So much to say...but so little time..

This Saturday and Sunday the Thrown Together crew will be having their Spring sale. From what I've seen of all my fellow "pottery pals" ....they'll have some pretty cool stuff! We also have three quests this time around which will offer more to choose from in the way of buying some good Mothers Day gifts.
Sort of true to form for me lately ( which in my eye's seems like for the last 3 years), I had one of my kiln mishaps so I'm not really sure what I'll have at this years sale. My switch went on my kiln and I have no way of fixing it before the this weekend. Stuff happens..right?

I found this great quote on Facebook today. It sort of summed up my thoughts on being a potter/creative soul.

“Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes, and having fun.” ~Mary Lou Cook

I also read a great article in ClayTimes last week about burning out and I had so many thoughts and feeling on this subject because I think I'm sort of there at times but, that conversation is for another time because I need to get some sleep and be fresh for my pre-K art students in the morning. If you haven't read that article you can click the link below.

( WOW, I had no clue blogger had changed and I'm a little lost with this new format today! )




Happy Easter everyone! I made some Easter Eggs for my show at Lark and Key. They still have some left if you interested in purchases any. I only make these once a year! :)


The dialogue in my head before a show....

I was thinking last week about how before every show I have the same dialogue that goes through my head every time. Basically the same scenario's play out and I can either cry or chuckle about it. Thank goodness this time around I had my two pottery partner in crime Amy Sanders and Julie Wiggins on the "pottery hotline" when I was a bit overwhelmed. Lets hear it for friends and support!
This month I'm in a show at Lark and Key called "Memory and Metaphor" along with two very fine painters. This show has been in the works for aleast a year but as is true with other sales, gallery orders and shows; I'm always working up to the last minute.
Today I thought I'd jot down thoughts/words that have been circling in my head all week. These play out over and over before every show. Shows to me are different than sales because if I don't have work for a sale than its only me I'm letting down. If I don't have good work for a show, well its many folks I'm letting down and this weighs so heavy on my head.
For those of you studio Mom's and Dad's out there, you may be shaking you head while reading my thoughts. I'm even pretty sure that some of you without kids could relate to some of these thoughts!
So, from the time it starts to the opening reception, this is the dialogue in my head....
~New ideas...boy, I'd love to have a show! Hey, can I have a show? I've got some really cool ideas?!
~ Sure, that a good time of the year, I'll have time to make stuff. No obligation what so ever...
~(Glance at calendar) "Ah, a few month before my show, got to finish orders first -I'll have time to try some new forms before than".
Month before the show -
~ Time to start some new work for my show...but first, I've got to do the 15 loads of laundry.
~ "Mom, I've got a huge project due this week"! No studio today, must help the kid....
~ I need to grade papers for my art history students. Maybe I can get in there for 2 hours today..
~ Ah, studio time. Got to start with the big pieces first...humm, but what big pieces?
~ Two kids sick - I need to be inside, no studio today...crap, things are going to dry out!!
~ Ok, a few big things made. Will folks want to see new things or some more of what they are collecting? Better make a few small things.
~ Should mugs go in a show? Nahhh...not this time, I have time to make other things..
~ 9:30 Pm, lunches packed, cloths laid out, dishes done cloths in dryer. Whoops...guinea pig cage needs cleaning! Hummm....can I get anything done in my studio this evening??
~9:45PM where to start... Guess I'll make some small things.
~ 11:00 PM, need to sleep, I'll have time tomorrow after teaching to finish these up.
~ Run kids to various after school activities, go to the gym, help with homework, fix dinner, get kids to bed at *8:00. Run out the studio.........."Crap, they are to dry for handles!"
Week before show -
~ Oh god, please don't rain outside so everything will dry out in my studio and be ok in the bisque!
~ Lord, I should have made those mugs....kick myself!
~ "SICK?? Your not sick, you've got to go to school today...I've got to work!"
~ Guess I'll stay up until 12 tonight so I can finish just a few small things.
~ Calendar says...2 doctors appointments, snack Mom, make quiz for two classes, go shopping for special shoes for dance class, meet with teacher about failed test grade....." AHHH...all this is during my free studio time! When am I going to finish my pots?"
Days before the opening -
~ Glaze until midnight, turn up kiln at 2:00, turn up kiln at 5:00 ( good lord I'm tired!) Get up with kids at 6:00, run everyone to school." Maybe I can take a nap for 1 hour and go back to glazing".
~ Why do I put myself through this? I should have been nurse!
~ This is crazy! What other profession takes away sleep time like this one!
~ No honey, you can't go out of town this week!
~ Grind teeth during sleep worrying about my firing.....
~ Feeling tired and short with the kids.
~ Don't worry, no one will see me in the carpool line with my PJ's on. I just wear a baseball cap and sunglasses to hide the circles today!
~ Must find quick things to make for dinner so I can work a bit more before dinnertime.
~ ( Open kiln) " Oh lord, please let these look OK"!!
Day before work needs to be delivered -
~ Well this looks OK....
~ Why oh why do the big things never all turn out~! I hate porcelain! I'm switching everything to stoneware!
~Ok, I think this is enough work. Is it enough work??
~ It is what it is, price it, pack it and hope for the best.
~Panic attack before delivery...
Show goes up/Opening -
~ Honey, can I call in sick for my opening?
~ Should the kids come? Yep...they need to see the outcome of Mom's crazyness...
~ Nothing to wear..maybe I should just go in the throwing cloths so people can see the sweat and tears I've put into this...HUH!
~ Will anyone come at all??
~ Maybe I'll have a few glasses of wine before I go, that always dulls the pain of meeting and talking to folks!
~Ahhh...familiar faces, the show looks nice. What was I worried about anyways?
~ Look Honey, it went find after all.
( and my husband sighs....)


