Friday, June 29, 2012

Happy long weekend!

Hope you have a great Canada Day/Independence Day long weekend!  Here on the Wet Coast, we won't be needing to water the garden for a while again.  Here's hoping for a bit of sun to warm up our summer holidays!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Flower power

The weather has been really off and on, wet and cold, sunny but not too warm over the past couple of weeks.  I'm not holding my breath that July will be any warmer- last year it rained most of July and then got nice in August and September.  Needless to say, there are days when we just have to get out and sneak in an outing before the next shower hits.  The Park & Tilford Gardens is a public garden down the road from where we live- it's free to visit and on Father's Day we took my dad and Dean out for dinner and then went for a run around the garden with the boys.  I took some photos of some of the familiar and less familiar flowers- there are so many to see in spring!

Today is the last hour of school for the boys! I'm getting geared up for a pretty low-key summer (compared to last summer where I was having to make 450 vases for Anthropologie) with only the studio move and a few orders to concern myself with.  It will leave me lots of time to hang out with the boys.  We have a few camping trips planned in the Bowler, the boys have a couple of weeks of camp (with their first overnight camp!) and we'll be heading to the Island and to Vernon again.  I love the close-to-home kind of summers where the kids can relax and enjoy our life here in Vancouver. 

What are your summer plans? 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Another one for the archive...c. 2000

I hope you are ok with a bit more reminiscing.  You can see more of my old work on this post here.

These were some of the images I showed at the Gardiner Museum when I did my talk.  Sometimes I think it's helpful to see how far a maker can come with their ideas.  I feel like sharing some of this old work here on my blog is a little glimpse into my past and also into some of the decisions I continue to make as a practicing artist today.
At some point in my education I was extremely concerned with elevating the status or perception of utilitarian ceramics.  I guess I still am concerned with the value-system that is in out there when it comes to clay, but the work that I did in Art school was interested in the setting that functional pottery was placed in.  So I made a series of ceramic trays and ceramic shelves that were interested in the idea of display and creating a setting or place for this work to exist within the context of a gallery space.  For the most part the trays and shelves held a mixture of sculptural objects along with some vessels- mostly teacups and teapots.  I love making teapots after-all, and the ritual behind pouring a cup of tea ha led me to all sorts of conversations in clay.

This was really the only piece out of all my work in this series that actually made it to the gallery- it was exhibited in the Museum of Anthropology along with some other student's work.  Soda fired, this piece is called 'Tea for Two'.  It's a nostalgic and rather whimsical take on the long-distant relationship that I had with Dean for a year- where we wrote letters (hence the scrunched up 'paper' and 'envelope') back and forth between Winnipeg and Langley (BC) when we were still dating and sorting out what kind of relationship we wanted to have. 

Monday, June 25, 2012

Last week for the Kindred Show

It's the last week that our show at Kindred is up and available through bookhou shop in Toronto!  Please do stop by if you are in the neighbourhood- things have become a little more sparse then when we opened but it's still a beautiful show to see!

I was so pleased with how this show turned out- it felt like a real treat to be able to plan it with Krystal and Arounna- I look forward to more of these types of collaborations and special projects down the road.  I think as a full-time maker I can get bogged down with some of the daily grind stuff- the orders and the business side of things (taxes/paying bills etc.) and sometimes forget what an amazing opportunity I have within my work to reach out and connect in a larger way.  The meaningful side of my work reveals itself when things like this happen- when a show of friendship and mutual promotion as artists and makers encourages us to create in a way we might not have otherwise.  So for this, I'm so grateful!

As for the studio this week- I managed to get some flooring for the new space this last weekend at the flooring auction (me + 2 boys + flooring auction= a little craziness, but it happened!), so this week I'll be finishing up some work to get ready for the renos.  I'll post some before pics soon.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Happy Summer

Well Summer has officially begun despite some hesitation in the weather department.  The boys will have their last 3 days of school next week until summer holidays start for them and I'm scrambling in the studio to finish up the wedding registries and a wholesale order before the renos begin on the new studio!  My official move-in date is July 15, so we have  a couple of weeks to paint and put in a new floor- a new larger window will have to wait for another time.

I managed to get to Gailan's studio sale last night with Kelly and came home with one of those great bracelets that she is now making.  It was nice to see a few people that I hadn't seen in a while- some really great ceramic people that graduated from Emily Carr around the same time as me who are still carving out a career as ceramic artists.  Super inspiring!!

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Life with my boys

I haven't talked a whole lot about the boys on this blog for a little while- somehow the birthday highlights got skipped over with all the studio stuff going on.  My boys turned 8 and 10 this spring so my stint as a parent for 10 years now feels like a big deal.   There's been such a shift between just providing the boys with their basic needs, lots of love, care and attention, to now a whole lot more relational navigation.  Dealing with sibling fights, pushing boundaries, and challenging everything are all a daily struggle.  I won't say that I find this fun.  I want to like being around my kids and when I find them demanding and pushy it feels really hard.   My patience is occasionally stretched to the brink and I find my voice rising along with my generally even-keel composure getting lost in the moment.  Being a parent is not for the faint of heart.  It's hard work to recognize that I need to learn and grow just as much as my kids do.

