Coutts AB is a village of about 250 people. Last week a customer wanted to mail me a cheque to pay for a bowl and she asked for my address. I sent her the address, but what I didn’t tell her was that she could just send it to ” Pottery Cindy, Coutts AB” and I would get it. There are only two Cindy’s living in Coutts. I am Cindy-Lee and the other is Cindy-Lou. We are both friends with the lady in the Post Office and Tracey, the post office lady, would know which one is Pottery Cindy. If for some reason Cindy-Lou got mail for Cindy-Lee, she would walk over to my house and give it me. There are only about 15 streets and avenues in total in Coutts, so walking all the way across town to deliver a letter is not a problem. Being new town, everyone knows where the new people live.
We have been busy in the studio making pots and making videos. Here are the next two episodes in the saga of Studio Life in Coutts.
Winter has returned. Last week we were out walking in our shirtsleeves and this morning I woke to -18C with a nasty wind. Dang….. I am looking forward to spring. I am hoping for a cloudy start to the day tomorrow and that little smelly groundhog does not see his shadow. Fingers crossed! No more winter.
We have been creating videos and them putting up on YouTube for a few years. It is a little odd and uncomfortable to see yourself up there. Over the years I have gained, lost and gained weight, aged and have gotten better at speaking. I have often said that I am much taller, thinner and younger than I am in real life. This next venture or adventure is exciting. Recording my day to day life in the studio will be something that I, if no one else, will find fun to follow. To be able to look back a week, month or in time, years, and see what I was making and how I made it, will be, again, for me at least, interesting. To be able see how much work I do, or don’t do. We will include town people, friends, and anyone else who will let us aim a camera at them and talk. The interview with Sharon the Librarian was only the start.
How does it feel to be shot? I guess the best word I can think of is flattering. I am always sensitive to how I look, not being tall, thin or young, but we get new subscribers daily. People must like what we are doing and what I have to say. We all want to be liked. “They” seem to like the videos. It feels good to be shot.
Here is Episode 7.
Friday afternoon the kids came and we made Garden Gnomes. It’s not quite spring or gardening time, but we will be ready with Gnomes when it is.
They made wonderful gnomes! It was a fun afternoon.
It was a good weekend. Winter left with temperatures in the teens and high winds to blow all the snow away. I am glad to see it go. I am sure it will be back, but tomorrow is to be another day of temps in the teens. I will enjoy the warm days while they are here.
Last week we went to the Christmas party and had a hoot. I got dressed up, but not take my picture and post, it dressed up. We went with the neighbours and it was the first time in years, that we went out with another couple. We had one of the best catered turkey dinners I have had. The caterer forgot the stuffing in the oven until it was almost over, but it was very good. She felt terrible, but those who got stuffing said it was great. They have a 50/50 draw every year at the dinner, but they decided that 50 percent of the pot was too much for one person, so they have 50/ 25/ 25, they call it 50/ 50 a few times.
Friday we drove to Shelby MT, about 30 minutes from here, to get our first Bountiful Basket. It is a co-op that we joined and every week you get a basket filled with veggies and fruit. It will be about half and half, but you never know what you will get. It was more for the adventure than the food. It was fun. We did a little shopping, had some greasy fried chicken, picked up some internet orders and came home with a box full of healthy. One of the online orders was our new rug. Our present to us this year, is under the tree, the new rug.
Going through the border can sometimes be a challenge. We go through the border more times in a week, than others do in a life time. We get to know some of the officers and they know us. Last Friday it took over an hour to get through, the computers went down. When we finally got to the window, Jim made a comment to the officer about it being one of those days. The fellow said he was there for 8 hours, if we went through fast or slow it made no difference to him. It was one of the those days for us. Then he shared a true story from when he had first started. He told his boss that he had really messed up. The boss asked if he killed the traveler? As long as the guy is not dead, the boss could fix it.
Friday it was 14 C ( 55 F ) and the grass had a green tinge to it. Winter hit hard Saturday and the world is white again.
Snow on the Sweetgrass Hills.
Today is Christmas baking day. I feel the domestic side of me lurking in the shadows of our new house. I will bake, clean and get ready for Christmas. We have two more Pot Lucks to attend this week and our son is coming next week.
As we settle into the new life, it feels more and more lucky that we landed here. It is like 50/50 a few times and we won them all.
It was a good week in the old school and the studio. I got all my pots made and delivered. We took a truck load, literally, but we have a small truck, to Calgary. Walking into Galleria Inglewood was like walking into Christmas. It was beautiful. There is over 9,000 square feet of gallery filled with art, craft and Christmas. If you live anywhere near Calgary AB, it is certainly worth to trip! Our pots looked good and now there is a truck load more.
Tuesday, the town had their annual cookie exchange. To participate, you make four dozen cookies and bring them to the library in the Historical Coutts School. Put the cookies together, and everyone brings home four dozen cookies, just not the ones you made. Jim made chocolate chip, peanut butter, oatmeal, they were really good. We got a great variety of wonderful and not so wonderful cookies. There were about 25 people that took part and the library was hoppin’.
Tuesday night was the last adult clay class, next week is our party. The studio was full of students. The gym was rented out to a family that was playing and exercising.The cookie people came to the studio to visit, the studio people were checking out the cookies, the family in the gym was back and forth. The school was buzzing with pre-Christmas excitement. It felt wonderful to be a part of it. The old girl was alive!
Tonight is another supper, not pot luck this time. We were invited to join the neighbours at the Milk River Senior Society Christmas Dinner. It should be fun. I am getting dressed up, new jeans, and taking my hair out of the pony tail that it has been in since we moved here. Tonight, I am letting my hair down.
