Just out of the kiln, column vessels inspired by Lubec factory remnants.
Shanna Wheelock, 2012
Chris and I were judges once again for the Annual International Gingerbread House Contest that was held at Lubec Memorial Library. There were lots of great entries from all ages and the sweet confections provided a festive, sugary smell throughout the room.
Shanna with librarian John Leavitt and President Bill Cassidy of Washington County Community College
We enjoyed the reception for my Woven Works exhibit at WCCC. Thanks to John, James, and Lauren for doing a fabulous job hanging the show, and thank you to President Cassidy for recognizing the value of the arts in our lives.
It was a super busy week with two pottery vending engagements. Both venues offered up phenomenal music which is always a plus. Friday night I set up shop in Machias at the First Friday Art Walk, and on Saturday, I traveled to Eastport for the Winter Holiday Market at the Eastport Arts Center. Amy Zipperer did a fantastic job organizing. Thanks, Amy!
These fellas (above) performed upstairs at the gorgeous Machias Grange. That's Duane Ingalls on the far right (former Lubec music teacher) but I don't know the other guys. I think they were playing "Grateful Dead" here. Much appreciated!
The Beehive Design Collective premiered their latest project, "Mesoamerica Resiste", which has been nine years in the making. I had the opportunity to speak with worker bee Kehben about her amazing experiences while being with the project since its earliest beginnings. Her story really touched me. She, and all involved, should be so proud of their accomplishment. The city of Machias certainly is all the better for the presence of the Beehive in their community. Be sure to check out the article from the Bangor Daily News, which includes a short video of the two-piece mural.
Like most people, I am in shock and deeply saddened, frustrated, fearful, and angry over last Friday's elementary school massacre in Connecticut. Every mass killing pulls at my soul, be it war-related, genocide, or tragedy at the hands of a single person, but for some reason, this most recent rampage has gone more fully to my core. When I first heard the news, I wept. Each time I think of of the children and the families, I weep again. I think of my former students and fellow co-teachers and wonder how they are coping. I think of the parents whose lives will never be the same, or the community that will forever be known as "that town where..."
Even with joyous events all around us as we prepare for the upcoming holiday, the horror flashes through my mind and won't let me free.
And it shouldn't.
None of us should be able to ever think that we can go back to "normal" (whatever that is) and forget or think that this was an anomaly, that something like this will never happen again. Or, that it can't happen in our own town. We have been watching events like this unfold with what seems like greater and greater frequency.
I had just began my first teaching job in central Maine when the Columbine shooting occurred. I remember it as being surreal. I was young and innocent, and things like this just didn't happen...except in the movies. Right? I remember being prepped on how to handle it in the classroom should students bring it up. I recall only one comment being made by a student, and clearly this particular second grader was impressed, smiling ear to ear as he raised his hand and recited details of the event in front of his classmates as if he were explaining his Saturday morning cartoon.
We read the news or watch it on TV and we blame this one particular person for carrying out the event, but the truth of it is, we are all responsible.
As a society, we have allowed this to happen. We live steeped in a culture where violence is glorified, from the movies that we pay big bucks to see to the news programming that feeds us the dirty laundry we so badly crave. We kill hundreds of thousands in the name of "freedom", buy our children violent video games, and turn a blind eye to those in need.
Intense sorrow emanates from Newtown, Connecticut and it is reaching across the lands, across the oceans. We are collectively feeling that sorrow. This is as it should be. As human beings, we have the capacity to be empathic, and when we are not, that is a greater tragedy. And it would be an even greater tragedy if we were to not demand that this never happen again.
Realistically, can such violent rampages be stopped?
Maybe there is no one cure-all answer, but there is some logic that perhaps can be applied. I wonder, what would it take to change our course from one that is violent and destructive to a society that is peaceful and healthy?
So, here are a few ideas, many of which you have probably already heard.
Disclaimer: I am pissed. These views are very much mine, I'm being honest, and I am not holding back. So, yes, some may be offended. No apologies this time.
Compassion over Competition
It starts at birth. Every child needs, and deserves, to feel loved, safe, and taken care-of. This means responsible, mature parenting. Why are there no mandatory classes in how to parent? Every child should have adequate food, shelter, and healthcare. That means that the adult needs the same as well. The attitude of "every man for himself" is bullshit. That attitude sets us up on a competitive stage rather than one of compassion. We need to learn the skill of listening to one another and we need to create an environment where compassionate nurturing is the most valuable trait. The saying "it takes a whole village to raise a child" is true. It does. Consequently, when that village is unhealthy and violent, we are still all raising that child. The children are our mirror of who we are. Think about the best "village" scenario and create it.
Peace as a Goal
When did "Peace" become a dirty word? It is beyond me that anyone would fight the concept of living in a peaceful society. The argument that one does not think it is possible is not enough. Whether or not you feel it is possible, why would you not want to work toward it? Start today with acknowledging that war is not the appropriate response to any situation. Nor is hitting a child, supporting sports that are violent in nature, or condoning the death penalty. It is never okay to justify violence such as rape or domestic abuse or to not fully prosecute those who are guilty of it. Actions speak louder than words. If you think it is wrong to kill or injure, then put your money where your mouth is.