Speaking of growing- my boys are big.  They just feel so tall.  I think Johnny has lost all his baby teeth but one and he's already getting close to 100 lbs.  It's really crazy how their childhood is just cruising along.   Why is it that time seems to pick up speed when you have kids? Or is it just that you  notice how quickly life passes you by when you see a child growing right in front of you?

Today is 'go skateboarding day!' so we'll be skateboarding to school! Hope your day is great!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Now you're just work that I used to make: 1998-2000

I won't tell you how many slides I have from all my years at art school, but it's in the hundreds. I spent a whole day attempting to digitize 80 of them so that I could use the images of my past work for the talk I gave at the Gardiner Museum in Toronto (it went well btw!). Digitizing slides is a slow process- especially when you need them to be 300 dpi and fairly high res.  It didn't take too long for me to realize that the slides were pretty bad considering what I am currently used to with my amazing professional photographer that I get in the studio once a year to make my work look accurate, with no big glare from the glossy glaze, and with the lovely faded backdrop.  I guess I've been spoiled.

So, needless to say I dug around the studio to find a bit of work to re-photograph a few weeks ago when we were photographing for the Kindred Show.  This is the work I liked enough to want to keep and not sell, or break, or store in my parent's shed.  Even though I took my first ceramics course at college in '93, I really didn't apply to be in an art program full-time until '96 (I still took ceramics courses in those years though).  By the time I got into my 3rd year at Emily Carr I'd been throwing on the wheel for 5 years. 

 Looking back, I can see that this work laid a lot of the groundwork for my current work- but with some pretty obvious differences.  I used to combine more handbuilding components with wheel-thrown bodies.  I liked these puffy and textured handle along with the enclosed wheel-thrown forms with a cut out lid for a teapot.  I was also really into these casserole dishes where the shapes were really organic with the challenge being to create a lid that had a sense of volume but that also fit an oddly shaped casserole base.  One thing is clear though -I liked pattern, simple shapes and masking out glaze designs.  I've always been a fan of glazing and I think it's apparent from what you see here. This work was mostly cone 9 oxidation- I had transitioned from a really dark clay body with cone 10 reduction sometime between 2nd and 3rd year, wisely realizing the likelihood of me having access to a gas kiln after school was over would be slim. 

I'll post some images  of work from my last year at Emily Carr in 2 installments in the weeks coming up.  I kept thinking about this Gotye song when I thought about this work.  When I look at work that I used to make, I sometimes feel like I broke up with it along the way, where as maybe it's more that I let go of some ideas in favour of new ones.  The interesting thing about being an artist for this many years is that ideas circulate around and sometimes I come full circle back to what I had been working on so long ago. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Now available online

I have up-dated my shops both (my webshop and Etsy) to include some new work- mostly some mugs that were some of the ground work for the 'Kindred' show.  
I've been getting some emails about the availability of specific work from the Kindred Show that is still which is still up at bookhou until the end of June.  Please get in touch with to get information about pricing and shipping on any work you may be interested in!  It's been well received so far so thank you for such great support so far!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Spotted: my mug in the West Elm Catalogue...

Since Vancouver doesn't have a West Elm (yet...) I made sure to visit the West Elm in Toronto.  It's always interesting who they have designing their ceramics- Michelle Michael of Elephant Ceramics has recently designed a line of vases for them that are quite lovely so I had wanted to see some in person.   And looky look, what I found in their of my mugs! Hmmm. Don't see any credit near by, just the details on that great yellow side table.

So what's going on here.  Yes, I'd like to know too.  Larger retailers are certainly jumping on the hand-made train.  And so should they!  Independent designers have a lot of creative appeal right now- we aren't at a desk all day with deadlines and bottom lines like many retail designers would be.  We make the work from scratch, designing as we make, and testing with many many kiln-loads of work before the work gets noticed.  Clearly retailers are starting to notice though. 

After my order with Anthropologie last summer I have to admit that I wasn't quite sure what the next step would be for me as far as working with a larger retailer.  My hands felt a bit tied (and tired!)- there was no way, with the current conditions, that I could take on a larger order then 450 vases.  But for a retailer with several stores and an online shop, this was a really small run.  The designing aspect seem like it would be promising, but on checking in with a few designers, the price of giving these designs over just doesn't add up, unless you produce multiple designs (ie give a wack load of work over to the retailer).  Factor in the whole idea that everything would be made in China and I feel like the whole point of my work would be lost.

