Monday, December 7, 2009

Embracing Your Family Tree in Pottery Form

I had the wonderful assignment of creating a platter for a friend's family Christmas celebration. I've done this form of platter in the past (check with The Smart Gallery if you need one before Christmas), but, since I inscribe so many tree goblets for family gifts, I thought inscribing the platter would be great as well.
And, I love it!
How nice this would be with a set of tree goblets for weddings, Mother's Day or Valentine's Day!

Click on the picture for a close-up so you can see the family names (sorry if they're hard to read...they're upside down).

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A Work in Progress

Life seems to be a work in progress of late. Good news from accountant, bad news corporate attorney, items stolen from property, lessons learned in settling and managing estates, bank procedures and general government craziness! God seems to find strange ways to make us stretch and grow, and we're just trying to keep a sense of humor and honor Jo.

My studio stands fairly still, definitely a work in, those walls won't remain peach. They've been plastered a pattern and a deep chestnut glaze will turn it all a dark burnt orange. And the cabinet fronts (and shelves, and flooring) are missing. Nothing worked on here since summer.

Then there's the pottery, well, it's a work in progress too. If you prepaid for a special order, your work is on this counter. It's been bisque fired, cleaned up, signed, (stained if needed)washed and waxed. Glazing begins in a few minutes and the kiln should be loaded, fired and unloaded by Monday. If you just have a "special request" placed with me, like the January wedding and Mel's parents gift, you're probably in here too. Lanterns didn't make it this kiln load, sorry...but there is still a possibility of some before Christmas. It will be close, but I hope to fire one more time for family pieces.

Ah, family. Now that's a work in progress! But, worth all the challenges it brings. The larger our family circle grows, the harder the work and the greater the reward! Praying we all have time to slow down and enjoy that this season, our family and yours. Just be sure to keep up the good work!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

GG's Holiday Open House

GG's of Statesville is hosting their annual Holiday Open House this Sunday, November 5th from 1:00 until 5:00.
Meet and greet with many artists, shop holiday gifts like Christopher Radko and Carolers collections, enjoy music and munchies. Start your holiday season off right!

New Gallery Display at the Sanctuary of Davidson

Just a quick note before I head to Charlotte for estate business.
A new gallery has opened in downtown Davidson, NC, with a bent toward Christian charities and, of course, beautiful art. The website is not fully developed, but you can click on the link and check them out.
I delivered a few pieces when Jo was sick, and am dropping off a few more on my way through today. I can't wait to have studio time to create some pieces especially for their clientele!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Passing Over to the Perfect Life