End the Desensitization
We are inundated with images of violence from a young age. Sure, those video games, music, and movies come with a stated restricted age, but we all know that doesn't really deter a young person's access, it only makes the product more appealing. The movie industry knows this. They want that R rating. The video games know it too. The more realistic the bloodshed, the more titillating the game. Young minds are not yet developed enough to understand the consequences of such real life situations. Violence is not, and should not, be a game. Parents who watch these movies or play these games should be responsible in their use and keep it from their young child's sight.
Restore Social Services
Some people have responded to this most recent tragedy as a result of a "Godless Society". This sure flares me. Do you know what else is missing from society? Necessary social services. Has anyone stopped to think that perhaps this increase in desperate violent acts is the result of years of cutting humanitarian services like mental health and human resources, education, and welfare? Again, this "each for their own" thinking is not working. And if anything is an indication of a "Godless Society" it is this: taking away from those in need. People who covet their extreme wealth at the expense of others' well being should be ashamed of themselves. I know so many who have so little and still go above and beyond to help others, and THAT is the authentic way of living within the principles of a meaningful and spiritual life.
Study and Understand
For every mass murder that is taking place, there are other such plots being made. There are are at least two stories in this past week's U.S. news that were of foiled plans to kill mass numbers of school children and a carried-out mass victim knife attack in China. The culprits should be studied and understood. Know every detail of their life and what led them to such extreme behaviors. Knowing what prompts someone to do such things could be helpful in recognizing what we as a society need to change, whether that be access to weapons, healthcare, different home environemnts, etc. I think there is no one thing that makes such a person, but it would be immoral to not take steps toward change to improve our chances of this not happening again.
When the second amendment was written, there did not exist automatic weapons that kill dozens of children in a matter of seconds. What need is there for a gun that does such a thing other than to kill mass numbers of innocents? I know many people with guns, most of them used for hunting, some for a sense of self-protection. And of those people who own these guns, most have no intention or desire to kill other human beings. We can go back and forth on this, the right to bear arms, and what it means. For me, an ideal society would have zero guns. Zero guns in the entire world. Yes, I like the sound of that. And while we're at it, zero weapons that are made with the intention of harming another being.
That being said, I know that this realistically will not fly given the current gun-toting culture. However, something does need to change. It needs to happen immediately and it needs to be enforced. Automatic weapons should not be in the hands of the lay person. As well, it should be more difficult to attain any kind of gun. We don't allow a person to just jump in a car and start driving without taking an exam. Nor should anyone who has a history of violence or extreme mental issues be allowed to purchase a gun. Guns in the household where someone is suicidal or delusional is not prudent. People need to be honest with themselves. There are too many tragedies. We need to change course and do not what we greedily want to do, but what we feel to be in the best interest of the whole.
Click the link below to watch a Youtube video of Cheryl Wheeler's song "If It Were Up To Me". Powerful. Something to think about.
"Craftspeople, artists, farmers, and purveyors of other delights will offer shoppers the opportunity to treat their loved ones to the finest handmade gifts including stained glass, ornaments, honey, artisan cheeses, jewelry, pottery, mobiles, banners, bags, childrens' toys, herbal balms, hand spun fiber garments, and more! Cookies and hot cider to bring cheer, and local musicians will keep your stockings rocking while you shop. Support your community, enjoy a friendly shopping experience, and buy locally this holiday season." excerpt from the website.
Last year we didn't have a yule tree. Bouli was too young and feisty so we forewent the traditon imagining the worst: a kitten sprinting up the shaft bringing down balsam scented fir with a crashing and clinking of long-adored ornaments. Never mind the possible tinsel fiasco.
This year we have thrown caution to the wind. Despite the chilling temps, Chris and I ventured over to the the Hayward's and picked out a modest seven foot beauty. Every year there is a bit of distress knowing that our ancient tree base is a real hassle to get aligned just perfectly with the trunk. Somehow this year, however, it went smooth as butter. The tree was up in no time, the tip reaching ceiling with a half inch to spare. Bouli was curious but not destructive, and to our surprise, the tree stands straight. Certainly, we were through the worst of it and all we had left to do now was add the lights and ornaments.
So down I plunked myself onto the floor with five or six severely tangled strands of colored and white LED Christmas lights. Again, I surprised myself at the smoothness of it all. Yes, tangled, but somehow I managed to detangle in good fashion. I excitedly climbed upon a stool and began to string the colorful little bulbs top to bottom. As Chris walked in the room, I noticed that he was clearly impressed by my efficiency. In the past, this task was such a a long, drawn out chore. But then it occurred to me....
Shouldn't I have plugged the lights in before hanging to be sure that they worked?
Wait. Don't answer that. We all know the answer. I know the answer. Still, I didn't do the workability test.
So, I reached down to plug the two strands in to the outlet and....one strand was out. Oh poop.
No worries. We had backup strands of clear. So, I untangled more lights and tested them. Thumbs up. Here we go. Lights strung on tree. Looking good. Then.... I got this idea to plug the one strand of color lights to the clear and add a bit of pizazz. As soon as I did, the top strand of clear went out. And so it went, each variation producing yet another disappointment.
The lights were old. Many years old. They have been in a box in the top of the barn unused for two seasons and had graced our trees many seasons previous, perhaps even as far back as our time in Tennessee.
Fortunately, the market down the road had lights in stock. We cleaned them out of all five sets and returned home. Chris was waning by this point, but I assured him that fresh out of the box they would not be tangled thus all would go smooth and quick. I tested each set before joining strands then strung the tree with amazing speed. Phew! Now, all we had to do was plug them in.
