Monday, December 1, 2008

The Odd Note and Observation

Although I love what I do, there are times I feel that trying to make it as a professional artist, gardener and public speaker is, in a phrase, a brutal way to make a living. (I especially feel this way as I'm loading up my poor Saturn wagon with twelve boxes of pottery, a canopy and weights, two tables, a cordless drill and other various and sundry "stuff" for yet another trek to parts unknown.) Even the merest words of appreciation are balm to my perplexed spirit (and aching body). So, when I received the following after giving my "Establishing and Maintaining Winter Interest" presentation for the Milford Garden Club in October, I felt pretty darn good:

I want to thank you for inspiring me to embrace the season and to look for beauty in any season in the garden and yard! Your presentation to the Milford Garden Club a few weeks ago really inspired me to get out of my "winter is coming funk" and do things now to enhance my winter landscape. I have uplighted a dogwood and a Japanese maple and have left snow catching stalks in my perennial beds. I knew to do these things - I just needed you to motivate me. Thanks!
Lisa Willard

Thank you, Lisa, for letting me know it really is worth all the effort!

During the craziness that was the summer of 2008, Dr. Ralph Stuckman, Managing Editor for The Potter's Shed on the Art-to-Art Palette site (, contacted me to contribute to the "Potter Asks" portion of the site. You can get some more insight as to what drives me as an artist (and human being, for that matter). Thanks to Ralph for his interest!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Workshops in the Works

Well, due to consistent demand, I've been in discussions with a couple places to share my pottery techniques in a more "hands-on" setting. Anton Art Center, in Mt. Clemens, and Firebrick Studio and Gallery, in Rochester, have both been very supportive and we're putting together a couple two-session workshops to give folks a chance to explore the potentials of a slab roller and to see if a larger-format class might be workable in the future.
On Sunday, November 21, I was at the Anton Art Center, with a lot of other very cool people, for their "Meet the Artists" reception in connection with their Holiday Shop. The photo, taken by the peripatetic Don Schulte, is of me with Jennifer Callans, the Anton Art Center Director, with some of my pottery. It was a great event, hosted by the Women Presbyteers (those cookies were really good). I couldn't believe how quickly two hours passed!
If you're interested in taking a workshop at either location, you can contact the Art Center at (586) 469-8666 or Firebrick at (248) 394-5355. Hope to see you there!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Can You Believe It?

I don't know about you, but I can't believe that it's already almost Thanksgiving. And there's a lot to be thankful for, even here in Michigan. I had a good gardening season, working with Mil Hurley's team at A Southern Gardener (hey there, Mil, Terese, Alaine, Carol, Cathy, Sue, Fran, Debbie and Emily): I learned I was doing a lot of things right, met some great people and learned a lot of new things, too. I was hoping that I would have some time to do some stuff in my garden before the winter clamped down, but no such luck. I'll be lucky to get the leaves off the drive near the garage or cut down the peonies!

I met some great folks on the speaking tour this last season as well, and so many people supportive of my artistic endeavors, also. My work was featured on the first page of the Business Section of The Detroit News on November 11, 2008, in connection with an interview with my good friend Mark, who owns and operates a delightful business called Ariel's Enchanted Garden on Gratiot in East Pointe. They say there's no such thing as bad publicity but I say there's nothing like good publicity, period.

Now it's time to gear up for the holiday season, and I've got my pottery at a number of community art centers for gift giving. Please support our local arts councils and arts centers, as well as our local artists, when considering your gift giving choices. Buying local keeps the money here in the local economy, instead of shipping it to the states where the big-box stores have their headquarters - which are not in Michigan.

Here's the run-down:

Anton Art Center, 125 Macomb Place, Mount Clemens, MI 48043, (586) 469-8666. Christmas Market Wonderland, November 21 - December 21, 2008.

Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center
, 1516 Cranbrook Road, Birmingham, MI 48009, (248) 644-0866. Holiday Shop 08 December 5-20, 2008.

Grosse Pointe Art Center, 15001 Kercheval, Grosse Pointe Park, MI 48230, (313) 821-1848. Gallery Wide Holiday Shop, November 21 - December 23, 2008.

