Category: pottery

a month

13411862_10208363446235263_2117676587360267764_oIt has been a just over four weeks since everything changed.

Honestly the transformation started nearly eighteen months ago, sped up considerably this time last year, but the past four weeks have accelerated the process to the speed of light.

As i write, i have a job, one that requires 40 hours a week and will pay me regularly, and for that i am on my knees with gratitude. The stress of trying to make it solely through art, alone, with my health suffering for so long, was intolerable. i was breaking down.  It made my art – especially my writing – suffer.

For most of this job search, i was afraid on so many different levels.  i am an artist, an acquired taste, a round ball of strange.  To find a place that can tolerate all that – and the terrible staggering awkwardness that my body often adopts instead of graceful movement – is fantastic.

But this is a blog about the business of art.  And, thankfully, that business continues.  In one month, i have written (and typed in) a notebook full of poetry, done more drawings that i can remember, finished writing a novel, and begun working on a short story that amuses me more than i can express.  i have never written from the POV of a planet before.

Today, as i gallery sit in Southwest Harbor, i feel more centered in my calling than i have since Darwin the dog died.  Going into my studio has been hard, and something for which i have had very little time.  13483087_10208363947087784_3077929633202552197_oAs soon as i could throw again after surgery, my kiln died, so the pottery side of everything has been stalled rather horribly.  i await a paycheck or art sales to get new elements and relays, and then, i will be back up and running after this year and a half long stream of catastrophe.

i imagine i will release a deep sigh as that first kiln begins to click and heat up.  This will be the physical proof of my breaking out of this confining suffering and into a new, (glorious!) stage of life.

Indeed, it gets even better: sometime in early August, i will be teaming up with another artist and potter. He is phenomenally gifted and i am truly honored he wants to work with me. This is an endless source of personal delight, but will alter the flow of my life (and creativity) again.  This change could not be more welcome; it will be wonderful to have the studio being used more frequently. i cannot wait to see what art pours out of its doors.

Honestly, i have begun to realize that this recent journey through the darkness has given me wonderful gifts.  Somewhere underneath all the poetry and daydreams, there lies a core of tempered steel.  It can flex and move without breaking. As long as i remember that this resilience resides inside my core, especially during moments of overwhelm and despair, i think i will be able to survive.13490800_10208368963573193_3510292570587586590_o

Also, i needed to prove to myself, and maybe to the source from which my art flows, that i can actually do the hard work of life.  i have been scared and anxious for so long – to have fate force me up into a standing position, to demand such sacrifice from me, was deeply uncomfortable. Yet, i am standing.  i am slowly, haltingly, moving forward as an artist and as a woman.

Running this business for so long, alone, had left my confidence gutted.  i did not have all the skills that i needed to be successful.  This is not a whine, this is simple truth. i have grown too tired of self-recrimination to give myself a hard time over this anymore.  We all have our abilities, our talents, and i cannot keep hating the fact that there are aspects to running a business – especially finances and marketing – to which i am not equal.

Also, perhaps, i have grown a bit wiser – not many people can survive flawlessly alone.  Why would i think that i am any different?  The condition of lonely solitude had gone on for so long, i forgot that i could reach out and ask for help.  Now, i know i can.  There will be hands to catch me.

So, today, i am simply grateful. i had a wonderful dog, i have had all these years where i was married to making art.  My body is tired but functioning; my mind, likewise.  And here i am, once more, handing poetry and art to you in my open hands.

 

 

poem: it takes time

Oh, God, it takes time.

One painting,
learning animation,
writing the book.
Art has always been
more than this moment,
pouring from my pen,
an ecstasy of stillness and flow.

It is labor,
work,
learning and failure.

Pieces pass through
chaos and the ugly stage,
riding beauty
where once only awkwardness
existed.

But, it takes time,
it demands patience,
it involves effort
and hope
and maybe madness.

Will i end up
the homeless woman
dragging around notebooks
and sketchpads
unable to give up?
Shouting at those
who think i am insane,
“It just takes time!”

26 september 2015

seventy-five pounds

IMG_1582On the 23rd of May, i hurt my left shoulder for the second time this year – an incident that left me screaming and clutching my arm to my chest.  For days, normal activity was severely compromised and making pottery out of the question.  Pain made me mostly useless.

Today, three weeks later, i threw seventy-five pounds of clay and transformed it into IMG_1579 eighteen lovely bowls.  For the first time in months, no piece failed; even as i got tired and sore, my coordination didn’t suffer.

i found myself singing with joy.  i kept murmuring thanksgivings.

This kind of blessing during a time of struggle gives the heart hope.  If i can throw seventy-five pounds of clay, i kept marveling as i finished the last, largest bowl, then maybe everything else is possible.  What a joyous notion!

Let’s see what i can get done tomorrow, and what art will come to me while i am at Artspace Gallery in Rockland on Monday.

