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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Who Art Thou

Every year in November our local art gallery The Muskoka Art and Crafts Gallery has a very interesting fund raiser.

Local artist pick up  8 x 10 canvases from them. We then put on the canvases what ever we want and hand them back to the gallery. The art is hung on the wall without any names as to who has done the work, hence the title. All the art is sold at $45.00 and for one week people flock to the gallery to purchase original art work.  Behind each peace is the photo of the art work along with who created it. Once they have been bought the artist is revealed.

Last year was my first time doing this. I did two pieces last year and also this year.

I create the main theme out of clay and painted in the background. The finished and fired clay piece is glued on after the paint dries.
Last year I was able to go to the opening and my sail boat picture had been sold before I got there. The lady who bought it was standing in line so I was able to introduce myself. 

This year due to a snow storm of the opening night I decided not to go. When I did get there a few days later my mountain goat had been sold. 
All four of my pieces sold.

I recently won some oil paints so I think I will try this technique with oils and sell them.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Peace Be To You

With the Christmas season coming I was compelled to write about peace on the CASTTEAM blog. I thought I'd share it on my blog too.
Ephesians 1:2
"I greet you with the grace and peace poured into our lives by God our Father and our Master, Jesus Christ."
We as Christians celebrate Christmas because it is the time God the son left his perfect place in heaven and came to live with us, to die on the cross so we may be saved from the wrath of God who gives us peace on earth.
So in this busy hectic time of preparing for Christmas, how is your peace?
I put up the tree, earlier than normal this year, because the family flies in for holidays early. It took almost all day because I also decorate the house and clean as I go too. About half way through, I thought maybe I won't bother putting it up in future years, if we don’t have the kids here to enjoy it. Then I thought. It takes one day to put it up, one day to take it down. That is 2 days out of 365 days. I can do this, especially for the beauty it brings to our home. It has been up for two weeks. The family has enjoyed, especially the old electric train of my husbands running around it. I enjoy looking at and every evening hubby turns on the lights.
Buying all those Christmas gifts can be another stress factor. I start in October and little by little I get the gifts from my list. It spreads out the money and the time. Then there is the baking and cooking of many foods we only eat once a year.  And sending out cards. Many people now use the email for this. I like cards as decorating and the pictures get used as next year’s tags or for my art. I used to write and annual letter and last year I stopped that. I got a few complaints, oh well. 
We do lots for Christmas to make it special, but how many of our friends and family would complain if every decoration wasn’t in place, every traditional baking wasn’t done, only a few, and tones of present weren’t under the tree? Maybe the last one they might complain.
 Less than one week left before Christmas and two days before we go to our daughters to meet up with the family. As usual the house got decorated, cards were sent, presents bought and wrapped and today the baking will be done. The peace is still here. Our grandson's and my father's birthday stuff is done too as they both fall in the holiday. 
 One reason for my peace is I have cut down on what I used to do. I don't get hung up on the small stuff either.  
We have a choice in life. We can make our lives stressful or stress free. It depends on how much we do and our attitude. I always say things go better in my life if I want to do something instead of have to.
In 1 Corinthians 7 Paul is taking about marriage but verse 7 can apply to anything.  ‘God has called us to make the best of it, as peacefully as we can.’
So I’ll ask you again. Is their peace in your heart this year?  Do you fret and worry or have contentment like these birds. 3 John 14  ‘Peace be to you’ 

Monday, October 24, 2011

I Am the Potter: You Are the Clay

We live in a microwave society; but God uses slow cookers.

I’ve been told it takes 12 years to become a good potter. I’ve been at it for 8 years, part time. Be it12 years or 8, pottery is something that I will always be learning to do. Taking a lump of clay and making it into a mug, a sculpture or even a vase is exciting. The best part is I get to decorate it. I feel I have only touched the tip of the iceberg in pottery. Learning to make pottery is a slow cooker process.  I will always be tweaking and improving my pottery.

God works like this in our lives.  “I am the potter and you are the clay.”

The first thing I do when starting a clay project is to take the clay and wedge it, which is similar to kneading bread. This aligns the molecules causing the clay to become smooth.

God some times has to pound at our lives to align us to Him and to mold our self will into His will, smoothing out our rough spots.

Imagine my shock if my clay said to me, ‘make me into the most exquisite vase, not a plain mug’. That would be absurd to think this would happen, but how often do we do this with God, the one who created us and knows us better than we know ourselves?

After I have created bowls, cups, vases, dishes, animals, any thing I like, I place the piece a self under plastic, which allows it to dry slowing, preventing it from cracking. During the drying time, about 2 weeks, I will take a peak at the pottery to see it progress.

