Monday, December 8, 2014

My Ceramic Family

Hey there!  Remember me???  The author of this blog??  Thank you for hanging in there and sticking with me!  And now... on to today's post.

I am a member of several ceramics groups on Facebook.  I LOVE the camaraderie and the friendships established in these online forums.  By and large, the ceramics community as a whole contain some of the most giving and kind hearted people I've met (physically and virtually).  Always more than happy to share their tips and tricks of the trade, technical knowledge, and even answer the questions you never knew you had when it comes to the business of pottery.  In one of these groups, another pottery commented about a poor experience he had with a fellow ceramicist when he stopped by their studio/workshop.  The conveyed experience struck a cord with me, reminding me of an experience I had as a very new potter myself. 

My husband and I were driving back to my parents house in Virginia after an appointment with a neurologist.  We were supposed to visit Luray Caverns, but I was not feeling up to it and was upset because my health would not allow us to enjoy this excursion we had planned after my appointment.  Well, my hubby being the awesome man that is, saw a sign for pottery, turned around, and took me to the studio.  Mind you, pottery/ceramics is NOT his thing.. but he indulges and supports me in all my endeavors...he even listens when I start talking "geek speak" clay style.  The owner, who was also the potter, and I bonded over our mutual service in the military.  The items on the shelves were gorgeous, and we were looking for something to take home to remember our time in Virginia.  I don't remember exactly how it came about, but I mentioned I was a novice potter just learning the ropes.  I think I may have asked him if he used commercial glazes or made his own, because the colors were gorgeous.  I was accused of trying to steal ideas, and I would garner no respect in the industry as a thief, and was all but kicked out of the studio!  I was flabbergasted!!!  What had I done wrong?  Did I offend him somehow?  Are those taboo questions?  I was clueless, no idea.  I was after all, a NOVICE.  Rather than taking the time to even tell me what it was I'd done wrong, we were kicked out of his studio, Mill Creek Pottery.  From what I've read, they may do a lot for the community hosting fundraisers and such, and the general public like them.  But when you are that RUDE to not only a fellow veteran, but a member of the same craft, there is no professionalism there. 

Thankfully, I have not let this singular experience jade my views on ceramics as a whole.  Know what the funny part is?  I don't even throw on the wheel anymore due to health issues, and am transitioning to sculpture!  No where close to being his "competition".  To me, the ceramics community is like an extended family; much the same as my fellow active duty service members and veterans are my brothers and sisters.  If you don't want to answer my questions, or your glaze recipe is one you've honed for the last 4 years and don't want to share it, that's fine!  I promise, I won't take offense!  Just ask Jon Puzzuoli (I LOVE his blue and white whirlpool glaze.. but that's a closely guarded secret as that's one of his signature lines....and ya know what?  THAT'S OKAY!)  But he wasn't an asshole when telling me.  I've met so many wonderful artists, both potters in the traditional sense of wheel thrown functional ware, as well as sculptors... that may be a post in and of itself... bringing all these amazing people to your computer screen... :-D

Anyway, the point of all this... is that there are bad apples in every family.  But I am sooo very glad that I did not let this man ruin my views of the ceramics community as a whole because 99% of m are pretty awesome!

Friday, November 7, 2014

A New Line...

The last several months have been a rough transition period to say the least.  In my decision to pare down what I make in an effort to be able to focus on honing and building my sculpture skills, to say that  my sales have been hit would be an understatement.  ha  But in this transition, not only have I decided to focus on my sculpting, but I've also chosen to work on and build on my ceramic jewelry offerings.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Introducing....Healing Arts of Maine!

Hey there folks!  Thank you for sticking with me, even though I haven't posted in what seems like ages!  I cannot tell if I'm crazy, stupid, a glutton for punishment, or all of the above! But a major reason for my hiatus has been a project that is VERY near and dear to my heart...

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Erasing a Stigma

It seems that the tragic passing of Robin Williams has brought light to an epidemic many of us have been fighting in the shadows.  Why has it taken the death of someone famous for making millions of us laugh, to bring public awareness to a disease that we have been plagued with for hundreds of years?  Current data suggests that 22 Veterans take their lives... a day.  22 people who survived military duty (combat or not), whose demons eventually won out.  That statistic is thought to be wrong amongst recent veterans returning from the OIF/OEF conflict.  Many of those take their lives as a result of PTSD.  The public at large seems to think this is a new phenomena, but there are several items to take into consideration.  During WWI and WWII, and early battles, Soldiers had several weeks to decompress from the tragedies of war.  Spending weeks together with fellow brothers who had seen the atrocities of war, being able to vent their fears and anger to one another without fear of being judged.  They had time to come to terms with what our nation asked of them during these times.  Then the came home to their families never to speak of it again.  Now, when our time at war is done, we get on a plane, fly home, have a week of "reintegration" and are asked to get back to our daily lives.  Now, there is a stigma that if you seek help or treatment you are weak.  It can undermine a career by imparting the notion that you are not fit for command or a leadership role because you are unstable.  When we are separated from service, and our employers find out that we have PTSD, all the can think is that we are going to snap and go on a shooting rampage because we are unstable.  