Ending winter with color thoughts

I packed up a few pots today and shipped them out via the US mail. I sort of go back and forth between UPS and the regular mail. I guess I feel sorry for the US postal service and don't want them to go out of business. Isn't it sad that we don't write letters anymore and everything is via email?! I am so guilty of this unless I'm sending thank you notes. Joey and I make our kids write Thank You notes to various relatives and although I have allowed my 11 year old to have an email account because its needed for school, I really wish he'd have a pen-pal like back in the days......I use to love to write and get mail from far away friends.
Anyways, I shipped off two bottles for a vase show at the Worchester Center For Craft. I've been in a few shows there and they are always very nice to do business with. Here a photo of the center - wish it wasn't so far away so I could visit some of these shows I've been asked to be in!
All week I've been a single parent but have been on break from my two college teaching positions. It was nice to have some down time even though I went in both Monday and Wednesday morning to teach my little students at the kids school. I thought...naturally that it would be a total studio week but alas ( I love the word...make sure you say it with your hand backwards on your fore-head and envision yourself as a Princess in distress) "Alas!"....I was a single parents of three very busy children and spent the week cleaning, organizing, feeding and running them back and forth to school as well as play practise! Once again I'm thinking of the days they were babies and how much work in my studio I really DID get done.
Thought and things going on in the studio - Winter Colors
I wish I was one of those potters who put a glaze test in the kiln every time I fire but I don't. Every once in while I get the yen to fool around with some new glazes and see what they will do. I always keep my bisque ware that has some sort of flaw it whenever I do a glaze test. What better to see a new glaze on than your own pieces!
Back in grad school I used this great amber glaze recipe that came from Penland and I was curious to see how it worked in the electric kiln. I came across my old glaze book and thought I'd give it a try just to see. Here was the result below. It is a very rich glaze in the electric kiln as was the case when I used it in the salt kiln. The only difference that the salt bleached it out a good bit more and this is pretty dark. Who'd a thought?! I was thinking how this was such a masculine color and such a winter color.
The second color I tested was a bit of black mason stain added to the rest of my aqua glaze. Once again, when I first tested my glaze base back many years ago I experimented with alot of color variation. One was adding cobalt and black mason stain to my copper carb for a wash effect. Once again my thoughts turn to Winter and I think I would use this color possibly at Christmas time. It is fun testing glazes but its hard to know what folks will like and what they won't so I like to stick to my tried and true aqua, green and yellow.
I'm making work at the current moment for a show I'm doing at Lark and Key Gallery in April. I'll get the image of that postcard up soon for everyone. Below is our card for the Spring Thrown Together show. If you look closely you can see each of the four members doing some sort of surface treatment to their piece. Mark your calendar for April 28th and 29th if your near Charlotte.


Cool cups!

The show "8Fluid Ounces2012 " came down this week but they finally posted all the really cool cups that were in the show including yours truly. I love cups shows! I know they are not great money makers because by the time you pack and ship your work and if you sell your cup you usually break even.....but I do enjoy a good cup show because its the one form that seems to have endless decorating opportunities and its just so cool to see what everyone comes up with!
This week my children have been on Spring Break but I still had students and class to take care of plus finish up an order so it wasn't a "full" break in my eyes. Joey and I decided to head up to Raleigh this weekend and deliver my pots to Cedar Creek and than push on through to Williamsburg & Richmond with the kids for a quick educational vacation. I'm looking forward to a weekend of doing something different than the norm even though gas prices are ridiculous!!
Last night was "raku" night with my beginning students. Honestly the way we do raku at Winthrop is pretty scary for the person chosen to take the pots out of the kiln so I can't say I really LOVE this assignment but, it does need to be taught. Luckily I've always been able to recruit an eager upper level student to "pull the pots" while I take care of making sure all my students hussle in a timely, organized fashion with the rest of the process. Here are two newly graduated students who are eagerly waiting to get into grad school somewhere. That was one big pot they had to pull out the kiln last night!


