August 25, 2018 · 10:10 pm
I find happiness in dreaming. One thing that drives A. crazy is when we’re on a trip — an amazing trip where we’re kayaking in Costa Rica past sea turtles — and I’m so full of life and excitement, I say, “Where can we go NEXT?” I get it, I also like to live in the moment especially while life is good — and the people we love are doing well. But sometimes I can’t help myself — thinking about what’s next is a bubbling up, my-cup-runneth-over feeling.
Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about what’s next: What’s my next goal, what can I get involved in, where can I find the community I’ve been longing for. I don’t have answers, but here’s a list of places I’d love to go and dreams I’d love to fulfill. Some of these ideas come from friends who have lived them.
- An artist’s residency for pottery in Maine or Australia
- A writer’s retreat where I’m with other writers and someone cooks for me (oh I love when people cook for me!). Bonus if it’s someplace like Italy.
- A yoga retreat. I saw one in Bali that would be amazing.
- A biking trip in Northern Spain
- Working on a farm in Maine
- Learning how to make cheese
- Sailing in Turkey
- Sight-seeing in the Galapagos Islands
- A running race in Hawaii
- Volunteering for a cause I believe in
- Traveling to the caves and story-book settings in France
- Seeing the Northern Lights in Norway and visiting one of my favorite potters I found on Instagram
When I was single (nearly 10 years ago, woah), if I was struggling with feeling lonely or during a breakup, I would write lists like this and it always, always cheered me up. There’s so much to do! So much to look forward to!
Speaking of pottery, I continue to see progress with each firing, and I continue to be motivated when I sell. Today, a woman I don’t know bought a mug off of Etsy and I went to my shop while the boys were occupied and I threw three more pieces in a surge of excitement.
I’ve also really been enjoying the kids in a profound way. In a “they are growing up and I love them within the deepest reaches of my soul” kind of way. The song “Have It All” by Jason Mraz, which is about kids leaving the nest, makes me cry (twice this week!) because even though my boys are 6, 4 and 2, it doesn’t seem that far off when they’ll leave to explore and discover themselves. I already know how deeply I’ll miss them.
This summer, the boys and I spent two weeks in Michigan, including a week up north at a lake house. Every year I get older, the more connected I feel to my home state — the people are down to earth and kind and the landscape up north on the water is serene and beautiful. And of course, many of my friends and family are there. It makes me want to have a house there to spend in the summers when A. and I are retired. One there, and maybe one in California for the winter. I don’t know where we’ll be in a few years, but every time we move and every time I travel, I’m looking, and feeling and trying to understand what I want and where I want to be. I’m dreaming. Because dreaming makes me happy.
Filed under ceramics, family, friends, great outdoors, pottery, travel, Uncategorized
Tagged as ceramics, dreaming, dreams, happiness, happy, pottery, travel
April 7, 2018 · 4:24 am
Spring has sprung here in the Antelope Valley. The birds are singing, the trees are blooming, I see bright orange poppies sprouting in the fields. I’m spending hours — no exaggeration — weeding our lawn. I constantly have dirt under my fingernails and it smells like grass, always. The evenings are getting longer, and the boys are happy spending hours outside. I planted tomatoes, strawberries and jalapenos.
My oldest started T-ball practice, which may be the cutest thing I’ve ever watched. I love sitting in the stands without any cares in the world — I’m not compelled to check my phone or do anything but sit and watch my boy chew on his glove, swing and miss the ball and on a grounder let the ball dribble through his legs.
I’m starting to run regularly. It’s painful, but after five hard runs in a week and a half, I’m already feeling better. I know I have to slog through it to get to a place where it feels good, but this part does not feel good. But I am grateful that I have good knees and that I can run.
I’m also spending a lot of time in my pottery shop, which A. finished. I fired my first set of pots in the new kiln. I picked a conservative setting because I was worried about the glaze running over onto the shelves, and it was my best firing yet. It’s thrilling to have the power to make mugs, bowls, planters, plates, vases, etc. The list is endless. The catch is I still don’t have much time, but I get in my shop when I can and I try not to put any pressure on myself to produce. It’s still just a hobby, afterall.
An expensive hobby. So I re-opened my Etsy shop (erinkillianpottery) and I’m listing pots in the evenings, before my dose of This Is Us, which I’m binging on right now.
I’m thinking a lot about preschool next year. And summer travel. And if I should be worried that my youngest only has a few words when he should have more. And doctor appointments. And what to make for dinner.
This is my life right now. My happy, imperfect life that is mostly at home and so different from 10 years ago when I was dating and traveling and working. It’s amazing where life will take you.
