Life’s ponderings

Thank you for a great season!

 

My cellar studio is not conducive to productivity in this arctic (artic?) cold. Hence, I am comfortably sitting by the fire and reflecting on this past season and, thanks to many new and old customers, thinking ahead to many more seasons. A warm feeling overcame me on Christmas Eve– I thought about all the people in the holiday season opening a gift and receiving a piece of Fat Robin Pottery vintage lace impressed pottery for the first time…It became clear it was worth every second of the long hours spent in the studio creating.

 

The highlight of the craft shows? Watching total strangers walk up to my table/booth with a wondering look that read “give me time to think” as they looked at my wares for the first time. And a memory surfaced for them….my mother’s lace doily … and if I saw they needed help with their memory I showed them a doily….and the transformation on their face when they completed that memory and told me of a grandmother or aunt with similar lace in their possession was wonderful. One customer made the statement “you make the past come to life in your work.” And that comment hit the nail on the head…respect for the past and the women who created these doilies/lace and preserving these memories.

 

People are happy to suggest ETSY for a selling platform for my work….it won’t work for me—I can’t see the customers faces as they see my work…. And that means everything to me….

 

Thanks for a great season—I have lots of ideas to explore and I won’t dissappoint you!  Maggie

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Change is in the air….

This has been a summer of transition on the home front, as a daughter moved into her own home leaving an empty bedroom…. 2 empty bedrooms to be exact, which then involved painting, and that cleaning fervor led to other rooms. Much time was spent sorting old paper, possessions, books, emptying boxes in all rooms of the house and reliving memories for my husband and I….it was time well spent.

In one old file was my job resume from the late 1970’s.   Since then I have had many jobs and raised children, so I strayed far from that original resume…. the best part of reading that resume was my objective …”to design, develop and manage my own business using personal skills and the talents and creativity of fellow craftspeople and artists…” I didn’t even know clay existed back then! But all my jobs, life experiences, travel, people connections, in the interim have brought me back to my original objective…..it only took 30 years plus to bring me full circle to my original intentions! Looking forward to many more revelations in the coming year….

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Sunshine Update!

The sun is shining! Happy June 1!

A lot has transpired the past few months while I was in hibernation…. With the kiln in winter mode, the cold months were a time for a fun project-the annual Fakes and Forgeries show at Spring Bull Gallery in Newport…my entry was a clay replica of “The Great Wave” by Mr. Hokusai After the show opening, I noticed a red dot and a lovely gray “most original” ribbon on my piece…happy clay lady. March was my annual MN visit for quality mother/daughter time….and a chance to shop antique malls for vintage lace (happily I hit the mother lode!)   March also began my enrollment in a class at South County Art Association taught by the clay hand building guru of RI, Anna Highsmith.. Perfecting techniques, exploring, learning, practicing, and playing gave me a change to create new forms and strengthen previous designs, all perfect for vintage lace imprint….very happy with new shapes and ideas….

Which brings me to June! June finds me cleaning, purging, and getting ready for my summer production mode of pottery for fairs this fall…. I will have a table of test pieces, seconds, and other items that need a new home, (i.e. yours) at the Community yard, art, and craft sale at the Portsmouth Arts Guild , Saturday, June 10 from 9 to 3…. All part of my clay cycle–making room for new clay fun and inventory….enjoy this sunshine!

      

  

 

 

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Old Mother Hubbard

The Spring Bull Gallery in Newport’s upcoming show is The Art of Food – the perfect venue for my hubbard squash bowls….fortunately, I was able to purchase the last hubbard squash of the season at DeCastro’s Farm Stand in Portsmouth. This squash bowl edition of mine combines my love of vintage lace on clay, draped over a hubbard squash; this leaves a great lace impression on the inside of the bowl, and the nubbly squash texture with organic glaze qualities on the outside of the bowl.

