Summer is a busy time for a girl covered in mud.

It’s been a long time since I updated you on what I’ve been up to. I’ve been having so much fun, such a busy spring and summer!

I’ve done a few last minute pop up sales. (I know, I should have told you about them.) And had my work in a few fundraising art auctions. (‘Shoulda told you that too.) And was displayed at the Pride In Art Festival at the Roundhouse. (My Bad)

I’m still throwing clay my usual (quite unusual) style, and teaching classes. But I’ve been working more on the wood fired pottery too. And now that I’ve gotten a bit more consistent in the fireing, I’m putting more energy into finding a local clay source. This will need to be a whole newsletter on its own.

In spring I went back to the Isle of Wight with my friend and stayed at his house again –  the house is mentioned in the Dooms Day Book, that makes it older than 1066. Last time I was there I went searching for ‘blue slipper clay”, but this time I found some even better clay to experiment with – and we found it in such a fun way. We were walking on the edge of a field of blooming rapeseed – waving fiery yellow in the breeze – when he pointed out a badger set, as I had never seen one. He suggested that the dirt that had been expelled by the badger looked like white clay – and it WAS! We gathered some up and I processed it – cleaned it all up, made it into a smooth workable clay – and made a small pinch pot. But I didn’t get a chance to fire it. When I go back, it will be waiting for me. I hid the clay and little pot in “Gunga Din’s cave’, an old potting shed no one uses anymore.

I’m very excited for my upcoming sale for Pagan Pride at Trout Lake on Sunday August 10th.I’ve been making some pretty special pieces, including rune beads and ritual bowls. At this Pagan Pride sale I’ll be starting to take orders for Yule commissions. I will make you a magical gift for the Viking in your life: a custom drinking horn, with a carved rune message. I can only make a certain number of these, so order yours as early as you can. Check out the examples below, andemail me if you’d like me to start working on some for you or your friends and family.

If you want to find me or my work I would love to see you at Pagan Pride, or to hear from you at anytime on any of my web or social media channels. Or you can find my stuff at the following places;

(more coming soon. I’ll let you know, I really will this time)

Wylde Wood Collective; River Market – upper level, 810 Quayside Drive, New Westminster

Scout & Co.; 3651 Moncton Street, Steveston

EWMA Gallery; 800 East Hastings Street, Vancouver

One last thing – have a blessed and fun Lughnasadh!

Ilena

Look What’s Cookin’.

Hope you are all feeling recovered from the holidays – and had a lovely Imbolc! This Celtic holiday – also known as Bridgets Day – is the first celebration for Spring, February 1 being halfway between winter solstice and spring equinox. Although the snow we had in Vancouver recently may not feel much like spring, it IS coming.

To celebrate I fired some pottery in my backyard, with an ancient technique – very similar to the way I learned to fire pottery in Mexico this past year. If you are interested… I’ll take you through how its done. You’ll just have to imagine the smell of hardwood smoke and the gentle crackle of the fire.

I started with a hand built pinch pot, which I have burnished, or polished, to a shine. I also made a rune bead set; 24 beads, each with a Viking rune letter. These go into a tin can with some paper, wood shavings, and scrap bits from my friend who is a carver.

I get the ol’ Webber grill going in the traditional way… charcoal briquettes! As those are doing their warm up thing… I put the can with the pottery in it just next to the warming charcoal. This pre-warms the pottery so it doesn’t get heated too fast when the big fire happens, which might cause cracking. Once the charcoal is all warmed up and mostly white, I spread out the coals, put the can with the pottery nestled into the middle, and stack as much firewood as I can in the grill.

I kinda play the rest by ear; lid or no lid, add more wood, etc.. I am aiming for that tin can in the middle to glow light orange for about an hour or two. How hot is that? One of these days I’ll stick a thermometer in there. But for now its… hot… hot enough (I think. I hope. Um… yeah).

This photo is steaming tea in one of my ‘ugly mugs’ while watching the fire. An altogether enjoyable way to spend a Vancouver ‘winter’ day! (I make these big fat mugs with felt covers and cork tops. I don’t know why I call them ‘ugly mugs’, they are really more like ‘snuggly mugs’. I sold all but one of them over Yule. I’ll make more. Oh, I’m off topic. Sorry)

Eventually I put the lid on tight, and just leave it be. I need to wait several hours for everything to burn out, and cool down. It’s so hard to wait! I’m so worried things cracked or exploded, or didn’t fire all the way, leaving the pot crumbly. Aaaaagggghhh! But finally…

And…Viola! It’s not broken or exploded… (I would not generally put this sort of art work in a craft sale, but if you’re interested in owning one of these unique objects just let me know, we can talk).

When the pot is all cleaned up, I give it a tap test; gently tap it with something metal, like a nail. If it makes a ringing noise, sort of like glass, its fired all of the way and has no cracks. If it makes a sort of ‘tonk’ sound, it did not fire right.

It rings beautifully! And the rune beads look like all but one came through perfectly! At the next full moon I shall sit outside with this little bowl filled with water. Reflecting the moonlight it will made a perfect black mirror – like a crystal ball – and we shall see what it has to say to me.

Thanks for sticking with me though that. I hope you liked hearing about a different way to make pottery.

Oh! One more thing…
I want to give a shout out to all of the amazing artists I met recently from the Wyldewood Collective Gallery in New Westminster. I am honored to have my work shown alongside yours. Y’all are super wicked cool!

If you haven’t been to the Wyldewood yet, go! It’s truly Magical!
https://www.wyldewoodcollective.com/

Blessings,

Ilena Lee

http://the-pottery-slut.com/