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)

before & after

wood kiln, kiln building

I'm a big fan of 'before & after' photos.  It's just that more often than not, I seem to get to the completed stage and realize that I never took a 'before' shot.  Well, when a project takes 2 or 3 years, it's a little easier to ensure those photos get taken, and in the case of our refurbished milkshed pottery showroom and large wood-fired kiln, the changes are pretty dramatic.  (By the way, the kiln is not quite done, so I felt I had to put the "after" in quotations!)

This Memorial Day Weekend (2012), we're proud to be part of the 20th Annual Vermont Studio Tour, happening at over 200 studios all over this beautiful state.  As we prepare for this open studio event, I can't help but reflect back on what past visitors have seen, and how far we've come since the last time we opened our doors.  (I can't believe that during our first studio tour, we literally showed folks the giant hole in the ground 'complete' with concrete slab for the kiln we would be building.  Now that we're nearly done, two years later, I hope some of those same people will come back and see that we were actually serious: we actually built a giant kiln!)

For more information on the Vermont Studio Tour, including a downloadable-for-print map, check out the Vermont Crafts Council site here.

For a direct link to our Google map location, including driving directions from your house, click here.

Hope to see you!

 

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.

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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.

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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!

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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!)

The Potters' Open House

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On the eve of our Open Studio this 2010 Columbus Day weekend, I wanted to share a few images and thoughts for those who can't make it to central Vermont to visit us in person.  I have always loved potters' open studio events  . . . the common elements seem to be a newly-fired kiln of fresh pottery (often times unloaded while it is still hot!), homemade baked goods (my favorite recipes are those shared between other potters), freshly cut flowers in handmade vases, a postcard to friends and followers, and some painted sandwich board signs.  (This particular open studio also happens to involve pumpkins, apple cider, and 'mums!)  I like to think of all of the potters and artists who are hosting open studios this weekend, all of the new people we will meet, the old friends that will be greeted, and all of the dirt roads that will be traveled to find these artistic hideaways . . . have a wonderful weekend!   ~Becca

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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