Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Encaustics, Kayaking, and American Craft Magazine

Exploring Dimensionality with Wax
Workshop with artist Kim Bernard, North Berwick, Maine

An encaustic painting that I made during Kim's workshop.
Beeswax, copper, and wood

I made a clay form then casted it with plaster. The plaster mold was then used to make beeswax impressions which I will later use for a high relief encaustic painting.

Kayaking on the Kennebec, under the Bond Brook Bridge in Augusta.
Photo by Joe Phelan

The bridge area that Chris has been wanting to kayak.
It looked kinda close (bridge in far-off distance)....but...those darn currents were fierce!
Did we make it?
Read the blog entry below to find out!

Bouli the traveling cat, nestled in Chris' lap for four hours while driving to central Maine.

As far as birthdays go, I have to say, this was one of the tops. Several days of fun with art, friends, family, and kayaking concluded as we arrived home yesterday to find the August/September 2011 issue of American Craft magazine in the the mailbox. This little event was like the cherry on top of the sundae....bright, sweet, and oh so yummy. After months of emails and proofing, photo shoots, and labeling, I got to see the finished product. I feel incredibly blessed and appreciative that the magazine included an article about my work, titled "Remote Revival." Janet Wallace did a great job with the writing of the piece, and Leslie Bowman with the photography of my sculptures. Thank you Janet, Leslie, and American Craft!

Click here to link to the article in American Craft: "Remote Revival"
It's a great magazine - you may just want to visit their site and subscribe. It's only $25 for the year and the images are inspiring!!!!

Chris provided me with an awesome birthday gift this year which was a spot in one of Kim Bernard's encaustic workshops. Kim is a phenomenal teacher and artist and I am fortunate to work under her mentorship during the Heartwood College of Art MFA program. Kim is a sculptor who has experience with ceramics and the encaustics process. All these skills combined make for an interesting learning opportunity for all her students. The particular workshop that I participated in last weekend was "Exploring Dimensionality in Wax". It was two full days of mold-making and tips and tricks in embedding items into wax. The participants were a focused and serious art-making group who hailed from various parts of the globe with interesting stories and art-making experiences. Kim has more workshops slated for August and September. If you have an interest, her intro to encaustics workshop is being offered August 6-7. Limited spaces go quickly, so best check into it soon.

I spent time with family as well and we feasted on lobster and strawberry shortcake, laughed, did a bit of swimming and relaxed. It was a respite from my normally hectic schedule. Monday was a day of kayaking and hanging out with our friend Joe. Chris had been wanting to paddle a particular spot on the Kennebec that we saw each time we passed over the new bridge on route 3. We launched our kayaks down by Fort Western and began our trek upriver. We could see the goal and it seemed like things were going along smoothly. We ventured around old granite foundations and under the Bond Brook Bridge, saw ducks, and watched eagles soar overhead. About halfway to our destination, fierce currents kicked in. As Joe described, it was like a treadmill version for kayaking; we paddled madly while not moving forward one iota. Adrenaline kicked into high gear and we eventually broke through to smoother waters. Then, just when we were feeling confident, the current battled us again. We went through this scenario about four times, but eventually made it to the destination. The ride back was super easy - with those strong currents flowing us back to the boat ramp.

Bouli traveled with us this time around. She's still too young and needy to leave behind and seems to do pretty well adapting to new environments. She is amazing in the car. After about fifteen minutes, she settled into one of our laps and slept pretty much the entire way. Those moments, when not climbing screens or harassing Bello, are precious.

We returned home last night fearful that the heatwave and no rain wreaked havoc on the garden - but it was just the opposite. We have peas! There are a few tiny green beans starting to grow and we are ready to harvest basil for some fresh pesto this weekend. I ate the first tiny, ripe, sun gold cherry tomato on my actual birthday, July 22. The garden is doing well so far this year. We seem to be behind more southern areas of Maine, but things are coming along and seem hearty enough. Tomorrow we will share a meal with friends that will include freshly harvested lettuce, basil, sage, parsley, thyme, swiss chard, and peas.

