Choo Choo

I've been away from the blog for a few weeks, as I was at a conference, and then studio reno-ing (more on that another day) and then Supercrawl. A start of a busy September indeed!

Hamilton mugs! 

Hamilton mugs! 

Now that I'm back in the swing of things (and the fire bans have been lifted), I've stuffed my van with pots and have headed up north to start firing for the holiday season! This is my first time firing a train kiln, a kiln design that looks like a train car, and when fired correctly should make that warm and cozy chugging sound. My kind of sound. 

Pots unpacked and ready to be loaded

Pots unpacked and ready to be loaded

This firing is particularly special, as it is the last firing this kiln will ever see! After unloading next week, Duncan Aird and I will be tearing her down, and giving the bricks a new life in our very own kiln back down in the Hammer! Buildings are underway and we're hoping to have the beauty built before Christmas. 

So I'm up here toasting this sweet kiln many thanks, with good company, and good food, and looking forward to many firings ahead!

Jeff Martens, loading the kiln like a boss. 

Jeff Martens, loading the kiln like a boss. 



How to be Happier - POWER HOUR

I have been listening to more and more podcasts in the studio these days. For two main reasons. One, because I learn stuff; filling my brain with probably useless facts, but filling it nonetheless, is a bit of an addiction of mine. Two, lately music lets my mind wander too far, whereas podcasts keep me focused.

My new favourite podcast is Happier with Gretchen Rubin - Gretchen is the author of best-selling books The Happiness Project and Better Than Before. She and her sister give tips for living a happier life and how to develop good habits. They are a hilarious duo.

This week, I thought I'd try one of their tips. They call it the Power Hour - when you take one hour a week to get something (or many things) done that would otherwise NEVER get done. These are tasks or chores that don't have a timeline attached to them, so you could literally NEVER do them. For some this might be sorting through tupperware bottoms and lids, it could be replacing all the burnt out lightbulbs that you never got around to. It could be cleaning the inside of the kitchen cupboards or sorting through old junk in the attic. Whatever it is, you spend one hour a week doing it, and you will feel happier.

This week is my first time hosting classes in my studio space. I NEEDED the power hour. Since leaving Sheridan 3 years ago, I have moved dried out clay from studio to studio without ever reclaiming it. I have left pots that need to be smashed pile up. I have about 8 teapots that just need handles attached, but have I attached them? NO! After every woodfiring I have a collection of pots that need to be ground down or burnished before they are saleable. Have I taken the dremmel to them? NO!

I have all this crap in my studio that needs OUT. So this week I started with the dremmel. I spent two hours (because I was on a roll!) dremmeling wadding off the bottoms of pots, drilling out holes that had been filled with ash and grinding off sharp bits. I even dealt with all the pots that needed to be smashed.

I've only had one Power Hour so far, but I can tell you that smashing pots with a hammer did indeed make me happy.

I hope you take an hour to get something done in your home. It is INCREDIBLY satisfying. Plus, listen to this sweet beat  on repeat while you work and the whole process will be way more groovy.

The House is the Person

Well, it has been a long week. This is our first house and first move, and like anything else it has been an amazing learning opportunity. The Jerseyville General Store has thus far been a lesson in: patience, teamwork, organization, multi-tasking, and staying calm. It has also been a lesson in: tearing up floors, stripping wallpaper, drywalling, painting, plumbing, electrical, tearing down, re-building, cleaning, and heavy-lifting. Our renovations are non-stop from the moment we get up to the late hours of the night.

kitchenMost of our household items are now downstairs in the store, slowly making their way up into our house, but my studio is still in tear-down mode. I have a wood firing scheduled for the beginning of April though, so I am motivated to get my work space up and running as soon as possible.

Part of me loves the home-reno process. As an artist, there is nothing more exciting than a fresh slate, a blank canvas. This is the first time I have really been able to make every room my own (and Jesse's of course). I look for my home to reflect the same attributes that I hope to see in my pots:  calm, usefulness, delight, simplicity, quiet, and joy.

"The pot is the man: his virtues and his vices are shown therein—no  disguise is possible". - Bernard Leach

If Bernard Leach is right, then I guess I'm looking for those attributes in myself too.