Northville Art House
, 215 West Cady Street, Northville, MI 48167, (248) 344-0954. Holiday Art Market, November 7 - December 21, 2008.

Pewabic Pottery
, 10125 East Jefferson Avenue, Detroit, MI 48214, (313) 822-0954. Earthy Treasures, November 7 - December 31, 2008.

Starkweather Art & Cultural Center
, 219 North Main Street, Romeo, MI 48065, (586) 752-5700. Holiday Show, November 7 - December 21, 2008.

I'm also in talks with both Anton Art Center and Firebrick Gallery & Pottery Studio (404 S. Main Street, Rochester, MI 48307, (248) 650-2500) regarding teaching workshops and/or classes focusing on the techniques I use in creating my work. If you're interested in learning more, please contact me at

Keep well and warm out there!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Upcoming Events....

Well, the season is upon us. The season for everything, it seems. Spring is finally, definitely here - as advised by yesterday's (much anticipated) thunderstorms. And that means gardening. And that means garden art. So, here's a rundown on upcoming events, including new locations where you can find my work. And if you need additional info (I'm including everything I have in my little orange "Pottery" folder), just e-mail me at And thanks for your patience and interest!

Junior League of Detroit Designers Show House, Grosse Pointe Park, Michigan. My work is also amongst those featured at the Junior League of Detroit's Designers Show House, which opens today and runs through May 18. Tickets are available at a number of locations around the metropolitan Detroit region. The address is 15637 Windmill Pointe Drive, in Grosse Pointe Park, MI. For more information, go to their website at

Ariana Gallery, Royal Oak, Michigan. I talked with Anne Kuffler, the director, yesterday. She indicated that they had just started their latest glass exhibition, which will run through the end of May. We're going to have a preview of my work for Royal Oak in Bloom for next weekend (just a little sampling of my work to "whet" your appetites, hopefully) and the show will open Friday, June 6. She plans, at least initially, to feature a lot of the stuff in the window so folks see she has garden art; and then, unless I need to pull work out as the summer progresses, she plans on keeping it there through the season. This is all at Ariana Gallery, 119 S Main Street in Royal Oak, (248) 546-8810.

Grosse Ile Herb Society, Herb Fest, Grosse Ile, Michigan. Once again, the Grosse Ile Herb Society (if I got the name wrong, my apologies) will be hosting its eighth annual Herb Fest at the Centennial Farm on Grosse Ile on Saturday, May 17. Get there early to have the best selection of plants and garden-related products, including hypertuffa by Farmbrook Designs (Chris and Glenda produce superior designs and are wonderful folks), The Garden Gate art by Cindy Kinkaid (great lady) and herbal soaps and other personal products by Flower Child Herbs. The Herb Society members - who are amazingly generous folks - always do this event right. This year's theme is the American Southwest so you can look forward to a warm, welcoming ambiance - and great food! Check out their website ( for more information.

Gardenviews, Northville, Michigan. I'm going to be at Gardenviews in Northville on Saturday, May 24, helping celebrate their anniversary. I'm going to be there 2:00-4:00pm, focusing on my newest work, including the structures my collaborator, Dan Taylor, and I have been creating. They're featuring another artist earlier in the day who does absolutely wonderful photography (he studied under Ansel Adams) and has developed a process to be able to display these works outside. Not cheap but very, very cool - and very accomplished. Gardenviews is located at 202 W Main St, Northville, (248) 380-8881.

I'm also going to have additional work at the Pewabic Pottery Home and Garden Show (June 7-8) and just delivered some work to the Biddle Gallery in Wyandotte (2840 Biddle Avenue, Wyandotte, (734) 281-4779). My work is always available at The Northville Art House (215 W. Cady Street, Northville, (248) 344-0497), Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center (516 S. Cranbrook, Birmingham, (248) 644-0866), Circare (23024 Greater Mack Ave., Saint Clair Shores, (586) 771-8510), Goldner Walsh Nursery, in the Flower Shop (559 Orchard Lake Road, Pontiac, (248) 332-6430), Blumz... by JR Designs (1300 Broadway Street, Detroit, (313) 964-5777 - ask for Robbin; he's wonderful!) and Pewabic Pottery (10125 E. Jefferson Ave., Detroit, (313) 822-0954).