In my life with God there have been many times when I feel God has ignored me. Have I been set up on the shelf to dry off slowing after he has worked on me? God has not ignored me, but is checking up on my progress, anxiously waiting for the drying time to end.

When the clay is bone dry, no moisture left in it, I place it in a kiln and fire it to about 1800 degrees F. It takes several hours to fire the clay, then a few days for the clay to cool down before I can take the bisque ware out of the kiln. Now I can give it color and make it unique by painting on glazes and or decorations. Back into the kiln it goes, but up to 2195 degrees. At the end of the day the kiln has finished, but again I have to wait a few days before I can see what the pottery looks like. If I take it out too early, before it has cooled down the shock of the cool air will cause the glaze to crack. It is all in the timing of the clay and I can’t rush it. God knows he can’t rush us or we might crack too.

Sometimes I will put a luster finish of gold, or pearl and it will need another firing in the kiln. Most pottery is only in the kiln twice, but the fancier it is the more times it is fired.  Often the brightest finishes are some of the last to be applied. In some of the high gloss glazes I can see my reflection.  
I see each kiln firing as God’s refining fires of tribulation. The more he works on us, and the more heat we endure, the more our lives can shine his glory. People will be able to see the reflection of Jesus our creator in us. It takes patience to do pottery. God takes time and has abundant patience with us, which I am thankful for.  
When we allow God to work on us our true personality comes out into the light.

Clay can be made into almost anything. There is such a wide variety of finishes and uses of pottery; earthenware to matte finishes to high gloss and several in between.  With hand built pottery no two pieces are exactly a like.

 Our beauty of whom God created us to be is unique. No one is the same.

My pray is that each and everyone find out who God has created you to be. May your life reflect the glory of God so we become the kingdom of God’s on earth.   

Friday, September 30, 2011

A God Moment

I love those God moments.

For about a year I have been looking at China painting for pottery. A couple of weeks ago while at the Bohemian Art Gallery and Cafe ( I was talking to a lady, a Christian. Some how China painting got into the conversation and she said she knew someone who taught it. I signed up for the course in a couple of hours this tile is what I painted. Definitely this is for me. I took to it easily. Can't wait for the other courses, buy my own supplies and make my own porcelain to paint on. 

So little time, so much fun to enjoy!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Sushi Any One

For a potter almost anything can become a tool or a form. Several years ago I found these little dishes. I remembered ones similar to these from my childhood. They were thin metal stamped into designs our mother's used to make fancy jelly molds.
Metal Jello Mold
Since that is not my thing I thought I could use them to make little dishes.
Soya Sauce In the Dish
After I made a few I realized they would be the perfect for dipping soya sauce when serving sushi.
If only I had some sushi.

Soya is not the only thing you can put in them, mustard for ham, salsa for nachos, dips for chips and vegetables. They are the perfect size for single servings.
I make them in several colours. 
You can see more on my etsy site. 

Monday, September 12, 2011

Follow Jesus

Every second Monday I right a bog on the Christian Street team blog, from Etsy.

The one I wrote this morning was inspired by my previous blog "Its All in Placing of the Hands". I realized that learning to turn pottery the correct way improved my pottery and this is similar to listening to Jesus and doing it his way. It too will help your life go smoother.

You can read the complete blog on 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Butler's Pottery: It Is All In the Placing of the Hands

The Butler's Pottery: It Is All In the Placing of the Hands

It Is All In the Placing of the Hands

Last spring I mentioned that I had been struggling with turning big. Then I watched a video and found out I had been placing my hands to turn backwards. I had been struggling against the natural force.

Now I am turning larger bowls. This one holds several oranges and apples.  I turned it with 3 colours of clay.

I also turned a large vessel. I turned the top half,  then turned the bottom. The two halves were put together in the leather hard stage. It is 11" high.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Allison Ross: Restoring the JOY

Allison Ross: Restoring the JOY: "I was really challenged by this Sunday's message at church from Romans 5:9-11 ' Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much mor..."

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Booth Design.

July has been a very busy month. I was in three art shows in the Muskoka. I also redesigned my booth. My booth was OK but it didn't have the wow say.

I took some courses, which the town of Bracebridge gave, on selling. One thing they mentioned was that you can have a great product but if you don't have a good set up people won't stop. I took their advice and I borrowed or stole the idea from some one else who took it from a magazine. I brought some of my pottery to the fabric store and found a good olive green cloth for my table that compliments most of my work.

Now people come in and compliment me on my booth. And some times they buy something.  

