Thursday, December 27, 2012

Views from the top

I hope you are having a great holiday! These are a few photos I took while snowshoeing at Mount Seymour (a local North Shore mountain) this morning.  These whiskey jack's kept coming by hoping for treats and attention! 

We still have a bit more family time to take part in and then will be heading up to Vernon to enjoy more snow and mountain top adventures!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Wishing you a Merry Season!

Hello and Happy Holidays! 

I've been hunkered down mostly getting over a nasty bit of flu/cold that hit me last weekend, while getting the last of the orders shipped off, cleaning the studio a bit, and then starting on my own Christmas shopping.  It's been a busy week that felt emotional as I thought about all the families and teachers affected by the recent tragedy.  Watching my own kids' Christmas concerts made me realize how precious and delicate life is, that we have to enjoy and cherish every moment we are here on this earth.

I had a lovely bit of holiday cheer with some studio mates yesterday.  I am so grateful for this community of friends and makers that I have met along this path of life and am so thankful for the ability to share here on my blog the little bits of news and thoughts I have with you.  Thank you for being part of this process and I wish you the very best of the season with family and friends.  Peace, hope, joy and love to you and yours!


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A little on my lately

Well 2012 is wrapping up nicely.  I spent the past few weeks socked in the studio, finishing up my last glaze firing for the year, cleaning and organizing (check out the new shelves!!) the studio for a photoshoot and then finishing off my last show of the season! It was so great to see everyone at Shiny Fuzzy Muddy this past weekend- what a stellar line up of other designers and makers to be part of.  It felt good this year to be part of small shows, not a really big convention center show.  Something about the intimacy of these shows feels right at this time in my life. 

I'm currently wrapping up with orders being shipped off and have a very little bit of work left.  You will notice that my online shops are pretty bare as shipping costs start sky-rocketing in time for the holidays.  I don't really like to stress about other people's packages arriving in time for Christmas so I would rather not feel that pressure. Usually at this time of year I take the remainder of what I have left to the Gallery of BC Ceramics- which I might still be doing towards the end of the week once the last few local people have stopped by. 

Once again I am so thankful to have local people who know about my work, continue to purchase it for themselves and others.  I know there are really very few people who need another mug in their cupboard or another vase or bowl in their already full houses.  While I sometimes almost shame myself for making more 'stuff' that this world really doesn't need more of, I still believe that objects that are made from the heart and hands have an authentic story and connection to share with those that bring them into their lives.  From the look on people's faces when they come up to my table at a craft show, to the stories of how people use my work over and over and enjoy it, to the phone call I got from someone in Dubai wanting me to send work to his home in Germany in time for Christmas, I continue to marvel where my story and work continues to take me.  These are the little moments I shake my head and wonder and feel really blessed and thankful.

Anyways, today is the 12th day of the 12th month of the 12th year so it seems like a good day to post.  Hope you are well and that you take a moment to pause at 12 just to think how amazing it is to be alive in this rapidly changing world we live in. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Shiny Fuzzy Muddy Lucky 13 this weekend!

The Shiny Fuzzy Muddy Show is happening this coming weekend!  Please do come out and support artists and makers from BC and Alberta who have been hand-picked by the founding group of artists! The show is free to check out (always a bonus!) and there is an amazing contest going on right now in the Georgia Straight to be able to win a $250 shopping spree at SFM13!  Sign up online for that (don't forget to find out the skill testing question on the SFM Blog!) and while you're there, have a little look through the amazing artists and designers that will be at the show! Please do come by the show and say hello to me! I managed to get in a couple more kiln firings before this weekend, so there will be some new work ready for the show and I can't wait!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Room6: Holiday Open House this Friday!

Well I'm pretty much in over my head getting the last of the last, of the very last work out for this year! I did want to give a little heads up about one of my very favourite and first ever shops, Room6.  It's the cutest little shop in Deep Cove that is completely full of the most lovely gifts for all the special people in your life, including you!  I usually drop work off, spend about an hour talking to the very lovely Megan, and then proceed to walk out with a few new things (it's like a trade, ok?).   Room6 was one of the first shops that really took an interest in my work and believed that it was special, and I truly do give Megan a lot of credit for giving me the chance to sell my work in her beautiful shop on and off over the years. 
This friday evening she is hosting her 8th Annual Open House (has it really been 8 years already??), and you will find the most lovely gifts for everyone in your life, including some very, brand-new work by yours truly, created especially for Room6
photos from here!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Eastside Culture Crawl 2012 re-cap

