What is this experience to me? Can I change my experience? 

There are two ways to look into this piece I created. From the scope on the side (seen in the photo above) and also from a hole in the top. Either way you need to illuminate the interior some how, but you will only ever have the two perspectives.

figure inside

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

An Artistic Life.... Blow by Blow

One woman's story.

I was a wimp and I thwarted art as a career for most of life. Then I surrendered to it. A lot of artists take a different path. They embrace it when they are young and energetic and not too daunted by a bohemian life and lack of money. To some extent I had that experience too. Working as a biologist on conversation initiatives is hardly a path to riches and security either. But unlike the minimally paid biologist living in a cabin or even working in a office pouring over maps of critical habitat for endangered species, the artist is pretty much a one-person band. There's no NGO or government/industry program behind them, quietly soliciting money to keep their work going (except in rare and exceptional circumstances). No, the artist takes on all the roles: fundraiser, promoter/publicist, editor, designer, marketing, creator, maintenance worker, custodian you name it... if you're an artist it's probably being done by one person - you!!

I have days when my work is all about keeping the cabin (my studio) from dropping below freezing. Yep, that's a job! Other days when I will crack the kiln open to replace thermo-couples, relays and elements. Days when I make a supply run into the city (~200 km return trip) to load up with clay, glaze chemicals and the other supplies to keep the kiln running smoothly. I have other days that are spent designing posters for upcoming sales events or pottery lessons. And days like this when I'm nearly so defeated that I am almost ready to throw in the towel and admit that I'm not up to the challenge.

View from the studio on a snowy day.

The idea seemed simple enough at first. I was lucky to have had a steady job for enough years that I'd squirrelled away the funds for the space and the kiln, purchased wheels and other equipment bit by bit. Ceramics/pottery has pretty high start-up costs compared to some other art forms. I don't know how someone fresh out of art school would pull it off on their own. You definitely have to be creative about keeping the costs down.

My hope as a ceramic artist is [was] that I will be able to plug away at making things with clay that have real spirit to them. Hand-made pottery is art that you can use everyday. If you're sensitive to it, you can feel the difference between a piece made by someone's hands. The energy that went into making it is fired into the piece and stays with it for millenia. There are so many different styles that there is someone making pottery today that will speak to you this way.

I knew that I would have a challenge finding my "voice" as a potter and I knew that I did not want to be a production potter - which can complicate the task of finding and keeping a market for your work. I don't have a replacement for that bowl you got from me two years ago. Part of what keeps me excited about pottery and ceramic art is that I'm constantly mucking around and trying new stuff. I'm pretty sure I could live to be 120 years old and still find new things to try. The field is both deep and broad and there are many 80, 90 and even centenarian potters out there proving my point on this. I suspect they are not in a financial position to retire either.

Beatrice Wood, 105 years old

To keep my aspirations of working with clay I knew I would have to be creative, not just in my own work, but also in ways of maintaining some cash flow to keep the power flowing to the kiln and to continue to replenish the clay supply. For me, and many artists, part of that plan is to share the joys of working in their chosen medium with other people. I really love this aspect of the "job". It's a lot of fun. It's the MOST fun part of the job. Way more fun that packing up pottery and lugging heavy boxes of breakable items off to set-up to sell for a few hours and then re-packing it. No, I can say hands-down that if I'm not actually making something with clay, then the absolute next best thing is helping someone else do it.

So... here's what spurred this blog.... As you may have noticed, I'm offering three six week classes this spring. I was hoping to let our little rural community know about this. There's a great little website called "Annapolis Valley Events" that is supposed to be all about promoting arts and culture events in our community. I posted the notice about pottery lessons there and last night I was informed that I'm not eligible to post my event listing... 
"Hello and Welcome to 
Started in 2008, is a free portal for informing residents and visitors in the Annapolis Valley of upcoming arts, culture, entertainment, and educational events happening in the Annapolis Valley region. We have worked very hard to attract a specific, focused audience and want to ensure we can retain them with high quality content. In that regard, policies were put into effect to keep businesses separate from our event listings. Within these policies we do not list: 
Business events involving customer solicitation; Business advertisements or sales; Business run Fitness Classes; Sporting Events; Other events that are deemed to be business related ventures We make a conscious effort to keep commercial posts out of our event lists, as this is a site driven by the users, not by businesses."

