Come and Celebrate!!
It's been three years!
Friday, September 14th 6-8-ish during Arts on Main
Snacks & Fancy Beverages
It's been three years!
Friday, September 14th 6-8-ish during Arts on Main
Snacks & Fancy Beverages
The *problem* is that I like whatever I'm currently doing. If it's teaching, I love teaching, if it's renovating, I love painting trim, if it's organizing, I love moving furniture around, and if it's paperwork, I love designing marketing logos. Even this blog post. Ok, I don't like mopping and reclaiming clay, but you get the idea.
So as we approach three years (more on that next month!), and necessary large projects wind down, I have discovered that I have a clay studio. (!) And that I like making things out of clay. Without noticing, I've been ramping up my own work in the last few months. I love it! You'll start to see these things show up in the showroom this late summer.
I also have some scheduled time off, so I'm using that both to make things out of clay and to get to some smaller projects around the shop. We reached our Studio Fundraiser goal (Yay you!!!), so I've ordered the new studio wheel and some other little goodies for our students. By the way, I'm really impressed at the response for the fundraiser, so we'll be keeping this as an annual event.
Ok, back to my latte. The weather finally turned cool and the shoppers (and tree frogs) are out. It's my favorite time of year.
Imposing limits for an artist is counterintuitive to their unending imagination and soaring desire to create and love everything there ever was and ever could be.
White clay, brown clay, red clay, blue clay, speckled clay, plain clay. Then red glaze, blue glaze, black glaze, and thirty shades of turquoise. Add to that big wheels, little wheels, wood tools, rubber tools, and all the squeezers, stampers, squishers and mushers that were ever made.
Fast forward a decade (or two) when we have empirically accepted the mortal limits of time, money, energy, and space. That... should be when the real magic starts to happen.
Limits, imposed though they may be, force us to explore what we have more deeply. I can only keep about three types of clay in a studio and a dozen glazes without going logistically insane. I often have to say no to special studio requests, and as much as I hate that, I also know the benefits.
In my thirteenth year of clay, I am STILL exploring glazes and materials I started with as a beginner. I, of course, tried many other techniques along the way, but have let them go. Somewhere around five years in, I made that profound personal discovery of creating beauty with the clays and colors I already had. Not only has my creativity not dampened, I find these limits have actually freed it.
Glazes, by the way, are similar to primary colors on a color wheel in that new combinations of the basic ones we have will create very amazing effects. (Unlike a color wheel though, what they create is not straightforward or predictable. This is why I'll be spending a good chunk of my summer break creating a combination glaze chart for the studio).
So the mug in the picture above is a happy accident of glaze overlapping that involves an old matte glaze from my first couple of years and a mislabeled bag of dry glaze that I would never have tried in this combination if it hadn't been mislabeled. I've started experimenting using this effect and am excited to see how it plays out with our studio clays, our Stafford iron oxide, and our most popular types of pots in the shop.
As I walked into work this morning, this bright pink thing was lying in the Main Street drainage. Yeah, no, of course I picked it up, but as I did, I noticed that the only other trash around was one cigarette butt.
Like tea leaves, if only that were a real thing, this tableau of street garbage tells our story.
I've watched Stafford change in the last three years. Happily, I'm a symptom of that change: I was drawn to the aesthetic beauty and character, and moved my art shop in. You all know that part. At the time, I proclaimed to anyone who'd listen that you can not stop artists from moving into an area if it's the kind of area that attracts them.
And they keep coming. Painters, specialty crafters, writers, chefs...
Three years ago the street was still all butts. Today it was one lonely butt and a very bright, happy, slightly run over artist brush. Yay us!
Or as I like to say, "Listen to Teri..."
In a dusty clay studio, it can be hard to see the beauty of individual pieces, and especially of beginner pots. I encourage students to finish up pieces they don't think are good, and I give ideas for what the pots could be used for, but I think a few pictures do the job much better.
A friend has been using our light and studio, and toaster oven, and spare pottery... to take a few instagram photos (@koshercultures). He started digging around in our abandoned pottery box, and it reminded me to finish glazing up some of these hidden treasures.
We're going to have a student fundraiser this Spring, so please watch our posts for when some of these awesome pieces will be for sale, but in the meantime, enjoy the pictures! (If not the tacos. I ate them; they're gone).
Happy New Year!
In celebration of my new roof this fall, I am painting interior trim work this week! (This actually makes me very happy: It finally looks great, and coincidentally I'm working on a south-facing wall that gets toasty warm in the winter sun).
In other news, sign up for Winter Classes here. We have Monday or Wednesday 8-week sessions for beginners and advancing students (teens and adults), and NEW Monday 5-week session of Family Clay for kids with their parents. Also, our new Lesson for Two continues to be popular and will stay on the menu!
Also, come support Arts on Main this coming Friday from 6-8pm. Small shops have a hard time in the first quarter of the year, so please think of shopping on Main Street for any winter things you need.
We're starting our third year!!
New for this Fall:
Pottery Lesson for Two!
This has been our most popular request for a fun additional clay activity. Register online and schedule a time for a private lesson on the wheel for you and a friend.
Winter Wheel Class
Next 8-week session will start in November 8th on Wednesday evenings 6:30-9pm
Make Your Own Cider Mug
We sold out of this within a few days of posting, SO I will definitely talk with Jodi at the Cidery to set up another this winter!