Today it is back to the usual routine of pottery business and tending shop. I still have lots to unpack, including new supplies for encaustic painting. The kiln has been loaded and will fire tomorrow and a new run of production will begin.

Speaking of tending shop - when I say that the most interesting people visit my little space, I mean it! Last week, a couple from New Hampshire visited who were related to the person who "invented" the hole in the doughnut. Not the doughnut hole (this is quite different!) but the idea to cut the middle out of the doughnut. Hah! I wonder what eccentricities this week will bring.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

It's a Potter's Life for Me

Senator Susan Collins checking out my
at Northern Tides Art Gallery and Gift Shop.
(Yes, she did buy one of my bowls!)
Photo by Debbie Ayala Kasunic

Been busy with production in the pottery cave.
Mugs, tankards, pitcher, tea bowls, noodle bowls, cereal bowls, sake bottles, and creamers.
If you don't make it to my Lubec shop,
you can catch my wares at the Machias Wild Blueberry Festival
August 20-21

Bouli at 14 weeks...twice her weight than when we adopted her in June!

This past week has been sort of refreshing - to be back at the routine of throwing pots and tending shop. No bee swarms, no sculptures to get to a show, and no major community project. I have been pretty much nose to the grindstone in the pottery cave, throwing and trimming and thinking up a "plan".

I have to chuckle to myself when I think back to one of my early blog posts when I said that I would never be a production potter. That is still true in the sense that I don't plan to work full time solely as a potter. I love my weaving and sculpting and also enjoy teaching. That being said, I am fortunate to have developed a skill that I also enjoy very much. My favorite is still making the bowl that feels "just right" in the hand. Chris and I eat out of bowls for almost every meal, so the perfect fit is important. It isn't just the aesthetic appeal of the glaze or shape when choosing the bowl, but also the weight and the feel.

As much as I grumble about mugs and handles (and yes, I have blogged about that too!) I do make my own version, a tankard or mead mug if you will. I have come to accept that mugs, in some form, will be part of my repertoire, and probably for a long time. Even though the process of pulling and attaching handles is long and tedious, I love how the mug looks when completed, and I enjoy the feel of it in my hand. Having what I consider to be large hands (or shall we say, sturdy hands, yes, that's more attractive sounding!) a larger mug with an ample handle suits me well. I don't like getting my digits squeezed between mug body and handle when enjoying my morning cup of cocoa.

The shop has been busy this summer with cars pulling-in from all over the US and Canada. I have met some super interesting people and enjoy the conversations. This week I learned about lake formation from a geologist, got some good kayaking tips, and received excellent marketing advice. I'm always impressed when people find me since we are off the beaten path, and I am grateful for all the patronage that I receive!

Despite the long days in the studio, I did find time for extracurricular activities. Wednesday evening, Chris and I enjoyed a peaceful kayak excursion on Gardner's Lake in East Machias. It's an expansive lake and we only toured a fraction of it. I suspect we'll return later this summer.

Summer Keys is one of the best features of Living in Lubec. It's a music camp of sorts, but for adults. Renown musicians travel from all over to spend a week mentoring cello, violin, fiddle, piano, guitar, etc. Every Wednesday evening during the summer, Summer Keys faculty perform for the Mary Potterton Memorial Concert series at the beautiful Congregational Christian Church. This past week was a bonus with a Thursday evening performance as well: "Music for Mandolin - Marilynn Mair and Friends". I have always loved mandolin and this concert was a real delight. From Irish songs, to classical compositions, to Brazilian waltzes, the music had the audience entranced. At one point, there were eleven mandolin players on stage! Anyway, Summer Keys is just one of those gems tucked away here downeast. If you visit in the summer, be sure to stay over on a Wednesday so you can enjoy the music. (See video below with Marilynn Mair on mandolin).