We stopped in Lethbridge on the way back from Calgary and did the normal in town, run around shopping. We also got all new Christmas decorations. When we moved, I gave them all away. Back then, I was feeling like the Grinch and Scrooge all rolled into one. My daughter got all the decorations, wrapping paper, everything, if she wanted it all or not . I was done with Christmas. That was then and this is now. I am glad I did the purge. Out with the old and in with the new, is very much like our life here. As time goes on and we get our new rhythm in the new life, I can only wonder how different next Christmas will be. If last year to this year is any indication, I should hang on for the ride.
Last post I talked about being back in the grove again. Being motivated to work and really enjoying working. It’s true, I’m there. I have made more pots in the last month, than I have in the past 2 years. One of the motivators, I have to admit, is money. ‘Tis the season. I like making pots and I like selling them. The product is doing well at Galleria Inglewood. The sun is shining so I am making hay…..well pots……. I will deliver my Christmas batch the second week of December. However money is not the only motivator, it if it were, I would never have become a potter. So what is the motivator, what is motivation, where does it come from? I am only asking the questions. I don’t have any answers, to those questions and many others.
I am working on a batch of pots that I know will sell. The same old, same pots. Bowls, tea pots, casseroles, mugs etc.. I was checking out Facebook and a friend of mine, Dori Braun a potter and musician I have known for years, is working, I will assume, the same Christmas market and making some very cool candy dishes.
Now I have been in head down, flat out production mode. I have a good idea what will sell and have been working on that. The potter came back and the pots are flying. I plan to play in the clay in the New Year, but right now my motivation is making lots of pots, or so I thought. When I saw her candy dishes, I wanted to make candy dishes too. I was motivated. Time is tight and play time is short., but I took a bit of time time to play, to listen to the motivation. Her pots are very different from mine, but the motivation was the same, play with clay and make candy dishes.
We need to pay attention to what motivates us, what makes us want to work, what gives us that drive to create. More important, we have to act on it. I don’t know what motivation is or why it shows up, but if I listen to the potter inside, I know what it feels like. We all need to pay attention to that. Work with it. That’s where our best work comes from. I made some candy dishes. It is not for me to say if they are good, bad or ugly. (odd and out of place Clint Eastwood reference) We can never judge our own work. If we didn’t think it was good, we wouldn’t have finished it. All we can and should do, is go with the feeling, the motivation to create. What could happen?
It is a candy dish week. We, The Clay Teacher, are making candy dishes with the kids classes on Friday afternoon.
Since it is a candy dish week, if anyone reading is making candy dishes, or has been motivated to make candy dishes, please send me pictures and I will include them in a future post.
We have been in Coutts for almost a year now. Last year at this time we had the house here and were back and forth from Edmonton settling things there and setting up here. We moved here in January into a real fixer upper. Here is link to my last blog that talks about the move, fixing up the house and the studio. We finished in August.
Before we retired and moved we were The Clay Teacher reaching about 8,000 students a year. Before that we ran a gallery for a short while and before that, I was a potter known as Out of the Fire Studio. We shut the big studio down in 2006 to start the little gallery and studio in down town Edmonton. Like most bad ideas, it seemed like a good idea at the time. I was burnt out as a production potter. When we closed the big studio, Jim and I had about 45 different retailers across Western Canada and we processing about 10 tons of clay into production pots. We opened our shop just before the Financial crisis of 2007-08. That didn’t go so well. The building isn’t even there anymore.
Long story short. I was a potter. I worked way to hard making way too many pots for way too many clients and burned out. Then ran like a crazy woman to run a gallery, but we lost the race. Then ran a little faster when we were The Clay Teacher. In all that running, about 15 years of it, I lost the potter. She came back this week, or was it last week? I have been working in the studio for the last couple of months, but it wasn’t until just recently that it felt like the old me. But the old me was 15 years ago and now I am old….hhhmmmm… ??anyway…. I feel like I have my grove back. I am a potter again, and not just someone who makes pots.
We have been here for about a year. The house is done, the studio is done, and it took a while, but I’m settled and very happy in the new life. I had to catch my breath and find a new rhythm. It is a much slower rhythm. I only work when I want to and the hours that I like, but now I like working. I’m work longer and longer hours and enjoying it more all the time.
Today we went to the local craft fair, 11 vendor tables. It was a small show, $15 a table and juried by cheque. There are no small shows, just small potters! It was good. There has never been a potter at the local craft show. Not only did we do well at the show, next year, we are in charge of the show. Today we inherited a craft show. It has been the same two ladies putting on the show for years. They were more than happy to pass the reins. Next year I know there will be a potter at the show.
The best part about a small table show in a small town is knock down. Packed up and home in less than 30 minutes.
I have been using the same glazes for about a decade. Playing with glazes and discovering new colours and textures has never been my strong suit. It has never really caught my interest as much as it should. But then, how much should it? We all have our areas of interest. That’s what makes us the potters we are. I have always had cool glazes….. I think. I combined two glazes I have used together for years, but in a whole new way, and voila…..
The new glaze “Couttsgrass”
Close up to show all the colours of the new glaze.
It is a busy time of year. We have a new venue, Galleria Inglewood in Calgary. It is a wonderful store, and they will take as much pottery as I can send them. They sell a lot of pots. They don’t have me on the website yet, but they have been very busy. As I said, it is a busy time of year. I have a few local Christmas Craft shows coming up. Pot production is in full swing.
I have been making some pots and put a few loads through. It feel good to be back at the wheel. All the orders have been filled and I am now just making pots. I had a load of Prairies come out last week.