Fairy Magic by Teresa Wooden

Following a sheep trail through the Fairy Hills, Isle of Skye, Scotland.

Following a sheep trail through the Fairy Hills, Isle of Skye, Scotland.

I've just returned from the Fairy Realm.  At least, that's how it seems.   We went on a bucket-list trip to Scotland at the end of June.  Scotland is a land drenched in history and natural beauty, and the green hills, forest paths and friendly people have found a place in my heart and in my dreams.

The best part of the trip, however, was spending two days on the Isle of Skye, on the western coast of Scotland.  Here we hiked through the most stunning landscapes I have ever seen.  Imagine walking into the world of Lord of the Rings, complete with magical places like "Fairy Glens", "Fairy Pools", and "Fairy Hills".  All of these were hiking destinations, through hills and plateaus so green that they seemed to glow with other-worldly energy.  Waterfalls, mountain streams, vast expanses of open plains and mountainsides...It was a once-in-a-lifetime trip.

Each time I've visited abroad, I've returned with ideas and pictures in my mind that find their way into my work.  When we went to Italy, my pot shapes and sgraffito designs were influenced by the ancient Etruscan ceramics I studied there.  When we returned from Ireland, the sprials and runes of the prehistoric solstice tombs (especially the Newgrange tomb) became part of my carving vocabulary.

I am waiting to see how Scotland will settle into my creative thought process.  There were sheep everywhere scattered across the landscape like snowflakes on the hills.  I raised sheep once, and love them...I know I will be sketching/painting/carving them in the near future.  The vegetation was all ferns and foxgloves, lupines and birch/spruce forests...already I have begun to carve foxgloves and ferns into the story jars which I made and wrapped tightly before I left.  We stayed in a stone cottage built in the early 1800's, a former farm dwelling on the banks of Loch Ness; perhaps I'll start adding some houses and human characters to my designs.  Although we didn't see "Nessie", I can imagine how she looks.  Even she may show up on a post-Scotland pot.  One never knows.

For now I'm still basking in the glow of a magical spell, surely cast upon me by a fairy in the Glen...to leave a piece of my heart in a faraway land with the waterfalls and the red deer.

The Old Man of Storr,  a naturally occurring standing rock formation on the Isle of Skye, Scotland.
Ferns and Foxgloves, Isle of Skye.

Energy and Orioles by Teresa Wooden

The boxing hare from last month's post came through the woodfire and watched over the Open Studio crowd.

The boxing hare from last month's post came through the woodfire and watched over the Open Studio crowd.

In the garden on the roof.

In the garden on the roof.

View from the roof garden overlooking the studio and pond during the Studio Tour.

View from the roof garden overlooking the studio and pond during the Studio Tour.

The beginning of June finds me in an exhausted heap after the completion of our first annual open studio here in Michigan.  In early February, a small group of artists connected and decided to work together to create a new art tour, the Artz and Gardenz Studio Tour, here in the tourist area of Saugatuck, Holland and closely surrounding area.  I'm happy to report that it was a huge success!  We were blown away by the turnout on a perfectly beautiful Mothers' Day weekend!  My studio was open here, as well as our garden on the roof of our underground home.  We also had neighbors, Kay and Lee VerSchure selling their beautiful garden plants and herbs just outside the studio entrance.  People wandered all over the yard and gardens, bought lots of pottery, and picked up some early garden plants as well.  If the attendance this year was the baseline for the development of the tour, then I think it might become something big in the coming years;  provided that it doesn't pour rain during the weekend, of course...that would kind of kill the garden wandering aspect.  But I am thankful, joyful and excited to see where it leads.

Next thing up is my return to the world of art fairs.  I've had trouble getting much work produced following the art tour.  It seemed to sap my energy.  But I do have some new work and some more in progress, so this weekend we will head out to Kalamazoo, MI.  Bob has been busy revamping my display, and I am scrubbing down the tent walls and canopy today and hanging them to dry.  Lots to do...pricing and packing pottery, collecting all the lighting/display/packaging supplies, triple-checking the double-checked checklist so I won't forget anything.  Going to an art fair is like camping for the weekend, but your tent has to look like a living room.  It's tough work, but I am looking forward to meeting lots of new patrons and fellow artists.

Here at the studio the days are finally sunny and breezy and the gardens are blooming.  The windows are open so that I can hear all the birdsong from the surrounding woods.  Just last week I found an oriole's nest, a silver-grey silken basket, hanging just outside the entrance to the studio.  I'm gonna' take that as a good omen.  It's going to be a great year.

All the best.  

Teresa 

Flame, Ash, and Expectations by Teresa Wooden

As I write this, the rain is pouring down on the metal roof of my studio and there is a chill in the air.  We managed to plant a few trees yesterday in the drizzle, but it leaves me wondering what happened to spring...I swear it was here.  But hey, at least it's not snowing...I'll take it.

