Archive for the ‘home’ Category

Growing up, I spent a lot of my time with my great aunt, Marian. My parents and I lived with her until I was three and from then on, I spent every holiday, vacation and summer with her on Long Island. She never married or had children and referred me as “her baby”. She was like a second mother to me. My grandparents lived next door to her and my great aunt and uncle lived behind my grandparents. It was like a mini compound and I loved being there, but that’s a story for another day.

This story is about stuff. When Aunt Marian died, I helped my grandmother, her sister, clean out her house. It was the house that had belonged to their parents, my great grandparents. It was the house where Aunt Marian spent her teenage years and her entire adult life, save for the last two years which were spent in a nursing home. The house was full not only of Aunt Marian’s belongings, but those of her parents as well. Three lifetime’s worth of things.

A call was put out to her large, extended family – “Come and take what you want. Everything else will be donated or discarded”. A few came, but that did little to lessen the load. There were stacks of china, mugs, collectible glasses, Corningware plates and baking dishes, dented aluminum pots and pans and every conceivable type of utensil that had been manufactured in the last 80 years. And that was just the kitchen. There was also a house full of furniture, records, tchotchkes, books overflowing with photos, sheets, towels, Christmas decorations and all the things that make a house a home.

Then there was the other stuff. My great grandparents lived through the depression and throughout their lives, they carried with them the idea that everything was worth something and someday you might need it. It was the kind of stuff that had been tucked away and long since forgotten about, the kind of stuff that no one was interested. There were hundreds of old buttons in every size and color, piles of 6 cent stamps, beautiful headpieces from the 40’s and 50’s, a round hatbox illustrated with daisies, handwritten letters, a jar full of keys, a box full of handwritten recipes, old tins and tattered jewelry boxes, pristine wrapping paper from the 60’s and old notebooks filled with lists and budgets handwritten by my great grandmother. I wanted all of it.

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There was also a garage so full a car couldn’t fit. My grandfather had “moved in” after the death of my great grandparents and had filled it with his own treasures. The garage became home to bicycles, old patio furniture, paint cans and power tools. There were gas cans, buckets, shovels, garden tools and a snowblower. Practically every square inch of the cement floor was covered. I didn’t think there would be anything worthwhile in the garage, but I was wrong. Against the wall, way in the back was a toolbox sitting atop a stack of old wooden shelves. Inside were very old, rusty wrenches of every size and shape, rusted ratchets, broken drill bits along with a hand drill and forged steel tin snips. Above the shelves sat a dusty cupboard full of old coffee cans. The cans were overflowing with washers, screws, nuts and bolts. There was also a fishing weight, a ball bearing, a rusty pipe fitting, a clothesline reel and a slew of other unidentifiable objects. Just about everything was well past its prime, covered in rust and varying shades of patina. Someone, my grandfather or perhaps my great grandfather had taken the time to save all of it just as my great grandmother had carefully collected the stamps and buttons. I got very emotional thinking about it.

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I ended up taking quite a bit from the house- Aunt Marian’s well-loved cast iron pans, a couple of mid century end tables, an old Ansco camera, a clock that was gifted to my great grandparents on their 50th wedding anniversary, an old chest, beautiful teacups, the records and their cabinet, a vintage patio rocking chair and glider, a few serving pieces and a couple of beautiful decanters and glassware. These things I cherish. But I also had to take the buttons and stamps, the headpieces and hat box, the keys, the recipe books and many of the other treasures that had been hidden away including all the rusty tools, washers, nuts and bolts from the garage. My grandmother thought I was crazy. Then it occurred to me. What the hell was I going to do with it all?


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Happy New Year


Cheers to a happy and healthy 2013.

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Last year, the professor and I decided that we wanted to get a potted Christmas tree that could serve it’s purpose during the holidays, live outside for the rest of the year, then come back in for Christmas 2011.