That would have been simple if I had strung the lights so that the plug was at the bottom of the tree near the outlet. But no. I had strung them, essentially, upside down. Yes, it can be done. And it was. All the lights were, once more, removed from the tree.
I'm happy to report that as I sit here writing this blog entry that I am enjoying the sweet colorful glow of multicolored lights on a beautiful tree. Albeit, no decorations. After all the drama of trying to get the tree lit, we were both a little too frustrated to finish the task. Instead, we each went to our respective spaces to do a little writing.
The tree was a nice break from the past week of intense studio time. I have been working on more column vessels inspired by the long gone Lubec factories. I am playing with multitudes of textures and thinking about possibilities once the works are fired. In all I have created nineteen new columns. I have my favorites and am anxious for them to dry so that they may be fired and finished. This grouping of work is inspired by the brick remnants from the original American Can factory in North Lubec. I have enjoyed my time with one of the town's elders who is filling me in on some local history and appreciate that the new land owners of the former factory site have graciously allowed me to forage for factory remnants, all in the name of art. How cool!
It was wonderful to have a week with only three short appointments so that I could focus on my own projects. This coming week will be a busy one with a reception at WCCC where my fiber works are hanging, and two art/craft events that I will be vending. I've posted the info for those three engagements at the top of this post. I am looking forward to spending time with other artists. I especially enjoy vending where there is live music. The First Friday Art Walk in Machias will be extra meaningful since we will all be privileged to view the newest artwork by Beehive Collective, on display for this one night only before heading off to print and tour. So, if you are in Machias on the 7th, be sure to check this out - it's an amazing opportunity. And, if in the Eastport area on the 8th, stop by the arts center and enjoy some treats, art, and live music!
I cleaned my "cave" this morning. It was a task that involved both Chris and I, face masks, and a wheelbarrow. It was not a pretty sight as my clay studio can get quite messy. I finished off with a floor mop to get the mounds of dust cleared out. It won't last long, but it sure feels nice to have a clean space for a spell. Tomorrow I glaze all day to get a firing through on Monday. I'm hoping for new work to take to the two fairs next weekend and the extra heat from the kiln will help to push along the drying of the new column vessels.
Things seem to be moving along smoothly.
Love this time of year and feel so very blessed and grateful.
I'm excited to announce that my website at shannawheelock.com/cobscookpottery.com now has online shopping! You'll find a selection of my most popular functional pottery items as well as pieces from my new Herring Collectors Series that celebrates the lost sardine and smokehouse industry of Lubec, Maine.
Some of my functional stoneware pottery:
wine chiller, stemless wine tumbler, and flared rim bowl.
It was no small task transferring a fully stuffed 22 1/2 pound turkey from roasting pan to platter. The effort had us all in stitches. Note the deep concentration on Chris' face as he narrowly averts a slip-slide-plop Thanksgiving fowl disaster. I had camera ready just in case things went awry.
Thanks, Aunt June, For a delicious spread and a cozy space to share with family.
Bouli relaxing with a good book.
We are in the thick of it now: Halloween three weeks ago, Thanksgiving two days ago, and Yule fast approaching. Driving back from Bangor last night houses were lit to the hilt with thousands of mini colored LED lights while inflatable Frosties and Santas bobbed and swayed, waving us on toward a month of decorating trees, feasting on sugary delights, and gatherings that involve jolly eggnog-guzzling friends and family.
It seems the only thing missing right now is the snow. Lubec still sports a barren landscape with the occasional sea smoke rising from the bay as temps begin to plummet. The last two days of mild-for-the-season weather leave us wondering if winter will show her white face before the reindeer take flight, but not to worry, as the recent forecast inches toward the allusion that icy white flakes may fall tomorrow.
Today is small business Saturday and though much of Lubec's tiny population may still feel the gravitational pull toward big city box stores two and four hours away, I will get the shop heated and open for those who choose to keep it local. Lubec is tiny, but even so, it has much to offer in the way of gift giving, from artsy downeast boutiques to Peruvian chocolates, and of course, pottery. If I wasn't already living here, I would be begging for a Lubec themed holiday from my sweetie....a gift certificate ensemble for quaint lodging, gourmet dining, local shopping, concerts, Tea with Eleanor on Campobello Island, whale watching, and hiking. Better yet, would think to plan that awesome getaway around one of Lubec's 2013 events: The Bay of Fundy Marathon, Fourth of July, Harvest Howl, Summer Keys, Lubec Arts Alive....
Ok...I am starting to sound like an online commercial. Guess I'm just a wee bit proud of this tiny fishing village sitting out here at the easternmost the tip of the country, and feeling very blessed to be able to live here. Just having spent a couple days in one of Maine's largest cities, I am reminded how special Lubec is, with the emphasis on nature and small town community. There are no traffic lights and honking car horns in jams than wind around malls and big box stores where most everything is made in a foreign country, swaying our senses with perfectly-aimed advertising that numbs us to the harsh realities of sweatshop economies. Like I said, Lubec is a breath of fresh air. Literally.
