Friday, December 30, 2011

My Pot Runeth Over

The sun is pouring into the studio, warming a batch of mugs so they might dry one day. It has been raining cats and dogs here for a last few days so the 'glowing orb' is nice to see. I wanted to post a photo here quickly (as i am going to get cleaned up for a surprise wedding of some friends) that i received from some new canadians who live on the other side of the country. It warmed my soul to see my creation taking a place in someone's life and being full of love as only a gift can be.

Pots hold a lot more than stuff. My pot runeth over.

Thank you all for a great year! hh

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Open Studio

Hi Folks!

I will be putting out the "open studio" signs as much as possible for the next few weeks leading up to santa-day. If i am home, the signs will be out and people are invited to browse the gallery for a nice gift. There are 5 mugs at both Coffee on the Moon and Black Coffee at Whippletree for you to have a look at.

Happy local, green, culturally valuable, shopping!

Friday, December 9, 2011

want to cruise the market in stylish wool?

The City Square is packed tomorrow, a feat never heard of before the market merger and such a welcome addition to our tiny city. Now all we need is some happy seasonal shoppers to join us and everything is perfect. I have some really nice work in the studio and am happy to bring it to the Market as the hours have changed to a 10 am start so there is some time to burn off the frosty icy streets before everyone gets there. I will be riding home after i pack up at 2pm and then anyone who is looking for beautiful, unique affordable clay work can come to my studio and browse without freezing to the ground!! heehee

I would also like to thank "calfornia dave" for the lovely order of a bowl (many of you picked it up and wanted it) it was shipped to your sister today and we sprinkled a little magic over it (besides double packing it, an old potters' trick) and we hope it adds to her new home her in the 'great white north'. Thank you for keeping my pottery in mind from so far away.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Touch of Saltspring Christmas Show

Hi all, just a quick note to let you know that i am at the "touch of saltspring" this year in north saanich, in the panorama recreation centre, parking is very limited and there is a shuttle bus, i am carpooling with my two dear friends franziska and sandy who are selling clay jewelry and goat milk soap, this means that we are all leaving town at 8am and returning LATE at night

a photo inside the 'water' glzee tub and my feet, i love this shot

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

6th Annual Solo Pottery Show Summary

The show was so amazing this year and i wanted to say thank you to those of you who travelled from far away to come and join us!! A couple from Nanaimo drove down and bought a few pots and then ordered a long tray for serving fish (amongst other things) and i will be working on that in the new year.

A friend who works in Parksville with clay distribution drove down to see the show and to tell me how 'bold' it is to have a one woman show!! She also found my last wine goblet and highlighted the need for me to start making them again.....January.

One of my most dedicated customers drove up from Sidney to have a look and find some lovely gifts for friends and family, and yes i am still working on her order of mugs and funky deep dish plates (soon). ;~)

A whole crowd of local collectors came out to see what i've been up to for the last year or so and a lot of the flawed work went. It is such a great match to let go of those flawed pots making room in the gallery while sending people home with a pot that makes them smile.

A local person who has a lot of my work was able to adopt one of my baby peace lilies as well as find a nice mug for a friend. There were also quite a few people who just stopped by for a look because of the signs that handy dave helped put up again this year.

My cycling friends, Dave and Sandra Beggs came by and found the perfect clay flower pot for her christmas amaryllis and potted it the same day so we could see it that night when we all went over for a potluck.

Franziska came by and kept us company and exercised our dogs for us then ended up staying for a bit and helping pack up the first run of pots!

It was so nice to see everyone and say good-bye to lots of pots and i was happy to listen to all the comments about how people have become fond of the clay work that they have purchased from me or have been given by a loved one.

I will definitely be having the 7th Annual Solo Show next year!

The Studio will be open a lot more this year during December as i have made some "open studio" signs and will be home working. See you all soon.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Cycle Therapy Helps with Pottery Show

At this time of year, there is a but of a lump in my throat as i am packing up ALL of my pots and will ask for help (gulp!) and then set up and display hundreds of pots in one place. Every pot i have, no reserves at a gallery, no ugly 'seconds' sitting dusty on the bottom shelf of my gallery, everything out there for everyone to see. It's nerve-racking.
the photo is of the naked teapots that are now finished and will be at the show this weekend, notice the new lid/handle design on two of them

However, i just realized that for most people there isn't a final show, or a room full of shiny work, there is just a week or two of vacation and another year of payments made. It can be a beautiful moment to breathe in the sight of one's hard the feeling that comes over me when i go out and lift the glass pane off the soil bed (that i have been building for the last 6 years) and find that the corn actually germinated and little corn grasses are pushing through.

My amazing friend, Sandra Beggs, is coming over tomorrow to help with another car and several hours of unpacking pots and when we fall down with exhaustion, i will try to retain my usual smile and recognise the amazing opportunity to look over a year's worth of creations.

I am so lucky to be able to make pots full time and to have friends offer to help, some are bringing cookies, some will help take down and handy dave will be there to wrap up purchases for the entire weekend!

Thank you everyone for helping me pull this weekend together!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

6th Annual Solo Pottery Show

It's time for my 6th Annual Solo Pottery Show. This weekend, November 26th and 27th, from 10am until 5pm, both days. It is at the Clements Centre on Clements Street in Duncan, just one block west of the Library off James Street.

All the pots will be there, somewhere in the neighbourhood of 400 and there will be a few "seconds" on a table there too. Seconds are odd pots that i don't like, pots that are flawed or pots that i no longer make and just want to be free of. Seconds are only a few dollars or sometimes free with another purchase.

If you would like a 10% off coupon, they are in the mugs at both Coffee on the Moon and Black Coffee or you can just let me know that you read my blog and saw that there were coupons out there but didn't find one!

Look for the huge signs out on Saturday and Sunday and posters around town. See you all there!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Rant: What Exactly i Believe In

A very thoughtful friend of mine held my chalkboard sign in support of my running for North Cowichan Council and then asked me if i would take a few moments to write down just exactly i was standing for. It was a good thing to chew on while i cycled home in the late morning soft sunlight.

The trick is that i am running "as myself" and what i mean by that is that i am running as a cyclist who (however naively) believes that riding my bike is actually going to help re-freeze the polar ice caps:

~i am running as a person who loves the forest, for walking, retaining and building soil, for housing a wide variety of creatures, cleaning the air, mountain biking and for groups of little school kids to walk in to find the perfect Big Leaf Maple leaves for their art project:

~i believe in asking people to explain complex systems to me so that i may have a working understanding of topics like the situation that is facing our water wells, some folks have spent their entire adult life studying these highly specific topics and we should be sourcing them instead of lobbyists who have a development agenda:

~i believe in fresh water, to jump in at the Quarry, to drink, and that we need to build and support our marsh land so it can continue to clean and slow down the water so our towns and homes don't flood:

~i believe in small businesses, like my own, contributing more than just a pay cheque to a few people but that you know the person who owns the store because they come in to work everyday and talk with the customers and have a friendship with their employees, the quality of life is better for everyone:

~i believe in the arts, not a vague idea that paintings, pottery and music exist but in spending money on a theatre program where i can go watch an actor pour out their heart and communicate things that make the audience cry and laugh, art that helps to heal the artist and the consumer! art that brightens up a room and pays the mortgage! a tiny volounteer run art gallery where all sorts of artists can rotate through and announcements of shows and performances can be posted free of charge:

~i believe that our garbage should be reduced until all we take away in those trucks is recycled and re-used and composted which actually creates jobs here and topsoil or mulch instead of sending our junk to other places to sit on the land until it seeps into every corner of our ecosystem with awful consequences for our land and water creatures that end up ingesting our waste:

~i believe that if someone is going to cut down a forest to build houses, all the regulatory hoops simply must be jumped through, if this occurred here we would have had the money needed to replant the giant gash on Mount Tzouhalem which has been a blatant example of poor outcomes without proper regulation for the last several years:

~i believe that responsible government doesn't spend thousands (48K) of tax payers dollars to tell everyone about decisions, that appear to have already been made, are "good " for us:

~i believe that meetings were invented to seek out compromises that give and take so that all involved are listened to and respected, and in the end everyone can understand why decisions were made:

~i believe that more work needs to be done (like the active transportation plan currently being studied) to get people out of their cars and walking and cycling, simple things like having the trails and sidewalks meet up and 'go places' that people want to go, a walk or ride everyday can help with other seemingly unrelated things like the duration of hospital stays and Seasonal Affective Disorder, it can teach children that they can be empowered to transport themselves with their feet instead of being endlessly driven around strapped to a vehicle:

~i believe in open dialogue which is made up of mostly listening (again with the two ears and one mouth! thing) both at official meetings and on the street corner or over a coffee, actually listening to people and trying hard to understand what the local government can do to help, some of the time (as a market vendor told me Saturday) the government just needs to get out of the way!!