The idea of controlling production either by outsourcing my work on my own or expanding my studio both have their pros and cons, but in the end, the financials just weren't matching up.  I think it's the whole idea of wholesale that kills this system.  There's a really good reason why there are very few (if any) ceramic manufacturers left in Canada and the US.  It's because the cost of production, labour, and rent are too high for wholesaling ceramics.  And in the end, retailers want to buy ceramics for cheap.  So we get used to buying ceramics for cheap and assume that it can be made cheaply.

One last little point to this rant.  I dropped off my work at the Gallery of BC Ceramics the other day and there is an amazing show of Salt-fired pottery going on.  I started looking around- it's a real 'potter's' show- only potters would understand what it means to stoke a wood-fire kiln for 40 hours, adding hand-chopped wood sometimes every 3 minutes to get the kiln to a cone 10 temperature.  Even if the work was fired in a gas kiln with salt introduced at just the right time, it's still a 12-14 hour firing schedule that needs constant attention from someone to turn up or down the gas dials just at the right time.  So this work was laboured over- seriously stunning work that these days, most people just don't quite understand.  And the prices!!! People, when the price of a jug is $60 and the gallery takes $30, it's not even paying for the cost of materials.  Maybe some potters can afford to make work for nothing, but I certainly can't.   And if the constant perception out there in the world is that making pottery is cheap? Oi. This is going to be a really hard run. 

***Incidentally, if you like the orange striped mug in the West Elm Catalogue, you might be able to find a few more over at the Curiousity Shoppe. I made a run of these mugs for a pop-up shop they did in San Fransisco last fall- which is likely where the West Elm stylists bought the mug, seeing as I haven't made the orange stripes since.  *update* apparently orange has sold out- guess I should make a few more;)!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Sunset in Toronto

While in Toronto I stayed with my very good friend Disa.  We went to Art school together and since that time (11 years ago now!!) she has moved to Toronto, back to Vancouver, and now to Toronto again last year.  So the first time I visited her, and my very first time in Toronto, she lived near Liberty Village in a beautiful condo just over the tracks from their place now.  They just moved into this new condo and I couldn't help thinking their summer is going to be great.  I loved the proximity to Queens Street West, along with the restaurants and shops near by.

I have a few new pieces available online along with some new work that I dropped off at the Gallery of BC Ceramics yesterday.  I'm taking the afternoons off this week so not a lot will happen in the studio until next week, when I will be back to filling wholesale orders.  It's been a really good break just to focus on the show, making new work and new designs, but I do need to get back to some regular work again. There's also a studio move in the works for me for mid-July, with a few renos needing to take place before I move in.  It's only up the hall from where I am now, but I'll finally, after 5 years of being in this space, have a window.  Yes, a small, little window. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Kindred in Blue + White Show

 I'm just back from my time in Toronto- what an amazing week! As you can see, the Kindred Show came together beautifully!  A huge thank you to Arounna and John at Bookhou for hosting us- their shop looked really amazing and we couldn't have done this without them.  Krystal's work was stunning- I was so impressed with it in person!  We really couldn't have asked for a better show and turnout at the opening! It was absolutely lovely to meet a ton of the makers and artists I'd been wanting to meet in Toronto for some time.  All in all, so very pleased!

**These were the photos taken with my camera, mostly by me with the one of Krystal and I taken by Arounna.  I'll have ones Arounna took up on the Kindred blog if you wanted to see a few more!
Also, there might be a little bit of Kindred work available online in the coming weeks if you were interested.  I'll keep you posted!

Monday, June 4, 2012

See you in Toronto!

I'm leaving for Toronto this week and am really thrilled to be seeing some great people along the way! So far the events look like they will be really well attended, but I've still had a few wacky dreams where I'm talking at the Gardiner Museum to an empty room.  I'm sure if my expectations are that low, I'll be pleasantly surprised ;-)!

Alright, there are many last-minute things that I'm wrapping up, along with stuffing a few extra pieces in my suitcase that I pulled out of the kiln this morning. What I will leave you with is an image of an old piece of mine, circa 2000, that was part of an exhibition of historically inspired ceramics at the Museum of Anthropologie at UBC in Vancouver.  The teapot, cup and saucer come out of the tray (if you were wondering).  It's just one of the many images I have of old work- I managed to find some old work and re-photograph them for the slide show. 

Friday, June 1, 2012

You are so bluetiful to me....

Here's just a few of the images Curtis Hildebrand took of the work I'll be exhibiting in Toronto next week.  It's kind of fun to give you a sneak peek- although you may have already seen glimpses of this work if you are following me on Instagram (dahlhaus art).  I had a lot of fun making new work- I love the colour blue so it wasn't hard for me to think in blue and white, although I will admit, that I'm relieved to be able to add another colour to the mix.  As you can see, my blue glaze range grew exponentially.  Nothing wrong with that;-)!
Krystal was going to be photographing her work today, but in the meantime, check out the work she pulled out of the kiln the other day! Incredible- I love her drippy blues and the simple leaf shapes that she used on these pieces. I absolutely can't wait to see the whole show come together at Bookhou!