The Blessings in New Year’s Day

studio5I love my studio.  It was part of the reason I chose this house in the first place, after working in a tiny studio in Virginia or in my condo’s small living-room.  Two floors, the upper that could be private, a sanctum sanctorum for art, and the other for teaching and messy, muddy work.  The big door to bring in canvases and (as it turned out) kilns, wheels and tables. It felt decadent.  I had space for kilns and wheels and slab rollers and tables.  I could teach and make art on a level that I had not previously conceived.

Today, Lara Max was kind enough to watch the pop up after we drew for the raffle today (we only have one more full day – given the weather coming in Sunday, we’re going to let artists start collecting their work at 2 pm Saturday) and during those lovely empty hours of the afternoon my friend Melisenda Ellis helped me with a project I had been stressing over and avoiding:  moving my wheel into the house so that I can keep making pottery this winter.  There was a huge part of me that resisted this change, even though it was unavoidable.

Heating two buildings last winter was crippling financially – I just cannot do it again.  Now, there will be times I can work in the studio – just after a kiln has fired while it is heated by red-hot pottery wrapped up inside fire-brick – but to get the bulk of whatever sculpting and throwing I want to do this winter done would require my wheel and tools to be here in the house. Praying for a miracle windfall of cash has not been as effective as making do with the resources I have: a spare room in the warm house.  By Halloween, I had moved the glazes (and the shelves required for them) to the house (again, thanks Mel).  However, the wheel had been too much for that dayDSCN5425, both physically and psychologically.

Today, even though it was cold, we had no ice, no snow and (thanks to Mel’s kindness) two strong women to muscle the equipment over.  The wheel now sits on hard plastic in my spare bedroom.  While we worked, I had an epiphany on how to protect the walls and floor from clay splatter and how to set up my tools for easy access.

A lot of them sit in the kitchen, waiting to be washed so I can start my work for the winter with that last box of porcelain.

tovanquishthesefears
to vanquish these fears – i force my arms to open – i begin to dance (one of the prizes in today’s raffle)

After Mel left and I sat here on the couch being exhausted, listening to my back mumble curses at me, I realized this was one of the best New Year’s blessings I could have gotten: two good friends willing to help me out.  Lara made phone calls for me – something that is a greater kindness than she could know.  Mel’s willingness to lend her strength and stamina to push my dreams a little further has consistently left me grateful.  A chance to continue making art – vanquishing my worries about the change of venue – is a blessing beyond compare.  If I am honest, I will tell you: I already miss the studio.  This solution is not perfect.  I will have to be quite vigilant about clay dust and mess (and curious cats) in the house.  The rhythm of my work will change, without doubt.  However, the important part is that the work will continue. New ideas and challenges already bubble up in my imagination. I already know what my first post-firing project will be – how to best use the slab roller and the work table when I can be in the studio, exploiting a brief gust of heat.

It will be another few days before the spare bedroom is ready for me to be actively throwing and by that time my back will stop complaining about today’s lifting (and it could have been so much worse – Mel moved the clay for me!)

But, today was a new beginning – like every day, every moment.  This particular beginning was proof that I am not alone in this world – that I still have good friends and my art.

Really, what more could I have asked for?

 

 

Aw.

IMG_5588I threw seventy-five pounds of clay today – creating chip and dips, salad bowls, knitting bowls and a few other odds and ends.  In the middle of what promised to be my largest bowl, my favorite rib snapped in half.  The bowl tore in half, but that was nothing compared to my dismay at losing this particular rib.

I bought it at Manassas Clay when I was first learning pottery (and really terrible at it.)  This rib moved with me through all the levels of development, until I could throw lovely thin bowls that made my heart sing with delight.

IMG_5589It was at least twelve years old, probably even older.  Given that I used it nearly every day I have thrown, I shouldn’t be complaining that it finally died.  Only, I am.  It’s like losing a small, inanimate friend.  I threw my first pieces without it, two huge salad bowls and then one massive serving bowl, and felt its loss keenly.  I told my students I should have some kind of eulogy for my favorite rib:

You worked well, lovely little bowl rib.  Job well done.  Now I appear to be a good enough potter to get along without you, but darn, I am missing your perfect curves already.  I keep sighing and shaking my head at the senselessness of your loss.  Rest in pieces.

It took until 1 o’clock

IMG_5530The floors are still a clay covered mess, and a whole “region of shame” hides behind a three panel screen, but the studio is finally clean enough that I am not oozing shame over its condition.

Perhaps, I am still lightly dripping shame, but that I can deal with.

So far, the early birds for the Maine Craft Weekend have not minded the state of this obviously working studio – for which I am quite grateful – and they have been kind and encouraging.  Darwin has been enjoying all the cookies.  IMG_5529At this rate, I’m not sure he should have supper, but with his raging case of PYFD (Post Yummy Forgetful Disorder) I am sure he will believe he has never eaten in his life and demand kibble.

I am grateful.  Of course, I don’t know how this winter will turn out, and I am still overwhelmed with work, but I get the chance to spend an outrageous amount of time making art.  That is enough to make me sing thanksgivings.

