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.

Sink or Swim

Tonight was my last shift as a part-time waitress.

For the last three years I have been building my ceramic business while juggling various part time jobs, sometimes several at the same time. With a new first home (and a new first mortgage!)  I didn't have the guts to go headstrong into a ceramic career and hope to make it. I worried I would fail.

What I've discovered in the last little while is that there is no "hope" - one doesn't HOPE to succeed. They succeed, or they don't succeed. I often ask my partner "What are the chances that___ will work out?" His response is always wise (though sometimes irritating)  " 50/50. It will work out, or it won't."

Two months ago, I decided it was time to remove my personal flotation device, and see if I will sink, or swim. If I will succeed, or not succeed. If I will make it, or not make it.

The funny thing about a flotation device is you can never truly swim with it on. You can bob around with your bum wet, kick your feet and splash your arms, and maybe get a face full of the sea when a wave crashes by. You won't sink, but you won't swim either. Sometimes you just have to cut yourself loose from the ropes holding you back, so that you can fly. You have to step off that ledge, rip off the bandaid, and SWIM!

So after a long last night at work,  I'm sitting in my living room with my two cats and toasting to stepping off that ledge. "I will make it! I will make a living from clay! I will work in my studio and make pots to bring joy to people's lives. I will teach classes and share the love of clay with others! I will succeed!"

Wood Season


Over the past few years I've found that I work best under pressure; I need deadlines and commitments to work efficiently. At the beginning of each week I set myself a schedule of what I'd like to accomplish, on which day. It's wood firing season, and with a woodfiring on the horizon, time management becomes imperative. For each firing I plan the days I will sand and glaze, when I need to get my last bisque firing in, and how much time it will take for pieces to dry. This planning activates a side of my brain that I really enjoy using – I feel joy while filling out calendars and date books.

Last week I unloaded work from my fourth firing this year, and will be loading my fifth this Saturday. While I still need to sand and wash the pieces we just unloaded, I am instead pulling handles on cups and jugs, finishing up details on prototype vases, and adding rims to serving dishes for the firing coming up. Studio life is a constant balancing and juggling act – one that I am starting to get comfortable with. While one tray of bowls dries you throw creamers. While the creamers are drying you roll out slabs to get them stiffening and then start to trim your bowls. When the slabs are stiff enough to work with you build the walls for vases and slowly dry them while you finish the creamers. On it goes, a carousel.

Here are some photos of the pots that came out of last week's firing. It was my first time leading a firing in the Manabigama, and was delighted to have a great time of eager potters who wanted to learn about firing with wood. The pots turned out delightful.


[gallery type="square" ids="1287,1286,1285"]

Jump to the Left

It's been a while since my last post, almost a month actually. I have had such good intentions of blogging (I REALLY HAVE!) but life keeps getting in the way, and not always in the best of ways. The recent developments in the Jerseyville General Store have been both physically and mentally exhausting. I am still trying to wrap my head around the serious repairs that need to be done before we can move forward in some areas of the building (ie. the workspace/store). The safety of a potter and her partner are priority, and for the worrisome (like myself) cause for stress and unravelling emotions.

Still, we putter on. My studio has recently done the Time Warp and taken a jump to the left (or rather, several jumps..) in order to proceed with the repairs mentioned above. I've also had to refrain from putting up my shelving, which results in constantly covered tables, especially after a full day of making. Last night I weighed out glaze on the floor, and I currently have ware boards of pots balancing on chairs and windowsills. My disorganized semi-studio is an accurate reflection of my brain these days.



The silver lining is that I'm making pots, if but slowly.


Polar Vortex II

photoMany of my fellow humans in Southern Ontario were irritated with the coming of  "polar vortex part 2"  this week. But, the snow storm came to me as a blessing. Instead of braving the roads (and drivers!) into work, I took the day to stay at home and finally made some pots in my new studio. The studio isn't fully functioning yet. Our severely sloped floor is limiting the amount of shelves I can put up (ie. none, as they lean FAR, FAR away from the wall) and therefore, there are still a lot of boxes of stuff hanging around on the floor. I need to make pots for this woodfiring though, so I wedged up some clay on my rickety table and spent the afternoon throwing mugs, espresso cups and tealight holders. It was a lovely way to spend the day.

While the wind whistled  and the snow piled up on our porch, I sat inside with the woodstove crackling away, and a very happy cat watching me throw.

Happy spring/dead of winter.