Tag: sculpture

starting over again

It seems surreal that i am back here again: being an artist who sells her work.  A week ago yesterday, we had an event here at the studio, after which i  committed to keeping the studio open every Saturday from 11 am to 6 pm for the rest of the year. Last night, i was so excited at the prospect that i barely slept.  Just being out here, making art, opening the door to sales, this is a big deal for me.

Truly, i believe that this is only happening because of the intervention of other artists.  Several provided me with amazing support when i face tasks that were impossible while this body languished in such a diminished state.  They have proven themselves willing to help me out when i have been overwhelmed.  In an act of belief that still boggles my mind, i have been blessed to share my studio space with creatives willing to partner their art with mine at these events.  You can see their work at these etsy shops, if you cannot travel to the coast of Maine:


i cannot quite process the generosity of spirit that they are displaying.  Between these two and those who unflinchingly had my back over the past few  years, it has helped me create a new perspective when other people comment on my return to the world of art.  Things that would have crushed me when i was still alone, now give testimony to my good fortune.

At the first event we hosted, just over a month ago, people were surprised to see me.  They laughed, “We thought you were dead.”  Scores more told me that they heard i was having problems financially and physically, and that they were shocked i had made it through. i wondered why they talked like this, so comfortable at articulating their surprise at my continued existence, until i remembered that i am an introvert without family and have a learned to suffer alone rather than spill it out onto the shoes of random strangers.  Not to say people haven’t had to clean off the slime of woe after talking to me, but when i am on the edge of survival, i crawl into my hole and to heal.

Thus, when things got really bad for me, i retreated into art and the work that needed to be done to move from one minute to the next. It was all i could do. Overloaded as i was, i could not reach out; rejection would have been that one thing too much to bear.  No one else is responsible for those tendencies in myself, but realizing that they created the environment for those comments to appear was incredibly helpful.

By in large, i found i could eventually laugh at those statements and reassure people: i am alive, i never stopped making art, and here i am back to running a business, albeit part time.  However, it shook me to my core as a reminder that i am truly starting over.  The work i have been doing was invisible to the rest of the world, unless a manuscript wandered into your email’s inbox.   No one else saw that i had never fully surrendered; now, many can witness how reopening with hope and a support network is the greatest blessing possible for one that has been so alone.

Last week, a couple pulled me aside to discuss with great satisfaction what had been the hardest time in my life – when i had to start going backwards, cannibalizing the studio instead of investing in it, when i could not move my arm, when tumors had taken over to the point i could barely bend over without howling in pain, when i first found out that my hips would have to be replaced.  All this time later, they were still so pleased with the buy they got on the equipment i sold them so that i could keep living.  They let me know they had only come by to see if i was still selling off my tools at bargain prices.

While they gushed about the memory, i could not help but hear the echos of my the howling cries that night, realizing that with that sale of a wheel and kiln, i had admitted to myself that i was too broken to work. 

Exchanges like that would have made me feel excruciatingly isolated before, but my situation has changed.  i had people sitting beside me, ready to tell me things would not get that bad again.

My heart started to sing with gratitude over the miracle of human beings willing to roll up their sleeves and help me out, who stayed in touch and kept supporting my compulsive vocation to create.  Having people in your corner is always a blessing, but in this moment, when i realize that i am not hobbling forward by myself any longer, it feels like the sun has come out to shine on my life.

However, there is no room for denial: i am starting over as a business woman. People, quite literally, thought i was dead.  There is no greater indication that i am starting from scratxh than rising from a perceptual grave.  This voyage into business has to be different, too.  i am undertaking this journey hyperaware that my body’s needs cannot be pushed aside. Still, opening myself up be here in the studio, ready to make sales, feeds the best part of me.  This feels like a miracle.  i want to dance with gratitude; if only it didn’t hurt so much to stand.

And that sound you hear?  That is me shouting thanksgivings for the people who love me and are willing to help.

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: 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!


By Maine Hands: a day off

Hatie ClingermanYesterday was the biggest day so far with the popup – we were interviewed by the Bangor Daily News, they filmed a commercial that the town of Bucksport is so generously using to advertise this endeavor, and we had customers braving the icy sidewalks and roads!

Three new artists have come on board in the past few days: Hatie, Jessi and Dawnella.  Hatie makes amazing felted scarves and hats.  As soon as they were displayed, people could not keep their hands off them.  And because we have made a point to include all price-points, Hatie also has other items like catnip balls and dryerballs and soap that are perfect small gifts.   Jessi makes the aHatie Clingermanmazing infinity scarves and the softest headbands I have ever encountered.  One scarf on her display was so lovely I determined to find a way to buy it for myself if it didn’t fly off the shelf – which, of course, it did.  Within five minutes it had been purchased and went to a new, loving home. Dawnella makes toys and finger-puppets and various other wonderful gifts as well.  The kids we had come in after she stocked up were all enchanted by her work!

We are so excited to have these wonderful people here at our popup!  I have bios that I’ll be printing out fJessi from FXDressedor some of the members, so you can know more about the people making the art that you are purchasing when you come into our store.

Now, to today.  Nominally, this was a day off – but of course that concept is really mythological at this point in my development.  Except for the spell of time when pneumonia had me complete knocked out, I have been working as best I can nearly every waking moment since we were given the opportunity to have this store.  Admittedly, it was not all heavy lifting – you can look to my twitter, facebook and google+ feeds to see some of the pen and ink work I have made since we started the popup.  However, those images count!Dawnella Sutton  They are beautiful and something I can do even when I am feeling weary and weak.

Still, this afternoon witnessed a bit of a miracle, interrupted by a blessing. Thanks to the help of a friend who carried over my big buckets of glaze from the house to the studio, I was able to glaze two sets of dishes and probably forty other pots, the first time I have touched clay in nearly a month.

It felt like I had come home.  I adore my time in the studio.  By the end of my evening, I was filthy with ifistopdrawingglaze and had a kiln full of pottery firing away.  Deep hope kindles inside of me when I can make art – even if it is simply finishing pieces that were thrown so long ago.

At 4:30 came the blessing – I was interviewed by WERU about the popups and Bucksport!  I was thrilled with a chance to let people know what is going on and how important it is to think about things like shopping local and buying handmade.  Through this program, we have an opportunity to put money back into the community when we shop for the holidays.  That is like giving two gifts in my mind: beautifulwoman2you are investing in your local economy in a way you cannot by shopping at a huge chain.  Thus, even on a “day off” my thoughts were all about popups!

I actually can’t wait to get back to it tomorrow.  I have had a thousand ideas for pen and inks floating through my mind today and look forward to showing you around the store when you come in!  I will open up tomorrow by 11 am – and just to remind you, we are in downtown Bucksport, across from the Alamo, 86 Maine Street – By Maine Hands.