APF 2017!


I’m back in Minneapolis! For the second year in a row I have the great honor to participate in the American Pottery Festival as a Guest Artist. And after the prolonged extremely hot temps in PDX this summer and wildfire smoke and ash filling the city sky this past week…I might decide to just stay.

“Minnesota Nice” is real and no joke! I’ve never felt more gracious hospitality and profound love for pottery. Studio pottery is part of the local culture here, due in no small part to Warren MacKenzie and many other potters who have been laying down roots here since the mid-20th century. The region and its vibrant community of potters have been hosting the St. Croix Valley Pottery Tour for 25 years, and is currently being honored by the Walker Art Center through the exhibition A Culture of Pots: The 25th Anniversary of the St. Croix Valley Pottery Tour. So, between the American Pottery Festival at Norther Clay Center and the St. Croix Valley show at the Walker, it’s clay fest in Minneapolis this weekend!

Tumblers and mugs (bottoms up!), ready for glazing, and APF-bound!


What Are the Chances? Success in the Arts in the 21st Century – Los Angeles Review of Books

What Are the Chances? Success in the Arts in the 21st Century – Los Angeles Review of Books

I had to post this article, mostly so I know I will be able to find it again. It’s a long, dense read, but well worth it. I’m totally in the zone for this article, which I found via the Facebook group Critical Craft Forum (moderated by Namita Wiggers, I highly recommend it). For the past 8 weeks I’ve been neck-deep in the business end of this pottery business, participating in a 10 week course for solo entrepreneurs through the Small Business Development Center and Portland Community College. I’ve been slowly but steadily building my business over many years, but I’m tenacious now. 2016 was a really good year, incredibly validating, and just frustrating enough to make me see I just need to be my own boss.

Like a lot of “how to be a successful artist”-themed articles, this one can’t really give you a blueprint. To its credit, it does not even try. This may seem like a cop out at first, but the truth is there are way too many definitions of “artist” to make one formula applicable to all. Or even the majority (Hell, there is no majority. Maybe way back when, before Warhol and Duchamp, but definitely not in this gatekeeper-less world wide web age). And with that, Alexis Clements provides a great conversation starter. I can see this article used to kickstart idea generation in a professional development workshop scenario and imensely helpful in a classroom or mentorship context to prepare emerging artists for the realities of making a living with a creative practice.

I’m gonna read it again and will surely reference it as I move closer and closer to becoming my own boss full-time.




Revival / Resurgence / Reawakening / Revitalization

nice view, huh?

I’ve had a surge of familiar energy as of late. Familiar but a little different. It’s a kind of urgency coupled with exhilaration. I’m about 18 months out of grad school…been plugging along, livin’ the life, as they say…my life revolves around clay, craft, art & design. I’m employed as a production assistant in a small ceramic design/production studio, making things out of clay for $, and I have a studio for my own personal work. They may say I’m “livin’ the life,” but it’s not that simple. Immersing oneself in one’s passion is a big step, especially when that passion is not a traditionally lucrative vocation. Sustaining that path is quite another.

I’ve been looking for a job with an arts organization in some kind of administrative/programming type role. My applications are met, mostly, with silence. In following up I learn that, in many cases, the job was awarded to an applicant with a masters in arts administration. I keep plugging away, however; I spend 10-30 minutes a day looking through want ads, occasionally finding an opportunity worth pursuing. In the meantime, my studio practice is not sustaining itself. I feel the screws tightening. The go-to: make pots!


Over the past couple of months I’ve doubled-down on my studio time, stretching out the days, extending the nights. I’ve powered up my Etsy shop, been accepted into a holiday sale and started to familiarize myself with this buzzword I’ve been hearing a lot lately, analytics. I’m trying out ads on Etsy and Facebook to increase traffic and gain followers (is it worth it? how much do I have to spend before someone makes a purchase?). I’m getting into it — the business side of this business.