OPPS! What the devil happened?!

A few weeks ago Amy Sanders and Ron Philbeck came by for a little "pottery chat" and we enjoyed some pizza, beer and Amy's world famous chocolate chip cookie's!

Ron was the one who had been wanting to talk about our pots for awhile because whenever we meet we are always talking about our THROWN TOGETHER business or doing other things. It was a great idea because really now that we are all just studio potters working on our own, there isn't really anyone who can help look at those little things in your work that you tend to overlook We each brought out three pots and talked about what sort of new stuff we were thinking about doing or changing about a our work.
The photo above is a close up of the pot below and if you notice the pot below.......well, my glaze looks different and NO this was not a new glaze I was trying out!
Before I moved I made up huge amounts of my three glazes because I wasn't sure where or when I'd be able to make glazes. I knew I had a few Fall shows and thank goodness I made it through to this February with out having to make any glazes. Well, the last kiln load I noticed that I had no yellow and I needed some for a few requests. For some reason in that glaze load, I only put yellow on a few small pieces and decided this big, new flower topiary needed the yellow. To my surprise when I opened that kiln,this is what I found. A muted out ash lookin glaze!
Sighhhhh.....and than a head scratch. What the ---- happened here?
Looking back on moving and cleaning out my old studio; which we did in a matter of two days. I seem to recall a few bags ripping and some labels falling off bins. I can only conclude that something go mixed up somewhere and this was my result. Oy-vey!
Guess its time to do some investigating and testing before the Spring rush hits!
Just a final note. I enjoyed last months Ceramic Monthly in which an article was written about Linda Christensen and her graceful pottery and kind, hospitable manner when visited by some fresh faced potters several years ago. I don't have the article in front of me so I don't recall who the potter was that wrote about her. It made me smile because I just really enjoy Linda every time I have the opportunity to listen to her talk about pots. This month, Stephen Hill wrote a good article about electric firing that I also really enjoyed reading this. Its so nice to see all these great potters deciding to kick the gas kiln habit and switch over the electric to see what it can do for them. I still have my dream of firing my salt kiln and getting back into that type of firing but since I've been firing electric since I've been out of grad school...I guess I'll stick with it as long as we live in a neighborhood!


Thought about Openings - (chime in if you have a view on the subject.)

Yep, I had an opening last Thursday night.......
( awkward silence)
I've been trying to wrap my head around how I feel about Openings and really what to say about them. My children use to have this book in which you could change the events in the book depending on which way you held the book ( upside down, right side up). I sort of thought that I could approach my blog post about this opening that way. You know the upbeat side to the evening and the real feelings I have about these types of events.

So here I am, ready to post my thoughts on last Thursday evening along with really how I feel about these types of evenings I've attended over the last few years.....
Are you ready? This could get ugly......

(Jenni Brant tea bowls below, above photo is the hall wall in which some pieces were nicely displayed in glass blocks and on shelves. Here is Joey enjoying a free beer.)
I don't look forward to my own openings. I look forward to the making of my work, seeing it displayed and selling it but....I don't like attending places with folks I don't know and being expected to mingle. I was thinking last week that this same feeling would come up at High School dances. I'd go and than think ...why did I go? If I wasn't able to be like glue to one friend, I'd go hide for a few minutes in the bathroom so I didn't have to socialize. Its sort of comical in a way that I've had jobs in which I do have to talk to people - selling work, being a gallery manager, teaching. My husband and I are like two peas in a pod at an Opening. We are excited to have an adult night on our own but basically we are two introverts who freeze up once we are forced into a crowd of people.

