Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Birthday Celebrations

Shanna Wheelock / Cobscook Pottery website can be found at:

Though it may be hard to see here, the waves at Reid State Beach were HUGE on my birthday. 
I couldn't resist a quick dip in the cool ocean waters.

Family playing cards at my birthday celebration.  
Looks like no one was dealt a super hand, however, Chris seems to be hiding his cards a bit better than the others. Maybe he won the pile of pennies this time.

Everyone loves Little Lad's Popcorn!

The first set of herring tumblers fresh out of the kiln.

New Cobscook Pottery item: Wine Chillers.

 Carving a herring tile.

Freelance writer and photographer Lisa Dellwo gave me a tour of her and and her husband's gorgeous plot of land at Comstock Point. This area was once the location of the American Can Company.

 Herbminders of Maine with their fresh cut flowers at the Lubec Farmers'  Market.

Duane Ingalls offering some fine tunes during the Lubec Farmers' Market.

McGinley Jones, Massage Therapist and chef/teacher for Love's Kitchen,  fired up the stove and sauteed lovely fresh greens and other yummy goodies for patrons of the Lubec Farmers' Market.

Felicia rationing fresh garden pea pods for sale at the Lubec Farmers' Market.

Chris in his beach duds hanging out in the sun and surf at Reid State Beach.

Longtime friend Monica and her beautiful family visiting Maine from North Carolina.

Chanterelle mushrooms are finally making an appearance in the mossy forest, providing us a little something extra yummy for our late night dinners.

Looking at the pictures on my blog I realize how fast the days go and just how much is packed into a week. This past week I took a few days off from the usual studio routine to celebrate my 43rd birthday with family in central Maine. After a late arrival Saturday night, Chris and I joined my sister to watch fireworks at Old Hallowell Days. They were phenomenal this year as the tiny city turned 250 years old. I have a lot of fond memories of Hallowell, having been born there and later spent many years living and working there in the family business, Quality Copy. I have slight memories as a toddler of the pizza shop that dad and grampa once ran, and in later years, I did a three year stint organizing the city's parade for their annual celebration. Lots of great memories in Hallowell and I love making my way back for the festival when I can.

The next day we relaxed with a picnic at Reid State Park in Georgetown. The ocean here in Maine is cold, but I decided to brave the waters. For a hot day, the sandy beach was relatively quiet except for the enormous waves. I didn't remember such waves in past visits but with a lifeguard nearby I thought it would probably be safe to venture out a bit and ride the crests. Towels were set upon the sand and lotions and bug sprays applied. I walked to the water's edge and did a tester with my feet. Not too bad. 

I recall in years past a chalkboard posting of the ocean and lagoon temps listed as if they were specials of the day. A typical Maine ocean temp in this midcoast area was usually in the mid to high 50's. But this day, it felt warm and inviting. So out I walked, the soft sand beneath my feet, the cool foamy combs brushing against my legs. Assessing the height of the waves, and the fierce crash against the shore, I knew that I needed to enter a sizable distance to be able to ride the crests of the waves rather than have them break upon me. I saw my opportunity and made my way, gleefully cheering each time the water swooped me high into the air. 


I saw it coming. One of the biggest waves I had ever seen at Reid. Strategy? To move further out before the wave broke. 

But my calculations proved inaccurate.

As I rushed toward the wave, I took it face on.

It was an explosive salty pressure rushing up my nose, in my mouth, crashing me down under. The wave carried me toward shore underneath it's foamy rush. 

In my few seconds of riding underneath the high velocity wave, I had sense enough to do a quick check before rising from my aquatic baptism to make sure that my bathing suit was still in place as it should be. All was good. I rose from the water laughing, a bit more disheveled. No, this was no Baywatch moment. No Bo Derek "10" running along the shore. It was clumsy, and once the lifeguard and Chris both saw me resurface safely, quite humorous. 

That concluded my time in the water.

Trips to central Maine always include a few errands. This trip no different, even though touted as a mini vacation. I was able to pick up a supply order in Portland, make a pottery deliver to Center for Maine Craft, and pick-up the Lubec Arts Alive fundraiser notecards from Quality Copy (they look fabulous!!!!). 

On the same trip, we met up with my longtime friend Monica and her family, visiting from North Carolina. It was great to do some catching-up over lunch and a walk around the back bay in Portland. The visit was short and we had to return to central Maine for dinner with family and an early departure the next morning.

