Category Archives: life

The New Shop

someday soon, this rubble will be transformed into a wall of sinks

Just thought I’d drop a quick note about the new space. We officially signed a lease for the space last week and will be opening this spring. It’s both incredibly exciting and time intensive. While the demolition is taking place we’re organizing all the things that go into the space. Tables, pottery equipment, lighting, display, plumbing and on and on.
If your interested in the goings on with the space I invite you to follow @theworkshopmpls on Instagram!

Spring, Sprang, Sprung!

 

 

 

Getting outside at Afton State Park

Blue skies and fleet feet

 

I’ve decided to change up this month’s update a bit. I’m combining the March and April updates into one update. I’ve had a few requests for a weekend update and so the next update will be Sunday April 3 at 12:00 central. Changing the schedule gives me a little more leeway to get outside and recharge my batteries for my studio time! As a happy potter makes (more) happy pots!

 

 

 

The last box

I’m a sucker for a good deadline. Always pulling term papers out in the final hours before a due date or tweaking a project with moments to spare, I like the energy of sucking the marrow of every second I have, it’s almost better than coffee. In that spirit there is always “the last kiln”. Experience has taught me to start this last kiln a little earlier. Hot pots are hard to wrap and tend to melt bubble wrap. So, last night the last kiln was born, allowed to cool, wrapped and boxed. It’s now on the plane with me to California for Stitches West. The box and I are looking forward to seeing green things and liquid water. You can find us in booth 931!  

    

 

Happy Holidays

 

Bennie at Cookie Fiesta

Bennie at Cookie Fiesta

Hope everyone has has a happy holiday season! We had a jam packed Christmas with four celebrations over two days. One of our traditions is the cookie Fiesta, which takes place at my mom’s house. This year it was a two day bonanza of all things butter and yum.  I believe we made fifteen different varieties of cookies, although with my current blood sugar levels I may have missed one or two.

Each year we try and reduce the number of cookies made, reducing the recipes down to the “it wouldn’t be the holidays without x.”  Mom is sneaky though, and sidesteps the rule by pre making additional varieties siting such excuses as, ” It was the paper’s best cookie of 2011″ , “the knitting ladies recommended this recipe” or “we needed more chocolate.” Hard to argue with. Over the years she clips more and more recipes becoming more like my Gram, her mom.

My gram had file cabinets, seriously FILE CABINETS of recipe clippings, booklets and cards. Hers ran the gamut from weird 1950’s vegetable aspics to artichoke appetizers with healthy helpings of “Microwave cookery” and “Pillsbury’s Blue Ribbon Winners” thrown in.  My mom seems to lean more toward the butter end of the spectrum with cookie and bar recipes. (brushes crumbs off key board) I support this trend.

So, in the spirit of cookie Fiesta, what is your favorite cookie or bar that you love around the holidays. I’m starting our research for 2016.

I raise a sugar cookie to traditions, family and friends. I hope you all have a fantastic finish to 2015!

Sugar cookies

Sugar cookies

Methods

New method

I’ve been making pottery for many years now and like anything you’ve spent years doing, I’ve become quite entrenched in my method of making. The character of my pots in large part comes from my way of carving the designs and motifs on my hand thrown pottery.

After my forced rest from clay work this summer I had to reassess my method of making and find ways to reduce the amount of carving I had in my pottery.  Immensely frustrating to begin with,  eventually I found I could add designs and motifs in different ways to the clay surface. I  broke down each motif into smaller elements.  I used my carving time to create hand carved lino stamps to impress into the clay surface while freshly thrown. The color on these pots comes from a different layering of underglazes and glazes too. I think the spirit of my work is the same, the result is different.

Building stock for this show was a dance between throwing and carving for a bit and then switching to the new method.  I’m quite smitten with making these new pots. It’s brought back some play to the act of making pots. Many of these are coming along to the show,  along with many in the traditional method and style I’m known for.  I do hope you all like them.

 

 

 

Intersection and Small bits, coming soon . . .

Modified Thumbs Up

Modified Thumbs Up, the thumb goes to the splash pad.

It’s been an interesting summer here in Potterville. A bike mishap coupled with my normal activities (biking, pottery, weightlifting, knitting etc) has made a masterful stew of inflammation with the oh so glamorous name Intersection Syndrome**. It’s a painful condition, and I’m immobilized with a splint.

Unfortunately this has all sorts of everyday repercussions. Mine is largely a life led one handed. One of the more frustrating challenges has been no wheel work. I have not been actively throwing, trimming or carving for a few months now. This has been quite the challenge. My hand therapists assure me I will be back to work soon, and so I remain positive. Somedays I am more succesful than others.

This has unfortunately affected my fall schedule and I am unable to attend one of my favorite events, The Wisconsin Sheep and Wool Festival early this September. The event organizers have been kind enough to save my spot for 2016, and so I’ll be back next year. This schedule change will help me take some extra time to resume my work s l o w l y. I’m typically a bit of a tornado before a show, and my studio work will be more of a drip than a proper storm when it resumes.