I'm sure there are so many of you out there that will say how important it is to talk to people at these events and how much you love to go to them. Oh...if only I could relate.
( There are new Flower-balls. Basically vases with various openings to display a few flowers)
I'm also someone who would like for my friends to attend but I don't expect them to. I figure they have their own stuff to do and if they want to buy my work , they basically can just call me or come to a sale. I don't really expect other potters to come to my openings either. Being that I'm always so busy I barely have time to attend others folks openings so why should it be reciprocated. I do like going to other people openings because the pressure is off and you don't get that sinking feeling if crowds of folks are not talking to you about your work. I'm sure once our kids are grown and gone, we'll be sipping wine and enjoying these evenings like most artists do.
For me, being at a opening really doesn't give me the opportunity to push my work. Are people really there to buy or just look? When I'm at a show, standing in my booth, that is when I try and say "Hello, I'm Jen, if I can tell you about my work, just let me know". At an opening there is no way I'm walking up to a stranger to say " Hey! That's my work...want to know about it?!" I didn't even get a name tag Thursday evening so I was basically just another person off the street viewing art and sipping wine.
(flower vases by Jenni Brant)
To compound last Thursdays stressful feelings of being an introvert, we had a child who was sick. We also have one child who suffers from separation anxiety and it was a school night so those factors always play into any outside social event we plan. Sometimes it just easier to stay at home!! But...I had to go because it was my show and the other potter was from the Nebraska plus the gallery showing my work is heavily linked to the University I teach for. We had planned to have a fun-loving High School girl come watch the kids for us which everyone was excited about but instead with a sick child we recruited my Dad to help us out. What does this mean you ask? Well, it means we had to bath, feed, get homework done and find a GOOD movie for everyone to watch before Grandpa showed up. An exhausting effort! It also meant we needed to drive 40 minutes both ways , only stay 30 minutes to get back and put everyone to bed. OK folks..does this sound worth the effort to you? ( I kept upbeat during these obligation so my handsome date wouldn't bug out on me...)
I have to say we cleaned up pretty nice, dashed out the door and showed up to a pretty good crowd of folks and once again the two of us felt like deer in headlights. I went over and told the gallery owner I was there and just basically stood around, drank a beer, saw a few stickers and headed out the door with one final sentence for my husband......
(below...butter dish with new knobs on the top and a large pitcher)
" Sometimes you just got to do what you got to do"


Monkeys, demo's and shows

So...I'm sure everyone is wondering why I have an image of a monkey above.
Well, once again I have felt the push and pull of either falling behind the pack or moving myself forward in the cyber age. Last week I attempted to put up my own email/newsletter mail out through a site called " Mail Chimp". Sadly I must report that I gave up! After thinking I could do it and than being interrupted to many times during the process or just not having the patience to really read the directions and figure it out....I gave up!
I even begged and pleaded with my husband to help me only to be lectured on why I should know how to do this sort of stuff by now OR why didn't I learn basis computer 101 back in college.
( Of course this lecture was followed by many eye rolls.)
But during the entire conversation of trying to defend my right brain mentality, I started to realize how much of a bias I have towards left brain people. ( Like my husband for example.....) Now I "say" this half joking so I hope no one sends me bitter responses about the ventures of being left brain. I just want to cleanse my thoughts and admit my prejudices towards this group of folks! When you are right brained, folks tend to put you in the category as " disorganized, flighty, ditsy, scattered brain.....ect." You know you've heard these before and I venture to go further and say that some of you have even USED these terms from time to time. Yep...I know you left brainers are out there reading this!
WELL can I just state for the record that those of us who hate overly organized people, are no good at math and rather have been in the art studio creating rather than sitting in a computer lab learning how to design a website have terms that describe you all as well! I just don't think we ever get a chance to use these terms because we are so busy trying to defend ourselves or change who we are by reading books on "how to be more organized" or " basic computer 101". Blah, Blah, Blah..and the list goes on. You never hear and real creative person criticize someone who's not as unique by saying" You need creativity 101" or " Why don't you take a class in relaxing and enjoying life instead of organizing stuff all the time!" Yep, I'm here as the spokes person for this group. Don't get me wrong, I spend a lot of time trying to keep my family on a schedule and my kids from not losing everything that comes home. But when I run into, lets just say Math teachers how expect everyone to color coat all assignments, dot every number and turn in everything on time,well...naturally I want to dump a can paint on them!
But enough about that, hopefully this month I'll either bribe my husband into getting my account up or I'll just put it off a bit more and continue to just create in my studio.
Peter Beasecker was our visiting artist at Winthrop this week. He was great! He is now the head of the ceramic department at Syracuse and I'm sure the program is going to take off. What a nice day I had listening to him and watching him make pots.
Just look at these great porcelain cups below!!
I have my opening with Jenni Brant this week. Sadly the gallery that I'm showing my work for is closing after this show. They have been open for 7 years and I guess the town they are in just can not support this type of gallery. All in all I'm honored to have a show there and hope some folks will come out to see my new work. I have worked on a few new forms but as you read below....still have not been able to photograph them correctly. Maybe next month I'll jump on that horse again as well.


The discombobulation of it all.....