As fun as the short trip was, Chris and I were glad to return home to Lubec. The cats were happy for our return too. We enjoyed a short walk in the rain, listening to the fog horn, and planned out the work schedule for the next few days. The shop being closed for three days in the midst of tourist season is not good. So after we settled back in a bit, I got the shop set-up for today's re-opening. An early rise this morning had me cleaning the cave and preparing for a throwing session. I just purchased "hydrobats" which are essentially pricey plaster disks that set upon the pottery wheel head. Pottery is then thrown on the plaster bats and when done, can easily be moved with little disruption to the wet, floppy pot. In some respects these bats are wonderful, but they will take some getting used to. They wobble a bit and that makes the centering of the clay very difficult. I assume that I will get used to them soon enough. For now, it feels like I am starting new.

The Farmers' Market continues to be a wonderful addition to Lubec.  Last weekend Duane Ingall's performed which was immensely enjoyable. I love music and having the tunes while vending makes the market hours feel less like work and more like a social hour with concert. Fred Pierce of Cobscook Bay Music has done a wonderful job scheduling the performances.

This past week I also spent time with Lisa walking along the property where she and her husband Bill will build. Comstock Point is full of rich history having been the home of American Can Company. There are still remnants of the old factory. Lisa, an avid birder, was ecstatic to spot two Lesser Yellowlegs. I loved her enthusiasm!!!! 

I also had my palm read last week by Lucille Meltz of "Touch the Soul" Personal Coaching. That was such an interesting experience! When I was a child, my mother was the palm reader at the Peter Pan Fair at my elementary school. I loved hanging out in her tent with her various magical-looking baubles. She dressed the part in her gypsy outfit and would scuttle us kids out when someone would enter the tent for a reading. This palm reading that I had last week was not the stereotypical palm reading that you would see in a movie. This was more modern day. I found it all very fascinating and was enormously impressed with how accurate Lucille was with her interpretation of my hands' lines and shapes. It wasn't a fortune-telling-psychic sort of reading, rather a more science based approach. Just an all around neat experience!

Let's see, what else did I fit in this past week Oh....pottery. Lots of pottery. I fired two bisque and two glaze loads and did some more potting and carving. I am up to my eyeballs in orders to fill and am juggling everything in work and personal life with Lubec Arts Alive. The event occurs in about nine days and there is much to do. One day at a time, right? As in years past, I know that our team of awesome volunteers will come forth to help out during the event. We are fortunate to have use of beautiful Crow Town Gallery for the auction. Thanks Bonnie and Ukey!

My Cobscook Pottery shop has been busy. I emerge from the cave mud-covered to welcome folks who hail from all over the U.S. and abroad. This summer I have really stepped it up a notch in production having taken on additional galleries and the farmers' market. I kind jumped in all at once a bit wet behind the ears. I am learning a lot. There is so much I want to do but there are only so many hours in the day. 

I can hear that Chris just finished making the yogurt so I think I will saunter on downstairs and rummage through the fridge for dinner, or forage in the woods perhaps for some mushrooms. The rain showers these past couple days has helped to awaken the chanterelles. They are not particularly plentiful, but the few we do find are a succulent delight!

For info on Lubec Arts Alive events, August 3-6, 2012

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

More Friends and Farmers' Market Fun

 Foggy day in Lubec, Maine
©2012, Joe Phelan photo

 Kayaking on Rocky Lake in Whiting, Maine
©2012, Joe Phelan photo

 Fog in Johnson Bay, Lubec, Maine
©2012, Joe Phelan photo

 Summer harvest: swiss chard, lettuce, basil, oregano, sage, thyme, rosemary, and Tide Mill's kale.

 Roasted kale chips
©2012, Joe Phelan photo

 A Monday morning hearty Lubec brunch with our friend Joe:
Eggs from Lynn Bradbury and Nancy Briggs' chickens, Boot Cove Breads, breakfast sausage from Olde Sow Farm, and greens from the Wheelock/Crittenden garden.
©2012, Joe Phelan photo

 Gardenside Dairy has yummy samples of their goat's cheese at the Lubec Farmer's Market.
Saturday, 9 a.m.-1 p.m., downtown Lubec
Check out that awesome duct tape mural in the background!!! You must come see for yourself! 
Forty feet of colorful duct tape - who'da thunk it?!