The days are speeding by and I realized this morning that it has been almost three weeks since I sat down at the keyboard to post a blog entry. My annual holiday sale was fun as usual, allowing me the chance to visit with a lot of local friends. I feel very blessed to know so many wonderful people and sincerely appreciate their support over the years. My sister trekked here from Hallowell which made the weekend extra wonderful and the time together gave us a chance to plot holiday festivities and revel in a few good belly laughs.
After the annual holiday sale, I jumped into sculpture mode and have put most of my focus on my MFA work. There was a sprinkling of stray events that deviated me from studio time here and there: a poetry reading at UMM, Lubec Arts Alive meeting, and of course, Thanksgiving with family.
Perhaps the most interesting component of my MFA work the past couple weeks was my visits with a 95 year old woman who has lived in Lubec all her life and began working in the sardine factories at the age of fourteen. She is somewhat of a local legend. Her stories are historical tidbits providing me with information and inspiration for some of my current work. As it goes with the creative process, it can be long and tiring trying to get to the final product. I am the type of person who gets hung up in mapping out the outcome. This probably comes from years of teaching where we always had to define our end goal and plan out the steps to get to that point. I am working on reclaiming the artist in me who knows to trust the intuitive process. It can be a battle.
I am looking at the clock and realizing that if I am to open shop in an hour, I best get showered and ready for the day. Here, at this moment, all is quiet and peaceful. Feeling appreciative that I am not sitting in the big city maze of cars or standing in long lines of overflowing plastic shopping carts.
Visit us at our Lubec shop this coming weekend to get a jump on your
holiday shopping! Shop Maine-made pottery and jewelry, enjoy
refreshments and holiday cheer, and sign up to win a Cobscook Pottery
(Yep, that's my poet-philosopher husband's latest e-book release!)
Bricks at Comstock Point. New project developing? We'll just have to wait and see!
Several loads of pottery fired last week!
Had a great time vending the Maine Crafts Guild show at the State Museum in Augusta this past weekend.
There are some perks when driving long winding back roads early in the
morning....incredible views! I took this shot in Wesley Maine just as I
turned onto Rte. 9. The lifting fog was magical.
Okay. Some photos are hard to explain. So I won't. I'll just say that I
had yet another memorable and incredible MFA residency weekend in
Kennebunk at Heartwood College of Art.
I took LOTS of fantastic photos to share...however, they are on my
computer....which is back at HP headquarters because it died on me last
week. My pics are, sadly, gone (lesson: BACKUP often!). This is the only
photo that I have from the weekend!
I've been itching to blog but a hectic schedule compounded by a broken
computer kind of put a damper on things. For the past two weeks I have
been slogging along on an old laptop with a malfunctioning keyboard that
made typing a single sentence a lesson in patience. Chris left for
campus a bit ago and I am now reveling in the fact that I have access to
his computer for a few hours to finally type an entry at a normal pace
without having to bang the space bar at the end of every word.
I just returned from a few days in central Maine where I participated in
a Maine Crafts Guild show at the state museum. I spent a bulk of the
past few weeks preparing work. This show carried a bit of jittery angst
since I was to be juried. I am ecstatic to report, after a friendly and
insightful jury appointment, that I was officially accepted into the
guild. I look forward to traveling and vending with this friendly and
talented group of artisans. The weekend was especially pleasurable since
I was able to connect with family and friends that I don't get to see
often enough. I am so incredibly grateful for my parents and sister's
help while I was in town, all of whom are now referred to as "Team
Wheelock." With car fully packed, I returned to Lubec today where Chris
helped to unload the heavy boxes of pottery back into the shop where I
will spend a chunk of this week setting-up for this coming weekend's
annual holiday sale. No rest for the wicked or the weary!
Chris. Ah Chris. While I was away for my MFA residency weekend two weeks
ago, Chris was a busy little poet. He finalized details on a poetry
book that is now available as an Ebook on Amazon. We are a very excited
household of late. Check it out! (click here)
My weekend residency at Heartwood College of Art
was fabulous as usual. Now at midway point in the program I think often
how glad I am that I chose this program for my MFA work. It has been
the perfect fit for me, very affirming of the artist's journey. An
all-around positive experience. I often say that it is a real
grass-roots down-to-earth program. I just happen to be in an all-female
pod which I love. I admire every woman in the group who is sharing this
journey with me.
The upcoming weekend is one that I look forward to. We host our annual
Cobscook Pottery holiday sale. My sister, who is a phenomenal jeweler,
will visit for the weekend to sell her pieces alongside my work and the
other goodies on display in the shop. We'll warm cider on the stove and
play some of the, you know, holiday music that has everyone saying "it
isn't even Thanksgiving and already they are playing Christmas music!"
It will be blues and jazz holiday tunes, so that makes it a little bit
better doesn't it? All summer long the visitors to my studio are mainly
those who are passing through (ayuh, tourists and summer folks).
But, the holiday sale is mostly year round folks that we know well so it
is a fun gathering for me.
I am afraid I have have run out of steam for the night and the deep
thoughts about election and hurricane will have to wait for another day.
I am glad know that my cousin and friends in NY and NJ and other spots
along the east coast are safe and well. My heart was breaking for many,
and was as well deeply touched by acts of compassion and generosity.
Cobscook Pottery vending wares at Lubec's Harvest Howl. Kudos to the Wags and Wool and the rest of the Howl committee and volunteers for a job well done!
Assembling slabs for a column vessel. These buggahs were heavy!!!
Column vessel with cedar shingle imprint assembled and waiting for the next step in the process.