We ended up finding a sweet little tree that was just big enough for our space. The tag read “decorative houseplant perfect for windows, bright dining and living areas” so I thought it was exactly what we were looking for. When I got it home and read the care instructions however, I realized that this particular variety of evergreen could not tolerate temperatures below 45 degrees. At the time, it didn’t seem like a big deal since the tree was pretty small and looked more like a house plant than a tree anyway. So, the little tree stayed in the house until April (sans decorations) when he was moved outside to live for the summer.

Fast forward to mid-October when the temperatures were threatening to dip into the 40’s for the first time this season. Time for the little tree to come inside. Except now, the little tree had grown so much during the summer that it needed to be transplanted into a bigger pot. With a bit of swearing and swelling (apparently I have a skin sensitivity to evergreen needles. brilliant!), the now not-so-little-tree got repotted and moved into the studio.

Look at that nice big, WIDE tree! I never knew neglecting a potted plant could yield so much growth. Maybe if I had neglected my herb garden a little more, my empty ice cube trays would be full of basil pesto. What to do with this behemoth? It’s a high production time of year and I need every inch of studio space for work. Plus it’s pretty much a given that I will inevitably trip on it every time I pass by (hello swelling!). We ended up moving the monster into a tight corner of my diningroom where sadly, it no longer looks like a houseplant.

That’s where he’ll stay until after the holidays when I’ll have to figure out a more permanent solution. For now though, I plan to at least get some use out of him since it’s time for my 2011 Whirl ornaments to make their debut. The beast should at least earn his keep.

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Not that Mighty Wind- this mighty wind. One of my biggest concerns before the storm hit was getting my kiln fired before it had a chance to knock out the electricity. Newscasters in New York LOVE to hype weather (though I guess that happens everywhere) and I was a bit skeptical, but figured that I better not risk it. The end of last week was nuts, but I got the kiln loaded and fired Friday night and finished the firing before the power went out on Saturday. Thankfully it was a pretty successful firing. Here’s a small sample of what came out.

The mugs are California bound, the black vases will be living in upstate New York and the new Aqua Groove Vases will be available in my shop.

Fortunately the storm passed with minimal damage to our yard and the flooding stayed just shy of our back door. The worst destruction was caused by my own stupidity when the candle that I placed on the table melted 2 small holes in our Nelson Lamp. So very tragic. Next time, flashlights only.

The power didn’t come back on until late last night, so I spent most of my Sunday reading Bel Canto, a book that I wasn’t sure I’d enjoy but has completely captivated my attention. Hope everyone had a safe weekend and that those who were hit by the storm made it through safely.

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1. The long-awaited return of local strawberries. 2. Dot, dot, dot,….BISQUE!
3. Yet another house project. 4. Maniacal yet joyful outburst attributed to aforementioned house project.

Happy Monday everyone.


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Remember how I said that I get such nice winter light in the studio? That is true- except when there’s so much snow that the windows get covered.

In case you missed all the hype weather reports, New York City along with much of the north east was hit with ANOTHER snow storm. This time, we ended up with 15 inches on top of what was already on the ground. I know that to some of you, this is nothing. Other places get this much snow and more most winters. But living in the city, we are already crammed in like sardines and are honestly running out of places to put all this stuff. That, and we are just not use to it here.

In between all the shoveling and thawing of pipes (yes, our pipes also froze this week. It’s been nothing but fun around here, I tell you), I’ve been working on a few custom pieces, some wholesale work and trying out some new color and design combinations. I also managed to get the kiln loaded and fired twice without losing power, so that was nice.

From that firing came a new, beautiful mint green color for the Sweet Peas.

And a few pebble cups with a satiny finish and new color- black!

Now if my little car cooperates, I’m off to the post office and looking forward to a few days without any shoveling.

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let the sun shine in

My studio is graced with the most beautiful sunlight during the winter. And with all the snow that’s piled up outside right now, I can often work for several hours without turning on the lights. It almost makes up for the fact that it will be several more months until I can work with the door and windows open again.

My bedroom is sunny AND warm, so I took a cue from Maddy (who afternoons there) and moved my stagnant Amaryllis to a spot by the window. He seems much happier now, so maybe I’ll see a bloom by Valentines day. Better late than never.

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