(From 3 weeks ago) This weekend we pack our bags and set out for the mountains. We drove up to Nederland, a little mountain town outside Boulder. Had a cozy stay in a cottage. The next morning we set out for Boulder, Colorado. It was a beautiful drive into Boulder. There's no denying Colorado really is beautiful. Then we hiked a couple miles up to the summit of Flagstaff Mountain. Baby girl had a nice nap on the way riding on Zack's back. Zack and I were exhausted by the time we made it back down to the mountain. The best kind of exhausted. We fueled up and rest with fried chicken and beer at Avery Brewing Co. in Boulder. Now it's time to get back in the studio and fire a kiln today!
This past week was a huge week for the church body. Lent came to a close with some of its hardest days as we entered into the suffering of Christ, sorrow and sadness are a reoccurring theme. But how much sweeter is that joy of Sunday morning, and a day of celebration with the church family. And now we enjoy weeks of celebration as we enter into the Easter season. I was deeply inspired this week to design pieces and vessels to coincide with this special week in the life of the church. I'm in the planning and sketching stages. It will take time until these come to fruition, but hopefully I can share the process along the way.
Here are some moments of our week. Note I don't have any studio shots, but I did work in the studio plenty this week, I just forget to capture those moments. I baked a loaf of bread, and was reminded again to bake bread more often. I finished a couple books: Home by Marilynne Robinson (again) and Liturgy of the Ordinary by Tish Harrison Warren. And plenty of outdoors. A Good Friday evening hike. And a Sunday morning sunrise hike followed by a day of feasting and celebration with family and friends. So many life-giving things this week.
Our past week was full of snow and warm springtime weather. There were some good hours spent in the studio, and a good time of rest and play. Here are a few tiny snapshots of our week. A morning of snowfall brought cozy days inside. After the snow melted off, the Colorado sun came out and we enjoyed grilling out (including a little bit of pipe-smoking) and mornings on the porch. Thankful for the spring weather settling in.
This is my bright-eyed babe. She doesn't always like being in the studio because it means all my attention is not on her, but I think she's coming around to it. If you ever need a reminder to work and make with endless curiosity, observe a baby. She is always reminding me to pause. Often pausing means meeting her needs. But more and more I pause to watch how easily she's fascinated by the movement of her hands or our reflects in the mirror. She is so free. Completely dependent but free.
I look forward to her first moments of creativity. Her curiosity of the materials of the earth. I look forward to teaching her how important it is to interact with dirt and clay and to make. And that getting dirty in the process is a good thing.
How do we teach the next generation about the importance of making?
In November of 2015 I was in a sculpture class with Lee Benson. Clay had opened up a whole world of understanding materials. The sculpture class gave me an opportunity to explore other materials--learning their meaning and significance on earth. One of my largest projects was an earthworks assignment. I decided to use one material for the project in hopes to understand it better by the end. I chose ash. Ash is a material so rich with meaning and significance and history. I thought it would be helpful for me to understand this material a little deeper.
This project beautifully coincided with our annual woodfire kiln firing. Never pass up an opportunity to experience a woodfire kiln. It's one of those moments when you feel you're having a deep life experience. All the weeks of anticipation gathering wood, watching the first little flame ignite the kindling and turning into a ferocious furnace, the rush of stoking the fire, it's one of my favorite ceramic experiences so far. And was helpful in thinking about ash.
After solidifying a clearing in the woods for my project location, I needed to determine my ash source. I began collecting the ash by going into the woods makings fires within the clearing. Often I would go by myself, mostly during the day, sometimes at night. A few times others joined me. I spent a lot of time trying to determine what I wanted this project to be. I had decided early on as I explored the material of ash, I also wanted to better understand the act of forgiveness.
It was a time when I was struggling to understand forgiveness in a way I hadn't experiences before. I wanted to forgive a wrong, but as hard as I prayed, I couldn't within my heart feel the freedom that I usually associate with forgiveness. Something still remained within me. Maybe it would take time to dissipate or maybe it would always be there. Through this inner struggle I started to feel more and more connected to this material of ash. Ash is what remains after a fire. Fire--a beautiful source of warmth and comfort, a destroyer ready to devour a city, the means by which the element of clay can be turned permanently into stone. It's quite amazing, fire. And after it's had it's way, ash remains.