Well. Auntie Jo passed on my birthday.
People keep apologizing that I had such a bad day.
Not so. Let me tell you, it was beautiful!
Hospice came early the day before and put in a catheter, upped her medication and told me it would be two days or less. Obviously, it was less.
Before hospice left, Bishop Curlin showed up to give her communion. She was asleep because of the meds the hospice nurse gave and didn't wake up for him...although the sweet father waited nearly two hours. He blessed her and told us to call him if anything happened, any hour.
Then, we had a strange evening.
Alan had left the checkbook at home the day before when we rushed from the pottery show to Charlotte. He brought his bills, but couldn't pay them...and needed to go home. We had been up all night the night before getting what turned out to be last minute instructions from the boss as she kept sitting up to tell us things she considered dire. He said that he needed to make a quick trip home while she was sleeping and whispered to her not to move until he was back in the house.
She is always the boss, she laughs - or twinkles, but never listens.
So, twenty minutes later she wakes and starts giving me a hard time.
Swinging her legs like she's getting out of bed. And, for the first time in my life, getting angry with me...because I block her. I try to soothe her and tell her it's because Alan said not to move (getting back at Adam for blaming everything on know). It doesn't work well.
The fourth time she succeeds and her legs go too far to stop them.
I grab her from the front, under both arms, and try to lift her. But, the lymphodema is so bad that she is very bottom heavy (and just days before I could handle their weight). It doesn't work.
She had been complaining that she needed to be in a different position. So, I tell her sitting on the floor is just a new position and I gently lower her, joke about smores around the campfire and call Alan. She tells me "Robin, don't you panic". And, I joke again and never panic. Why waste the time. I tell her I feel jipped out of those smores, and I know she's been jipped out of so much more.
Alan rushes back (cutting a drive that is normally 1 hour and 15 minutes to just 41 can't get a ticket retroactively can you?). Anyway, the two of us can't lift her.
I call 911.
Okay...this sounds like the end, right? But, no, not for Jo! It takes five men and a special tarp to get her back in bed. Five young, strong, nice looking men, with two more standing in the doorway...and you think she's leaving NOW???
My Alan gets his back up...this is his Auntie Jo. And, man that he is, he has to protect his territory.
So, he tells her he has to stand between them so she can't see these guys are younger and look better than him...and she laughs. We all joke about the responders the whole time they are there. And they leave well after 9pm.
She talks for a while and continues to ask just how many young men came to see her. Hmmmmm, she says, with a very big twinkle! Ugh!
It's midnight when things settle down enough that I go to bed and Alan sits first watch, pressed up against her bed so her legs stay where they belong. (He doesn't want competition again in this house!)
We never made it to second shift.
He called me just a little over an hour later.
We sat with her for a while. Me rubbing her hand, and Alan stroking her head and my back.
She was more peaceful from eleven til heaven than I had seen her in a while. Not worried about things left undone, or love left unexpressed. Just peace.
She never needed her pain medication or her panic medication.
There was no panic, and no obvious pain...just peace, and the slowing breath of life.
She asked me many times over the last two days how long I thought it would take to die.
I didn't know the answer until she was gone, too long for her-not long enough for me.
But, now, there is only the peace. No cancer, no pain, just sweet peace.
The bishop came again. He blessed and prayed over her. Was that to give peace to a soul already enveloped in it, or those of us standing with him?
(You know she just winked when I asked that, don't you?)

Monday, October 5, 2009

Pottery at Shelton Vineyard's Harvest Festival

This weekend is the fourth annual Shelton Vineyards Harvest Festival in Dobson, NC.

We loved this festival so much last year we couldn't wait until harvest time again! Grape vine pieces will be available at our booth this year (amid other designs) as we enjoy a day among the vines.
Live bluegrass music will tickle our ears both days, 45 local artists will dot the hillside above the grandstand, hay rides will be given around the property, face painting and local produce will be available, along with good food. Come sit on the hillside above the music and watch the sun play on the fall leaves on distant hills, and take an evening walk around the lake in crisp fall air.

Free vineyard tours will take place and admission to the festival itself is free!

10% of the vineyards proceeds during the event will benefit
the Foothills Food Pantry.

Join us Saturday and Sunday,
October 10th and 11th!
Check out:

The crowd will be thick, food will be available below the bandstand, but...if you want a special treat...make a reservation at the Harvest Grille for fabulous food (request the back porch by the fireplace if you call early enough!)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

My Mother and My Auntie Jo

This is a picture of my mother and her best friend, my Auntie Jo.

Mom had her first radiation treatment today for breast cancer, after a lumpectomy last month. She's had many back surgeries (not that she will stop or sit still...still) and the position they had her in for surgery sped up the deterioriation of the next disk. So, today she also went in for and MRI to prepare her for another possible surgery.

In the meantime, two and a half hours away, my Auntie Jo is dying of liver cancer. Last week we all thought we would lose her, this week she's fighting a tought fight. There is much to be done, paperwork and doctors visits, possible procedures, closing a business, ridding her life of forty years of stock built up in her floral business. But, Mom can't be with her best friend to help. So, I'm happily the substitute. I get the benefit of seeing Jo still (she was another one who wouldn't stop or sit still). I'd rather she was well and still running everything around her, but it's a blessing just to help her and show a little of the love she always showed to those around her. And, it's also a blessing to have her still enough to hear the stories that never had time to spill from her lips - family history, lost loves, first big jobs, college and stories of days spent with my mom. What wonderful women, wouldn't life be wonderful if we could keep them around forever.

