Monday, February 13, 2017

Valentines Local Love

From the 'Homemade Tastes Better on Handmade' Monthly Planner, February:

Once again it blows my mind that time can pass so quickly between posts! It's fitting that the last time I posted here, it was to wish a Happy Mother's Day, as now I'm in Florida helping my mom for an extended bit of time. It's also fitting that here we come to February 14, which in addition to that very well marketed 'love' holiday is also the anniversary of my mom's US Citizenship. Much love to be celebrated all around.

In my Monthly Planner (available at my website!), I advocate showing some local love for your romantic plans, be they for yourself, with a loved one, or a group of beloved family/framily/friends. That is still my suggestion, and if I may be even more self-indulgent, I encourage you to shower some local love (or mail order love, if you're not in Asheville!) on those very dear friends, colleagues, and clients who have allowed me, either by their good graces, steadfast business, or pure generosity, to be here with my folks as they need me. These are but a drop in the bucket of love and support that I have received. I am grateful for it all, grateful for all to come, and humbled by the community that surrounds me. 

The Village Potters - my studio tribe, the very reason I am able to be here. While my fabulous assistants are helping me keep some work in production (if I learn of any shows they're involved in, you'll hear me shout about it!), I am not there to keep new inventory going into the gallery. That being said, I would be deeply grateful to go home to empty shelves, and would love to see the love shared with those incredible artists who are giving me so much support. Shop online, or visit our galleries Mon-Sat, 10am-4pm.

Cúrate Bar de Tapas  is probably booked solid for Tuesday, but any time you go it'll be one of the best gustatory experiences you'll ever have. And don't forget to pick up a cutie-patootie lucky three-legged pig toothpick holder to remind you of your experience!

Chocolate & Milk, at The French Broad Chocolate Lounge is quite simply, one of the happiest places on earth. The truffles, the ice cream, the liquid elixirs, the hand crafted chocolate bars, the marshmallows, the nibs, and ... wait for it ... the MUGS! And as soon as I can get back and fire a kiln, the ice cream bowls!

Tandem Restaurant, in Carrboro, NC. A bit of a drive from Asheville, but SO worth it, and when you tell them so after you've enjoyed one of Chef Younes' exquisite meals, I hope you'll mention how lovely the food looks on my handmade, as well!

Sensibilities Day Spa in two locations in Asheville. No better way to treat the one you love most (yourself included!), and their attention to detail starts the moment you walk in the door and extends throughout your visit, including the lovely and refreshing cup of tea you may enjoy before or after your treatments!

Biltmore Village Inn in Asheville. Romantic is what they do, and they do it well. And you can commemorate your experience with a lovely mug!

Budy Finch Catering is based in Flat Rock, NC, but they'll come to you and boy will you be happy they did! The love they put into every morsel shines even more on my handmade!

Show some local love this week! xo

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Happy Mother's Day!!

Happy Mother's Day to all who are or have a mother, but most of all to my wonderful, beautiful, loving, hard working, funny, supportive, heroic, talented, creative, and stunningly gorgeous mom! 

My own love for a life creative got its start in my mom's kitchen, and watching her craft her businesses as a designer, dress maker, sales person, and entrepreneur. I couldn't have had a better role model!

We'll celebrate in person later this month when she and Don come for a visit to Asheville (my best birthday gift!), but I never want to miss a chance to celebrate her every and any day - I love you Mom!!

And a special shout out to my sister, Becky, who has been a stellar mother to her three boys, and now gets to enjoy a special first Mother's Day as Grandma! 

Saturday, January 2, 2016

A Circle of Gratitude

Happy New Year! 

I am once again surprised that with all my regular posts and online sorts of chatting, I managed to neglect my faithful little blog at the end of the year. I don't know if this makes any sense, but I always feel a sense of sitting with a good friend when I come to write here. It's ready to listen, and the way I write and pause and read, it often gives me feedback in those second thoughts and revisions. So when I get too busy to get here to post, I feel a little like I've neglected a good friend. But like a truly good friend, there is no judgment, just a welcome page ready to listen again.

the Gratitude Jar, with last year's Mandala puzzle
Last year at this time, I started a 'Happiness Jar', based on a re-post by my friend Jen of a post by Elizabeth Gilbert (yay social media!). I took a nice, big jar and designated it for the purpose, and prepared a smaller covered jar with lots of small slips of paper and a pen, ready to record any thing, place, person, or event that caused me happiness during the year. I renamed my jar the 'Gratitude Jar', as that was my word/theme for 2015 (plus, everything that makes me happy makes me grateful!). Last year, my meditative tool in setting all these intentions was the Great Happy Ass Adult Coloring Book (if you don't have one, get one!), and after completing a page titled "Squeeze the Day!" I attached it to my Gratitude Jar for further inspiration. In grabbing this picture for today's blog, I am reminded that when my Atlanta framily was visiting over the 2014 holiday, we started a large puzzle of a lovely mandala, and I worked on it well into the new year. Several milestone breakthroughs, in fact, are noted in my Gratitude Jar.