So, I guess technically I am a "business" and that is too offensive to be considered an art event, even under the classes/workshops section. All this to say: you won't be finding me in the Valley Events. BUT, if you are interested, I do offer intimate classes (4-5 people) and workshops with clay. At most twelve people (in total) can participate in this little endeavour that is offered from spring through the fall in a little log cabin, which is also a ceramic studio.

the corporate headquarters

Thanks for letting me vent about this to you. Next time you see an artist, just know, they could probably use a hug and any support you can offer, which does NOT mean you have to buy something, but could just mean that you finally take that painting course you have been telling yourself you'd like to do or mentioning to your friends that there's a cool little pottery studio up the road that offers lessons from time to time...

Friday, January 31, 2014

Spring... into a Pottery Class

Corny title. Yes. Sorry!!!

I could wax on about all the benefits of taking up pottery. There are lots of studies in art therapy that show the social, emotional, mental and physical benefits. Arthritic hands may respond really well to the warm water and gentle work-out that helps with circulation and movement. Your mind that's been turning over those zillion things may finally quiet down under the hypnotic movement of the clay on the spinning wheel. Classes usually get a bit silly too, so expect to laugh (truly the best medicine).

If you envision your cupboards filled with hand-made pottery with warm runny glazes, oozing the kind of karma that only comes from items made by hand and with affection, then pottery may be for you! It's certainly what drew me in. 

From early spring through to the start of winter I offer classes in introductory & intermediate pottery. The classes are small and intimate. The people who come are always lovely and more often than not end up as friends if they weren't before. The space is a little log cabin, nestled on the south mountain near Wolfville, Nova Scotia (~8km from downtown) and just up the hill from the little hamlet of Gaspereau. The studio isn't large, but it's well equipped with wheels and work tables, lots of glazes and other goodies. The mood is always relaxed. There is usually some mellow singer-songwriter music playing in the background. If it's cold out, there's probably a fire in the wood stove to keep us warm. If this appeals to you, you're invited to join me. 

Spring 2014 Schedule

Introductory pottery classes

Classes are weekly on Monday evenings from 6-9 pm starting March 31st. *
Demonstration & instruction in both thrown pottery and hand-building are offered in this 6 week class.

During this session you will learn all the basics of creating pieces on a potter's wheel. Over the course of four weeks you will get to make bowls and mugs. The 5th week is an opportunity to finish up your pieces and learn hand-building techniques. In the final week you will learn how to glaze all your pieces. 

$215 (supplies, 10 lbs clay, glaze and firings included)

Limited space. 

Intermediate pottery classes
Two options: Classes are weekly on Sunday evenings 6-9 pm starting March 30th or Monday afternoons 1-4 pm starting March 31st. *
$215 (supplies, 10 lbs clay, glazes and firings included).

$215 (supplies, 10 lbs clay, glazes and firings included).
Limited space.

Beyond bowls: four weeks on the wheel working on more advanced shapes and perfecting the ones you already know, one week of soft-slab construction.  Finishing up with a marathon of glazing all these creations. If you can wedge clay and centre it on the wheel, know what bisqueware is and also that glaze is not paint... this class is for you!!

* no classes on Easter weekend
* dare I even say... "storm make-up" scheduled for May 25th

How To Register

Please contact me directly to register. You can reach me by email. Phone: 902.542.1213 or message me on Facebook.

To stay current on classes, workshops, shows, sales and other things I might be up to, please visit my Facebook page.