 The Sunrise County Ramblers provided some toe-tapping knee-slapping live bluegrass music for the Lubec Farmer's market this past weekend. You can hear their music on Facebook!
Music for the Lubec Farmer's Market is booked through Fred Pierce of Cobscook Bay Music
Check out his website for upcoming music shows in Washington County.

 A glazing bonanza!

 Speed drying the greenware for several firings this week.

My Sunday blog seems to be falling a couple days behind lately. Weekends have been pretty full balancing the farmers' market and the stream of company that has come through. Maybe instead of Cobscook Pottery we should change our name to Wheelock/Crittenden B&B! I was glad for Chris' return (he'd been away visiting family) and the cats are happy to have their quirky playmate back. Life on the this clay-wheeling homestead is back to "normal" if there is such a thing.

This past weekend for the second week in a row I vended at my spot on the corner of Water and School Streets, nestled once again between the delights of Boot Cove Breads and Herbminders of Maine. A new local farm joined us that had some delicious greens while others provided meats and cheeses and birdhouses. Chris and I did a hefty bit of shopping while listening to the bluegrass sounds of the Sunrise County Ramblers and have been enjoying the fresh market edibles the past few days. Our friend Joe visited from central Maine and after a robust kayak in the beating sun we enjoyed various local treats in a feast that would please even the most critical of the Gods.

The hours in the "cave" have been long. Now that I have put my pottery "out there" the demand is challenging. It feels like everyone called with orders all at once this past week and between those galleries/shops that I sell in as well as my own shop and now the farmers' market, I need to work double time to keep up with it all. I'm not complaining though! It's a good thing! I love what I do and know that as far as work hours go, the summer will be the most strenuous pottery regime. I have been trying to keep the throwing at a steady but reasonable pace, knowing that pottery is tough on the body and I that want my body to be able to handle the production long term. I will admit, though, that my right index finger did get a wee bit sore after carving four herring tumblers in one day. But damn....those tumblers sure look cool! (And I'm pleased to report that my index finger is back to normal and able to assist in typing this blog just fine!)

I worked on glazing and mug handles in between kayaking and meals. We just unloaded the kiln and all but two pieces made it through to my specs. The glaze on the new wine chillers is gorgeous! I only made a few to get started but suspect that they will be a popular item this summer.  The work will go fast as I divide it for deliveries amongst six venues. There is plenty of work in progress, drying, and awaiting firing over the next two weeks, as well as a list of items that I need to throw each morning.

Pottery is touchy. There is a fairly precise moment when it deems trimming or handling. I have to plan out which items I will throw on any given day based on where I plan to be in two to four days. If I know that I will be out of town, I have to wait to throw certain items lest I lose them to overdrying. Even the best of wrapping in plastic bags can be unpredictable. For this and many other quirks of the craft, completing a piece of pottery takes weeks. With the farmer's market, I have had several orders for items in specific colors that I may not already have in stock. If the patron is lucky, I will already have the item thrown and bisque-fired, a blank canvas for whichever color they desire. But most times, it takes three to five weeks to see an order come to fruition. I'd like to think that my work is worth the wait.

I will load the kiln again this evening and if the weather forecast looks good (no major thunderstorms on the horizon) I will set the kiln to fire tomorrow morning. The glaze firing only takes about nine hours (bisque a good twelve to thirteen), but the cooling process is another twenty. It's kinda like a five year old waiting for Christmas morning. You know the goodies are under the tree, wrapped beautifully in shiny paper and all decked-out in bows, but you're not allowed to touch the presents until mom and dad get out of bed. That waiting sure is tough! Most times, there are delights. Sometimes, huge disappointments. Last summer was particularly tough and ended with a whole new set of very expensive elements and relays. Things are looking good once again, and thankfully, with some modicum of predictability.

I best get back into the studio and load that kiln. Thursday and Friday I will be choosing which pieces go where and packing boxes for orders. I think I have outgrown my kiln. I sure would have loved to have fired all these glazed pieces in one load. Funny how when I bought this kiln about six or seven years ago that I thought it was so huge! At the time, I didn't think I would be making seven foot sculptures or distributing functional pottery to outlets throughout Maine. 

You just never know where life will take you.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Lubec Farmers' Market Hopping!

 Lubec Market setting-up for a 9:00 a.m. opening.

 Boot Cove Breads sold out quickly. There was a line of people halfway across the street waiting to purchase the fresh-baked loaves! 

