Monday, September 19, 2011

Glaze Tests, Studio Tours, and Phishing

New set of short Tumblers in a Mossy Forest glaze.

Bouli-quake strikes Lubec....
I rarely am able to set-up the factory piece in my studio since Bouli assumes that everything in her sight is a toy for her. I only left the sculpture unattended for less than a minute - returned to find the paper dolls all a muss.

Chris spooning blanched green beans into pint-size canning jars.

Green beans placed in the canning pot.

What a week. First off, according to a phishing scam email, I was stranded in Spain after having my purse stolen and needed friends to send me money. My email address contact list was hacked-into and "stolen" rendering me unable to email everyone to let them know that this just was not so. I am hoping that everyone who received the email knows that such letters written in a stilted voice asking for money to be wired to far off places is bogus. Chris and I fielded well over a hundred emails and more than a dozen phone calls from friends and family. We appreciated the concern and hope that it never happens again. This is a lesson that even those who think they are wise to such schemes that it can happen to anyone. The internet opens doors for all kinds of trickery.

The Spain scam was a blip in an otherwise tightly orchestrated schedule. In preparation for this past weekend's art studio tour, several kiln firings were planned, as well as cleaning, arranging, tagging and deliveries. The Two Countries One Bay Art Studio Tour is always a joy for me. More-than-usual folks saunter through my space. On a typical day when the shop is open, visitors rarely get to peek at my private studio space. On tour day, however, sculptures are set-out and the space is a bit more "organized". This was an especially fun tour year, having met some incredibly unique and fun people: hippie potters, Harley bikers, cat enthusiasts, cross-country travelers, and weavers. Perhaps the most interesting "act" was the young couple who are circus performers. It isn't often that you ask someone about their job and they reply "trapeze artist". Anyway - I appreciate all the people who took the time to visit my little space in this far-off nook at the edge of the country. It truly was a joy!

I felt like a milestone had been reached this past week, too. After a couple months of kiln woes, two glaze test fires were completed and all seems to be back on the right track again. (knock on wood!) Colors are more gorgeous than ever and hopefully consistency will be the norm. I tried out new glaze motifs and after a bit of experimentation I found some keepers. The shop has been re-stocked and now the pottery goal has been set to prepare for the next event which is vending a big craft show November 11-12 at the Augusta Civic Center, followed the next weekend by my annual holiday pottery sale here in Lubec. I am really looking forward to the Augusta showing and seeing some familiar faces from my old stomping grounds. There is lots of work to be done before then and it is crucial that I keep focused on the goals since I am juggling not only my newly enhanced role as potter but also my teaching and my MFA coursework.

With the start of the new semester in the Heartwood College of Art MFA program, I began a new sculpture last week, and after this blog post, will return to working on it. The idea is full of complexities and I keep reminding myself to narrow down the visuals to only what is essential. The thinking time on this piece has far outweighed the physical work thus far, but it seems now that the "goal" is more solid that the actual studio time will be more efficient. This piece has become additionally interesting for me since I made the realization that the symbolisms I chose are a reflection of something much more personal and close-to-home than the original surface idea. The creative process is an interesting one - especially when the subconscious or intuitive self starts to take over. I will post pics of the piece on this blog as the work progresses and expect completion of this first phase of the project to be in December.

We have been enjoying the garden's bounty. It is an unruly patch of vegetation but seems to be producing some things in quantity enough to elicit canning. Last weekend we canned fresh pasta sauce, and yesterday we canned the green beans. Today I hope to find time to begin a batch of salsa, and late this week Chris will make the last huge batch of pesto for freezing. Apple sauce prep begins next week, too. With recent frost warnings, I have plucked as many goodies as possible from the garden. I think here on the coast we have skirted what other parts of Maine have endured in the way of extreme cold night temps. With only a couple days until Mabon, summer is saying her goodbyes. I am still hoping for gorgeous warm days as we head toward Autumn, but secretly (or not so anymore!) look forward to the first snow and early dark.

It is time to tend to the cats' morning feed and to get the studio prepped for a day's work. I will open the shop soon but expect much less fanfare than the last two days previous. The quiet will be good for thinking time.

I hope everyone enjoys a beautiful first-days-of-autumn week!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Two Countries One Bay Art Studio Tour
September 17-18
10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Seafoam Tumblers
$15 each
Available at Cobscook Pottery and Fiber Arts

Lubec, Maine

It's tour weekend again! I hope to see some familiar and some new faces this year. If you have never been on the tour - now is the time!

Don't miss this chance to catch a glimpse of working artist studios from St. Andrews, Canada down through Campobello Island and Deer Island, Canada, including the towns along Passaquamoddy Bay: St. Stephen, Calais, Robinston, Eastport, Whiting, Trescott, and Lubec.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

I am NOT in Spain....

Though I imagine it would be a fabulous trip! If you received an email from me saying that I am in Spain and need money - know that it is a SPAM/Scam email.

I am still in Lubec - happily hrowing pots, firing the kiln, and working on a new sculpture.

Thanks for the concern.


Sunday, September 11, 2011


Pots glazed and ready for firing.

Half ton of clay delivered on Friday.

