Last Friday afternoon I worked on three teapots and I took photos along the way.
I threw these a couple of days before and then let them dry to leather hard:
…The pots and the lid forms are all trimmed:
…Three handles for three teapots:
…And now they each have a spout:
……..I finished the lid for the Dots! Teapot on the wheel, it’s now time to make the lids for the two Dragonfly Teapots:
…Attaching the wings:
…The first Dragonfly lid is done:
…The second Dragonfly lid:
…Now they just have to dry then be bisque fired, waxed, glazed, and then fired one more time.
I was sitting here thinking about all of the things I have to do & I started freaking out. Then I looked around at what I need to do right now & saw all of this:
The most beautiful To Do List.
This right here is me making pottery for a living.
I have absolutely nothing to freak out over.
A funny thing started happening in the Fall, soon after we arrived in Ontario, people kept telling us about Prince Edward County and it seemed like everywhere we went someone was drinking wine or talking about the cheese from The County. This was a place neither of us had heard of before. But it was starting to feel like the universe was sending us a message.
So we went exploring. We went for a three day weekend, extended it to four then we found a home.
And it is awesome.
The house is 120 years old. It looks like the house version of the first apartment Mark and I lived in at the Holly Lodge in the West End of Vancouver.
It’s on 6.75 acres. There are fruit trees.
It’s a B&B. Remember when I thought, “wouldn’t it be nice to have a second bathroom“? This place has 5.
Oh – and we also have a Carriage House. That building includes:
* Garage space for Mark’s workshop. And the kilns.
* Another guest room with an ensuite.
* A loft which will become the home of the Mena Dragonfly Studio.
My own studio.
Oh – and the whole place is located 5 minutes from Sandbanks Provincial Park, home of the largest fresh water sand dunes in the world. Plus, it’s on the Prince Edward County Arts Trail.
I remember saying to someone in Vancouver, “…. change is good, sometimes you have to start a new chapter and see what opportunities come.” What an opportunity.
We are so incredibly excited. Mark and I have talked about running a B&B for years. We’ve been daydreaming about this for a really long time but we thought it was a plan for the future.
The future is here and this is it.
We’re opening a B&B.
We’re setting up a studio and workshop.
And Molly & Lexy are here with us, having a blast:
When my Grandma passed away last year a big question for my family was what would happen to her house? We’re a very sentimental family and are all attached to that house. It’s where my Mom and her seven siblings grew up, it’s where we had all those kitchen parties, it’s where we sat having a cup of tea, with Grandma eating sweets like Gumdrop Cake.
No one wanted to see the house go, but it didn’t seem like any of us could step in and take it over. For a while it was rented out and the couple who lived there did a lot of damage, which was kind of heartbreaking.
With very heavy hearts the family put the house on the market. One or two offers came in but for whatever reason the sales never went through. We were all feeling down about the prospect of never being able to go back to the house.
Then something wonderful happened. My cousin Cheryl bought the house for her and her growing family. She fixed up the place, she painted a few rooms, even found some of the pictures Grandma had hanging and put them back on the walls. When Uncle Bill passed away it was such a comfort to be able to go back to Grandma’s place.
My Mom and her siblings divided the proceeds from the sale of the house and my Mom gave my brother and I a portion of what she called her inheritance. I told Mom to keep the money for her retirement but she refused, she said, “Your Grandparents didn’t have a lot of money but what they did have they shared with the family and they would have wanted to be able to give you this themselves.” So she asked Jeff and I to spend it on something that would remind us for Grandma and Grandpa.
Samena is a combination of my Grandparents’ names, Samuel and Armena. It’s also the name the town gave to the road that leads to Cheryl’s new house on Samena Lane.2 Comments »
Toronto? Why the heck are you moving to Toronto?
We’re not. Funny how when you mention you’re moving to Ontario lots of people assume you’re heading to Toronto.
Although Mark and I really like Toronto, we’re thinking more Cottage Country rather than Big City.
Where are you going to live?
We don’t know yet. We have a couple of ideas but we haven’t made a final decision on the location yet. In the meantime we’ll be staying with friends and family while we find our new home.
What is Mark going to do?
He’s not sure yet, that’s part of the adventure. Mark needs time to rest his feet and just chill out. Personally I can’t wait to see what Mark will do when he’s not tied to a job, when he has some time to just create, when he’s not limited to just two weeks of vacation every year.
