Handbuilt Clay Homes

     photo(2)We are on an architectural development spree here at Spirit of Clay.  There have been houses built of many shapes and sizes.  They are designed with different holidays and seasons in mind . Halloween, St Patrick’s Day, Valentine’s Day, Gingerbread house and a spring house or Easter house and that is just the beginning of this craze.The wheels have been turning for the next one.  Unlike most houses that you see while driving around, these structures are fun, artsy, bright and colorful.  They run the gambit when it comes to the colors that they are painted. You will see them covered with spirals, dots, stripes and any other design that the artist has been inspired by.  Some of our home builders are children while some are adults.  People build them as a group, as a family or by themselves.

Just think, these houses were built from slabs of clay for the walls and a bowl of clay slip for the mortar.  They are constructed with smiles, laughter and enthusiasm.  No two houses are the same.  You come in and build the house and about 2 weeks later you come back and paint it.  We fire it again and then you pick it up.  What’s really cool is that it lights up not only your face but the room that you put it in.  Have you ever wanted to design your own house but you lacked the confidence to persevere?  Take that inner child by the hand and come in and build a house that you will cherish forever.

(please call ahead and sign up for a class)

 

A Labor of Love

     The studio is on to its next holiday,  one that celebrates the amazing feeling of love. Valentine’s day is only a couple of weeks away. Today, a special customer of ours, whom we consider a wonderful friend, was at the studio painting a heart trinket box for his special love.  He shared with me the beautiful story of how he and his fiancée met, how they courted each other through the years and how they arrived at where they are now, engaged to be married this year.  His eyes twinkled with passion for his partner.  He spoke about some of his struggles with love that he faced at different points in his life and how he persevered  and jumped his share of hurdles to get to where he is today.  He is what I like to think of as an “old soul”.  I admire him for the great strides he has made on his journey and the wisdom that he so graciously imparted to me.  I too know love and it’s in describable  feeling.  I also know that love is not stagnant, it is always flowing and moving to different rhythms like a dance. Love challenges us to be compassionate, caring and honest. Love exists in varying degrees at different times in our lives whether it be for a partner, a family member, a friend, a pet or most importantly yourself.  I encourage you this Valentine’s day to not only create something special for a loved one but also to do something exceptional for yourself.  I support you on this “love affair” because I am sure that we have a blank canvas here at Spirit of Clay, whether it is ceramic, glass or clay, waiting for someone to breathe life into it by creating a labor of love. A piece of art just waiting for you to claim as a gift for that special someone in your life, YOU!

Beauty is there if you look out the window.

cardinalIt is so hard for me to get use to the winters in Cleveland.  I am not a big fan of the cold but I have weathered it all my life.  I would much rather put on a sweatshirt and go for a walk on a cool day in the spring than bundle up in a heavy coat and brave the winter elements. I must say though as I sat inside my warm home and looked outside my back window I realized that winter can be beautiful in a retrospective way.  Upon the ground was a gorgeous blanket of white snow glistening and pure.   Underneath the many bird feeders(which I must admit are filled by someone other than myself) I spotted a majestic bright red cardinal picking at the little specks of seeds that had made their way to the ground. The colors as they all came together were amazing.  In our home we always say when we see a cardinal that it is Grandma-a remarkable and loving woman who passed away many years ago.  She has always loved cardinals.  It always brings us comfort to imagine that she is stopping by to check in on us and to let us know that she is always close by.  Grandma was an artist and created amazing watercolor paintings which grace many walls in our home.  So as I glanced out the window and took in the scenery I was reminded that even in hard times whether it be the bitter cold temperatures outside or even dark moments in our lives there is still beauty all around us.  Beautiful colors and works of art.  We just have to remember to look outside the many windows in our lives and take in the splendor all around us.  Thank you Grandma for helping open my eyes today to the art all around me.

