Friday, July 24, 2009

The Perfect Combination

I have been passionate about pottery since I started working in a ceramic studio some years after high school. It was there that I learned and absorbed all there was to know about the process of making and firing clay.

I was taught the philosophy that being a potter and or a ceramic artist, starts with skill. Where you take that "skill" with what creativity you have will be your own journey.

Gardening for me though comes from a deeper place. I feel that my love for plants and creating gardens is truly in my blood.

My great-grandfather was a champion dahlia grower. He tended to his tubers, and pinched buds off his specimen plants for years as my mother grew up watching him.
I believe that green thumb talent passed on to her.

When I was a child I think back to all the colorful snapdragon's and bachelor button's bursting out of the borders and the snow peas dangling from the trellises in the vegetable bed.
I loved being outside working and digging with my mom.
It was there in her gardens at a young age that I feel my little thumb began to blush green.

So for the years growing up as a child I always seemed to have an appreciation for the beauty of plants, and the way they made me feel.
It wasn't till I moved into my own apartment, during some time when I was working at the pottery studio that I started to learn about plants and their requirements.

I had this huge south facing picture window, that I began filling with houseplants. I bought books and started to absorb all that i could to help my new leafy friends thrive.

My plant path continues to this day with all sorts of botanical adventures, some mind blowing and others great failures.

As I know it is the exact same way one feels as being a ceramic artist. There is so much that one needs to learn and process, and then to take that information and make something uniquely beautiful, even if that beauty is all for you is a humbling and amazing feeling.

So, it is in this perfect combination that the two loves of mine have finally met.

If you were to go back to a my post in March of this year under "Forcing Age", you will read how I came to make a good amount of small terra-cotta pots, some of which I am attempting to "force age" upon. Those pots are still in the marshy woods, and soon will be checked on.

The remainder of the pots I recently planted up with, some amazing succulents, specimen lavenders, and scented geraniums.
Under the plants I mulched them small crushed stone with some special pebbles, and placed a metal plant identification tag in each pot.
I placed them out back of the pottery, facing due west.

I set them on some rustic benches and they seemed to glow with life.
Both the plants and the pots were transformed.

I am really pleased how these creations turned out, and even more so, that people have been taking these little guys home as well.

I'm already planning on making even more planters of different sizes, textures and glazes this coming winter.
I can't wait to see what comes of this plant inspired body of work!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Country Advertising

It has been several weeks since the official opening of the Cornwallville Pottery, besides during the open house we held at the end of June, not one person has stopped by. No one, not even a car slowing down to look.

My impatient self got to thinking that I should do some country advertising. In the simplest terms, I needed to make signs, and lots of them. Our road, Strong Rd. is snuggled between two major thoroughfares that go deep into the Catskills, Rt. 23 and Rt. 145. I knew I had to make a bunch of them for all the twists and turns of the country roads.

It took some thinking about which roads and directions that the signs would be pointing. I drew myself a little map and the number of signs needed and in which direction they should point.

I cut up some plywood from the old cabinets that were in our kitchen before we renovated, and cut posts as well. I screwed them together, and slapped on some white paint.

After they were finally coated, I penciled on them either pottery, or Cornwallville pottery with arrows going in different directions. When they were completed I rested them on the potting shed to dry.

The morning after I could not really sleep in. It was that feeling of having a yard sale or something of the sort. I wanted to put out the signs and see who would show up.
I woke Stephen up around 7:30 in the morning and we hit all the corners of our country roads with the homemade signage.

I would run out of the car to the trunk , whip out a sign and sledgehammer, and post. Jump back in and to the next corner we would go.

Some spots were more difficult than others, due to rocky terrain, but I got those signs in. I was determined to have my little billboards.

When we did our roundabout and got home, I put the final sign up. It was the one right out front of the pottery, a double faced sign that read, pottery.

It looked great on our country road. Simple, sweet, and to the point.

That same morning we retreated to the house to have a late breakfast of poached eggs, and Montreal bagels. As we were about to sit down we got a shocking...HELLO.......GOOD MORNING! It was the first customers.

They were a friendly couple from a nearby hamlet on a bike ride, and spotted the signs. It felt good to have strangers come view the pottery.

Later during the day, Stephen and I viewed several cars basically crawling past the pottery as well as five more visitors of neighbors and passersby.

A long day and several sales later, the country advertising was definitely worth it!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Independence Day

Greetings from Cornwallville on this Independence Day!


The pottery has been finally christened with it's new sign that Stephen made for our little roadside shop. When the sign went up on the barn excitement filled my body. The following photos document those few moments after the sign was hung in place.

It's Been A Long Time Coming

I know it has been a long time since I have last written, but spring really came in like a lion here in Cornwallville. May was an absolutely gorgeous month - sunny skies, bulbs blooming, and all the birds returned in full force.

This month also meant major gardening. Aside from planning the pottery during the winter, I also was plotting major perennial borders around the grounds at the M.H. Merchant stone house. As much as I wanted to power wash the barn in preparations for the pottery, my focus was on digging and planting five good sized beds. It was truly an undertaking I wasn't prepared for. The gardens took Stephen and I the whole month. For every shovel full of soil there were three of rock and debris. By month's end the beds were finished and planted with perennials, summer bulbs, seeds and some of my favorite annuals.

Soon after completing the new gardens, within the next week, the weeds began to show their ugly little heads. It was a sight I was not ready for! Mulch was not in my budget this year and I knew I was going to have to weed, but I had no idea what I was in for. The next couple of weekends were spent weeding, and at that point I had little hope the pottery would be open in time for our open house at the end of June.

Then came June, wet June, soggy June, muddy June, one of the wettest June's on record. It rained 22 of the 30 days here in Cornwallville. All the rain was too much for some of the plants in the gardens. I lost about 10 percent due to root rot. The rainy weeks were so poor for the perennial borders but it was the perfect time to wash the inside of the barn.

So one dreary weekend I set out to the barn with the power washer. I emptied the contents of the barn out in front and began to blast the inside of the barn with jet powered water. I do have to tell you that power washing is dirty work, you get covered in what ever you are washing and soaking wet, but it is so much fun.

It took about the whole day between washing and raking out the debris, but when it was done it looked like a new barn.

The following weekend, I built some tables and shelves from the old doors and pieces of wood that I found here around the grounds, and set up the clamp lights afterwards. I decided that we should put a pea gravel floor in, but that could wait.

I set out some pottery that I had in some of my displays using rusted tin cans and found objects. When I was finished it actually looked and felt like just how I imagined it would be. It resembles something of a cross between a Catskill barn, an industrial goods antique shop, and a Japanese tea house.

I was so happy and satisfied that this dream of mine was complete. I could have never have done it with out the love and support I get from Stephen. It really has been an amazing time here in Cornwallville and I can not wait for the years to come.