Wednesday, October 17, 2012

October Hikes, Potlucks, and Pots


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.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Politics and Other Stuff

Keep checking back for my online shopping site!
My current website will soon host online shopping for Cobscook Pottery!
I'm hoping to launch the site in early November with an assortment of my most popular items, just in time for the holiday season!
Don't forget these dates....
Herring Collectors Series,
 herring and weir mugs by Shanna Wheelock of Cobscook Pottery
November 3-4
Crafts at the Maine State Museum
hosted by the Maine Crafts Guild
Saturday and Sunday, 10-4
at the Maine State Museum
I'll be there with my functional pottery wares as well as my Herring Collectors Series work.
I love getting back to my old stomping grounds. Stop by and say "Hi"!
If you are in that Augusta area and are not on my mailing list and want to be, send me your mailing address via my website. You can message me from the "contact" section of my website.
November 9-11
Annual Cobscook Pottery Holiday Open House
right here at my studio in Lubec!
Friday 3-7, Saturday 10-5, and Sunday 10-4
Refreshments and holiday cheer while you shop for unique handmade gifts created here in downeast Maine!
For more details, message me via the "contact" section of my website.

 This is what I've been up to.

 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!)