Sunday, April 26, 2009

April Vacation: Painting, Mead Mugs, and Portland

It's been a great vacation week. My only complaint: it went by far too fast. As soon as school was released last Friday, I went right to work painting the bathroom. The new tile came out fab, and by Tuesday, we had water, and shower, once again. Chris was away at the Terry Plunkett Poetry Festival in Augusta, so I took advantage of a completely open schedule to get some projects done.

Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday I worked in the barn studio. I threw some basic spiral bowls, but also decided to give my hand at throwing some new "Mead Mugs." I hadn't made handles, or mugs, in over ten years. My last memory was that I hated making handles, but decided that it was time that I try again. The handles came out much better than I remember in the past. That was a plus. They are a lot more work than anyone realizes. So when you folks out there buy a mug from a local crafter for $20 - know that you are getting a great deal! I did check out the mugs at Maine Potter's Market in the Old Port yesterday, and was glad to see that the prices were closer to $30 for a handmade mug, and Edgecomb Potters had a steeper price tag on their mugs. It better reflects the time spent making them, I think. I get so inspired when I see the work of other artists, and have loved the work of Edgecomb Potters for many years now. It was hard to be so many miles away from my studio this past weekend when I felt fired-up to create.

Chris and I had a great time in Portland. We get there only twice a year and what we do may seem mundane to most, but keep in mind that we live in Lubec! It is quite remote here, so eating out at an ethnic restaurant or going to a movie theater is a luxury! We usually make plans to do so much more, but time just seems to slip by. We had a great dinner at Fuji. We hadn't eaten there before, but wanted to spend some time with my neice, Christine, and this is her fave place to eat. We had a great visit, and the food was yummy. We also tried, on her recommendation, Mexico Lindo. Fantastic! (the review says otherwise, but our meal was delicious, the service wonderful, the prices fair). And of course, we ate at our fave Japanese restaurant, Sapporo. Yum Yum. The movie "State of Play" was excellent, and I enjoyed a visit with my potter friend Becky. Her encaustics are amazing!

Other than all that, lots of sightseeing and shopping. Shopping mostly consists of things we need. We don't get out of town too often, but when we do, there is usually a long list of things that we need, like Pottery supplies from Portland Pottery. The car is always a bit weighted down on our return trip - with hundreds of pounds of clay. We also spent some time in Freeport at LL Bean and Body Shop. I needed a new bike helmet, and Chris bought some camping supplies.

The trip began and ended with my family in West Gardiner, celebrating my sister's birthday. Great food, company, conversation. Staying at my parents' place is like staying at a B&B!

Photos above: Shanna at Fort Knox, View of the Old Port, and Mead Mugs

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Remodel Mayhem

It was a wild week - between a school field trip, submitting student artwork to a competition, and remodeling the bathroom. My head is still spinning, by body a bit sore from the odd contortions needed for painting tight nooks and crannies, and I feel like I could use about a week's worth of sleep to recover. Nice start to April vacation!

Kudos to UMM for putting on another great "Thou Art Fair" for Washington County high school art students. Our music teacher and I took about 20 students to the fair on Thursday. Each student displayed a piece of their artwork, and the high school band performed Pearl Jam and Kenny Wayne Shephard songs. So much talent in these kids! The day was spent painting, making t-shirts, playing games and various instruments, sculpting, collaging and watching belly dance and live musical performances.

About seven students' work was selected to be on display this week at Machias Savings Bank for the annual Women's Club Art Competition. The work looked good - I am crossing my fingers that at least one of my students places in top three. There is always some tough competition!

Remodeling Mayhem. Yes indeed. The bathroom was in dire need of a makeover. So enters "Extreme Home Makover Lubec". It all began last summer when I had a plumber in to fix some leaky pipes and install a couple new faucets. Talks began about a new tub area. The plumber neglected to return most calls, or lost dimensions, colors, various specs each time. I am amazed at how irresponsible some tradesfolk are here, not returning calls or showing up when promised. I wouldn't think I would have to practically beg someone to take my money, but that seems to be how it is here!

We have a builder now who seems to be more consistent. We began talks last November about tiling the tub area. I wasn't able to select tiles until January, but by that time he was off to Florida for winter retreat. In March, I got a call as soon as he returned. Wow! Someone called me back!

Excitement, knowing that after two days work I would have a new shower - complete with the gorgeous new faucet and shower head and new window trim. I could survive two days without a shower. It was for a greater outcome.

