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. 

Stacked.  

Stacked.  

Camping: How to fill your soul's "empty well"

I like to think of the soul as a deep well. It drains and it fills, drains and fills.

My well has slowly been draining for the last several months, without being re-filled. There is a drought, and my well has been in serious trouble of drying up entirely.

It just so happened that I had a show in Quebec last week, so since we were already away for a few days, we tacked on an extra few and went camping. I feel refilled, so felt inclined to write some tips on how to keep your own well filled.

1. Take a drive
It doesn't matter where you are going – in fact, a lack of destination can be all the more inspiring (and, no stress for a deadline!). Get yourself set up with some good tunes (I'd like to recommend David Bowie – Hunky Dory), crank up the stereo, and get gone. If you don't have a car, get on the next city bus to nowhere and let the world flash past.

2. Get out of your house
I live where I work, so I find it hard to have a healthy work-life balance. There is always something to be cleaned, or fixed, or maintained. There are cats to feed, pots to make, laundry to do, plants to water. Sometimes the only thing to do is get AWAY from where the work is. Book a campsite. Drive to the beach, put the seats down and sleep in the car. Treat yourself to a B&B in no-place in particular (Air BNB is affordable, and easy). Find a friend who needs to get out too, and swap houses for the night - or a week!

We paddled out to our campsite, and other than cooking food and drying all our belongings that got rained on, we spent three days swimming, paddling, reading, napping, watching the fire, drinking tea, and making friends with the woodland rodents. Bliss.

3. Quiet your surroundings
Resist the urge to turn on the radio. Take your earbuds out. Find a place where you can hear the birds, the bugs, and the breeze. Or find a park bench in the city and listen to the sounds of traffic, children laughing (or screaming), sirens and car horns, and footsteps on the sidewalk. Close your eyes, listen, and maybe, fall asleep.

That leads me to:

4. Take a nap
I don't know why, but there is something particularly magical about falling asleep in the mid-day sunlight. Regardless of if I finished working in the studio at 3am and was up again at 8, taking an afternoon nap feels like I'm playing hookey, and there is no better feeling than that. Throw in falling asleep to an afternoon movie (bring on the guilt!), and you'll be filled up for an evening of work.

5. Give your eyeballs some beauty to look at
Take a walk and look at the wildflowers. Notice the perfectly spaced needles on a tree branch. Visit a museum or art gallery, by yourself, and instead of blasting through at top speed to get through the whole thing, resolve to only see a fraction, and spend more time with each piece. Sit and stare. Stay up late to see the stars, wake up early and watch the sun light up in colour. Pay attention to details. There is beauty to be found in the world, you just need to notice.