Month: December 2014

Take Life by the hand…

take life by the hand - lead it in a dance of Love - open-hearted joy
take life by the hand – lead it in a dance of Love – open-hearted joy

So much has happened this past year, that i can barely process it all.  A lot of things i took for granted were stripped away.  Those last shreds of stability (or the delusion of same) disappeared.  Going through my poetry and blogs from the last twelve months, what i see is a clarifying fire – a lot of what i thought was important and what i assumed would be my path’s easy choices became either irrelevant or unreachable.  i have been humbled by my own failures and limitations.  i had to adapt – i am still in the process of adapting, in fact – and this has been neither smooth nor free of whining.  (And here is my first gratitude: for friends that held my hand and let me break down in anger, frustration and fear.  You rock!)

join us in this dance - wild joy of word and line - melody of dreams
join us in this dance – wild joy of word and line – melody of dreams

What shocks me the most, though, is how much my art changed while i was going through this intense time.  If i am honest, this transformation began a long time ago. Even during my divorce there were pieces of strength and determination amid some of the most sorrowful paintings and grief-drenched poems i have ever created.  For years, i languished right on the edge of the pit, never very far from falling in even when i danced with happiness.  And when i fell, oh, how i fell. i could stay down there for ridiculous amounts of time, thrashing about powerlessly.

Very slowly, over months and years, meditation and the retraining of my brain started to work.  In a way, i don’t think this will ever be fully finished, although i hope i am wrong. So far, though, each time i get over one hurdle or come to terms with one weakness, i find another.  Somehow, i developed a seemingly endless series of habits and assumptions that need to be questioned, shaken up or eradicated.  Still, i began to be more content for longer and longer periods – even when the same difficulties kept flooding my life.  Loneliness did not disappear, the financial instability did not resolve itself, the troubles with anxiety did not simply dissolve, vanquished by sudden bravery.  However, this year, i found a way to enjoy the moment even when the big picture crumbled to pieces.  When i read my words or look at my drawings – particularly these pen and inks – i do not see the sorrow or suffering.  i see the hope, the bliss, the determination that might be madness.

i do not exist - except in these words and lines - where i come to life
i do not exist – except in these words and lines – where i come to life

Maybe i overdosed on stress this past summer.  Perhaps i finally surrendered my last illusions of control. Maybe after 1,000 hours of meditation even the dimmest bulb can get some light. Either way, i have found myself more peaceful and more shockingly joyous in the middle of crises than i used to be when things were going well.  First, my art became joy, even when i felt nothing like that at the time.  Then i started checking in with myself and discovered the joy and peace were really just there, hiding underneath the wild fear and habits of doom.

For this, i am more grateful than i can say.  i know i am not  anywhere near done.  i keep practicing kindness, practicing gratitude.  When i forget, or get too busy, i feel myself sliding back into places i want to go.  This practice has become what poetry and prose have always been – a foundation on which my sanity rests.

On this New Year’s Eve, i could give you a hundred things i wish would change, ten stormandsunthousand that i want to do, i could wax on and on about how i don’t know what to do about my business or where the future will lead me.  My imagination can conjure the most desperate, terrible futures as well as ways everything could change, if i want to invest in fantasies.  i could do all those things – but i don’t want to.

What i want to do is make more joy through pen and ink, through clay, through oils and acrylics.  i want to throw myself into the sanctuary of words not because i have to hide myself there lest i crumble into despair, but because it is wonderful, exciting, hard work.  i want to find that speck of unexpected kindness in the middle of uncertainty.  i want to laugh with friends and hug my dog and pester my cats with love.  i want to enjoy this improbable happiness when so much has gone wrong.  i want to keep growing as i have this year.

And for those desires, i also give thanks.

Have a lovely New Year – and if troubles find you, if they find me, may we all find the sparks of loveliness inside them.

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!

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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.

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IMG_6216IMG_6135_2IMG_6218nancytang

By Maine Hands: raffle and too slammed to write!

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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.

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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!

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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.

 

By Maine Hands: Coming along nicely!

leftsideToday, the incomparable Lori Davis staffed the popup in Bucksport while I watched one in  Orono.  All I did was drop by at the end of the day to find that the store looked even better than I could have dreamed!  Friday morning, Hatie Clingerman of Downeast Fiber Farm brought some of her amazing hats, scarves and other fiberwork.

Beth Stevens came and added more of her work this afternoon – she was leaving as I was arriving. And another new artist will be coming in to stock on Monday!  Trightsidehe store keeps growing – the wonderful energy of this project is drawing more artists!  This is fantastic!

Sadly, I forgot to take pictures of these wonderful new products tonight as I was very distracted – but, I will post pictures tomorrow morning first thing.  Truthfully, I am excited about our first Sunday.

Also, WE WILL BE OPEN NEXT TUESDAY, 11-7.  I am bold-facing that more for my benefit as much as yours.  This has had me dancing with joy!  The town of Bucksport is supporting us with advertising! They are making a commercial… so the store will be open and we will be there with bells on!  And since we will be there for the advertising, we’ll be there for you too – an extra day open!  This is a lot of exclamation points because I am so excited!

Please let us know if you have other hours you wish we were there – we are willing to be open by appointment.

Such excitement!  It has all gone to my head!