It’s mind numbingly  s l o w this soft tissue healing. Most days I look forward to going to bed in the hopes that the following morning I’ll wake up and my hand will feel better. It’s an odd mental shift as I typically relish my first morning thought of, “What can I make today” Instead it has been,  “What can I do to safely mark time until I’m better?” There have been some silver linings, mostly more time with the kiddos and some longer than expected vacations. It’s really been mixed and has made me even more aware of how challenging it is for me to be idle.

pile o' pendants

pile o’ pendants

I have been amassing quite the selection of small bits, buttons, pendants and stitch markers in the studio. I’m in the process of prepping some of these for online sale. The photography has been slow going. Did you know this ENTIRE WORLD seems to be created for right handed folks? (All my SLR buttons and toggles are on the right.) Photo editing is also a hoot with your non dominant hand. Try it. It’s soo fun. (by fun I mean frustrating) We’ve taken to modifying most everything these days. Including my thumbs up.

I’m almost finished with the editing, and the posts will go live on my Etsy shop this Sunday after 12 noon Central. I’m not sending out a email notification for this small bits sale, as there will not be pots. I’ll be announcing it on Twitter, Ravelry and Instagram too!

intersection syndrome

**For those interested in the pathophisioloigy of Intersection syndrome here’s an excerpt from MedScape

“The condition has long been held to be caused by friction from the overlying extensor pollicis brevis (EPB) and abductor pollicis longus (APL) tendons.[8] Tensile and shearing stresses in the tendons and peritendinous tissues may lead to thickening, adhesions, and cellular proliferation. Subsequent swelling and proliferation of tenosynovium may cause pain, as these tissues are compressed within the unyielding second extensor compartment.”

 

Wahoo! Green things!!

Tilling and grading

Coming back from Maryland Sheep and Wool is always the unofficial start of Spring around here. I leave Minnesota when its almost Spring, drive to Maryland where it is most definitely Spring and then drive back in time for Minnesota to bust out the blooms. After long cold winters I always want to shout, “Wahoo! Green things!!”

Last year we were fortunate to lease a community garden space a block from our house. We have always grown veggies, but as our trees mature in our yard we have less and less full sun for the plants to soak up. The community garden space is in full sun most of the day, score! We leased a plot again this year and the kids were super getting all the manure tilled into the space.

Lily and her rake
Our plants this year will include many many tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, broccoli, brussel sprouts, kale, onions, shallots, summer squash, beans, collard greens, cucumbers and lots of herbs. I’ll post pictures of the garden throughout the growing season, it is fun to watch it grow!

Bennie the digger

California Dreaming . . .

It’s been head down, all hands on deck time in the studio as we prepare for the trip to Stitches West in Santa Clara, CA. I’m bringing LOTS of pots, stitch markers, ornaments and buttons. (Oh! SO many buttons! Bring your swatches and yarn samples along to the market )

I’ll be in booths 933, 935 & 937.

picture of packaged buttons!

buttons!

 

Here’s a few studio shots to whet your whistle. I have one more kiln to flip before I depart on Tuesday morning. The last kiln gets to accompany me on the plane. (Delta please be kind) As the temperature here in Minneapolis has been pretty arctic lately I’m very much looking forward to the warmer weather out West!

picture of cups in progress

cups in progress

 

 

Can you Canoe? *

 

 

We took a wee camping trip. The kids both had their first canoe adventure. Worried they would tip the canoe, we were pleased the appropriate canoe fear kicked in. So much so, we are hoping for a longer trip later this summer.  The Boundary Waters is such a magical place. Even if you go during black fly season. I’m pretty sure I still have bug bites, and we’ve been home for a few weeks now.

Bisqued buttons

Since we returned I have been working on new projects and preparing for a few new things to come. (stay tuned)The studio has been in high button production and I think we have around 500 waiting to be glazed. Really. They’re so innocent and small, yet take so much time when amassed like this.

Meow

We stumbled across this crazy old foam stamp, and it’s our current favorite. Crazy little kitty. I just couldn’t help glazing them all a different color. Pretty sure I’ll have to make a sweater for a certain little lady in the house with kitty buttons. Meow.

*Can you Canoe? is an album from one of our favorite bands here, The Okee Dokee Brothers. It’s pretty much in constant rotation here. If you are looking for great family friendly music check them out!

Superior

Pictures from a winter trip to Duluth. We stayed on Lake Superior and had front row seats for the changing lake. The temperature dropped from 20 F to -20 F over one evening and we were able to watch a spectacular lake change. What was peaceful and calm shoreline the day before (first picture on the left) was replaced by a crazy twinkly ice covered shoreline the next. The waves broke off all the snow on the shoreline and coated it in water from the lake. It froze leaving everything beautifully incased in ice. The lake temperature was warmer than the air temperature causing the lake to steam.