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 . . .

IMG_1608

IMG_1516

IMG_1585

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 . . .

IMG_1409

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.

IMG_1381

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.

IMG_1577

IMG_1438

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.

IMG_1521

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

IMG_1525

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.

IMG_1498

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.

IMG_1455

IMG_1493

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.

IMG_8694

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.

IMG_1466

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

IMG_1578

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?!)

IMG_1506

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

IMG_1469

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

Fondly,

Becca (and Nathan)

lately

Lately we have been . . .

~enjoying the 'wilds' of summer in full swing . . . thick air, bright sun, and fresh veggies from our desperately weedy jungle of a garden and most especially our farm share (tomatoes were green- and fried!- last week, this week deep red, orange, yellow, pink and splitting with vine-ripeness . . . mmm)

~caught up in the intense and wonderful whirlwind of a four-day craft show in Maine, a 70-hour wood kiln firing, and an impromptu multi-generation + multi-family reunion on the farm

~getting our feet back on the ground after said whirlwind . . . taking a brief pause to catch our breath before the next big push

~feeling grateful for all of the positivity and encouragement coming our way, and so very thankful for the incredible support of our families and friends and random emails of kindness (we couldn't do this without you!)

We have also been . . .

~putting the finishing touches on as many pots as we could make in what amounted to a three-week period after unloading our first firing

~appreciating each others' craftsmanship (constantly surprised and amazed by what the other comes up with) and thinking we are just beginning to scratch the surface of all the things we hope to make!

~feeling the ups and downs of the summer studio we set up under the kiln shed (pro: great view, short and scenic commute, con: blowing wind and cracking fast-drying large pottery)

~honored by the presence of Becca's west-coast-dwelling brother Jeremy and his lovely lady Kate for help with our second firing (and hoping they love this kiln-glasses fashion shot as much as we do)

We are . . .

~thinking and hoping very much that the cooling kiln that awaits us just *might* be a good firing (all signs so far point to good changes since the first try . . . we flattened a lot more cones this time! translation: it got hotter in there!)

~knowing there will undoubtedly be many surprises, good and bad, when we finally get to peek at this second go-round next week

~glad to have tried a shorter and less consumptive (wood) firing

~readying for our biggest show of the year, a truly wonderful event, spanning nine days in August

~remembering how different the pace of life is in January ( . . . and maybe looking forward to it- just a little bit!)

We hope you are all enjoying a wonderful summer . . .

~Becca + Nathan

 

lately

Lately, we've been . . .

- pounding six inch spikes into the freshly cut hemlock (milled by our neighbor and carried home in our old manure spreader).  yup, we are busy building retaining walls to hold pounds and pounds of stone against the sides of our kiln.

- talking with another neighbor about using his mechanical bucket to deliver said stone . . . rather than a wheelbarrow, that is.

- realizing that this is the LAST big thing that needs to happen before we light our first fire in our kiln . . . to burn out the form inside . . . wow!

- cutting next year's heat from our winter timber harvest, and loving the contrast of freshly cut wood against the green, green grass (er, burdock) of spring.

- watching our peas, garlic, and spinach emerge from the soil and grow, thanks to much needed rain and a good mix of sun.

- marveling at the germination speed of the nasturtiums in our kitchen, and thinking they will like very much the black gold- composted goat and chicken manure- gift from our neighbors

- sitting on a sizable stash of pottery-in-waiting . . . our largely unfired, glazed, and slipped collection now occupies a large part of the dreaded awfully handy storage unit in our front yard, as well as a good portion of an upstairs bedroom, a few shelves at the studio, the back of one car . . . you get the idea.  (and yet we still have only a very vague inkling as to how full a kiln load we actually have. to say we have much to learn in the coming weeks would be a gross understatement)

- making a reasonably successful attempt (don't look TOO closely) at diagonal ship lap siding on our chicken coop (twelve chicks arrive in two days!!) and being grateful they will spend their first few weeks in a warm box in our mudroom so Becca can find time to finish building the doors, installing the windows, cutting saplings for roosts . . .

- laughing at the fact that we have a knack for acquiring animals at the same time as we have major life events (move out of NH studio, pick up a puppy the next day; approach very first wood-firing after two years of kiln building, get chickens.)