~i believe that if we had a cat licencing bylaw, while possibly unpopular, it would slowly fix the problem of hundreds of cats becoming feral, why are we having a discussion at Council about HOW to kill the cats (one method over another) and how to PAY to kill the cats, we should be talking about how to STOP having more kittens and Calgary's example is working beautifully and it breaks even financially between the licence fees and the spay neuter program:

~i believe that other towns and municipalities have already done the trial and error work and we can read and implement solutions that are already proven effective instead of reinventing the wheel that every time we'd like to make a change or go in a new direction:
~i believe that we should grow our food here in the valley, this is gut busting work for sure and the best part is that you don't have to do it!! there are a lot of small produce farms here that grow piles of food already, those folks are at your Duncan Farmers' Market every Saturday, waiting for you to bring your cloth shopping bag and a couple of dollars, the flow of money spent at Markets was studied by the BC Association of Farmers' Markets and found that every dollar spent at the Farmers' Market is spent SEVEN more times in the local economy, few other purchases can boast that sort of ripple effect:

~i believe in community gardens! potluck lunches made of food you grew, eating meals together and seeking out solutions that haven't even been dreamed yet, gleaning fruit from the old trees that are long since abandoned:

~i believe that we should have been putting money away to rebuild our Hospital since the 1950's when it was built, we would have no problem building a new hospital if we had been tucking away a fund with a reasonable level of interest, why not start now for the aged bridges that need to be replaced according to the engineers that do the inspections:

~i believe that democracy should be free!! it should not matter if someone has a huge budget for signs and paper handouts, i am not accepting money from anyone and i am not producing any garbage (paper/plastic) and am not consuming ANY gasoline in my effort to get elected:
~i believe in street sweepers regularly cleaning the bike lanes to pick up all that glass that gets in my eyes when i ride into town for work and makes me VERY late for meetings when i get a flat tire, imagine if there was an obstruction in the vehicle lane that flattened the tires of cars and how quickly that would be fixed at any cost!!:

~i believe that if you hire me to read the documents, listen to people that email and call, and attend the meetings: that is exactly what i will do but this is not up to me alone, i am only one vote and we need to hire 6 councillors who will attend the meetings:

~i believe that change toward a future with a healthy economy, clean water, affordable housing, healthy urban density, and breathable air is possible and there are some new people with a lot of hard work and great ideas like the ones i have typed and posted here, but it starts with you. It also ends with you: in a tiny booth with a piece of paper and a lot of names. It's your turn: Choose!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Maple Bay All Candidates Meeting

I rode out to the Maple Bay Fire Hall after attending the Board Meeting for the Duncan Farmer's Market (we were finalizing the budget) so I got there a little late. I was not surprised at all to find the "angry man" syndrome alive and well; the one guy who stands up, furious and unreasonable, and shouts at everyone about how stupid they are and what terrible decisions they have made. It was beautiful when one of the candidates stood up and explained that the Oak Bay Rec Centre/Pool actually breaks even and that we could study their systems and implement those things anger, no shouting just a polite solution suggested!!

One question was posed that there weren't ANY young people there and what the candidates would do about it. I gently heckled back that I am only 33 and not that old and the crowd laughed a little.

I was very disappointed that the candidates who are tyring to get re-elected didn't have actual answers and couldn't explain what they had been doing for the last few years.

It is clear that some people are always going to vote for those with a larger public profile but it seems odd with the last few huge blunders that we are now paying for, the pool overages that aren't being paid for by everyone, the crappy RCMP station that must be replaced but no money put away for it, the water wells on Halalt lands that no one is drinking, the lack of action on invasive plants that are now a huge problem with a $5000 annual budget.

The list goes on. If we elect the same people---we will get the same results!!!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

North Cowichan Council 2011

Dave and i went on a short walk (he's sick so there was much stopping for klee nex time) and he took a few photos of the dogs and i, one of them is above.

The campaign has started softly with lots of people catching up with me in town and via email saying they have heard that i am running and wishing me well. The whole plan is to run without creating any garbage (signs, business cards or printed notices) as well as not using any fossil fuel doing any driving around on the campaign trail (door-to-door, or attending meetings, this means both Crofton and Chemainus on the bike with my borrowed head light).

The other idea that anchors this plan is that no money will change hands. Anyone who thinks that my presence on the North Cowichan Council would be beneficial just has to attend the election and vote. If you think that it' s a REALLY good idea that i would represent them and serve on the can tell other people that they might consider voting for me.

Simple, right? We'll see.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

A Meal with a Friend and Thoughts on the "Shows"

Today 'day-off-dave' and i prepared a meal for a friend who would have been on her own for thanksgiving and took things out there and threw it in the oven and finished up mixing the desserts (yup, two desserts) and then went out for a walk around with the dog herd.

It was nice to head out for the day and we always have a lot of laughs when we are together. Dave went out to the garden and picked a few things for me while i was prepping and chopping food, it is a proud moment to see your food brought in from your backyard.

Tomorrow race dave is going to a cross-race with his friends and i have a long busy day in the studio. There is more than enough work to fill the big kiln and a batt full of mugs to trim and handle and so many things to throw that still have a chance of being ready for the start of the pay-your-mortgage-in-february shows.

I can't say enough how much it means to me that lots of people are choosing to shop locally for handmade items to bring home for Christmas!! What is says to myself and a lot of my fellow artisans is that people wake up one day and think of me, not just my pottery or my wool-clad form at the Farmers' Market but that artists face the same costs of living everyone else does. We are part of society and usually contribute in many ways other that our art, whether we are volounteering, growing our own food or spending time working on the next generation. When i come away from a good day at a craft show (especially my Solo Show) i feel like other people find value in the pretty little stack of bowls and that they feel good giving a loved one a large bowl in which to make bread others.

The fresh awareness about the power of consumers and them turning their focus towards the "local world" is beautiful and will be on my studio wall tomorrow as i work. i will think about everyone who would really like to find that perfect mug for their dad (tea mug, beer mug, coffee mug) so they can buy a gift that reflects something about him (instead of a tie, socks, tool belt) and also meet a real-live artist all at the same time.

Off to bed, or maybe another small piece of the un-recipe pumpkin cheesecake and then off to bed. The cake option will require at least an hour cycle tomorrow which will seem epic in the torrential downpour they are calling for...and some people wondered how i fill my days.....pots/cycling/yummy food/repeat! talk soon.hh (ps: i am also fermenting some tomatoe seeds for next year.....with a lid to keep the smell down... hee hee)

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Photo of a Crab in Port Renfrew and Election Thinking

As some of you might have already figured out by my presence at the Duncan Farmers' Market today, the hike was cancelled. It is treacherous, challenging and no-turning-back type of country in all weather and the latest high seas (8metres for anyone who understands such measurements) and 300mm of rain the few days before we were to start made things much worse. Add to that people getting part way out and then deciding to turn back and hike out for safety which all added up to it not being feasible for a school group.

