Tag Archives: Pottery

Spring is thick upon us. The pear trees are blooming, the blueberries are fertilizing, the morrel mushrooms are fruiting and going straight on our pizza. The cows in the field I walk by every day at work are learning to walk. They are so cute! The lambs are frollicking in the crew-cut grass and the peas are brandishing their new green petals.

We’ve got two big weddings coming up so our focus has been more on arranging that and less on the garden and the bees, it must be admitted. My brother is getting married to his lovely fiancee in a couple weeks in Calgary. Marc and I are flying out at a pukey hour of 5:30am and then we’re staying in a hotel we booked because of the reviews. Get this, it’s my favourite review so far,

Decor strange, staff friendly.

Bring on the strange decor! We stayed in a hostel in Inverness Scotland when we were travelling that could have suited that description perfectly. We’re talking purple walls with technicoloured handprints, lime green baseboards, a red door, zebra striped bedspread on an old iron bed frame. It was surreal. I’m hoping that this hotel brings us close to that experience again. One can only hope.

The second wedding coming up is Marc’s sister at the end of May. That one is a little closer to home, in Victoria. Weddings are such a joyous occasion and I’m really looking forward to them and to all of the planning being finished. Then we can get into the heat of summer with bees, vegetables, Farmer’s markets, pulling weeds in sundresses and sandals.

Pottery is going well and we did our first “bisque” firing at the beginning of the week. This process changes the clay to a ceramic material. It is the stage you do after the clay pots dry, but before you glaze the bowls/cups/plates. So now my works of “art” are rather pinkish, like old bubble gum. And they are waiting for their glaze bath which will come next. Also, we picked up some Earthenware clay. We’ve been using Raku clay which is grittier and for more decorative pots. I really wanted to get into the Earthenware clay because of it’s resilience and functionality. Above most things, I am practical. If I’m making mugs, bowls, and funny-shaped things (that I’ve been told, when it doubt, it’s an ash tray.) I want them to be useful. And did I mention, my teacher is very patient with me. I still have trouble centering the clay and I still ask silly questions, and he dutifully shows up, answers my questions, centers my clay, and generally puts up with my nonsense. Yes, there is lots of nonsense!

Did I mention I bring him cookies? It is my best form of currency… It’s amazing who will work for cookies. So far, my mechanic (which is essential) and my pottery teacher work for cookies so I consider myself a very lucky gal! Let’s see who will work for honey?!

Hope your merge from Winter to Spring is as welcome as it is for me! Happy April!

A Friday Moment

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I’ve been up to my usual tricks this week, gardening and shaping clay. I’m feeling a little dry on my blogging lately. Really, guys, this is my life. I read a little, I write a little, I work too much, I shape some clay, play some piano, prepare some bee stuff and drive my small truck around the island.

We’ve planted some more peas, beans, Jerusalem artichokes, carrots, cabbage and other assorted veggies.

On Island, the cows have had calves, the sheep have had lambs that I have no good photos to show you the evidence. The weather has been mostly cold and mostly rainy with some patches of sunshine.

What have you been up to?

Time Management

Wanna hear about what I’ve been terrible at lately? Oh, did I give it away in the title? Last weekend I managed to get a lot done, minus any sleep available. And I was completely manic and booked things in over top of each other so that I was running from one event to another. It was madness. It was like city life. I am now a country mouse and so I need to regulate my time so that I do not burn out. Below are some of the results of my manic life of late.

 

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This is not my plate. But I kicked the wheel to help make it. Isn’t it beautiful?

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Marc has been taking full advantage of the mini truck in all it’s faculties. He is now gathering fire wood for our next year’s stash. It is important to give the green wood time to “season” so that it’s nice and dry for the wood stove. Some of this is arbutus that had fallen in our big wind storm. Arbutus is a very hard wood and it burns forever, but it is also native to the West Coast and protected so you can’t just go cutting it down willy-nilly.

Below is a photo of Holly, a friend, and her new baby Robert Titus. Titus is doning the new vest that I mailed to them. I’m happy to report it fits him perfectly! (For now!)

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Congratulations Marcus and Holly on a beautiful “strapping” baby boy!

Oh, good news, the Leeks, marigolds and sunflower seedlings are just cracking the surface. My arugula is sprouting and our radishes have their second leaves! Yay for Spring! Yay for the upcoming garden produce!

Do you have any tips how I can better manage my time? Do you use a day timer? How many social engagements do you plan in a day? I think I’m going to limit myself to two things a day so that I can find space in my days to relax, sniff the tulips which are in full bloom on Pender.

Sending happy weekend wishes!

Busy as a Bee

I flipped through our photos lately and I’m surprised to see how busy we’ve been. Busy as a bee! Between writing poetry, playing the piano, reading and organizing my unread books, walking and learning a new craft, we’ve been quite busy for never leaving our small island.