- loving that our small town has, among other things, a family-owned organic feed company from which to feed our chickens, a printing press for our business needs, and one of the oldest continuously operated businesses in Vermont- powered in large part by the water that flows over the nearby dam- for building supplies.  yes, that's right, we're talking about tiny, often overlooked Bethel!  (note: a little town-tour blog-post might be in order)

- looking forward to sharing the countdown to our first firing in the coming weeks . . .

 

 

our CSA . . . community supported art

Introducing Kiln Shelf Shares!

We’re hoping to raise funds for purchasing kiln shelves by selling Kiln Shelf Shares. This is essentially a pre-buy of pottery, like a traditional CSA, where the farmers (potters) get funds ahead of time to grow (make) their “crop!”

The very large kiln we’re building will require 100 or more sturdy shelves for stacking our pottery upon during the firings. These shelves are made of silicon carbide, and are able to withstand many years of firings in a molten environment . . . which also makes them fairly expensive.

How it works: -You buy a Kiln Shelf Share for $60. -We buy a kiln shelf. -You get a $90 certificate for our pottery! (Redeemable when the kiln is completed and fired- we’ll send you an invitation to our first kiln opening.)

Shares are available in our online shop, or over the phone or via email.

A few more details: You can purchase as many shares as you like, either for yourself, or as a gift for someone.  (Weddings and birthdays?!) We will mail you or your giftee a certificate for the Kiln Shelf Share. Shares are redeemable at our Studio, or in our Online Shop at TwoPotters.com. (Your share can go toward shipping costs.) Shares will not expire, but can not apply to custom orders or offers of free shipping.

Please be in touch if you have any questions.  Thanks for supporting Community Supported Art!

2010 . . . what a year it was!

Happy New Year, everyone!  As I write, the studio is beginning to fill with new pots for the coming year, and our new four-legged "mascot" is busy with his favorite toy, so maybe I'll get a little written. I'm inspired to write a year-in-review style newsletter in part because I find that reflecting on all that we've done helps me stay inspired to keep going!  Or maybe it's all those Christmas newsletters I just read . . . in any event, at this particular point in our lives, the project to-do lists can easily overwhelm, and it's nice to remember just how far we've come towards our dream. For the first six months of 2010, we were still traveling to my former studio in Eaton, NH, to make and fire our pottery.  This entailed making pottery at our small rented studio in VT, packing it up while it was still green (i.e. unfired and fragile!), loading it into the car, and traveling 100 miles over windy mountain roads to unpack it, load the kiln, and fire our wares.  I recall one dramatic trip during a particularly rough frost-heave season where I arrived at the studio in tears, and several of my pots arrived in small pieces.  All in all, though, we were grateful to still have use of the kiln, and enjoyed our "pottery camp" time together, beginning to collaborate and enjoy each others creativity.

pottery making, potter's wheel

pottery, pottery tumblers

In February, my talented brother redesigned TwoPotters.com with our very own e-store, and it has been a great addition to our business! Around the same time, my new line of "painted pots" was born, springing from a desire to make and fire work in Vermont, and it was a lot of fun to share new tomatoes, carrots, peas, and flower designs at farmers markets and shows.

handmade pottery, pottery plate

In May, with help along the way from all four of our parents, we finished building an addition to our Milkhouse Gallery, just in time for our first experience on the Vermont Studio Tour on Memorial Day Weekend. We had loads of happy visitors who toured our kiln site, and watched Nathan do throwing demonstrations on the kick wheel. Needless to say, we'll be participating again in 2011!

We began working on the new kiln in earnest in June, doing some more site drainage and beginning to lay the concrete block foundation that will carry the weight of oh-so-many bricks. The summer ensued, and between kiln work, we traveled to Maine for the Clam Festival Craft Show, and to Mount Sunapee for the League of NH Craftsmen's amazing Annual Fair. Both shows were wonderful; it was so much fun to see so many of our loyal friends and customers. Back in VT in late August, we continued to lay block, pour concrete, shovel sand and stone, celebrated our first wedding anniversary, and took quick trips to the river and for ice cream on the hottest of days.