Saturday, 11 October 2014IMG_5528   IMG_5527

 

 

Maine Craft Weekend

I am slavishly following the example of a wonderful artist, Lara Max, by participating in the Maine Craft Weekend.  So, my studio will be wide open from 10 am to 4 pm each day this weekend. On a lark, I decided to add a promotion to the mix, to sweeten the pot for whomever might come:Print

20% off of any commission of any size.  Which could mean 20% off a set of dishes or 20% off the coffee mug you have always wanted.

Of course, you’ll need to give me time to make it, but I thought that it could be the best possible thing to offer: I love making people’s dreams come true.

timchin_may2014_0003Also, I’ll be making pottery – you can see a demonstration. No doubt, I will draw some pen and inks – using my old-school metal nib and dip ink, so if you want to witness one of my dancing women come into being, all you have to do is ask.  And, of course, for this is always the case for me, if you ask me for a poem I will shamelessly perform one.

So, hopefully, this weekend will be a smashing success.  I am fairly sure it will be filled with laughter.

p.s. make sure to like Lara Max’s facebook page! 

lonely for poetry

IMG_3283I have been working on setting up a new online store – (check out the shop button above!) This was a good use of time when I was at a gallery, entering in products between customers.

Today, I haven’t had the ability to do much writing or computer work. Instead, I have bounced between cleaning and working with clients and trimming the last bits of two sets of dishes. Tomorrow, I hope to throw.  I have so many pots that are waiting for the intersection of time and strength to be born.

Today, though – particularly tonight after the Clayful Evening – I have been so lonely for words.  My heart aches for poems.  I think it was because I was putting up so many of my poem posters on the shop yesterday.  For each print, I retyped the poem on the work and I was returned to the moment I wrote it.  Those hard times, the darkest hours and moments of struggle, have been survived.  That actually inspired me more than I can say.  I survived, and I made beautiful things while doing it.

I wish I were writing something fluid and gorgeous right now, getting lost in the magic of words.

Oh, but I am so tired and my breathing is so bad that I haven’t had the strength to stand and make dinner.  Each time I try to poem, coughing or wheezing or sneezing interrupts me  and the lines turn into expressions of struggle and worry.  I want to write about other things – I have stories and joy and bliss hovering around inside me too, occupying the space where oxygen used to be.  Maybe tomorrow night?  I might be taking myself to lunch, after dropping off some pottery for a benefit – maybe I can make it an appointment with poetry.  I know writing will find its time, but, oh, tonight I miss poems like a lover.

yesterday

I threw yesterday.  Two sets of dishes await firing, and the list of things I have to throw keeps dwindling: one private commission until I am caught up, then knitting bowls for an awesome local business. Two of my favorite students came for a lesson, although I had nothing to teach them.  At this stage of development, they are working independently.  All I am is a security blanket. The realization that I have done something – in this case, had a permanent effect on two people, helping them fledge as potters – filled me with happiness. Last night, I snuggled down into bed satisfied and murmuring thanksgivings.

Only today, I have been barely able to move. I awoke early in the morning weeping from the pain. My muscles were so stiff and my lungs so recalcitrant that it took hours to get myself moving.  Even now, I have a few pots left to trim and I am hesitant – IMG_5346I know my coordination is not as good as it could be and I do not want to lose these plates and bowls.

As often happens when I am in this much physical distress, I rapidly became lost emotionally.  All of the grounding, meditation, positive thinking and planning cannot mitigate that I feel truly awful right now and do not know when I will start feeling better.

I read and grumped all day, only managing to stagger out of the house for errands and to open the studio at 3 pm.  Waiting for something lovely to happen, trying to keep my spirits up, I kept pulling my thoughts out of the pit and throwing them back into yesterday.  Just 24 hours ago, I worked.  I felt valuable and vital and human.  I made good art. Perhaps, tomorrow, I will feel good and be able to work more effectively again.

Writing that last sentence, I had customers come to the studio and buy some pottery.  Sometimes gifts like that come just when you need them.  Running to the house afterward, a haiku filled my mind and stayed present until I could grab a pen and let the words emerge from my fingertips.

leaves as red as blood
until the soft, gentle rain
bore them to the earth

Suddenly, like a light, those two blessings made so grateful.  Now, again, even with all the other stress and pain –  I am singing thanksgivings.  I can trim those pots.

 

throwing

I threw today – one half of two sets of dishes (the large plates and the small plates).  It was a lovely day for it, the plates got to sit outside to dry and my hands got muddy again.  My hands weren’t cooperating well, so throwing was much more of a challenge than it usually is, but I didn’t care.  My heart was singing despite the frustrations.

Probably, I should have taken pictures of the endeavor – pots drying in the sunshine.  Instead, I kept throwing until I wore myself down.  This was a good thing for me. A validation of sorts. Art will find its time and demand my focus, no matter what else drives me.

I needed the reminder.