A nice, big pile of Grateful!

On New Year's Eve afternoon of this past year, I first took a moment to be grateful that I had a very full jar to empty. With a nice cup of coffee and a few sugar plums, I emptied the jar and started reading back through my year. I had already been thinking about how I might want to commemorate this years worth of Gratitude, and while I was reading I was imagining mosaic collages and mini-origami projects. As I was pondering this, I picked up a slip that said "got to see Karen Crane!", which is a happy moment in itself as she, like my blog, is a good friend I don't see as often as I'd like, but when I do it's immediately comfortable and free of any guilt for our mutual absence. But I digress - another happy memory that came to me in thinking of Karen, an artist and Art Therapist among many other dazzling talents, was that of another visit she made when we made Mandalas. Nothing fancy, rather quickly done and that was that, but mine still hangs in my studio and I often doodle in a similar way when I need a momentary meditation. I immediately saw how I could capture the spirit of my year of Gratitude while enjoying a full meditation on each entry as I recorded them into a Gratitude Mandala. It also gave me the opportunity to sharpen some of my colored pencils, so I felt incredibly efficient as well as indulgent in spending a couple of hours writing in a growing circle.

My 2015 Gratitude Mandala
It was a wonderful meditation, and I happily had more entries than I had room on one page! There were many repeats throughout the year, like time in my studio, my wonderful studio mates, my furballs at home, and a host of other delights, surprises, and wonders. 

I see that my last post was just before I made my annual pilgrimage to Sandbridge Beach, so here are a few images of other events of the last quarter that also made the Gratitude Jar. I know I'm not listing everything, and perhaps that's another reason to be grateful! Here are a few:

Ploughman's Lunch by Budy Finch Catering, on my pots!
Most recently, and several slips into the Gratitude Jar worthy, I had my pots gracing the cover of Plough to Pantry magazine. I was also among some other very talented potters profiled in a lovely article inside (page 36, because I know you were wondering!). It was a wonderful experience from start to finish, with an incredible team of thoughtful and caring editors, writers, photographers, and gracious clients, too! Spreading the message about how handmade ceramics is the perfect partner to homemade/chef-made dishes is an ongoing quest of mine, and one that will see me expanding production in the new year to design and develop forms to attract partnership with others who believe the same. 

A giant bucket of Gratitude
The Village Potters wrapped up the year with another fabulous Holiday Market with our neighbors at Riverview Station, and it saw the opening of our new Independent Study & Mentoring Program studio. New kilns are still being built, expansions being completed, and more new artists are bringing great energy and passion in clay to the studio with us daily! And for me, every day in the studio with these incredible artists and people brings multitudes of gratitude.

Me in the Sandbridge kitchen, with one of many glorious salads
in the foreground. Picture by Laurie McCarriar.
What is happily becoming an annual pilgrimage of sorts: my three weeks at Sandbridge. Sandbridge is a series of three, consecutive, week-long retreats for hammered dulcimer players, and I get to cook for them! Outside of a few marketing duties that seep in and compete for my attention, pretty much all I need worry about for three weeks at the beach is planning menus, shopping the local farmstands, fish and other markets, and creating meals for 24-29 people each day. And this year, I even snuck in several secret lessons on the hammered dulcimer for my grand debut of 'Twinkle Twinkle'. Recording contract is certainly soon to follow... My working vacation always feels more like vacation than work, but I'm extremely fortunate (and grateful!) that most of what I get to do daily, be it in the studio or the kitchen, is such a joy to me that the hardest days in either are better than most days doing anything else. 

A benefit to mostly overcast mornings at the beach:
incredible reflections of sunrise in the clouds.
I have already started making entries into this years Gratitude Jar, and as I set my intentions for the new year ahead, I am excited, eager, and more than anything, grateful. 