So, i was back to work and threw some of those endlessly functional pouring bowls that everyone likes and then went on a 20+km hike with the school group as a sort of consolation hike with an overnight. I was a little shocked at the silly-pants nature of some of the kids and i saw a few nasty blisters at the close of the day. Two of the students also left their hikers out of cover and would have found a boot full of rain had the precipitation arrived a few hours earlier. It was a lot of fun and a great eye opener that there are still sweet kids in the world who look you in the eye and say thank you and listen to adults talk.

I have been doing a lot of blanching and freezing, picking and drying, and trading what i have a lot of (like rhubarb) with others who have extra too.

I have been chatting with a lot of locals who are interested in electing me to the Council for North Cowichan. It would seem that people who know me think that i would be a good person to look at the decisions that are made for our Valley and help steer things towards green and socially considered directions. Reading a wide variety of documents carefully and thinking about what is being proposed would fit in well with the long hours of wedging clay and working on the wheel. There would be a lot of hours spent in meetings and it may cut into the time i have to volounteer on the Board of the DFM but the leadership and steadiness that has been cultivated over the past 4 years on that Board would serve me well.

The pouring bowls are calling me and the holiday shows are leering at me from the calendar on my fridge, so much work to do and so little time, also the rainy season has started which really slows down my ability to dry the fresh work in the damp cupboard so it is "cheese hard" to trim. It lengthens the time that work has to sit out on the "dry" shelves waiting for a kiln load of pots to be ready not to mention the constant rotation of work to make up for the newly uneven drying due to someone turning on the furnace. (love you honey ;~)

Thanks for reading and talk soon. hh

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Quick update

This is such a busy time of year for me every year as i have to make up all the pottery that has been sold this year so that it is there for the craft fair season. To add a little pressure to this schedule I have agreed to be the volounteer first aid chaperone for a school group who is doing the West Coast Trail!! A lot of time management skill is required to prep for the hike: everything from packing and getting needed items to hiking with the whole "kitten-caboodle" on my back! Non-hiker-dave and i have gone out for a walk/hike where he is wearing kakki shorts and a t-shirt and i am wearing everything i own from the huge backpack and boots to gaiters and hiking poles. We will definitely get a photo the next time we are out walking mismatched together and i will post it.

For now, i am off to the studio to unload the warm bisque kiln load and trim the tiny bowls that i made last night.

I just booked the Clements Centre for November 26th and 27th for my Solo Show. Details to follow.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Arts on the Avenue

Hi everyone! I will be at the show Sunday August 28th from 10 until 4pm. The show is on the main street in the town of Ladysmith, 26 km north of Duncan. It will be a nice chance to see all the work that I currently have available. There are 45 artists at this year's event and it is such a well planned and well assembled, juried show it is worth some time.

Talk to you soon, i still have to pack the rest into the car and get at least some sleep before set up time!!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

french butter dishes filled with wild blackberries

A moment of pure bliss washed over me today when i found a new patch of blackberries the size of golf balls close to the pathway that i normally take the dogs on. I had ridden over to the farm up the road to get some eggs and a few other veggies that they grow, when i thought it must be time to have a peak at the blackberry crop. I laid the bike down and called the dogs back and very carefully stepped through the treacherous barbed canes to reach the soft black fruit. My effort was richly rewarded.

When adventure dave and i came out here to look for a house from Calgary in 2006, i was gobsmacked by the fact that not only did wild blackberries pour out of every rugged nook and cranny of the valley but wild, unloved apple trees grew in the road allowances and plums fell off only mourned by the wasps that were eating their sweet flesh.

I made a promise to myself that i would never forget to see the abundance of free wild fruit to fill my freezer and jam jars and that i would not become too busy or preoccupied to take time to get out there and pick it. I have found that it makes the most perfect break from a day like today where i spent all day throwing highly specific (read frustrating) french butter dish halves that must fit exactly inside each other, to jump on the bike with a bag of tupperware or pails and go collect fruit and toss it in the freezer! The house might be a bit too hot tonight to make jam but in the rainy season i welcome standing in front of a warm stove simmering the bubbling jam in the amazing pot dave got for me.

Today is our anniversary. We have been married for 8 years and i could not feel more unconditionally loved, through all the enormous changes i have incurred, with all my battle scars and a clear obsession with pots that has grown over everything like the blackberries that I love so much, husband dave has gently fanned the ashes of my many incarnations and helped me find and rekindle my roots, the true self, deep underneath my ideas and self assessments. There is no greater gift.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Monday morning again. We are wrapping up coffee/underpants time with our new teen aged kitten who just showed up last week, and there is a pile of work staring at us this week. Laundry, (once the basket is completely buried a small alarm goes off that laundry landslide is imminent) a kiln full of bisque, gardens to weed and harvest peas, black currants to pick, driving to Victoria on Friday, errands in town, getting a book called "Thrown" that was reviewed by the BC Potters' Guild, cleaning the house, two markets (Sidney:Thursday and DFM:Saturday) and I am running out of time to throw work that will be ready in time for Arts on the Avenue. The photo is last year's show poster, can you find my picture in there?? row two column four.

I also have to clean the litter-box everyday as the new kitty is in the process of de-worming. I had no idea such terrible.......enough said!!

The summer has finally arrived and plants are growing audibly in the swelter. I have a few huge tomatoes on one of the plants and the rest are working hard to catch up. The garden is a blend of soil and clay which has it's challenges but also needs VERY little water as it is held there for a long time. We are in sunlight management mode with open upstairs windows all night with fans drawing in the colder outside air and then shut tight during the day to conserve the coolness we collected.

In the studio today I am throwing a batch of my tiny bowls off the hump to fill in the kiln shelves amongst the chip platters and bowl sets that I am trying to fire efficiently.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Bike Ride and Last Week of the Art Show

Good day. Today is a studio day with a break at some point to go fetch groceries with the trailer and bike. I pack them myself so they can go in the crates just so and come home in one piece with useful bread and bananas! I spent the day, 9 hours, in the car doing ride support for training dave and 5 of his buddies. I brought as much water as I had containers for and still ran out just before we got to Lake Cowichan. Each person brought as much food and water as they thought they needed and I was driving all the food and water around so it would be there when they needed it.

We left Duncan at 9am and I set up a little aid station just at the Goldstream corner and then tried to catch up to them before they got to Sooke but they beat me there!! The team was really moving all day and kept a blistering tempo for all 236 kms.

Here is a photo of my pack up for taking my work to the Art Show in the Portals Gallery inside the Island Savings Community Centre on James Street in Duncan. We take down the show on Friday so pop in this week to see what we came up with and how the three artists work together.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Art Exhibition in Portals Gallery

Photo of 'day off dave' and the dogs at cherry point beach taken by me.

Yesterday, Franziska and Julie met me at the Island Savings Centre to build a show that shared the gallery space between the three of us. Franziska is a surface focused potter, she takes photos of the natural world and (using her mac) she can isolate the item she wants and then using magic she applies this photo to her pottery! I have NO IDEA how she does this, she has to fire the decal photo thingy in a lower firing after the piece has been done so her work is fired three or more (up to 6) times. The results are just beautiful.

Julie Nygaard is a photographer who starts with the photo and works towards a built image. Her work is strong with varied surfaces (some photos are printed on canvas) with a lot of interest added to the display with found objects.

The three of us have put together a risky show with lots of pots perched precariously on a wooden bridge and on the floor tipped off a log!! The background is made of old wooden crates and rough one side cut wood panels. It is a very cool show and it's free to walk through and have a look. The Portals Gallery is inside the Island Savings Community Centre right beside the Library in Duncan and in the same building that has the world's largest hockey stick and puck gracing it's east face.