These are the stigmas that make talking about mental health illnesses difficult.  It is easier to deny anything is wrong than to admit we have demons we are battling.  Depression is only one symptom of PTSD.  There are many more.  Irritability, anger, lashing out, becoming withdrawn, insomnia, flashbacks, sadness, anxiety, and so many more.  Suicidal thoughts come with the territory.  Those of us strong enough to ask for help, are often shot down.  "So many people have it worse than you.  You shouldn't be depressed".  "Just be happier".  "Remember you have a family, don't be selfish".   A lot of people just don't know how to talk to or respond to someone when they say they are depressed and may be contemplating suicide.  For people who have never been that far in despair, they just don't understand.  And that's OK.  But dismissing the other persons' feelings is not the way to help.  Let them know that you are always around to listen, that you care.  Just knowing you have people in your corner can be the life jacket that person is looking for.

When I was sent back stateside from Iraq, I was not medevac'd.  I was sent via space-a.  I had to wait around Kuwait for 2 weeks for a seat to become available and for my unit to fix the paperwork they screwed up on.  When I got back to Atlanta, no one from my Rear-D unit was there to pick me up.  No homecoming welcome.  I had to take a cab from the airport to Fort Benning, a nearly 2 hour trip.  I checked into my hotel, and was told to report to work 6 hours later.  They initially tried to chapter me out on a bad conduct mischarge...which is funny because I didn't have a single negative counseling statement....that I knew of.  Come to find out, 3 had been written while I was in limbo, and where I was supposed to sign, my squad leader had written in "Soldier Unavailable to Sign.". More on this at a later date...thankfully I had a few docs that stood up for me, and pushed me through the med board process; I was eventually medically retired out of the Army 13 months after returning home.  I was treated like shit, because everyone in my unit thought I was faking it, trying to get out of deployment.  I had been there for 7 months, and wanted to make the Army a career.  I had no support.  No friends.  No family (locally).  I was at my wit's end.  Thankfully, I had my family's support.  I would call my mom bawling my eyes out, because I just couldn't take it anymore.  I wanted to give up.  So a week after returning home, my parents and 2 youngest sisters drove from VA to GA to come see me.  Give me much needed hugs and emotional support.  They stayed for a week.  Without them, who knows what would have happened.  My mom reminded me how strong I was.  I'm a Mayo, damn it.  And that means something.  I had my son who needed his mother.  And I had something to prove.  That no matter how much you may beat me down, degrade me, make me feel like nothing; I'm not going anywhere.  I know in my heart what the truth was/is, and I'll be damned if some ignorant, judgmental, self-serving, assholes were going to take that away from me.  I haven't written a lot about my time in service, or what happened to me while deployed and upon returning home.  But over the next few months, I think I'm going to let ya'll in.  I think it's important for people to know and recognize that this shit does happen.  And if it's happening to you, you're not alone.  There are actions you can take, and recourse for those who think they are above it all.  

Tonight, I just wanted to open the door.  Let people know that if you're struggling with PTSD, depression, or any other issue, there ARE people who care.  If you need someone to talk to, I AM HERE to listen to you.  All you have to do is reach out.  You are stronger than you think you are.

If you or someone you know is struggling, there are options.  Sometimes the most difficult thing to do is to ask for help.  You don't want to burden loved ones with your issues.  I'm here to tell you, it's not a burden.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Lady Liberty - Update

I know it's been a while since I've last apologies.  However I have been busting my @$$ trying to get ready for Freedom Fest (that's NEXT WEEK!!! OMG!!!!).  Remember how I said I was going to be unveiling my finished Lady Liberty sculpture at Freedom Fest???  Well...its turned into a hail Mary sort of adventure...

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Freedom Fest 2014 - Fort Kent, Maine

In exactly ONE MONTH, you want to make sure you are in Fort Kent, Maine!  For what, you may ask?  Why FREEDOM FEST, of course!  This event holds a near and dear place to my heart.  It is an outdoor concert to raise money for a Veteran Museum and Community Center to be built in Aroostook County, Maine.  This event is a joint project of Martin-Klein American Legion Post 133 and the Fort Kent Historical Society, and has been in the works for nearly a year.  Why should you make the trek out, you ask?  

