Posts from February 2020

roll on

February 21, 2020

Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d use a rolling pin as often as I do. As much I love to eat pie, I have little interest in making one. I have a favourite rolling pin at the clay studio, but I do rather like the idea of investing in an embossed one. Just imagine all the lovely pie plates I could make.

to build a home

February 20, 2020

I like walking into a space, where I can’t see everything there is to see. I like surprises. When a space is blown wide open, like so many modern spaces are, there’s no room for curiosity or intrigue. What I love about the way our home has been re-imagined, is that the feeling of curiosity –– so intrinsic to Victorian homes –– is alive and well in its modern incarnation. The house still feels like our home. With a lot more possibility. Huge windows. And a third floor so high up, that we’ll be nesting with the birds. It’s an adventure. All of it. To love a home. To demolish a home. To build another in its place.

Dune

February 18, 2020

I love walking a beach in the dead of winter, when the water is frozen over and the sand is covered in snow. It’s such a surreal experience to feel your heavy winter boots sinking into sand. This weekend we climbed the dunes in Prince Edward County, and watched children skate across the lake in their shoes, and folks ice fish from their cherry red tents. It’s a lovely way to spend a day. Thrill-seekers may want to bring a sled.

On the line

February 17, 2020

Sheets drying on a washing line is such a romantic, nostalgic image. A Cycladic breeze helps. So does a Tuscan one. But even the sight of my neighbour’s sheets, socks and undies bellowing in a Toronto breeze warms my heart. He’s one of very few people I know with a washing line in the garden. A rarity, especially in the city. And thus all the lovelier.

love

February 15, 2020

“There are many forms of love and affection, some people can spend their whole lives together without knowing each other’s names. Naming is a difficult and time-consuming process; it concerns essences, and it means power. But on the wild nights who can call you home? Only the one who knows your name.” Jeanette Winterson.

observer

February 13, 2020

I have an observant eye. I see beauty almost everywhere I go. I see vile, scuzzy things, too. Sometimes, I wonder if unconsciously I am seeking out beautiful things to compensate for the rotten things I see. And vice versa. For balance. This morning, all the tiny snowflakes on the sidewalk looked like those bits of crushed sugar that bakers sprinkle on top of a Panettone. Or a constellation of stars. A little further along my path, I came across a chicken carcass and some old batteries peeking out from the snow. We’re in a city, after all, and beneath the blanket of snow are the ugly remnants –– the squished cigarettes, the disused syringes, the abandoned scraps of paper and plastic. I think it’s why many people choose to look up. There are no carcasses in the clouds. I’d rather not notice all the debris (I saw four shrimp shells in a patch of ice last week) but as a city walker with a keen eye, it’s impossible not to. I see the concrete, I see the carcass, I see the beautiful brooch on the old lady’s lapel.

square metre

February 13, 2020

I was everywhere today, and my little bones are weary. But I’ll leave you with this Italian Maiolica tile panel from the 15th Century because it’s so very beautiful. I love the muted colours and painterly lines. In another life, I would have covered my kitchen in this tile.

How to cake it

February 11, 2020

My little girl asked me the other day why I no longer make cakes. I explained that when she and her siblings were very small, before I discovered clay, cakes offered an opportunity to be creative. The cakes were a gesture of love, in the form of double decker vanilla sponge and sickly sweet icing, but they were just as much for me as they were for them. They were a chance to unleash my inner artist. I spent hours and hours on those cakes. And even though they tasted pretty crap, (to a discerning adult) they were a delight to look at. Gold flakes, multi-hued sprinkles, heaps of flowers –– my cakes were pure whimsy. I needed those cakes. I needed the creative challenge they provided. These days, I’m satisfied (as are my kids) with a supermarket cake. Working with clay is not so dissimilar to working with pastry and fondant, and painting a vessel is like icing a cake. Pottery offers all the creative challenge I need. But next time the little girl asks for a homemade cake, I’ll make her one. And that cake, will be entirely for her.

winter

February 10, 2020

I’ve been paying a little closer attention to the barren branches, grasses and dried seed heads in people’s gardens this winter. I’ve noticed how very beautiful they look, especially when covered with a light sprinkle of snow. Hydrangeas are lovely and delicate in winter, and so are those tall pompoms when they lose their purple flowers. Queen Anne’s Lace is so dainty and intricate, and I love the way ornamental grasses look in a frost. “I think I am more moved by something that is dying sometimes than moved by something that is alive,” says Netherlands-born garden designer Piet Oudolf. “When the flower is over you get the seed heads. You get the grasses that flower. You get these sort of skeletons. And that has its own charm.” Few things bring me joy like a full petaled poppy, or a plump hydrangea. But there is great beauty, another kind of beauty, in the bare stillness of what is left behind.

diamond in the rough

February 7, 2020

There’s something so clean and polished about a brilliant cut stone set on a simple gold band. Less classic, but often more intriguing, is jewellery that embraces jaggedy edges and irregular shapes. I appreciate both ends of the spectrum. Tessa Blazey designs engagement rings that celebrate nature’s imperfections and give women options beyond a diamond. Think Keshi pearls, Spinels and Ceylon Sapphires. There’s a tiny rough cut Canadian diamond in her collection, set on the finest of yellow gold bands, that I can see fitting quite comfortably in my day-to-day stack. It’s dainty, with an edge.

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