Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Taking the Summer Off


As an artist and mother, I’ve always worked year round with an occasional family vacation. And believe me I full intended to keep on, keeping on regardless of the changes in my life. In fact, I can get very stubborn about sticking to my work schedule which I’ve developed over the last 20 years. 

But now, I just can’t. 

Life changes and losses have hit me hard, leaving me feeling overwhelmed. Unresolved grief is sapping my energy. The more I fight it, the harder it is. Finally, I figured out forcing myself to keep marching ahead is just not working. 

Time to chill. 

As the traditional school year winds down, I started to remember my childhood summers. I biked to the woods and rested under trees. I read outside on the neighbors covered patio. I splashed in the community pool and played hide and seek after dinner until it got dark. 

I think the key words here: Play and Rest. 

While I love creating in clay and paint and glaze, my goal is to make work that sells. And I’ve been showing and selling my work for over 20 years now. Yes, my work has changed and so have I. When mentioned that to a fellow artist, she said that art is supposed to evolve. I felt a weight lifted. 

A balance of work and play and rest. Yes. 

There’s always something that needs to be done, but do I have to do it right now? Probably not. And has my creative work become less fun? Probably yes, because it’s become work. With all the life changes of the past 3 years, I’m exhausted.  I need time to feel the losses. Feel the sadness and tiredness. Find ways to heal and fill my soul again. 

And as much as I want to feel better fast, the more I push, the worse it gets. I can feel that what I need to feel better is to stop pushing myself. I need to slow down. But I know myself and doing nothing is not the way out either. 

The other day, the 3 C’s came to me. Three things I can do: crochet, clay and cleaning. Crochet is easy and comforting. Clay, now for play only, helps to feed my soul. And cleaning helps to clear my mind and my home of cobwebs. 

A summer to rest. 

Let myself live easier. 

Breath by breath. Step by step. 

Doing things that comfort and clear. 

And bring more ways for me to play. 

Wednesday, May 3, 2023

Show and Tell


Last weekend, I was a small part of a very big show at the Oregon Convention Center. The Oregon Potters Association Ceramic Showcase has been helping clay artists sell their work for 40 years. I am glad and grateful to be able to show and sell my work in this show. 

Before I ever threw a bowl, built a vase or made a mask, I went to this show. I remember being in one of their very first shows at the World Forestry Center with my husband and baby. I walked around marveling at all the wonderful work. I never imagined I’d ever make anything out of clay, much less be part of a ceramics show. 

Art, like life, evolves. 

As a teenager, I rebelled against more math classes and decided to take an art class. I liked it. Even though I wasn’t very good at it, I kept going: drawing, calligraphy and watercolor. The first class I took in clay was a total failure. 

I took more classes as an adult in painting, pastel and fiber art. I made masks out of window screening and clay. I showed mixed media work in copper and clay. Then one day, a very kind man, gave me his kiln and wheel. Several years of classes later, I was throwing bowls and mugs and firing vases and sculptures. 

Thirty years later, I’m showing my ceramic work as a member of the group that inspired me. The Oregon Potters Association. 

Keep on keeping on. 

It’s easy to give up. I know. There have been many times when no matter how hard I worked, things just didn’t work out. But(ok you knew there’d be a ‘but’) I have a stubborn streak or dumb luck, that kicks me into gear. And I keep going and sometimes get a chance to turn my failures around. 

Packing up for the show took days. Setting up and taking down took hours. I did my work shifts and had some wonderful and fun conversations with other artists. Hearing their stories helped me see the process of art and life can be both bumpy and beautiful. 


Show set up and take down is a work out. 

But getting myself out there is worth it. 

Not just for the sales, 

But to hear other artists tell their art stories. 

Friday, April 14, 2023

Clay Therapy

Most of my work, I do alone.  Throwing. Rolling. Pinching. Painting. Glazing. I love working in my studio and getting my hands into clay. No matter what I’m feeling or thinking, clay helps clear my mind, body and soul. 