I'm sure everyone is so proud of me for looking up that enormous word and getting it right!!
The word DISCOMBOBULATED is used so much in my house. It just fits so many scenario's that we deal with on a daily basis. Its fits so many of my studio situations that I think I may need to commission a sign to hang outside my new studio building with colorful letters to spell out the word! Maybe it should say.........
" Warning....Discombobulated Potter on board"
In my studio I'm still living out of boxes and bins. I was impressed that my studio was built so quickly that in the Fall I thought for sure I'd be moved in over Christmas break. This thought and optimism made me work with the bare-bones all Fall. I really don't use that many tools in my studio and now I've even scaled back more since I can't find everything anyways. This pen that is in the photo above was a real find a few weeks ago because I only like to use a certain sort of tip for cleaning up my lines and edges around the springs on my pots. I think my family even heard the giggly laughter from the garage when I found this.
These last few weeks I've been plugging along on various things. At the moment I'm getting ready to glaze another kiln load for my show at Gallery UP next week. My newest "Discombobulated" issue is my light box. I really need some photo's taken of work for various shows and galleries but my paper background is no where to be found! Each day I go out to my garage in search of it, with no luck. If only Kinko's or Office Max offered craftpeople a little pop-up light box area to run over and snap a few quick images! Yet again, only in my pretend world........
So, I'll continue to look today in my discombobulated garage and maybe fate will shine down on me and turn up the lost gradated photo paper. Until than, as they say I'm just plain out of luck!


Flora - Gallery UP


I got a nice email from the folks at Gallery Up the other day. They did a nice write about the show I'll be participating in with Jenni Brant. They even have an interactive blog where they asked up questions about our work and you can go in and read our responses. This gallery is right in the heart of downtown Rock Hill and although I travel there two days a week to teach at Winthrop, I sadly have to admit I don't get to any of their openings. I do however go on their site and "stalk" to see what shows they have coming up!

If you get a chance, click here click on the name above and take a tour around their site and check out a Gallery blog!


Hanging out ...just thinking.

Guess I should not really admit it but I'm just sitting here near the fire with a cup of coffee this morning trying to get up and going. There is a space in the corner of my mind that keep telling me over and over again that if I do something 17 times in a row, it will become a new habit.

On Tuesday and Thursday this Fall my usual routine was getting up at 6:30, taking the kids to school and coming home and falling back into bed until 9 or so. If you use to read my blog you'd know that I work very late into the evening and last Fall, this was true again. I also teach every Tuesday and Thursdays and leave the house at 11am so .....as you see, I didn't have a whole lot of time to work during the day because I was sleeping.
So, my new routine this Spring is go to bed at 10 and not work in my studio in the evening. If I get a good cup of coffee these mornings, wake up and do some studio work before heading off to spend the afternoon with my pottery students, I'll feel pretty good about myself! Evening these days with a child in middle school has proved to be a bit nuts. My son has homework from the time he gets home until about 9pm and with the twins in toe, we are pretty busy in the evenings keeping everyone organized, on task and just getting things done . By the time I get out to work in my studio...my mind is pretty much shot.
Life is such a new journey ever year in the world of parenthood. Its always constantly changing and I've learned to be like Stretch Armstrong in the flexibility department. I also enjoy living in my own little reality of what I can and can't do the older I get. Push, push, push...but I've learned since our stresses of last year to slow it down a bit. Our move was such a good one and every day when I hop into our car and it only takes 4 minute to successfully get our kids school, I relies how incredibly lucky we were to sell our home. I can't believe I use to commute 1/2 each way every day with our children. I'm sure once my new studio is complete I'll be back to a few evenings and flopping back into bed for a 1/2 snooze. But for right now..I'll wake up with a nice cup on Joe in a variety of great pottery mugs and get myself out to work. ( This morning I have a Matt Jones cup in my hand!)
As always Calvin, one of my alter ego's, says it the best!


I have a couple of neat shows on the horizon!

I enjoy booking shows years advance because it gives me something to kick my "you know what" in gear!
Honestly gallery shows make me want to come up with new items and ideas and hopefully in the next few weeks that is what I'll be doing.
Here are some folks I'll be showing with in the next few months.
Jenni Brant of Lincoln Nebraska will be showing with me at Gallery UP in Rock Hill, SC. Look at all that slip trailing she does!
I was not familiar with Jenni's work but I understand she was in Ceramics Month in 2008 for an Emerging Artist write up. Its always fun to see and learn of new potters - isn't it?!
This show is right around the corner in February so just today I finally got going on throwing again. GULP!
In April I'll have some new pieces at Lark and Key with a painter by the name of Honora Jacob. She is from Austin Texas and I just love her work.
Look at all those great oranges she does along with my signature colors of aqua and green and touch of red! I've just started adding some orange lines to my pieces so this is the perfect venue to do more with that new stain.
When you get a chance look over my show list for 2012. I'll slowly keep adding things as they come in for the year.
Happy first week of January to everyone!