The UMM Ukulele Band serenaded vendors and patrons during the Lubec Farmers' Market.

Cobscook Pottery booth was in a prime spot nestled between 
Herbminders of Maine and Boot Cove Breads!

Olde Sow Farm had a variety of organic locally raised meats and fresh milk and yogurt.

 Luxury log cabin birdhouses!

Denise Rule and Tami Profit Sutherland pose with the awesome cake at the student artwork celebration at Lubec Memorial Library. Thanks Denise and Tami for organizing such a great show! I totally appreciate your hard work and enthusiasm for our students' art!!!

West Quoddy cairns.
Photo by Eileen Mielenhausen

Perhaps this explains the mystery of the missing lettuce and swiss chard in the garden.

I'm a wee bit late with the blog post this week. Being a teacher, many people assume that "summer vacation" is a real vacation. Not so, at least for me. Actually, most teachers I know have to work summer jobs. Sometimes more than one. I keep busy with the pottery and community organizing. Right now, both have me hopping. I enjoyed a visit the past couple days from my drumming friend Eileen, but even with company, work continued. The shop kept its near regular hours and my days still started before 7:00 a.m. in the studio. Today was an especially long day and the first opportunity I have had to blog is now, 9:15 at night after a quick dinner of scrambled eggs. (note: those were some mighty fine, local, cage free eggs, with a side of yummy local organic breakfast sausage from Olde Sow Farm!)

As far as jobs go though, today I absolutely loved my job. I rolled out of bed at 6:15 in the morning and had the kiln loaded and firing by 7:15. I then trimmed pots until 10:00 when I took a shower and opened the shop. As a "break" I worked on the artist registration mailing for Lubec Arts Alive, ordered supplies, packed a pottery order, edited a poster and sent it out to print at my brother's copy shop in Hallowell (gotta love PDF files and email!). The afternoon and early evening was spent sitting outside in the sun carving a herring motif onto tall flared tumblers. I listened to birds, visited with our cats Bello and Bouli, and tended to shop visitors. Eggs were delivered, Ruta stopped by to say hi, and I said goodbye to my drumming friend. I didn't have a formal meal at any set time until eggs a few minutes ago and now I end my day with a blog, fifteen hours later.

Not every day is that long a work day, but I will say, it isn't rare. Yesterday was hectic with work and an evening meeting.  I ended my night working on a supply order in bed until my eyes were too droopy to read the computer screen. The day before though, I quit work at noon after only five hours in the studio to clean the house and visit with Eileen. After the shop closed at 5:00 - we went for an amazing hike out at at West Quoddy. It was a perfect day for a hike, sunny skies, gentle cooling breeze. I was so glad to see that some of the cairns were still standing.If in this area, the hike out at the West Quoddy Lighthouse is one of the most powerful and beautiful that you will ever encounter. It rivals the most magical and mystical of places.

Last weekend was the first of the new weekly Lubec Farmer's Market. Saturdays this summer from 9-1 you will find a host of local farms and goods downtown. The inaugural market last Saturday was without exception an amazing event! A handful of local folks have been working hard the past few months to bring this together. Organic farms with meats and cheeses, fresh baked wood-fired breads, greens and garlic scapes, pottery, birdhouses, and chair massages, all nicely choreographed with a few hundred onlookers and patrons enjoying the goods and the live music. The UMM Ukulele Band was my favorite part of the morning. Well, the bread too. Oh, and the sausage, herbs, and cheese that I brought home as well. What can I say - it was an all around success. Kudos to that fantastic team that pulled it all together! (Lisa, Dick, Chris, Claire, Steven, Kathy, David, Melissa et al.) And...what an amazing banner!!!

Also this past week, I attended a student art show reception at the Lubec Memorial Library. Fourth of July committee members juried the student artworks, hung the show, organized awards, and hosted a reception. It was so wonderful to have someone else help out with a student show. It's a lot of work and Denise Rule along with Tami Profit Sutherland and Kerry Brown did an amazing job. Thank you!

What can I say. Everything is amazing. Summer in Lubec, being an artist, enjoying friends and family, creating, and nature. I am truly blessed and grateful everyday.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

New Website has gone Live!

 I'm excited to announce that my new artist website is officially live!
Check it out at:

Feels good to be back at the wheel!