We will hang around the show at different times over the next two weeks, the gallery is open from 10-5 M-F. email me for any details required

Sunday, July 17, 2011

A Busy Sunday

This will be a very short blog post as today is a busy one for me. I have the bike shop friends over for dinner today and some riding before hand to enhance the appetite. I have to tidy the house and clean the bathroom, among the trimming that has to happen, i also have a lesson at 1pm.

Bike dave and i finally did the loop around Shawnigan Lake yesterday with an extra 10 km for him then he had to chase me down and we rode most of it together with the final tally at 70 for the new bike. It handles really well and is set up very well for me, dave noticed that i pedal with my right foot sticking way out for some unknown reason!!! You actually have to watch me for quite a while to see all the habits i have formed and he was able to correct the foot thing (which will take a million hours of self correction to change it) and also when i stand up i get into the hips a lot instead of keeping the same leg rotation. It was nice to spend 3 hours with bike dave and what a great guy to draft off of!! I just sat in his draw and got pulled along, what a blast.

The 30 mugs in the damp cupboard may be close to getting out of there to dry some more today. The 4 huge casserole dishes I threw mid-week need to be trimmed today and i am going to try putting some really simple handle lugs on a few of them. Normally i don't put handles on them because they are thrown so the sides are quite flared out and easy to pick up but it's time for an experiment.

The photo is of a public art installation in Vancouver, which can be identified in the picture by the city woman wearing all black and the overcast sky(clear from the lack of any shadows despite it being the middle of the day). It is a WONDERFUL piece and should be enjoyed if you are ever in Yale--town.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Back to normal

Well, things are back to normal around here. I have a customer coming this morning to find the perfect huge bowls for his wife' s birthday (he came to the Market but I only bring a few there each week) and tired, race dave and I are having coffee on the couch together. There is a bike downstairs built up just for my physical size andd special uses. It was an amazing process that was emotional, informative, and right down to the wire. Husband dave took the brunt of the emotional stuff as usual and was still able to explain bike tech stuff to me at length to help me understand the differences between the bikes that may have worked.

Dave and Sandy at Cycle Therapy did so much work getting me set up on the right bike for me. It's frame is a rocky mountain road bike but 'my bike dave' and 'bike shop dave' spent a good long time working out the best gears for my application. The problem is that 'road bike' gears are harder (to push) and in the past we have tried to make mountain bike gears work with the a road set up or we have bought the cross bike because it had a triple in the front (easier).

In the case of the new bike we(the daves) came to the understanding that the best way to go was to buy a drive train that was built to work together instead of frankenstein pairings. The problem was that I would lose the easiest gear when it was compared to my old bike. Andrew Kent came over to Cycle Therapy after the Market to help with advice on touring with a heavy load in relation to the gears required, it was very thoughtful.

The new gears, handle bars, pedals and stem meant that bike shop dave would have to deconstruct the entire bike down to the frame and build it up with parts that he had to order from off island. So we waited for parts and I drove (uggghhh) the car for a few days until I got the call that it was ready. I was at the Sidney Market and was a little surprised to hear that bike shop dave was finishing the build at 8pm!! (the store closes at 5pm)

I went in to have the bike fit tuned in for me, we had made a bunch of educated guesses during the planning process about the sizes of different things that would make the bike fit me just right. It turned out that when he started to build the bike for me with all the new components, he opened one of the boxes and found out it was the wrong piece AND it was broken!! The other mechanic, Anthony (who has recently acquired some sweeeet mugs) at Cycle Therapy phoned around to find out if any other bike shops had the correct piece in stock that we could go get and found one at Oak Bay Bikes in Victoria. Sandy (this bike shop is a husband and wife team) drove down to Victoria right then and got the new part and brought it back to Duncan so bike shop dave could get the bike done.

What amazing service!! Where can you find this these days!!

I went into the shop the next morning and had the bike dialed in for me and then took it home to haul the next batch of pots out to Cowichan Bay to the Salish Sea Gallery as some work had sold and the display was looking a little sparse. Ironically, I hit a rock on the road and got a flat tire and realized that my spare tube was a little too fat and I had lost the bike pump when they took the entire bike from me. So, half way to Cow Bay, flat tire, no pump, I called our good buddy Trevor and he was out there with a pump and tube in no time. You know someone knows you when he not only didn't offer to fix the flat for me (possible biting injury might have occurred) or to drive me the rest of the way as that too could have incurred certain wrath.

I had an offer of a 'borrow bike' from Margaret, Mark K. and Victor V and numerous offers of giving me rides in cars if that was what I needed. It was very thoughtful and sweet of people to see me as somewhat less able to do what I do without the bike.

The last step is to take the trailer hitch assembly out to Mill Bay and get it adjusted a bit for the larger seat tube that is on the new bike. Also, to anyone who would like to steal the new bike, I am having an armoured car stop by every night and pick it up then return it to my locked vault each morning.....that should reduce the options for people.

Thank you to everyone that went out of their way to support me through this process, now back to work throwing lidded casserole dishes and then tonight I am going to knit a bike cover out of pink to follow!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Bike Stolen

Someone came into my carport last night and stole my bike after attempting to cut the lock twice the third time was a charm!! How awful. That bike wasn't even worth much used but to replace it is a very difficult thing as the gearing has to be just perfect so that my knees don't explode and hurt for the rest of my life.

I am very sad and angry. This was not a recreational vehicle or a luxury, this is the only way that our little home runs with one car. I have to ride a bike thousands of kilometers to pay it off in money saved that would have been spent of a vehicle.

On the funnier side, however, they did not steal my trailer, market tent or the crate full of carefully cleaned and restored running shoes that I was going to take down to the local homeless shelter to help out. They are all stored locked up inside now in case someone else takes an interest in my few hard earned possessions.

Also, a quick note to the thief if they should decide to google the name on the shingle in front of the house, you forgot the bike computer so call or email and we can get that to you free of charge.
Any of you bike lovers out there will notice the bike in photo three is actually red. It is the bike before the specialized and shows how fully integrated cycling is in my life. Snow:schmow!! Ride anyways!!!

As many of you can imagine there a re few photos of the now dead bike and I will be cycling in all black for the next month if I can find another bike. Meanwhile, I am walking (angrily) or gawd forbid taking the car to the Markets :~{

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Full Swing Summer Solstice

Last night was the summer solstice which was a chance for me to spend some quality time in the garden working on building up the rows for this planting season. I threw the bowls that I had prepared the clay for and then escaped the studio for the garden at 6pm.

The most glorious evening started with such a lather that the black jogging visor I was wearing slurped up enough sweat to create a white salt accumulation!! I worked up soil until 10pm and wouldn't quit until the rows were finished. I put some plastic sheets over the peas that are always a very tasty snack for the apparently ravenous local birds and used unbreakable clumps of clay (i mean that i wailed away on them with the sharp end of my hoe for a while and then gave up) to stabilize the sides of the built up rows. The clay (very funny i know) clumps hold water well and help the soil from being washed away into the walking lane.

At 10pm when I finally couldn't see to walk around any more, I sat down and listened to the neighbourhood. When evening shift dave came home, I was scraping and scrubbing my soil blackened feet and feeling very happy at my effort.

Today brought a warm wind and sunny skies to greet the new season and such a combination tends to dry my fresh pots quickly so I am off to trim them now.
The Markets (Duncan Farmers' Market & Sidney Evening Market) are running along well and we had yet another new vendor adjudication monday that went really smoothly with a lot of quality vendors wanting in.

As a conclusion of sorts, the two spare rooms (race dave's dirty room and my guest/knitting/sewing room) were completed on time as the folks were walking through the door who had to then help with the construction mess and cutting dust that blanketed everything. I will put up a photo or two of the new rooms once I catch up with some chores that have piled up.