ITS WORKING...First post of 2012 and its working!!

Guess all my blog needed was a new calendar year!!
Imagine the shock today when I attempted to re-do my entire blog today!
Around September after our big move I attempted to get on my blog a number of times and could not post a thing. You'll see by my last entry ( which I just uploaded) that September was my last post. For some reason Blogger locked me out and no matter who I asked, how many emails I sent I could not post a thing. Low and behold today I sat down to work on my website and just logged into my blogger account and finally posted the September "news"! I'm so blown over I really don't know what to say or where to start with my blog since I've been gone for so long!
So much to say and not enough time to write so I'll just highlight the Fall thus far......
We love our new house and so happy we moved!
Clayton and I are here enjoying our new kitchen and all the great sunlight we get now. Old houses have alot of character but lets face it, a new house is easier to clean and not so dark. ( Of course Clayton misses all the mice we had at the old house!)
For Christmas I got insulation for my studio.
Work on my studio is slow but I know we'll keep plugging along on moving me in there. The electric is done and the kiln is hooked up but the floor coating, walls and added "stuff" will still take awhile to get done. Time and money is always an issue.
I've been in a few shows...
Since we moved to be closer to school for the kids, I took on another part-time teaching job. I am currently teaching at Winthrop to afternoons a week and still teaching my online art history courses as well. I also agreed to help out at the kids school teaching pre-school art two morning a week. It has been a nice challenge for me and the kids are so good! My children love having me at school and coming up with projects for "little minds" has been good for me. Of course with no studio and new adventures, my production has been cut down a bit and I didn't apply to as many shows. But...I did curate a show with Amy Sanders at Lark and Key gallery in Charlotte. It was a dinnerware show geared to pottery Mom's. Here is my set below!
Here is my booth at the Carolina Designer Craftsmen Guild show. Fellow blogger Tracey Broom got into the guild this year. I was on the jury and I'd like to think I helped out with that!
Helping Mom...
The older the kids get, the more they help out with with my pottery business. Here are the girls helping stamp what seems like a million postcards for the 4th Annual Hen House Show. I'm so thankful that we made the move to North Carolina and put the girls back into such a good school. They both repeated 2nd grade this year and Mckenna is getting extra help for her dyslexia and other issues. Big Brother started middle school this year and continues to work super hard to keep his grades up and stuff his brain full of facts and figures. What a change from last years adventures in schooling!
Still the multi-tasking Mom...
So while my new studio is still being built, I stay in flux working from our garage and toting pots down slippery steps, through the back yard to my kiln. The garage door stays open on warm days so I can watch the kids ride bikes and play with various children in our new neighborhood. Some days when the garage door is shut, the kitchen door remains cracked so I know whats going on in the house.
I have to admit, I do wonder what life with be like with my entire studio in one location and not attached to the house anymore. I have a few great windows for looking out into our wooded yard but in the back of mind I wonder if I might need an intercom system so I can be like "Big Brother" keeping in every now and then to see whats going on in the house. Seems like I'm creating a new chapter in my "Mud Mama" book!
Happy New Year Folks!
We are all looking forward to new year. Here's to all the hardworking craftsmen, parents and fellow friends out in Cyber Land. Hopefully I'll be able to get back into the blogging world in 2012!


The Flexibility of it all...

...and right before my eye's, I have a studio!
We moved into our new home around the end of August and Joey and I quickly made the decision that I could not pot in the new garage. I didn't trust myself with the clean up or having the kiln in there so we quickly got into the car that weekend while the house was still overtaken with boxes, and we ordered a barn.
It only took a week to get the building permit and figure out how big it needed to be. ( This is 16X16 with a concrete pad off the back for my kilns.) The workman showed up yesterday at 8am, completed it a 8pm and constructed the entire building on site. It was pretty amazing to watch.
So now we have the electrical, water, dry all, caulking, paintings and all the other stuff that needs to be done but I still can not believe me eyes that it is there and its my own space. How did that happen???
ON to what else has been going on.......
Last weekend the girls and I went to the NC Potters show/sale at the Mint Museum of art. In all the years its been there, I have never had a chance to attend. There are alot of great potters that do that show and hopefully now the I live in NC, maybe one day I'll get asked to do it as well.
Here are the twins standing in this huge bamboo maze built near the Mint on the green. It was sort of hot day so I had to do the quick pottery tour and I also managed to buy and lovely Shino mug from Bruce Gholdson. Years ago when I worked at Cedar Creek I use to drull over his Shino pieces but never had the money to buy any. Fifteen years later, he's making some shino pieces again so I grab a mug!
Next weekend the Thrown Together Crew will have our annual Fall Sale. My boss, Jim Connell and his wife Paula Smith will be out quests along with a former college from Clayworks - Allyssa Woods. I won't have a lot of pots for sale but some. I'm allowing myself a little "slack" in that departments since I spent the summer packing and moving. For more information on the sale you can check out our page on Facebook.
I have thrown a few pieces in the garage. ( See how clean it is...!)
Last weekend I left the door open so I could keep on eye on the kids riding around the neighborhood. I think many of our new neighbors wondered what I was doing in here!Of course Joey had to come out with the camera and take some photo's of me "instructing" the kids on where they were going and typical Mom questions.. ( looks like I'm yelling something here...) giggle
You all have a great September and I'll try to post more photo's of my studio during the process of getting it up and going. Very exciting times here at the Jen Mecca studio!


