Last week Mark and celebrated our 11th year together. Ever since our first anniversary we have forgone traditional store bought gifts and instead we make presents for one another. Mark is a really creative person, heâ€™s a carpenter, a painter, an interior designer, a novice mechanic, and not to mention, an amazing cook. Heâ€™s an all around handy-man type of guy with an imaginative side that inspires him to create things like the Flower Mobile, or the beautiful box he gave to me as a wedding present seven years ago. He also likes to recycle and re-purpose objects; the test tubey things on the Flower Mobile were saved from a large bouquet of roses, a couple of years ago he made me a small bench for the balcony using an old speaker he found.
For Mark I try to make things that heâ€™ll find useful, but I also try to keep the actual making process simple. For our first anniversary I wrote “The Story of M & M” and made a small book about our first year together. A few years ago I made him a slip cover for his sketchbook that included pockets for pencils, erasers and loose pages, the following year I used the same material and made him a set of zippered pouches to hold all of the odds and ends in his giant tool box, like drill bits and odd sized drywall screws.
Of course Iâ€™ve also made him pottery: a casserole dish he regularly uses to make baked fruit for ice cream or baked mashed potatoes, a mortar and pestle set I gave to him on our wedding day and this year I went back to the wheel to make him a modular painting palette.
I made four small bowls on the wheel then used their dimensions to make the other two parts. I used the slab roller to make a flat piece of clay about 3/4â€ thick, I then cut out two curved pieces to fit around one of the bowls. Once I had the right size and shape I used small 1 inch glass bowls I had found at Ikea to make indents in the clay for holding the paints. On one of the curved sides I made little trenches between the paint indents to help with mixing colours together. The idea is that Mark can use the bowls for water or for mixing larger batches of colours and he can use them in conjunction with the palette pieces or just use those pieces on their own. When he opened his gift he confessed that he thought I was making him a pizza stone for our oven (mental note: remember that idea for next year) so he was really surprised â€“ and delighted â€“ with the palette.
And just to make the project that much more appealing to Mark, I used recycled clay.
Last Thursday we exchanged gifts just before we went to the restaurant where we had had our wedding dinner. Over drinks we talked about the things weâ€™d made for each other and how every year we seem to go through the same thing: we each start brainstorming ideas for things to make, we scribble notes in sketch books or on stray pieces of paper, we both stress about coming up with a new idea, then we stress about getting the project done on time. Finally, inevitably moments before we reveal the presents to one another we both think, â€œOh jeez, I hope s/he likes it…â€ But we always love, enjoy and use the things weâ€™ve made for each other. And every year the minor stresses we go through to make our anniversary projects fade from memory and weâ€™re inspired to do it all again.