These latest soap dishes are currently on sale at Northern Grade, a wonderful store in New York City that carries all American-made goods, including my tea towels and pillows. I find that soap dishes make great gifts so I’ll be making another batch to include in my shop, so check back soon.
Lots of Soap Dishes
pottery passion: my necessary hobby
A handmade life makes me more connected to the pieces (and people) around me — and it means I’m always learning something new about my craft, my home — and myself
Once a week I go to Hudson Valley Pottery to make things out of clay. I do this for one reason: I love it. I also have other more intellectual reasons: it informs my work, I am challenging myself to expand my skill-set, it keeps my creative mind sharp – all true. But the deeper and more mysterious truth is that when I am making something out of clay all my daily stresses move to the side and politely wait for me to finish. The experience is like being absorbed in the present moment, alone with creative intention, living in the “zone.”
Not to get on a metaphysical tangent, but I call it mysterious because I don’t know why this happens – feeling all connected to the Universe, that is.
I first thought it was a result of the singular focus on something. But then why don’t I feel that connection when I’m singularly focused on changing Lars’ diaper or cleaning food-goo off the floor?
I’ve decided that it must have something to do with the act of creating, and the act of creating must have something to do with feeling connected to really big Universal things like Spirit – or can I even say God?
But wait, there is one other fundamental element that has to present too: I have to be creating for the act of creating. Not for money, fame or adoration. How weird (and inconvenient) is that? As soon as I start thinking about what product is going to launch me to stardom, I’m basically f%#cked. To feel connected I have to make something with absolutely no desired outcome – I have to let the material tell me where to go. And this seems to be really easy with clay.
So back to justifying my weekly pottery class. I spent many hours asking myself if this mysterious, metaphysical, Universe-communing creative time was worth it. It’s not, after all, my “work” and has no financial value. Let’s be real – it’s a hobby. More importantly, I would be giving up valuable family time with my son and husband. I would be missing adorable moments of discovery like learning the difference between a backhoe loader and a combine harvester, or saying a new word like “poopy-butt”.
I debated with myself endlessly, then finally discussed it with my husband who came to the conclusion that “a happy wife is a happy life.” So, with his blessing I gave myself this weekly creative gift.
And I know that it’s making me a better mother and wife: I’m more present and connected when I am with my family, I’m less distracted and more involved in the creative act of parenting, I miss my family more when I’m away and enjoy my family more when I’m at home.
And this makes us all happy.
monochrome experiment for pottery
When I first signed up for a pottery class in my town I thought it would be exciting and fun to play with clay. But I quickly got frustrated with being a beginner – pots flew off the wheel, glazes came out looking muddy or pale, and everything I made reminded me of my early creations as an eight year old that were relegated to ashtrays by my chain-smoking step-father. You know the ones – clay blobs with a finger-sized hole in the middle.
I was ready to give up. Throw in the shammy. Stick to what I already know. Stop trying to learn new tricks.
HAVING A LIMITATION ACTUALLY OPENS UP MORE POSSIBILITIES AND GIVES A DEEPER UNDERSTANDING OF THE MATERIAL
And then my teacher Robert Hessler, in his infinite wisdom, told me to narrow my focus: hone my skills and clarify my aesthetic. As a result I am only making black and white pots. How could he have known that this challenge would sing to my monochromatic soul? Don’t misunderstand me, I love color – just in measure. Especially in my own home where too much color feels like clutter. And clutter makes me edgy. Just ask my husband who would love me to stop “pile-shifting.” But this is way off topic.
I glazed my first black and white “experiment” on a shallow slab pot. And it looks really great. Which made me realize that limitations are good for me – I have to dig deeper into what is possible with less at hand. Which leads to more discovery. And hopefully to better looking pots.
pottery passion: my speckled dish
This is one of the first “successful” pieces I made (because it doesn’t look butt-ugly) and I’m pretty darn proud of it. I’ve given it a prominent and stately home-base on our coffee-table, which, as a side note, is an amazing piece of furniture that I picked up at Brimfield – the biggest and best Flea Market ever – and was made from the flooring of a closed GM plant where they put together cars. I figured that if it could handle tons in weight of steel being bashed on it through multiple decades, it just might survive the toddler years of my son.
Anyhow, I am always trying to reclaim my beautiful and functional coffee-table/factory floor as a grown-up space.
In all fairness, it does make a better landing pad for crane trucks and excavators than for my handmade housewares and pretty coffee table books. Silly me.
Back to my beautiful speckled shallow dish: isn’t it beautiful? And even better, it’s made by hand. By me. And that makes me all warm and fuzzy inside. Because nothing is better than handmade.