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. (:

A Philosophical Rant

I finally made it back to the studio today, after a four week hiatus. With the holidays and shows, plus a full-time job and several dates with my mom to sort out the crawlspace, I have had very little time to put towards making pots. It has been a depressing four weeks. Today, I finally had a day off and started the morning throwing mugs. I haven't thrown in what feels like AGES, and, because my studio is temporary, I never got around to setting my wheel up the way I would like. I can't get comfortable - I always feel too high or too low. My legs start to ache (not a good sign) and my back tingles. Once we move and I set up the new studio, I may try throwing while standing up. I have taken a break to drink some tea and while the kettle was boiling I thought "I haven't blogged in a while". So here I am.

Earlier this week I gave a workshop on behalf of the Pottery Supply House to a collection of teachers from the Halton District School Board. They have recently banned silica in all of their schools, and so PSH developed a silica free clay body for them to use. My workshop was to introduce the new clay to the teachers, show them some basic techniques they could use in their classroom, go over common tools, how to glaze and decorate, how to load/unload their kilns, and finally, how to use a kiln sitter and computer control to fire the work. All in under two hours.

This was my first workshop, ever. I spent weeks leading up to it playing with the new clay, putting together sample projects and making sure I had examples of each project in its various stages. I am a comfortable public speaker, but I've never taught anyone about clay before (unless you count Jesse, who mostly listens to me ramble and picks up tidbits of information over time). The idea of teaching 30 teachers was strange, and daunting.

I loved it though. Not only did I get to encourage using clay in elementary/secondary schools, but I also learned  several things that night:

1. How to talk about what my hands are doing  - this sounds much easier than it is. When you become so familiar with a task, you don't always think about exactly where you are putting pressure, or how much, or how thick the wall actually is (because, of course, they wanted a measurement and "thin" won't cut it).

2. How to work and talk at the same time - I've always wondered how Tony could carry on a humorous conversation while throwing giant jugs and intricate mugs. Man, it's hard. I can barely work while people are looking at me, let alone during a  discussion on my philosophy of "visual interest".

3. How to answer questions and entertain

and most importantly

4. YOU ARE NOT AN EXPERT

After having to answer so many questions that I wanted to read up on later, I truly felt like I still had so much to learn. This was a humbling point.

I've never thought that I was an expert (I am a babe in the ceramic industry) but I did think I knew a lot.. I went to school right? That should count for something. But, in reality, I have years and years ahead of me of experiences to be had. I've only taught one workshop, to (virtually) non-ceramic folks. I still have a lot to learn.

However (here's where the philosophical bit comes in), I don't think that anyone can ever be an "expert". The world is a big place, it holds a lot of people, and a lot of stuff. There are books written on EVERYTHING, you can look ANYTHING up on the internet and there is SO MUCH of it. There is just too much, to be an expert.

On countless trips to the West coast I heard discussions about Ontarians (or "Easterners") and how "wrong" their ideals were. Wanting to have a big house and a fancy car was the wrong way to approach life. Those Ontarians were selfish and thought they were the center of the universe. And Toronto?! Who would want to live in that city, where it's too noisy and stinky, and everyone is miserable?

And locally I've heard discussions about "them hippies" and the single moms in the townhouse complexes. Those pot smoking, free-love, long haired freaky people, and the low-income families with "too many children they can't afford". They're lazy, and our tax dollars are only supporting their lack of motivation. They think they can get by in life without a REAL job?

Too many people think that they are an expert. That they know something that everyone else in the world is oblivious to. But really, the only thing we're an expert on is ourselves. We've all had different experiences, we've lived in different homes, encountered different people, and had varying financial situations. We know NOTHING about the people we judge.

Even in a work industry, I don't believe that anybody really "knows it all". Sure, there are people who have mastered certain techniques and are well educated, hell some people even have a PhD in clay. There are people (like my co-worker Jon) who are encyclopedias of ceramic materials and processes. There are excellent throwers and skilled handbuilders, there are wood-firing "gurus" and raku celebrities. But I can't believe that there is nothing left for them to learn. There will always be SOMETHING for all of us to learn.

I think it's about time we face that, and look forward to learning something new. The world is a big place.

Sudur-Tingeyjarsysla, Iceland

Rant of the day, over.

Video - Robin Dupont

Robin Dupont is a ceramic artist from British Columbia who specializes in wood fired pottery. He was nominated for the RBC Emerging Artist Award in 2013 at the Gardiner Museum in Toronto. Each of the artists nominated for this award had to make a video to be played during the exhibition. Robin was the only potter nominated for this award, and his video sums up my love for making, wood firing, and designing objects to be used. I particularly love how he talks about how he is collaborating with food, and drink, and flowers. What a humbling way to think about one's artwork. Enjoy!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7D4Wlag1zIA&w=420&h=315]

HO HO

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Six turkey dinners later, and my Christmas holidays are over. I'm a little relieved that I don't have to eat turkey again until Easter, but wishing I didn't have to go back to work. My week was filled with social events and travelling - we spent the weekend before Christmas with my in-laws in Bracebridge, then Christmas Eve/Day with my parents and Jesse's dad in Burlington. Boxing Day we were in Stoufville, Friday we were in Toronto and Saturday night we visited friends in Hamilton. The holidays sure go by fast when there is so much to do! I'm looking forward to New Years, two more days off, and a lot of sitting around. We will likely play several rounds of giant-Jenga (my Christmas present from Jesse, who made it himself).

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In other news, I will be working on some pots this coming weekend - I have taken a break for a while and am anxious to start creating for next season's wood-firings. My mother keeps asking for big bowls and plates, so maybe I'll scale up this time.

I hope your holidays were delightful. <3