Celebrations of life, work, new adventures and family

Summer is almost done folks, can you believe it?! This is been my summer of re-grouping, enjoying family time and moving on to new adventures.

We just got back from our summer vacation up in Central NY. This year we had a special occasion to celebrate which was my parents 50th wedding anniversary ( aren't they cute below..) So for all of us married folks out there who are still counting the years, my parents give hope to the fact that you can make it work through the good and bad. We had a small celebration dinner for them in a town which is my families favorites on earth...Skaneateles NY. If you ever get near Syracuse , you have to go!
We got to spend an entire week up near Ithaca. How many of your bloggers out there know this guy? Yep, the one and only Gary Rith was on our " stopping" list this trip. He was great with the kids and he made some custom mugs for my girls. We fell in love with his animals needless to say....

We spent alot of time hiking several gorges and waterfalls. That is one of the things Central NewYork is known for. Here a shot from Watkins Glen State Park.
We bunked at a lake house where I spent most of my summer with a childhood friend. It was bitter sweet going back because her lake house is no longer in use by her family. The kids swam morning, noon and night while Joey and I enjoyed NY state wine, relaxation and the cool breeze that came off the lake. We also had a family of ducks that came to visit every morning.
We did sell our old house in York Sc and as they use to say on the show "The Jefferson's", we're moving on up! In the next few weeks we'll be moving into the yellow house in the photo below. We were very lucky with the housing market and found a house near the kids school that met all our "room" requirement. Who ever it was that was upset with the fact I was home schooling can rest assured that our children will be going back to good school , (that we will be paying for..) and Mckenna will be able to get all the reading help she needs. She has had an excellent summer and I don't regret for a minute taking her out of school and giving her all the encouragement and help I could. I think teachers these days just have to many kids and not enough time to really focus on a child who is crying out for help. Teaching them is only half of what teachers SHOULD be doing. Nurturing, encouraging and knowing each child is that other half... ( obviously its a topic that still "stings" a bit for me!)

Incidentally, that garage on the side of the house will be my new studio. It has windows and a cooling system believe it out not so until we can scrimp and save to build me something...this will be my new pottery home. My salt kiln will also be getting a new home in Concord NC. "She" will be rebuilt at Allison McGowen's house and we plan on giving workshops together out at her place so....that was a big relief for me! Joey and I looked and looked for a house out in the country but just could not find what we needed so you make do with what you can!
The kids enjoyed a lot of creative camps this year. Here the girls learned to make fashions out of recycled material.....it was a hoot!
And finally, yes....pots have been made in my studio. I just updated my show listings so far for the year so when you get a chance, go to my side bar and see where I will be this Fall. In two weeks, I'm back up to Blowing Rock and looking forward to it!
Take care everyone! Jen


Stuck In Reverse......

I was out taking one of my power walks this evening; one of the best ways I know to clear my head, get some energy, enlighten the endorphins and just breath. The headphones go on to drown out all the noise in the world but seeing what the rest of the world is up to while my brain is focused on my own little world is comforting.

While walking this evening the song called " FIX YOU" by Coldplay came on and my brain quickly focused in on the lyrics and one little person in my life popped into my head. Weeks go by and things come up in my studio or life and I think to myself " I need to go blog about this".

Some of us use our blogs to share information, some of of us use it to purge our thoughts and of course I've talked about this before going back and forth with what I myself use this forum for. The moment passes by once the thought enters my head and I switch gears to something else and the thoughts and words that I want to get down are lost. Many times when I walk. I'm writing in my head. Some days this even happens while I'm throwing on my wheel and I think to myself how great it would be if I had one of those little hand-held tape recorders you to see detectives use in spy films. So in my mind, my blog has been going on. I just haven't shared it with anyone. But tonight, this evening after everyone is fast asleep and I have finished up some mugs, I decided to sit down and share.