As I filled out the show entry form at Spring Bull Gallery, I had to give the bowl a name….Vintage Hubbard.   And then I realized, this gives Old Mother Hubbard a whole new meaning. Once home, being a lifelong learner, I quickly googled “Old Mother Hubbard Nursery Rhyme” and learned its political connections! Your lesson of the day is as follows ….” Old Mother Hubbard – In the 16th century in England, The Old Mother Hubbard rhyme allegedly refers to Cardinal Thomas Wolsey and his unsuccessful attempt to get an annulment for King Henry VIII. Old Mother Hubbard is Cardinal Wolsey. The cupboard is the Catholic Church. The doggie is Henry VIII. The bone is the annulment Henry wanted in order to end his marriage to Katherine of Aragon. (this is the condensed version—lots more information and all the verses for you history buffs online…)

After all these years, I am so relieved there is no hungry senior citizen with her hungry dog! But to fuel your art hunger, there is a great show, the Art of Food, at Spring Bull Gallery in Newport.

(Of course I couldn’t make one bowl, I made three bowls….just in case….the first bowl is the entry…)

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Quahogs vs. Sea Clams

I stand corrected (it’s okay—I’m a lifelong learner!) A longtime customer politely pointed out to me that the shells I use to mold what I am calling my “quahog” dishes, are really sea clams, not quahogs. Sea clams are large, and quahogs are smaller and lined with the shades of purple..Therefore, I would like to inform my customers that I have an ample supply of Vintage Lace Impressed Sea Clam (formerly quahog) dishes if you need a gift for any homesick, currently out of state Rhode Islanders!

Many thanks to all who stopped by at the recent Fat Robin Pottery open house….the pottery display will remain set up in my garage for the next few weeks; if you’d like to stop by to shop—just get in touch!  Happy to offer a wide selection of lace inspired pottery, ornaments, pit fired pots and votives, mugs, bowls, and other one of a kind items…..

“As we struggle with shopping lists and invitations, compounded by December’s bad weather, it is good to be reminded that there are people in our lives who are worth this aggravation, and people to whom we are worth the same.”   (  – Donald E. Westlake)   Best Wishes!

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Holiday 2016 Ornaments are ready!

Stringing/embellishing ornaments is a daily activity as I get ready for the Unique Boutique Artisan Fair this weekend (November 12 and 13) at the Easton’s Beach Rotunda in Newport.   Also on my table will be my varied assortment of vintage lace impressed mini bowls, trays, and assorted shapes (including the quahog) I have enjoyed making spoon holders with sunflower leaves from my garden and fern impressed trinket dishes and trays from local ferns.

Next week my wares will be transported to South County Art Association in Kingston for their 46th Annual Holiday Show from November 25 to December 18…. More than 50 member potters and crafts people have their crafts artfully displayed for holiday shopping.

Thanksgiving week will be a busy one as I am hosting my extended family Thanksgiving dinner for the first time ever in Newport! Grateful for the help of family (both daughters!) and delighted to take a turn; therefore, I am not actively taking part in any fairs on Friday and Saturday of that weekend…however, the week ends on Sunday with a table of Fat Robin Pottery at the Hibernian Pop up sale at the Hibernian Hall on Wellington Ave in Newport.   The following week, Friday, December 2, I will have a table at the Newport Auxiliary Fair in the atrium at Newport Hospital; the week ends with a Fat Robin Pottery open house on Sunday….. phew…perhaps then I’ll give my kiln a chance to cool!

Thank you in advance for supporting any local artisan or craftsperson and shopping “small” and local; there are many chances to do so in Newport on Thanksgiving weekend, including the Newport Art Museum ‘s Faculty and Student Arts and Crafts Sale, the Potters of Newport County Sale at the Elks, and the Pop Up Sale at the Hibernian on Sunday. May you have a happy and memorable holiday season! Hopefully  Fat Robin Pottery can help you with any of your holiday gift giving needs! Looking forward to seeing new faces, happy regular customers, and old friends  at my tables this season!

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Energizing Fall Air!