After forming this connection with the ash, I knew what this piece was going to mean to me. I would mark the earth with the fire's remains. It needed to cover enough ground with ash to give it a strong presence. This is real. As this ash has remained from the fire, so has forgiveness left something within me. I am marked by what has remained.
The piece was coming to an end, and I still had some surface to cover. So, I grabbed some buckets and went to the woodfire, collecting ash from the mound that remained. I spent two days carrying buckets of ash into the woods and spreading it. Usually you don't think about the weight of ash, but I was able to physically experience the weight of what to fire left over as I carried them back and forth into the woods for miles.
I'm not good with words (that's why I married Zack Clemmons). Pottery is a little more straightforward than sculpture, not as much explaining. Even though I only do pottery these days, I still have a deep passion for sculpture. And it's really hard to put words to that work. Coming up with a piece, explaining it, giving it meaning. I don't usually know how to communicate a piece to others. I just know I need to touch and work with the material world. I can't put words to what I inwardly experience. But I can shove my hand in clay or know the texture of ash with my hands and say, "Ah, yes. That is what my soul feels."
We were required to create a video to aid our installation. It includes shots of various parts of the process of the piece, as well as, scenes from the woodfire.
During the last couple months of 2016 I was given one of my biggest ceramic projects: an 8-piece dinnerware set. I was so thankful to have the opportunity to make this set for some dear friends as a part of their wedding registry. It was a huge task. And I was 9 months pregnant trying to finish it up, but I wouldn't have it any other way. It was really good for me to have a specific goal and focus as I anticipate the birth of my first child.
I learned a lot through crafting and orchestrating all these pieces. While I knew I wanted it to look cohesive (all the mugs the same size, the bowls nest well with each other), I also knew I wasn't very good at that skill. I tend have everything a different size and form. But as a ceramic artist I know uniformity is so important. It's important for making your 'brand' and important for selling your work. In undergrad I learned the importance of making sets rather than single pieces. Making this dinnerware set has inspired me to focus more on sets during the first couple months of 2017.
Thank you, JonMark and Heather for this great opportunity. My hope for the set is to bring a special warmth to your home as you share it with each other and friends and family for years to come. I believe handmade pottery does wonders for a welcoming home and inspiring for a good home-cooked meal. (If you are a friend of the Hetricks and want to contribute to their set I still have their page up on my sight--Hetrick Registry.)
I am working on new sets (smaller sets) to display variety of roles a set can have. If you would like to commission your own set for your current home or for your wedding registry (or for someone else, what a great wedding gift!) feel free to contact me. I do hope to have visual samples within in the next couple months.
These are the options I plan to offer:
The Everyday Set - 4 mugs, 4 bowls, 4 plates
The Breakfast Set - 4 mugs, 4 fruit bowls, 4 breakfast plates, water pitcher, creamer + sugar canister, berry bowl, teapot.
The Lunch Set - 6 cups, 6 soup bowls, 6 plates, water pitcher, serving bowl, serving platter
Let me know if you have any other set ideas in mind!
Peace to you all,
It is time to make a real start to my business. So far it has all been slow going (pregnancy and baby can do that to a business, I guess.) After graduation from undergrad, I was lucky to move into a house with a huge unfinished basement. It's not an ideal studio situation (no water, one outlet), but space is space. If there's one thing a maker needs it's space. Along with space, I was fortunate enough to purchase my very own shiny Shimpo (thank you, Union University Pottery Sale for the funds). A kiln, however, was not in the budget nor was there anyway I could make one work in the basement. So, I have to do the dreaded task many fresh potters are faced with: drive an hour with greenware in the back of your car and pay (per ounce) a pottery studio to fire my work.
But here I am, ready to make a go of it. I've been back at the wheel this past week for the first time since before Eleanor (who arrive on her due date, October 25th). I have goals and dreams for this year. I want this to be a space for me to share with you how things play out in my little ceramic world.