Jean and Pete Deveber (aka Haiku Pete) standing in front of their various boat paintings. These two are a dynamite team! Sixties beatnik hippies with a love of art, jazz, politics, good food and friends.
These two will be celebrating their 50 year wedding anniversary in a few months. Amazing love!
"Have a boat!" said Chris Crittenden, at the infamous LAA Art Auction.
October hike at the West Quoddy Headlight trail in Lubec.
While on our hike at West Quoddy we were greeted by a black-backed woodpecker that flew all around us from tree to tree. We had front row (standing room only) seats to one of nature's most amazing shows! Chris and I were both in awe at close this bird kept in our presence. No binoculars necessary! At times, we were maybe five or six feet away at eye level.
The West Quoddy trail really is one of the most amazingly, breathtakingly, beautiful hikes that I have ever been on. It never gets old. There are powerful rock faces, gushing waters, bogs with interesting plants and trees, and wide open ocean views.
View of Grand Manan from West Quoddy State Park hiking trail.
It's been a couple weeks of frenzied pottery production peppered with vending, social engagements, MFA projects, and time in nature. The candle has been burned at both ends and I am looking at a short respite from the wheel while glaze loads are fired and packing begins for on-the-road events. I am finding it a challenge to sit down and blog as my former weekly postings consumed about three hours a pop. I just haven't had three extra hours the past couple weeks. This morning I am taking advantage of the warmth in this one room by plunking myself down long enough to post what's been going on. The rest of the house is chilly and when looking out the windows at 6:00 a.m. I was greeted by dark stormish skies and what appears to be a hard frost covering the car and barn roof. Brrrrr! I'm happy to be bundled-up warm with keyboard at hand.
The main theme the past couple weeks has been POTTERY POTTERY POTTERY. Preparation for the Maine Crafts Guild show in Augusta has me hopping. The following weekend I host an open studio here in Lubec so must have enough wares to cover both as well as requests from shops. This morning I will sit at the wheel for a few short hours to complete this run of work and won't be back to throwing for about a week or more. And even then, the production will take a back seat to glazing, firing, packing, and sculpture. Even though the work is lining the shelves of my cave, I know that there are never enough mugs or bowls. The drying wares are spilling out of my studio space and into communal and Chris-space. It seems that now the firings are in progress that I can pile things a bit more efficiently. Better (and more!) shelving is on the roster for next year!!!
I vended my wares downtown at the annual Harvest Howl festival. I had front row seats, so to say, to bubble gum and seed spitting contests. A lot of my former students were out and about and it was fun to connect with them. I would have preferred a bit less wind, fearing that my tent would blow away. Water Street seems to be a tunnel for the wind and even with buckets of rocks and blocks, my sturdy-appearing tent was rocking. Outdoor vending always carries that extra bit of anxiety for me because of the unpredictability of the weather. The rain did hold off, but still, my fingers were numb from the cold which made it quite difficult to use a pen or Visa knucklebuster.
This past weekend we were privileged to partake of two fantastic meals with others. Saturday we joined friends at their lakeside home for warm soup and bread and lots of conversation about art. Jean and Pete are one of the coolest couples you could ever meet. I remember the first time we met them at a poetry reading here in Lubec in a small eclectic shop called Beachniks. Poetry enthusiasts took turns reading while dressed in costume of various writers. I was then introduced to the beatnik way of showing approval by snapping fingers. There was lots of finger-snapping happening that day. Poetry was discussed this past Saturday, but without formal reading or snapping. instead, we talked politics, art, and geography with a creative and lively but intimately small group of artists while warming our tummies with hearty stew and homemade bread and jazz music playing in the background.
Sunday I jammed as much studio time as I could before heading off to a celebration potluck for participants and organizers of this past summer's Lubec Market. I love potlucks. Each dish carries the personality of the maker and the variety is always interesting. Most brought food fresh from their gardens, per request, however, our garden kinda tanked a few weeks ago after the last of the tomatoes ripened and the basil was harvested. I broke rule and joined potluck forces with a plate of mini whoopie pies crafted from Nana's family recipe. The whoopie pies paled in comparison to the other colorful dishes but didn't lack for taste or Maine tradition.
The Lubec Market folks are some of the finest. Their hearts are huge and ideas progressive. As so many things in this town, the Lubec market is run by volunteers. Because they did such a fantastic job of organizing, people like me were able to just show up on Saturdays to vend our goods while listening to live musical performances. Patrons to the market were never disappointed, toting their goods in fabric shopping bags while smiling and socializing with new friends and the local regulars. This outlet provided opportunities for gardeners and farmers who certainly have a talent for growing and raising plants and animals. I loved being a part of this group each Saturday and look forward to watching it grow. This area boasts many farms, some of them going back many generations. We have a lot to learn from these folks. So, kudos to the steering committee who put int he long hours and research to make this work!!! Dick, Lisa, Heidi, Steve, Chris, Melissa, Kathy, David, and Claire...THANK YOU!
Time for me to get get into my grungies (my throwing clothes!) and finish the remainder of this run.
Wine chillers, mini vases, tumblers, and bowls: trimmed and drying.
Experimenting with the column form.