Saturday, July 5, 2014

July 4 2014 - As I Remember It

The day started off quite nicely.  Made some deviled eggs while the hubby prepared the meat for the burgers and we awaited the arrival of a good friend of ours who would be joining us for a small little barbeque.  Dinner went according to plan.  The evening was peaceful...until 2130.  That's when our small little village of a town decided to light off their fireworks display from less than 1/4 mile from our house.  No warning, no little baby fireworks to get the show started...but the big loud BOOM ones.  That is the first time in a LONG time, I've actually jumped up from my chair where I was sitting outside and tried diving for cover.  My heartbeat easily doubled, my chest felt tight, and I remembered the last time in Iraq that my base had been

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Artist Statement

Regardless of what your artistic medium appears that an "artist statement" is nearly a requirement for every artists' portfolio.  I have been doing lots of reading of various books and articles on what I need to do to get my art out into the world.  I know I have a voice worth hearing; it's just a matter of continuing to hone my skills as a ceramic sculptor and preparing for when the day comes that I feel I am good enough to apply for an exhibition.  

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

How To Train Your (clay) Dragon

Good morning ladies and gents!  This last week, my studio has been over run by dragons of varying sizes, types, and shapes!  No...I'm not a huge Game of Thrones fan... though I'm looking forward to reading the books before I watch the series...  I DO love the movie How To Train Your Dragon...very cute indeed.  Waiting for the second one to come out on DVD so I can watch it (I can't go to the theaters...I would end up doing the funky chicken in no time).  So what's up with all the dragons, you ask?  WELL...A good friend of mine suggested I sculpt a dragon, to get out of my current comfort zone of where my sculptures have been going.  So, once Lady Liberty was done, I figured I would do just that!  What I discovered is that I really LOVE sculpting these fun little mythical creatures!!!  In the last week, I've created 3, each one quite different from the next.  I've also created a habitat/home for them, which just helps to set the mood, I believe.  Each sculpture has at least one "loose" item, so that the viewer/new owner can set up the habitat/nest anyway they like; an interactive sculpture if you will.  

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Lady Liberty

There are days when the creative "mojo" seems to flow from my mind/heart effortlessly.  Then there are other days where I get stuck, can't decide where to go next.  The latter happened on a sculpture I just recently finished.  I refer to it/her as Lady Liberty, because I haven't nailed down a title worthy of the piece.  I started this sculpture way back in September of 2013...Got the head done, and then wrapped her up.  To be finished about a week ago.  I wasn't sure what I wanted her to say.  I had a general idea, but not specifics.  So she sat....and sat....and sat.  Until inspiration re-struck.  She says what my words cannot.  What MANY of my brothers and sisters in arms are unable to say.  Her tears are those for all Soldiers and their loved ones.  She is slowly drowning in the tears she sheds for her country.  I don't want to say too much, as I plan on unveiling the finished sculpture at the Freedom Fest Concert in Fort Kent, Maine, on August 9, 2014.  But I did want to give you all a sneak peak.   So keep scrolling, and follow my "in progress" pictures of how she has evolved.  Would love to hear your thoughts!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Studio Fruit Basket Upset

Yes, you read that right...a fruit basket upset.  It's a term I grew up hearing from my mother.  Anytime the furniture in a room got rearranged, it was a "fruit basket upset".  I've been making due with my old studio set up because I thought we would be moving this summer and didn't want to do the extra work.  The way life has it, we will be staying in our current location for another year, so I decided to better my studio.  It was functional before...but as my sales increased and the business grew...and my health deteriorated, I can no longer throw. 99% of my work is now handbuilt from slabs of clay.  So the wheel (sadly) has just been collecting dust, and the studio was getting cluttered.  It took me 4 days..but I finally have it done...and I love it!  SO much more user friendly!  Here is what it used to look like:

Friday, May 9, 2014

Spring Cleaning

FINALLY!!  That white stuff is starting to disappear from this northern Maine woods local.  There are still a few areas where the sun doesn't always hit by the treeline that the snow clings to, but thankfully it looks like Spring is here to stay!! *knock on wood*  That being said...I have been grossly negligent in my blog studio production.. in quite a few things actually.  I've been preoccupied with medical appointments, disappointing and infuriating doctors, house hunting, disappointment from said house hunting, and of course that strange yellow thing high up in the sky.  The last several days, I've been outside as much as possible, soaking up some vitamin D...neglecting the raw clay in my studio that has been calling out my name.  "Shaaaaawna....cooooome baaaaack"  The more I procrastinate, the longer my to do list gets, the more daunting and overwhelming it seems, and the less I want to do any of it!  AHHHHH  The never ending cycle, right?  haha

So what do YOU do to counteract spring/cabin fever?  How do you motivate yourself to get up and get goin' when it's gorgeous outside?
Looking forward to this, this spring/summer!!!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Darting - The Ceramic Way (tutorial)

Good evening one and all!  I hope you are doing well!  My sleep schedule is all flipped around and I'm up at night while the rest of the US is sleeping (unless of course you're working night shift...).  So last night, I made my first ever video tutorial!  I have been experimenting with darting at the foot/bottom of a ceramic mug and really love the form I've been able to create. I thought I would share with you the video that I published on YouTube for this tutorial. 

