Friday, January 29, 2010

Spooling Ceramics

I recently found the work of Mara Skujeniece, a dutch ceramic artist who's slip-cast spool vases first caught my eye on Zilu, a European version of Etsy.  I was also pretty smitten with her faceted vases in lovely shades of grey!
I know there is a huge trend in ceramics these days to slip-cast found objects and there are some that I find more interesting than others.  I guess I'm more interested in the original object not being a vessel form to begin with.  I find the translation into porcelain a whole lot more engaging as I re-think the origin and function of that form.  In any case, I do really love the clever translation of spools of string into a vase.  Any thoughts?
On another front, I also just found the blog Craft Hope, a blog dedicated to raising funds via sales of hand-made objects on their Etsy shop.  It's such a great concept and so far $27 000 has been raised for Haiti!  Please do have a look at their shop and consider buying as all money raised will be donated to Doctors Without Borders for Haiti.
I recently re-kindled my friendship with a child-hood friend who's father is Haitian.  My friend's parents were in Haiti visiting his family during the Earthquake, and although they are alright, efforts are now being made to get them home along with finishing paperwork for more of her cousins and relatives to come to Canada.  It is truly a dire situation out there.  My best hope and prayers go out...

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Early Influences

The boys have both been making 'comic books' lately. I'm not sure who's idea it was, but it's pretty fun to see what they are coming up with.  This drawing, by Sasha who's nearly 6 is inspired in part by Ed Emberley's book:'Drawing Book of Faces', which he's been drawing from as of late.  The translation is really sweet, but this one was made without the book in front of him, so I can see that it's been influencing his drawing over-all.  Interesting- I wonder who's art I should introduce him to next?   

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Coming out of the Fog

In an attempt not to dwell on past errors in judgment, I'm hoping to be able to merely write a simple post clarifying intentions, hopes and dreams.  Things are a little foggy at the moment.  I've gone and stuck my neck out and realized that I was the only one out there and I looked unprofessional doing it.  Popular opinion verses my opinion.  Wasn't pretty. 
All that said, I happen to be a very passionate ceramic artist.  I'm not really a business person. I never went into ceramics for the money.  In the end, I would love to get paid well enough for what I make, but in the end, all I want to do is to create and make.  Ceramics is an area I am particularly dedicated to.  I love the process of clay from beginning to end.  From a ball of clay on the wheel to painting and dipping bisques pots into glazes that I've formulated and made myself.  My hands touch each piece that I make over a hundred times before they get passed along to galleries or to my customers.  I want my work to resonate the hand-made process.  That process took years to develop. It takes time to recreate consistently.  It is a skill, but also it is a deep passion that has to drive one to be committed enough to the process to do it again and again. 
I believe that there are many other ceramic artists out there like myself.  Others that are dedicated to producing and making phenomenal work.  I was just so disappointed when the popular vote didn't see that.  It wasn't about winning or losing, it was more a dismay that people don't realize that there is a difference between an ceramic artist and a business that makes ceramic objects.  It might have cost me some sales, but hopefully not my reputation... now, enough said, time to move on!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Lucie Rie

As far as historical ceramics goes, I've always been enamored with Lucie Rie's pottery.  In love, actually. If I ever came close to a piece of hers, I think my heart would skip a few beats!  My good friend Lise Kuhr actually 'dared' (her work sells upwards of $40 000 for a bowl) to hold a piece that was up for auction at an auction house in London.  She got all dressed up, walked right in, and asked to see the bowl that was being auctioned off. Picked it up and held it.  I was jealous when she told me.

Lucie Rie's work bears a style that is truly her own.  When I first saw the grouping of her pots in the first photo on the blog 'an ambitious project collapsing' I knew instantly that they were hers.  The beauty about someone's style being so distinct is that everyone who tries to 'copy' it can't really compete with the real deal. 

That's something that I wanted to do when I started my ceramics career.  I wanted to make pots that didn't leave an ounce of doubt in someone's mind that they were mine. I didn't even want someone to have to flip the piece over to check the stamp/signature out to have to confirm who made it. And that's how I measure a good pot these days- by someone's signature style that is so distinct from the firs time you lay eyes on their work. 
There is one more week to vote for the Poppies Ceramics category on the Poppytalk blog.  There are some really amazing other contemporary potters (with distinct signature styles) to vote for along with myself.  Please vote (I'm not at all impressed with who's in the lead, hoping someone who really deserves the award will actually win it!)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Etsy front page & back in stock!

 My Ginko Stem Mugs recently found their way to the front page of Etsy.  My first firing of the season turned out beautifully and I have my Ginko mugs, Turquoise Poppy Mugs, and Poppy Bottle Vases back in stock and ready to ship! I've got another week of glazing and firing for the rest of the work, along with a whole lot of shipping to get the work to my galleries! 

