Friday, December 31, 2010

happy new year!

2010 has been a big year for me.  Sales have been slower than in years past because of the economy, which means that purchases are intentional.  People who are buying my pottery are really thinking about their purchases, weighing them, choosing to go without other things in order to buy my work.  I appreciate each and every one of your purchases this year.  I know that everyone has a choice in how they spend their money.  I'm so grateful for my customers.

I also feel like my work has progressed in leaps and bounds this past year.  I feel like I'm more consistent in some areas and able to take more risks in others.*

I'm delighted with the pieces I made based on Diana Fayt's  techniques.  And I love my new pitchers inspired by silver hollowware.  I did a little more handbuilding this year, and because my arms are bothering me, I anticipate doing even more in 2011.  If my throwing days are limited due to tendon pain in my arms, I'm not throwing things that I don't like or I've grown tired of.

The egg cups! Oh my- the Southern Living response has been tremendous.  I'm just tickled by that.

It's been quite a year.  I have some plans for 2011, some new ideas to try, some new marketing ideas, too.

Happy New Year friends!  Be well, safe, and happy.

*I just finished my 365 photo project/play-a-long here.  Not sure if I'll do one in 2011, but I'm glad I did in 2010. 

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

it's out!

I've been holding a bit of news close to my chest for a while, not completely certain that it was going to happen, but it did!  look!

I'm just as tickled as I can be!  I'm in Southern Living!!!  The cups are, of course, over in the shop.  I'm ready to make more this week as I can fit in the time.

When I got an email from the editor for the "Made by Southern Hands" column at the end of October I screamed my fool head off.  Many of my friends have known about this for a while, but I didn't want to spill the beans too early.  We got a call from a relative on Christmas Eve telling us that her copy had come in the mail- I picked up my copy at the grocery this morning. 

I hope you had a lovely holiday- we did- and this just caps it off!

Friday, December 17, 2010

holiday home, the overview

The first room you come to in our home is our living room.  We don't have an entry hall per se,  but we've arranged things so that the space is somewhat divided between the sitting and entry areas.  The sofa usually faces the (non-working) fireplace.  My decorating style is somewhat "empire-in-decline" meets thrift store- all of the furniture is old- either bought at antique auctions, passed down, or purchased at thrift/shabby antique stores and loved up.  There are a lot of books, asian pieces passed down from my inlaws or picked up at estate sales, some art by people we knew when we worked at a gallery,  and the furniture, by and large, is comfortable but slightly formal.  We really live in this space, so I kept the decorations limited to the tree and the mantle.  
You can see that the living room adjoins the dining room- the colors and style are similar, and the decorations are pared down to the advent wreath on the table,  our advent calendar on a sideboard, and two of the sparkly wreaths you saw earlier on the china cabinet and window.  I don't typically keep a table cloth on the dining room table- I prefer bare polished wood.  This table (a 1940s mahogany duncan phyfe model) is one that we bought the first year we were married at an antiques auction for $100.  The four chairs were an additional $100.  Both are much worse for the wear- we came home one night when our house was babysitting central to find a tonka dump truck and 18" of  its tracks running down the middle of the table.  I think in the coming year I'll paint the table and chairs rather than cringe every time I see a new scratch.  The dining room is the exact center of our home- I'm embracing the battering we give in and the life it hosts.   My favorite decoration in this room is the ceramic creche that my great grandmother made.  I found it in 2001 when we were clearing out my great grandparents' home.  This was packed away in an old wooden box in the "junk room" where she used to paint poured ceramics.  The pieces had already been glazed- everything was there but the Christ Child.  I used it as-is for years until I found an identical piece at a community center where I taught children's pottery.  I inquired if the ceramics lady had the baby and offered to buy it if she did.  She gave it to me and I glazed it.  I didn't get the color quite right, but I was happy to have the completed set.  My boy set it up this year- I can really see the influence of his years in Catechesis of the Good Shepherd.

And so, Christmas is a week away.  The tree is up.  We'll hang our stockings next week and begin to wrap gifts to go under the tree.  There are cookies to bake, some last-minute gifts to make, and yes, still cards to send out.  If you celebrate, I hope your Christmas is filled with brightness and joy, and that everyone's new year brings good things.

Be well, everyone.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

holiday home, II

As I said previously, I do try to keep things centered during the holidays, but every girl likes the tiniest bit of glitz!  I have only 3 wreaths for the house- sometimes there's one on the front door, sometimes there isn't.  This year I've hung a homespun felted and jingle bell swag that we received as a Christmas gift last year.  There are also some bells from my husband's childhood home in Turkey, and a strand of beads and bells I picked up years ago in a little border town market in Mexico.  I love the bells ringing every time we open the door.

But the glitz- I stumbled on a half-bushel basket of old old glass ornaments when I was in graduate school (lower left)- for a long time, those were my only holiday decorations.  I displayed them in a giant silver punch bowl, hung on evergreens, and now, they're in a small silver revere bowl on my mantle.  There are a few votive candles scattered around them, and the old 1940s round mirror I picked up one trash day reflects the cheer.  That's about all I need on the mantle.

