Tag: pottery

Another twenty minutes

the studio 1
a view of the gallery part of my studio

Really, by the time i finished getting the photographs together, i am down to fifteen minutes for a blog.  However, i really think it is important to write something down today and fling it into the ether.  My first drop in class for the season – not a regularly scheduled student – will begin at noon.  My kiln is filled with sculptures and tinypots and as soon as it has cooled enough to harvest the shelves, i will start another kiln firing, all pots in fire red and ocean blues.  Even though the house is in a terrible state, the price paid for doing so much work out here, i am halfway through a business plan, i have been able to keep the gallery open for customers, the gallery/studio itself looks really good despite being back into production.  Kind people have offered to help me through the last legs of this rough patch.  i am getting responses to my ads for the rooms for rent upstairs in the house – and even had one walk through already. Customers are coming to look at my art, and soon they will be coming back to buy.

Even though i am still so far behind and have been in the pit for too long, some sunlight is starting to make it to me from the surface.  Small, delicate fingers of sunbeam whose caress means the world to me.  A deep stirring in my spirit tells me that this is not just the blessed entrance of spring, but it has something to do with how i am moving through the world.  Even on the days i have had to force myself out of bed, i have.  When i felt bankrupt of all words and inspiration, i kept working.

the studio 2
that this table is clean makes me happy beyond words

i realized something over the past few months – even when i am despondent, and my thoughts circle defeatism’s drain, i actually cannot quite surrender.  Of course i can have a temper tantrum for a night or two, and i can bring out several people to testify to the whining, eventually something in me started going forward again. Even when i am not ruled by joy and hope, although i always wonder if i madness and faith are more accurate, i cannot actually manage the process of surrendering.  This is a lesson i have to keep learning: i do not really have the common sense to give up even when other people demand that i should.  Thankfully, i have enough other people in my life who are just as dedicated to the arts as i am, who have inexplicable faith in me, and they have spent a lot of energy this winter keeping me going.  i am grateful to them beyond words.  In fact, i find myself singing these thanksgivings as i putter about the organized studio/gallery.

And now, as i wait for today’s students, i feel like some of the flowers in the yard.  My roots grow strong again, and i have started to open up to the wind, the sun, and celebrate the possibility of change with every cell and all my heart.

By Maine Hands: bittersweet closure

IMG_6357I am going to turn in the keys for the By Maine Hands popup today.

All the bookkeeping is done (only three mistakes, all caught by the same wonderful artist!), all the artists paid, and the check sent – at the request of the town – for our $263 raffle to the Bucksport Mill Crisis Fund, earmarked for fuel oil. The space itself is empty, swept and vacuumed.

Today wears a cloak of transition.

For over a month, every day was focused around that store.  I adored getting to talk to so many people – seeing what customers wanted, hearing what people dream about for Bucksport, talking about local economies.  We all share the same vulnerabilities and thanksgivings, no matter our disparate circumstances.

Ever since the afternoon of the 3rd, the popup and my studio have been depositing huge amounts of art and the equipment needed to make it into my house.  Between that mess and finishing up the paperwork for the popup, my days have been taken over.  There has been nothing left for art or writing or the other tasks of life.  IMG_6349A few poems and haiku managed to make it into the world, crowding into that space between when I collapsed from weariness and before sleep overtook me.

Instead I have been drowning in stuff.  Good stuff.  Pretty stuff.  The stuff that I have been called to make.  But, still, a lot of stuff.

So, I feel compelled to remind you that you can buy this stuff online (there will be a huge influx of work to the shop this week) and by making an appointment at my studio-in-the-house this winter.  Just email me and we can set up a time.

In all this bittersweet transition, I am still awash in gratitude.  This was such a marvelous experience and it taught me more about myself than I had expected.  It has left me dreaming like a parched man in the desert of water.  Indeed, I suspect my subconscious has it all figured out, but won’t tell the rest of me out of pure mischievousness.

As for this moment? All is well.  After I finally get this blog to publish (third try!) I will put on my snow boots, turn in the key to the landlord, and start a new page in my life.

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.

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?



By Maine Hands: only five more days!

IMG_6286We are absolutely thrilled with the response that we’ve had to our little pop up – and a little sad that we’ve begun our last five days.  However, we are still doing important work – we are still getting in new products (like pies!  syrup!) and most of all, we continue to sell raffle tickets.