Friday, January 22, 2010

baby up-date & Etsy finds

My sister's pregnancy is in it's final trimester now- she has about 7 weeks to go and the latest ultrasound said that her baby is already 5.5 lbs- such a big baby!  Here she is around 6-7months pregnant looking so lovely with her baby belly!
I've started getting some ideas of gifts for this new little baby and found some lovely ideas for baby gifts on Etsy that I've marked as my favourites!

Hooty Hoo Owl Onesie for $38

That's it for now, have a beautiful weekend!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Whistler 1979

I borrowed a few copies of 'Beautiful British Columbia' an old travel magazine from my mom-in-law the other day and wanted to post a few 'then vs now' images.  It's amazing to see how much has changed.  Whistler, for instance, looks so incredibly different now.  
This photo instantly reminded me of Peter Doig's paintings from his Ski Jacket series (1994) that I was fortunate enough to see at the Morris and Helen Belkin Gallery in 2001. These images along with more of Peter Doig's work can be viewed on the Tate website along with a virtual tour of the Exhibition.  

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Keeping on the sunny side

Things have been a little quiet on this blog as of late.  I've been trying to get through a few 'hiccups' of life here that the new year has brought and trying to keep on the sunny side of things.  It's good to have my boys during those moments, they keep me grounded and present despite circumstances that can be frustrating.  
Our house guests left yesterday morning- I could barely muster a good-bye from the bedroom as I recovered from an all-night flu fest...

We did manage to do a little sight-seeing.  Granville Island ended up being the easiest touring opportunity with 2 little toddlers (so cute, holding hands in the stroller) and 2 children and so alas, I'll have to find some new excuses to play tourist again in my own town.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Radiant Dark

Lucky you if you're in Toronto this week!  Not only is the Interior Design Show happening starting January 21st, but along with it,  exhibits in buildings around the city of emerging Canadian designers and makers!  A must see would be the Radiant Dark exhibit which will include my dear friend Claire of heyday designs, who's been busily working through December and into January on her porcelain cell phone chandeliers and lights.  I've been fortunate enough to seen the process in all it's various stages and before she left, she sent me the photo of the completed work!  Each cell phone was made into a plaster mold (a feat in itself), slip-cast and then all the electrical was wired by hand and the fixings made by her and her partner.  I'm looking forward to seeing pictures of it installed and wish her all the best this week!

Vote for me!

Well the final nominations over at the Poppytalk Blog are up and lo and behold,  I've made it in the final ceramics category!  I'm thrilled to have made it this far, now here's how you can help my Poppies get a Poppy!
The voting will remain open for for one week effective today through to Monday January 25th, 2010 at 11:59 pm.
Here's how the voting will work:
One vote will be allowed per computer and one vote per category. 
Vote for me OFTEN during the voting week -  by posting something from my blog, email newsletter, site, facebook page or twitter.  

There will be two awards for each category:

1) The Peoples Choice Award
2) Jury's Choice Award- (Jury to be advised).

And the PRIZES (drumroll please...)

For each winner of each category (chosen by you)

1. A one month's free participation at Poppytalk Handmade
2. A "I won a Poppy" banner/button for your site or blog!
3. A one year's text link from the Poppytalk blog's main page under "The Poppies" category
4. Traffic to you from Poppytalk

Final overall winner (chosen by a jury of select bloggers)

1. A three month participation at Poppytalk Handmade
2. A "I won a Poppy" banner/button for your site or blog!
3. A one year's text link from the Poppytalk blog's main page under "The Poppies" category
4. Traffic to you from Poppytalk

Friday, January 15, 2010

It's Friday already

Today is our first day of our tour de Vancouver with friends who are here.  More pictures and great little local spots in the city to come in the following week.  It's been raining and warm all week, with much of the snow on the local hills melting-  with only 3 more weeks until the Olympics everyone is starting to get a little worried.
I'm back to knitting, after a couple of weeks off to get back to the studio. It feels good to try different yarns- Alpalca & Silk, and some organic Cotton for my friend Sherri who is allergic to wool. 

Thursday, January 14, 2010


I know everyone out there is thinking about Haiti these days.  Today I heard on the radio that the Canadian Gov't will match dollar for dollar all donations until about the 15th of Feb.  It's a good time to follow your heart and give for some much needed help to a country that is so devastated.  My dear friend from growing-up days has a lot of family still in Haiti and my thoughts and prayers are with her as they hope for the best.  I know there are some great organizations that are already there and are working hard to help the victims- the Canadian Red Cross and World Vision Canada are great places to start.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

playing tourist

This week we have some out of town friends staying with us and one of them has never been to Vancouver before.  So what a better way to get ready for the Olympics than to play tourist before all the crowds arrive!  I'm thinking of a few of my favourite spots in the city that I haven't visited in a while and will share them with you over the next week.  Of course, they might be some of the off-beat spots, and some of the tried and true tourist destinations, but it should be a lot of fun!  So stay tuned for the guided tour! 