A quick little photo re-cap for you of the Eastside Culture Crawl, which I've spent the week recovering from.  It's always great to clean up the studio and get everything looking spiffy for people to see my work. I try to hide some of the distracting 'tools of the trade' for the day because it's a little less cluttered to view the work without buckets of glaze and slip hanging around.  I guess one of these days I'll have a studio open house where I'll actually do a demo and have my wheel or casting table exposed, but for the Crawl, there's so many people in and out of the studio that it's too hard to have it all going on in the same space. 
This year the Crawl felt quieter but perhaps the soggy weather kept everyone home and under covers.  All the same it was so lovely to say hello to many familiar faces and friends.  Truly grateful for this event, all the press I received this year, and the many compliments and encouraging words!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Eastside Culture Crawl 2012!

Lots of pots are being pulled out of the kiln for the Eastside Culture Crawl that's happening this coming weekend, November 16, 17 & 18. I will have lots to choose from my floral lines, as well as a great selection of pots with new patterns and designs!  I'm really excited to get my new studio ready for visitors too- it's going to be a great weekend so please do come  by if you are in Vancouver!

The Eastside Culture Crawl is a 3 day studio tour and show taking place on the Eastside of Vancouver.  There is a large map in the insert of the Georgia Straight so grab one when it comes out on Thursday so you know which studios are open.  The beauty of the Crawl is that you are visiting working artists in the studios where they produce work.  There are over 300 artists opening their studio doors for the Crawl weekend- everything from painters and sculptors to jewelry and hand-bag designers, to ceramics, glass and furniture designers.  The whole event is free to attend! It gets quite crowded with parking on Friday night, so you might want to consider taking transit.  The Mergatroid Building (where my studio is) and 1000 Parker St. are the largest studio buildings in the zone, so if you just have a few hours they are great buildings to check out.  Of course, please do come by and say 'hello'- look for the turquoise door on the ground floor of the Mergatroid Building, 965 Vernon Drive.  Hope to see all the local Vancouver people there- it's such a fun event and worth the extra effort to come out!!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Gwyn Hanssen Pigott at the MOA

I braved the rain on Saturday to get to the Museum of Anthropology for Gwyn Hanssen Pigott's talk that she gave as part of her exhibit called 'pleased to meet you, introductions by gwyn hanssen pigott'. It's a beautiful and inspiring show whereby Gwyn surveyed the entire collection at the MOA and created installations and groupings based on her aesthetics, interests, and ideas from within her own practice.  Her porcelain groupings of bottle forms, bowls, and beakers are stunningly simple are inspired by the still life paintings of Geogio Morandi, as well as Bernard Leach, Lucy Rie, Michael Cardew, and Hans Coper- all potters that she met and was mentored by in her in her early years of setting up a studio practice in England, France, and then in Australia.  Still an incredibly prolific and highly regarded ceramic artist at 77, I feel pretty in awe of her humble and honest approach to making work.  While appearing understated, her work clearly required a lifetime of skill to achieve such subtle line, curve, and luminosity in porcelain.

This subtle and simple approach was noted as she carefully considered each installation and chose how museum objects would converse together in cases interspersed with her work.  With all the historical information such as dates, places, makers, and context only available in the catalogue, each installation became about a conversation of hand-made objects and the careful consideration and choices made by the artist. Tools, jewelry, wooden boat models, clothing, paper-making materials, ukranian painted eggs, a fan, figurines, and of course, pottery were re-contextualized as the concept of 'parade' or 'transparency' or 'colour' brought them together within a new frame or case.  Clearly the possibilities to organize or bring together objects was endless with 38 000 objects to choose from and only 4 days to do it in!   

Probably my favourite installation included the wooden boat models with Ukranian Easter Eggs carefully nested inside.  The fanfare and celebratory grouping seemed to symbolize Pigott's recent residency and experience in India, where she saw masses of people in brightly coloured sari's and outfits on a pilgrimage to a religious festival. This mixing of her experience in different cultures in the place of handmade objects felt as though it was creating new meaning and memories, especially for objects which no longer function as they were once intended for.  