Last time I left off with my blog I talked alittle bit about giving up writing for other more important things - like my family. Slowly, every since last year, 2010, I've had little person in the house that needed a lot of attention and some "Fixing" I guess we could say. I've often talked about all my reading issues as a kid and this year, after watching one of daughters slowly melt down while attending a new school we found out that she too has some pretty complicated learning issues and was really in need of more of my attention. I'll say it once again, I have learned so much about myself from my children and this experience has paralleled my own experiences at her age. The one who tends to push my buttons the most turns out to be the most like me and everything in my world has just flip flopped. Priorities that use to be high on my list are at the bottom.

I ended up taking both our girls out of school and decided to home school them for the remainder of the school year. I felt like I owed my twins a little "re-wind" so to speak for all the times I had left at night to teach a class or relied on Dad to take care of things. Dads are great but sometimes, if there is a Mom in the picture...kids just need Mom. When I started to just have the girls with me 247 at home, I saw myself at that age and what I had gone through and just decided to slow down with studio work and enjoy "fixing" my little person who has just needed someone to understand why her brain doesn't work like the rest of her classmates, siblings and friends.

I've gone through so many phases of how to deal with being Dyslexic and having ADHD all my life. All the feelings of being dumb as a kid, which my daughter is going through at the moment, insecurity through out High School, to trying to explain my special needs in college to professors and even laughing it off when boyfriends or friends teased me about my spelling and disorganization. I recently read a great article by Trudi Styler ( Stings wife) about living with ADHD and how hard it is on adult relationships. I've joined an organization for Dyslexics in which I get publication via the web with all sorts of information that I never knew before. Now that I am raising a child who reminds me of all the struggles, tutors and tests I endured as a child, it brings up so many feelings. All a mother wants to do is protect her young. A mother will drop everything to "Fix" her child that is hurting. Back in my head the anger of years of my own struggles and insecurities about succeeding just come to the surface ever time I try to teach my 8 year old how to write, spell the simplest of words, and make her feel good about herself. I get angry now sometimes at people who don't understand what it like to have dyslexia and I realise my child will go through the same teasing as I did and still do. People don't understand that most children with dylexsia and ADHD have very high IQ in the gifted range. They understand that they don't learn like everyone else and its frustrating.

Like myself, this child of ours can draw and create and sing like none of our other children can. She'll be fine, with extra help and will have to work as hard as I do to get ahead. My work ethic does not come from a strong moral background. It comes from years of being told I could not do something and this experience as a parent of a child with the same struggles as myself, has been my "Ah-ha" moment. (As Oprah would say.)

Shows, orders and huge blocks of time have come and gone this year in my studio. The blog and the website have cobwebs.

I've managed to keep up with the sales/shows that really matter to me and I would hate to loose. The group of potters that support me keep me going. My shelves remain bare after a sales because I never have time for extra inventory, but that's Ok with me.

At the moment all the rushing to keep up doesn't matter as much to me. All I want to do is "Fix" my little mini-me and help her feel better about herself and when I start seeing some confidence and acceptance for who she is and how she'll have to work that much harder than the other children, than I'll feel Ok. At that time, whenever that is, I'll get back to me and really pushing my clay career.

On a side note, our kids will all be back attending the private school they went to before this year and Joey and I will go back to trying to figure out how to pay for it. Nothing is more important these days than having your kids get a good education and being in a safe and supportive enviroment. I've taken on yet another teaching job at this school, along with my other two. I'll be working with the 3 and 4 year old in the pre-school program teaching art. I'm looking forward to teaching the little folks in the morning and than rushing over to teach my 20 year old at Winthrop in the afternoon. Once again, we sacrifice for our kids. Teaching at the kids school helps with tuition and also will be a great way for my little girls to see me and for my "mini-me" to feel secure knowing I'm around the corner 2 days a week.

Joey and I also put our house on the market to move closer to our kids school. I'm happy to report our house sold in one week and now we are feverishly looking for a house, over the boarder in North Carolina that also has a studio space for me. I think I deserve to get off the back porch and have my own building to work in. If we can swing North Carolina taxes, I will finally be a North Carolina potter, which has more opportunities than being a South Carolina potter.
So, that's where I have been. The struggles and my own "ah-ha" moment this year. I am still making pots but instead of rushing around to try and make deadlines, I'm rushing to go take a walk with the girls, or help with reading and writing or just being there one on one to listen to worries, joys and fears from some very deserving little people that mean the world to me.

Here's a little Coldplay for your enjoyment. I love this video because its just the lyrics...which of course I think are great. Enjoy!