Monday, January 11, 2010

Lovely New Things

I'm not sure about your gifts, but some years, Christmas gifts have been a little hit or miss for me.  Great intentions and well wishes aside, there are just some things that I don't need or want, but can't quite get the courage to ask for the receipt for fear of hurting someone's feelings.  I don't want to be that gift-giver myself, you know, the kind who isn't really in tune with what the person likes or wants.  Often hand-made gifts are slightly easier for me to give, because there is that story behind them- how I found them, who the maker is and where they live all adds to the beauty of what I'm able to give. 

This past Christmas  I only had handmade on my list, and Dean and I gave each other some really lovely things that are making there way into our home and lives. 
The Sandra Juto Print that I got matted and framed for Dean, reminds him of his stove-top espresso days before the plug-in one arrived.
The Camilla Engman book by Uppercase, complete with little prints (included in the book) that I've put in vintage frames for around the house inspiration.
My new mittens from Granted, which I'm hoping to start wearing soon, when the weather here gets a little colder...
Hope your day is starting to be more lovely with some of the gifts that you received/gave:)

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Blogland links and awards

A few links that I forgot to mention in the last post

Just saw the new Niche Awards site with the Finalist's section including my Poppy Vase under Ceramics, Molded category.  It's really interesting to see who my 'competitors' are- the work in my category is all soooo different that it will be interesting to actually see who wins the category!

Poppytalk has a new contest called 'the Poppies'- a little award for the best of!  I'm just off to do some voting for my favourite shops and thought maybe you might like to as well!

Some good blog reads that got me thinking and leaving replies as of late were: this one by Bliss in a Teacup all about connecting online and leaving comments to connect with other bloggers.
And this one by Kristin Kieffer, all about finding one's 'Signature Style' and how finding your own style will inform your work and make it your own.  Both things I've been thinking about as I embark on a new year!
Happy reading!

Close up frost

A couple of close-up photos of frosty leaves and winter stems make for lovely abstract photos. 
I'm fighting a bit of a cold while trying not to stress about the impending Olympics and orders that need to be in the shops before February 1st and the city shuts down to any traffic. Somehow the Olympics have crept up on me rather quick even though we've known about it for a number of years.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Events for the Calender: A Night of Social Craft

I'm sure that, like me, you've pulled out the new calender to start jotting down dates to remember, places to be and people to see.  I'm still in the planning stages of my year, but my new Moleskin pocket daytimer is making me feel oh-so organized with lists and goals and ideas for the year!
That aside, I just noticed a great little event happening over at the Museum of Vancouver on January 21th!  A night of social craft (DIY@MOV) is aimed at getting the DIY and crafters to the Museum to celebrate the Cultural Olympiad along with the exhibition: The Art of Crafting.  The evening sounds like a lot of fun with a DJ and bar, along with materials and workshops while connecting with other Makers.  Opus is sponsoring the event, so there will be lots of arts and crafts materials on hand. Furthermore, the write-up boasts that some of the work might even remain as part of the exhibition- might even count on the CV if that's the case.  $15 at the door- 7pm start!

Photo above is the lovely work of Arron Lowe, Toronto-based glass artist, and his bottle forms titled 'Horizon'.  Looking forward to seeing them for real!

Monday, January 4, 2010

One last story of Christmas

One of our hopes over the holidays is usually to make some special memories.  One of our favourites was attending the Caravan Farm Theatre, where we were able to travel from scene to scene of a play on the back of a horse and carriage.  The play, called The Story was based on the Nativity scene.  A babbling angel Gabriel, a rhyming Mary who's expanding girth miraculously happens all in one scene (with the help of a balloon getting blown up?), some peculiar wise men and a singing madrigal playing our favourite carols on the mandolin made for some great Christmas entertainment.  A warm fire and the horse drawn carriages guiding us from scene to scene made for some really lasting memories for us all! 

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Getting back in the groove...

Despite the unusually warm Christmas we had here in Vancouver, we were able to catch a little snow over the holidays, along with some ice skating on a frozen lake and pond, and some sledding!  It was a much-needed holiday break visiting with friends, getting served great meals, me knitting like a mad-woman (man is knitting addictive!)  and generally just spending a lot of time with the boys.  Tomorrow they are back to school and life gets back to normal- yikes.  I've been slowly cleaning the house of the Christmas decorations and am making way for some new (used-teak) furniture and a  little more organization around the office area.  I will be back to the studio tomorrow to take a little inventory and start on some much needed replenishing of stock! Hope the start of your year has you well rested and healthy!