The past few months I have also been landscaping our yard. Not only do I have a good booth display, but I also have yard I am pleased with. It is not finished yet, but the main part is done.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Butler's Pottery: Church's Nursery Wall Mural

Church's Nursery Wall Mural

The Joy of the Lord Is My Strength

Our church nursery had plane walls. I had painted scenes on the walls of my house and our previous church so I approached Pastor Steve and asked if I could paint something to cheer up the nursery. He and the board approved and said you are the artist do what you feel is right.  I prayed about it and felt to do cartoon figures. I had always wanted to do cartoons but my insecurity and fear of man kept me painting more realistic work. The mural I did in my previous church was an aquarium and I began there to get some cartoons going, such as lobsters wearing running shoes and octopuses talking on the cell phone. 

I asked the church for help and Ursula volunteered.

Once a week and some times twice we talked, painted, talked some more, painted and mostly bounced ideas off each other, and laughed. A friendship had developed. I had recently heard that friendships in churches are developed more by working together than having social gatherings.  This was true here.

I had decided from the beginning that I wasn’t going to let fear of man control what I did. I just wanted to enjoy the process and have fun. I wanted the joy of the Lord to show in these walls. After all it is for the kids.

I needed to get out of my box. This first thing that got me out was painting turtles purple with dark purple poke-o-dots instead of a green shell.

It was a great joy working with Ursula. It was also enjoyable watching her grow. I had grown full circle in my art and I wanted to pay it forward. In the beginning Ursula would ask me if her grass was to my liking. And it was. Quickly Ursula grew from asking to doing her own thing. She added flowers to her grass, painted over 70 bumble bees and even shading a some mushrooms.

Bouncing ideas off each other helped the wall to develop. When Ursula suggested we put in spider, I asked where? The walls were filling up, but why not a spider? I found just the right space on the door and the web could attach to the clay pot we had. It needed something on the other side so it wouldn’t flap in the wind. Ursula grew again. She drew a large lily which we could spin a web to.

Lot’s was going on in this room, lady bugs, spiders, caterpillar, worms, and bumblebees. Why stop there, some ants we did need, an ant worship band over the counter as a back splash, complete with worm singers.

Ursula and I painted around the room and we grew in our creativity. God is the creator of this universe. And look what he has created. He also created us in his image and since part of his image is a creator than we too are creators. The problem is this world in full of critics who tell us what we should do and how we should do it. These people had controlled me most of my life and I believed I had no talent.

God desires to bless us abundantly with everything including our gifts. Like the three men given the talents,(Matt 25;15-29) we too can choose what to do with ours. We can fear the master and bury them, which is what I used to do, or we can invest in them and God will grow them.  Ursula and I started by picking up the paint brush and dipping it into the paint and God blessed our talent and grew us in it. If we hadn’t volunteered to do the nursery not only would the walls remain plain, but we wouldn’t have grown in our friendship or our God given talent.

If we feel a nudge to do something it can only lead to blessings if we obey that nudge.

 Three months later we signed the wall and said ‘It is finished’, but not our friendship or talent.

Fear not for the joy of the Lord is your strength. Just do it.

Pastor Steve Barkley has posted my article on out churches website,, where you will find many other inspiring articles.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Trust in the Lord

I have taken a side line from writing about my pottery.

This week I was reading the Cast Team Blog ( and it was about trusting God. 

Do I trust God in all ways? Proverbs 3: 5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.  This is not easy to do when the world screams 'do it your way', 'figure it out on your own' 'be independent' 'fix your problem and if not worry about it'. So how are these thoughts working out for you? I know they are causing me undo stress and worry.

How do I trust God and not take matters into my own hand, especially when a person hurts me?  What did King David do when he had a chance to kill Saul? In 1 Samuel 24 Saul was going to the bathroom right in front of him. What an opportunity to catch him with his pants down, as we say. Even David's men said 'kill him'.  They were tired of running from him too.  David did cut off a piece of his robe to prove to Saul he was there, but this even bothered him. vs 5.  King David didn't take revenge on Saul, he let God do that, but he did have to wait for God.

David didn't listen to public opinion either. James 2:1 My dear friends don't let public opinion influence how you live out your glorious life.

I know that God has called me to make pottery. My problem is - should I make what is in my heart or what sells? When I struggle with this thought I think about the movie "Field of Dreams", build it and they will come. Many great people have built and done what was in their heart and the people have come. My great great grandfather carved these monuments and many more.  Did he worry about what he should do or did he make what was on his heart? He did take commission jobs like this coal miner, but he used his son as the model, not a coal miner.