Still, I can only imagine the trouble the two most beautiful women in the world got into when unsupervised by us children! A good thing they have a bunch of us around to keep them in line.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Pottery At Statesville Art Crawl Friday Night

This Friday night is the second Art Crawl of the season for the Iredell County Arts Council and the Downtown Statesville Development Corporation, held from 5:30 until 8:30 . The pieces above will be available at GG's Gallery and Gifts on Broad Street, along with many others. And I hope to be there as well to meet local art collectors and avid downtown supporters in Statesville.

This is the closest art gallery to my home, I display in it and I love to support and assist in its growth. Many state conventions have been held lately in this area deciding the fate of this beautiful downtown. It's not enough that major motion pictures featuring George Clooney and Rene Zellweger have been filmed here. Or that the United States once ended here (Third Creek) in our beautiful county - yes, on the maps it ended here. History moves on. But, this gorgeous downtown remains a hub to those of us who love it, and its history. We can see the past and the possibility - in one glance.

We can't support art crawls each month like so many of the downtown areas I display in...but, you better believe, the heart behind this evening - if only held twice per year - is strong and more than willing to work through any adversity this community may be faced with. The possibilities here are endless! We truly are the crossroads of America (okay...the east coast).
Join us in celebration of all the talented artists and avid gallery owners, collectors and donors (and even bored citizens looking for a Friday night thrill) that look back at our historical past and forward to our prosperous future and gather to celebrate the now.

Oh, and while you're at it, check out this website: to get information about the downtown historical tours in October ('s a "ghost tour" - but with historical significance, trust me.)
See you Friday night!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Stoneware Communion Set

I just finished unloading the kiln. Almost completely special orders, so nothing fun for me. But, this 9 piece set for the Episcopal Diocese of Delaware, to be used at Camp Arrowhead, is my favorite from this kiln load!

The campground is covered in sassafras trees, according to the director. So, we designed a set of carafes (1 litre each), a set of chalices for intinction (1 1/2 cups each), a set of chalices for communion by mouth ( 1 3/4- 2 cups each) and I impressed and applied leaves from one of my sassafras trees onto each. Then I carved the camp logo into a set of patens and created a lava bowl to match. The chalices are all 8 inches tall and the patens and lava bowl are all 9 1/2 inches in diameter. (Click on the picture above to enlarge it if you would like to see them more clearly.)

I must say, I love this set - it came out of the kiln just gorgeous. I hope they are pleased and it serves them well for many years to come! It is such a blessing to be able to share in communion with people I will never meet (not in this world, anyway)!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Pottery Grape Leaf Series...

I haven't posted in a long while, things have been very hectic here. Between illnesses and the backlog of orders once we returned from vacation, we haven't had much time. So, this is the only new design that has made its way through the whole production process since we've been back. The grape vines and vineyards in Germany and France really made me appreciate what we have here so much more. And so, I've plucked leaves from our grapes and begun a new series and this is my prototype. I don't think I rubbed enough of the glaze back off the vine/handles to get the look I was going for. But, I like the matte black against the natural leaf. And, just one more kiln load to get the rest of the orders finished and then I can fire some of the matching wall pockets and hand built pieces that I've worked up for this series. All are oversized...this first piece is over 16 inches tall, and other vase forms are larger. I think I'm going to like this group!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Wheel Thrown Pottery

Unloading the kiln is so much fun...I love this glaze combination! A pale icy green and deep brown mixing to create all sorts of fun shades! As a matter of fact, I'm going to have a hard time sending this platter to the gallery it was intended for...GG's in Statesville.
The wine goblets are the only pieces not going to Gloria and they will be available this evening at The Smart Gallery in West Jefferson. Join us there for the monthly Gallery Crawl from 5 until 8.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Pottery Place Settings

I've been trying to decide on place setting pieces and color combinations. Both to sell, and for myself. I've narrowed it down to two choices for myself and that I will be producing for sale. One other color combination may be available before the holidays, but for now these two will suffice. So, I will be throwing the five standard pieces shown and mugs in these patterns that can fill in bare spots in the kiln during custom and gallery orders. And hopefully, by Thanksgiving I will decide which set suits my kitchen best and commit to one myself!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Wine Country By Any Other Name....