I am now on day #4 no hot shower. And....It looks like I will be waiting until Wednesday! The shower head was defective, causing extra (costly) hours of work, and a BIG nasty leak. We only endured one night with no water in house, but the stress of not knowing when we would have water again was a bit unsettling. The new shower head is on order and should arrive on Tuesday, and the builder says he will return then to install it. Yey! Let's hope it goes as planned.

For now, I am happy with the tile. It looks great. The new window trim is sweet, and I did a marathon painting session to brighten up the bathroom. Hopefully we will get a new toilet and floor this summer coming.

I am about to head out to the studio to throw. I am wondering how well I will be able to clean my clay-covered body without a shower. Hmmmm.... always an adventure.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Snowy Easter Day Downeast

Yes, it is true, it is snowing here in Lubec on Easter Day, April 12, 2009. It's coming down at a good clip too. Who would have thought this would happen so late into the season. But here it is. My big dilemma is that I was quite productive in the studio yesterday. Yes, dilemma. Since the nights are still below freezing temps, I have to carry all my wet work into the house for drying. Today the pots are ready for trimming, but that means lugging them all back out to the barn. I need to figure out how to get them safely into the studio through the wind and wet. (Covering with plastic I foresee a disaster with the wind!). I am holding out one more hour before I lug the pots out. Maybe....maybe the snow will subside by then? A little bit anyway?

Easter is a quiet holiday for Chris and me. Our family members are each doing their "own thing". We prefer to keep things low key, no travel, and enjoy the quiet. Chris will no doubt be writing most of the day, and I will spend time in the studio. I woke at 6:00 a.m. and did some general housecleaning and put on a special pot of Corsican Beef Stew for dinner tonight. It all feels pretty mellow.

It felt good to be at the wheel for the second weekend in a row. Jumping back in last week left my body a bit sore, and a wheel burn on my forearm. I'm not used to sitting at the wheel for hours on end yet. Yesterday's session feels like it went a bit more smoothly. I moved from the smaller mini pots (my warm-up) to some medium-sized spiral bowls. Also, a couple fellow-Lubeckers are opening a yarn and dog supply shop (yes, you read that right, yarn AND dog supplies....I know, funny sounding combo isn't it?) and they asked if I would make some yarn bowls. I had never heard of a yarn bowl before, so I did some peeking around on the web. I am going to see what I can come up with. Since I am often victim to the stray-rolling yarn-ball myself, I can see how this may be something very useful.

Off I get the studio ready for a morning of trimming.

Sunday, April 5, 2009


This morning I feel like spring is finally on its way. I walked outside at 7:00 a.m. to turn the heat on in the barn studio, and as I stepped out into the back yard, I heard the loud drumming of a pileated woodpecker. The deep, rhythmic, sometimes offbeat, knocking is distinct. I have only heard it once before, three summers ago, just moments before the bird swooped over me and landed on a dead branch of the walnut tree. She was followed seconds later by her mate. It was an amazing moment and one I won't ever forget. This morning, she has returned.

Animals have a way of showing up for me at times when I am seeking guidance. I have a multitude of happenings in my life right now - things on the verge of coming into being, but nothing solid. The prospect of being on a new path excites me, but at the same time, new directions can be scary. Having choice is a good thing, but working it out in my mind how to make the best choice, to try to foresee all possible outcomes, is the tough part.

The pileated woodpecker and the eagle have come to me in profoundly moving ways. Three summers ago both showed up in a way that I had to take notice. At that time, major life changes occurred (or opportunities) that helped move me along my path in a creative and rewarding direction. Now, the two birds have returned and I feel that I need to not take their presence in my life for granted. I need to be open and receptive and hear their message.

Whether it is a dream image or a real-life experience with animals, I like to refer to a book called Animal Speak: The Spiritual and Magical Powers of Creatures Great and Small. This morning I read (or re-read) the passages for both the eagle and the woodpecker. The words were completely relevant to what has been rolling around in my noggin lately. Just yesterday, I began to doubt a decision that I recently made, but this morning, I feel clarity once again. I needed to revisit my personal philosophies, and ask myself what is the best way for me to reach my goals and dreams.

I feel centered now.

Partly because of this morning's drumming visitor, but also because I am back in the studio after a five month hiatus.

And now, back to the barn studio I go.....