And, finally, after months of wishin’ and hopin’, I’ve secured a studio space in a more convenient location. This will undoubtedly increase my productivity. Plus, I’m just STOKED! I’m overflowing with enthusiasm and optimistic vision! Sure, there’s no heat or microwave and the only sink is in a bathroom shared with an unknown number of fellow tenants…BUT I GET TO BRING MY KILN! My precious Skutt 1018 has been hibernating in Hood River for (holy crap) 10 years. It will be a joyous reunion. I won’t break a bottle of champagne over her inaugural firing in the new space, but I’ll probably be drinking some. 😉

the new digs
the new digs

And the pots…the pots are fun! I pretty much started where I left off before grad school, but things are quickly evolving. The response has been encouraging. The sales have been few so far, but I have my doubts about this Etsy stuff.

this makes me happy
this makes me happy

I got so discouraged in my quest for a full-time job with benefits (a job in which I know I would do well, enjoy and be proud of). It took panic (minor) and the frustration of making ends meet to get me to admit that there’s this thing that I do really well, a thing that others appreciate (even love), and it’s silly I’m not pursuing it relentlessly. I’ve worked so hard to become good at this thing, it’s just damn right disrespectful to my skill, to the craft, to not fuckin’ TEAR. IT. UP. So here, I go…

New Studio!! Come visit this Saturday!

IMG_2413I’ve got a new studio!!!

Phew! I went for more than two months without a place to stretch out and get dirty, and I think that’s about my limit. Toward the end there I did pick up some watercolors, sumi ink, and pens for some 2D explorations from my desk at home. That was actually an incredibly good idea, for it has spawned a line of cards and revealed the potential for a whole new body of work (more on that soon).

But now I’m settling in to my new space at The Swimming Hole, a collective in NE Portland, on NE 42nd near Alberta Ct (5120 NE 42nd, to be precise). It’s a modest space, but with a lot of great mojo…we are currently eight women working in clay, glass, and metal. We each have different backgrounds and goals, but all have a  love for making gorgeous things with our hands. I think it could be the perfect first stop, out of the gates from grad school, in establishing my professional practice.IMG_2414

And this weekend we’re having an open studio, as part of the 42nd Avenue Makers’ Faire. Portland is a mecca for makers, that’s for sure, and many of these creative entrepreneurs have been settling in along NE 42nd Avenue, contributing to the blossoming of neighborhoods adjoining this street, like the Cully neighborhood (which also has a pretty awesome cycle track up and down Cully Blvd). The faire and our open studio runs from noon-6 p.m. this coming Saturday, August 23rd. Most of us will have wares for sale out front, and tours of our studios will be available upon request. The weather will be hot and sunny, and the organizers of the Faire have lots of other fun activities and music on tap (bouncy castle!!). I’ve included more information from the business association below, including links to musicians set to perform that day.IMG_2411







bucket 6aThis year’s 42nd Avenue signature event is a Makers’ Faire. Although we will continue the spirit of the Street Fair with entertainment, a beer garden, foots ball, and a bouncy house, this year will emphasize the identity of our district: making goods and providing services.

Like the guilds of old, the makers on 42nd Avenue serve their community by honoring their craft. Whether its furniture, signs, charcuterie, bread, pastries, metal objects, printed material, fancy cars, healthy teeth, bikes, ice cream, employment, beverages, a place to gather, or obedient dogs, making good and services is our commonality.

From noon to 6 p.m., Faire participants can go behind the scenes, into businesses to meet the owners and staff. Get an insider’s view of businesses through tours, classes, contests, giveaways, and tastings. Our scavenger hunt can qualify you for prize drawings. As a business district, we are excited to share with our neighbors the view from the other side of the counter.

Between activities, enjoy amazing live music and booths.

12-2 PM: James Clem: Oldtimy country and blues 

2-4 PM: BrassRoots Movement: New Orleans Stand Up Brass Band

4-6 PM: Jalani and the Secret Five Gospel and Soul

If you are a Maker and would like to be a vendor at the Makers’ Faire please email Myo at
cullyfarmersmarket@gmail.com and she will send you an application.


Sarah’s Summer Ceramics Sale

I’m headed out to Hood River this weekend, one of the most dramatically beautiful parts of this country, to set up shop for my 8th annual (although belated) studio sale. Usually held in April, I’m a little behind this year due to that pesky Master’s degree which took up so much of my time until a couple months ago. 😉


I’m really looking forward to a few days in the woods, visiting with my Columbia River Gorge friends, family, and collectors. When I first held this sale in 2007 I had no idea it would develop so much momentum, and it’s become a treasured annual tradition. As I look to the future, I can’t believe a decade has almost past…this calls for a celebration, me thinks! For 2016 I envision a handful of artists joining the sale, along with a little live music, and a good old fashioned cook-out…a party!!