Well, July is my month for loafing. Not working. First the "Family Fourth", then vacation time took up a chunk of our month. And late last night we returned to voicemails, emails and requests that will take both of us weeks, if not months, to catch up on.

The last 10 days we visited Germany and France. The studio sat cold, the garden and animals watered and fed by others who were fed by them in turn.

And, Alan, Sarah and I enjoyed family time in Europe, along with the wine country in the Alsace region of France and along the Rhine in Germany. For some reason, even away from my home in the middle of two wine appellations in North Carolina (YAPA Valley and Swan Creek), I wound up in two wine areas across the ocean. It wasn't intentional, just within easy travel distance of my sister's home.

Nor was it intentional to find that several villages contained high numbers of potters shops along with those vineyards. Ideas abound, both for throwing and painting. And long walks with my niece, Lauren, in the forest near her home in Kelkhiem, proved fertile ground for new trees and wildlife visions that will be working their way into clay form.

Quaint villages in the Alsace region open up to hillsides of vines above.

And abundant rock walls dotted with ancient castles break up the lines of vineyards along the Rhine.

As much as I enjoyed the hillsides of grapes in these countries, I must say...I love calling North Carolina home. And, nothing rivals the rolling hills, verdant fields and blue skies I came home to!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Nest Full of Hungry Baby Birds

Just back from the mountain house for a long 4th of July weekend. 31 family/friends gathered on Nana and Granpa's hill (only 5 at our house...thank goodness), and a great time was had by all (I think?).

These little fellows were our alarm clock. Mother bird built this nest a while back (during a painting and staining session at the house) and we just let her go. Unfortunately, we had a rainy spring and she made the nest of mud and moss. They look as if they're ready to leave the nest, and once they're gone we'll have to remove the mud and mess easy task from the boxing, but not so from the cedar siding.

Until then, joyful voices and hungry heads peak out from the messy, too small, nest.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Pottery Wedding Communion Sets

Courtney & Michael, your woodland wedding communion set is ready for post and will ship out tomorrow morning!
Just thought I would show everyone else what your chalices look like, as well as new sets for other weddings in Virginia and Kentucky. I hope each wedding is beautiful and blessed!

Blue Pottery Bowls

Wedding season is in full swing! Much of the season, I've been throwing communion sets engraved for the bride and groom, or carved with designs for the wedding. It's an honor to have my work be a small part of weddings all over the country, and a blessing to be able to take part in the communion service of so many.

But, for this local's bowls! Bowls to be filled with local goodies and placed in hotel rooms as a favor. A great idea for any occasion, and a fun project for the potter. Thanks Kati, and mom, Mary!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Watercolor Painting on Pottery Platter

Okay, I had to try it. Ever since I saw the pottery watercolor sets in a catalog I have been dying to give it a shot! So, this morning's kiln presented me with my first watercolor (bravely painted on a 14" platter).

The colors were darker after firing, a bit of a surprise...I would have thought they would burn out and fade a bit. I covered the amaco stoneware watercolors with a clear glaze to make it food safe, and give it a glossy finish. What fun!

Now I have to throw some plates and platters just to play with so I can do some detailed painings! A new direction to explore....

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Weekend Gallery Crawl, West Jefferson

What a fun place West Jefferson has become!

We spent a lovely evening this past Friday at the West Jefferson Gallery Crawl, enjoying artists and art collectors, wine and food, free music and great and old.