Saturday, July 11, 2015

It's Big Crafty Time!

I don't get out to do shows much anymore. I love getting to chat leisurely with folks about my work and watch them find pieces they love - not something I get to do when I'm not in the gallery. It's fun, but it's exhausting, and happily my own gallery keeps me busy filling inventory, plus I have an eclectic mix of clients that grace me with many opportunities to design and make new work. 

That being said, The Big Crafty is a really, really fun show. Plus, it's here in my town, and a lot of other artist friends who I don't get to see much are likely to be in the show or attending the show, so it's a win all around. I get to see friends, plus spend the day chatting with folks about my work. 

Conversation Plate by Holly de Saillan
This year will be a bit different in two ways: my usual cohort and table partner, Holly deSaillan (clay & mosaics by Holly de Saillan), will be at The Big Crafty, but she's filling her own entire space this year, and I can't WAIT to see her new work! I'm still happy filling half a space, so I was thrilled when Angelique Tassistro (Fly Coop Studios) agreed to apply with me and share the space. And even better, we're right next to Holly!

Olive Dishes by Angelique Tassitro 
The other difference this year is that I'm taking the opportunity to try some new designs out on my work that I bring to the show. To keep myself from going too crazy, I limited myself to drinking vessels - in fact that's all I'll have at this show: mugs, tea bowls, tumblers and cups. I'll have a few of my current designs, but I'll also have a larger grouping of sgraffito and relief-carved pieces in new designs. Some will enjoy their fun at The Big Crafty and happily retire, but some will find their way into other facets of my work.

New work, new glaze, new firing fun!

I hope you'll come by and check it out - you'll only find it at The Big Crafty, or you'll have to wait and see if/how it shows up again!

The Big Crafty is on Sunday, July 12 from 12-6pm in downtown Asheville at the Asheville Art Museum. Vendors will be outside and inside, and you'll find me and Angelique inside, on the lower level, at space #48.

Friday, June 26, 2015

200 Mug Challenge!!

We're making 200 mugs to celebrate the first firings of the Kazegama Kiln, and if we can get 200 donations at the mug level on our Kickstarter, we'll pretty much be able to build this kiln!

And, 200 mugs will find happy homes - if you'd like to be one of them, please check out our Kickstarter. The firings will be in early Fall, so this is a great way to make some early holiday purchases that will be very special and treasured gifts!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Kazegama Kickstarter

We're in our fourth year at The Village Potters, and each year, our galleries, working studios and Teaching Center have continued to grow. Our galleries now include three showrooms, and our working studios hold the full time studios of six Resident potters and two studio assistants. Our student body is up to about 35, with many of the students are looking for ways to continue to study with us as they expand their skills and even prepare for a professional career themselves. 

To that end, we're growing to meet the needs of more visitors, new accounts and new students. We'll be expanding into another 2000 sq ft at the end of the year, and we're in the process of launching a new Independent Study & Mentoring Program. This invitational program will allow 1-2 year study for students wishing to sharpen their skills for their own pleasure or to develop a portfolio for professional use. Regular mini-workshops, mentorship, critiques and even exhibit opportunities will be available for participants. If you happen to be an interested artist, you can get more information by emailing 'info' at '' and asking for an Application to the IS/M Program.

And that's not all! We're also expanding our fire power by making plans to build a 'wood-influenced' Kazegama Kiln. This small kiln will allow us to fire in reduction with gas, and then add wood ash and even soda ash into the environment to create wood-fire effects while allowing us to fire within city codes. By building the kiln on a trailer, we also have the ability to protect it from any rising tides, as we're in the flood plain, and we will also be able to travel with the kiln to conduct workshops at other locations. 

The Kazegama Kiln

Because we have been so fortunate to have so much support from our community of friends, family and collectors, we are asking for help in building this segment of The Village Potters. We have established a Kickstarter Campaign for the Kazegama kiln, and with your support, we will be able to have our first community firings by the end of the summer, and have it fully functioning for the first class of participants in the Independent Study and Mentorship Program! 

And your donation will garner you any number of lovely rewards from each of The Village Potters. Some are available in the classic glazes you already know and love, and some are planned for the new kiln. And each and every donation comes with our deep and sincere appreciation. "It Takes a Village" is a fond refrain often heard around the studio, and we've done so much with our Village, we thank you for what has been and we thank you for what is to come!

Check out our Kickstarter Campaign, and Thank You!