This cool crisp air has me settling in nicely to a fall routine of creating pieces for holiday selling. The summer was spent exploring , practicing, and fine tuning my pottery….I also looked for new ways to decorate with leaves and trees and shopped and searched for new vintage lace doily patterns.   I spent time thinking about object sizes (i.e. how many items can I fit on a kiln shelf if I make it a bit smaller) and simplifying designs/shapes so I can keep price points in my range. Remembering this clay obsession is just a hobby, I am learning to be more productive in the time allotted. And then passing a happy and proud product to the buyer–you! Then you, in turn, appreciate local crafts and arts and continue to shop local. A good cycle.

While exploring and playing in clay I entered a few gallery shows and also learned a new technique called zentangle….I love the spontaneity of organized doodling! I also had the honor of pressing a few friends’ babies toes and handprints into clay and making mementos for them.

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A good summer—my mind is clear and content, and happy to back at my role as the Fat Robin Potter! Hope to see you soon—open daily by appointment, just get in touch… Maggie

 

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A Walk Amongst Old Friends

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This is the maple tree lined dirt road that leads to my brother’s summer cabin in a remote area of the Berkshires that I walked the first time Memorial Day weekend.   Although I had never previously been there, the trees felt strangely familiar and very comforting, like old friends.  How do I know? I’ve been decorating my pottery with these trees for years and what a relief it was to finally experience what my brain has been visualizing all these years….now I know what trees (or old friends) are calling me; I just have to figure out why!   Tree conversations in my pottery—a new language….does anyone speak “tree”? Looking forward to many more conversations with old friends….

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Back to Clay Mode

I’ve rested and travelled and learned and read and shopped and am now excitedly back in clay mode.  My Minnesota visit with my daughter gave me time to shop the antique malls for new lace doilies to press into new platters and trays and bowls and new shapes.  Currently taking a surface decorating class at South County Art Association (thank you, Anna) which will give me time to rethink and to refine current designs.    And as the muddy fields dry, the fire pit calls!  Spring 2016 brings new enthusiasm, new ideas, and a happy mojo to my work.  Currently loading a bisque kiln filled with lace doily imprinted clay–trays, bowls, oblongs, ovals–experimenting with all shapes and sizes.  I’ll have lots to share!

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Back in a week

The kiln is cool, the work table is clean,  all clay items have been bisqued, and the studio will be quiet for a week.  Time for a change of pace to invigorate the mind, although the thought of clay never seems to leave.  While spending time in Boston this week, I will be visiting the Massachusetts Historical Society.  Seven years ago, while working as a para in a 5th grade classroom that was studying the Civil War, I tracked down a distant cousin in AZ that I knew had information about ancestors who fought in the war.  We became pen pals as she shared family history.  It turned out the person she has the most information about was the great great grandmother I was named after and her brother who had enlisted in the Civil War.  After months of correspondence, my husband and I decided to visit her in Tucson, AZ.  By the end of the visit, not only had she shared much family history, but she gave me my great great grandmother’s wedding dress that had been preserved nicely in the dry AZ climate.  In addition, she gave me the letters my great great grandmother had received from her brother in the Civil War, written in about 1861.  My great great grandmother and family had lived in the Braintree, MA area.

Upon arrival home to Newport, RI, I realized the wedding dress would not survive in the damp seaside climate, so i had it cleaned and stabilized at Museum Textile Services.  I then donated the dress to the University of Rhode Island Textile Conservation Program.  Their facility is climate controlled and much about the 1860’s could be learned from the dress.  The Civil War letters remained safe in a file in box at home, always on my “how to preserve it safely”  to-do list, until now.  Realizing I would be in Boston next week, I contacted the Massachusetts Historical Society and asked if they would accept a donation of these letters, by a Braintree, MA soldier, for their Civil War collection.  A reply to my email came within 5 minutes–Yes!  So this week I will finally get these fragile letters into the proper preservationists hands so they may be shared for many more years.

Wonder what else I can cross off my to-do list this week?

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