Then we went back to the mountain house for the weekend to paint and get things ready to put it on the market. Hmph! Sitting on the front porch swing when the fog rolls in makes us really think twice about selling out!

We bought the place when Sarah was in diapers, she's a rising Sophomore in college. It was Baxter's first experience helping us build a house, he's finished his BS and Masters and is currently working toward his PhD...married with a house of his own that he happily gets to remodel.

The kids grew up on the mountain, spending every spare weekend there and many summers. They built waterfalls in the stream, damned it to form pools, put in a nature trail to hike cleanly down the side of the mountain, canoed, kayaked, hiked, biked and galavanted all over the county.

The new property is in the same county. Just not West Jefferson. Which seems to be the new artsy "hot spot" in the hills. Boone has been taken over by the college kids. Todd (where the new homesite is) is being taken over by the college overflow...and losing a good bit of it's river water to Boone since they've decided to pipe it from the edge of Ashe County back up to Boone to supply their never ending building boon (isn't is smart to keep giving out building permits when you have no water left?).

Anyway, I'm rambling. The new property will be a great place to build a "downsized" empty-nester kind of home. Not so much land, not as much house, smarter use of space and wiser understanding of lifestyle. And, it is within driving distance of West Jefferson, it just doesn't have all of the sentimental baggage we'll miss from the other "hill". And if we build this one right, maybe we can sell the farm down the road and condense everything into one house! Maybe.

Tough job letting go.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Pottery Display and Gallery Crawl

I joined with a new gallery last weekend in West Jefferson, North Carolina. The display is underway and will hopefully be complete in time for the Ashe Arts first Gallery Crawl of the summer arts season! Join us at the Smart Gallery for a fun evening of arts and fellowship. The gallery features photographer - Rex Miller, watercolor artist - Robert Flowers, a fantastic jeweler, wood turner, stained glass artist, potter - Tena Wenta, and much more! It is a beautiful, soothing gallery in West Jefferson's historic downtown, and the place to be June 12th!

Friday, May 22, 2009

New Pottery Display at Smart Gallery

Just picked up a new gallery location in historic downtown West Jefferson:

The Smart Gallery

109 North Jefferson Avenue

New pieces are headed that way in the morning, and I have an exciting plan for a display that will hopefully be ready before the first Art Crawl of the season, June 12th!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Pottery Wine Glasses and Their Kiln Buddies

Most of the requests I get these days are for wine glasses or communion favorite shape and form! I love those requests, otherwise I'd be throwing and building pieces that would take over my studio and home...I just can't seem to stop myself! I love exploring the shape, balance and overall feel of each goblet!

Now and again, kiln
buddies find their way
out of the clay, only to be
matched up with goblets
that need partners and
glazed accordingly.
Goblets have become
that much of an addiction!

These are some of the latest pieces to find their way out of the kiln (at least those not special ordered ahead of time). I missed photographing the larger portion of the goblets, they left home and can be found now at GG's Gallery & Gifts in Statesville, NC, and Buck Shoals Vineyard in Hamptonville. Click on the pictures above for a larger version and let me know what you think!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Pottery Garden Lanterns

I love play days! I've had several in the last few weeks.

One such day, I decided to attempt hanging lanterns similar to the antique glass lanterns my daughter bought a few years back for her bedroom. What a fun project!

I love the results...just need to tweak a few things the next time around, and the next, and I'm sure the next. Never settle, never stop, just play hard!

I love this job!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

One Potter Sees Light at the End of the Tunnel

The lack of business has given my husband, and me, time to reflect on the important things. No, his building business hasn't picked up. Not much work since last November. And not many people are spending money on extras, like pottery. God promised to provide for our needs...not our wants. We are just squeaking by financially, His provision. But, there has been time to take long walks, catch up on maintenance items, train little girls in the community to play soccer and just be together; things we obviously needed much more than a financial cushion. And, now, after one very long winter, spring has arrived. Finally, we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Ah, the warmth of the Son, or sun (depending on how you look at things).
Picture above is my husband, Alan, and our dog, Gabe, during one long walk.
"From darkness into light"

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

I Love Creating Handmade Pottery Wine Goblets!