 View of Grand Manan
by Neal McPartlin

 Inside Cobscook Pottery 
Lubec, Maine

 Swiss Chard is, thankfully, growing faster than the weeds.  

If in the area....don't miss Ann's art show at the Eastport Art Gallery!
Maine Inspired
A solo exhibition by Ann Rosebrooks
at the
Eastport Art Gallery
July 9-21, 2012
Opening Reception July 12, 4:00-7:00 p.m.

After a few months of conversation, planning, uploading, and editing, the new website has finally made its debut! 

Not being the super-duper techie type, the help of Barnstormer Designs, out of Jonesport, was enlisted. Deborah Bailey was a joy to work with and I am so pleased with the end result. It is still a work in progress but the artist portion of the site is pretty much done. The Transformation Tapestry section should be complete fairly soon and the Cobscook Pottery shopping site should be up and running later this summer. In the meantime, go ahead and take a peek!

My sister Kristin and her partner Neal just left yesterday after a weekend visit downeast. Kristin and I usually have a list of things to do and Neal pretty much does his own thing with a little hiking, painting, and quick trips to the coffee shop downtown. Something new that Kristin and I did this year was to visit Roosevelt's Park on Campobello Island. We secured tickets for "Tea with Eleanor" and by mid afternoon we were sipping some English Breakfast and munching on lemon and gingersnap cookies while looking out over the bay to Eastport. Our guide, Carolyn, offered a glimpse into the interesting life of the former first lady. Eleanor was certainly one to be admired, for her courage and compassion toward those less fortunate. Perhaps it was her own tumultuous upbringing that offered such a perspective, allowing her to empathize with the plight of others. 

The tea seemed a fitting experience in light of this past week's monumental leap forward for U.S. citizens with the supreme court decision which ruled in favor of the constitutionality of the healthcare bill. When I heard the news I cried. So many decisions are made in our country based on  bottom-line finances, often to the extreme detriment of the peoples' wellbeing. However, this decision last week is one that is ethical and a positive step toward the care of humanity. Could this be a turn for our country? I certainly hope so.

Now that company has left and the website is at a break point, I am back in the studio throwing wares for summer sales. In between throwing and trimming I emerge from the cave to greet visitors to the pottery shop. I always meet the neatest folks from far off places with interesting stories to tell about their travels or how they came to visit Lubec. Last summer I even met the great grandson of the man who invented the donut hole! (Now that's an unusual claim to fame!)

A lot of people have been visiting Lubec in summers longer than we have lived here. It's always neat to hear someone else's perspective on the fast-changing and ever-evolving atmosphere of our tiny easternmost town. In the past few years Lubec has been in the midst of a mini renaissance with the opening of boutiques and restaurants. Still, it manages to retain its charm as a remote fishing village yet mainly undiscovered. It's an anomaly to have no traffic lights, chain stores, movie theaters, and fast food restaurants into today's modern society. Yet, despite not having any of these things (and not within 35-55 miles!) we are a happening place with lots to do. The arts are alive and growing here. Between Eastport and Lubec, your calendar can be full nearly every night of the week with a gallery opening, music or theater performance, poetry reading, or nature exploration. Summer Keys concerts have begun and musicians are regularly seen walking down the street with cellos strapped tot heir backs, or fiddle players sharing a tune on a bench downtown.  It's fourth of July week here so the streets are filling at a steady pace and soon the festivities will begin a five day stretch of activities and fireworks.

Speaking of activities and arts...don;t forget to mark your calendar for this year's Lubec Arts Alive! I am busy with my other partners in crime organizing for this year's event which includes a "Create-in Lubec" weekend, printmaking for kids, art on the beach, and a lively downeast art auction. Also this year, in partnership with the Tides Institute and Museum of Art, Leslie Bowman will present a free photography workshop where participants will learn tips and tricks of catching great live shots then go out in the field to document this year's Lubec Arts Alive events. Space is limited for this fabulous photography project, August 3-6, so contact the Tides Institute soon to reserve your space!

To view information on this year's Lubec Arts Alive events, follow our blog at

I need to get moving here. Shower, put out that OPEN sign, and crawl down into my cave for some serious clay work.

Don't forget about the:
Lubec Farmers' Market
downtown Lubec
Saturdays this summer, beginning July 7th,  9:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
I'll be vending my pottery there along with all those nifty farmers selling their cheeses, breads, and veggies!!!