Wednesday 25 June 2014

Wood Work

This is a story about a fig tree. Many moons ago, there was a young fig tree growing between huge stones at a crossing of four properties. This fig tree grew in my parent’s garden in Croatia. Every year in August, we would enjoy its ripe and juicy blue fruits. We would make fig marmalade and dry the fruits for the winter. For the last twenty years of my living abroad, I would mostly plan my summer holidays according to the ripeness of these figs. 

Unfortunately, this tree became a problem for my parents’ neighbours. I don’t know the real reason, but one day my parents carefully informed me that the tree is gone. Since it grew at the border point of four properties, it belonged to everybody and nobody. 

I just came back from a visit to Croatia (I will share some impressions in my next post). During our two weeks there, when we were not hiking through the national parks and bathing in the see, I would sneak in my father’s wood atelier

I wanted to make a butter knife and a cheese board for my boy. When my father showed me the wood from my beloved fig tree, I was both enthusiastic and sad. It was clear for me that creating something from its wood was the best way to honour my fig tree. 

So here is my humble attempt as a wood carver. The small board looks a bit like a car, which was not my original intention. I was just trying to chip off as little wood as possible.

Thursday 19 June 2014

Swirls Of Life

What would I do in life if money wasn’t an issue? I'm glad you asked! I would probably choose to be a ceramicist, a painter, a sculptor, a furniture designer, a goldsmith, a glass blower, a restorer, a writer... the list is probably endless. In this case, the question should be: "what would I do if money and time weren’t an issue". 

Working with clay has always been my biggest passion, but every now and then I have to do something else. Last time I took a break from pottery was a few years ago when I started my college studies of German Literature and Language and the History of Arts. Even though I enjoyed studying again immensely, I often wondered if I should be more focused on doing one thing – ceramics. Since I have so many different interests, I am also curious if I can say that ceramics is truly my calling.

Just because a person is talented in doing ceramics it doesn’t mean that ceramics is their calling. What if one has a calling for something that one doesn’t have talent for (which makes the whole thing even more difficult of course)? It is not my intention to start an existential discussion about the meaning of life. However, there are some questions that are bothering me a lot lately. How do you know that you are doing the right thing, have the right job or the right partner? Is this life giving us a chance to do something we are good at? Are we actually using our innate potential to do so? 

I think the answer is quite simple. We owe ourselves to be happy. We owe ourselves to grow. We owe ourselves to do what we love. So I have decided that, as long as I have a chance to be creative and to work with my hands, I can call myself a lucky and a happy person. I don’t know if ceramics is my calling but creativity certainly is.

Wednesday 4 June 2014

Potter's Hands

I like to get my hands dirty. If I am not in my atelier being creative with clay, you will probably find me working in my garden or playing in my son’s small sandpit. Either way, my hands are covered with mud a lot.

Having my hands wet for hours destroys a protective layer of natural grease of the skin. So after a day in clay my hands get rough and dry. In winter I even get painful, chapped hands.

Those of you who know me are probably guessing that what comes next is some miraculous homemade skin remedy of mine. You are absolutely right. I do not like to use readymade skin care products because of all these doubtful chemicals that may slide in.

So for years I have been making my own marigold (calendula officinalis) oil which does wonders to my skin. Now that I have a garden, I grow my own marigold, but years back when I was living in the city, I was using dried marigold petals that I bought in a pharmacy.

There is a very simple procedure which requires just two ingredients and a lot of sun. The result is golden and gentle beauty-infusion that softens and nourishes your skin. Here is how to make your own sun infused calendula oil.

Put a handful of fresh or dried marigold petals in a jar and pour high-quality cold-pressed olive or almond oil on it. Stir the mixture until all the air bubbles are gone and cover the jar with a piece of cheesecloth. The petals should be completely covered with oil or they'll go bad. Place the jar on a sunny windowsill.

As the petals sink to the bottom of the jar, you may add more freshly picked ones. Ideally you should stir the mixture once a day for the first two weeks and then let it infuse in the sun for another four weeks.

After six weeks, strain the oil with a cheesecloth. Once the infused oil is ready, I like to keep it in the fridge because it should last a year until the next calendula season. I also like that the cold-pressed oil stiffens in the cold which makes it is easier to use.

You can use the marigold oil not only to soothe your tired and chapped potter hands, but also for sunburn and to treat the acne. This oil soaks quickly into the skin, but sometimes if my hands are too oily, I give my hair tips a marigold oil treatment to avoid the hair splits.

Who says you can't be artistic and beautiful?