Letting Fall In

“Fall is my favourite time of year!”  I have heard these words declared so many times these past weeks and I cannot agree more.  Especially after such a glorious sun-filled maelstrom of a summer, this Fall’s gentle coming has been sweet.  Fall is my time to breathe, regroup, get back into routine with school, and brace my being for the cold blasts of winter.  As I watched the leaves blow off from my studio window, the weather change is inspiring some coiling work.   Coiling is one of the oldest methods for building pots in history used by people from Native Americans to the Koreans.  For me, that rolling and joining of clay is not only satisfying in a tactile way, but also references the cycle of seasons, life and energy that we are all part of.

Besides new work and jewelry, I have a new collection of greeting cards reflecting Orcas in the mood of the season.  A set of cards tied up in a bow would make a thoughtful house gift, I think.  I’ll post some of the card images in my next post soon, but stop by when you are in Eastsound.  Call me first, if you like at 360-220 8221.

Maelstrom. Coiled dark and white stoneware bodies, iron oxide wash, glazes, fired to cone 6. Mounted on driftwood (optional), 18″ across.
Work in progress. Cassius black clay vessel.
Work in progress. Cassius black clay glaze.

Fall Tableau

The mud smells dark and rich; the bird call is frenzied; the wet leaves and twigs glow like embers in the fast fallen dusk. Hello Fall.  My favourite time of year is digging in and the palette of the season is a personal refresher for where my aesthetic choices are mostly rooted.

Taking stock of the body of work I showed at this past summer’s Artists Open Studio Tour on Orcas Island, it felt good to discover an aesthetic consistency running through my ceramic work.  The forest floor, ocean find and woodland imagery are repeatedly used, and so are the organic textures and my tendency to leave or reveal the natural colour of the clay body.  The show was really the first time I had all my recent work displayed together and it was gratifying to see how the individual pieces, whether functional, wearable or wall art, could come together to form a cohesive tableau.

Participation in the Studio tour provided the motivation for me to finally write an Artist’s Bio, and to explore various ways to display work, label displays, create visual flow, and other nitty gritty aspects of putting up a show that is not always a top priority because it takes precious time away from making stuff!  However, the best thing for me over the three-day tour was getting practice in talking about my art to absolute strangers.  Many thanks to Sharon Schmidt who hung out with me on opening day! Just hearing her introduce my work to guests helped me experience how a gallery visitor would encounter my creations for the first time.  I realised how basic and crucial a skill it is for any artist to be able to talk comfortably about her own work, and, at a level that resonates with the viewer.  I have been a docent many years and led many a gallery tour, but talking up my own work is an ongoing challenge.  I know it comes with practice and I am working on it.

Come in soon and I’ll work my spiel on you!

Opening this Friday, May 9

Christa Smith of Feltsmith and Sharon Ho of Optimism and Co. invite you to our

Studio Opening

1st collaboration

at Eastsound Square #D3 (behind Mia’s Cafe and Olga’s boutique)

on Friday, May 9, from 4.30pm to 7pm

It is finally warm enough to keep our door open, come and see what we have been up to.

Putting it out there

Display box of 5 ceramic pendants, embellished with seashells, found beads, jadeite stones and vintage buttons.  For individual purchase.  Prices from USD68 to USD128.
Five handcarved ceramic pendants, embellished with seashells, found beads, jadeite stones and vintage buttons. Available as a set or individually.

My first showing of work on Orcas Island!  I exhibited two sets of ceramic jewelry in keeping with the show’s theme of Wearable Art.  I was surprised to find myself the only artist to show jewelry (not a bad thing on hindsight), which serendipitously complemented the sumptuously handmade, hand beaded cloaks, costumes, fabric, masks and puppets on display. The costume works of Judy Tepley was astounding in their detail and intricacy, and I felt humbled thinking of the effort I spent in the mere bits of beading and threading I incorporated in my set of ceramic pendants above.

The show opened on Dec 1 with a warm reception that was perfectly family-friendly, with artists on hand to help with mask making and sock puppet creations, not to mention a delightful spread of pre-Christmas bites.  My boys thus occupied, gave me time to chat with other artists and guests I have never met.  It was a nice low-key debut personally.

I love the custom-framed box above and want to give special mention to its designer and maker –  the very creative Andy Troxel – who used seasoned wood reclaimed from the humble pallet, and pulled it all together  at a week’s notice.  Thank you, Andy!

Hung at the entrance foyer of Orcas Center for the Wearable Art Show.
Hung at the entrance foyer of Orcas Center for the Wearable Art Show.

My second display at the Show – a collection of elegantly simple ceramic pendants in earth colored glazes, inspired by the twigs and the curled shavings of tree bark picked up while beachcombing on Orcas Island.

The rains cometh

We are well into cold misty mornings  and I have had the excitement of choosing my first wool sweater to wear to kick off the season.  But seriously, the change in season has been made more distinct by the quiet after the bulk of tourists and summer residents have packed up and left, flying south, like the geese that are now a common sight on all the beaches.  With that, many of the restaurants and retail shops are cutting back their hours to just a few evenings and weekends, with some already shut, like Lily’s our favorite ice-cream shop.  This is the economic reality of living in a summer tourist spot, on an island to boot.

The windswept landscape with low clouds and occasional bursts of sunshine are as poetic as they come and I find the cold quiet beaches a welcome relief, after the carloads of families with their cheery togs and summer cliches have headed back to the ‘burbs.  But Main Street’s quiet belies a frenetic local pace, as farmers and gardeners haul in their harvests and can, dry, smoke and pickle for the winter.

With the fall sports season winding down for island kids, musical instruction is on our horizon. Perhaps violin and ukelele?  The prospect of long dark winter afternoons filled with the strains (now I understand this deeper meaning) and whines of instruments performing under duress is surely more charming than the reality of being present. But music would be a perfect distraction for idle fingers confined indoors by the weather, and perhaps, it may keep those vicious raccoons and the odd heat seeking rodent away.