Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Exciting Week of Business and Pleasure

Shanna weaving poolside at the Rossmount Inn
St. Andrews, New Brunswick, Canada

Tapestry just off the loom
Check back next week to see the finished piece

Chris on his first-ever ferry ride, Campobello to Deer Island

"Jade Moon Night Swim"
A close-up detail of the most recent tapestry that I completed

Successful kiln firing unloaded yesterday and pots have already made it into the shop space,
as well as a few at Northern Tides downtown Lubec

Lubec Arts Alive "Art on the Beach" a success!
Gorgeous weather, lots of people creating at low tide, Mowry Beach, Lubec
Here, Kara Bennet of Texas is plein air painting.


It has been an exciting fun-filled and busy week, so much so that I am once again late to blogging. It began with a wonderful overnight trip to St. Andrews to celebrate my birthday. Chris and I ferried from St. Andrews to Deer Island, where we happened upon a sweet place called Fireball Gallery. We met the owner and learned about her beautiful glass beads and jewelry, and also bought a lovely set of wheelthrown pottery mugs by another Canadian artist. It was a reverent moment for us to also find the cemetery and grave site of one of Chris's Native ancestors. This has sparked an interest in both of us gathering info on our family trees.

The Rossmount Inn provided us some much needed relaxation. The trip was far too short, but such a wonderful treat! We swam in the pool then I was able to work on a small tapestry poolside with my travel loom. That evening, we ate a gourmet feast at their in-house restaurant. Chris had the pleasure of meeting the chef outside in the garden where he was picking fresh vegetables and berries for the kitchen. Every course of our meal delighted us, perhaps the highlight being the crostinis with chanterelles mushrooms and the dessert of bee balm poached peaches in cream with fresh raspberries over pastry. Oh my! I need to send a note to my dentist thanking him for this referral.

We ended our trip the next morning with a stroll downtown St. Andrews. The open farmer's market was alive with tourists and live music. Vendors sold wares and foods. We picked up some fresh baba ganoush from an Indian vendor and fresh beets and chanterelles from a farmer.

When we arrived home we both retreated to our respective studios. When we go away, we are always itching to get back, inspired, to create.

I also had a pile of work to do to prep for Lubec Arts Alive. Friday night we had the world premiere screening of Jon Wing Lum's "Lubec Arts Alive Documentary". It was a packed house and the film amazed many. I will be updating the Lubec Arts Alive 2010 blogsite with full info on the event and the filmmaker, as well as the "Art on the Beach" event that took place the next day. The weekend deserves, and demands, my full attention with an inclusive blog entry. I should have that site updated within three weeks with lots of fabulous photos taken by Goodman/Van Riper Photography.

The glaze firing was unloaded yesterday and I was ecstatic that all pieces survived and looked fabulous! I tried a new glaze combo and am in love! The shop is restocked, just in time, since the day was busy-packed with visitors. I can't wait to get my hands back into the clay. The one thing that is difficult with clay is that I am forced to wait so long to see the finished product. I go back into the throwing cave this coming weekend, but the pieces I make, from throwing, to trimming, drying, bisque firing, glazing, then glaze firing, will take about a month. Longer if we encounter humid weather as as we did the past couple weeks. In the meantime, I will enjoy the weaving, and hopefully finish up the current piece early next week. Morning throwing sessions, then afternoon weaving. Ahhhhh...the artist's life. (we'll ignore, at this point, all the other business details like paperwork that goes along with it...and enjoy the blissful, peaceful vision of artist creating all day long everyday.)

An added bonus to this incredible past week is that Chris and I found some beautiful chanterelle mushrooms on one of our hikes. We got proper ID from Phillipe in town who I was told was the local mushroom expert. So delicious! Last night we sauteed them with butter and garlic and served them to our dear, beautiful, talented friends Nicky and Judy. What a feast!!! The dinner also consisted of fresh pesto made with basil fresh out of our little garden, as well as a stir fry with freshly-harvested lettuce, basil, and swiss chard, broiled tofu, and cous cous. The soy flour blueberry cake wasn't too shabby either!

I am off to my next appointment. Life is split-second timing right now, but it is all wonderful!

(note: please excuse any time to proof read!)

Monday, July 19, 2010

Inspiration Strikes

Shanna working on a tapestry

The ferry boat from Campobello to Deer Island (New Brunswick, Canada)

Newly-designed shop entrance

New "Official Business Directional Sign"

Downtown view looking at the bay, Wags N' Wool sign on the right

New yarn waiting to transform into a tapestry

Inspiration is one of those things that you have no control over. It sneaks up on you at the most unexpected, sometimes inopportune, times. It may be 3:00 a.m. or middle of the day. It denies sleep and steals your attention for hours on end, causing you to ignore the things that you KNOW you should be doing.