Friend and potter Mike Taylor fired his wood kiln ("Seraphina") this weekend, and I was lucky enough to get a few animal sculptures and some saki cups into the firing.  The photo here shows them drying on my kiln before taking them over to Mike's to glaze and load.

Every potter needs to fire a wood kiln at least once if they get the chance.  There is such a primal connection to the fire, the smoke, and the ancient process...raw clay from the earth being bathed in flames and ash.  Stoking the fire and watching it so carefully, around the clock for two days or more, coaxing the temperature to rise just enough, not too slow, not too fast.  Standing in the warmth from the kiln when the frost is forming on the grass, watching the sun go down (or watching it come up); hot cup of coffee, quiet conversations, stories told, laughter.  Anxiously waiting...watching...tending...encouraging.  Helping this great smoking beast as if it is in labor, it's belly full of the ideas and creations of many hands.  Unblocking the door a week later after a long cooling rest, anxious for the first sight of the offspring of the fire.  Carrying them out so carefully, presenting them to waiting eyes, cradling them in eager hands and studying each mark, spot and splash.

Seems such a fitting way to begin the month of May, when we celebrate motherhood.  Mike's kiln opening is open to the public on Saturday, May 6th (www.westmichiganclay.com).  Come see how these little hares, birds and the fox turn out!  Assuming Seraphina and the fates are kind, they'll be available in the studio here during the Artz and Gardenz Studio Tour on Mothers' Day Weekend, May 13th and 14th.

Maybe Spring will even decide to come back home by then!  Cheers to all.  

Standing in the Wind by Teresa Wooden

bonzai_planters

March has come in like a lion and the wind is gusting so hard outside that it makes the studio windows rattle.  I walked in the woods with the dogs today, and nearly ducked back inside.  If I stood in just the right spot, though, I could feel the sunshine and hear Spring whispering in the tree branches..."Not long now...".

Author William Arthur Ward once said, "The pessimist complains about the wind, the optimist expects it to change, and the realist adjusts the sails."  As I spent the last few weeks researching and applying to art fairs I've tried to decide if I'm a pessimist or an optimist.  Artists aren't doing so well at art fairs anymore...the economy has everyone tightening their purse strings and art can be seen as a luxury item.  But there is always the hope that if you pack all your work into a trailer, drive a few hours or days, dump it all out in a ten by ten spot and stand around in all kinds of weather for two or three days...someone is going to fall in love with it and buy it.

As a realist, I decided to not to put all my eggs in one basket, and have been putting my energy into getting a new local art fair started for this spring.  From a small idea that I shared with a few new friends, the concept has caught on and we now have a small band of local artists who are working to organize and execute the new "Artz and Gardenz Art Tour" in the Holland, Saugatuck/Douglas and Hamilton area of Michigan on May 13th and 14th (Mothers' Day weekend).  I have to admit that I had no idea how much time and effort it would take to pull all the elements together, but it seems to be taking shape now and I am so excited to see it happen!  Six studios and a lavender farm will be open so that people can see both the artists' workspaces and also their personal gardens and outer spaces.  We will even have some professional growers offering garden and nursery plants to get a jump on spring.  I just completed work on the tour website, and you can find it at www.artzandgardenz.com .  

Since gardening is the theme, I've been working on some planters and garden items for the open studio.  I came up with some very organic looking planters that might work well as bonsai pots.  They are made of slabs that I cut from the pile of clay on my work table.  I think they're pretty funky.  I like 'em.  Maybe succulent planters?  You'll have to come to the open house to see how they turn out.

About Time by Teresa Wooden

Welcome to my new and fancy website!  Many many thanks to my daughter, Anna (and I think Andrew helped too), for hours of hard work putting it together and talking me through the basics.  I'm thrilled with the result...waaaay better than the one I had!

This month finds me making garden pottery for my upcoming First Annual Open Studio, planned for the weekends of May 6-7 and May 13-14, 2017.  Wall planters, bird houses and feeders, garden totems and fountains of various sizes are in the works.  It feels great to be back at work after a long hiatus to renovate the house!  Along with neighboring potter Mike Taylor and some other artists, we hope to begin a successful Spring Art and Garden Tour held about the same time each year.  We plan to host fellow artists, plant sellers, and perhaps even some foodie vendors at each of our studios, and give tours of our Artists' Gardens.  That means you'll get a chance here to see what an underground house looks like on the outside, and visit the new Roof Garden with perennials and a straw bale vegetable garden, which I started last year.

It's snowing again.  The pond is frozen, and the geese that flew in a couple weeks ago when the temps were in the 60's said, "Forget this!" and flew back.  But I love the snow...I love the hush.  Heading out to the woods with the dogs to listen to the soft sounds of winter.  Spring is only 48 days away...