Dec. 7th Gasp! Playing with some store bought clay! Oh the guilty pleasure!

Paramecium Dish

Paramecium Dish

Yes, I do feel guilty, but wow! It’s so creamy and so EASY!  I guess sometimes we have to try something new to keep our creative juices flowing. You may be aware that I make a lot of mugs and using my Maine clay isn’t always feasible so I am always trying out new clays and glazes to get something that is amenable to ‘corporate’ logos and the like. I think I found it. In fact, it has inspired a whole new line…. well almost, but this gives me something to play with and I do like to play.  This is just the first few things I’ve made and so it will evolve and refine itself over time. I will continue to use my local clay for my ceramic art, but this gives me a new avenue of expression.  Look for more fun, silly and affordable pots soon.  These are headed to the Holiday Pottery Shop in downtown Hallowell this morning. Get ‘em while they last!

Trying out my new letter stamps and this was the first thing that came to mind.... :)

Trying out my new letter stamps and this was the first thing that came to mind…. :)

And after Freak the second thing just had to be 'Geek'. It's the perfect sibling gift!

And after Freak the second thing just had to be ‘Geek’. It’s the perfect sibling gift!

 

 

Skully dish for all of your party needs!

Skully dish for all of your party needs!

There's that goofy fish again!

There’s that goofy fish again!

 

Carving Teapots

Carved Leatherhard Teapots drying Wheel thrown, altered made with locally sourced glacial marine clay

Carved Leatherhard Teapots drying Wheel thrown, altered made with locally sourced glacial marine clay

In the studio today getting ready for my teapot workshop up in St. John’s Newfoundland in a few weeks.  Next steps once they are completely dried will be brushing on Terra Sigilattas (refined colored clay slips), stains, glazing and then firing.  Now to carve some cups and make a serving dish of some sort…

The gestation period for upcoming show….

Sea Star made with locally sourced clay once fired to Cone 04 electric- Terra sigillatta and stains

Sea Star made with locally sourced clay once fired to Cone 04 electric- Terra Sigillatta and stains

To me there is always more than what you see the first time you look. I spend lots of time with the 'invisible' and the underworld. It's quite healing.

To me there is always more than what you see the first time you look. I spend lots of time with the ‘invisible’ and the underworld. It’s quite healing.

I applied for a solo show at the Harlow Gallery in Hallowell, Maine and was accepted. The show will be in August 2016.  It will take me 2 years to put this together. I wanted to take my time and let it evolve without undue stress on my life, my body, my kids.  Instead of trying to do too much I am opting to slow it all down.  It seems like a fine idea to keep a journal of this process and recognize the people who are helping me make it happen.  So a big thank you to the folks at the Harlow Gallery for encouraging me to apply and in general being there to support local artists.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what I’d like to say with this show and how I am going to do that. The starting point is ‘what connects us’. I’ve been reading a lot about alchemy and mysticism and those who know me, know that I am always reading astrology and psychology books. The seemingly inconsequential conversations, feelings and disagreements that we have everyday become case studies for me and I acknowledge them in my work, my dreams, and my own alchemical process so in that way, I have everyone in my life to thank for helping with this show.  The show in itself is a microcosm of my larger experience.

Yesterday I met with Jack Gilmore about creating molds for some of the pieces and in my conversation with him realized that I am hoping to create an underworld and to make that underworld visible, maybe even inhabitable.  Clay is technically challenging and so I am attempting to create in a smarter and more efficient manner. I usually muscle through things, but this time I’d like to do it with more finesse and professionalism. I am hoping that by planning ahead and giving myself some space in my life to create that I will succeed.  Space to create…  That’s good.  I better write that one down so I can remember that.  It’s a good first step.

The Maine Academy of Natural Sciences- Integrated Ceramics Classes 2013-2014

Funded in part by a grant from the Maine Arts Commission, an independent state agency supported by the National Endowment for the Arts.

Funded in part by a grant from the Maine Arts Commission, an independent state agency supported by the National Endowment for the Arts.