It’s not just me worth visiting in the Hood River area this weekend, as many orchards, wineries, and other businesses will be participating in the Hood River County Fruit Loop Summer Fruit Celebration. Believe it or not, the earliest varieties of apples and pears are coming in. My sale is located right along the Fruit Loop route, so come out and enjoy what looks to be a perfect summer weekend in the foothills of Mt. Hood.

layout of map mc 2010.qxd 

3351 Dee Hwy, Hood River


Going south out of Hood River (via Tucker Rd), you’ll cross a lovely bridge over the Hood River, passing the Apple Valley store. Make the next right, toward Dee, on Hwy 281. After 3+ miles you’ll cross RR tracks. Begin to slow, as you’ll turn into the 3rd driveway on the left. Go up the hill to the 2nd house on the right. This is a somewhat steep, gravely, dirt driveway, fyi.

Moving on to the Next Big Thing

Well, it’s all over folks…I’ve been through the wringer of grad school and have come out relatively unscathed. I, and 16 other fabulous makers/designers/artists/craftsmen/gluttons-for-punishment, graduated with our MFAs a couple of weeks ago. Just last night we wrapped up our Practicum exhibition, Mixed Messages, which, I must say, looked damn good (see images of my work and Practicum pieces, Everything Falls Apart but Nothing Ever Does <parts I and II>, below). I continue to be impressed, even after two years, with this group’s ability to collaborate and execute some pretty daunting projects, especially considering each one represented 17 distinct voices.

So what next? That’s the question on everyone’s lips. Well, I chose this program partially because of its emphasis on cultivating an entrepreneurial approach to making a living while making difference. About half way through this program I realized my professional life would likely take a multi-faceted form, combining self-employment and traditional job opportunities. It goes without saying that I want to continue making and then exhibit and sell that work (just don’t ask me what I want to make…my head is a bit scrambled right now). I also want to connect with the greater community and build upon the network of artists and makers that grad school has helped me develop.

It’s going to be tough right out of the gate, but, luckily, things seem to be falling into place for me. I have a few opportunities on the table right now, including a sweet part-time gig assisting an amazing local artist, Dana Louis. I have a couple good leads for part-time and full-time job opportunities with local art/craft/manufacturing companies, and I’ve spotted a couple of potential spaces for my next studio. Things are coming together…

Creating Community Continues

Imbibe!  In my new line of drinking vessels I've incorporated expressively decorated wine cups.  For those who favor even stronger elixirs, this pattern also comes in a shot/sake glass.
Imbibe! In my new line of drinking vessels I’ve incorporated expressively decorated wine cups. For those who favor even stronger elixirs, this pattern also comes in a shot/sake glass.

I am so excited, once again, to pair up with The Cellar Door for Creating Community, this coming Friday, June 21 from 3:30-6:30 (here’s a map).  Bryan and Karen of The Cellar Door have become fast friends, as my husband and I have discovered the fascinating and wide, wide world of wine.  For all of us, wine creates the opportunity to form friendships and create memories over a shared glass and usually a meal.  Bryan and Karen have been inviting their friends to share with all of us their other passions, in an effort to create an even stronger, more diverse community.  And so, with Creating Community, I bring my wares to their weekly tasting, Friday Sips.

Since I’ve been on break from grad school I’ve gotten back behind the wheel and this summer’s theme is IMBIBE.  I’ve got all sorts of vessels to make your favorite beverage that much more enjoyable.

If you love wine or if you are simply curious about wine, The Cellar Door Friday Sips is a fantastic way to wrap up the work week.  Bryan has an uncanny ability to find wines to satisfy any palette, from the $12 Wednesday night bottle, to the spare-no-expense bottle for a special occasion (but honestly, he’ll probably have a superb recommendation that will save you $$).  This week Bryan will have open a lovely array of dry, pink wines, one of my favorites during the summer season.  Here’s what you can look forward to:

– 2011 Cameron “Saignee” Pinot Noir Rose

– 2012 Marquiliani Rose Vin de Corse

– 2012 Chateau Turrenne Cotes-de-Provence Rose
…and more!

