Monday, November 30, 2009

Posts from a Spanish Diary: Entry #2

At Masia Albadas (the name of Seth's home in Spain), the natural beauty of the surroundings completely captured my heart. I still wake up and think about walking outside to my terrace to look out at the mountains, almond and olive groves, red tile roofs, stone walls, and dry river bed. When I got to Spain in August the heat from the day remained in the terra cotta tiles on the terrace. This made for a warm surface to lay on at night and look at the stars which were deeply layered in the dark sky.

The interesting thing about this natural beauty is that while it was inspiring in some respects, I lost any interest in taking a sketchbook outside to draw. Maybe I was too overwhelmed. Maybe I saw a lot of stereotypical elements in my drawings when I did attempt it. I don't know. The further I am removed from Spain, the easier it gets to think about drawing it. So perhaps some line drawings will emerge eventually but for now, Spain stays in my heart.

This video is taken from a little hill down the road from Seth's house. Seth's is the stone house directly above the bend in the dry river bed (under my finger!) at the very end of the video.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Posts from a Spanish Diary: Entry #1

Since I had limited computer access and was not able to post all that I wanted to while in Spain, I will do periodic "Posts from a Spanish Diary".

The first is a series of videos of Seth putting his three piece pots together.

Sunday, November 22, 2009


I walk amidst the leaves of autumn in familiar Virginia again, having left just 3 short months ago. No more horizon with mountain peaks out my front door, no more almond and olive groves to climb through, no more Seth and proper British ways, no more enthusiastic Spaniards speaking rapidly to me. My time in Spain is definitely over. That reality must have crept in over night last night, like a large looming rain cloud, because today, day 6 of being home, is the hardest.

As expected, it doesn't seem real. I took a grand leap in my artistic life and am on the other side of the chasm now. I thought, as I sat on the plane on Monday, that I would wake up on Tuesday morning, in my very own bed, and imagine I dreamt the entire experience, a long, elaborate and wonderful dream. It does feel like that now ... though when I woke on Tuesday morning my first thought was, how do I get to the bathroom!?

I went through all of the motions of leaving: packing, cleaning, stripping the bed, saying Adios to people and places, but I couldn't comprehend not being there anymore. At 3am on Monday morning I walked into the courtyard, through the antique wooden door ornately carved by a Spaniard years ago, passed the garage where Seth keeps his "girlfriend" (An antique car, the Morris 8), passed the ruins of old goat stalls, passed the empty river bed which gleamed in the dark with it's white stones, bent beyond the cliff and out of sight, to the red Spanish van I learned to love and hate.

As we drove out of Masia Albadas in the dark, my mind flooded with the things I would miss most. I thought of my walk to work each day, down the stone stairs I so meticulously weeded, crumbling and uneven, passed the newly jacketed kiln, passed discarded pots and into a dirt and stone floored wonderful mess.

I thought of the work that I had come to learn, work which energizes and exhausts, work which brings each customer a period, even if its just a brief moment, of contemplation - that life is more than your 9-5, life is more than greyscale predictability, that we are more than ants scuttling from place to place.

We can touch, smell, taste, feel, and see such a range and variety that even with the awareness of thousands of years of human creativity we still have the urge to create, share, and try to communicate with each other what is beauty and goodness and what is not.

To ignore this is to isolate ourselves, a very unnatural and spirit crushing mental state. Modernity has made it easier and cheaper to surround ourselves with factory produced 'beauty' but the lack of human touch in the objects is akin to a human with no contact, an ultimately stoney and cold thing. It evaporates the potential for long lasting beauty.

I have many things to share and stories to tell but for now, for today, thank you for reading. Thank you for learning along with me what it means to share, to enjoy, and to appreciate the rugged beauty in human creativity and creation.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A place to call home

I returned to the gorgeous colors of fall in Virginia yesterday. While pottery in Spain ended with a bang, pottery here is just gearing up! Our Fall Sale starts this coming weekend (see image on right or details below). I have two shelves full of bisque ware ready for me to glaze so, with no time for jet lag, I'm glazing away immediately. I've been decorating pots pretty consistently for the passed 3 or 4 weeks so I am in the groove of glazing ... I just have to wrap my head around the fact that I'm back in my own basement every once and a while!

Jennie has been working around the clock getting her beautiful work all set for the show. Her enthusiasm after 30 some years of working in clay is as fresh as ever. In fact, the work I saw last night for our show is the best I've seen yet. Her colors and strength of line is more confident, making for an eye popping collection. I was really blown away and incredibly proud to not only work with such an artist but be able to call her my teacher and my mother.

I hope you will be able to make it to our show one of the weekends. I will have freshly glazed pots thrown prior to Spain as well as some pots from my time with Seth Cardew (getting those home was quite the trick ... my luggage weighed a ton!).


Opening Weekend:
November 20, 2pm - 8pm
November 21, 10am - 5pm

Also Open:
Nov. 28, Dec. 5, Dec. 12 10am - 5pm

Check back for updates on the kiln firing in Spain and other adventures!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Last post from Spain...

Here are some of the things I've been decorating over the last few weeks. Seth uses a cobalt stain and an iron oxide over a white glaze, under a transparent glaze, and under a celadon glaze. He also has a shino, white, and transparent as "raw" glazes (meaning it is used on greenware).

The pictures show my decoration before the firing, obviously. So, the black color you see is the iron oxide (will be brownish/black) and the reddish brown color you see is the cobalt (will be blue).

A Spanish/Moroccan inspired plate with a Sarah twist.

The firing starts tonight. We begin the warming at 7pm and the first stoking shift is at 3am.

This will be my last post from Spain. I have much much more to share and will do it from the comforts of my own home in the States! Adios for now!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Traditional Spain

Traditional ceramics around these parts is very influenced by the Moors/ Muslims (as is most of Spain, I think). Here are a few pictures of local pottery.

These are traditional wine and water jugs. They are probably 100 years old or so.

Very Moroccan influenced!