This past week was one of those kinds of weeks. The waking at 3:00 a.m. is nothing new. That's when my mind seems to be the most active with ideas. Since I don't need a total alert state for teaching right now, I allow myself to go with the energy and early-rise from darkness. I listen to the first bird of the morning greet me as the orange ball of sun slowly burns its way over ocean's edge and above the trees. The fiery colors against cool dark sky is wildly serene.

Perhaps I was already in the kind of mood that allowed for inspiration. My aunt was visiting from Bangor and I had mentally prepared myself for a break in the usual routine to spend time with her. There was no set plan and I told myself that I needed to not be a party-pooper and would, instead of burying my nose in work, be open to spur-of-the-moment exploring and fun.

The visit began with an impromptu homemade pasta-making mess, flour and sticky dough everywhere. We ate heartily, conversed at length, and set no plan for the next day. I arose and began the bookwork and prep for Lubec Arts Alive. With the event nearing, there is lots to do. When June called and suggested a bog walk, I said "sure", and immediately double-paced my LAA work efforts until she arrived. In hand were several brochures for various local hikes. Given that it was raining, we opted for the closer West Quoddy hike, which is one of the most beautiful I have ever experienced. Shimmer (her whippet/lab mix canine) was obviously pleased with the choice! The evening was topped-off with a superbly delicious meal at Water Street Tavern, followed by a walk up the hill to the Summer Keys concert.

We ended the day exhausted with a plan to wake and head over to Campobello Island and catch an early ferry. Our plan to leave at 7:00 a.m. was foiled when my body rebelled and decided to sleep-in until 6:30 a.m. We eventually began the excursion, missing the first ferry by 2 minutes, watching it pull away from the shore. That little snafu led us to East Quoddy Headlight and some great photographic moments.

I hadn't been on a car-ferry since I was fifteen, when visiting Aunt Aggie and Uncle Carlisle one summer over on Swan's Island. This was a much smaller ferry, but incredible fun just the same. We ferried first to Deer Isle, then caught a second ferry to head back to mainland U.S., Eastport. I know, it seems kinda ridiculous to ferry to a place we could have driven to in fifty minutes. Our total trip to reach a destination that is literally only about 1500 yards from Lubec (by water!) took (including time lost in missing the first ferry) was about three hours. But boy was that a relaxing three hours!

In Eastport we found a little water's-edge picnic table kinda-place that served lobster rolls. We enjoyed a lunch then some downtown shopping. I finally met a fellow clay enthusiast whose work I had admired for the past fifteen years. I know, I know. I have lived here almost ten years now, and it took me this long to meet Donald Sutherland. His huge architectural-styled ceramic sculptures are powerful. I couldn't walk away without purchasing a small vessel for myself. Someday, perhaps, one of his larger fantastic pieces will grace our home.

So, you must be wondering by this point in the blog - where is the creative inspiration that I mentioned earlier? It's coming!

The break in schedule threw me off my usual routine of roll-out-of-bed and head into the pottery cave. This recent humid weather has prevented the pots from drying at any good clip, and the shelves are full. I cannot throw another piece until that kiln gets loaded to make room for more work. My aunt headed home on Friday and I was back into full work-mode swing. The day began with two meetings which consumed about six hours of my day.

It was the second meeting with a very creative, vivacious, intuitive person that got me buzzing around like a bee with new ideas. The word "turquoise" spurred the desire to weave with turquoise colors. As soon as she left, the yarns were flying out of the cabinet, all over the floor, and I was sorting through, matching-up, and warping and weaving. Come six o'clock I realized I needed more black wool yarn. The local fiber shop was already closed, so when I woke the next morning I made my plan to shoot on over to Wag's n' Wool (yep, it is a yarn and dog supply shop all in one....unique!). I bought myself not only the needed black skein, but two other gorgeous colors - one a teal and the other a variegated mix of teals, rust, and blues.

I wove my heart out all day, feeling quite content to be surrounded by plush fibers, sitting in the shade on the deck, finding some relief from the extreme heat of summer. I thought for sure I would wake the next morning to finish the tapestry, but instead, inspiration took me in yet another new direction. I drew up a design for a new entrance to the pottery shop and made a list of necessary materials, and off I went to Machias for landscaping supplies. I worked, possessed, eight hours straight hauling shovelfuls of rock and cedar into a curvilinear pattern, painting a chair, shelf, and sprucing up the door and even the old chipped shingles. I still have some planting to do and some arranging of pots on the shelf, but that little unexpected project is nearly complete.

