Wow, I just looked back and it’s been almost a year since I last sat down and posted. So much has happened here at Belvedere over the past year! We opened a new space (the clayroom) in the back of our studio/workshop where we now have five potters wheels, a slab roller, our pugmill and all sorts of hand tools. We have increased parking out back and we have a wonderful summertime outdoor space that will allow us to enjoy working outside when weather permits!
The spring and summer came and went so quickly. Bob and I made a trip to New York and Ohio to visit family and we did enjoy really pretty autumn leaves in Ohio. I loved the smell of Fall in air and the cooler days after the summer’s heat. We also had a chance to visit the Cleveland Museum of Art where we took in an exhibit of Tiffany Glass which was just exquisite and so inspiring!
Back home here in Colorado, the growing dome has pretty much reached “the end” for this year’s plantings. Our fig tree produced two nice crops and our neighbors Janice and Tom Maker were kind enough to take a good number of figs off our hands and Janice made several jars of yummy fig preserve AND gave us some of the finished product!
Every fall – one of my favorite things is to watch the cottonwoods down by the river change color. I know that when they change, it won’t be much longer before the colder weather sets in. I do like the winter. It’s a time to settle-in and make things for the next season. I like the stillness and the way things go inward and incubate in preparation for new life in the coming season. I need that – we all need that.
So much happened in the last year, there’s way to much to mention in one post, but it was a busy year of developing classes, putting up fine art shows and fine tuning many of our processes & procedures to make things run more smoothly.
We put a second kiln into operation to increase our firing capacity and did some reorganizing in our workshop to make better use of space. In the gallery/gift-shop, we added new pedestals, shelving and lighting. Our flower garden, although we got a late start, did do quite well and inspired us to plant more and tend better this year! Come April/May, we will be working very hard outside our walls to make our place even more lovely and appealing for you to visit!
We proudly participated in a number of Community events in 2018. The Pagosa Springs Arts Council’s “Mosaic Project” and “Art for the Animals Christmas Sale” were both fun and worthwhile events that Belvedere was happy to be a part of. In addition, we helped with the Seeds of Learning “Festival of the Trees” Christmas Tree project by working with the Seeds students, teachers and volunteers who hand-painted beautiful ceramic ornaments for the lovely Christmas tree that was auctioned to raise money for the benefit of Seeds of Learning Preschool in Pagosa Springs, CO.
Another year is behind us and new beginnings at hand! Lots of snow for the start of 2019 and it’s most appreciated in many ways; well, except for all the snow moving that we have to do! We’ve had a very busy year at Belvedere and we’ve enjoyed meeting many new people in our shop. We are so grateful for all the support from our customers and friends in 2018! Thank you to each and every one of you out there! Our classes are getting more sign-ups now and our wheel-throwing class is selling out on a regular basis. This year our gallery space will be featuring several new artists from the local area in addition to those who have been with us since we opened in 2017. We are excited to be changing our gallery format (no longer featuring short shows of local artist works) in favor of focusing our efforts into further developing our unique and diverse gallery/gift shop. As “makers” ourselves, we are making this change to allow us the time we need to get back into our workshop and create art too! We have loved putting the Belvedere Gallery and Workshop together and now it’s time for us to make art too!
Some things just take a long time to get done, but eventually, if you push through… they get done! This tile project, Garden Reflections was one of “those” projects. It was started with the intention of creating and tiling my husband’s outdoor kitchen, but life got in the way, and too much time passed while we “tried” to work on it. I can’t really remember when we started on it to be honest… maybe 2-3 years ago, but last summer we finally took the partially completed project off the shelf and worked on it until it was finished. Then, in the heat of August, Brianna and I (mostly Brianna) labored on the back deck installing the tile. It was Bri’s first experience in installing a fairly good sized project, but she persevered through all the little details that make the installation well done, versus “okay,” and we ended up with a really nice tiled outdoor kitchen. The colorful mural wall was designed as a reflection of the nearby blooming flower garden on the hillside just below the outdoor kitchen. Bees, birds, dragonflies and butterflies are commonly seen flitting around the plants, so we just couldn’t resist adding images of them to this fun, whimsical contemporary design. The clay we used was our favorite cone 6 porcelain stoneware “Columbine” from New Mexico Clay in Albuquerque. It’s a great clay for outdoor, or wet area projects since it has a very low water absorption rate. Starting with the wet bags of clay, we pressed the 4×4″ square tiles on our 30 ton ram press and then individualized each one by pressing rocks and sumi brush handles against them gently while they were still fairly wet. I also like to make the edges of each tile irregular by making delicate finger marks on all the edges. This method allows us to create the basic tile quickly, but to then make them unique and special. We made our own trim pieces using our wall mounted extruder with dies that I designed and had cut at Northern Tool and Equipment. After bisque firing all the tiles, we hand-washed each one with red/brown iron oxide and dipped them in several different shades of green glazes that we purchased from Coyote Clay & Glazes (also in Albuquerque). The mural wall was hand-sculpted to create a bas-relief pattern of all the imagery in the design. After bisque firing, it was also washed with iron oxide and then hand-painted with Coyote Glazes and fired to cone 6 in oxidation. Oh, and don’t let me forget to tell you about the old broken French breakfast bowl (pictured at the bottom). I loved that bowl. We bought it nearly 30 years ago when we were in France. One day I was in the pantry and saw it lying there on a shelf in pieces. So, I saved the pieces and when we put this project together it came to mind about 3/4 of the way through the installation. Now the broken yellow bowl has a useful place once again!
Wow, it’s been almost a year since we opened our Gallery/Workshop in Pagosa Springs; our anniversary is coming up next month in September. The time goes so fast when you stay as busy as we have and finding time for our own art-making is always a challenge. When we have a chance to take a little time to get away and refresh, see new places and things and just have the opportunity to reflect, it makes a big difference in terms of our creative energy. A couple weeks ago Bob and I visited the Denver Botanical Gardens with family members where we saw wonderful displays of beautiful, colorful plants and listened to the music of long time favorite group, the Gypsy Kings. It was a beautiful warm evening under the stars and we relaxed, took in the fabulous sounds and sights and just had a great time. The “take away” is of course a good bit of inspiration, both visual and emotional that will surely translate into new work that will soon be happening!