Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Annual Holiday Open Studio Sale

The new studio space - still in progress

Displaying my sister Kristin's Jewelry: The Indigo Iris

A shelf with the Barley glaze: yunomi cups, rice bowls, and spiral bowls

Display with Earth and Sky glaze, sake set, and the new Mead mugs

Corner display with spiral bowls and some of the Machine series pieces

The upstairs relaxation space

I started blogging just about a year ago, and one of the initial entries was about my annual holiday open studio sale. It seems unreal that a year has passed already. This past weekend was the 2009 sale at our shop "Cobscook Pottery". It was certainly a success, on many levels, but most amazing was the realization of how much has happened in the past year since the 2008 open house. Between the shop space in the barn changing, the new studio addition on the house, new series of work, and my own personal physical transformation, it was as if the returning customers were visiting for the first time!

Days before the sale, Chris and I lugged equipment and furniture out of the space. Shelves were cleared of all production supplies and most of the clay and glaze messes were mopped-up. Pottery studios aren't by nature clean or neat. I do what I can, but when in the middle of a production frenzy, there just isn't extra time or energy to clean-up.

The glaze firing for the sale was a bit of a stress. An Err1 (undetermined error of some sort) switched the kiln off 42 degrees short of maturity. Given the schedule with the contractor and his energy-hog equipment/compressors etc., I knew that I wouldn't have a day to safely fire again before the sale, and in this kiln load was better than 60 hours of work. But by some miracle, when we checked the kiln load the next day, the glazes were spot-on.

As with all holiday sales, my sister Kristin and her partner Neal spent the weekend with us. Neal usually hikes and paints, Chris follows his regular writing routine, and Kristin and I stay pretty busy greeting folks, answering questions, and packaging gift items. This year we added on tours of the new studio space. We ended the day with a delicious home cooked meal and lively conversation.

The time leading up to the sale weekend is non-stop busy. Night before opening, I felt the most exhausted I think I have ever felt in my life. My mind and body were both shutting down, having pushed myself too hard the days before. We had Veteran's Day off from school, and I did a 16-hour marathon session of baking, weaving, cleaning, organizing, moving, soapmaking, and printing tags and cards.

Somehow it all pulled together as it usually does. It was the most heavily attended sale we have ever had here in Lubec, with lots of first-time folks stopping by. Sunday afternoon, which is usually quiet on sale weekend, kept me so busy that I didn't even get breakfast until 2:00 in the afternoon. The last customer left 45 minutes after closing time.

Monday, even though I was back at school teaching, felt like a break for me. I now feel a mental relief knowing that I have a small window to time to catch my breath, and enjoy the approaching holidays. It's cookie-making, gift-wrapping, tree-decorating, yankee-swap, cozy-winter-approaching time. The next month will be steeped in the usual traditions, as well as the excitment of moving fully into the new studio space.

January will be here before I know it, and that begins a whole new chapter in my life as I begin an MFA program. But until then, I will revel in the scents of christmas cookies and the joy of children who are excitedly awaiting the return of the red-suited jolly bearded-man and all his brightly wrapped presents.

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