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

studio building : ten days in

It's really quite hard to believe we're only ten days into building.  (With wood, that is!)  It is amazing what can be accomplished when you combine time, drive, passion, skill, experience, determination - and the threat of impending winter!

This past week brought many productive days, during which we put the purlins onto the rafters, as well as framed for- and built- a cupola.  (The floor with ladder hole (below) is just a temporary platform from which we built the cupola, whose main purpose, besides adding a bit of visual interest to the building, is to flood the new showroom and the upstairs with natural light.)

The views from up there are AMAZING!  (And we thought our kiln chimney was tall.)  We sort of wish it could become a reading nook or some such thing, but hey, the aforementioned natural light wins out for now.  Plus, we can't wait to be throwing pottery at our wheels on the ground level, and look up through the opening in the floor straight up to the sky!

We were also pleased to begin some diagonal framing, an aspect which makes George's buildings very unique.  Instead of putting the studs at right angles, he cuts them at 45 degrees.  They remain 16" on center, which meets building code, but creates a rigid and economical structure, and eliminates the need for sheathing - saving money and lots of toxic glues.

We enjoyed learning more about the process of diagonal framing, and appreciated the many years of experience George brings to this approach.  (He has a good head for math, as you can imagine!)  It is a beautiful end result, one which uses far less lumber than a conventional structure, and will contribute to less overall setting of the cellulose insulation we plan to blow into the wall cavities.

Nathan and George also took some time to build a reverse gable on the north wall. (photo below)  There will be entry doors there, into the showroom, and we wanted to ensure the snow sheds well.  We also think it makes for an appealing entrance!

If all goes well, this next week will bring framing of the lower level (where our workshops will be), roofing (metal), cupola windows and siding, and perhaps wrap!  We are also looking forward to windows and doors and eventually - before Christmas?! - ship lap siding.  Wow!

It's funny how hard it is to reflect on this project in a bigger sense - we're so deep IN it now.  I'm sure reflection will come later . . . but there are plenty of moments when we come up for air, take it all in, and feel downright giddy at the prospect of working in this gorgeous space, on our land, towards our shared passion.  Having the chickens clucking and scratching about the yard is more than just scenic - it's a nice, grounding feeling - that we're headed in the right direction - towards our "pottery farm!"

~Becca

P.S. We've decided last minute to have a Holiday Open Studio and Sale next weekend, December 15th, from 11 am 'till 4pm.  Hope you can join us!And yes, we'll be most certainly giving tours of the new studio!

building with wood

With our concrete foundation work behind us (yay!), the structure of our studio is coming together quickly.  Just seven days into building with wood, and we're pleased to say we've got rafters up!  The pace and intensity of the project has left us with little time for much beyond building, sleeping, laundry, cooking, eating . . . not much energy left for writing!  And thus, we share mostly photos here today, and the musings of our builder, Mr. George Abetti.

"We started this studio a couple of days before Thanksgiving after the intrepid couple did the entire foundation themselves assisted part time by some willing and available friends.  I must say I marvel at their courage--with me staying away from concrete with a passion only matched by love for building with wood....hmmmmm...probably an integral connection there somewhere. 

Both Becca and Nathan are experienced carpenters and indefatigable workers--which is what allowed us to work out a mutually agreeable arrangement where I would run them and as many willing friends as a crew for a few weeks to get the main shell up with roof, windows and doors and leave the siding to them.  We were doubly blessed at the serendipitous timing of two wonderful guys wanting to consider Geobarn careers calling to ask to work for free for a couple of weeks just to experience this kind of work....so yes....be our guests!  John and Charles--we humbly thank you.  (Yes, thanks, guys!  We are very grateful for your help.)

The building is quite creative--timbered with massive hemlock posts, our typical free span floor system--and incorporating both gallery and working spaces on both levels accessible from either below or above.  The views are magnificent and even though the weather has turned quite cold--their passion and energy (and high energy parents and home cooked meals) have all contributed to keeping us warm, well fed and filled with energy for the task at hand.  We finished the upper beam in spite of some tough site conditions and were overjoyed to have their wonderful excavators back fill the trenches and even hoist a few of the heaviest beams into place that we were otherwise struggling to carry up hill and wrestle into place onto the 7' kneewall....

Nathan and Becca cut all the rafters while I prepped the upper beam with her dad with layout, blocking, gussets and some diagonal framing to stabilize the upper level prior to the roof system....when it essentially becomes equivalent to a large sail ready to fly away in the high winds if not well anchored down--and this is a VERY windy hill as we discovered yesterday when our ladders not only blew over but flew out of the building.... the cold took its toll on us today--we have worked most days into the dark but today when the sun began to set we all looked at each other and agreed that going inside was the glorious thing to do. - George"

We returned to building Saturday morning . . . and in a snowstorm, we began to assemble and hoist rafters!  Despite the snow and cold, we had great success.

We are very happy potters!

Stay tuned - there is so much more to come . . . we can hardly stand it.

~Nathan and Becca

have (unfired) pots, will travel

Three years ago, Nathan and I were beginning to realize that our lives were changing in a very special way . . . our individual stories were beginning to intertwine to become the story of two potters- a pair of potters.  It was a very sweet and memorable time in our lives, also a time of great change, involving a few freshly thrown bowls on boards in the back of a pickup. The story goes that there was a freeze that night, as the wet pots sat in the bed of the truck, and the next day they were nearly ruined.  My spirits, having been dampened by the loss of those bowls, were lifted dramatically when Nathan proposed later that day on sun drenched rocks at a river's edge.

The joy of those days overshadowed the fact that our working lives had officially been turned on their heads. For the next two years, we drove back and forth between our places in two states, making unfired pottery in Vermont, and packing it carefully for the three hour journey to New Hampshire, along with tools, a cooler of food, and bug spray or snow shovels, depending on the season. We would truck back in the other direction with finished work, and dream of one day having a studio with a kiln- in the same place.

In fact, we still dream of this luxury . . . we dismantled the NH kiln, and our new wood kiln is not yet finished, but with summer shows and wedding registry deadlines approaching, I finally had the good sense to take my good friend Tiffany Hilton up on her offer to fire her gas kiln. Driving to Massachusetts with a truck full of glazes and pottery and an air compressor (for spraying my glazes on site!) may sound crazy . . . but it's simply become what we do, how we keep on keeping on amidst all the change!

Tiffany and her husband Tim built this sweet little building as a kiln shed for her gas kiln. Her adjacent showroom is inspiring, and filled with her beautifully made pieces.

The firing at Tiffany's turned out to be beautiful, and almost better than that, I got to spend two lovely days enjoying the camraderie of a fellow potter and friend, both remembering fondly and looking forward to, the rhythm of the (settled) potter's life.