Any local potters who might read this blog, I am going to the supply shop early next week and could take someone or bring something back for you, email me if you'd like to partake.

Monday, June 13, 2011

This Neighbourhood

Ironically this photo from last year of the front yard has the orange crate visible on the pottery shelf.

Handy dave and i have been working on the house in preparation of my parents visit and needed to purge some stuff out of our two spare rooms. We each have our own spare room, mine is clean for sewing and wool and race dave's is dirty with bikes and bike stuff. We are switching them so that my clean room will be the guest room as it has a tiny bathroom for the people who stay over. In two days we emptied the room, removed the carpet and underlay, patched the walls (badly i might say my skills are very rusty), painted twice, laid the new underlay and built the laminate floor, painted and replaced the baseboards, painted the closet and bedroom doors, and put things back in there set up for guests.

Today we take the other room apart and build the floor, then when nurse dave goes to work i will paint and then trim and handle a batch of mugs.

We put a big orange crate of books out on the curb that we had read and re-read and wanted to share with others. Now, our street has had quite a long history since it was built in 1967, and the diversity in age, race and socioeconomic status is quite wide. I was so impressed that everyone came by and picked up a book or two for the first day and tucked it under their arm with a smile. We were working on the guest room and saw that there were only a few books left at night so we left them over night. When i got home after the Market the next day i found that someone had seem the orange crate empty on the curb and assumed it was homeless and took it home.

I out a clay box in it's place with a sticky note asking for the orange crate back and waited. The very next morning it was back there on the curb!!!

I am so impressed! Well, back to work on the room and then trimming and handling the mugs waiting in the damp cupboard. ttyl

Monday, June 6, 2011

We are so lucky to live here

Photo is from a group of people who get together to weave and knit and sip out of the mugs they have fallen in love with. Leola was kind enough to take the photo and send it along for everyone to see. Thank you so much!!

Apparently someone has cancelled the daily dose of rain and cloudy skies in favour of a little sun and some heat to finally please my tomatoes and pepper plants. I spent all of sunday in the garden building up the soil into raised beds and planting but I only got through one half of the overall garden. I took a break to ride down to star-bicks to get a load of coffee grounds and discovered that one of the three has gone to a no plastic bag policy and the other one is now using biodegradable ones. Without a shovel and sealed container for the loose grounds and filters I was out of luck so I had to settle for 8 bags from the other store.
They are a strong nitrogen fertilizer and I mix them with my clay soil and top dress various areas around the gardens but they also confuse a lot of bugs that are looking for your seeds or small plants as a place to lay their young. Apparently, the carrot fly isn't looking to your local coffee shop as a place to put it's offspring, go figure. It was a bit of work to haul them up the hill but I had a small and lively cheering section of possibly inebriated people to encourage me on the climb loaded down.
I made a batch of french style butter dishes in the middle of last week and trimmed them friday night and did the surface effects on sunday night and took them out of the damp cupboard today. The sunshine has completely changed my throwing to trimming schedule and I have to adjust myself accordingly. This area of the island is so vastly different from the rainy season to the dry season that it boggles the mind. Our lawn shrinks back from the curbs and sidewalk about 8cm during the summer!! We have been saying that we will install a couple of fans and another screen door in the house for many years now but this may just be the year.
I had a student today that is just a lovely little person and very steady in herself. It is nice to see. I also have a Board meeting tonight with a few things that really need to be decided, it is just so nice to have the discussion and then debate and then a decision and all the fallout after that. It is clean and we can move on to the next thing.
"Mondays off dave" took me down to the river today and we played in the water with the dogs for as long as we could take the sun. The water around here is SO clean you can make out every scale on each fish and all the little bugs and creatures that live under there. We went out for lunch and then came home and now I am sitting on the back porch in the shade with the cat and a nice breeze. The melting blended coffee drink is forming a little puddle on the table and the laundry is hanging heavily on the line.
We are so lucky. Now I must re-read the "non inspected kitchen low risk food at farmers' markets" policy from our neighbour market in preparation for tonight's meeting and then have some rice and get down to the meeting. Have a great day and let the sun touch you today.

Monday, May 30, 2011

sick with a little gurgling

So what the hell!! I am sick. A little bug went right past my defenses and built a tiny fortress in my lungs. Now, I am not going to blame anyone for my lung guck, but I did have two mini-humans in the studio for lessons last week and I went to the doctor's office for my annual check up. These are excellent sources of pestilence but I am quite amazed that my usually skookum immune system has been compromised.

I went on the group ride from Cycle Therapy with an old friend whom I used to ride with all the time and a newer friend, and we had a lot of fun. The group found two paces that fit people and the slower group rode and laughed and talked and had a coffee afterward.

That night I had an ugly fever and serious aches and pains! Then I spent the day taking it easy and still remained fevered so I packed up the trailer for the market and went back to lie down. We had to take a car trip together but I was back in bed early hoping things would blow over. I felt a little better saturday but found the trip home very hard and had to stand up just the get enough force. Standing up with the trailer sucks and my bike and trailer were flopping in and out of traffic so when I got home it was straight to the shower and then bed.

The fever is a bold attempt of the body to kill the intruders by cooking them as a lot of bugs exist comfortably in a narrow temperature range and get weakened or killed by higher temperatures. It seems to have been working and I am starting to cough up a bit here and there. It's a great sign that some guck is starting to move but I pity the people who go out riding with me once I feel better and have to really clear things out.

On the pottery front, I have to trim a small batch of mugs today and handle them and this week the Sidney Evening Market starts so I have to pack up and plan for that on Thursday as Jamie will be here at 2pm. I am trying to help a few others to make a carpool for the long drive so we burn less gas overall. I am back in the same place as last year in front of Bistro Suisse so anyone who attends this market can find me easily amongst the huge mass of stalls and walkers that flood the main street for blocks and blocks.

Now for a nap and a lot of water before I try to work on the wheel for a few hours. Maybe a slow simmering spicy garlic soup should get started before the nap so hungry dave has something to eat after taking on the lawn. As of now he is tied for first place in the Island Cup Mountain Bike race series with Drew Mckenzie and stayed with the fastest group of pro-stars at the Tour de Victoria with Ryder Hesjedal and put a nice photo on the wall of the two of them.

Well, off to start that soup and nap!! I will not post a photo of what I have been coughing up, you're welcome!! hahahahaa

Friday, May 20, 2011

bisque or pasta bowls

photo is of a fresh 16.5 inch platter

Back in the studio working on the low, wide pasta bowls that people keep asking for. These little suckers have to be thrown flat like a plate with an exagerated amount of clay for the lip and then have their extra wide lip pulled down dry (with the throwing slip removed) so they are stiff enough to stay up. I have two orders for them so I made a bunch of attempts in different weights of clay (800, 1000,1200 and 1400 grams) to see what works and get some practice.

I will finish them glaze and fire them and then let the people who have ordered some have a look and decide what they like or dislike about them. I wrote the weight on the bottoms of them so that when they pick out a size I can work backwards from the finished piece.

This has inspired me to throw some very large platters and even ovalate one of them!! Hope you enjoy the photos and I may have a large platter or two done soon. We'll see if I like the finished product and if the cut and rejoined section survives the process. If not, I have a few very large planters that are in need of a water plate under them.

See you at the Market tomorrow, rain or shine, bike shoes on!!!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

okay you're back...NOW GET BACK TO WORK!!!

((the photo is of me looking over the grand canyon))

All the way back from vacation (idaho/utah/nevada/california/oregon/washington) in time to pack up the trailer and get ready to go to the Market. It was a very long drive and I find it VERY hard to sit still and not do anything, so in order to make up for it I went for a nice long run with the fuzzies after hauling my beastly load up Sherman Road so I was really sore the next day!