My functional pottery is selling but not the creative pottery. A few months ago I was struggling if I should just make functional pottery. I do enjoy making functional pottery, but I need to create. God gave me an encouragement. I made this vase put it in one show and it sold.

Yes I need to make what is in my heart and trust God that I am being whom he created. Some days I want to turn on the wheel, other days create. If I listen to other opinions of what I should make I am being them and I am not happy.

Another stress factor I have is how much pottery should I make?  Luke 12 is all about DO NOT WORRY.
Verse 22-28 for this reason I say to you, do not worry about you life as to what you will eat nor for your body as to what you will put on, for life is more than food and the body more than clothing. Then Jesus goes on to say that God takes care of the birds and the flowers and aren't we worth more than that. 

 I like to take pictures, but I don't carry my camera every where and I don't go looking for animals. I did want to get pictures of owls, dear, moose, palliated woodpecker and other animals. Each of the these pictures I just happened to have my camera when they appeared. If God can put wild life in my path why don't I trust him to lead me in other ways?

The Message Bible sums it up best in Luke 12:29 What I'm trying to do here is get you to relax, not be so preoccupied with getting so you can respond to God's giving.  Do like these wild life do, relax. They don't look stressed out. 

I need to enjoying making pottery, taking photos or living my life. Now to get this into my life so each day I can be who I am, that's the tricky part. I am working on it. 
Be Happy Don't Worry

Rest in the Lord and he will provide my hearts desires.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Butler's Pottery: Hoot Goes The Owl

The Butler's Pottery: Hoot Goes The Owl

Hoot Goes The Owl

Several years ago, while living in Sudbury a barred owl decided to feast on the mice in my compost bin. My family and I ran out to capture him on film.  His fear of us was greater than his hunger for the mice. Did I miss the photo opportunity?  Alas he did not fly far. It was day time and they are nocturnal birds so he perched in a burr oak tree in our back yard for a nap. His stripped feathers blended in quite well with the tree. Quietly I walked out as to not wake him and shot away with my camera. I did get a few great shots of him but his eyes were closed. Oh, so I desired for his eyes to be opened. I even thought I could photo-shop opened eyes, but it just didn't seam right and I felt I wouldn't have done the real eyes justice.

After we moved to Bracebridge Ontario  I would listen to the hoot of owls during the night. I later found out we have several barred owls in our area. What would be the chance of seeing one with his eyes opened?
Lately I had taken a fancy to owls and have painted some whimsical ones on pottery. A few weeks ago while sipping on a glass of water and looking out the kitchen window I wondered where my frisky squirrels had gone. Then I saw it. At first I thought it was my imagination due to painting so many. No it was real. Sitting on the pine bow searching for the my scarce squirrels was a barred owl. The sun was on it as its eyes scanned the ground like radar. I quickly grabbed my camera and shot away. I managed to get several shots of him before he flew off into the forest, hungry. The squirrels reappeared after he left.

Prints of my owl and more of my photos and pottery my be purchased on my website at

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Winter Scene Vase

I entered this vase in the Muskoka Arts and Crafts theme show. The show was over and I went to pick it up. To my delight the vase was sold.

I'm still making vases. Last spring a palliated woodpecker was trying to build a nest in a dead tree next to the woods in our back yard. I snapped many pictures. This vase is my creation of him hanging on to the tree stump.
First I turned a variety of colors of clay. Scored the clay to give it a rustic look and added a few stumps on it. I  made woody wood pecker and set him on the tree stump. He was hand painted with under glazes and high fired with a clear glaze. I have him up for sale in our a new art gallery in Muskoka, Bracebridge  the

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Creation of Vases

Gardening has always been a passion of mine. I like to grow flowers, mostly perennials and ones that I can pick for flower arrangements. Collecting flower vases to put the flowers in was a natural thing to do. I even have a couple of my mothers vases.

When I started to make pottery, flower vases were one of the first things I made. They have evolved over the years. I started with extruding them in a mold.

I turned a few by mixing the clay resulting a marbled or striped vase.

My favorite vases that I have made are rectangle or square vases. I then cut out pieces of clay in peddles and leaves and placed them on the wet clay. Some times I paint the flowers other times I leave it neutral.

Carving a design into the top of a vase which I have turned on the potters wheel is another design.

My vases are becoming more diverse and complicated as I make them. Our local art club has an annual themed show. This year we were to pick a favorite artist and create something about them. I chose a painting from Grandma Moses. I formed a triangle vase then I either carved or in-laid clay on it from a painting of. This was the most detailed one I have done.

Most of these vase can be purchased on my etsy web page.