Today.....anxious to get back to the tapestry that I started three days ago. If finished, I will move on to the second tapestry with the new wool/silk mix yarn (see photo above!!!) and hopefully soon begin an earthy woods-inspired tapestry on the beaver-stick loom. My hunger for weaving right now is insatiable.
Check out Arthur Cadieux's exhibit at Lubec Landmarks/Mulholland Market!!! The show is up through August 3rd.

thinking of visiting Lubec this summer?
Lubec information link

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Lubec Arts Alive 2010

Mural from LAA 2009, located at Lubec Historical Society
Mural facilitated by Natasha Mayers
Photo Credit: ©2009 Goodman/VanRiper Photography

Friday and Saturday, July 23-24
Lubec, Maine

Kickoff Event!
World Premiere Screening of the
Lubec Arts Alive Documentary

A film by Jon Wing Lum
Friday, July 23rd, 7:00 p.m.
Christian Temple Church, Lubec, Maine

This beautiful thirty-minute documentary by filmmaker Jon Wing Lum captures the 2009 event from beginning to end with footage from the mural creation, portrait project, doorway installations, Hamilton Cove project, poetry reading, and iconic sign project. The film features several local community members and artists from far and near, their creative philosophies, and their artwork.
Free Admission. Refreshments.

Thank you to Pastor Alan Andraeas and the Christian Temple Church for their time and the use of their space for this event!

Resident UMVA Artists featured in the film:
Natasha Mayers, Robert Shetterly, Kenny Cole, Rose Marasco, Richard Brown Lethem, Diane Dahlke, Jill Lavestky, Siena Mayers, Karen Adrienne, Mary Bernstein, Barbara Sullivan, Alan Crichton, Harlan Crichton.

Lubec Arts Alive 2010
Art on the Beach
Saturday, July 24th, 1:00-5:00 p.m.
Mowry Beach, Lubec
Rain date: Sunday, July 25th
Info booth will be set-up at Flatiron Corner (across from Quik Shop)

Join us at Mowry Beach for an afternoon of environmental found-object art! Create with stones, seaweed, sea glass, shells, driftwood, etc. Plein Air artists are invited to bring their materials and musicians to bring their instruments for some improvisational fun!

Thank you to the Downeast Coastal Conservancy for allowing access to Mowry Beach for this project!
Mowry Beach is protected and maintained by the Downeast Coastal Conservancy.
Mowry Beach Steward, Jennifer Multhopp

Lubec Arts Alive committee members:
Karen Burke, Jean Bookman, Jean Deveber, Claudia Mahlman, Ann Rosebrooks, Shanna Wheelock

for more info, go to our website:

Seaweed Labyrinth and Rock Formation
Created during Lubec Arts Alive 2009 at Hamilton Cove
This portion of LAA 2009 was such a beautiful and fun event that we decided to base Lubec Arts Alive 2010 around a similar theme!
Photo Credit: ©2009 Goodman/Van Riper Photography

Mead Mugs

Bowls and Sake Sets

The mini Stonehenge herb garden

For those who check my blog on a regular basis, you probably noticed that I didn't show up with my regular post last Sunday. Sometimes this happens. My life just blows wide open with happenings and I can't find an extra moment to spare from sunrise to sundown. This past week and half my days have typically begun at 4:00 a.m. I love that time of day, waking with the birds, seeing the moon still in the sky while the sun is peeking out from the eastern horizon over the bay. So much stillness, yet full of life with birds chirping. I am getting a bit worn out though and even though I look forward to Lubec Arts Alive, I will be a bit relieved when the event finally takes place and then...look forward to a few days to just "be" and breathe.

The past week and a half was full of other wonderful stuff as well - including meeting new folks from distant places who lead interesting lives, from raising peacocks to writing books about model building. Last week's post about friends returning must have sparked some sort of universal energy because another couple (Linda and Jonathan) from New York that we hadn't seen in about three summers stopped by when "just passing through". This couple is one of the neatest that I have ever met. They are both rabbis and run this super cool charitable/educational bakery/program in their synagogue called "Bread and Torah." To make their lives even more interesting, Linda is working on an intesive scroll translation project where she makes the animal-skin parchment paper for the scrolls by hand! Check out their website/blog for more info.

In between Lubec Arts Alive prep and greeting folks who swing by the shop, I have been spending my time throwing pots in the "pottery cave", tending the garden with Chris, and working on the various non-glamorous aspects of keeping a micro cottage-type business up and running, and hopefully on the grow. I was so excited yesterday to see my OBDS (official business directional sign) posted on Rte. 189! Kinda neat to see "Cobscook Pottery and Fiber Arts" looking so official. Porcupine Signs in Pembroke did a fantastic job! I should give kudos to MDOT as well for installing the signs so quickly!!! Yey!

