new pieces in our shop!

Everything is moving a little slower around here these days (OK, maybe it's just ME that's moving slower!), but I've finally gotten a nice selection of new wood-fired pottery photographed and posted for sale in our online shop. Here are some photo highlights of what's available (each photo is a direct link to the piece in our shop) . . .

This was a new vase shape this year, styled after the vintage french flower buckets I love so much.

Our new mason jar shapes were a big hit at shows - we made a bunch of sizes and styles, looking like small jelly jars (as in the ones with green glaze) or pint or quart canning jars.  While they don't take a screw lid (now that would be a feat of engineering reserved for slip-casting!), they are fun to drink wine or lemonade out of, use as vases, or to hold pencils or some such thing.  The shape is so classic and pleasing, I think.

Nathan made this gorgeous pitcher . . . it's one of the best examples of a natural ash glaze, topped only by the piece below . . . designed as a tall handle-less cup for tea, with a nice saucer to boot.  This piece is also glazed completely with wood ash in a multi-day firing.  The range of colors and textures takes the cake!

My pebble or stones designs have evolved over the years.  I love pooling glaze - in this case blue celadon - around the stones, each individually formed of the same clay as the plate itself - and inset in the center and the rim.  This plate is otherwise glazed and colored only with ash and flame.

These are what I call my 'flower bowl' design.  The narrow vase in the middle of the bowl holds a few flowers nicely, and the little cut-out at the base provides water to the stems.  They make a great centerpiece or window sill display.  Beyond being great for herbs or flowers in the spring, summer, and fall, we use ours at the holidays for balsam greens and holly berries.

Mugs, mugs galore!  There are bunch of new coffee and tea mugs in our shop, as well as some bigger ones that we tend to call 'brew fest' mugs.  The orange one below and this one were thrown by Nathan and I did the handles, the slip and the glaze. :)  We like mixing it up like that sometimes.  I had fun working on a different shape, and even better, we both really liked the final result.

There's also a couple of nice utensil crocks just listed - including this one (above) in a bold orange color, and another one that's sort of peachy with just ash on the outside.

Last but not least, there's a nice butter keeper with a matte pumpkin color outside and deep red glaze inside.  If you haven't used one of these, you *might* become a convert. :)  You can keep butter fresh out on the counter!  Butter gets packed into the 'cup' part of the lid, and water goes in the crock below it.  It makes a seal, but keeps the butter fresh and the best part - super soft and spreadable.  It's a joy to butter your morning toast!  (Every butter keeper now comes with a 'how-to-use-me' card including some little tips we've learned over the years.)

There's quite a bit more to see in the shop, so have a look if you have a minute.

As things sell, we always try to replace them, but please feel free to email us to ask about anything in particular. We almost always have other pieces in the showroom here at the studio, and are happy to send photos.

If pieces sell out entirely (which often happens with things like flower bowls and butter keepers and sometimes mugs), we can put your name on our 'wish list' and we'll hold one from the next firing for you!

Thanks so much for supporting folks like us making handmade craft!

~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

second firing

We have begun to unload our second firing . . . . and although we haven't even seen the firing in its entirety (oh, how we've had to learn patience!), it could be said that the 'kiln gods' have smiled on us.  With just days to go before our biggest and best show of the year, we are overjoyed to find beauty after beauty emerging from within the still-warm brick walls.  We are feeling oh so very grateful!

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

 

unloading

The day of the unloading began with a few preparatory tasks, namely cleaning up and numbering the door bricks for an easy stack-up next time.  Not so long ago, I might have rushed to take down the doors, pulled out everything, and then been faced with a giant mess to clean up . . . but three years of kiln building and a very methodical partner have had a good influence . . . namely in the form of patience!  We even vowed to clean and grind kiln shelves and posts as we went; four shelves of pots to unload, four to grind.   Nonetheless, there was a definite sense of excitement as we took out the bricks and got our first good glances.

Holding our breath . . . our first reactions were mixed . . . initially the pottery looked OK, if a bit on the pale side.  (We do tend to prefer lighter tones from the wood kiln as opposed to dark browns, so this was at least visually unobjectionable.)  What we quickly realized, though, was that most of what we found in the middle of the kiln was dry.  Under-fired.  Too crusty, and perhaps not even water-tight. Ugh.

The good side of all this was that not too much was ruined!  In fact, in the first couple hundred pots that we pulled out, only three ended up in the wheelbarrow.  The bad news was that only three ended up on the table of work to actually sell.  The vast majority of the work we found in the first chamber was destined to be re-fired.  (All you potters out there, we think 'too cool' in this case was about cone 8 or so.)

At least we're a few hundred pieces closer to our next firing!

We continued on like this for almost an entire day, filling up the tables with pieces to be re-fired.  We took a quick trip to the river for a bit of helpful perspective, no doubt feeling a little down, but heartened somewhat by the fact that we didn't find any major disasters, and that the flashing and ash colors looked pretty nice, for the most part, knowing it just needs more heat!

Why didn't we keep firing if it was so cool?  The cones in front of the kiln showed cone 12, and the stack just behind was not far behind.  We didn't want to risk over-firing the front, but in retrospect, we should have kept firing and sacrificed a few pieces in front for the good of the rest of the kiln.  We also hoped our side-stoking efforts would even things out, but we just didn't stay hot-enough for long enough.  The biggest thing we struggled with during the firing was the un-eveness of temperatures from front to back, top to bottom.  Our chimney is HUGE, which means it pulled much of the heat across the floor and out the stack, even with the dampers at 10%!  Also, our burn was very, very efficient with all the built-in air channels, so much of the chamber was oxidized as we missed out on a lot of the reduction cycles that contribute to richer colors.

At nearly 6pm on the first day, Nathan decided it was time to take down the door to the soda chamber.  We were hoping we would see something to lift our spirits.  (I can't believe we hadn't opened it yet!)  And we found beauty . . . ahhh.  We each took a deep breath of relief to find gorgeous flashing slips, melted glaze, and lovely effects from the soda.  Most of what we could see looked really nice- we felt saved by the soda chamber!

With that good news, we called it a night.  Back at work the next morning- already 92 degrees at 8am- we finished unloading the rest of the first chamber, and found a few gems in the rough.  Some places were hot enough to melt the ash on the surfaces (that is, if the pieces hadn't cracked)- the very front stack had some nice ones, and the areas around the flues at the back of the chamber were lovely, too.

We started in earnest unloading the soda chamber in the extreme heat.  We found lots of beauties- finally some ware boards of pottery ended up on the 'to sell and photograph' table!  The melt was good, and while the chamber wasn't without issues of its own, we had a much better success rate overall.

The nice pottery we found made clean-up a little easier.  The kiln itself fared pretty well, just a few bricks out of place in the main firebox.  The castable fired to a very pretty pure white and held up beautifully while the bricks took on a toasty glow.  Overall, the shelves cleaned up fairly easily, thanks to some grinding bricks and a diamond cup attachment for the angle grinder. There were some big nasties in the soda chamber, especially the soda that accumulated on the false floor (i.e. removable!!) that Nathan put in pre-firing.  (Can you believe that gnarly situation?!?  And no, he did not intend to match the color with his shirt.)

We are hoping and scrambling planning to fire again in a month, before our biggest show of the year.  We have a new road map, changes planned, and a lot to do . . . and are already excited to try this again!

~Becca

Next up: A proper photo shoot of the newest work, and hopefully a select few posted to our online shop soon. 

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!