I know that blog readers are waiting with bated breath for a Bouli update. She is feisty as ever, growing stronger, bigger, and has now added "curtain climbing and master of window screen destruction" to her list of athletic abilities. She devours twice as much food as her elder Bello. In fact, she eats a few bits from her plate, rushes to Bello's dish, pushing him out of the way to eat HIS food, then returns to her own plate to gobble the remains. Despite her craziness, she continues to win the hearts of many.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Community Art in Lubec

View of the herring sculpture during installation in front of the smokehouse.
Photo by Marcia Chaffee

It takes a whole village to raise a tent....

Lubec Arts Alive 2011 underway with community gathering to paint herring cut-outs

Marcia Chaffee, John McMurray, and Jean Bookman assemble the
smaller herring onto the steel rods.

The gorgeous fish head, fins, and tail were painted by local artist Claudia Mahlman.

The 12" wide herring sculpture was set into concrete by Dick Hoyt, Rob Chaffee, John McMurray, Steve Silverman, and Nate Rosebrooks. Thanks guys!

The herring sculpture installed, downtown Lubec.

Thank you to our 2011 Volunteers!
Dick Hoyt, Gene Trebolis, Rob Chaffee, Steve Silverman, Chris Crittenden, Mike Scrivani, Pat Fry, Claudia Mahlman, Nancy Begley, Jean Deveber, T.J. Goetting, Nate Rosebrooks, Warren Lewis, Joel Riggs.

Special Thanks to:
John McMurray who offered his time, skills, and vision to make this project a success.
Bar Harbor Bank and Trust for vital sponsorship of this year's event.
Regional Medical Center at Lubec for use of the tent.
Frank Van Riper and Judith Goodman for photographing the event.
Claudia Mahlman for painting the head, tail, and fins.
Gene Trebolis for drilling the hole for the sculpture.

Thank you to our 2011 donors:
George Bookman, Claudia mahlman, Sheryl Denbo and Steve Silverman, Jean and Peter Deveber, Pat Fry, Diane Z, Anna and Nate Rosebrooks, Bar Harbor Bank and Trust, Nancy Begley, Nina Bohlen/Davis Pike, Rob and Marcia Chaffee, Annie and George Davis, Frank Van Riper and Judith Goodman, Creative Arts Studio (Jean Bookman and Dick Hoyt).

The Lubec Arts Alive 2011 Committee:
Jean Bookman, Karen Burke, Marcia Chaffee, Sheryl Denbo, Ann Rosebrooks, Shanna Wheelock

What a week! Lubec Arts Alive 2011 came and went and boy do we have a fantastic new piece of community artwork on display in downtown Lubec. To all of those who came by to paint a fish, create art on the beach, or to lend a hand, thank you!!!!

Again, a fabulous committee worked behind the scenes for the past few months to make the project a reality. Kudos to them for sticking-it-out despite busy schedules with work and family, to bring an awesome community art experience to Lubec.

Next time you drive through downtown, take a gander at the 12 foot' herring sculpture in the garden at the smokehouse museum. It is a fabulous burst of creative enthusiasm, and I imagine on a day like to today, with a cleansing coastal breeze, is doing its thing and spinning to show all its colors.

It was an honor to work with Addison sculptor John McMurray. His years of experience as both an artist and a teacher benefited us and he was a joy to have on board for this project. I am grateful for his patience and energy!

Come Thursday afternoon, I was able to sit back, breathe, reflect. The weather was gorgeous, blue skies, gentle wind, warm temps. Chris and I headed out to Indian Lake for our first kayak of the season, followed by a walk along the new trail in Machias. We were greeted by ducks, an eagle, otters, a turtle, dragonfly, and a loon. It was a peaceful few hours. Friday was a fabulous celebratory day with art on the beach at Mowry, followed by the West Quoddy Lighthouse Art Auction at the grange. We were pretty wiped-out and didn't officially make it to the fireworks intown, but could hear the booms and see a few sparks over the bay from our house.