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Clay Studio Shop, Gifted Exhibition

I'm really honored to be part of an exhibition that opens tomorrow through The Clay Studio, called 'Gifted'.  I sent a batch of work to the Clay Studio in September that includes a range of pieces, from teapots to mugs to some very large and lovely bowls.  Some of the work is expected to be included online, but if you happen to be in Philadelphia, please do check out the three galleries above that are hosting the exhibition. It's sure to be an amazing display with the work of over 100 ceramic artists from all over North America.   Here's the write-up:

Reed Smith, Harrison, Bonovitz Galleries

November 2 - December 30, 2012 
Opening reception, First Friday, November 2nd, 5pm - 9pm

 GIFTED, has over the years, become known as THE exhibition for one to purchase the finest original hand made ceramic objects available nationally. Hand made objects have an incredible ability to speak, interact and relate with their user. The subtle joy in selecting one's favorite mug for morning coffee is a ritual that should be shared by all. Those momentary pauses to appreciate the creative expression of the maker, the form, design, feel and or surface of the object they created, are meaningful and enriching, truly adding to the quality of one's daily life.GIFTED is the perfect opportunity to experience this not only for yourself, but for those you love.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

make, glaze,fire, repeat

 I feel like things are going a bit round and round in circles at the studio these days, as I am working so hard to stay on schedule for my up-coming holiday shows, along with shipping off the shop and gallery orders so they arrive in time for holiday shopping in stores.  It's a bit of a scramble to do it all on my own, but once I get in the rhythm, it can be fairly satisfying.  For the most part all my shipping to other shops is done as of yesterday.  Phew! It was a lot of work (and I have 2 more NEW Galleries to showcase here on the blog still), but all that remains is a couple of local galleries and then my 2 shows- one in November and one in December.  I hope to be able to take a good long break over the holidays and rest my weary hands, which have been worked pretty hard over the past couple of years.

Sometimes I feel like fall just whizzes by and I hardly have a moment to really enjoy it.  Other times I'm really glad to see the year coming to a close, marveling about the opportunities that came my way and all the work I was able to make over the course of a year with only my 2 hands, a whole lot of determination, skill, and the support of my family and friends.  I totally feel thankful to be able to document it here on my blog- thanks so much for stopping by.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

New work at the Woodlands Gallery

Fall Rhapsody by Melissa Jean at the Woodland's Gallery
I'm really excited about having a wider selection of my work available in my home-town of Winnipeg at the Woodlands Gallery.  I spent the first 14 years of my life in this city and still have a lot of family and friends who live in 'the Peg' so I'm a prairie girl at heart.  One of the great things about working with new galleries is being able to develop a body of work that is exclusive to their clients and venues.  The Woodlands Gallery will be carrying teapots, mugs, and vases in my Tangerine and Indigo Stripes, which I think will compliment the gallery's fall landscape paintings- the one above by Melissa Jean.  You can find the Woodlands Gallery at 535 Academy Road, and on Facebook too!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

New Shops carrying my Striped Bottle Vase

Hello, hello! Since September, things have really ramped up at the studio and I'm chest deep in shop orders that will be sent out by the end of the month in time for the holiday season!  I spent all day yesterday cutting my 'stickers' for my striped bottle vases (which I will be doing again today!!), as I have an enormous amount of Stripe Bottle Vases heading out the door in time for the holidays. 

Over here on the blog, my Stripe Vases might seem a bit old hat, but I did want to mention that I have added a few new colours to the mix and also changed my slip-casting body to a more pure porcelain, then my previous stoneware casting slip.  The difference is slight- oh, pretty pernickety in the making stage- likes to rip and tear if you don't use the most sharp utensil to cut the rim or seams, but there is a softness to the edges- where the white glaze meets the coloured glaze that makes my little ceramic heart sing.  Yes, I have a ceramic heart inside me- must have one of those to be so persistent and patient with all things clay related. 

So anywhoo, just wanted to pipe up and give a little shout out to a couple of new shops that will be carrying my striped vases soon:

Spruce Collective is a brand new shop that is opening in Abbotsford, BC, with all things vintage and good- this shop will be full of amazing and beautiful finds, I'm sure.  I can't wait to stop by in person soon! What a pretty logo, heh?

Gus & Ruby Letterpress is a letterpress boutique in Portsmouth, New Hampshire that will be getting a batch of my striped bottle vases towards the end of the month.  Their shop and letterpress designs are absolutely lovely and I'm thrilled to have work available at their shop in time for the holidays!

Adesso Atelier is a beautiful shop in Santa Barbara, California that I would love to visit!  I am really loving the studio store-front concept with most of these new shops!  Adesso is already carrying my striped vases as well as a few tall cylinder vases that include my triangle pattern too!

