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


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...