Preparing to make sundried tomatoes with garden fresh sun golds and sweet selects.

Cherry tomatoes heading into the dehydrator.

Rolling out the pizza dough.
Only in an artist's kitchen would an LLBean thermos be used in place of a rolling pin...because the rolling pin is in the studio to be used on clay!

Last night's pizza LOOKED fabulous with whole grain crust, fresh-from-garden basil pesto, chanterelle mushrooms. and our own sundried tomatoes....too bad the oven decided to stop working! photogenic.

Early morning walks in Lubec remind me of the 1990's TV program Northern Exposure. Do you remember the opening of that show, where a moose ambles through downtown? Luckily, I haven't come face-to-face with such an enormous creature in the prime of rutting season, but the critters are definitely making their presence known. The walk is a fairly basic route, past houses, fields, and down a quiet tree-groved side road. Two morning walks in a row I have seen a doe and her fawns. They notice me, give a slight flicker of the while tail, and then continue to go about their grazing. Canadian Geese rest in a field, preparing for their southward travel, and crows caw and cackle loudly in trees while eagles soar overhead. There are remnants of coyote scat all along the road, signaling a busy night and reason why we are so diligent about making sure the cats are in and undercover before nightfall. Perhaps the most recent amusing morning-walk spectacle was the flying spruce cones. First I heard this crackling and knocking sound like small branches breaking free and tumbling downward, then I noticed that these little cones were flying right out of the tree, raining down to the ground. The massive amount of shedding had me think that I had perhaps come upon the precise, magical, moment when a tree decided to shed its heavy-weighted cones, but upon further inspection I eyed a little squirrel near the tip of the spruce. She was shaking, knocking, and tossing cones to the ground in frenzied preparation of colder temps to come. We locked gazes briefly then she quickly returned to the task at hand.

Chris and I have been a bit like that little squirrel lately. The colder temps and winds that signal autumn combined with the shade-changing and tumbling-down of leaves has us scurrying to put food away for winter. Harvested basil prompted pesto-production, tomato bounty elicited sundrying (via dehydrator) as well as a big batch of spaghetti sauce which will be cooked and canned later today. The pole beans have been prolific so those will also be canned this week, and apples are being scouted for apple sauce. The garden produced much better results than last year, although, we fully acknowledge that we have much to learn about farming our tiny plot. It continues to be a work in progress.

Last night's gourmet pizza with fresh pesto, sun dried tomatoes, and wild-harvested chanterelle mushroom had our mouths watering. It had been a long day of work for the two of us and this late-night dinner was sure to hit the spot. To our extreme disappointment, we discovered that the oven had kicked-out on us, heating after over an hour to only 325 degrees. Apparently that was the only temp I had been cooking at lately and hadn't noticed any problems. Who knows how long the lack of heat has been an issue. Needless to say - the pizza looked far better than it tasted. Attempts to cook the bottom of the crust in a fry pan were not hugely successful. Let's just say, I woke at 4:00 a.m. a bit hungry from lack of adequate supper. Deja vu struck...wasn't it only three weeks ago that the pottery kiln wouldn't reach full temp? What is it with me and these ovens?

Happily, the elements are back to working order in the kiln. There are still issues though, noticing that the thermocouple is not reading the temps accurately. I have ditched all expectations of reliability and have resorted to firing with old-fashioned cone pacs. To regain some consistency, I decided to retest all my glazes at both cone 5 and cone 6. Yesterday the cone 5 test fire ran and I will unload and check those little wobbly lopsided mini pots later this morning. Once unloaded, I will reload for the cone 6 test firing and let that run while I am working on my fall semester projects for the Heartwood College of Art MFA program. As usual, I am multitasking and wearing several hats at once. With the change of my teaching job to half time, one would think I would have gained extra "free" time, but that would have been an unrealistic expectation I suppose. I am busier than ever juggling teaching, pottery, running the shop, MFA classes, and now we can add the proverbial winter nut-storing to the list. Note that photo above of the 1/2 ton clay shipment. Food isn't the only thing being stored for winter around here!

Next weekend is the Two Countries One Bay Artist Studio Tour. I look forward to that event each year and meeting new and interesting folks who are scurrying from studio to studio to catch the rare glimpse inside over fifty working-artist spaces. I have lots of prep to do before the event begins. I spent the past two days glazing work not only for the test fires but for the tour, too. I have been blessed with excellent sales this summer, and now the shelves are looking a wee bit bare to me. I look forward to restocking them for the weekend and for other upcoming events this fall.

The only other news to report (which isn't really "news) since the last time I blogged is that we survived Hurricane Irene in good order. Luckily for us downeast it wasn't so bad - a bit of heavy rain and wind but no damage that I heard of. News forecasts showed that others did not fare so well in the more northern parts and up through Vermont. We definitely skirted the worst of what could have been and for that I am thankful.

The cats continue to coexist as best they can. A bit of hissing and growling still ensues and Bello tries to stake his claim on certain areas while Bouli continues to dance on the edge of boundaries. If people could get along at least half as well as these two have after being thrust into each others' personal spaces, then we could say that we have come a long way.