In early September, we spent 5 big days dismantling the Eaton kiln, and transported it to VT in thousands of heavy pieces.  The bricks were put to immediate use as we began to lay the insulating floor of the wood kiln. The fall brought a big harvest from the garden, and beautiful weather for our Columbus Day Weekend Open Studio event that we spent with old and new friends alike. We began to get scrap slab wood delivered from a local mill to season for next year's firings, and moved bricks, bricks, bricks.

Work on the kiln continued until it became clear that what we really needed more than anything was a new roof on our house! Thanks to our amazing friend Bob and some unseasonable warm, dry November weather, our 160-year old farmhouse got a much needed rebuild. That project took us right into early December, when we traveled to Eaton for the last time to officially move out of the house and studio. We packed up our pottery wheels, tools, materials, and clay, and moved them into storage in VT until we can build a studio of our own! The day we returned the rental van, we got our new puppy, Lego, and last but not least, thanks to Efficiency Vermont, we illuminated the kiln shed and gallery entrance with super-efficient LED lighting that will make night-time kiln loading and stoking a breeze. Phew!

wood kiln construction

Now that 2011 is here, we plan to use the coldest months for making pottery, and just as soon as it's warm enough (March anyone?!), we'll be back at work on the kiln, aiming for our first firing in June or July. Something tells me this is going to be another epic year . . . All the best and many thanks, Becca and Nathan (and Lego, too!)

Fall Newsletter 2010

We hope this newsletter finds you enjoying the fall colors!   First and foremost, a huge thank-you to those of you who visited us at our various fairs, festivals, and farmers markets.  We were excited to show our new work together, and it was a great year!  It's now time to buckle-down on the home front, focus on building our new kiln, and plan for a proper studio next year.

UPCOMING EVENTS: Join us at our place (123 Scammel Lane, Bethel, VT  05032) for our Fall Open Studio!  The gallery will be open with our pottery, and we'll be showing folks around the kiln site, where the new kiln is coming right along.  Hope you can make it: Saturday and Sunday, October 9th & 10th, from 10 am to 5pm, and Monday, October 11th, 10am to 3pm.  We'll have homebaked treats and cider, and wood by the stove in case the fall chill returns!  As always, if you can't make this event, you are more than welcome to call or email to set up another time to visit.  Directions

KILN BUILDING: It's starting to look like a kiln!   We finished the climbing foundation work at the end of August (phew!), and have been putting in long hours laying out the floor.  The floor includes two layers of insulating brick (to prevent the concrete foundation from exploding from the heat!) topped with a layer of hard brick where we'll stack shelves of pottery.  It's somewhat slow going, in part because we're building some air channels into the sub-floor to help burn wood used during side stoking.  Once the floor is layed out, we'll build various mini-arches as flues between chambers, and then build a giant arch of plywood and lathe to hold up the brick walls until the arch is self-supporting.  The long and short of it is: good progress, still a long way to go!  You can see more photos here.

THE END OF AN ERA: It's hard to believe, but the kiln in Eaton, New Hampshire, that started it all for Becca has been dismantled!  In a somewhat emotional five days of very hard, hot work, we unstacked the large gas kiln at Becca's first studio, brick by brick.  For almost two years now, we have been traveling to NH to make and fire our pottery.  We knew this wasn't a long-term solution, and after we had unloaded the last pieces of pottery needed for our summer shows, we knew it was time.  The real reason behind the dismantling was the desire to recycle the thousands of bricks in our new kiln.  You can read more about this process and see photos in Becca's blog post about the big event below.

EXCITING TIDBITS: Nathan has been accepted into 500 Raku!  This is his second book acceptance in six months; we're awaiting the release of 500 Vases, by Lark Books, due out this fall.  Also, we will both be appearing in the Cup and Mug Invitational, an exhibition at the Artisans Gallery in Northampton, MA, opening in November 12th- December 31st.

NEW BLOG: As you may have noticed, we're now hosting our newsletter on our new blog!  We will both be blogging about all manner of things, including our kiln progress, our favorite pieces of pottery, our new work, and much more.  Hope you can follow along!

Thank you for your support!

Appreciatively,

Becca and Nathan