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Sunday Ceramic - III

Good evening to all!  It's Ceramic Sunday!  It's been a productive week thankfully.  Rather than tell ya what I've been up to...I thought I'd show ya in pictures.  Hope you enjoy!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

...Must Be Nice...

So today's post is a little different than some of my other ones.  More about the "life of" rather than pottery/ceramics.  We meet new people, or even those that have been in our life for a while...and this one comment is almost always muttered, "It must be nice to not have to work and be able to stay home all day."  Or at least something to that extent.  Most people utter it as a result of ignorance - they really have NO idea what my/our day to day life is truly like.  So for those that don't know what it's like, I thought I'd give you an idea.  :)

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Dangers of Manganese...

Good evening to all!  I was talking to a potter friend of mine a few days ago about manganese.  I have a manganese wash I was considering using on a few pieces.  She warned me to be very cognizant of the safety precautions I needed to take while handling it...At first I thought she might be over reacting slightly...but then I got my edition of the Clay Times magazine..and guess what it had in it?!?  A 2 page article on the danger and new OSHA standards regarding manganese!

Monday, March 24, 2014

2014 Goals - 2 down, 12 to go!!

At the beginning of the year, I created a page for my 2014 Business Goals, to not only help me keep track of the goals I set for myself; but also so ya'll can help keep me accountable.  One way to almost always achieve your goals, regardless of what they are, is to share it with loved ones, friends, and/or the public.  Once you've put anything out there for the public to see...there is an innate pressure to uphold your end of the bargain.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Ceramic Sunday - II

 Good morning!  And what a blustery morning it is here in northern Maine!  I missed last week's Sunday Ceramics...(woops!)... and not a whole lot to say today, except it's my baby boy's birthday!!!  Can't believe he's 12 already.  Ya know when your parents tell you when you're growing up that time flies, but you don't believe them because when you're a just
D    R    A    G    S   on?  Well, I believe ya now, Mom!  LOL  Going to be a family day for my punkerhead's birthday.  He was all excited that I made him a smoothie...I used to make them all the time, but haven't made them in a while...and boy was Frozen and probably the new Percy Jackson movie...he does love that series.
he happy!  Going to spend the day watching

So, I'm sorry that today, though it is Ceramic Sunday, this post is not ceramic related...BUT... my baby's day of birth is a tad better than mud...barely. ;)

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Gathering of information...

Starting back in January, I began posting that I was working on writing a book.  And not just any book, but one on how to best set up your own creative haven.  I've had lots of interest from folks who think it's a great idea and want to help, and then I send them the questionnaire.  Some people aren't able to open it up, some get it filled out but then can't get it back to me...SO...I thought to my self.."self...why not create an online form for folks to fill out..."

Shoutout to Logan Johnson - a muddy buddy!

Logan is a fellow ceramic artist like myself.  However, it is her second career path.  Prior to playing with clay, she played with food as a chef and cake designer!  I've seen pictures of one of her cakes that looked too good to eat...and it was, because she took her culinary skills to the studio and made a ceramic wedding cake!!!
Name: Logan Johnson

Business Name(s):  Audeo Studios

Date Business Was Opened/Created:  1995

Types of Items/Services Offered:  Ceramic Art, Pottery, Custom tile glazing & art work, Classes in hand building, pottery, and glaze making.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Shout out to Tiffany Parent of Finding the Puddles

Join me in saying hello to Tiffany, a fellow of the Etsy Maine Team!  We are quite the busy group, aren't we??  :)  Tiffany also runs the Maine Made backed storefront of Finding the Puddles.  If you're in the area of Cornish, Maine, you should DEFINITELY check it out!  (Not to mention, I have some cute little goodies in her shop!  hehe)
Name:  Tiffany Parent 

Business Name(s):  Finding the Puddles

Date Business Was Opened/Created:  Oct 2012

Types of Items/Services Offered:  We make and sell needle felted creations from wool, wet felted items, and wooden buttons.  Although we are always coming up with new creations.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Making Paper Clay

There are several ceramic artists who I love to admire from afar.  One of my FAVORITES, is Merry ArtToones. She is an AMAZING sculptor!  We have a virtual/Facebook relationship and she has always been willing to help me out and answer any questions I have.  Well, I found out that she uses paper clay for her sculptures. Turns out paper clay is just as strong as your typical clay, but weighs less. With sculptures, and even wall murals/hangings, weight can play a very important part in the finished product.  
DISCLOSURE --  Before we get started, I thought it might be worth noting that paper clay...and paper mache...are two VERY different animals...

