Over the years I have found that days of celebration are often more exhausting than you would originally think.  There have been countless numbers of holidays, birthdays and special events that though promoting joy and cheer, have only left me exhausted; celebrations have a consistent way of pulling you into a deep sleep when they are finished. For my family, the act of celebrating is an involved 4-step process. Our celebrations include: (first) cleaning, preparing, planning, cooking (second) eating, drinking, chatting, laughing (third) more chatting, more laughing, more drinking, more eating, and (fourth) "the crash period" (where everybody just wants to sleep).

They sometimes include: stress (when events don't go as planned), annoyance(when someone leaves early), unnecessary anger (when you're not allowed to do the dishes) and joyful frustration (when our 80 lb golden retriever won't stop stealing napkins).

They always, however include joy, connection, acceptance, love and hugs. Lots and lots of hugs.

birthdayYesterday was my birthday (it was also, by no coincidence, my twin sister's birthday as well). This day was no exception to the rule of celebration=exhaustion/gratefulness. Along with an 8-hour day at my part-time job, I managed to fit in a gallery opening, family dinner, a trip to the book store, dessert and drinks with a friend and an episode of Family Feud with my partner's dad. It was a great day, and I was blessed to have been able to share it with so many people I love.  I had a good night sleep last night.

Unfortunately I wasn't able to get into the studio on my birthday which, really, was the one thing I really wanted to do. Instead, my clay experience for the day involved loading customers' cars at The Pottery Supply House, calculating glaze recipes and organizing pottery tools. On the bright side, my coworkers at PSH are awesome and I arrived at 9am to a lemon filled cake and a Happy Birthday note.

It has been three days since I put my hands in clay, so I am anxious to get back into the studio, where I have two rings of test tiles and a tray of cupcake stands awaiting my arrival. This week's feat will be to make some sense of the cupcake stand forms I made last week by cutting them apart and editing (I also foresee myself reclaiming the majority of them).

testtile ring

I will also start developing a new style of imagery for my work. Keeping with the "map" theme I've been using this semester, I will be looking to a variety of new sources for travel, distance and location inspiration. Before the holiday break I was mostly using urban road maps for imagery development. My text of choice was a book of road maps from the Greater Toronto Area. My favourite lines to draw were freeways, rivers and waterfronts.


During the holidays when we were forced to take a vacation (they literally locked us out of our studios for three weeks), I spent a lot of time doodling, drawing and looking through atlases and photography books. One of my current favourite sources is The Atlas of Middle Earth by Karen Wynn Fonstad. I won't be using her exact maps in my new work, but I am enthralled with the line quality in her images. I am particularly fond of her mountain ranges and forested areas, the way that she uses line to create dense and atmospheric maps. Here are two puffy test tiles I made last week, inspired by a map of Rohan, with its first three layers of imagery. I'll be adding more layers to these tiles this week.


On an end note, I've added more links to my "About Me" menu. You can now follow my Instagram and Pinterest accounts, as well as Emma Smith Ceramics on Facebook.

I'm off to buy new tools with my birthday money and enjoy the beautiful day that's forming outside. Cheers,