With the recent life changes in my world and all the anxiety, I’ve needed my clay even more. There’s nothing like wedging a big piece of clay to relieve my stress. I laughingly call it, clay therapy. And I’m not alone. I saw a recent post about how there are things in soil that actually relieve depression and calm anxiety. 

Here’s what I found when I googled it: “Mycobacterium vaccae is the substance under study and has indeed been found to mirror the effect on neurons that drugs like Prozac provide. The bacterium is found in soil and may stimulate serotonin production, which makes you relaxed and happier.”

Figuring out new figures. 

I’ve done sculptures and masks in clay for many years. Lately, I’ve been experimenting with smaller figures and animals in a more abstract way. I’m leaning into the form or shapes rather than exacting detail. 

The new animal ideas are silly. 

But the new people feel both ancient and contemporary. 

New clay. 

For years, I’ve used a  porcelain clay for hand-building. It’s a nice, smooth, white clay but it needs gentle treatment. It has to be wrapped up to dry slowly and it cracks even under the best of circumstances. That means I lose pieces I’ve spent a lot of time making. Here are 5 of the new sculptures that didn’t crack.  

So I’m trying out a new clay that might be more sculpture friendly. But, I’m not sure I want to be friends. This clay is heavy and dense. It’s not pure white. And it feels sticky. The figures need to dry, so I don’t know how they will turn out. Luckily it will be worth the wait. 

Until then, I’ll keep playing with the new and old clay.

Wedging. Slapping. Rolling.

Easing my nerves  

Letting it help me move from then into now. 

Saturday, April 1, 2023

April Showers and Flowers

Looking out the window today, I see rain, hail, sun and the splat of snowflakes. Then the sky clears and blue appears overhead like a reminder that bad weather, like life troubles, are temporary. And eventually the sun does shine again. 

This week, I took pictures of new vases and sold a leaf plate on Etsy. I’m grateful that I get to work with clay and see my creations find their way into someone else’s home. 

Taking my best shot. 

In the beginning, I paid a professional photographer to take pictures of my work. He set up the lights, backdrop and decided on the camera angle. So taking pictures of my own work took work to figure it out. It’s still not my comfort zone. I always doubt myself and my ability to do it right. 

But what I’ve found through trial and error is, it’s more important to use natural light. I want to show the piece at every angle. And capture the true colors and textures of each piece. When someone looks at my pieces online, I want them to see the real piece. Not dramatic lighting or special effects. I want them to really see how a piece would look in their own home. 

Time to rise above. 

This week, another big challenge for me was to rise above my fears about how my life is changing. My husband and I have been forced into a new life chapter. Like the camera I was using, I needed to focus on what is real, good and true. I am here. I am healthy. I am working in clay that I love. 

I can fill my vases with bright spring flowers. And make silly clay animals. 

Life might throw us unexpected changes. 

Like rain, hail and snow, seasons come and go. 

All we can do is breathe 

And wait for the sky to change and the flowers to bloom again. 

Monday, March 20, 2023

Life Changes. Again.


Three years ago, I had no idea how much life would change. Did you? 

In 2020, my husband went from working downtown to working in an upstairs bedroom. My daughter, son-in-law, baby and two cats moved into the other upstairs bedroom. On any given day, there was someone working or sleeping in every room in the house. 

The next year, my house flooded because of a faulty water valve installation. We had to move into a hotel for 3 months. Our belongings were packed up and put in storage while the entire downstairs was demolished and slowly rebuilt. It took a year to finally get everything completed, unpacked and livable again. 

This year, the change came just as unexpectedly when my husband was laid off from his job of 13 years. Just when we thought everything was normal again, it wasn’t. 

Wheels keep on turning. Anyway. 

After the shock and disbelief, what do you do? What can any of us do? We do the only thing we can do, put one foot in front of the other and keep going. The only way I’ve kept rolling through all this change is clay. Wedging clay is a work out, physically and emotionally. Every time I slapped that clay down, my mood lifted a little.  