Filed under art, family, happy, pottery, Uncategorized
Tagged as ceramics, handmade life, happy, inspiration, life, pottery, pottery shop, sports, spring
September 28, 2016 · 4:27 am
Last weekend, we drove up to Northern New Mexico, where one of A.’s coworkers owns 220 acres of land that’s been in his family for a century. He’s an Army guy who went to West Point and carries a gun on his hip (but I didn’t see it). It was the first time I’d chatted with his wife, and she was easy to talk to and had many qualities I admire (easy going and a problem solver).
We stayed in the house that’s been in the family for 100 years. It was built in 1898 and there are no hallways. The house feels like it’s out of the ’50s, with a TV from that era, a kitchen with a stove that has an opening to burn wood and a toilet that’s so low it was easy for my 4 year old and 2 year old to get on it.
There were Readers Digest books from the ’40s on the shelves. The floral curtains and the smell — oh that smell — reminded me of my grandma’s and grandpa’s house in Flint, Mich.
The next morning, we drove up to the land. Open, beautiful land where elk and bears roam at almost 9,000 feet. The leaves were starting to turn color. A. brought a newly crafted tire swing for the boys, and another guy made ribs on the slow cooker. I had decided to go home that night because L., at 2 1/2 months, is a bit young to camp — he’s already had two colds in his short life — and the temps got down to the 30s. But I enjoyed my morning/early afternoon out there and I know it was the right decision, even if I missed the ribs and the stars. Just being out in the fresh air and staying in what felt like a museum invigorated me.
Another thing that has invigorated me: I opened my Etsy shop (Erin Killian Pottery) more than a month ago and already have 15 sales and 9 good reviews. I was worried I’d be overwhelmed — you know, with three kids under 5 including a newborn — but I haven’t felt like that at all. It’s a fun challenge.
The pace has been perfect — a sale every few days. With the two older boys in preschool three days a week, I’ve been able to get an hour in here and there to throw more.
And I was pleased with my last firing. One of the potters at New Mexico Clay, where I do my firings, said, “They’re looking really good,” and she sounded surprised when she said, “You did all of this with a new baby?” Well, babies do sleep a lot and L. is particularly chill. (Besides a few days of gas, but gripe water helped with that.)
I bought a book Mastering the Potter’s Wheel: Techniques, Tips, and Tricks for Potters, which has some important tips for me and is also inspiring. I keep waiting for my love of pottery to wear off and it hasn’t happened yet. So I’ll keep on throwing and keep on growing and keep on finding ways to feel invigorated. I’m sure the cool fall air will help with that, too, and getting ready for family to visit soon. Here’s to making the most of life and living in the moment. Hugs to you all.
Filed under camping, ceramics, family, friends, great outdoors, inspiration, pottery, the great outdoors, Uncategorized
Tagged as ceramics, etsy, etsyshop, family, handmade, happy, inspiration, invigorate, mugs, new mexico, outdoors, photography, pottery, vases
August 29, 2016 · 3:52 pm
It’s been six weeks since my surgery, and I feel back to normal. Well, as normal as you can feel with a newborn. Luckily, L. is a decent sleeper. Usually. OK, last night not so much, when he was up at 2 a.m., 4 a.m., 5 a.m. and 6 a.m. But three nights ago my little 7 week-old gave me a 6-hour stretch, which had me dancing to “Foot Loose” around my living room. (Another exaggeration, I can’t help myself today.)
I’ve been walking and I tried to run a few days ago. That wasn’t happening. It’s hard enough to run after a pregnancy, but now I have a surgery to contend with, so it will take more time. I’m trying to be patient.
We took the boys rock climbing in the Jemez mountains yesterday and A. set an easy climb for them (and me), but I wasn’t feeling up to it. Rock climbing is harder when you’re carrying extra weight and I have 10 more pounds to go. But it was lovely being in nature — trees! Fresh air! Sunshine! I’ve missed day trips like this.
In other news, I opened an Etsy shop to sell my pottery. I was simply investigating how to do it, and then suddenly it was done. I went with Erin Killian Pottery so it’s easy to find. My sister-in-law is a graphic designer (check out her stuff at Beth Killian Design) and she whipped up a logo for me.
I haven’t formally announced the shop to family and friends yet — I want to tweak it a bit and maybe add a few more items. I’ve read it’s good to have 20-30 items to start and I have 16 up there. Who knows, that might be enough. On Saturday, I started to throw again for the first time in two months. I made four mugs and three small ring bowls and felt relaxed and in my element. I’m pretty sure I think better when I’m throwing clay. A. said, “Look at you, you’re filthy!” and I nodded and gave him the biggest grin. It feels good to be back to myself again.
