Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Refilling the Creative Well With Family, Flowers and Pottery

One of the hazards of being a writer is that it can be a very solitary job, one that requires a lot of living in one's own head. The people we end up talking to the most can sometimes be the imaginary ones we create for our stories instead of the living ones who actually surround us. When one of my sisters recently told me that I "needed to get out more", I took her advice and booked a quick trip up to visit her in the Atlanta area for a change of scenery, a change of routine and a couple of days worth of relaxation.

Valerie is an extremely creative person, and has always been able to think outside the box. Her gifts are many and varied; she's a talented floral designer who recently opened her own shop, AND she's an amazingly gifted potter, with her own pottery studio.

I hadn't seen the store yet (though I'd heard all about it), and wasn't sure what to expect, though I knew it would be awesome. What I didn't expect was to walk through the door and go "WOW!" But I did, and here's why:

She's put her heart and soul into the place, and it shows. Unlike many florist shops, walking into hers is like walking into a secret garden, full of nature and gorgeous blooms. Check out the wallpaper - it's a silkscreened photo of an actual forest - and look what she has hanging there... those are her originally designed, handmade "tree masks". No two are even remotely alike (this picture doesn't begin to do them justice). They're outdoor garden art, designed to be strapped to live trees with rawhide. The expression, the detail, and the glazing makes them all fantastically unique and oddly alive.

So, yesterday, we spent most of the day in her pottery studio, where she showed me how to make my own. Since I have "devils" on the brain these days, guess what I came up with? :-) I was going for Puck, the horny satyr from Midsummer Night's Dream, and wanted him to look both naughty and mischievious.

If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended,
That you have but slumber'd here
While these visions did appear.
And this weak and idle theme,
No more yielding but a dream.

This is just the raw clay version - Valerie will paint it with the glaze I chose, a speckled concoction of browns and creams, and then fire it in her kiln. Since firing up a kiln is quite a production, I probably won't see the finished product for several weeks. It was a pretty fascination process, though - shaping, smoothing, slicing - I used sea shells for the texturing. Who knew?

Anyway, I came back today, relaxed and refreshed, and ready to start the next book. Plus, my sister can't nag me about "getting out more". :-)

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