My husband and I love to share a bottle of wine while preparing dinner.  With these mise en place bowls, cooking becomes an even more festive enterprise.
My husband and I often enjoy a glass of wine while preparing dinner. With these mise en place bowls, cooking becomes an even more festive enterprise.
From a new series, featuring bare clay, polished to river rock smoothness: Shot in the Dark and Lit Up shot/sake cups with coordinating finger bowls (black stoneware and porcelain).
From a new series, featuring bare clay, polished to river rock smoothness: Shot in the Dark and Lit Up shot/sake cups with coordinating finger bowls (black stoneware and porcelain).

Forces of Nature: Gala Centerpieces


Recently we, the students of the Applied Craft + Design MFA program, were asked to design and produce centerpieces for the annual Gala fundraiser for the Pacific Northwest College of Art (my MFA program is a collaborative effort between PNCA and the Oregon College of Art and Craft).  The request came a month or so into spring semester and seemed reasonable enough: to produce 10 or so centerpieces valued at $100 each, no bigger than 1 cubic foot in volume.  As a potter, this seemed to be a piece of cake, and last semester I had produced a series of vessels quite appropriate for this event, which had an industrial/marine theme.  The pieces would be for sale, with 50% of the proceeds coming back to the artists.  I didn’t even blink before I said “yes, I’m in!”


In reality, it was not a piece of cake, as my production schedule became crammed into one week, along with another custom project.  In the end I was asked to make 13 centerpieces, and together with the 13 salad bowls for the second project I threw 200+ pounds of clay in a matter of days.  I was amazed to emerge from the studio unscathed and finished ahead of schedule!  How about that!  Really, what this experience showed me is that I am actually capable of so much more. And so the bar rises…



Make sure to click on each image to get a better, more close-up view of the dynamic activity in the surfaces of these pieces.  Each was thrown as a thick, slightly bellied-out cylinder, then coated with layers of underglazes and slips, from electric blue to white.  Then, each piece (from 9-12 inches tall) was distorted from the interior.  As the clay distended, under layers of color and the porcelain beneath were thinned or revealed, producing even more shades of blue.  Each push of my fingers or thumb inspired the next.  I see each piece as a 3-dimensional painting, where paint and canvas share and swap their traditional roles, and the piece is composed from both sides of the canvas.



7th Annual Blossom Fest Sale

Blossom Fest 13 Flier

In a couple of weeks I shall crawl out of the cave of graduate school for a couple of days and drink in the fresh woodsy air of the Hood River Valley.  Oh, and I’ll bring some pots along with me.  But really, it is time for my annual studio sale, where I clean out the closet and debut the results of winter’s work.  This winter has been one like none other, too, since I’ve become a student once again.

I’ll write a bit more later about the sculptures I’ve been working on the past few months, but let me give you an idea of what inspired the cups you see in my flier.  Here are some images of vessels and paintings I made last semester.  Let’s just say I loosened up a little.

All things Dutch – can be found with a bicycle!

My husband and I toured a bit of The Netherlands over a year ago, mainly day trips based out of Delft. It changed the way I view the role of transportation & its effect on quality of life. These photos from Love thy Bike really make me miss that windy, flat, bicycle loving land.

Love thy bike

After a non stop tasting of Gouda cheese our bellies look like well-rounded wheels, we could easily roll out of Gouda, instead we are pedalling.   Today, where ever we end up, we will have to catch a fast train to the Hook of Holland.  We have a ferry to catch back to England.  Rotterdam seems a good place to catch a train.  Our destination is decided.

The open pastures of dairy-farming lay before us.  The distinct black and white blots of the Friesian cows surround us.  As they munch happily on the lush green grass we pedal with smiles on our faces… this scene is a reminder of home.  The three of us feel as if we are back in rural New Zealand.

Canals and drains break up the pastures and our pebbly cycle trails criss crosses each other like something from a crossword puzzle.  It begins…

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