Filed under art, happy, health, photography, pottery, running, the great outdoors, Uncategorized
Tagged as ceramics, exercise, handmadepottery, happy, health, mugs, pottery
June 17, 2016 · 2:08 am
I’m two weeks away from my due date, and feel like I’m barely holding this baby in. Achey back, waddling when I walk, pressure on my bladder, swollen ankles. The baby is doing constant dance parties inside of me and punching me in uncomfortable places. I’m amazed I ever worked in this state. I’m eating well — I cut out all ice cream and treats in the last three weeks — and yet I’ve still gained 45 pounds. This pregnancy? Hardest yet. It’s probably because I’m 39. And because we’re living in a dry climate at almost 6,000 feet. And I’m spending my time with a 4 year old and a 2 year old. And it was 100 degrees today.
But the end is near. And the sleepless nights holding a sweet newborn are quickly approaching. We still don’t have a name. A. is finishing up a dresser for the big boys — made entirely out of 2x4s — so we can move the one with a changing pad into our room. I registered at UNM hospital last week, and A. installed the car seat (three seats in the back of a tiny Mazda 3, thank you very much).
I’ve been trying to keep the boys engaged with fun summer activities while I rest. Play dough, ice pops, the trampoline park, playing with the hose in the backyard, play dates with friends, library time and dinners on the deck.
Today, I picked up the last batch of pottery I’ll do for a while. My mind spins daily thinking about different combinations of glazes and what my “style” is. I’m cleaning up my shop, knowing I’ll have to shut it down till probably the end of August, though the thought makes me cringe. Then, I’ll throw more and open an Etsy shop. I’ve realized I can’t keep this hobby up without selling — it’s expensive and we can’t keep everything I’m making. And the truth is, I’m excited about a new challenge, but I won’t be able to launch it till the fall. Until then, I’ll put my energy into three boys under 5 years old. Wish me luck.
April 11, 2016 · 7:19 pm
I’ve mentioned before that I’m hooked on pottery, but this weekend it reached a fevered pitch as I tried to replicate vases and mugs from my last batch.
My lovely teacher Lois Hinman (click to see her work!) in Ridgecrest, Calif., always told me that she started selling her pots (decades ago!) because it’s an expensive hobby and she couldn’t take the money from her family. I’m starting to feel that way, too — each firing (including bisque and glaze) is close to $100, not to mention the clay and the glazes. And we don’t have enough cupboard space for all that I’m making!
So, now I’m thinking about how to sell — where, what that means, coming up with a plan, etc. Of course, I’m also 28 weeks pregnant (entering that third trimester, yeesh!) and slowing down physically, so that will keep me from doing it anytime soon.
But, I like the idea of creating a plan and having inventory for when I’m ready to enter a show or put pieces up on Etsy. Maybe I’ll do it sooner than later, but given how tired and achy I’m starting to feel, I doubt much will happen before baby boy no. 3 is at least three months old.
What I love about the process is not only the physical act of throwing and creating useful, beautiful things, but also the challenge — starting a “business” is scary. And entering a show is scary. And I don’t even have a kiln yet. Once I get a kiln (after we move out of our rental) I can start to mix glazes. There is always, always more to learn with this craft. And I have a long way to go to be really good.
But the bottom line is I love it and that passion isn’t going away.
If you are a potter or artist with a small business and have any tips or suggestions along the way, I’d be grateful!
March 8, 2016 · 4:31 pm
Our household has been a cesspool of germs for the last month — coughing, sneezing, runny noses. Once I gain my voice back, we should be (mostly) healthy (god, I hope). But despite the colds, I’ve been traveling, throwing pots and feeling like myself again after hibernating this winter during my first trimester.
I flew up to Seattle in February to see my best friend S., who is ready for a life change (and she already met an awesome man!). Before I left, I was the crazy mom who worried about getting in a plane crash. It was the first time I’d flown without my boys and I couldn’t help but think: How would my boys deal with that grief? A., who is awesome, would be a great single dad, but I think something like that would destroy my oldest. Needlessness to say, I’m OK. The flight was easy and relaxing. S. is staying in an airbnb in Capitol Hill. It was a beautiful space full of plants, personality and a view of the Cascades. (It inspired me to throw more potting pots for our house.) We cozied up in the rainy weather and talked for hours, and it refreshed my soul.
And then A.’s parents arrived, and they gave A. and me a weekend away. We drove to Utah and camped in Canyonlands with our telescope. I had no idea Utah was so pretty? It was amazing to see the winter Milky Way and inhale the fresh air. In the middle of the night, I heard coyotes howling and we woke up to cows mooing.
In the last month, we also found out that our third baby is healthy with big lips (ha). We’re having another boy. Three boys! I wasn’t surprised — there hasn’t been an girl born into A.’s dad’s side of the family since the ’40s. But in 10 years, I’ll need to plan a lot of girls’ weekends. A lot of them.
I’ve been throwing pots and writing more. My pottery skills are getting better and better — the progress is incredible. I’m considering trying to sell some pots once I can function again after the first 6 months or so of sleepless nights with my third. I’ve been spending a lot of time on Instagram lately looking at potters’ photos — what they make, the dimensions and how they developed a style.
