change of plans

If you've been following along here, you may have noticed that we had a little (OK, big) change of plans for our Summer.  The trailer that we take to shows is growing grass around it . . .

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I must say, it seems a little counter-intuitive to announce the events that we're NOT doing, but since we've been doing them for 12 straight years, it feels like we should let you all know that we won't be there . . .

We missed you all at the Clam Festival in July.  We will really miss you all at the League of NH Craftsmen's Fair, which starts this weekend.  (Our year usually revolves around this show - it is so strange to not be there!)  We will also be bummed to skip the Norwich Farmers' Market- our dates were in late August.

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The truth is, we had some unexpected challenges following the birth of our second child in April.  As a result, we needed to make some tough decisions about our working life.  Ultimately, they were decisions that have proved really positive for our family's health and well-being.  Thankfully, we are all doing really well now, and enjoying our first Summer as a family of four at a somewhat different pace.

As my friend Susan said, "clay keeps in a bag, small children don't." :)

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What we ARE happily planning for this year is a big Fall wood-firing, and a Kiln Opening Celebration and Sale at our VT studio.  We'll have a full wood-kiln freshly unloaded with hundreds of new pieces, live music, food, and general merriment under the kiln barn.  Stay tuned for those dates, we'll be announcing them soon!

We also hope for a hearty update to our Etsy shop for those of you who can't make it to VT in the Fall.

Thanks, as always, for following along and supporting our handmade life!

xo

Becca (and Nathan and the kids)

lately

(You may have noticed we've been a little absent here.  Because, well, toddlers + home renovation + running a business. No matter. We have missed you, and where better to start than the present? :) )  

Lately, we have been . . .

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Making . . . yes, pottery! It might sound obvious, and I'm sure most people think we do this every day of the year (that would be so nice, eventually, we hope!) but pottery making has been the major thing missing from our working lives because we are also . . .

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Renovating.  We spent the bulk of the winter months purging and packing the entire contents of our 1850's farmhouse in preparation for completely gutting the upstairs.  It's a huge project, brought on by the need for a little thing called insulation, and we find ourselves banging nails, running wires, and coordinating all the contractors and pieces and decisions at the same time as we try to prepare 800 pots for a firing.  I assure you, this was most definitely not the plan.  The renovation was supposed to happen in our "off season."

But there you have it, and so it goes . . . fortunately, we are comfortably camping out in the 600 square feet above our studio space, so we're not feeling too rushed to get the project done on a deadline (right now, anyway, check back with me at the end of the summer ;) ).  For now, not feeling too rushed plus not actually living in the mess, helps tremendously.

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Taking a deep breath.  Apparently winter ended last week, and now it's summer.  Popping leaves, birds, green growing grass, daffodils, warm sun, mixing glazes outdoors.  We'll take it.

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Prepping.  For our big firing of the year at the very end of June/beginning of July. We are so grateful for the energetic crew of potters and volunteers who help us with the four days of the firing itself, and all the tasks that go into being ready.

We had a really fun and productive work day a couple of weeks ago, where we stacked the holes in the kiln shed full of freshly cut slab wood, and started in on grinding and cleaning the kiln shelves.  We ate good food and laughed a lot.  It was the BEST of reminders of why we became wood-fired potters in the first place.  We can't do it all ourselves.  Exactly.

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(Thank you Matt, Harrison, Jill, Lexi, Patty, and David!)

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Lately, we are also . . .

Testing.  For Christmas, Nathan and I bought ourselves a new electric kiln. (Practical and romantic! ;) ) For various reasons since we met (as potters in separate states) it's been seven years of driving various fragile pieces to fire in other peoples kilns. (We can't thank you enough Tiffany, Stephanie, and Joan!) However, we decided we'd like to move on, and that we were ready to have everything we needed right here.

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Although most of our pottery is single-fired in it's raw state in the wood kiln, the small electric kiln will allow us to bisque fire a few pieces for the wood kiln that are better glazed when not leather hard, which is how we typically slip/glaze our work.

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Additionally, and most excitingly (that's a word?), we'll use the kiln the fire small batches of finished work - remember the silky white glaze with designs?!  It's actually quite nice, if I do say so myself, and the good news is that the preliminary results were really good.  We'll be able to finish small batches of work in between our every six-months-to-a-year wood-firings.  Hooray.

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Enjoying.  Playing in the sand in the driveway, digging in the garden, splashing in water and moving rocks and feeding chickens and . . . oh we're having so much fun with our little one.  She's 1.5 years (wait, what?!) and so talkative, funny, happy, strong-minded, and loving.

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We are tired (ahem) at the end of every day, and yet sooo ready to scoop her up again come morning.

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Readying. For VT Open Studio, this coming Memorial Day Weekend.  Our studio - and over 200 others around the state will be open Saturday May 23rd and Sunday May 24th from 10am to 5pm.  We love this event.  (Can we top last year?!)

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Join us for the Tour in our area, there's lots to see!  downloadable and printed map request here

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You guys, we hope it won't be so long before we check back in.  Stay with us. :)

Fondly,

Becca (and Nathan)

bitter cold and the thing we said we'd never do

This was supposed to be a post about how we'd finished the siding on our new studio.  Instead, it's a post about something altogether different, something we swore on multiple occasions that we would never do: we made a studio in our house.

