Sunday, February 21, 2010

Pots, Money, and the Making of Both

When I was three, my favourite place to be was in the sandbox, we had a great deposit of clay that ran through my sandbox. I was forever digging holes, and getting the clay out. As you can see from this photo, I had an accomplice in Keith. I am quite sure we were the bane of my mother's existance, as this is also the only route to our back door! You certainly wouldn't want to traverse this path in the dark!  
Throughout my early childhood Clay was a constant. My mother was a ceramics teacher, there were kilns in my basement and an endless parade of ladies coming to pick out their greenware, paint and gossip over tea in my mom's studio. There was always a block of clay on the shelf, and sometimes my mom would give me a piece to play with. It would seem that my path toward life as a potter should have been straight as an arrow, but it has not been so. Life got in the way, continuously.Its not like I ever intended to spend the sixteen years since leaving the clay studio at NBCCD doing everything but making pots. But kids, marriage and subsequent divorce, sent me in a very different direction.
I spent the next eight years in the pursuit of $$$ to make ends meet. To pay the bills, to feed the kids. I worked many jobs in that time, some not so bad, some not so good.  None of them paid all the bills, none of them fed my soul. I was terribly unhappy, the kids were terribly unhappy and the ends were definitely not meeting, not even close. Nearly two years ago when my life was in the hole, a dear friend encouraged me to grasp at happiness, to choose to make my art, and to put it out into the world. She threw in the added incentive of cheap living space and studio room......It was a scary thing to do, but so worth it in the end. The ends are creeping closer together, the bills are closer to manageable (still a ways to go!) But the kids and I are happy, the pots are being made, and I supplement the cash flow teaching others to make pots. I may never be rich, but I am edging towards breaking even, one teabowl at a time.
At forty my favourite place to be is the mudroom, the clay is a bit more refined, the mudpies have evolved into porcelain pots, but at the end of the day the feeling of satisfaction is the same. I am a maker, it was meant to be.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

I Am a Slug.

Yup. I said that.
 Today I am having the damnedist time getting going, despite the mass quantities of creative inspiration buzzing about in my noggin. So I have hauled out the big guns. The really big guns. My coffee this morning, er afternoon is brought to you by the biggest, baddest mug in my collection. The Elephant Stien. This bad boy has been with me for several years now, made by my friend Darren Emaneu at MNO Contemporary Ceramics in New Brunswick. This fine mug has got me through some long days in the studio, and at craft shows, it has been camping with me, and accompanied me to many classes, boring meetings, and the odd yard party, (where it holds beer instead of coffee) in the last five years.  I love this mug.
Just to give you a little perspective on how big this puppy is, I have dusted off a regular commercial coffee mug to compare it with.
Thank you Darren, for making  this beautiful mug, it really makes me smile.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Tumblers and Such

I thought it was time I shared a few of my latest production pieces. I have been mulling over some design changes, and some new glazes.
I use the term production very loosely. I hate being hemmed in to making one endless mug after another all the same. At the same time I do revisit this simple cylindrical form, again and again. I just like the aesthetic.
As a handbuilder, The possiblities are endless. I enjoy pushing the bounderies, as with my teapots, and madd hatter teacups. But at the end of the day, it is comforting to me to sit back, with a simple tumbler, softly fluid in form, and sip a glass of shiraz. These Blue and white tumblers are some of my favourites. I also make them with a soft green, and a turquoise glaze. They are simple, they are delicate, and they make me happy.

The green glaze on these teabowls is one of my faves. It has a beautiful range of behaviours, none of them bad. Since I am currently firing at the craft centre, I am not as able to control the firings the way I would like. Once I have my kiln set up at home I am sure that I can tweak the firings to my satisfaction, and master the subtleties of this glaze. I have been very happy with the results each time I fire, but am never sure if it will be the same as last firing. Its a wee bit annoying this lack of control.....
I started making these pendants for my daughter, out of scraps from my slab constructions. She has a few, and her girlfriends have all got at least one. But who knew that they would end up being a big hit at the gallery! They sell really well. Huh.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Back in the Swing of Things