Sunday was one for the record books ***race dave and i rode our bikes together**** we figured out that the last time we went out on the road together was a year ago when I was taking pots to a student out in Glenora! So, we went to the bike shop (Cycle Therapy, the coolest bike shop anywhere!!) and then out to Black Coffee at whippletree and I really wanted to see how my very good friend, Sandy, who was at the Prawn Festival in Cowichan Bay.

It was POURING, not a nice island rain that is refreshing and brings out the mossy smells that we all moved here for, nope, the kind of rain that runs down the back of your neck off the rear tip of your helmet and causes and small pile of water if you hang up your bike gloves after you get home!!

If any of you know or love a serious cyclist with a very expeeensive bike or two, you will know how hesitant they are to get the silly/shiny thing(s) wet. It was a fun ride but my face and the jacket I stole from 'equipment dave' were plastered with a sooty road grit that was hard to remove.

The best part of the rainy sunday was going over to our new friend's, Dave and Sandy, who opened the bike shop that we rave about, house for dinner. They live out in Mill Bay in a bright warm house that was so beautifully built and yet so inviting that our dogs found a place to lay and destroy at least three small stuff toys and spread the inards everywhere.

Since we've been back I have been on a few rides (with aching legs) and a run and today I planted out all the baby tomatoe plants that I didn't have to heart to kill (i was supposed to thin Franziska {my clay friend)'s seeds to one per block so instead i careful teased each one out and saved them) they are all in pots on the west facing side (the really hot side)of the house. I also set up an experiment with some pepper plants that I grew from seeds from fresh peppers that turned into part of my left arm (i think that's how digestion works,no??) they too are on the hot side in a big tub and the rest will go in the huge garden.

Part of the planting out was to replace all the dirt that was in the pots for fresh stuff with a little less moss and a little more life to it. This process starts with taking the composters apart and rebuilding them with new hot(nitrogen)/cold(carbon) layers that drop about 10cm a day when they are working well. I moved them and dug them out, careful to put back all the red wiggler worms that I could find and then blending half and half with the old "potting soil" that I have been acquiring. Lots of bending and lifting on the old lower back!

Speaking of the garden, our lovely friend, Trevor, of Cowichan Rentals, brought me a big ornery rear tine rototiller and I spent the evening tearing off my old callouses and building up a large row of new blisters, and yes i was wearing gloves the whole time.

Well, off to bed and another busy week of pots, meetings, and cycling! By the way i did 9 huge loads of laundry from the trip and folded the last load off the laundry line this morning.

PS my back is aching from all the lifting and tilling!! hot water bottle anyone??hahahaa

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

utah, hot

Well, here I sit in the shade of our big tent, the one we bought when we used to camp a lot and wanted to start car camping after so much backpacking had soured 'hike dave' a bit. It has a tiny awning with tiny poles and the big pink maui towel is providing shade for myself and the dogs.

Race dave is out for a spin to do the run course, it's a 2 lap course so about a 20km ride to spin and feel the bike. It might go without saying for some of you but i am finding southern utah a little hot! We are paying close attention to the sun so that we don't get burned and i am trying to maintain the dogs at a healthy temperature. The lovely yard kid left the hose sprinkler on so the dogs could play in it fetching the ball! I was a little concerned that they would forget and let the built in sprinklers go while our tent is directly between two of the water heads!! (they assured us they would be turned off while we were on the lawn)

Contrary to the popular stereotype, we have had very sweet interactions with the locals we have run into south of the line. The first walked over to our little picnic area outside a big mall and told us that he apologized in advance for the sound his vehicle would make in disturbing us once he started it. How sweet was that? Then we met a guy who worked at a tire shop and was on a break when he stopped to look a little closer at our tire. He said that there was something wrong with them because there was a black mark around them so I checked the pressure and saw that they were WAY over pressure from when we had switched over to the summer tires a week or two ago!! I was very unimpressed with the shop, strangely enough these are the same guys who mounted our $200+ winter tires on backwards right before we drove all the way to calgary!! Needless to say, we should have checked them and they should have put them on with the correct pressure or at least something close.

I am going to tidy up the campsite (with positively the nicest grass I have ever pitched a tent on) and get into a swimsuit so that we can take a dip in the pool when mr aero helmet gets back from the run course.

I must also say that the mugs (the second attempt) joined the bowls for Hilary and Patti Abbott of Hilary's Cheese and went home saturday afternoon and I have just received my next dinner set order so that gives me a task to focus on when we get back from our little road trip.....and talking to ameri can s---nicely!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Sweetest Ride

I emailed a small group of people that I know would be able to hop on a bike and come out for a casual Sunday morning ride and let them know that I would be going out this Sunday. One person replied and showed up in the morning with a bike and shoes and that sweet smile that means that they really didn't want to get out of bed to go for a ride with someone they really don't know very well.

Cycling is a very complex and emotional activity. You have to really trust the people you are out with from the basic things like being pleasant and courteous to helping in the pouring rain or snow while they have a flat tire and fingers too cold to work the pump and patches. But there are also much more subtle interactions that mean a lot to the people you ride with. Keeping up that chat on a big hill when they run out of air on their end of the conversation and you keep the thought flowing, somehow it is a kindness that keeps their pedals flowing, mentally.

Another kindness is to ask the other rider (s) what they are wanting out of the ride. Today, we were going to seek out amazing baking as a reward after a medium intensity ride. The first question was about the location of the amazing new gravel path that cuts through my neighbourhood, so we headed to the intersection and had a look, then I asked if she wanted a warm up and she said yeah!! Now, I think getting the blood flowing on a short hill or two really warms me up, but when I got home and asked race dave what "warm up" meant to other people. He told me that an easy loose spin would be ideal to get the joints moving, had I known that this morning I would not have started up a short set of two hills just behind my house!!! Sorry Sandy.

We rode along and chatted for quite a long time as the back roads around here are almost deserted on a Sunday morning so we could stay loose and laugh a lot. We did a short, fast highway section and then crossed and headed up our next hill which is steep and nasty!! A quick stop for water and we had an apetite for going "the long way" and descended a long smooth hill together.

It was very satisfying to ride down Richards Trail with a fresh set of eyes. Each time we burst out of a thick grove of trees which smell amazingly like spring might finally be here, we find ourselves slipping through a postcard beautiful valley, thick with green carpeting grass and a mist that slightly alters the colours of each hill as they get farther away or draw closer.

I heard a noise in my drive train and had to pull over for a look. It was the new cable I had just put in which had come unspun and was grating the fender and tire. I was trying to think of a way to keep it out of the way when a pleasant stranger whose house we had happenned to have stopped in front of asked if he could do anything to help. He was sweet enough to go and find me an elastic band which I used to hold the cable back and we were on our way.

We made our way through the beauty and there was a bakery with treats (just where I said it was, hahahahahaa) and conversation and more laughter. We finished the ride together and after a short play date for the dogs we parted company.

There was a small gap in our ability levels but a kindred-ness in the way we decided to spend our morning. I felt safe, that she would have provided any help I may have needed and that means a lot more to me than who pulls the hills in a bigger gear. They say that half the battle is just showing up. In this case, that's the victory! We went out a found a better version of ourselves, the version that actually went out and rode, despite the rain kicking up mud in our faces. I think that each time we do something for our souls and health, we shed a layer of skin, and like the snakes that find sanctuary in my garden, we are a little shinier for it.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


I have spent the last two studio days working on throwing a second batch of mugs for the cafe that I am working for. The first batch was thrown at 454grams (a pound) of clay and I test fired two of them to see how much they would shrink in size and weight. I discovered with this test that I had indeed made them too small (out of an estimation based on the work I am trying to emulate) so I had a few choices. I could try to sell them the way they were, too small and not what I was trying to do, I could throw them again and try to make them bigger with the same weight of clay or I could use the experiment and start again.