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Dreams, Goals, Ambitions

Hubby and I just got done having a conversation that is rather thought provoking. He asked me what my goals were with my business. Well to make money of course was the first joking remark. But in all actuality...I want to completely move over to sculpting. Still make some of the small odds and ends when I need a break..and they make GREAT kiln fillers so there's no wasted space...but I want to sculpt. I want my sculptures to have meaning and for those messages to be embraced by the world. I want the message that my sculptures emote to be known throughout the world. Quite a lofty goal, no? But that's me...dream big! I know it won't happen over night. And it may not happen in the next 10 years. But by golly...It WILL happen. :)

Horse Treasure Box - Part I

My nieces birthday was last week... she turned 9.  We had a lovely Skype session and I got tell her Happy Birthday from auntie in person.  My sister and I have been conspiring on an ultra special gift for her....thus the horse treasure box was born.  It will be late...but we put the notion in her head that something AMAZING was being made JUST. FOR. HER.  She was pretty excited, and doesn't know I'm the one making it.  As a result...I started playing around with carving relief tiles that are later assembled into a box...O.M.G.  I LOVE it!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Sunday Ceramics 1 - The Blogging Clay Community

Thanks to a clay acquaintance on Facebook, I stumbled across this awesome blog by Frogpondsrock, called Ceramic Sunday.  It's a way for us solitary potters and ceramic artists/sculptors to unite and get some of our "socializing" in.  It's a way to build a community that knows no boundaries. I decided to take the plunge and join in on the fun!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Cleaning Mr. Peter Pugger - Part II

Good evening (It's Tuesday evening, as I sit here typing this up.. :) )! Hope ya'll are doing well!  So guess what....I DID IT!!!  I am soo proud of myself!  I completely disassembled, cleaned, and reassembled my pugmill!  Those that have been following me for a bit know what an AWESOME accomplishment this is, especially considering all the health hurdles I traverse daily.  :)  But *pat on the back* for me!  :-D  I didn't get it spotless, like Scott and Angie did when they cleaned their Shimpo Pugmill.  BUT, I got it clean enough for my purposes.  I want to make my own batch of paper clay (which, do you have any idea how hard it is to find a tutorial on how to make your own paperclay, that actually provides accurate ratios of paper pulp to clay?!?)!  Good thing I plan on writing about THAT too..hehe

Monday, March 3, 2014

Cleaning My Pugmill - Part I

Have you ever cleaned a pugmill?  I hadn't..until tonight.   I can now see why potters will pick a single type/color of clay to work with.  I have a dark brown clay, a speckled buff clay, and a white clay that I work with.  What can I say, I liked diversity...  But I'm finding out it can be a pain in the ass when it comes to wanting to reclaim my scrap clay using my Peter Pugger Pugmill.  Currently, I have a mixture of clay scraps that I've been reclaiming in my pugmill. It's roughly 50/50 of the white stoneware and the buff speckled clay.  BUT...I want to start working more on my sculptures, and through research, have found that paperclay might work best for me.  So I'm going to make some (another blog post to come, detailing that stay tuned!).  But in order to get ready to make said paperclay...I need to clean out the pugmill so I can get all the colored clay out of the hopper, so I can mix some white paperclay.  :)  

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Intuit Marketing Contest

I know it's been a health has been kicking my ass.  Sitting here with my TENS unit on, my back is finally starting to feel better, and I just might be able to get my hands in clay before I fall asleep tonight. :)

While I've been sitting here, I found and entered a contest Intuit is having.  It's to win a $5,000 marketing package.  It would help get my name out there and hopefully grow my business.  I would LOVE your support!  If you would be willing to take five minutes to vote for my shop, and spread the word along to your networks, I would GREATLY appreciate it my friends! 

Here is the link:

Friday, February 14, 2014

NOT disabled....DIFFERENTLY-abled!

When I first got sick, in 2010...I was bumming.  I was heart broken, and continue to be blindsided as my health continues to decline.  It all started with seizures in April 2010...followed by cognitive decline... memory and concentration issues... tremors/ticks... weakness and numbness in my left arm/hand... severe leg pain and weakness ... and last but not least... urinary incontinence.  I think that's it... haha  OH!  Yea...forgot the PTSD...All of this has occurred in the last 3 years...For a while, I let myself feel sorry for myself.  I can't run around with my munchkin-boy anymore.  I can't go for a hike through the woods with my husband.  I have been unable to complete a college degree/further education.  There's a LOT of things I CAN'T do...It's been in the last year with the support of my hubby and the innocent wisdom of my son, that my mind set has changed.  I used to send a thank you note with my Etsy orders, as well as have it printed on my business cards; "Thank you for supporting a disabled veteran's business".  Yes... all of these physical, psychological, and physiological issues have created boundaries and limitations...  But they've also showcased my strengths and other abilities I never knew I had.  

