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!

Wood Season

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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.

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Spring Thinking

This past weekend, Southern Ontario was blessed with a sudden January thaw. The temperature rose to almost 15 degrees and most of the snow patches melted, causing an uncanny amount of people to walk around with their winter coats wrapped around their waists, and an earth drenched with melted ice. My opportunities to enjoy the weather were limited, but I was unable to ignore the joy and buoyancy that pervaded the air. Winter has since perked up again and all dreams of flowering tulips and garden parties must be postponed, at least OUTSIDE of my studio. I have recently been asked by a dear friend to be her bridesmaid in their wedding this summer. So, months earlier than normal, my thoughts have been consumed with lace, sunflowers and balloons (and other feminine decor of the like). During my first talk with *Linda about my project interests for the coming semester, it came as no surprise that all my ideas revolved around romance and warmth. For this semester I have decided to focus on cupcake tiers, cakestands, flower bricks, vases and bottles. Every aspect of femininity that I have managed to exclude from my work so far, will take first priority (I even intend to incorporate lace and crochet-inspired texture and piercing in my coming pieces). Though I will take my hand at using high-fire porcelain (the most delicate and elegant of clays), I am also eager to continue my use of chunky, architectural stonewares and bright, soft earthenware.

To begin the development of new forms (whose -perceived- effeminate functions are alien to my current palette), I will first look to the pots of some of my favourite ceramic artists.

Flower bricks

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Cake and treat stands

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This week I will start to develop ideas for these forms through drawings, models, sketches in clay and extensive research.