I haven't posted anything in a while. I've been busy building up stock for galleries. But, now, a kiln of wine favorite. Thankfully, a wedding order sent me on a tangent throwing new goblets, and my mind kept traveling.

So, these are my new favorites (at least for the day)!

My goblets are made of stoneware, wheel thrown in two parts and connected while still damp. Then they are dried for a week or more, bisque fired, glazed and fired again. The process is difficult, even tricky, but when they come through the!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

GGs Gallery and Gifts Pottery Display, Statesville, NC

Okay, I said I would be at GG's for the first Gallery Crawl of the season, (downtown Statesville, NC). Sorry if you looked for me, I had a funeral to attend in Pennsylvania. Totally unexpected.
Instead of visiting with art collectors, I was visiting with family I hadn't seen in years and saying goodbye to my Uncle Allen.

Carol says you all had a wonderful time without me. Glad to hear it. And the display they put together of my pottery looked great (pictured above). I'm glad some of my friends had a great evening of fellowship with them.

Now for the upcoming weekend:
Saturday, March 21st from 10 until 6
The Yadkin Valley Studio and Wine Tour

Be sure to visit Buck Shoals Vineyard (not listed on link above, but open during the event) to see my pottery display on the Swan Creek Wine Trail. New pieces will be added before the event. (Sorry, my studio won't be open - I have two soccer games to coach.) For directions to Buck Shoals hit the link to the right under "Sites I would visit"!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

New Pottery : Lidded Urns & Wine Goblet Trees

It's very hard to work in the studio when your husband is at home. After 26 years of marraige and raising children while he worked 60+ hours a week, we have found ourselves at home together much of the last three months. It makes it very difficult to work when I could be spending time with him (not to mention my studio shares space with his and quiet isn't possible when saws and planers are running). Fortunately, he had time to create some beautiful pieces for our garden and our son and daughter-in-law's new garden, as well as gorgeous cabinetry for the media room. And we got to spend some time hiking with our daughter in the mountains. Not a bad trade-off!

So, here I am, after nearly three months, unloading a kiln full of new pieces, and there is another kiln soon to be fired full of special orders. I think the "break" did wonders for my perspective and I can't wait until the next firing because I love the pieces now drying in the studio.

These new Mossy Bark pieces, along with a new Misty Forest grouping, will be available at GG's Gallery and Gifts in Statesville. Visit us there this Friday night, March 13th from 5:00 until 9:00, for the first Gallery Crawl of the 2009 Arts Season.

Friday, January 9, 2009

New Pottery Glaze Series!!!

Everyone seems to love the Misty Forest Series. Even the Orchard Dawn Series gets a lot of attention. My house just doesn't support those cool blue colors, and maybe some of you have the same issues. Still, I love the mystery and movement I get with those glazes. What to do?

Well, I have been trying for over a year to develop a new glaze series with earth tones (that meets my standards and suits my style). Finally, I think I've got it. So, new for 2009, a glaze series titled "Willow Wind"!

This glaze begins with four or five layers of only two colors of glaze, mixed just the right way to create the look of four or five seperate glazes. Shades of deep chestnut brown, tan, sage, olive and forest green emerge from the kiln the final firing!

As always, I love to make things run, melt and create excitement once they reach prime temperature (and I keep them up there for a while). So, after weeks of air drying, bisque firing and glazing, drying and glazing again... voila. A finished product! Strands of green weeping and waving from the top of a deep brown base. Fantastic, if I do say so myself!

And, now available at a new location...GG's Gifts (formerly The Frame Gallery)of downtown Statesville (Broad Street). If you are in the area, come in and see!
If not, check the Little Bear Clayworks webshop link at the right (or visit one of the other retail locations in North Carolina).