The three wreaths were all made during my Martha Stewart fandom heyday.  I'm not sure if I made them all the same year, but I may have.  The red glass bead wreath came first- I remember searching for and then cringing as I purchased $50 in red Czech druk beads ten years ago.  I generally hang this between the living room or dining room windows.  This year it's in the dining room.
The glass ball wreath came next.  It is really on its last legs, but it's my boy's favorite wreath.  I may have to glue the balls to a foam or straw form next year, because I like it too.  It hangs in the window over our kitchen table.

The final wreath, which took forever to make, is also a MSL project.  It came out of one of the holiday books and isn't on the website, but I made each leaf out of silver-lined glass beads, arranged them in clusters of three, and wired them on a circular wire form.  It almost always hangs on a mirror or on the china cabinet, in front of my silver collection.  I am a sucker for silver hollowware and old serving pieces- I enjoy using them, even in our decidedly simple and casual lifestyle.

I would like to have one more wreath, based on this one.  A neighbor gave me quite a lot of reindeer moss, and there are huge mossy areas along the greenway in our neighborhood.  I think I'm going to wait until after Christmas for this project, when the days are dark and dreary and I need a bit more green around me.

I have one more photo for you at the end of the week-
 see you soon!

Monday, December 13, 2010

holiday home tour

my dear friend Mama Urchin is hosting a holiday home tour and asked me to play along.  Because I have a teensy house (well, the part that is heated with radiators, my best friend during the cold months is about 1200 sq ft), I try to keep things simple.  And as a person of faith, I want to focus on the holy more than the glitz. 
The Episcopal church (and many other liturgically-based churches) "celebrates" Advent - the four weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas- before the great Celebration of Christmas.  Advent is a time of preparation and seeking the light in darkness (in Catechesis of the Good Shepherd Isaiah 9:2- "the people who walked in darkness have seen a great light"- is the basis for much of our work during these four weeks), so light plays an important role in how my family celebrates advent.
I'll start with the bottom right photo, as it is all about Advent.  The first Sunday of Advent we make a wreath at St. Mary's Cathedral.  It's an all-ages event.  I missed it this year, but my boys brought one home.  Some churches use purple for Advent, some use blue.  We've recently switched to blue, which I'm happy about because, well, I'm not a fan of purple.  The pink candle, which we lit this week, is for Mary.  The next photo is a fun one- our advent calendar is based on the free bird pattern offered by Spool.  From the Sunday after Thanksgiving until Christmas Eve, we add a new bird.  Originally I only made 24 birds -this year I need to make a few more.  I used wool and cashmere sweaters -either purchased at a thrift store or moth-eaten ones from my house- to make these sweet little birds. 
Next to the birds, this stationary wooden creche is one of my favorite holiday decorations.  The priest who was my campus minister came down to Mississippi to perform my wedding- he's done the same for several women I graduated with.  The summer I was pregnant, he traveled to Israel and sent this olive-wood creche as a baby gift when my son was born right before Thanksgiving.  When he grows up and has his own family, I'll pass it along to him, but it is very meaningful to me.
The star on our tree is a Moravian Star.  In Moravian households (and in Germany, PA, and Winston-Salem, NC, this star hangs outside, lighted, from the beginning of Advent until the beginning of Epiphany.  It represents the star of Bethlehem- that great light.  My college, Salem, was founded by Moravians, so this is a special symbol for me.  For many years I had a white star that we hung on the porch, but it died last year.  This paper one from an imports store will do for now, but I plan to replace it soon.

Later this week I'll delve more into our Christmas decorations- the tree is up and lit and I am slowly adding wreathes to the windows and other festive bits around the house.  But for now, I'm taking it slowly and anticipating the great light to come.  Be well.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

goodness gracious

I know now that I absolutely made the right decision to cut back on my expectations of what I could accomplish, pottery-wise, this holiday season.  In the past week my house has been struck by the flu (little boy was down for 5 days, which meant that I was pretty busy during that time) and a pot that had cracked due to thermal shock (read, I opened the kiln when I shouldn't have) spontaneously exploded two weeks later, cutting my hand pretty badly.  We spent Wednesday afternoon at the doctor's office getting the cut glued back together (I love advances in medicine sometimes) and I realized that I needed to scale back even further.  So this week we spent a great deal of time cozied up on the sofa, reading, drinking warm tea and cider, decorating the tree, resting, getting well.

I do have one tiny little holiday offering in my shop.  I've been making these little nest ornaments this fall- I had a few dozen for sale at events in town, and there are ten over at etsy.  The nest is thrown and altered; the eggs are hand-formed.  I kept back quite a few to use as package toppers.  They make me happy.

It has gotten so cold here - today's high is 30, the low is 16.  For the next few days Memphis will be colder than New England.  I don't remember December ever being so cold here- I'm wishing for a wood stove and cranking out wool sweaters and fuzzy mittens to keep my family warm.

I hope you have a good week- be well.