So, I have started again. This batch of clay is weighed at 500 grams and I threw a dozen of them yesterday and then 20 more today. I am still working against the clock as the cafe wants them soon and race dave and I are going away next month to Utah (iron--man--st--george) and I would really like to have them done before we go away.

The shape is not a natural for me so there is a bit more concentration to get there (or close like pots and horseshoes go) and it is quite a step away from my regular work trying to throw the same pot over and over because my work is quite free from form to form.

It looks like the second batch of mugs will be a lot closer to the previous potter's mug that I am using as an example. There is a bit of shrinkage in the wet to dry stage and a lot more lost in the bisque fire then finally with the glaze fire causing the clay to melt into that glassy matrix that I am always chatting about.

Another thing that I am working through is a gig moonlighting as a bike shop girl. It is two four hour morning shifts and gets me some SWEET deals there. My second passion after pottery is definitely (welcome to the blog newbies, read on, hahahahaaa) cycling and bikes in general. The people who run this new bike shop are the most warm and happy couple that I have met in several years.

The issue is that I have gotten my pottery business to a very healthy, self-sustaining creature. Strangely, one that consumes all of the skin on my hands and requires me to bike, run and practice yoga to keep strong and balanced enough to handle the donkey work required. To take a one day a week job seems like letting the side down and that could turn things sour in the studio.
Again with the choices! I think that it is a moonlighting gig that has many benefits. I really enjoy being in the company of the store owners. I thirst to learn more about bicycles and their technology. I have felt like the time can seem to pour out of the house all over my ideas, like there is time everywhere and I find myself standing in a mental pause in the kitchen more than I am comfortable with. I have lessons on Mondays and Fridays, the Duncan Farmer's Market on Saturdays and for jun/jul/aug I am in Sidney Market on Thursdays which can leave me with some healthy parameters.

I think it is really important to have an awareness of the time you spend each day. I re-potted two flats of peppers and tomatoes yesterday before throwing and I am making plans to spend time each week in the garden as I have big plans for growing even more food this year (we ate the end of the rhubarb last week). I want the job to focus me a bit and be a possible a reason to get out to Black Coffee every week.

I will seek to see this opportunity as a chance to snug up the schedule that has been seeping into and out of each day like the summer nights used to when I was a child up north. The dusk was setting and the first star of the night was showing over the lake to the west from the yard and a few minutes later (time wasn't static back then either) the dawn was warming the night sky over the backyard with a peachy summer colour that I will never forget.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

get back on the bike

I have to head out today to pick up the DFM banner from the sign shop who was putting a 9 on it where the 10 was. Then I am off to take some fresh mugs out, a funny idea because the mugs could last about ten thousand years and they just came out of the kiln. I have to go to the bank and do chores in general. So I had a coffee powered cruise through the website I love called cycle chic, the original from Copenhagen. There half a million people ride bikes of all kinds to work and play everyday, in every kind of clothing, facing every type of weather and a wonderful webguy has been taking and collecting millions of photos of the city full of bikes.
{the wonderful photo above is by Kurt Knock}

It is truly inspiring, in fact enough for me to go put on my bike pants and the new water proof bag that Robin gave me, he just opened a new bike shop here in Duncan and had this bag hanging around for a while, so when he saw me beating the crap out of my larger waterproof bag, he went home and took the bag out to the next race that race dave was going to attend and asked him to give it to me!! How sweet. His new bike shop is at at the south end of town before the silver bridge and is having a spring tune up special for $20.

I have had to pick up and dust off my soul after a very long hard weekend with lots of sitting around staring at my pots without anyone buying them. The Market was great, as always, but the art show was an exercise in futility and stubbornness, staying put for 36 hours and then packing up everything and hauling it back up the sherman road hill. It is time to shake off the weekend funk and take over again! That starts with the bike pants......and a great peruse through a photo gallery of cyclists!! Okay, now back to work, this morning I am starting the smaller kiln (sputnik) as the large kiln (shuttle) is too hot to unload, still at 650 degrees from last night's firing.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

CVAC Art Show Gift Shop

I am in the gift shop in the building beside the art show that is this thursday(10-8),friday (10-8), saturday (10-5) and sunday (11-4). This venue is at the Native Cultural Centre beside VIU and across from super--store in Duncan. I have a lot of my really big bowls there and a wider selection than I usually take to the DFM as there was more room on the bike trailer with out the tables and tent!!!

I am not about to complain so I will just say that I knit A LOT on my new sweater today.

A photo of the bowls for Hilary's Cheese.

I have to go pick out something different to wear tomorrow and get another ball of wool. Apparently, when people see you two days in a row they expect that you will not be wearing the same clothes the second day! Go figure, talk soon.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Hilary's Cheese Cafe Clay Commission

Busy week ahead, the CVAC Art Show is this week and I am there in the Gift Shop section thur/fri/sat/sun and it looks like helpful dave will be sitting the table on Saturday as I have to go to the Market. I am going to pack up my two tubs for Duncan Farmer's Market and then pack up all the rest (that will fit on my table) and take it down to the Show for Thursday 8am. I would like to ride the bike and haul with the trailer but I'm not sure if I can pack it up in a different way or make two trips. We have two hours to pack in and set up, but I'll see what I can do to avoid the car.

I have been working away madly on a wholesale order for Patti (of Hilary's Cheese in Cowichan Bay, fame) they have served their homemade soups and coffee in the most delightful yellow bowls that a potter friend made for them. She moved away a few years ago and I have offered to make any new work that they might need. Hilary brought me two bowls and a mug that they would like me to copy for their cheese shop and deli. I was thrilled and sent a long list of questions to Patti outlining what I need to know before I start.

It turns out that the bowls and mugs they have are exactly what they want and that is what I have been working on for the last few days. Jana (the potter who made them) was a very fine potter who threw on the thin side (I am a bit more beefy in my pots) but for this order I have taken the final bowl weights and worked backwards towards estimating the weight of the clay that Jana would have started with. I was amazed that she was able to get a bowl that large from so little clay so my work was set out for me!!

I made a few attempts and then went and unpacked the bowls that Hilary had brought down for me to study, were they ever light! So I tried really hard, wedged up 40 balls of 400 grams and got started. First of all, my hands are not small at all and the small balls of clay were a challenge to wedge but I quickly got used to it and after 40 balls of that size I am a pro. Then I had to figure out just how the three little "blips" in the lip were made and then practice that sweet trick.

I sat and threw them all in one go and I am very proud of them. The truth about my ability to work backwards from the final size and weight of the bowls and then guess how much clay to start with, will remain unknown to me for a few weeks when they are trimmed/dried/fired/waxed/glazed/fired and I can compare the volume of soup they would hold to that of the two examples I was given.

I should have spent all of Friday working in the studio trimming the 40 bowls but my new worker bee for the Market called and asked for help. It turned into a marathon of organization that lasted 5 hours and I wasn't home until quite late. I then had to pack up my work into the tubs and then load the trailer and strap everything down and then I had to get all 40 bowls trimmed as they were just right for trimming. I had turned the wareboards from back to front and changed the shelves they were on, as the lower shelf is much drier than the top one.

I was up until 1am, but that meant that I had time to spill my guts to nurse dave when he got home at 11. We had tea and chatted while I trimmed and then off to bed only to get back up at 7am to get all dressed for the rainy cycle into town.

I was very impressed when I got there to find that each stall on the street had been carefully marked with chalk and the numbers written in! That is a lot of work that could have been avoided if only it would quit raining for a few hours so the pavement could dry and the permanent feltpen marks could be refreshed. The Market was a good day and the ride home was damp and a little painful as my legs were pretty stiff from two, 1 hour runs last week, but it was satisfying to get home.

