Gratitude and Generosity

Deep-Winter is here.  Solstice long nights pull us deeper, and the moments of daylight seem precious and sweet.  The long dark nights bring colder days, lower hazy light, and ample time for reading and reflection in the evenings and early mornings.  There are at least three books in mid-read today, one by the bedstand, one by the couch, and one by the tree.  But my favorite part of this time of year is the opportunity to reflect into the past year, and set intentions into the next.

IMG_20181124_114802_964

I’ve been considering Gratitude during this past Autumn, and have found myself getting irritated.  I’ve noticed that we tend to focus on how wonderful it is that I have everything I need, that I have access to things I’d like, that I have love and friends, and on and on, usually about Me.  But eventually, I stumbled upon a few thoughts that shifted the focus.  The practice of Gratitude is the beginning.  Moving forward, Gratitude can lead to Generosity.  If I am so full of gratitude for everything, let it spill over, and move into Generosity.

Now that is something I can dig into.  Or at least I’m trying, beginning, starting to explore the deeper meanings of Generosity.  There is the line about building a bigger table if you have more than you need.  That’s one way.  Or being conscientious about what to do with leftovers or used items.  Giving to those who have less.  Being kind when one could choose otherwise.  There are so many ways….and I have so much more to explore.

But Generosity also brings me to asking myself if I can take less.  So often, we ask those that have more to give more, but what about taking less?  And let me tell you, there are many ways here, too, and I have only begun to contemplate and explore.  But the thought rings true for me. How about you?

And what does this have to do with ceramics?  With pottery? With being an artist living a creative life?  Oh so much.  I can’t even begin to say where these thoughts will lead specifically, but I can say that I am sitting with the complexity of what it means to be a maker of things in a time when we have too many things.  I ask myself how I can be a better steward of my property and my materials, how I can create a more meaningful connection with the clay that I create with, and how my studio and practice can be more connected to the land that it sits on. How can I continue to link into a creative community that holds these concepts as core values, and introduce others to these ways of questioning and making?

So in this Deep Winter, I welcome you to celebrate with me in all the ways that we love to celebrate, but also contemplate, go deeper, ask questions, and join me beyond Gratitude, in Generosity.

mandala 3 small

Gather your spirit of generosity and reciprocity….

In honor of trying something new this year, rather than being tucked away in my studio through the end of the year, I’ll be out and about, sharing the holiday cheer and community spirit at a few of my friendly regional hubs.  Whether you’re looking for a gift for someone special, or a little time on your own, stop in and say hello, sip some tea with me, share a story, and make this season a time to slow down, chat with friends, meet someone new, share stories of the year as it slowly slides into winter, and set intentions for the upcoming year ahead.

This selling-wares-for-the-holidays thing is new to me, so I’ll be making it up as I go, focusing on the connections and celebrations, the giving and receiving, the reciprocity.  Join me.

Of course, if it’s a studio visit you’re craving, give me a call or send an email, and we can meet up here at your convenience.  The studio is warm, and the tea or coffee is always hot.

Where & When:

Shepherdstown Holiday Marketplace: Entler Hotel, November 23, 24 & 25 -Done!

The Sanctuary of Berryville: Holiday Wellness  Bazaar, Saturday, December 1 Done!

The River House: Holiday Artisan Market, Sunday, December 2  Done!

Etsy: Online Holiday Shopping Weekend: December 7 – 10  Done!

The best of what is left in the studio will be available, a small group of favorites, for those of you who would like to gather some handmade givings.  Starting on Thursday (10am), and going through Monday (Midnight), you can have a cup, bowl, teabowl, or who knows what else shipped right to your door.

big bowl 1 crop.small

 

Shepherdstown Holiday Marketplace: Entler Hotel

December 15 & 16, 10am – 4:30pm     Done!
entler.other

Over the Mountain Studio Tour 2018

 

poster.jpg

 

How Time Flies!  How can it be that I’m gearing up for my 10th year with this amazing group of artisans?  How can it be that a decade has passed?

In honor of being in my studio for 10 years, for 10 years of West Virginia living, for 10 years with this vibrant and quirky group, I’m offering all of my older work at a discount. My goal is to clean out the studio this winter, making room for fresh new work that is knocking on the studio door, looking for space to come in.

Won’t you help?  Come gather a generous serving bowl with words all around the outside, as I probably won’t be making those again.  Come pick out a tumbler with words and glaze blending into a mesmerizing weather pattern, as i probably won’t be making those again.  Come see if there is a wall vase that calls out to you, as those will be changing, too, and everything will be priced down, a little at a time, through the holiday season.

 

bowls.small

Three winter oatmeal bowls, on sale this weekend!

And, of course, the new work is being polished and cleaned in the studio, nearly ready for your eyes and hands.

big bowl 1 crop.small

Having guests is part of what makes this studio tour a true celebradion.  Rose Mendez will be here with her nature-inspired metal-smithed jewelry, and Tim Wohleber will be here with his twig furniture.  The biscotti are piling up, and the coffee will be hot:

Over the Mountain Studio Tour

November 10 & 11, 2018

Here’s the Map!

And there will be more. I’ll be out-and-about this holiday season, something that I’ve never done before.  Sacred Roots Herbal Sanctuary Herbal Holiday Fair, The River House Holiday Artisan Market, Shepherdstown’s Holiday Marketplace… and more added each day.  I’ll update the list as it grows, and look forward to seeing you soon!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Creating Containers: the process of wood firing kilns

firing crew 12.small

Wood firing crew at Joy Bridy Pottery, October 2017.

Twice a year, a small group of curious and hard working friends gather to fire my wood fired kiln for three days, round the clock.  It’s a holiday, retreat, vision quest, sacrament, ritual, work party…and quintessential process in the life of a wood firing ceramist.  We build these kilns that we can’t fire alone, and then we create a different kind of vessel.  Not a soup bowl or tea pitcher, but the more abstract and slippery container of community: the kiln firing crew.

Ursula Le Guin’s essay “The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction” has been on my mind lately.  In it, she describes the difference between the story of the hero (with a knife, sword, long spikey thing of choice) who tells the exciting story of winning, and the story of the container (gathering, holding, sharing) that tells the story of living.

  “If it is a human thing to do to put something you want, because it’s useful, edible, or beautiful, into a bag, or a basket, or a bit of rolled bark or leaf, or a net woven of your own hair, or what have you, and then take it home with you, home being another, larger kind of pouch or bag, a container for people, and then later on you take it out and eat it or share it or store it up for winter in a solider container or put it in the medicine bundle or the shrine or the museum, the holy place, the area that contains what is sacred, and then next day you probably do much the same again–if to do that is human, if that’s what it takes, then I am a human being after all. Fully, freely, gladly, for the first time.”  -Le Guin

Wood firing is a creative act in so many ways, and no aspect is more abstract than the creating of this vessel, this firing weekend, that holds all of the participants within, allowing for their moods and preferences, strengths and weaknesses, to be.  We all show up as we are, get to know each other a bit deeper, cherish each other and the process, take care of ourselves and each other, live in rhythm of food and sleep, finish with a flourish, close the gate behind us, and go back to our daily being.  Definitely a ‘carrier bag’ experience.

cooling.horizontal.small

As the kiln cools, rain falls, Nina Simone sings her things in my ear, my thoughts meander around the significance of creating this community vessel of a firing experience.  It’s an art form, an honor, and a continually evolving experience that I could never do by myself.  Thank you to the crew of October 2017 for filling the vessel, and all of the crews that I have had the honor and privilege to create the vessel with in the past.  May there be many more.