Monday, February 10, 2014

2014 Goals - 1 Down, 13 to Go!

At the beginning of the year, I created a page for my 2014 Business Goals, to not only help me keep track of the goals I set for myself; but also so ya'll can help keep me accountable.  One way to almost always achieve your goals, regardless of what they are, is to share it with loved ones, friends, and/or the public.  Once you've put anything out there for the public to see...there is an innate pressure to uphold your end of the bargain.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Shoutout to Nancy of Spinning Glass Studio

Glass and ceramics are a unique combination...I love melted glass and incorporating it into my ceramic pieces.  Here, Nancy deals with just glass and creates beautiful beads which she then uses to create some absolutely beautiful jewelry!  Keep on reading and get to know Nancy a bit better!

Name:  Nancy Bariluk-Smith

Business Name(s):  Spinning GlassStudio

Date Business Was Opened/Created:  2007

Types of Items/Services Offered
I started this business as a fiber artist or a "Feltress" as my husband called me! I began adding bead onto my felt and then moved into making glass beads .I love the way glass moves and interacts with itself. Its magical. I started creating jewelry out of the beads I was making. Each bead has its own personality and finding a way to make that bead shine is the part I really enjoy.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Energy Drought

For the last month, my energy reserves have been non existent.  It seems like fatigue has been my middle name, AND the name of the game.  I just cannot seem to get out of my own way.  Which is proving to be a problem.  I haven't been in the studio to create in well over a week. :(  I yearn to have my hands in clay... my soul cries out for the release.  

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Floorplan Dilema

A very early mornin to ya!  :)  Wide awake at 0300 in the morning, so I've been working on my book.  Debbie Appleby of Appleby Pottery was one of the first potters to respond to my request of information.  So I've used her questionnaire and photos to piece together her home/garage studio.  Tonight, I've spent the time playin' with a new program (that's FREE) called Sweet Home 3D to work on the blueprints and/or floor plans of the example studios that will be included in my book.  But here is my quandary... I'm not sure which version/style to include in the book...

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Still Writing...

A couple weeks ago, I mentioned I was writing a book (You can read up on it HERE- Crafting Your Creative Space)  Well, I'm still writing. :-)  I know that's not abnormal by any stretch of the imagination...but I'm learning that it is MUCH more involved than I initially thought.  I want to do it RIGHT.  so I'm doing lots of research and less writing at the moment.  Connecting with other ceramic artists/potters, health care professionals, and colleagues.  


Sunday, February 2, 2014

Finding the Light

 I know a lot of people have been struggling with personal issues.  Be it health, financial, occupational, or all of the above; it can be difficult to believe there is light at the end of the tunnel.  A colleague shared this saying with a group of us, and I found it quite fitting.  I hope it offers you the ability to look inside yourself and embrace the simplicity of it.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Shoutout to Laura of Sun Flower Freckles

My birthday is today!!  The dreaded 3-0.  No biggy.  lol.  SO my birthday present to you,  is this awesome interview with Laura of Sun Flower Freckles!  The Etsy Maine Team is full of some amazingly talented folks, and I'm so glad to be able to get to know them all!!

It's a family affair!

Laura Decato

Business Name(s)

Date Business Was Opened/Created
September 2012

Types of Items/Services Offered
Sewing - Clothes, Bows, Bags, Belts, Toys, etc

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Shoutout to Beth & Jen of Parris House Wool Works!

Beth and Jen are bringing back the traditional North American rug hooking techniques and designs...and let me tell you, the rugs are absolutely stunning!  Works of fiber art that I'm not so sure I would be able to wipe my feet on!  

 Name:  Beth Miller

Business Name(s):  Parris House Wool Works

Date Business Was Opened/Created:  2011

Types of Items/Services Offered:  Jen and I offer everything you need for the art of traditional North American rug hooking, including original patterns on linen ( primitive, traditional, and contemporary), the best quality wools (hand dyed by us and also off the bolt), hooks, our own Maine made and personally designed rug hooking frames, hooks, binding tape, you name it. Additionally we consign items from other Maine artisans including frame covers, snip pockets, hand spun and dyed yarns, and knitting bags. We also will be introducing hand made, all natural soaps and vintage hand picked items to our shop in 2014, as well as our own line of custom turned hooks, again, made in Maine. Additionally, we teach our craft in both our Maine and Tennessee studios and offer hooking nights for hookers to share their craft, chat, and have tasty refreshments.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Working Together

I know I talk rather frequently about the Etsy Maine Team, but it is full of some really amazing folks.  The artists and crafts people that are members of the Etsy Maine Team really exhibit what we believe a person from Maine should be like.  Kind, caring, hard working, and willing to help out your neighbor.  This mentality has led to several collaborations between myself and two other very talented women:  Sue from Country Folk Soap, and Alicia from Sally Bateau.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Artist Accessibility

Taking an ocean-side stroll.  Hiking through the woods along a rocky path.  Climbing a flight of stairs.  