MeANS on the Good-Will Hinckley Campus

MeANS on the Good-Will Hinckley Campus

sculpture class

sculpture class

Student work- studying Valera Baytsa

Student work- studying Valera Baytsa

Student Sculpture studying slab construction, simple forms

Student Sculpture studying slab construction, simple forms

Really refining the dry clay and picking out any rocks or twigs

Really refining the dry clay and picking out any rocks or twigs

Hoping to find this..... will keep looking

Hoping to find this….. will keep looking

crushing the clay we did find before we mix it

crushing the clay we did find before we mix it

Taking soil samples Fall 2013... looking for clay on campus

Taking soil samples Fall 2013… looking for clay on campus

Mixing up our batch of clay gathered from campus

Mixing up our batch of clay gathered from campus

wedging the new batch to make it workable

wedging the new batch to make it workable

students recording and measuring clay samples

students recording and measuring clay samples

shrinkage bars made from clay samples from campus

shrinkage bars made from clay samples from campus

Cutting and arranging the hand made tiles

Cutting and arranging the hand made tiles in math class

Made some really great tessellations in Math class

Made some really great tessellations in Math class

brushing on slips and clear glaze

brushing on slips and clear glaze

another variation of tessellating tiles and shifting patterns

another variation of tessellating tiles and shifting patterns

Tiles in a tessellating pattern using color to manipulate the plane

Tiles in a tessellating pattern using color to manipulate the plane

Students presenting their tile project 2013

Students presenting their tile project 2013

The humanities class working on coils and Native American pots

The humanities class working on coils and Native American pots

brushing on slips

brushing on slips

pinch pot

pinch pot

some pots lined up to dry

some pots lined up to dry

Loading the pit firing

Loading the pit firing

lighting the fire

lighting the fire

unloading the firing

unloading the firing

Just one of the many pieces we fired using ancient techniques

Just one of the many pieces we fired using ancient techniques

a display of our pit fired vessels

a display of our pit fired vessels

Our pit fired Pots done in English and Social Studies classes while we researched Native American cultures

Our pit fired Pots done in English and Social Studies classes while we researched Native American cultures

Presenting our work to the Cornville Charter School students

Presenting our work to the Cornville Charter School students

Showing the younger kids how we did it and what we learned.

Showing the younger kids how we did it and what we learned.

Our sculpture Art show with mind maps and Artist statements

Our sculpture Art show with mind maps and Artist statements

Hospice Bereavement Homework Week 1

Witness, reflection, progression..... going deep. Just some of the thoughts that come to mind.

Witness, reflection, progression….. going deep. Just some of the thoughts that come to mind.

This is my first week’s homework assignment from Hospice Bereavement. I wrote a letter to ‘someone’ who hadn’t heard the story yet.  Homework is not required, but I really want to do the work. I can say this has really helped.

Dear Ann,                                                                       March 4, 2014

I wanted to give you an update of where I am these days. As you know already, my uncle Ken recently died. It has hit me harder than I expected because it carries the weight of my earlier experiences with loss. My uncle was sick and had been for years, but healthy enough to keep enjoying his life. He was an amazing man. I learned so much from him and I wished I had told him that. It wasn’t a total surprise that he was back in the hospital. However, I was not prepared to hear that he had died or for the deep feelings that his death has brought up.  Years ago, after my father died, my uncle was a role model for me. Now, through my uncle’s death I am revisiting my father’s once again. It’s a gift and I am very grateful for this as it was a very complicated time for my family. I am also in a new place and my grief has shifted. I am progressing.

My father died in a car accident when I was 9 years old in 1977. He was driving home from work late one January night. He owned a restaurant in a nearby community. Another car swerved into his lane smashing into him and just like that, he was ripped from our lives. We had recently moved to Binghamton, New York. Family from NYC area and Philadelphia traveled to us, but they too were still grieving. Earlier that year my paternal grandfather had died.  I didn’t really know him that well. Then a few months later my Mom’s brother, my Uncle Bill died in a motorcycle accident; that death was little closer to home. I didn’t go to either funeral. I guess that was common in my family. So when my father died, both sides of my family were beyond themselves with grief. To me, as a 9 year old, people were ‘disappearing’ rapidly. My Mom did her best to survive it. I know her parents stayed with us for a while.  There was a discussion between my grandmother and Mother about me and it was decided that I should not go to the funeral. My grandmother felt it would scar me because of her early experiences. I believe the opposite is true. My entire school went to my father’s funeral and I didn’t. There are so many things that anger me about this and I believe this is the start of my lifelong issue/fascination with death, dying, and dead people. Maybe not, maybe it was just my path to travel. The night of the funeral I had spent with a friend and in the morning, my family was gone. I couldn’t believe that I was left behind. As a 9 year old I had this vague notion that I was on my own with this. Now years later, I see that I was abandoned emotionally during a time when I needed my family more than ever. I know that it came from a place of love and protection, but that doesn’t change the feeling any. My mom told me years later that she just didn’t know how to hang onto all 3 of us kids. I was the youngest and I was the one chosen to be left out, set adrift if you will. After losing my grandfather, my uncle and father, I also lost a lot of my mother. She was there physically, but emotionally preoccupied with her loss. I don’t blame her, she was hit hard. I have feelings around all of this, but I love her so much and feel for her pain too.  We rarely spoke of my father. I think she was trying so hard to be strong for us that she forgot to show us how to be weak. Maybe it was me, maybe I just didn’t want to upset her or see her cry. Every once in a while she might mention him and to this day she still grieves that loss. Through all of this I learned how to ignore the pain, stuff it, and not let it show. I learned how to not talk about difficult emotions to protect the feelings of others. The last few years I have been unlearning this because I can see how destructive it is. Difficult emotions don’t go away. They bury themselves inside your bones, muscles and tendons and they wait. They wait for the chance to ‘speak up’.  They hit you on an emotional level every time you experience a similar event.  They are that gnawing in your stomach or the ache in your shoulders or quite possibly, the cancer in your throat. Those feelings need to come out. If there is no safe place for expression they’ll come out sideways and wreak havoc in your lives. I never really had that safe place or if I did, I didn’t recognize it. No one ever says “it’s OK to be vulnerable’. There is a misplaced emphasis on ‘being strong’. My marriage played out this theme perfectly. I think many of us have no safe place. I think many of us don’t know how to provide a safe place. Our society is wired for production and go, go, go and little respect is given to reflection. I’d like to see this change. I’d like to BE this change. I AM this change. I carried my pain for 30 plus years, medicated with drugs and alcohol so I wouldn’t feel it. Are you carrying pain? Most of us are. There is no shame in that.