I have been behind in my pottery production due to first the bees and then Lubec Arts Alive, but finally got fully back into the studio Saturday with an eight-hour throwing session, and again today for another five hours. I am trying to narrow-down and focus-in on the thrown items that I enjoy making the most and am attempting to make a "game-plan" for the rest of the summer and fall. As usual, I am multi-tasking with varied mediums and projects and next up is possibly a website and some vending. I still haven't set a workshop schedule but hope to teach at least one or two workshops before summer's end, and also look forward to being a participant in an encaustics workshop later this month. Happy Birthday to me!

Bouli is laying beside me emitting an occasional grunt or groan as she naps. She definitely knows how to live. She sleeps, plays, and eats plenty and is never at a loss for copious amounts of human adoration and affection. What a life!

The wind is lulling me into a tranquil state....I might have to take my cue from Bouli on how to spend the rest of this afternoon....

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Bicentennial Week in Lubec

The garden is growing, slowly but surely!

The peas seem quite happy!

Cobscook Pottery has re-opened post-bee incident!

Summer pottery production began today.

I think the excitement of the bee swarm has finally started to subside. Chris returned from visiting family and has settled back-in to Lubec life and I have regained some sort of usual routine with walking, creating, and gardening. Bouli is still a handful and I have found myself googling things such as "when does a kitten start to calm down?" She is a wild two-pound ball of energy who eats everything in sight from toes to beetles, and this morning captured her first mouse. It is a challenge to get work done when those adorable blue eyes follow us around begging for attention, but somehow we have a system where Chris and I cooperatively conquer "Bouli-mania" and manage to get to our tasks.

It is the fourth of July week and Lubec's bicentennial. The town is alive with excited energy and festive events, and this marks the beginning of tourist season. I am not persnickety when it comes to tourists (I know some folks are!) I love them! I enjoy meeting interesting folks from all over the globe. That's one of the neat things about running a micro-business here. On the business side of things, I am trying to exercise some sort of commitment to set hours this summer season. It's hard to do when the lake and the loons call and the kayaks start to beg our attention, or on some days when I am in a creating mood and don't want to leave the pottery cave to clean-up for guests. But so far, I have done well staying open consistently. That being said, the bees were cause for a few -days of shutdown last week. I didn't think that most folks would want to take-up company with thousands of potentially-stinging buzzing creatures.

Yesterday was my first planned full-day of production at the wheel. I had just completed two days of glazing and got the kiln loaded and firing. When I got ready to sit at the wheel my motivation seemed null. It was a bit confusing since I am generally such a workaholic - and if those bees had one message for me - it would be productivity! But I guess I need a day of calm to regroup. After a few hours of bumbling around without purpose, I went to the garden, slathered in SPF 30, and spent about four hours weeding and planting. I get that same peaceful feeling when working in the garden as I do when working with clay. It isn't much of a stretch being that they are both earth. So, it was a late start to the day for me, but come evening I could have gone on another couple hours if I hadn't been so annoyed by the mosquitoes. I'll try to plant a few more swiss chard seedlings this week and weed a few more rows. And, I did finally get to throwing this morning. It was only a two-hours session since I have so many things to get done today - but am hoping for a full run at the wheel tomorrow.

A busy week ahead is planned with Lubec Arts Alive. I, along with my co-committee and volunteers, will be at Flatiron Corner Tuesday and Wednesday painting of the herring cutouts for the kinetic sculpture. We hope that lots of people, of all ages, join us in completing this work of art! It's a super neat project and I look forward to its installation at Lubec Landmarks on Thursday. Friday we will be at Mowry Beach for the Goldsworthy-style artwork. The beach art is always fun, always relaxing, and a perfect end to this year's event. This is our third year with Lubec Arts Alive. It looks like we are here to stay! Kudos to our team!!!

I best get back to work.....paperwork, community work, housework, artwork.

Loving summer.