Here we are. October is underway and the last bit of summer is heading south with the birds. The air is crisp and leaves are twirling and falling to the ground. The garden is slumped and brown and the windows and doors are closed. I'm thinking about carving pumpkins, warming cider on the stove, and spending long uninterrupted days in the studio. Early evening walks at dusk have brought about the raccoon and porcupine sightings and the full harvest moon creates a mysterious ambiance readying us for howling coyotes and Samhain celebrations. I love this time of year!
It is surreal, not teaching. My schedules are now dictated more by my body's natural rhythms. Quirky sleep patterns don't stress me out so much as they used to and I am finding my productivity to be just as high as in past. With four out of my five retail vendors open through December and two other craft events to prep for, I have created a rigorous calendar to take me through until January. My MFA work is moving at a slower pace, but that seems to be the general transition expectation for me. When I first begin a semester, lots of the initial work is in my head, which I refer to as my "cerebral workout." Images fly at me and at times it can be overwhelming. It takes a while to sort through the ideas and narrow down what I need to say. In the meantime, my hours at the wheel center me and allow me free flow.
My blogging has quelled to a bi-monthly event mainly due to other commitments. I think often about what I'd like to say when it does come time to blog, which is primarily a whole bunch of political spewing since we are in the crux of election time. By the time I get to the blog entry, however, my thoughts have had time to mellow.
This election seems more important to me than any before. Maybe it is my age. Maybe it is because I am a woman. Maybe it is because I am more aware of what is going on in the world than I was when I was in my twenties, or even my thirties. Like many, I get frustrated when I hear the rantings that are hurtful, racist, homophobic, or sexist. It seems pretty basic to me when electing a person to office. I ask, is this person kind? Compassionate? Humanitarian? Honest?
I understand that everyone comes from their own perspective and experiences. Still, no matter your perspective or who you want to see in office, it doesn't make it right to slander groups of people or to knock those who are already down and struggling.
FACEBOOK is great for networking and keeping people in touch, but this election is bringing out what I consider to be the worst in some. People that I have known for years to be good, kind, compassionate people are reposting political images that are clearly hurtful and racist or sexist. It floors me because I never would have imagined that my "friends" posting these things would really want these things to be representative of who they are.
I see that as a nation we have made many leaps forward in equal rights, but at the same time, it seems we have so far to go. Sometimes it feels like we are taking steps backward. Too much brainwashing by mainstream media is taking its toll. This is why education is more important than ever. People need to learn to think for themselves and how to search out truth. We grow up being told what to believe, by our parents, our churches, and our leaders so much that we forget how to really dig deep within to know our own values or to become solid and comfortable in our beliefs.
I anxiously await election day and hope for one of those life-changing moments that hits me at the core telling me that all will be okay. I had one of those moments when the supreme court ruling upheld the Health Care Reform Act. I thought, finally, support for what is right and ethical, for what is humanitarian. A lot is riding on November 6th. Not only do we have the opportunity to re-elect one of the most inspiring presidents of our time, but also, in Maine, an opportunity for marriage rights for all my friends and family. Crossing fingers, holding my breath, and wishing on falling stars for a humanitarian way of life to supersede all the negative energies that have been holding us back.
Assuming that my readers didn't bail on this blog entry as soon as I mentioned politics, I will now toss out some of the wonderful things that have been going on the past couple weeks. First of all, 2000 lbs of clay finally arrived! I had been pretty much out for about three weeks and when a potter is without clay, a potter gets a wee bit stressed! I was working with the remnants of past throwing sessions that required much additional wedging and that took a toll on my shoulders. The eighteen wheeler freight truck met us at the end of our drive last Tuesday morning where the pallet was moved out of the truck and into the dirt drive. Chris tossed 500 lbs at a time into the car to transport it to our yard where it then was put in the wheelbarrow, 100 lbs at a time, to be moved into my cave studio. (THANK YOU Chris!) In the past few days I have already gone through 200 lbs. and am hoping that this takes me through the winter. Once snow flies and the driveway gets icy, a delivery like this is out of the question. My clay supplier is over 5 hours away from here, so getting clay is no easy task! (Not to mention, our tiny economy car has a very low weight limit!) Oh, and just a shout out to our awesome U.S. postal guy, Al. He walked our mail up the long driveway which included a sizable box because the end of the driveway was blocked with clay. Neither rain, sleet, nor snow...nor clay apparently....will keep the U.S. postal service from delivering!
And speaking of packages...I have been busy packing orders and preparing to pack orders when the online shopping cart is activated. As you might guess, this involves mounds of packaging materials. THANK YOU David and Kathy for all that bubble wrap! I'm so glad you have moved to Lubec....for more than one reason! Mostly because you are awesome and you are a great addition to this community, but I must admit, six or so huge bags of bubble wrap is a nice fringe benefit!
Last week we enjoyed a delightfully delicious homemade meal at our friend Barbara's house. She outdid herself with yummies that clearly are normally not within our budget. We felt like a Queen and King for a night! Barbara had been studying mushrooms and we were fortunate receivers of her newfound knowledge. I can't remember if she called them meadow mushrooms or horse mushrooms, but either way, they were so yummy stuffed with fresh herbs from her beautiful and abundant garden. It inspired us to pull out the mushroom guide books when we returned home. We are not foolish enough to think we can safely identify non-poisonous mushrooms on our own without a human guide, but we are confident in two chanterelle mushrooms that we have been enjoying even into late September. It is amazing how ritzy a meal can be on a tight budget if willing to scrounge a bit in the woods. One of our favorite new mushroom books, because of its detailed photos and relation to our specific area, is David Spahr's "Edible and Medicinal Mushrooms of New England and Eastern Canada." Check it out!