Well Halifax was wonderful, I am so glad I went. We arrived late Friday afternoon, and headed straight to the pub. There was live music, and some decent pub grub, and a beautiful stout. I nearly cried. Ah, civilization.
While in Halifax I attended the Atlantic Craft Trade Show. It is the only wholesale trade show of its kind in Atlantic Canada. It was a beautiful show, the product was all Fine Craft, no mass produced goods at all. I took some seminars on trademark, and exporting to the US which was a good use of my time, but all in all, just being there, seeing the vendors, talking with them, and basically getting a feel for the wholesale trade. That was worth the trip. I  am planning on selling there next year.
 This week has gone by so quickly, I am hardly catching my Breath. When we arrived home Monday afternoon, we immediately launched into Birthday party mode for my son. Sweet sixteen, and so handsome! Mason is a unique kid, funny, smart, and walks his own path in life. It is a good path.
Mason had only a couple of requests for his birthday. He wanted me to make him a hat, doable. He wanted a suit. Yup a suit. A la Barney Stinson, Mason wanted to Suit up (How I met Your Mother). I had told him that that was probably not gonna ever happen, due to the cost involved, and the lack of places for him to wear a suit in rural Cape Breton.
Now his father owns only one suit, got married, and divorced in it, will probably wear it to his next wedding, and get buried in it as well. I gave up suits when I gave up the office job at the museum several years ago. But that's what my boy wanted, so my friend Seonaid and I went to Louie's used clothing, buy one get one free day, and we all, yup, all of us suited up! Except my two year old neighbour, we tried but he kept "birthday suiting up" (naked babies did not get in the pictures), and his six year old sister Sophie, princess dressed it up.! A good time was had by all, the suiting up was a grand success.
Tuesday was spent shovelling out the kitchen after having left teenagers in charge for three days. I eventually found the counter, and managed to throw together a lesson plan for my Wednesday classes.
I was wiped out, Wednesday was such a long day, I didn't think it would ever end! My Classes were wonderful, but the weekend was catching up with me, the drive back from town was sooooooo, long. But when I got home I was really cheered by this:
Mason entertained himself, not by playing games or chatting online, or even surfing youtube. Instead, he decided to learn German. He spent four hours online teaching himself a foriegn language. And baked me a chocolate cake.
His sister, not to be outdone, went next door and borrowed a guitar, downloaded some lessons, and when I got home this is what she was doing. Last night they repeated the activities, she now knows enough cords to play the first half of her favourite Taylor Swift song. Mason is now throwing German words even at his speech therapist, who has pointed him in the direction of some german communities on the island.  Pretty smart, pretty independant, and pretty cool couple of kids. They make a mama proud.

Friday, February 5, 2010


Well folks, I am off to the Big city for a wild and crazy weekend of seminars at the Atlantic Craft Trade show. Halifax Here I come! Doin' a little recon this year, scoping out the show, seeing how its done and planning for ACTS 2011, where I will hopefully be selling wares to many fabulous stores and galleries.
I am a bit intimidated by the thoughts of wholesaling, mostly because of the production work, when I love the one off and limited edition so much. We shall see. I will gather info, and I will weigh the pros and cons, and then well, make the choice.
The added bonus to this trip is a simple equation of me+my good friend Conrad+civilization= Ample opportunity for Microbrews on tap, food cooked by someone else and ... no dishes to wash for a couple of days. Yay!
But the greatest part is I get to see my friend Shannon, we don't spend nearly enough time visiting. we chat often online, but there's nothin like sittin face to face with tea, and some knitting, crazy dogs and rambunctious kids flinging themselves about while we have disjointed conversations that only occasionally make sense. I love it. I will bring her a pot, she loves pots. She will show me all her wonderful knitting, Cause there is nuthin she can't knit or no occasion big enough to cause her to stop knitting, she even knit in her wedding gown, on her wedding day! That my people is dedication to your craft. Just sayin.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Inspired by Sofia's Dad, and other pottery related stuff

Today was a day of internet research chez lizzie. Most days I start with a pot of coffee, add a little blog surfing and then begin my real work. Today my real work consisted of researching decorating techniques to share with my students. I watched a bit of you tube, surfed some blogs and flipped through some ceramics monthly. I saw some beautiful things, and watched some talented potters at work. I love days like that. They are so inspiring.
I would like on that note to say Happy 1st Blogiversary to  sofia's dad His blog is one of my faves, it has the perfect combination- inspiring work, funny kid and pet stories, and the occasional ode to good beer. Kudos to you Jim, keep it up.You have inspired me to look back at my first years of blogging and my little princess, she sure has changed since I first blogged on lizzies yarns I have nabbed some of my old images from blogs and now.... here she is circa 2006 blogfodder  Miss India Faith Haines. The hand coloured photo montageabove was from a picture of her at age four (1999), below she is age 9 or ten, it is FIFA world cup time and she was more than a little excited about the England /Sweden game. We were on the patio of our favourite pub, waiting for the game to start.
and here she is today, India, circa 2010, 14 years young.