And you know you can always visit me at the studio and see my work in its natural environment - the garden!

Enjoy the season!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Large Bird Bowl

Wanted to share a picture of one my large bird bowls. My friend Dan, the metal guy, does the stands for these, using raw, cold-worked steel. The feet are fashioned to look like little bird feet (or tree roots, depending on how you look at it) and work really well with the organic feel of the pottery.

I only use the leaves from locally-growing native plants - trees, shrubs and vines. I'm quite passionate about native plants and promote them in my landscaping business as much possible as well. I either impress the leaves into the body of the clay bowl or roll them into a thin slab of clay and cut them out, and then apply them to the bowl. Although the branches look quite a lot like wood (folks often ask me how I got the wood on the bowl), they are actually made of applied clay coils that I manipulate too look more wood-like.

I have a six-step glazing process for these pieces - staining and "washing" the "wood", staining and "washing the leaves, applying wax resist for those surfaces and then glazing. The stained surfaces are less slipper and therefore more bird- friendly and the three-dimensional leaves make additional surfaces for smaller birds to enjoy the bowl without risk of life or wing.

I'm putting together a show for May 2008 at Ariana Gallery in Royal Oak which will feature these pieces - check back here for updates!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Species and Small-Flowering Clematis in Oakland County, Michigan

I've got a gig coming up tomorrow in Oakland County, through the kind offices of John Humphrey et al with the Master Gardener Association of Oakland County. I'll be giving my talk on Species and Small Flowering Clematis, one of my favorite topics. Check my calendar (it's there even if it's a bit goofy) for additional dates and topics if you can't make this one.

This photo (which I actually took in my yard last year) is of C. texensis 'Sir Trevor Lawrence', a flower so beautiful it can even make a chain link fence look, well, less than ugly. See this beauty and many others at one of my presentations!

Ginormous Sunflower

Whenever I refer to my "ginormous" sunflower, I generally get a laugh, but I've heard this word in a movie ("Dear Frankie", which I highly recommend) and I've heard other folks use it as well. Anyway, my cousin, Andrea (accent on the "e"), asked me about my work, possibly as a gift for her Mom, my Aunt Jane, for her birthday next month, and I thought this would be perfect for her. (My traditional wedding gift is one of my sunflowers and a note to the effect that I hope the two parties will always be one another's sunshine.) I promised her I would try to upload some info and a pix, so here I am.

This photo was shot by Don, my photographer extraordinaire, back in October. We shoot all of my work in its natural environment; that is, my garden. I loved how he captured the top of the fence, to show it's on a fence. And the combination of the weathered wood, the lush Boston Ivy and the sunflower really are lovely. (This photo, by the way, is featured in the Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center's Spring 2008 Catalog. Don does very good work.)

The sunflowers (or "funslowers"?) come in five different sizes - Tiny, Small, Medium, Large and, of course, Ginormous. (I'm also working on a Mini concept for decorating container gardens.) They can hang (I use plastic-coated wire so it won't rust) and go on stakes; I have custom-made stakes for the two smaller sizes and I make stakes to order for the three largest sizes (or, if you or someone you know can solder, you can make them yourselves from standard 1/2" or 3/4" copper tubing). There are, at last count, over 35 different patterns for the centers and around 19 different colors for the petals.

I've gotten a lot of great feedback on them. They're available at Circare (a great shop in St. Clair Shores, MI), the world-famous Pewabic Pottery in Detroit, the Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center and Goldner Walsh Nursery in Pontiac (check their Flower Shop). They're a lot of fun to make - and folks do seem to like them!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Welcome and Let's Have Some Fun!

Welcome to my new website construction zone. My friend and colleague, Don Schulte, is helping me get going so you'll be able to see my work as it's progressing. Right now, I'm working on large bird bowls for the May show at Ariana Gallery in Royal Oak, Michigan. Also gearing up for the Master Gardener Volunteer Conference in East Lansing. As I get the site up and running, I'll post locations where you can find my work, as well as dates for shows, events, etc. I'm looking forward to having a lot of fun putting this together and sharing my adventure with you!