I’ve had a lot of death in my life. Some pretty gruesome, most were accidental; almost all of them were sudden.  Each time I stuffed the emotion. I’d cry sure, but never allowed the grief to fully own me. It wasn’t until I was divorced 8 years ago and entered grad school (Goddard College) that I finally found a safe place to feel my grief and express it through writing, art and performance.  I didn’t plan it. It was like it had exploded out of me and it was too big to ignore. In fact, I really didn’t want it. I tried to distance myself, but it was too strong. I studied every aspect of grief, cultural, historical, and psychological using my own as a springboard for learning.  I’ve done a lot of work through the years. I’ve done talk therapy, EMDR, dream analysis, mediation, trauma yoga, Reiki, massage, Art, poetry, journaling, performance, physical labor, exercise and it all helps, but the grief is still there. It will probably always be there. Now I’m actually trying to allow it. I am actually trying to feel it and give it the room that it needs. I figure that I can share my life with it in a more healthy way. I can see that it doesn’t just go away if I ignore it. People will continue die and I will always miss them terribly. I can keep my grief right next to my love for them, all mixed up. I can smile and cry at the same time because these people who have died are the most amazing people you have ever met and I love them all! And so I am going to my hospice bereavement group and I am going to cry my eyes out to express and to share the loss that I feel. I can’t do this at home all alone. I need to feel connected to real humans.  It is my safe space. It is the place where they will not judge me for ‘still’ crying about this. It’s the place where I can learn how to not judge myself for crying. Just the very fact that I am telling you this story, speaking out loud about my pain and showing my tears to you, all of this is hard won. Many people can’t hear it because it brings up their own buried pain. I know it’s not comfortable, but I truly need you here to listen.  And I thank you tremendously for being here for me. If I can release the pressure valve even a little it will help. Everyone grieves differently. Personally, I need people to see me, to listen, to witness my grief. There is no wrong way to do it. Thank you for allowing me to grieve in this complicated way without the judgments or the unkind or thoughtless remarks. The world can be a safe space for all of us, but it starts with us. Thank you for holding a space for me to do this work. Many blessings to you.

Love, Malley

Doing this exercise was very powerful for me. Thank you, Hospice, for the work that you are doing.  Uncle Ken, Thank you for this gift you have given me, the ability to sit with my pain so that I can sit with others. Mom, you know how much I love you, and you did exactly what you were supposed to. I am here to learn this lesson and I am ever grateful for all of it.  I love you!

* I know many of you are grieving too. Maybe you’d want to try this exercise too. You don’t have to blog it or show it to anyone. You don’t have to go to a group. Sometimes the pain is just too overwhelming. I just hope you can give yourself the space to feel it, but only as much as you can handle. I’ll keep sharing my homework if you find it helps. Let me know.  Much love!