                                                     You are beautiful …

In With the New

Another New Year has rung in at Spirit of Clay.  We have all of our wonderful customers and staff to thank for this.  We have made a lot of amazing friends in 2012 and look forward to building on those relationships as well as creating many more in 2013.  We certainly are off to a good start at the studio.  We have been so busy this week with our kid’s winter break camp. We made large clay bowls, awesome glass fused heart and star mirrors , artsy 4 piece glass wall hangings and had a blast with the fun and messy pottery wheel class.  I am often reminded that change brings growth so with the changing of the year we will do everything that we possibly can to grow here at Spirit of Clay in order to offer all of you the best “Paint Your Own Pottery and Art Studio” that we can. Thanks to all of you for your support in 2012.  Please grow wiphoto-1th us itnnphoto(6) 20photo(7)13.

Holiday Memories

photo(3)What an amazing Holiday season that we had at Spirit of Clay.  Kelly and I were just talking today about all the memories that have been made here at the studio. There was little Max who painted colorful brush strokes on a large pasta bowl and then with black paint put his hand prints on the front , he made this gift for Grandpa to open.  Mary and Lucy came in with their Mom and made a gingerbread house out of clay, came back and painted it and now it is proudly displayed in their home, as they grow, so will their memories of the day they spent together.  Nancy came in and painted ornaments for all 6 of her children to hang on their Christmas tree and then one day when they are grown they will hang it on their own tree and read the inscription on the back-Love Mom , 2012.  There was 3 kids who came in with their Dad and made a cup, plate and a toy soldier for Mom to open Christmas morning.  They painted their pieces with no inhibitions as Dad told them what a beautiful job they had done and how they needed to keep it a secret from Mom.  Maggie came in and created awesome gifts out of clay along with her Mom and her cousin to hand out to their loved ones for the holidays. Hailey came in and found the elf on the shelf and her name was entered in a drawing that was later picked to win the prize of Spirit , our own little elf on the shelf.  Diana  stopped in to just escape from the hustle and bustle of the holiday shopping and spent time making some thing for herself, she gave herself the gift of quiet and art.  These are just a small sampling of all the people who graced us with their presence here at Spirit of Clay. So many people not only created pieces of art but more importantly  they made memories they will carry with them forever. 

Kel and I also carry with us wonderful memories from this holiday season and we have all of you to thank for that.  You have shared so much with us just when you walk in the door.  You give us hope for many more years to come and for that and much more we are grateful beyond words.  Thank you for making our memories possible and also for letting Spirit of Clay be part of yours. It is Christmas eve and we would like to wish all of you who celebrate Christmas a very happy and merry day filled with wonderful memories.

The sign

Crazy things are happening at the studio.  For anyone who hasn’t noticed, we have had a sandwich board in the foyer of Spirit of Clay for the past eight years.  On this we make announcements about special parties that we are having such as “Happy Birthday” and also the name of the birthday girl or boy.  The children seem to get such a kick out of seeing their names officially displayed along with a birthday wish.  I remember when I was a kid and how special it was to be recognized as the birthday girl.  Sure I wish they had Paint You Own Pottery studios to have a birthday party at back in the day,  but then again that is a whole other blog post.  So getting back to the sign in the foyer, someone decided that they wanted it for their own and walked off with it.  Really, who does that, at Spirit of Clay of all places?  So today, little Bobby who just turned five years old had no sign to announce his getting older.  I didn’t have the heart to tell him that it was stolen by someone who must have been pretty desperate to steal a sign that’s sole purpose was to put a smile on a child’s face and wish her or him a Happy Birthday. I would like to think that it was borrowed by someone who needed a way to make a birth announcement to their neighbors and that it is sitting on their front lawn and will soon be returned.  Wouldn’t that be nice.

Renewed Spirit

Once a month on a Thursday, Spirit of Clay goes to Hospice of the Western Reserve with a variety of ceramic pieces, paints and brushes.  This is something we have been doing for about 7 years.  We set up in the atrium there and wait for the arrival of people who need a short reprieve from  daily wear and tear on their lives.  It truly is a learning experience for Kelly and I and we would like to believe that it is just as valuable for the patients and their families.  Last night was our Hospice evening.  We have met amazing people, heard tales of incredible struggle and are graced with the sharing of life stories while being there.  We have been blessed by the experiences that we have been part of there.