Earlier, you read about why we chose to try and help the local fuel oil fund, and none of those reasons have changed.  While we like to deny it, or to push off this knowledge, the overwhelming vulnerability we humans share cannot be denied.  Lately that reality has been hammered home to me, listening to friends struggle with the suffering and loss of those they love.  The one thing we have to inoculate ourselves from the impermanence and trouble is community – our friends, our neighbors, our families.  As strange as it sounds, just making the choice to buy local can make a huge difference.  you keep a  farmer working, you feed a family, you heat a home.  We as artists, who so rarely have gobs of extra cash to throw at 5firefliescharities or problems, can donate to something like this raffle and know we are making a difference that way.

Speaking of which, Daffodils Florist across the street from our popup will also be selling raffle tickets – and they donated this absolutely adorable hat to the raffle itself, made by 5Fireflies.  We have been blessed with such good business neighbors during this pop up – Blush has allowed us to share their wifi, the Local Variety & Bake Shop gifted us with some amazing desserts, all of the popups have been eager to give directions and recommendations for the others,  and everyone has been inviting and supporting.  Local business helping local business: it makes me dance a little with delight.

Kindness, encouragement and support are miracles.  Through them everything changes. Here, I talk about much more than just supporting small business, but how we walk through our days.

Inch by inch, moment by moment, we make the world less scary for ourselves and those with whom we share it.

By Maine Hands: another eight days!

IMG_6208Already today, I have had an email and two surprised people walk in, thinking we had already closed!

We are still open!

I will be here from 10 to 7 today and tomorrow, then from 11 to 5 every day through the 3rd.  The drawing for the fuel oil fund raffle will be New Year’s Eve.

We have been having tremendous fun with this pop up, and are grateful to every customer and all those who have supported the business in different ways.

IMG_6209To the left and below are the different prizes for our raffle – all donated so every penny can support the fuel oil fund!

Please continue to support the pop ups – there are four – and other local business in Bucksport.  Granted Christmas has passed, but please continue to shop local, buy handmade and support your local businesses!


just the cardinal...
just the cardinal…
the ornament and the file - other pottery is in the raffle.
the ornament and the file – other pottery is in the raffle.



By Maine Hands: raffle and too slammed to write!

this picture doesn’t tell you that the pile of tickets is already a few inches deep


I have not been able to write lately – the pop up has been slammed (THANK YOU!  Friday night in particular was deliriously awesome!) and while the wonderful Lara Max and Lori Davis watched the store for half the day Saturday and the whole day Sunday, I found myself too exhausted to write.

But this is a good tired. The realization that this popup is making a difference in the lives of these artists whose work is gathered in this space and has the potential to make a difference through this raffle leaves me excited and grateful.

The willingness of people to buy local, buy handmade and help in the care and feeding of artists makes me dance with joy.  In this time of transition, to have people from Bucksport, the surrounding areas and those far afield – who have read about these stores in IMG_6134_2the Ellsworth American, Bangor Daily News, seen the commercials or watched interviews with the pop up organizers, Bucksport Chamber of Commerce and town officials, and then take the time to drive to Bucksport to shop at our stores – wildly encourages me.

In an expression of determination and hope, I chose my biggest vase in the store for the raffle – and fully expect that we will be able to fill its emptiness with tickets by the end of the year. (We draw for the winners New Year’s Day.) Every penny of the proceeds will go to a local fuel oil fund – we have donated every speck of art for the prizes.  (As we have been looking around, we have found two fuel oil funds helping Bucksport. Lori, Lara and I will decide if all the money goes to one or if we split it among both.  This depends on how much yoIMG_6135_2u all support this!  If that vase is full, we’ll be cooking with gas, so to speak.)

Check out our facebook page, Google+ page and my twitter feed for things in the raffle – but for now, I’ll share a couple of pictures of an exquisite bracelet – one of our many prizes – to the left.



Male Cardinal on Snowy Branch
a canvas print of this gorgeous cardinal is also in the raffle!

For whatever reason, it doesn’t look like WordPress is not letting me do links tonight – maybe it knows how tired I am and that my keyboard is all messed up  so getting each letter down is a struggle.  Either way, here are some links from the blog above:

Lara Max: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Lara-Max-Artist/1556706674563331

Lori Davis: http://www.loridavisphotography.com/

By Maine Hands on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bymainehands

By Maine Hands on Google+: https://plus.google.com/105441393035680104962

asha fenn on twitter: http://www.twitter.com/ashafenn

and, just for the heck of it, asha fenn on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ashafenn.artist

If you’re on facebook, or Google+, or twitter for that matter, like us, put us in your circles, follow us!

By Maine Hands: Friday and Sunday

fridaypopupsAs the poster designed by Creatively Maine says, this Friday will be alive with Music!

