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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Open Studios

The next three weekends will be keeping myself and other Boston Handmade'ers busy with Open Studio events in different towns around the Boston area. I encourage you to check out at least one of these events, but if you really want that gold star, you'd better get to all three. ;)


This weekend, April 30 and May 1, will be West Medford Open Studios. There will be four of us representing Boston Handmade at one location. Showing at 56 Bower Street will be myself, Lynne of Cozy Cottage Creations, Allison of Fraske Designs, and Sharon of Stray Notions. The event runs noon to 5 each day. Come get mom that gift for Mother's Day. Mom's LOVE handmade!


The following weekend, I am participating in Needham Open Studios, the town I live and work in. May 7 the event runs from 10-4 and May 8 the event runs from 12-4. I will be showing out of The Potters Shop in Gorse Mill Studios. Gorse Mill is a major stop for Needham Open Studios, having 16 artists in one location. Come say hi!
On May 15 will be the very first Dedham Open Studios event. This event will also have a few of us Boston Handmade'ers showing together representing the group. Participating in DOS will be myself, Kerry Hawkins of Kerry Hawkins Photography, and Nancy MacCallum of Nancyrosetta. Come support the first ever Dedham Open Studios event to ensure that it continues in the future!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Pots for Earth Day

I try to be as conscious about waste as I can be with my business, and take small but meaningful steps where I can. I ship all my items with used packing materials and boxes. I try to collect people's email addresses for my mailing list rather than snail mail addresses. I had been reusing shopping bags for my sales until this winter, but I made the decision to buy new bags to sell my items in. I went with brown paper bags, and I carved a recycle stamp to put on each one, trying to encourage what hands it fell into once it left mine that they should recycle or reuse it.


I like to think that my pottery itself has a hand in keeping plastic cups, plates, and bowls out of landfills. I have many of each in my home that are sturdy enough to toss into a bag and without worry, go camping, road tripping, or just an average day. Having a cup with you is super handy to avoid those unfriendly containers that come along with spontaneous beverages.


Handmade pottery is far more durable than the stuff you can pick up at any giant chain. I have dropped mugs on the ground at shows to show people how sturdy they are. Am I crazy? No, I just know how strong they are. When potters have a piece that didn't come out of the kiln right and isn't fixable, some of them smash it. I do this, and have to hit pots numerous times with a hammer to chip it. If they can hold up to this, they can certainly hold up to an afternoon in your purse or backpack.

Here's a cup I cart around with me. Some tips on what to look for when shopping for travel-friendly pots:

 The straighter the sides the better. The curves will have more weak points in the curve. Straight or shallow curves are best. You don't want it to be heavy, but it should feel sturdy.

A thicker lip is a good thing for this. Generally a lip should taper a bit more to prevent dribbling. In this case, you want a nice thick rounded lip.

The foot of the pot should be flat on the bottom and rounded edges on the perimeter. If there is a trimmed foot it is a weak point and more prone to chipping while getting tossed around. A trimmed foot could still be okay if it still had the same idea as the lip, rounded and thick, sturdy. The foot shown has a flower pattern carved on it, but is shallow enough not to compromise the piece.

I hope these tips are helpful. Let me know if you decide to buy sturdy pots in an effort to avoid plastic and styrofoam!

Saturday, April 09, 2011

My Visit To DeCordova Sculpture Park

I took a recent trip to the DeCordova Sculpture Park in Lincoln, MA on one of these gorgeous days we've been having. If you have never been, go! Right now! It's one of my favorite museums in the area and it's so much fun to wander and discover what they have. It's a perfect art museum for kids, as they are allowed to touch the sculptures outdoors, though no climbing is allowed as tempting as it may be. There's also many visitors that bring their dogs along. It sure beats a walk through the neighborhood any day.


While walking one of the winding paths I came upon Daniel Ladd maintaining one of his tree sculptures. Watching him manipulate the branches, I figured he was the artist, as it didn't seem like a job for the general landscaping crew. I asked if he was, and he seemed happy that I had made that assumption. Many others had passed, simply looking and moving along. I'm so glad I began speaking with Daniel because he took a few moments to show me exactly what he was up to. 


Daniel's sculpture began in 1990. It is 11 elm trees, each bending to a 90 degree angle at a similar height, and growing into the one before it. Daniel said that he comes out 3-5 times a year to maintain the shaping of the tree sculpture. 

Daniel cuts through the outer layer of bark, exposing the inside of the branches. He then tightly wraps them together. This time of the year is when it is best to encourage the branch grafting, since the trees are in a heavy growth period the two branches are able to grow into each other and become one. He also uses nails and a putty like substance to help direct the growth. 


It was so much fun to see the park and it was especially nice to talk with Daniel Ladd. I plan on taking many more trips to the park, and you can bet I'll be paying special attention to the growth progress of Daniel's work.