Thursday, March 31, 2016

The Colors of Deep and the Sisters of the Traveling Mug

I have a friend who recently bought one of my mugs. She told me that she carries her mug with her everywhere she goes, so I asked if she would write a guest post about this for my blog. She writes:

"I am a Deep River gal, born and bred, and I love this land. I love the granite outcroppings and the abundant fresh water in the glorious Ottawa River, lakes, streams and wetlands. I love the tall pines and the mixed deciduous/coniferous forest and I have a deep understanding of the complexities of this ecosystem - what lives here and why, from the bedrock to the tips of the tallest tree. I spend time outside every day, just soaking up the beauty of this habitat, this land, and feeling profoundly grateful that I live here. This is home, in all its extreme seasonal changes, and I feel connected to this land; it is part of me. When I travel, I carry pieces of the land with me, like talismen, to remind me of where I come from and to call me home.

There are several pocket rocks that have traveled thousands of miles with me and in recent years, I have also carried a mug from home. There is such comfort in starting each day, even in a far away land, with a cup of tea in a familiar and beloved mug.
Thanks Anne for the photo of my (now yours) "traveling mug" reflecting the colors of the Ottawa River

I have a favourite mug, crafted by Eva Gallagher, which captures a sense of the river, the Laurentian Lowlands and the trees and it has become my "traveling mug". The mug has accompanied me on trips to Bolivia (La Paz, Rurrenbacque jungle, El Choro mountain trek), Costa Rica (Playa Guiones), Nicaragua (Ometepe Island), North Carolina, St Joe's Island, and Pukaskwa Park on Lake Superior, Prince Edward Island (all over), New Brunswick (Douglas), and countless shorter trips around Ontario by plane, train, car, canoe and kayak. It fits securely in the cup holder of my car and happily holds a Tim Horton's medium.

I bought the mug at the Valley Artisans Coop a few years ago because it met my criteria - sit comfortably in my hand with good balance and with a pleasing colour palette. I prefer a slim profile in a mug since I hold it by the body instead of the handle. 

One day, in the fall of 2015, after dropping my son at school, I was driving along the waterfront near Centennial Rock, sipping tea from said mug, and was literally stopped dead in my tracks. The sunlight on the hills across the river, the colour palette of that breathtaking scenery was exactly what I held in my hand, on my mug. I pulled into the Centennial Rock parking area and got out, held the cup up in front of me and took a picture (or 10). Eva had captured the spirit of the river perfectly in the form and colour of the mug. Beautiful!

Last week, I was in the Potter's Guild, looking out the lovely new windows towards the river and was struck anew of how well this mug captures the essence of Deep River.  The Ottawa River is the heart of this community, it defines the landscape, it pulls me home and with this mug, I carry a piece of that wherever I go.  

Every day I am struck by the beauty that surrounds me in Deep River and I pause to appreciate the details of the perfection: frost designs on puddles and leaves, dew drops on spiderwebs, fog in the marina, rainbows, sundogs, sparkling snow sculptures. I am grateful for artistic skill which can capture the beauty in a functional and fabulous form.

Today, I leave for Sumatra so the adventures continue. Mug in hand, off I go...

Anne Davies March 28 2016

Inspiring words Anne - and have a wonderful trip!  Deep River is indeed a special place to live. Anne had ordered more of the same mugs to give to her sisters and friends so that they too can have a piece of Deep River and they have all become "Sisters of the Traveling Mug"! I decided to donate the proceeds from this commission for our new windows at the Guild - so we can all see that same million dollar view of the Ottawa River as we make and glaze our pots.
Three of the sisters of the "Travelling Mug"
One of the "Traveling Sisters" in Sumatra with Anne

The descending swirl in the cup design was inspired by courses that I took from Steven Hill and Nick Joerling. I then embellished them - I stamp on a few vertical lines with the end of a wooden stick and add stamped swirls.

For glazing - first Watercolour Green is brushed on and rubbed off, staying only in the impressions. Then the bottom is dipped in a glaze that comes from cleaning out the spray booth - so will not be able to duplicate once I run out!  I then brush on some Dan Hill Lithium Blue Slip, near the top and Strontium Crystal Magic near the middle. Then I spray with Hannah Blue Ash, Van Gilder Blue Ash near the top, a Magnesium Mat in the middle, and a very light  spray of Aerni Ash (no colorants) on top half, an extremely runny ash glaze, just to ensure lots of movement. It is fired in reduction - gas kiln to cone 10.

The last batch I found was not quite as pale yellow in the middle as the one Anne bought .It had more more grayish-white than  yellow, but then over all the swirl lines were better. It takes a lot of practice to get things right!

It's been a while since I have blogged but I am determined to give it another go to write more regularly - it really does motivate me to think about what I am creating and why. So another thank you to Anne - for giving me a reason to get back to blogging!

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