Do you know about the bugs in Ontario?
Yes, we are aware.
What about all that snow? Do you like the snow?
Me, no. I like wood burning fire places and hot chocolate with marshmallows. Mark loves the snow. He is actually looking forward to shoveling a drive way, apparently it’s a good workout.
Here’s one thing I am looking forward to with regards to snow – it will be bright. I am looking forward to seeing the sun reflected off the snow banks in the middle of winter. The dark, grey, wet winters of Vancouver have been, well, dark and grey.
Will Molly & Lexy like it there?
They don’t really have a choice. But yes, they will like it there, they do like it there. We’ve taken them to Ontario a few times, once it was even in the winter and there was snow.
So, how are you?
I’m ok. It’s been a very emotional, topsy turvy, bitter sweet summer. On the one hand I am so excited about making this big change and seeing where this adventure takes us. On the other I am so sad to be leaving behind the many wonderful friends we’ve made here.
I’m also still so sad about my Uncle Bill. I can’t even speak, or type out his name without welling up. When I got back from Newfoundland I entered a whirlwind of renovating, selling the place, then catching up with pottery and now whenever I let myself and my mind relax I remember that Uncle Bill is gone. I hate that he’s not here anymore. I really, really hate it.
But then I also remember that he wouldn’t me to be sad. He was happy for Mark and I and thought our move was a great idea, he was glad we’d be closer to Newfoundland and that’s what I have to focus on. I’ll be closer to my cousins and my Aunts and Uncles and I’ll be able to see them more often.
So when are you leaving?
Next week. We’re planning to arrive at my Mom’s place in time for Thanksgiving dinner.
Holy cow, we have so much to be thankful for.No Comments »
Here’s the Short Version of the story:
Yes, we’re leaving Vancouver. Mark and I have sold our fantastic, lovingly custom designed, dream apartment. We’re going to load up a truck and then take a very long road trip with Molly & Lexy, seeing a few sites and visiting with family and friends along the way. We don’t know when we’re leaving exactly yet, but I’m sure our moving date will come sooner than we think.
If you’re wondering why and how all this came about, then here’s the Long Version of the story:
It all started when Mark began having some trouble with his feet.
It all started when we wanted to move into a bigger place.
It all started when we went back to Newfoundland last year.
It all started when Mark turned to me and said, “How about we take our lives on an adventure and move to Ontario?”
My wonderful, talented husband has been having a painful time, he has a pretty bad case of plantar fasciitis. He’s seen lots of doctors, followed through on lots of advice and has been able to manage the pain but he’s been living it with now for about two years. He’s the Caretaker for the building we live in, it’s a pretty active job. It’s now come to the point when more than one of his doctors has strongly suggested he find a new career.
While suffering with this problem, life for Mark and I carried on but with a lot less activity. We haven’t gone hiking for a long, long time. Mark doesn’t usually walk the Girls with me, we’ve been to Stanley Park only a hand full of times the last couple of years. Really, we’re not enjoying so many of the things we love about Vancouver.
So why are we here?
We have a stunning apartment. We are living The Vancouver Life. We own a loft Downtown. We have views of the mountains, Stanley Park & Burrard Inlet. Mark is a talented carpenter and designer and together we have created a fantastic place to live. It’s absolutely beautiful and could be found in the pages of Dwell, but it’s only around 800 square feet.
Wouldn’t it be nice to have a bedroom with a door on it? Or a second bathroom?
The last two summers have been a little tough, I’ve had to say good bye to two very dear, wonderful people I love so much, both of them in Newfoundland. Each time I went back it took a day and half to get to my family. This country is so big, the flights are limited (and crazy expensive) and the four and a half time zones really suck. This is the drawback to living on the west coast. I am so very far away from my family. And as I get older it feels like the distance widens.
Time is precious.
When we first started talking about moving to Ontario Uncle Bill was part of our plans. I told him I’d be able to come visit him more often, he said it was a great idea.
Tell me again, why do I live so far away from my family?
Health problems, career contemplations, space issues, a really expensive housing market, home sickness, all of these things were brewing and then suddenly Mark said, “How about we take our lives on an adventure and move to Ontario?”
I said, “Yes!” without hesitation and spent the rest of the night crying tears of joy. Don’t get me wrong, I love Vancouver—we both do. We just realized that we are not living the lives we want to live here, not completely. It’s time for a change.