One other highlight of this past week was that Chris and I finally set aside an afternoon for some kayaking. We went to my favorite spot, Indian lake, in Whiting. It is a relatively tiny lake, but we almost always see the loons. This time, a mama loon and her baby on her back. Shortly after that sighting, Papa loon came swooping in from the sky to join them, providing us a uniquely reverent moment.

I have been up since 4:00 a.m. listening to the drenching rains and the West Quoddy fog horn. My aunt June and pup Shimmer are visiting for a few days from Bangor. I imagine this weather is not conducive to their plans for a ferry ride and hike, but it will provide its own kind of magic and peace. Perhaps an afternoon of "Scrabble Showdown". I better go find the official dictionary....

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Late to Blog This Week

I've been non-stop busy the past week and was not able to get to my usual Sunday blog post today. Check back mid-week. I should have a post up by then.

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Living Quaintly

Artist Geer Morton with sketch of our back door entryway.

Close-up of Geer's sketch

Our back door entryway

Cobscook Pottery and Fiber Arts shop entrance

Entryway into the studio space

Fire Circle with Earth Loom

The Fourth of July signals an influx of tourists and summer folks to Lubec. I love this time of year because it's when the town really seems to come to life. Don't get me wrong. I love the Lubec winter as well, which offers time to "hunker-down" and be in solitude. Artists love that sort of thing. But the energy of summer brings a different kind of experience.

Yesterday brought us the return of Geer and Pat, who are counted among some of our 'favorites". I was excited to see the familiar van roll-up our birch-lined drive. We were greeted by Pat's infectious laughter and beautiful smile, and Geer's saracastic and much-adored wit. In tow, their friend Shula, a teacher from Chicago.

Geer Morton is what I consider one of those "hidden-treasures" in Lubec. This town is full of accomplished artists who seem to make their hideaway here on the coast, in the furthest reaches of the U.S. He and Pat spend most of the year in San Diego, but for a few months in the summer they are "the regulars' in our little town. I first met Geer when I was still fresh to teaching in Lubec. He offered to visit my art classes to speak about the experience of being a painter. I soon began to trek my students to his studio which is in walking distance from the school. From there, the four of us began a ritual of an early fall waffle breakfast date.

So yesterday, Pat, Geer, and Shula showed up, which totally made my day. I had been in a cranky mood from a bum glaze firing, but Geer and Pat snapped me out of that quickly. Pat and Shula toured the newly-arranged shop space in the barn and then came inside the house to see the new studio. When Pat called to Geer from the doorway "do you want to come see the studio" a quick reply "busy" was bellowed out.

Outside in the van, Geer had his sketchbook open and pencils laid out on the dashboard. He was feverishly sketching our back door entryway. I was a bit embarrassed at first, noting the crackling paint on the cedar shingles, the plexiglass window cover, and overgrown grass. As an artist though, he views the world around him differently. Artistic appeal has little to do with the appearance of "Martha Stewart Living".

He said that our entryway was "quaint".

Quaint: "Strange in an interesting or pleasing way."

Hmmmmm. Should we be offended by this?

Okay. I accept it. We are strange folk, Chris and I. Yes, that is a jawbone of some unknown creature in the window, and the plants are overgrown, and there is dead wood from the walnut tree perched against the house. We have strange weaving contraptions scattered about and the paint is chipping off the shingles, but we always seem to be too busy in our clay and poetry worlds to tend to them. There are piles of rocks here and there (I mean, you can always find a use for a rock, right?).

So, I am accepting that as time passes, our home (and perhaps we!) are getting a bit more bizarre each year. Chris is the hermit in the hut in the woods, and I am the bumblee bee flitting about from the shop to weaving studio, to pottery cave, to garden. We live with a gargoyle, piles of rocks, stacks of interesting driftwood and tree limbs, a mandala shaped veggie garden, and wild healing plants. Our huge cat "Bello" guards the yard and greets the customers, and a hummingbird often flies into my studio space. There is a nine foot high cedar log loom warped for weaving and artwork crammed into every nook.

Strange? Yes. But somehow, all so perfect.

A couple summers ago when Pat and Geer arrived to town, we all sat by the fire circle drinking pineapple spritzers. Geer sketched Chris while we conversed, and the sketch in turn provided inspiration for the following poem by Chris.

On A Sketch Of The Poet

(sketch by Geer Morton)

poem by Chris Crittenden


and jaw hung low

like a chuckling


scribbles frantic

in the hollows,

and the slit of the chin.

askew eyes

mocking order,

a pose hunched

yet strong—

part ogre, part pensive

like Rodin.

lips racked

in a rude smirk-smear,

hands like fumes

of neck-biting



like a saint

who waded too many

garbage dumps,


too many sins,

legions of the crumpled

and begrimed.