I'll do a post with some of the galleries that will be carrying a wider range of my work this fall- I can't stress how wonderful it is to be working with shops and galleries all across North America.  Many of the shop owners are makers or artists themselves and really understand how much effort and time I put into my work so I'm really grateful to be working with them!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

thoughts on the Studio Magazine article, working with large retailers, and 'craft' becoming mainstream

Back when I was in art school I had a favourite inspiration go-to book in the school library- it was an Arts and Crafts Movement book - I think it's the same as this Phiadon book, but it had a different cover back when I was looking at it, so it's hard to tell.  The book was literally filled with drawings of designs for teapots, mugs, textiles, rugs, china patterns, and glassware from this period.  While I was preparing for my talk at the Gardiner Museum in June I found these slides I had taken from portions of the book as a reminder of how much I had been inspired by the drawings of designers from this period.  I can't help but think of this book and these drawings when I see Molly Hatch's work, especially the teacups from the Mimesis Series.  I absolutely love how she drew teacups from this period onto a simple wheel-thrown mug.  I just had to buy one- a real one, hand-thrown, mishima incised and hand-painted, by Molly herself.  Imagine my surprise when I saw her designed version available in Anthropologie Stores a few months later, just as I had finished and was about to ship off my very large 450 vase Anthropologie order!

Which leads me to the article that was recently written in Studio Magazine, an Ontario Crafts Council publication geared towards professional crafts people within Canada.  I was approached to be included (along with a couple of other amazing artists) in an article about Anthropologie buying Craft and agreed to share part of my experience of filling a couple of small orders (the article says 1 small order, but it was 2), and then a really large order of 450 vases for them last year.  The premise for the article came out of a curiousness about what happens when a retailer gets behind a craft aesthetic, both by purchasing directly from artists and designers, or from creating designs in collaboration with an artist.  I think more opportunities have opened up to work with retailers over the past few years then perhaps previously, and while I myself have jumped on this band-wagon, I also recognize that it's a hard path to navigate as it's relatively new territory.  As artists we understand the role and commitment a gallery plays in our career, but the role of retail is something entirely different.  Many artists and makers that I talk to are wondering whether working with a retailer is right for them, and I guess I saw the article as an opportunity to explain a little bit about what's involved.

In the article I shared how the work load for an order of this size was really much larger then my studio of mostly myself can manage (although I did manage to do it!) and that, over the months it took me to fill the order, I didn't have the space or the ability to work on any other creative work.  I felt that it was important to share the reality of production when the work is created 'in house', as opposed to if the work was designed by an artist but produced over-seas.

 Since finishing the Anthropologie order last fall, I have had a lot of time to think through whether I would ever do an order like that again.  While I was really learning on the fly (ie steep learning curve!!), I very quickly realized that I am an artist and maker of small batches, not a ceramic manufacturer.  I have appreciated the ability of a retailer to promote my work the way Anthropologie did, but understand too well the limitations of my ability to produce a volume of work consistently for a retailer of that magnitude. While I have some misgivings and am frustrated by the lack of North American ceramic based manufacturing options for retailers, I would likely opt to design if this kind of opportunity ever came up again.

I think the article brings up some positives and negatives of retailers at large jumping on the 'craft bandwagon'.  It's not just Anthropologie who is working with artists and makers- there are many other large retailers doing the same.  I too have noticed terms like 'handmade', 'woven', 'knit', and 'hand-painted' being added to manufactured items as a way to add value and somehow increase sales based on the addition of a crafty term.  These are words that were once used by us as makers as a way to distinguish their work as being of more value (and thus more $) then manufactured items, but now everyone seems to be using these terms and it's become confusing to the average consumer.  Clearly hand made is a trend that is becoming more mainstream and we as professional makers aren't quite sure what to do with this kind of "success".  Sometimes I compare it to the rise of Skateboarding- which started out as really small sub-culture and then blew up into mainstream proportions.  A lot of hard-core skaters I know went underground when it all became so mainstream- that or just kept trying to do bigger and better tricks while they rode the wave of popularity.  Not to say that the hand-made movement is exactly the same, or that we have to have the same response, but just that I find it kind of interesting considering a few years ago someone made the comment about my work- that it was a 'bit too handmade looking', and now that's what everyone seems to be looking for.

Monday, October 1, 2012

a visit to a Blacksmith studio

Nope, not every day you meet a real, live blacksmith.  But meet one, we did, while we were visiting friends on Vancouver Island this summer.  I know this post comes a whole month later, but needless to say, my boys are still talking about how they want to be a blacksmith after checking out Island Blacksmith's studio and watching Davej Friesner banging out some reclaimed metal.  Boys + metal + fire + knives.  Makes total sense, doesn't it? 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

from our holidays: Victoria and girl friends

I keep forgetting about some of the photos I have from our holidays this summer.  In all the back to school and studio rush, the blog has been a bit neglected, but I thought I'd post a couple of photos from this GREAT house that has undergone a transforming fresh coat of white paint since the last time we were there. There are so many things about this house that I love- Caroline has such a great way of putting it all together!