September is Outdoor Art!
Main Street's Arts on Main collaborated with the Stafford Arts Commission and the town of Stafford's selectmen in a seasonal project to restore and showcase local artists' work in the Main Street park.
Bring it on!
This month's Arts on Main will be Film Noir Night when we get the honor of showing an advanced screening of the Whaley Brothers' The Adventures of Frank Holland: A Brief Case in our awesomely evolving basement lounge!
How do these things happen? We let them! For example:
Teri: I'm going to caffeinate myself and take out this basement sheetrock
Jen: My husband can take out that studding
Local Junk Shop: We have a crappy table that we're charging too much for, but it's still cheap
Internet: We have faux crocodile fabric in fluorescent colors. It's also cheap.
Manchester Goodwill: We have a $6 poker set
Carleton: Can we shoot a scene in your lounge?
Teri: Hey, what do you think of the brick wall as a screen?
Ken: This is a speakeasy.
Main Street Shops Five Years Ago: Let's have art every month
This was not in my shop layout diagram two years ago.
Btw, we have a fantastic (and completely different) plan for Main Street next month!
And now I shall make some pottery!
I'm not saying I'm going to stop working on the building or completely stop picking up fabulous pieces of garbage from the side of the road. Don't be silly! But...
This month I finished up some of the last of the early, "omg this will be amazing!" collections of crap I've been storing in the attic. There is more, and I won't be able to not finish them, but the shop and studio are beautiful and functional now, and I can slow down a little. And make pottery.
And sit in the sunny basement hammock.
Along with hanging the hammock, I've also carved out a really functional basement pottery workspace for myself. In my original space layout, I severely underestimated the amount of small tools and equipment I use, and I needed to prioritize space for the teaching studio. This new basement area solves a ton of problems.
Non-hammock plans for this spring include:
One of the more interesting aspects of the Pottery Project (journey, quest, thing) is letting my original plans evolve as I come to understand Main Street Stafford Springs and her people.
Our student studio community has grown (yay, you!), and we've made some decisions based on that. We're doubling the size of the basement studio to give everyone more breathing/maneuvering room. While it's taking longer than planned to get it into shape, it's also (like everything here), turning out way cooler than first envisioned.
Along with that, you'll start to see more of my Studio Assistants helping out around the shop and studio. I'm hoping this frees up more of my time to... make pottery. :)
On a bigger picture, you've probably noticed the Arts on Main events and the special edition Main Street events continuing to thrive and draw more people Downtown. Along with new shops moving into vacant spaces, we've been working behind the scenes to include more of Stafford's already-cool organizations. (December will be Cider Night, btw!).
I'm looking forward to seeing many of you this Holiday season around town and in the shop. Northeast Artists Open Studios will also be Thanksgiving weekend and the following weekend.
OMG... What a year?
At this moment last year, my floors had just been finished six days ago, the guys finished trim work up a day ago, and I had stayed late into the night trying to paint the trim, and was now moving boxes of pottery from home and setting up display tables.
And here we are! So here's what's happening:
Behind Schedule: I *still* have not finished painting the trim(!) This winter do or die. Also this fall we'll be doing some exterior work, including the back doors and front paint, to brighten everything up.
AHEAD of Schedule:
Seriously. All the "growing" analogies aside (there're more of those than pottery life analogies), I absolutely love seeing things like this happen. Beth makes the medallions in our pottery, her sister hangs them on the Garden Club planters, the Garden Club waters my outdoor planters, and I make guacamole from the jalapeño plant I have hidden in one of them... (and Beth has guacamole at the next event?) Full circle, ain't life grand?
Speaking of growing, because of the success of our teaching studio this first year, this October we will be expanding our basement space. (Yay to our first-year students!) We'll be doubling the size and spreading everything out more, giving ourselves some more breathing/wiggling room. We'll have more storage, a bigger lounge, and bigger work areas. This will let us increase class size. And give us room for a full-sized fridge.
Our little tiny claim to historical fame (or at least the main one I've heard so far) in Stafford Springs would be our two mineral springs. Once sources of a famous spa destination and a subsequent bottled beverage endeavor, both springs are within eyesight of my back windows.
In the first couple of months of being here, one of my (many, many, many) ideas for the pottery was to somehow incorporate the water from the iron spring into a unique Stafford-Springs-only glaze formula. I found an analysis report of the minerals and knew they would do SOMEthing cool, and I made plans to experiment.
Long story short, now almost exactly a year later, we have an absolutely unique iron oxide stain for our pottery. It's a deep, velvety red-brown that highlights texture like nothing else. You can find the first prototypes in Middle Ground on some coffee cups, and now in the shop on some little plates. (Mugs are coming soon).
Stafford Springs is an art town. The locals know it, the visitors feel it, and we all celebrate it.
I am enjoying (far more than I ever imagined) exploring the depth and variety of talent that walks these tracks.
I realized last night that exactly one year ago I bought this building...
Oh have I found new toys for you!
Please join us Friday April 8th for Stafford Springs Arts on Main!
Then join us for our Third Friday Clay Night workshop. I'll announce the project at the beginning of the month: If there's something specific you want to do, please let me know!