Well, I have to send 5 emails and then get back downstairs and into the studio to start work on the mugs. The final glazed mug weight 310 grams and by my "mathish" calculations Jana must have started with about a pound of clay or 454grams. So I have some test balls weighed and wedged and we'll see if I can get close to her volume/size and shape.

Here goes!! ttyl

Monday, March 28, 2011

Start of the Next Season

Today officially ends my catch up and get ahead time in the production cycle. As of today, I have sales every weekend and a gallery to keep up with along with home sales and students. I have lots of Market meetings every month and lots of packing and unpacking for shows and sales.

The local art show is happening on the 7th to 10th of April and I will have to get Dave to do one day of the show so that I can go to the Market as it spans a weekend. There is a gift shop this year for the first time and I decided to pay for the four days in the gift shop so that I would be able to sell some work. I have put some items in the "A"rt show in past years and even if a pot sold, the money I got back didn't cover even the raw material costs of the pot after entry fees and commissions etc were taken off.

This year the gift shop only folks are not included in the gala opening night as the gift shop will not be available to view at that time. Perhaps that will change next year as it is a bit odd that the giftshop isn't included in the whole event, there is no need to separate things this way.

I have been working on a plan of what to throw in the next few days as the early week is best to start projects and then finish them up in the shorter bursts of time that the later week allows.

I have added a photo at the top, one of Kurt Knock's lovely pictures of course. These bowls are in my water glaze and are a larger volume soup bowl set.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Volounteer My A$5/Bottom Off

The Market runs mainly on volounteers and two staff members that have to really understand the way the whole ship needs to manoeuvre. Vendors set up out of place, show up late, don't book a stall, waste staff time, have hurt feelings at the drop of a hat, don't attend adjudication meetings, bring things that aren't eligible for the market, bring a vehicle in when they aren't ready and block everyone else who is ready to drive out, complain about the vendor beside them smelling funny, leave garbage in the city get the point.
As an aside, I received two lovely compliments last Saturday, about how well I handled the General Meeting a few weeks ago. A small, heartfelt, positive comment can wash away ten ugly rants and for that I am most appreciative.

It is part of leading a huge group like the Farmer's Market, that people will call you at home, email you, write long horrible letters about how their opinion is more correct than that of the board and how moronic all the decisions made three month ago were, and as mentioned call you at home in the middle of the day.

I work at home and put in some serious hours in the studio and during the merger between the two feuding Markets, it got so bad that I was unable to complete enough pots because there were hours of each day lost to these random phone conversations. The old wheel was so loud that I couldn't have the phone on speaker because it drowned out their end of the conversation (which cheeky dave suggested was just fine). So I actually got a hands free earphone set that I could plug in and hang the phone on the back of my apron, put the headphones on and then throw, trim and wedge clay all while listening to the various espoused opinions .

I think it is time to get back to that. Also another part of the stress free studio plan is to turn the answering machine on during the day and then return phone calls when it is convenient for me and possibly when the caller has calmed down.

I have been working a lot with the Market as I am trying to train her to handle a lot of people (last weekend's market was 40ish stalls****our largest outdoor season starter ever****), the physical placement of every stall, the parking place of each vendor vehicle, customers, handling the stall fees and receipts for each person, taking attendance, writing down each concern along with every request for stall changes, and visually reviewing every item for sale at the Market to ensure it complies with our mantra {{MAKE IT/BAKE IT/GROW IT/SELL IT}}.

I am also coordinating tonight's monthly adjudication meeting, inviting each person by phone and email and collecting all the applications, reviewing them and then I will head the meeting and interview everyone that shows up or sends us email photos.

Perhaps my lack of compassion on the phone earlier is because I am a little tired to the bustle of the start of the new Market year.

My gallery was very well stocked a few weeks ago and I was confident with the amounts of each type of pot until I took 35 pots to the Salish Sea Gallery in Cowichan Bay and then packed up two tubs to take to the Market Saturday. When I came home I could really feel the empty spaces and now I have made a new list of pots to make and am working through them.

So it continues, a new season of markets and sales and a new plan for keeping up with my gallery demands. All at once, the number of hours that I spend volounteering seems like a bit extra weight on my mind. I am really looking forward to the time when the Market is running along like clockwork, monthly Board meetings, monthly adjudication meetings and weekly markets with only a few small fires to put out from the comfort of my stall (not running around like a crazed chicken with a huge fire extinguisher, see diagram above) hahahaahaaa

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Kurt Knock Photography

I am applying to the Ladysmith Arts on the Avenue Show, that will happen August 28th, 2011 and I needed to put together a very nice, professional portfolio for the jury process that is happening this coming weekend. So I called Kurt.

We had chatted a few weeks ago, and looked through some photos of pottery from books and magazines and there were very few that I liked. The graded background and lack of shadow or light makes the pots seems to be from some other planet where the basic laws of earth are not in effect. My simple, honest work needs to be in some sort of context in the pictures because when you buy a casserole dish, it is used to make a bubbling brie with ginger, apricot jam and roasted garlic, so you need to hold and interact with the pots. All my mugs go to new homes where they are embraced every day and usually washed out while they are still warm and put in the drying rack so they are ready for the afternoon tea or coffee!

Kurt showed up on time (an excellent starting point amongst us artists) and was very professional about setting up the living room into foreground and background. I was unable to see how the photos would reflect their surroundings but he was careful to look through the camera and then make adjustments to the room.

I, of course, was wearing the usual clay clothes which includes at this time of year, a long sleeved shirt that I cut the sleeves of so that they are just the right length and don't get messy while I throw and wedge clay. Perhaps not very photogenic. The pants have built in grub as they are worn until they disintegrate and the over shirt I was wearing is a worn out, sun bleached colour of red and proclaims loudly in 2 inch letters that I am a "VEGGIE VALET".

I went and got a few fabrics from my closet and asked if they would look nice through the view finder. We decided on a dark long sweater that I had made (knit with 2.5mm needles and took me a year to knit up) and some nice blue jeans that fashionable (great taste in clothes) dave had picked out for me.

It was the fastest morning I had spent in a while and I brought upstairs all sorts of pots that I really loved for him to shoot. I was so excited that Kurt was able to see the glazes and shapes AND capture them in the camera. I see the beauty but when I take a picture there are so many mistakes that no one even sees the pots.

He was working on the shot with me in it for a while and I'm sure he is very used to people being self conscious when the camera is out, but I had no intention of being in any of the shots. There are some really great shots that include parts of me and I felt very respected and actually had some fun (so many women are afraid of having a picture of them taken that looks really bad). There was one shot of me looking down that I balked at and he hit delete instantly which made me feel safe! (oops my ego is showing, haha)

He let me know when he had taken all the shots he could in the time and I started to put the price stickers back on them and take them all back down into the gallery. When I was done running up and down the stairs he had put all his camera equipment away, packed it into the van, and left to go home and work on the editing. I wrote him a cheque and prepared to wait until the last possible minute to get a copy of them so I could run down to the photo print place and run some off for the jury next week.

Kurt worked on them right away and emailed me a few that day then stopped by the next day with a CD of his favorites! He also explained a lot of options for processing and empowered me to try my hand at building my own photo book online, which I did (it took 4 hours) and now I am just waiting for the printing to be done.

I can't say enough about how comfortable I was with Kurt in our home, how beautiful the photos of my artwork are, how professional and respectful the process was and how much I am looking forward to using his images as the public face of my art in the years to come. I have ideas of all kinds from business cards to postcards inviting people to my Annual Solo Show, that I want to make with the new pictures.

I am currently waiting for the photo book but you don't have to. I will post a shot or two a week over time and credit his with his name. You'll be amazed and see what I see (but can't capture) when I look at my own work. Thank you Kurt.