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Marc has begun fertilizing the blueberries. This involves pulling back the straw mulch, weeding them and then fertilizing with sulphur and an organic fertilizer. The sulphur acidifies the soil because the blueberries prefer more “vinegar” with their dirt-meal than… chalk. (or alkaline… Or maybe this is where my analogy of fish and chips for the blueberries falls apart. *sigh*)

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Marc also purchased a scythe last year because we have a lot of areas on the farm with tall tall grass. He has been carving out his technique. I did not know that it was so complicated to swing a blade but he had this tool measured up specifically for him. He watched videos on youtube to learn the swing and the balance of the scythe. And he had to be very careful about how and when to sharpen the blade, as it has to be very sharp to work properly.

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As you can see, we have some daffodils blooming in our front garden and our rosemary is really taking off. And we have a little black cat-shadow pretending to be a lion as she descends the high cliff to hunt.

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We’ve been keeping up with our near-weekly tradition of pizza from all the left overs in the fridge. This is a great way to use up veggie bits from the fridge, and though we haven’t tried adding parsnips or beet greens to the pizza yet, I’m sure that will come.

Dear reader, do you have a favourite pizza crust recipe that you’d care to share? I keep it really simple. I was doing a crust that involved cornmeal and a few more ingredients. But now I keep it to a cup of warm water, 2 tsp of yeast, 1-2 tsp of salt and enough flour to make it the right texture to roll out. Usually 2-3 cups. It’s pretty straightforward, and we do not allow any time for a rise. I’ve found with this crust, I can roll it out really thin and it’ll get crispy or I can keep it quite thick and it puffs up a bit. But I’m always open for something new if you care to share.

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Yesterday we got to go on a beach walk because the low tide was just right. Often if the tide is low early in the morning or later in the evening, this walk disappears under the water. It’s a beautiful walk that leads you along the shoulder of Pender, facing Mayne Island, where you can see snow-capped mountains in the far distance, and you can watch the currents rip through Navy Channel.

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Hm, I love beach art.

Anyway, I’ve been saving the best for the last. I had another pottery class and this time I got to use the wheel. Oh yes, The Wheel! I was very excited about this because I’ve wanted to do this for so long. I don’t know if you’ve ever used a wheel to “throw pots” but I was told it was harder than it looked. I was told that rarely anyone really gets it the first time. Yeah, I am not one of the rare ones. But with lots of guidance and help, armed with my enthusiasm, I got to throw a couple bowls.

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This is a kick-wheel. Meaning, you have to kick it to get it to spin. My teacher has a small motor he got at the Nu-To-U (our local thrift store) so he’s looking at hooking it up to the wheel but for now, I learn to kick and mold at the same time.

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Behold, my first attempts!

Have you tried anything new lately?

Creatively Admiring Daffodils

The Gulf Islands off Vancouver Island are rather well-known for having a high population of artists on the island. Or as I like to say “Arteests.” I cannot count the amount of people I’ve met that moved to Pender so that they could pursue their artistic aspirations. What do you think it is about the Gulf Islands that attract artsy-fartsy people? It reminds me of Paris in the Romantic Era where the composers and poets conglomerated to share the creative spirit.

There is a friend of mine who has collected sea glass to use in her textile art. There are groups of people who get together to create fabric art, there are so many potters on island, and even people who make their own paper. There is so much to learn from people here and it is so inspiring.

And all that is not mentioning the writers we have here on Island. My poetry class is continuing well but I don’t think I’m confident enough to consider myself in this group. It has given me the material and means to send off more writing to literary magazines for more rejection notes. It’s funny to steal yourself for rejection that way, you package up your babies, you think they’re real pretty and they come back “Not quite what we’re looking for,” and somehow they seem a little less shiny after that.

A writing teacher once said to me that I should consider what I write as compost, to build up the soil so that one good plant can come up healthy. Well, when I write bad poem after bad poem, the thought of it all just being compost does not make it more encouraging.

I had my first pottery lesson on Wednesday and I was admiring the wheel and I really wanted to try it. I begged my teacher to let me try a hunk of clay on the wheel. Since we didn’t have water set up, it wasn’t the right timing anyway. But he said to me, “I’ve taught hundreds of students on the wheel, and maybe 1 or 2 have ever gotten it the first time. When I was learning how to throw pots on the wheel, my teacher told me I would have to throw 10,000 pots before I would get one good pot. And I thought, I’ve only made one pot today. That means, 10,000 days of practise?”

When I heard that, I had two things to consider. Persistence, and validation. What makes someone stick at something creative like pottery or writing or painting if it takes so much practise to have anything acceptable? I can only answer this one for myself, it is the joy of doing it.

The second issue, validation, when can you call yourself an artist? When someone buys what you create? What someone “professional” says it’s good enough? What a funny world we live in that we do not always create for the simple joy of creating? When is it enough that we can say to ourselves “You’ll do.” And our self-validation is sufficient?

After all this musing, I sigh, shift my weight and stare at the daffodils blooming on my desk. What a work of art! They are perfect because of what they are, because of how they are formed, because they are doing exactly what they are made to do.

Maybe I’ve hit on something important here…

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