It is always emotional for us.  It tugs at the heart-strings as anyone could imagine it would.  It has a way of bringing us down to earth and reminding us of the impermanence of life while at the same time helping us to appreciate the joy that we have in our lives.

The holiday visits at Hospice are especially eye-opening.  Families are going about their business of tending to sick loved ones and the preparation of loss in their lives.  Although there are festive decorations and the staff goes out of their way to make it homey and bright, something is missing for me. The hope that everything will “get all better”.  The hope that there will be no sadness, and the hope that life will go on forever.  But there is faith and that shines bright.  Faith that we can get through hard times. Faith that people are resilient. And most importantly our “faith” that carries us through the sadness.

Although I often leave with a heavy heart, I always leave with a renewed spirit.  A spirit renewed with gratitude for everything that we have been blessed with.  For family , friends and all of you who have come into our lives at Spirit of Clay.  You warm our hearts on a daily basis.  You give us hope for a bright tomorrow with your creativity, laughter and stories that you share.   We can only hope that we do the same for you. We are blessed.

A Better Tomorrow

Hanukkah is over and Christmas is right around the corner.  We are very busy here at the studio.  We are dipping pieces into the clear glaze vat everyday.  One or more of the kilns get loaded daily and every other day we are unloading and matching up customer tickets with finished product and filling up our pickup shelves.  It is so easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the studio that sometimes we lose sight of the events that are going on all around us.  I am sure this is true for many of us this time of year.

When tragedy struck in Newtown we left our own little bubble and mourned with the rest of the world about the horror that occurred there.  Everything stopped !  Life threw us into sadness.  It was unimaginable that something so heinous happened to not only 1 but 26 people who were just going about their daily lives.  Their own hustle and bustle. Their own holiday traditions.  Making their own festive memories. We all need to stop and think about what we can do to deter this from ever happening again.  I am not sure of what the answer is but I do know that we are all in this together and need to be proactive in stopping hatred by being more aware of what part that we can play in the crusade against violent and malicious acts.

The studio is full of holiday gift creating and joyous memories being made with families and friends and when in the event a piece of pottery is dropped and breaks we need to put it into perspective.  A piece of ceramic can be replaced, those 20 children’s lives and the 6 adults lives cannot. Enjoy your holiday, hold your family close and let’s work together to make a better world for our children.

Family memories

At Spirit of Clay we have been blessed with seeing families make memories together.  Gingerbread houses are such a big hit this holiday season.  It was not significant  what holiday belief was being celebrated , all that mattered was that families came together to join in the magic of the season.  We had a little girl named Greer sit down with her dad for a special date, from which they will light up their clay house, their memento of this evening spent together, every year during this season or whenever memories are most important.  I watched them as they pressed in and smoothed out the supports that held up the walls of clay  and realized that at the same time  they were also building and strengthening the framework of their relationship.  By spending this time together they were creating their own magical memories.  The smiles that they shared and the love and patience that they showed for each other was very heartfelt.

This year alone, in our studio, our own little house of clay, we had over 50 beautiful and unique houses constructed not only of clay but most importantly of love and memories.  We are so happy to be apart of the magic.  (By the way, Greer and her Dad also built a haunted house together in the fall. Word has it from her Mom that we will most likely be lucky enough to have them join us here at the studio to make a clay Valentines house). Thanks to Greer and her Dad for being part of “our” memories at Spirit of Clay.

 

Kiln Magic

 

A friend of ours once told us it’s either Christmas or Halloween when the kiln is opened after a glaze fire.  Christmas being – “WOW, everything looks amazing and fired beautifully”.  Halloween being – “Something during the fire has gone awry – frightening”.  Thank the kiln goddess that it is happy holidays 99.9% of the time.  Everything starts off in the kiln a pasty blue-green color after the pieces are dipped in a final glaze and then  comes out 2 1/2 days later shinning with beautiful colors.  We opened up the kiln today and what to our wondering eyes should appear but an oven full of colorful gingerbread houses painted with cheer.  We are always amazed when we see all the creativity that abounds at Spirit of Clay.