Hello Grief…

Aerial_View_of_Flying_Eagle_over_Green_Forested_Land

Hello Grief,

Here you are again, my old friend. Can I even call you a friend? The truth is that it’s never really good to see you. I’m sure that you know that. There were so many years when I locked you out, ignored your calls, and left you standing out in the cold. I didn’t know what to do with you. Well, not this time. This time I know that the sooner I let you in, the sooner your incessant knocking will quiet down.  This time I’ve opened the door wide, I’ve made room for you at my table and I will sit and talk with you for hours, for days, weeks, whatever it takes to honor these feelings.  I have a very heavy heart. The tears have come and I say let them flow. Let them pour out of me because the more I can let out the sooner my heart will begin to feel lightness again. I will make friends with you so that I can move forward.

My head certainly knows that everyone around me will die eventually. My head knows that the deceased are no longer suffering. My head knows that grieving is the work of the living. It’s my heart. It aches with pain and no matter what I tell myself my heart seems to need the time and space to grieve. I don’t know if that’s because I experienced the loss early and the pain I feel is through the lens of a 9 year old. It’s sharp. For me it’s a very physical experience. They say that each death reminds you of all the others. This latest death, the death of my uncle is bringing up the pain of losing my father suddenly as a child.  My uncle was one of my few male role models and he took an interest in me. He gave me a job when I first arrived in Maine and was very much a surrogate father. I am very grateful for having him in my life. He taught me many of the skills that I use today.  We haven’t been close over the last decade, but his impact on my life was great. He had a small plane and would take me up in it and we would fly over the hills and valleys of upstate New York. In life he taught me how to fly. In death he is teaching me how to be grounded and how to accept grief into my heart.

Some of you know that I work with Hospice. After going through grad school and acknowledging the unattended grief and loss from my early years and its impact on me I found a new way to give back; the wounded healer archetype at work. I was all set to begin working with a new general loss group on Tuesday. I would be mentoring under some of the other experienced facilitators. It now looks like that isn’t going to happen. This loss is too fresh and I wouldn’t be able to be there for the others. I’m disappointed, but I am considering going though the course as a member of the group. The more I can work though my own grief, the more I can help others and the more I help others with their grief, the more I work on my own.

My heart goes out to so many of you who are sitting with grief, friends and family, especially my cousins, Mary, Jen, Gordon and Dave, and their kids.  I hope you all find the space to honor your loss and the safety in which to express your feelings. If you haven’t found it you might consider checking your nearest Hospice Bereavement Center.  We heal each other when grief comes calling and grief is one of those friends, like it or not, that just keeps on calling. Eventually we all have to answer.  Blessings.

Integrated Ceramic Arts Presentations Thursday Dec. 5th 10am at Good Will-Hinckley

The primitive kiln we built to fire our clay vessels with the Humanities classes.

The primitive kiln we built to fire our clay vessels with the Humanities classes.

Students have been working hard for the past 8 weeks in Earth Science, Math, Humanities and Ceramic Sculpture and now they’d like to show you what they’ve learned.  Educators Emily Gribben, Ana Rothschild, Derek Veilleux, Dylan Engler, Brenda Poulin, and Nick Balfour have graciously allowed me to come into their classrooms and use clay to explore and expand the curriculum. The hope was that students would engage and deepen their understanding of the world around them.

In Humanities classes we researched Native American culture by creating coil pots using local clay, decorating with colored clay slips, burnishing and firing our pots on campus in a fire pit that we built ourselves. In Math class we studied artists such as MC Escher and Gaudi to create Tessellations and then created our very own tile wall piece that will grace the hallways of Means for years. In Earth Science we located clay on campus and dug soil samples, testing those for shrinkage, absorption and plasticity. We mixed 100 lbs. of local clay for future use as well as created tiles using geological formations as our inspiration. In Ceramic Sculpture we studied contemporary ceramic artists such as Valera Baytsa, a Russian Ceramicist and concepts such as texture, space, design, and more. To see more about each class please visit older posts.

We will be exhibiting our work and showing our powerpoint presentations in the cafeteria  at 10 am on Thursday December 5th on the Good Will-Hinckley Campus. We’ll be sharing what we’ve learned with the Cornville Charter School 5th- 7th graders and we are also welcoming the parents, administrators, and the public to see what we’ve been up to and listen to what we’ve discovered.  We hope that you will join us and celebrate our success.  If you’d like more information please contact me, Malley Weber at hallowellclayworks@myfairpoint.net

If you’d like to know more about MeANS and Good Will-Hinckley please visit www.gwh.org

Funded in part by a grant from the Maine Arts Commission, an independent state agency supported by the National Endowment for the Arts.

Funded in part by a grant from the Maine Arts Commission, an independent state agency supported by the National Endowment for the Arts.