We spent much of our summer holidays hanging out and staying with families who have girls.  I have to say that it was something quite special to see my boys playing with polly pockets and my little petshop stuff.  They would be absolutely livid if I told anyone that they a) played with girls for their entire holidays, and b) they played with girl toys, because they are so in that stage where they think their friends would tease them about it.  But the reality is that my big, boyish boys loved playing with the girls this summer, and I couldn't help thinking how good it was for them to have to play differently, negotiate differently, and frankly just enjoy hanging out with friends we don't often hang out with. 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Sun rays

Some days it just takes your breath away, doesn't it?  It's not often here in Vancouver, with the mountains on one side and the ocean on the other, that we get such amazing sunsets with actual rays of light fanning their way across the sky. 

Thank you to all the lovely blog posts and mentions about my vases at the West Elm Vancouver store!  I managed to check out the West Elm opening for all of 15 minutes (Dean and the boys stayed in the car so I could jump out, have a drink, check out the store and get back in the car during the opening- not really much time to actually shop...).  In all fairness, the 4 Etsy featured artists were only sent the invite the day of the invitation-only opening (hmmm), so things were a little complicated schedule-wise by that time.  Anyways, if you are interested in checking out the shop, please do- such great stuff and it was great to be included in such a fantastic store. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

Practice verses Business...and a bit more of the new studio

Ever since Forage, I've been thinking through the difference between having a 'practice' and running a 'business'.  One of our panel discussions had to do with grant writing, online financing campaigns, and award applications for making art.  The term when to use 'business' and when only to use 'art practice' came up - for instance don't ever use the term 'business' when applying for a grant- always use the term 'practice' or the grant jurors won't even consider your submission.  Although when it comes time to collecting and submitting my taxes or applying for a business license to be able to use my studio, I essentially operate as a ceramic manufacturing business.
So I started thinking through how I felt about the terms 'business' and 'practice'- whether or not one applied to me more then the other, and also, if these terms were really in fact the same way of talking about what I do.  I generally use 'art practice' and 'business' interchangeably but I often feel ill-equipped as an artist to be running a viable business.  For instance when the chatty guy at the bus stop starts asking what I do and I say 'ceramic artist' and he replies 'Is there any money in that?' I kind of stumble over my words.  Not like it's any of his business, but it has become clear to me that I'm much more comfortable understanding what I do as a practice where the personal out-comes of creating and making are more important than the dollars and cents of it.
Part of me realizes that my core values are being triggered here- that I have always viewed 'business' and 'making money' as self-serving and with a negative slant.  The artist in me wants my motives for making decisions to be 'pure'- as though making decisions to do with my creative goals and out-comes are more honourable then if those goals considered financial out-comes.  I totally admire those who feel like their ability to profit financially through their creative endeavors comes honestly or naturally, and always hoped that this would be really seamless for me as well, but am recognizing that making decisions based on my artistic out-comes alone and not considering the financial isn't healthy, viable, or sustainable either.
Every milestone I have crossed with 'dahlhaus' has been really amazing and I'm truly grateful for the opportunities that have come my way.  The potential I see in what I do will come at the cost of other things for sure, but I sometimes mourn the missed opportunities that have come across my desk- missed because I wasn't ready to have all the pieces in place to make those opportunities happen.  I have always been less prepared for success and more prepared for failure and I'd really like to change this notion (*thank you to Fiona from Cartolina Cards for clarifying this in her talk at Forage).  I'm hopeful that I  can create a more symbiotic relationship between the business of what I do and the practice of making so that the decisions and the opportunities don't overwhelm or stall the creative path that I'm on.
 **These are a few photos of sections of my new studio. It's a little hard to see how big the space is (360 sq. feet!).  I have yet to photograph the whole thing because last week I purchased a used slip-casting table to help me out with some of the heavy lifting that slip-casting demands.  It's a big massive table that I still have to sort out how to configure the rest of the studio around it.  I'll also be sharing this space with my former studio intern from a few summers ago, Kelly, who wanted to share some studio space for the next few months before she moves far, far away.  I'll be missing her when she goes so it will make for some good time together before she leaves.