Chanterelles in late September make for a yummy dinner treat.
Last weekend the Harvest Howl was postponed due to rain which allowed me an unexpected two rainy days to dive into projects. Despite the weather, Lubec Arts Alive hosted a one-day fundraising art supply sale which was a huge success. For those in Lubec, or those who have worked with us on Lubec Arts Alive events, you probably knew Claudia Mahlman. Claudia was a founding member of Lubec Arts Alive and one of my right-hand-women who knew how to get things done when it came to community organizing. Sadly, Claudia passed away this past summer. She was a passionate artist who truly cared about community and even in her illness her generous spirit kept flowing forth. She wanted her art supplies to do two things; one being a support for LAA and the other to assist a young talented artist. Both of these requests were followed-through. Thank you Claudia!!!
Claudia Mahlman working on the Lubec Arts Alive kinetic herring sculpture, installed in downtown Lubec, summer 2010. While the community participated in the painting of the individual smaller fish, Claudia painted the herring head, tails, and fins for the sculpture. I must add, she did a phenomenal job!
It feels a luxury to be sitting here working on the blog. Right now I'm debating whether to get into my grungy work clothes for a late afternoon studio session or to just do some other odd project on the main floor to enjoy the house in one of it's rare moments of relative cleanness. (An early afternoon visit prompted the cleaning!) We'll see where I'm at once I get this entry posted. (yawning and thinking I know which will win out!)
I have woken to major downpours here in Lubec, which means that the Harvest Howl has been postponed until Next Weekend, Saturday October 6th. . Crossing fingers for clear skies for a few hours so that vendors can set up and hay rides and games can take place. I'll be back to blogging soon...busy busy!
Stoneware mugs by Shanna Wheelock of Cobscook Pottery
Fifth Annual Cobscook Pottery Holiday Open House
At Cobscook Pottery and Fiber Arts
Friday, November 9 - Sunday, November 11
Friday 3:00-7:00 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
This year keep your holiday shopping local with finely crafted Maine made gifts. Join us for holiday cheer, yummy treats, great handmade gift ideas, superb packaging, and a chance to win a Cobscook Pottery gift certificate! Start your holiday shopping early while supporting a local business.
(A few details to work out, but the work is on-site and ready to hang. Check back for offical dates)
Visit Cobscook Pottery at the
September 29, 2012
10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
(rain date September 30th)
Cold weather food is on the menu lately.
We were surprised to still find wild chanterelle mushrooms in September!
Bouli has developed unusual white markings on her dark brown ears that resemble the vein structure of a leaf. At first we thought that she was losing her ear fur, but upon closer inspection we found that the fur has actually turned white!
Ms. Porcupine has been making herself right at home in our backyard. Given that a porcupine's life span can be fifteen years or more, it is possible that this is the same porcupine that has been sleeping in the spruce behind our house since we first moved here ten years ago.
Pots-a-plenty have been thrown and are now trimmed and drying in preparation for their first firing. The drying has been extremely slow this summer. Pottery sort of operates by its own schedule.
Jonathan and Linda from "Slice of Heaven Bakery" in Saratoga Springs sent this picture of their freshly baked New York bagels in one of my bowls. Yum!
This season's last weekend for the Lubec Market was still hopping! The line is always long when pastries are involved.
Sarah enjoyed the morning spinning wool at the Lubec Market.
She knits beautiful shawls, sweaters, scarves and hats.
According to the calendar it is still summer, but the cool nights and falling leaves seem to signal an early change on the horizon. Lubec benefited from an unusually warm and sunny season with less fog than forecasted so I won't complain. The birch trees are already shedding their green to golden appendages and windows are sealed tight once dark ascends. Barefoot much of the past three months, those plush, colorfully striped, fuzzy warm socks have made a reappearance.
Autumn has always been my favorite time of year, signaling a change of routines and the onset of a what most refer to as "the holiday season". Labor Day sent kids and teachers back to school, leaf-peeping season soon begins, and before we know it, pumpkins will be carved, turkeys baked, and trees decorated. Anyone who has been in New England in late September to early October marvels at the bursting orange, red, and yellow atop trees. The scent of burning leaves wafts through the air, and front yards begin to display an array of creatively carved jack-o-lanterns. Crunchy leaves underfoot offer their own music and warm breath exhaled into the open air punctuates the crispness of the falling temps. What's not to love?
Even though not returning to teach this fall, my internal clock still recognizes the change. The pottery business has begun to shift from primarily stocking the shop and visiting with guests to planning for upcoming activities. This squirrel is storing her nuts, so to say. I am making lists of what needs to be accomplished to prepare for the upcoming addition of a shopping component to my website and vending schedules are being set. The next few months through December will be rigorous but I am up for the challenge and look forward to each new experience.