When we made the decision to move we were in the middle of renovating our kitchen. We’ve been madly working to finish it off to sell the place and I’ve fallen a bit behind on making pottery but I’m now getting back into my throwing routine. I’ll have a special item for the Thanksgiving One Of A Kind Online Pop Up Shop at the end of September. I’m only making 25 and they’ll be available for just a limited time online. The shop opens September 27th and I’m really happy with how these little numbers are turning out.
In the next few weeks while we get ready to leave this wonderful, wonderful place I’ll be making pottery but I won’t be able to take on any more workshops or private lessons. (If you’re one of the people on my wait list watch for an email from me in the next few days.)
I’ve re-opened my BigCartel shop, but I’m going to leave my Etsy shop on hold for the time being, I just need to simplify a few things for the next few weeks.
I’ll also be coming back to Vancouver in December for the One Of A Kind Show & Sale, so it won’t be long before I get to come back to this city I absolutely LOVE.
This has been a very bittersweet time for us but Mark and I are both really excited for what’s ahead.8 Comments »
I’m really happy with how the glazes and new shapes are working together, now I just need to come up with a name for this new line…
In the meantime, I’d love to know – what do you think of these new pieces?2 Comments »
It’s my birthday this week! I want to celebrate by giving you a 15% discount on my pottery.
You can use your discount in two ways:
Don’t forget: if you’re in Vancouver let me know right away as I may be able to reduce or refund your shipping costs.
2) At the market
I’ll be at the Robson Square Artisan Market from 10:00 to 3:00 on Saturday, June 11. The market is under the dome at Robson Square, admission is free and the concession stand will be open. Stop by the Market on Saturday, wish me a Happy Birthday and get 15% off your purchase.
I have been making dragonfly stuff for years. One of the first teapots I made has a dragonfly for the knob on the teapot lid. I still have that teapot it’s a light blueish-green. After I made that one (about a decade ago) I made a bunch of teapots and mugs with dragonflies on them and almost all of them were glazed oribe green – a dark green and one of my most favourite glazes from the West End Community Centre.
I gave all those teapots and mugs away. The only one I have is the first one. I had always meant to make myself an oribe green dragonfly teapot but I left that studio and that glaze before I made it. In fact, almost everything I made at the WECC I gave away. Sometimes I’m surprised at how little pottery I have from those days, but then I go to my Mom’s house, open her cupboards and see a collection of my very early works: the wonky bowls, the leaning mugs with the twisted handles, the out-of-proportion handled mugs, the casserole dish with the slightly peeling handles…
When I started making pottery on a regular basis again my main goal was to make a teapot, and that was what I did. When I was figuring out my initial three lines for the business I knew there was going to be a Dragonfly line. There will always be a Dragonfly line. If I make pottery without dragonflies involved somehow (either directly or on the periphery) then there would be something missing from what I’m doing.
So I started really practicing my teapots. I made a whole lot of them. I was making so many teapots that I wrote about my step by step process – I think I had teapots on the brain. Throughout my teapot practice I was challenged again and again. I have made a lot of dud teapots, either the glaze ran into the spout opening, or fused the lid to the pot, or the spout dribbled horribly, in Newfoundland they call this a “stingey teapot,” and I don’t sell, give away or use stingey teapots. Instead I collect them on top of my shelves in the studio, a reminder of how far I’ve come in a short time.
My teapots now are a lot better. And believe me, these teapots have to meet a very high standard – mine. But I think I got teapotted-out, so I decided to stop making them for a bit. I don’t mind if Dragonfly Teapots are rare, it kind of feels like they should be.
However I did have one Dragonfly Teapot on hand and I do believe it is THE BEST teapot I have ever made. I contemplated selling it and posted it online with this comment:
I love this teapot. It will be hard to part with. It should really go to a good home.
The day after it went up online I was visiting with one of my VIP clients, I was dropping off some new pottery for him when we started talking about teapots. During that conversation I realized that I actually know where all of the Dragonfly Teapots are – and not just the ones I’ve given to family and friends; I have sold a few but the funny thing is, I know all of the people who bought them. I was telling Mr. VIP about this, he loved the story and decided to by my best Dragonfly Teapot, so now I know where that one is too.
I know that as the business grows, as I get back into making more Dragonfly Teapots, it’s highly likely that a stranger will buy one and I may never know where it goes or what happens to it. But for now I’m going to relish this time, when I know where all of my Dragonfly Teapots are.1 Comment »