Here’s what the slab is turning into: the beginnings of a new landscape idea. 

Clay changes too. 

There are many steps and elements that go into making the clay I use but it comes from the earth we all walk on. It’s just mud, really. But after I wedge it or throw it or roll it or pinch it, it becomes something different. 

A lily vase and luminaires. 

Little dogs. 

A sunset platter. 

Each phase changes the clay.

It goes from mud to something beautiful.  

Just like the phases of our lives, change us. 

Hopefully, we can be like mud, and change into something more beautiful, too. 

Monday, February 27, 2023


While my word of the year is still, enjoy, new words are popping up all around me. These three words came from  a wonderful free, online gathering with Tara Mohr. Reclaim. Restore. Reimagine. I felt an instant connection with all three. 

And at first, I focused on reimagine as a way to get myself back on the creative track. But it didn’t seem to work. The harder I tried to ‘reimagine’ the further away things seemed. I journaled and doodled and crocheted, but my imagining got me nowhere. 

Giving in isn’t giving up. 

I knew what I had to do: give in. Trying and pushing and thinking was not the way to get my creative train moving. So I gave up. I stopped pushing. I gave up trying. And although, it’s really  hard for me to not do it, I didn’t think through everything around me. 

I stared out the window. I watched the snow fall and the sky change and the day move. And I got it. Just by looking across the room at the wall. 

What’s in the word restore?


The word REST. Yup. Duh. Hello? What I really needed to get my creative juices moving? REST! And then, to wait for the ORE, which is defined as the metal substance that lies within a rock. Gold is an example of an ore. What is gold? Precious metal that lies hidden within a rough, hard surface. And it takes time for it to change into gold. 

I had to laugh. And then, I reprinted the word like this: REST ore. 

Laughing and moving on. 

Sometimes, I just don’t see what’s right in front of me. But as I once told my kids when they were pointing out the obvious problem in a friends life: it’s always easy to see the forest for the trees in someone else’s forest. 

Suddenly, I had energy. I knew what I wanted to do next. So I got out my sandpaper and wax and got those Lily vases on my shelf ready for glazing. Then the next day, I woke up energized and ready to glaze.

Next thing I knew, the kiln was full and ready to fire. Voila. 

New Lily Vases.  New Luminaires.  New ‘Wish’ Bowls 

I’m glad I saw the trees, finally. And all it took, was time to RESTore. Try it and see for yourself. 

Sunday, February 19, 2023

Red Roses. White Tulips. And chocolate.


I love roses. The way they smell: spicy, earth, sweet. The colors: pink, white, red, yellow and even purple. The variety: long stemmed, miniature, bushy or tall. I’ve grown Peace Roses, Queen Elizabeth, even one named after Audrey Hepburn. They are all beautiful. 

My sweet husband knows this and always makes sure I have some for Valentine’s Day. I’m a very lucky woman, I know. 

Lily Vases and roses. 

I am so happy I get to play with clay. While I’m so grateful to all the people who buy my work, I’m also happy to be able to use it myself. On Valentine’s Day, I got to fill my Lily vases and many other vases with beautiful red roses and white tulips. 

Again, thanks to my love. 

Cookies and brownies.

Last year, without a good kitchen, we didn’t and couldn’t bake. And we both love cooking and baking. So this Valentine’s Day, we spent part of the day doing what we love to do together: baking. 

My husband made his favorite and famous Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies. And I made my favorite recipe, Katherine Hepburn’s Brownies. 

We had our challenges with a new mircowave settings, uneven oven temperatures, and a pan spray that didn’t work well. But eating the mistakes was delicious. Best of all, we have more than enough to bring sweet surprises to both of our ‘kids’ as a surprise Valentine’s gift. 

All of this definitely fits this years word: Enjoy! 

I hope you found ways to enjoy the day, too. 

Love comes in many forms. 

Hoping yours was sweet.