I’ve also been trying many new recipes I found on the NYT Cooking site — including my favorites (both easy to make), the Vaguely Vietnamese Slow Cooker Pork Tacos and the Red Lentil Soup with Lemon. And the Banana Oatmeal Almond Smoothie — yum.
And I harvested my first broccoli head and the beets and spinach are (finally) coming in. I’m excited to plant tomatoes and basil in May. Our backyard is blooming with tulips — it’s almost spring!
October 13, 2015 · 9:43 pm
You know you found a passion when you spend all of your free time dedicated to it. For me, unsurprisingly, it’s pottery. My “shop” — the shed in our backyard — is in full force. I go in it daily. This weekend, A. laid bricks for a path to it through our backyard.
I picked up my first batch of 34 pieces two weeks ago, which I had fired at New Mexico Clay. I was surprised by the results; it was completely different from anything I’ve tried before. I experimented with four clays (three stoneware, one porcelain), eight glazes and, for the first time, I had to paint on the glaze instead of dip it, which gave me wildly different results than what I’m used to. The hottest temperature I can fire at New Mexico Clay is Cone 6 in an electric kiln, by contrast my friend and teacher Lois in Ridgecrest, Calif., fired at Cone 10 in a gas kiln.
Each time I sit down at the wheel — relaxed, focused and listening to NPR One — I see progress. The walls on my pots are more even. The feet aren’t as chunky. And I can throw bigger and higher. The feeling is incredible. When I sit down to write, I work through problems in my mind, and I have breakthroughs, too, but for me working with something physical is more immediate, and often more gratifying.
I’m toying with buying a kiln, but I’m not sure I can yet because we’re renting and not equipped for the size I would want to buy. But it would be nice to make my own glazes, test tiles and really immerse myself in this art more fully than I already am. Someday I’ll make it happen, I’m sure of it. But for now, I’m trying one glaze combination at a time and seeing what I can create. Slowly, surely and patiently.
April 12, 2015 · 3:12 am
Whenever I take a pottery class, I feel an intense letdown when it’s over. Where we live in the desert, I can only take a class every few months — so I know that I won’t start up again for what feels like a long time.
At the end of each session, after all of the pieces are fired in the gas kiln, my teacher holds a potluck party at the studio. Everyone brings a guest, we drink wine and we walk around and look at the finished results. We discuss what worked and what didn’t. The day of the party, I get so anxious about seeing the pieces, I have to train my mind to think about something else. And as soon as I see how they turned out, I want to start creating again. Immediately.
My last class ended Tuesday, and this time, somehow, the letdown feels more intense. I learned how to make a lamp, where I threw two separate pieces that totaled about 10 pounds and attached them on the wheel. A. says he’ll wire it when the shade arrives from World Market this week. I also finally got comfortable making mugs — I made nine of them, five of which I love.
When we move, I’ll be able to take classes consecutively, or throw from home and glaze and fire at a community kiln. But for now, I’m trying to manage my latest letdown — and dream about what I can make in the future.
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Tagged as pottery
February 8, 2015 · 11:17 pm
A couple of months ago, a friend of one of A.’s work friends gave us a kick wheel. Scott drove over in his pick-up truck and unloaded the wheel caked with white clay and mounted in a wooden bench. He and his wife were moving; he had an electric wheel and didn’t use the kick wheel anymore. It was all ours.
It sat in the corner of the garage through the holidays and our travels, buried in strollers, bikes and wood. But two weeks ago, I decided to order bats for it. I finally got some clay, a few buckets and I was ready to try. A. reorganized the garage and instead of watching the Super Bowl (we don’t have a TV anyway, and I confess that I dislike football — everything about it makes me recoil), I sat at my kick wheel and threw. I hit my shin against one of the boards (ow!) and CP woke up from his nap soon after I started, so I didn’t make much progress. But it felt like progress just getting going.
And now I’m feeling motivated. The weather helps — it’s a high of 70, sunny and the birds are singing. This morning I took CP out on our front patio and we listened to three owls hoot and a rooster crow. It rained a few inches this month, so grass is sprouting up everywhere. For the first time since I moved here, I’m seeing green in the desert near our house, and smelling damp soil and it fills me with gratitude. I’ve missed green while living here.
Today, I threw a few pots and then I watched videos of people throwing pots while A. improved the wheel — he added a weight to the bottom to balance it, and he’s putting a shelf up top so the boys can’t grab the tools while I work. He’s also enclosing the bottom of the wheel with wood so CP can’t put his hands on it while it’s spinning.
We don’t have a community kiln in town, so for now, I’m just practicing so that I’m better for my next class with Lois, which starts next month. And because I find it relaxing and soothing to zone out and feel the clay mold between my hands. Also? It’s pretty cool to have dates in the garage with A. while he does his woodworking.
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Tagged as pottery