Our First Anniversary at Black & Smith Country General

Three years ago (as Facebook reminded me, with one of my "memories") we put an offer in on our first home.

I joke (only partially) that buying this house was both the best and worst decision that we ever made. The worst decision because it has been a HELL of a lot of work to fix up (and we're still fixing it), with just about every conceivable problem arising at some point in the process. It has been an exercise in patience, a challenge for our relationship, and continues to be a project that we spend hours on each week. We are two people who are driven by growth. Our home is growing, it's thriving, it's changing. It's not what either of us had expeceted. But that's why buying this place was also the best decision we ever made.

Though an exercise in patience, our workshop/store/home/garden has taught us a lot, and given us a purpose - many goals to work towards, milestones to meet, and barriers to break down. Sometimes when I look at pictures of this place when we first bought it, I don't even recognize it. I don't really recognize me at that time either.

Last year (after two years of paying commercial property taxes, and staring at a giant empty room) we decided it was time we did something with this space of ours. We opened a shop. It started as a showroom for my pottery and a space to highlight the work of some other local makers. We had organic jam and nut butters, soaps, pillows, some wooden toys, coffee and tea. That was about it.

Since this time last year, the shop has expanded to carry a wide and carefully curated selection of all the things we love, all the things that (I believe) will help you to live a more beautiful life. These objects bring joy to the everyday, delight to the mundane. They brighten up your living space, and (I speak from experience on this one) can bring hope to some of the darkest days in your life. They are made by Canadians - handmade by artists with families and homes of their own - lives they are supporting by creating beautiful things.

We're celebrating our first anniversary of being open, our "First Birthday" if you will, on December 3 + 4.

Please join us for the celebration. Help us to celebrate the good work that all our makers do.
Join us in celebrating Canadian craft.
Sharethe love of handmade this holiday season.

... and tell a friend! (:

The Potter's Market

My favourite show of the year is coming up next weekend (May 30-31) in Guelph, ON.
The Potter's Market is a show of over 50 potters from across Ontario and Quebec. We set up in the beautiful ruins at Goldie Mill park, where there is great music, delicious refreshments and a fantastic view! This is an exceptional show of many very talented artists - give yourself a treat and take the drive to Goldie Mill and check out this fantastic show!

Holiday Sale / Open House 2014

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Our annual Holiday Sale is this coming weekend (December 6/7) from 10am - 4pm both days. We have been working tirelessly to set up a great shop space filled with handmade gifts by local artists. At the sale you will find beautifully crafted bags, scarves and pencil cases by Toronto-based textile designer Fionna Hanna, quirky and thought-provoking original artworks by fellow Hamiltonians Sean Gadoury and Caitlin Eady, hand illustrated letterpress cards by Papillon Press (Westmount ON), and of course, lots of quality porcelain pottery by yours truly. Along with several sizes and shapes of mugs and bowls, this year I've designed brie bakers, serving trays, wine cups, spoons, creamers and more - you will find something for everyone!

Come visit and cross some of those names off your shopping list, check out the new studio and enjoy some refreshments!

Thank you for shopping handmade this holiday season, and for supporting your local artists. (:

The Crawl

I've been an official Hamiltonian since February when we moved into the old general store, but I never truly felt one with the Hammer folk until September's annual Supercrawl. I must begin by expressing my love for Hamilton - I have long been a fan of this city and the people in it. I have fostered many relationships at the Ben Thanh, enriched my life through programming at Cathedral Place on James St N, and the monthly art crawls are always on my calendar. The city is full of life and love, excitement, entertainment and best of all, art.

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"Art is the new steel!" they say of Hamilton, ON. Once the home to a booming steel industry, the city is now a hub of arts culture and events, live music, street performance and craft beer. It is home to hundreds of galleries, vintage clothing shops and specialty food stores that sell cupcakes, organic goods and vegan smoothies. Every month James St N hosts an art "crawl" where the studio artists open their doors to the public, galleries put on sweet spreads, buskers serenade the passersby and vendors spread their wares across picnic blankets.

In September, the street completely shuts down to host Supercrawl, a weekend long crawl that brings in traffic from across Ontario. This is the crawl of all crawls. Art is hung on every alleyway wall, fences are decorated with chalk art and graffiti murals, large installations take up intersections and at night there are acrobats riding giant tricycles that shoot flames into the sky. Over 150,000 people descended up downtown Hamilton to share the experience. supercrawl I had a booth this year, to start my relationship with the city as a TRUE Hamiltonian. The feedback from the crowds was excellent, the weather (if chilly) was merciful, and I even got to play some music with my band inside the beautiful Cathedral.

Thanks to everyone who helped make Supercrawl an enjoyable and successful event!

Flying

The summer has been passing by before my eyes at lightning speed. I have only have four weeks left in Wiarton, before I head back to the big city and try to make it on my own. The past few weeks have been filled with visitors, weddings and other wedding-related events, firings, pot-making and planning for the end of the summer. I have barely had time to sit down and read Game of Thrones (a novel I have been slowly getting through for over three months now), or play my piano - I just can't keep up! IMG_3732I will be doing another wood firing at the end of August, with four other potters in the Hamilton Potter's Guild. So, I have decided that it's about time I start making some mugs - as they are the most purchased and most intimate pottery item, along with bowls. Before working for Tim, handles always scared me, and as a lover of handle-less cups, I rarely ever made mugs. My customers have always been disappointed, "How am I supposed to hold it?!" they ask. Apparently, some people don't like toasting their fingers when they drink their coffee (though I argue you are more likely to burn your mouth if you hold it by the handle) so last week I happily conformed and started cranking out some mugs.

Of course, I couldn't help myself, so I HAD to make some mini mugs - perfect for your morning espresso, a shot of whiskey, or, if you want to make medication fancy, you could knock back a swig of Buckleys. Who knows where these little guys will find themselves? Once they're out in the wide, wide world, anything could happen.

 

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