Rolling out slabs of clay, sitting in my wheelchair
Do you ever stop to think about these actions...and be thankful these are activities you can perform with little to no thought?  I am envious at times of those who don't have to think a second thought about doing these actions.  There, I said it.  As much as I try to maintain a positive outlook on my situation, there are times when I just want to say, "This shit sucks". 

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Crafting Your Creative Space...Almost

Hey there!  I have been looking high and low for a book to help me better set up my home pottery studio.  I have unique needs, and was hoping someone out there had written about how to alter your space to accommodate for a variety of disabilities...Guess what...they haven't!  Crazy, I know...So guess what that means?  I have taken on the project.  


Saturday, January 18, 2014

Shoutout to Kerin of Pipsqueaks!

I know I've said it before...but I'll say it again... I really LOVE the Etsy Maine Team.  Why, you may ask?  Because I have the opportunity to "meet" (even if just virtually for the near future) so many wonderfully talented individuals!  We are all crafty in our own way, and seeing others' artistic/creative expressions has always been an inspiration for me.  We all have our back story.. and if you "listen" closely, you can decipher some of it in by the quality of craftsmanship in our wares.  

 Without further Kerin!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

A Woman in a Man's World - Part 1

I got a lot of feedback on yesterday's post about my time in Iraq.  After I re-read it, I felt like I rambled... but I'm glad it touched so many people!  One of the common comments left for me on my Facebook page, was that it gave non-military folks some insight on what it was like for a woman in the military.  I feel that I just barely scratched the surface on that topic... so I thought I'd write a few posts about it.  Some of the things I will be talking about are pretty please bare with me.
(NOTE - I don't have many pictures from bootcamp/AIT... a lot of my military pictures come from my time in Iraq.  Just FYI)

Monday, January 13, 2014


When I tell people that I was in the army, the first question is always, "Did you go to Iraq?  Afghanistan?".  When I inform them that I did deploy to Iraq for OIF VII, the question that always follows next is, "What was it like?".  People  may think that it is an easy question to answer, but quite the contrary, it is not.  What part of Iraq do you want to know about?  There are many.  Do you want to do what the social and family ties and the stresses it caused was like?  Do you want to know what war is like?  Or what about the countryside?  The people and the children?  Being a medic?  What part do you want to know about?  The part where I admit it broke me all to hell and I will never be the same again?    Which part?

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Shoutout to Katrina of Amphitrite Studio!

Etsy Maine Team members come through yet again!  Meet Katrina, a fiber fashionista, if you will.  LOL  

Name: Katrina Napolitan

Business Name(s): Amphitrite Studio

Date Business Was Opened: 2000

Types of Items Offered: 
I offer natural fiber, one of a kind women's fashions & accessories all handmade by myself in midcoast Maine. 

Friday, January 10, 2014

Time is FLYIN'!

 As I sat here drinking my coffee this afternoon (yes...afternoon.  My sleep cycle is flip flopped...days are my nights and nights are my days..)...I realized today was January 10th.  Today marks 5 full months of being married to my amazing hubby...  and it also means that tomorrow is his birthday!  Nothing too extravagant planned.  The hubby just wants to hang out and have a chill day at home.  So that's what we're going to do.  After all...Football starts at 4:30 pm!  haha

As far as realizing I've been married to the most wonderful man in the world for five months...I
couldn't be happier.  You know you have a solid relationship when being married feels no different than it felt to be dating.  Nothing has changed.  The piece of paper and the rings are symbols of our love, not game changers.  And for that, I am truly thankful!  He supports me in my muddy musings, forever encouraging me to pursue my love of sculpting rather than just making stuff that will sell.  He reminds me to take it easy and not be so hard on myself when I'm having bad health days.  He is an amazing step-father to my son, caring for and loving him as his own.  Five months down and a lifetime to go! figure out what to do for him for his birthday tomorrow...I know he doesn't want to do anything but watch football... But c'mon!  I can't let that fly..  :-D  Let the scheming begin..hehe

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Khnum - Ancient Egyptian Kiln God

KhnumI told ya to watch out for a follow up to my Kiln God/Goddess post!!  I have always been fascinated with Egyptian culture, specifically the Ancient Egyptian culture and religion(s).  So while doing some research into the origin of the kiln god/goddess, you can imagine my excitement to see that the Egyptians were one of the first civilizations to adopt one!  Khnum was one of the first/most ancient of all the deities that were worshiped.  There are references to Khnum that date back to the  Predynastic Periods!  How awesome!  See...I knew potters/ceramic artists were special folk.. ;)

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Liebster Award Nomination!!