{very chilly building & very frozen eyelashes}

A prolonged and bitter cold snap in our region prompted some rethinking of our path.  Our main goal of the winter has been - and still is - to get the new shell of a studio ready for pottery making.  Winter, however, has had other ideas.  With the out-of-doors practically inhospitable (we're talking days that don't reach above single digits with sub-zero wind chills and 50 mph gusts), we found ourselves INSIDE.

There is still plenty of what we call "G.C." (general contractor) work to do on our part, and we've certainly been at it - educating ourselves on our insulation options, getting bids on said insulation, discussing our plans for radiant floor heat with a plumber, researching said systems, procuring floor drains, and the rest of the pieces of our as-yet-to-be-poured concrete floor on the lower level - we've been staying focused on studio planning, if not physically building.

But with the days and weeks ticking by (how is it almost February?!), we were feeling a bit antsy about the time and number of pieces it takes to fill our wood kiln.  And thus the unthinkable happened: we moved our wheels out of storage and into an upstairs bedroom of our 160-year old farmhouse.

I'm sure there of those of you who are thinking, "Well, what were you waiting for?  You had unused space that could have possibly been construed as a studio?!" A fair question. (You might also wonder why we have an unused room in our house - short answer: the upstairs has been awaiting a much needed renovation.  And not just a lets-make-it-prettier reno; there are actual holes in the walls from a previous project, and asbestos-containing insulation in the eaves. Not to mention Nathan brushes the top of his head on the drop ceiling.  So, yeah, we haven't been living up there much.)

It would seem obvious, on some level, though, that after years of trucking our pottery home from our rented space, we wouldn't just do this in the first place.  Oh, but we had our reasons, and some of them are good.  The chief reason NOT to put a studio in our not-so-large house is DUST. Clay dust is insidious, and can cause serious health problems when inhaled.   If we're not neat about it, it gets on our shoes and clothes and up our forearms - and is then sprinkled imperceptibly but insidiously through our living space.

This time we promised ourselves we'll keep it neat.  Very neat.  As in, one pair of studio shoes that stays in the studio.  No clay on our clothes.  Plastic on the floor.  Wipe up clay while it's still wet.  So far so good.

Truth be known, it's pretty delightful to put a meal in the oven, a log in the wood stove, stream some podcast of some kind, and just mosey on up the stairs to work, with the puppy/dog to make trouble keep us company at the top of the stairs.

We're keeping things small (or so we tell ourselves) - there isn't much room to really produce plates or large bowls, (heck, there's not even room for us both to turn around carrying a board of pots) so we'll stick to small numbers of things that take time and attention.

For now, it's keeping us busy while the arctic wind blows, satisfying our need to make, and getting us just a little bit closer to our next wood firing.  We will, however, be back on that building just as soon as it warms a bit!

I continue to chuckle at how Making A Plan (I believe my exact words were "the next pottery we make will be in our new studio") is the very best way to get Something Else to happen. :)

{looking out from our temporary studio to our future studio . . . <3)

Stay Warm,

~Becca

 

 

with gratitude

Yesterday, we had what could only be called a very last minute open house. We sent emails, and posted on Facebook, and we thought we might get a couple of visitors to see the new studio building.

In a few short hours, however, we were overwhelmed and delighted by the incredible turn out. People came from all over our little town. They came from neighboring towns- and states. People who had never been here invited friends, and we met many new, wonderful people. Everyone enjoyed hot cocoa in Nathan's cute little mugs, laughed at the chickens, and marveled at how in two short months, we've gone from a muddy, ledge-ridden hole to a towering gorgeous building. While that was happening, other folks continued to order pottery from our website.

Wow. Seriously, wow.

2012 has been a momentous year for us. (Heck, make that a momentous four years.) We can't even begin to log the hours of work we've put into building and finishing our wood kiln, firing it for the first two times, and launching into another huge building project without much (any?) time off.  And while the last four years have been exciting, we'll be honest: it hasn't been easy. Life has been unsettled, and trying at times. We've 'been through the fire', so to speak, both as individuals, and as a couple. We've felt vulnerable, and we've even been scared. We've learned SO much. About masonry- and about working together. About carpentry- and about marriage. About concrete- and about perseverance.

And the hard work is not over, not at all.

But out of all of this, we see a light at the end of a long tunnel - we are watching our dream unfold, and it turns out it's bigger and more amazing than we could have imagined.  We get to be potters again soon!  We get to do the thing we love - the thing that prompted and motivated all of this building in the first place.  Call me crazy, but making pottery - and making a living at it - is the thing that gets me out of bed in the dark and cold, to pull on the long underwear and wool hat, and get back to work outside. In December. In Vermont.

But the most amazing part of all this - and the reason I'm reflecting on this deeply personal stuff here, is because of YOU.  I'm writing this now because it means so SO much to us to have the kind of support and enthusiasm we felt yesterday, and that we've felt throughout the year at our shows.  It brings tears to my eyes - tears of gratitude and thanks - that you would tell us, and show us with your presence, that you, too, think we're doing something great, something worth getting up in the cold and dark for.

Thank you for buying pottery, truly.

Thank you for gifting it, and for telling your friends and family about us.  Thank you for sending us photos of your dinner on one of our plates, or your coffee mug on your desk, or your cat in one of our bowls.  (Yes, this has happened more that once!)

Thank you for telling us that you enjoy using our pottery, and for believing that something handmade by another human is important, or at least enjoyable.

Thank you so very much for helping us pursue what we love doing!

Wishing you the happiest of holiday seasons,

~Becca and Nathan