New for me this year is that I will be vending my functional pottery, along with the Herring Collectors' Series, at the Maine Crafts Guild show at the Maine State Museum in November. I am pleased to be accepted into this juried show and to be able to exhibit my wares in my hometown area. Preparing for this venue is at a different level than shows that I have vended in the past. The preparations are grand and require very specific booth items such as professional drape and lighting systems. I have spent a bulk of this past week researching the backdrops and since it is a hefty investment I want to be sure to make the best decisions the first time around. And to add another dimension to the complexity of diving into the world of juried fine craft shows, the booth space is tiny - only 6'x10'. I will not only have to create an aesthetically pleasing booth, but I will need to stock the wares in an extremely efficient manner. I consider this first showing with the Guild my trial. While at the show my booth and work will be juried a second time. The hope is that I will become eligible for full guild membership for 2013. Wish me luck!
Keeping up with showing my wares in five shops and galleries throughout Maine as well as in my own shop has been a challenge. Like I said above, pottery has its own schedule and summer is short. Pre-planning is a must since it takes weeks for a piece to be made from the first step of wedging to the final step of the second kiln firing. I experimented with a few new items this season and when certain pieces have turned out to be good sellers it still takes a few weeks to get a second run of the work complete. This winter I will have the advantage of building stock when the sales begin to slow. (Again, that squirrel storing her nuts!). I also see the winter months as a time for experimentation.
The pottery will share the stage with continued MFA studies at Heartwood College of Art. I am just beginning my sixth semester in the program, officially squeaking past the halfway mark. The reading assignment is a bit heavy and will spur some writing soon enough as well as the sculptural works. The physical component is at a slower pace to start in large part due to lack of clay. Two thousand pounds of the moist, earthy concoction (yes, a ton!) is scheduled to be freighted way downeast end of next week. Word of the wise (or not so wise) to potters....don't wait to order your clay when the school year is just beginning and every school in the state just about has put in their clay order as well. I forgot about this little detail and have been twiddling my thumbs and rationing the remainder of my clay to create only what is necessary to get by in the short term. It's slim pickings down there in the cave!
Speaking of the cave, it needs a good cleaning, or rather, neatening. Well, yes, it should be cleaned as well, but that is a far more daunting task. For today, I will get the last pile of trimmings picked-up and the space ready for sculpture. I am crossing fingers for some good drying weather so that I can get a bisque load fired this week and hopefully do some glazing by next weekend. Life is never dull around here!
Kudos to Jean Bookman and Sue Reilly of Lubec who spent the past year collecting trash from the Lubec shoreline to create a HUGE labyrinth at Flatiron Corner. They incorporated the spiritual ritual of walking a labyrinth with an educational component to bring awareness to the man-made pollution that plagues our seas. Wing Lum was on site to film the event and John Rule photographed for the Quoddy Tides...but guess who forgot to snap a few pictures? Yep. I guess I was too caught up in the moment to remember a photo for the blog. If someone emails me a digital pic, I will do my best to get it posted here. Pretty nifty!!!
Shanna Wheelock sculpts and weaves in downeast Maine nestled amongst spruce trees and critters. She studied ceramics in the early 1990’s as a fine arts student and took to weaving a few years later when awarded a fellowship. She spent many years facilitating workshops for women’s groups, inmates, children, and exchange students, and is a state certified visual arts teacher and Weaving a Life Circle Leader. She recognizes arts as a pathway to healing and is grateful for her enchanted life on the coast, in the easternmost U.S. town of Lubec, with her husband the poet and their two cats "Bello" and "Bouli".
To follow Cobscook Pottery on Facebook, just click the link below. When you get to the page, click the "Like" button. You'll get daily posts of our hours, vending venues, website updates, and photos of new pottery as well as sculptural work.
Cobsccok Pottery on Facebook: link
We built this loom with a Maine Arts Teachers Fellowship grant. It is housed here at Cobscook Pottery, right next to our fire circle. The installation ceremony was amazing - with a group of close friends, chanting, feasting, and praying for Peace.
Hecate (woven and felted wool)
This is my favorite Zati mask that I have made, named "Laughing Tree Spirit." When I wear this mask, I can't help but fill with laughter. The face sometimes appears quiet, but when worn, takes on a more jovial appearance.
This mask is named "Babi." It was the first Zati mask that I ever made. I asked for the animal spirits to make their presence, and they did - with a Baboon! Not exactly what I was expecting. But in this process, I am open and willing to learn/listen to whatever messages are brought to me.
This is the first tapestry that I ever made on my beaver stick loom. The piece, for me, tells the story of a Shaman's journey through the underworld.
I have been sculpting fertility Goddesses since I was a student at USM, back in the early 1990's. I have made these "Mamas" in earthenware, stoneware, and raku. They have evolved slightly over the years, but the main idea the same. I love to work with the figure - and this is perhaps my favorite form to sculpt and draw - a voluptuous torso.
This was the first figure drawing that I ever did, at USM, about twenty years ago.
A quick study of model with hiking shoe
This was one of our 10 minute warm-up exercises.
These are three typical mini pots that I make. I sell lots of them either through my studio or at Northern Tides, a gift shop here in Lubec.
I like Japanese culture and pottery. This comes through in my pottery, with the Yunomi cups, rice bowls, and Sake Sets. This set is in the "Barley" glaze, but I also make them in "Earth and Sky", "Speckled Blue-Grey", and "Butterfly" glazes.
MOON TREE SERIES
MOON TREE SERIES
In this piece I opted to glaze the branches a darker, contrasting color. In some respects I like it better than the more simple, purely celadon piece. However, there is something to be said for quiet beauty.
Most of my new work has this new chop signature. SLW: Shanna Lynn Wheelock