I'm honored!  Natalie from Magic Jewellery nominated me for the Liebster Reward.  What a nice surprise for sure!!  hehe 

What's the Liebster Award:
The word Liebster- a German word- translates to dear, favorite, love .
It's an award for (mostly) up and coming bloggers with 200 -or less-  followers that is given by fellow bloggers.

The rules
  • List 11 random facts about yourself.  check
  • Answer the 11 questions provided by the blogger who nominated you. 
  • Nominate other bloggers for the award who have 200 followers or less.
  • Create 11 questions for your nominees to answer. 
  • Notify the nominees of their nomination (of course!)

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Making Pottery Textures/Stamps Tutorial

We all have those certain people, whether we know them or not, that we look up to and admire.  As a potter I have many such people who I follow near and far that I do not know personally.  That's the great thing Social Media has done for those of us stuck in solitary confinement..I mean our studios.. hehe  One person who's work I admire is Gary Jackson, of Fire When Ready Pottery.  His work is nearly always full of unique and gorgeous texture.  On a lazy Sunday, I spent the afternoon reading down through his blog and thought I would try my own hand at making some homemade stamps.  They're not pretty (just like my Sgraffito Tools found here), but they work.  :)  

Sunday, January 5, 2014

What is a Kiln God/Goddess??

Sitting here in front of our wood stove, staying awake all night (to sleep during the day) to ensure the fire stays stoked... my mind started wandering.  My first pottery instructor and mentor was quite superstitious about the kiln goddess being placed on top of the kiln for every firing.  Staring into the fire tonight..I got to thinking about the origin of the kiln god/goddess...And I'll be damned if I couldn't find anything!  So here is my interpretation based on some background knowledge I have of ancient cultures.  :)  

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Shoutout to Cheri of Art By Cheri

Cheri is a fellow Etsy Maine Team member and a very talented artist!  I can attest to her skill as a painter.. her watercolors are gorgeous!  She is also a piano teacher.  So if you're looking to learn how to stroke the ivories... definitely get in touch with her! 

Piano by Cheri
Name:  Cheri Christenson

Business Name(s)
Piano by Cheri 
Art by Cheri

Date Business Was Opened:  October 2013 on Etsy.

Types of Items Offered:  Piano lessons (in person) and on Etsy: watercolor cards, watercolor artwork, watercolor beads, soon to come, hand painted scarves

Why did you decide to open/start your own business?:  I got into watercolor a few years ago and fell in love with it. last year I sold a few of my paintings as cards, so this year I thought I would broaden my horizons.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Always Learning - Ceramic Mug Critique

There has been a lot of talk about how bad Social Media can be for us and our youth...But when used appropriately, it can also be a GREAT help to those that are home bound for a variety of reasons.  I've been lucky enough to have been invited and/or accepted into various pottery/ceramic centered groups on Facebook.  I've mentioned "clay buddies" in the past.  A new group I've been welcomed into is "pottery critiques".  I took a big gulp and submitted one of my mugs for critiquing.  There are some AMAZING potters/ceramic artists that are members of this group. Some of whom I follow through their blogs and other means and truly value/appreciate their opinions.  Anyway..getting off topic. :)  I thought I would share the mug I posted for critique and some of the insights offered by some well respected artists in the ceramic community.  :)
Oak Leaf Camo Mug
 I call this my "camo" mug as inspired by the hubby.  He asked me to make a camo (woodland, not digital) mug and this is what I came up with.  Inside is glazed blaze orange, green/red leaves, and iron ore for the mug itself.  The handle has been carved to try and mimic the natural wood/branch texture.  It's available in my Etsy shop if you're interested.. :) 

Without further is the advice/critiques I was given:

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2014 - New Year's Goals and Resolutions

Home Sweet Home..for now.  Wallagrass, ME  Dec 2013
Today is the beginning of a new year.  A time to reflect on the previous 365 days, and ponder on what the next 365 days have to come.  This year will be a GREAT year, because that's my mind set.  My health WILL get better.  My business WILL become more regular with sales and such.  My family and I WILL find a home closer to family and be moved by the summer.  Life WILL be good.  Positive affirmations and having a positive mental attitude is what it's all about this year.