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)

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

a solid concrete footing

This was a big day. A very big day.

We woke before sunrise, and to say I was nervous would be an understatement. I was very, very nervous. You might even say I was scared. Yup. After weeks of prep work, there would be two large and heavy loads of concrete in our backyard. We considered having someone more seasoned here with us, but we felt confident we could do it. (Well, confident BEFORE the nightmare I had where all the form boards burst open and collapsed and we were rebuilding frantically while the concrete continued to flow . . . fortunately, things went much smoother than that.)

We had two very nice truck operators, willing to accommodate us rookies, and as soon as things were underway, we were breathing a sigh of relief. (There's nothing like the need to work QUICKLY to keep a girl from worrying about the truck getting stuck, or the chute taking off one of our heads.) Nathan worked with the hoe and shovel, directing the truck and the flow, while I followed behind with the scree boards and trowel.

We got into a rhythm, and I might even say I enjoyed myself! (There was plenty of adrenaline, that's for sure.) Our forms were holding really well and the mix was stiff enough that it wasn't seeping through all the drops (step-downs). When the first truck emptied his load, the second was right behind him, and in position before we knew it, pouring the remainder of the north wall

It's a thing of beauty, isn't it?! A solid foundation from which to build our dream studio.  (Lego approves - although not as happy about the having-to-be-leashed part - but we didn't want our dog stuck in our footing.)

Now, maybe a nap before the next big phase. We'll be form building next week, and this will start to look more like a studio before we know it . . .

Happy Weekend! ~Becca

dreaming a little

The days following our biggest show of the year are ones of re-setting and attempting to ground ourselves in our life and our home.  Pushing to get the kiln finished and two large firings loaded and fired and packed up and the booth built and set up and the nine days of retail sales did amount to some fatigue.  I imagine it's something like trying to stop running after a long race . . . kind of hard to slow down mentally, even when the body is exhausted. ...

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in our home

One of the best things about having 'fresh pottery' is seeing it in our home.  People are always remarking that we must have a great set of dishes . . . well, it's something akin to the old saying about the cobbler's children going unshod- yes, we have handmade dishes, but no, they don't match, and usually we got to keep them because there was some flaw or another.  We don't mind.  It certainly adds character to every meal!

On other occasions, a piece is waiting on the kitchen table to be shipped or go to a show - and I can't resist putting flowers or vegetables in it ever so briefly!  And every once in a while (i.e. very rarely), we just might decide to *keep* something especially beautiful for ourselves, just to remember where we've come from and what our best work was in that snapshot of time.  It is this quest for beauty- for the 'perfect pot' - that keeps us going and making and loving what we do.

~Becca

 

 

sweet sweet days

I know I've probably said this before, but I think it might be safe to say that we are never more content than during an uninterrupted stretch of days working on our farm.  This was one of those sweet days in a series of days where the sun shone on our laboring bodies, and after the hours of work were done, we still lingered at the kiln shed in the fading light and calm air, soaking up the joy and satisfaction of our day's progress- of nearly completed kiln adobe and stone retaining walls- under a beautiful night sky.

handmade at home

One of my favorite things about being a potter is finding unexpected uses for things we- or other folks- have made.  This week, one of our very large platters made it into the house before it got returned to the showroom, and during its stop-over in our kitchen, has been used for everything from keeping hats and gloves out of Lego's reach, to holding fruit and an oven mitt (also likely placed there to avoid the puppy's chewing mouth!).  An oval baking dish, back from being used as a demo in Nathan's class, became a mail-and-magazine holder- a quick way to turn clutter into something a little nicer to look in the midst of a busy week.  (Oh, by the way, that adorable 'heart woman' as I call her, is a clay finger puppet by Jane Kaufmann.)

And while I was snapping photos, I thought I'd share a few more non-traditional ways we use pottery in our daily home life . . . an small oval vase turned office-letter-organizer, and an oval plate by Kari Radasch turned olive-oil-cruet-and-garlic-clove holder.   A few pieces we use more traditionally are the 'barn jar' I use for sea salt, and 'puffy' soap dish by David Orser and Laurel MacDuffie respectively, tiny ring-bowls by Wayne Fuerst, and this cookie jar by Nathan that holds a very large bag of puppy treats on top of our fridge!  (Oh, and believe it or not, I made the pewter spoon in a metal casting class with Paulette Werger!)

How do you use handmade pieces in your home, kitchen, or office?  We'd love to hear from you!  (Oh, and by the way, we've disabled our comments temporarily because of spam . . . in the meantime, our Facebook page is the best place to leave a comment/question/photo.)