We are having another gathering of artists at the same time (Friday 5-7), with snacks and beverage, as well as showing off the prizes for our raffle.  We hope to see you there!

Also, we have added another little event to our schedule.  From 10 am to 12 noon Sunday, we will be offering breakfast snacks (donuts anyone!), tea and hot chocolate!

We can’t wait to see you!

By Maine Hands: fuel oil and our raffle

blue bowl 1 Some time over the night, I ran out of fuel oil.  Even though the gauge on my tank has been broken for years, I was smart enough to know that I was perilously low, but lacked the financial ability to solve the problem.  Indeed, the  website job I took with the specific intent of making enough money to pay for fuel oil (and two other bills that are hanging like albatrosses, rotting around my neck) wound up not having enough money to pay me.  So, by pulling myself away from art and into a regular job, by trying to make my situation better, at least for the short term, it got worse.  I remember as I read the apologetic words about non-payment wanting to purple and white bowlweep with frustration over how trying to do the “right” thing can backfire.

Not five minutes after I got that message, I received the call about these pop-ups. (Thank you, Leslie at the  Bucksport Bay Area Chamber of Commerce!) The timing was too serendipitous to be ignored. With singing hearts, we got everything set up and have enjoyed two amazing weeks here.  The response of our customers and neighbors has been wonderful. We feel honored to among the other small business and popups here in Bucksport – this is a great group of people.  Then, last night, while entering our sales into matching red mugs!one of my precious spreadsheets, I realized I had sold enough pottery to pay for some fuel oil.  And today, I ran out.

The glorious part of this story is that as I shivered in my kitchen this morning, wishing I had on a heavier nightgown, I could do something about the problem.

But, I am aware, without the community supporting this store, buying the work of the artists here, I would be facing the cold without any real ability to make things better.  As it is, I was able to put my earnings right back into the local economy today by buying fuel oil from a local company.  IMG_6108Thus the gears of small business turn: by supporting small business, you help us pay our bills, which supports more small businesses, and so on and so forth.

I am grateful beyond my ability to express.  For days, the artists here at By Maine Hands have been talking about what we can do to express our gratitude for the wonderful community support that has flowed toward us during the past two weeks, and we settled on holding a raffle to support the local fuel oil fund.   I will be donating several pen and inks and some pottery to this raffle, and other artists are donating pie platetoo.  As the raffle starts and we sell tickets, I’ll give you updates on the prizes.  Just keep checking our facebook and google+ pages.

I intend to start selling tickets by Thursday – the sales will go through New Year’s Eve.  January 1st, we’ll draw out the winners.  That way you will have until the 3rd to come and pick up your prizes!

Come by.  Get some raffle tickets!  Keep supporting local artists and small businesses by buying handmade.

white and green bowl!We intend to be open every day between now and Christmas.


ps: The pictures to the left and below are from the pieces brought in to the popup  this morning, fresh from the kiln.  Tonight, hopefully, I will have the stamina to load another kiln and bring more fresh pieces in on Thursday morning.

Already, today feels like a triumph, even though I am more aware then ever how vulnerable we all are.  However, I am also more fully rooted in the wonderfpie plate againul blessings of community and friendship and gratitude than I have been in a long time.  Thank you!

blue bowl 2

tinypotsblue bowls

By Maine Hands: embarrassing the dog

christmas_darwinThings have been so busy here, I have not been able to blog – which strikes me as one of the most wonderful things I could write. People have discovered that there are popups in Bucksport and are coming to shop.  The response of the local community leaves me joyous – so many are choosing to spend their money on local, handmade art.  We are thankful beyond words.

Darwin has made it in the newspaper and has a fleeting cameo in an ad and now considers himself a superstar.  He is the best sales-pup ever.

On this Sunday afternoon, I am drenched in gratitude – so honored to be part of this gathering of artists here at By Maine Hands and proud to be part of this community.


By Maine Hands: hoppin!

We have popupboardthe board!  Pledge to shop local and get the most value for your money!

There are three ways to enter for this: you sign the board and write your information for the drawing.  You can take a selfie and then post it to the Bucksport Bay Area Chamber of Commerce’s facebook page or you can go to the Chamber with your reciept!

Things have been hopping this morning!  There were people waiting for me when I opened at 11 – and the praise we are getting from customers, the interest in the store itself and the requests for something similar to continue past January 3rd are really heartwarming!

So far it has been a lovely day, and it’s not half done – I’m going to be here until 7 pm.

Then, on the way home today, I’ll pick up stuff for tomorrow night’s event!