2/8/16

2016: The Year of Clarity

facebook the soul remains
Finding Clarity
My head is spinning.
When I created my initial website back in 2008: www.TheSoulRemains.com, it was a huge step. I was putting myself out there. Sharing the work of my soul, for the souls of those passed on.
Then the web world exploded. (Boom)
It is now 2016 and these are the new tools: Blogger. Wordpress. SquareSpace. Wix. Etsy. Shopify. Tumbler. Twitter. Snapchat. Facebook. Instagram. Oh. My. Goodness....
And those are just the tools I am aware of. Just imagine what new things are coming down the pike!
Working to remove the web I have woven - a pretty convoluted one at that - this is my 2016 mission. I need to clean house.

What changes have I made thus far?
The Keyhole Studio Facebook page is now called "The Soul Remains". I look forward to broadening that name (which I love) to include not only urns and keepsakes, but my other work - functional pieces to be used and loved in the home. IE: Platters, vases, bowls, etc.....

So be aware. Things are changing for my internet presence. And if you happen to find a glitch along the way - or can't find me for a while - please drop me a line and let me know. I am doing my best. And the even better is yet to come.
Your wish is my command: to be able to easily find my work, and to acquire what resonates with your needs and desires.
(And of course you will still be able to hear me on the soapbox...ahem, I mean 'blog'....)

Until then, stay here. Stay tuned! And Live Fully!

Michelle



2/2/16

Ashes in the closet.

It may sound morbid, but how many of you are aware of someone housing a loved ones' ashes - in a closet?thesoulremains.comI have heard people say in passing..."_________ ashes are in my closet."
It may sound cold and unfeeling for some to hear that, however I think I understand the reason why they are in that closet.
For some, putting them in a sealed urn...is....closure. Meaning, that is the end of the end.
For others, maybe it is a family member that you may have not even known? Maybe they passed on before you were even able to recall their existence, and the cremains have been passed down to you.
And another option - just as painful as the first - maybe you just can't find an urn that does your loved one justice.
Or, last, and definitely not least. You don''t know what to do with the cremains.

As the protocol for what to do with the ashes of our loved ones has evolved through the years, scattering is an option that is very fitting for many. Yet having stored them in the dark brown plastic box from the crematory, and using that to scatter the ashes feels, well, not that great. Do you agree?
Or...throwing the scattering cardboard urn...in the garbage....
So, what to do?

I might be crossing the great divide, however I am going to put this out there.
Is it sacrilegious to place the ashes (or cremains) in a beautiful (and I am meaning one that speaks "respectful and reverent"...) vessel, scattering them in a ceremonial celebration... and then keeping the vessel for a future loved one?
I know this is probably reaching into the far corners of the universe for some, and it may be an uncomfortable venture for others. But what about that? A family vessel? Used to scatter those we love? Yes there may be some intermingling of ashes throughout the life of the vessel. Is that so bad? We have used ceremonial pieces before. Using family baptismal gowns has been a traditional entry into a faith numerous times, and having the knowledge that others have lived in that gown before us...is similar to a rite of passage in itself. Or that wedding gown passed down for generations.  Or mother's ring.
I know. The ring isn't quite the same as an urn. But I think you get where I am going with this.
I, myself, feel this idea might be quite fitting.
Think about it....
Closet? Family Urn?
You decide....and let me know what you think.

Living fully - carving a life.

Michelle


1/27/16

How do I find a beautiful artistic handcrafted cremation urn?

Artistic urn, Created by an artistSay you are searching for a special urn to purchase on line. 
You start with the word search....and quickly learn that the terms can be tricky and they can become a conundrum. To say the least.
How do we find what we are looking for?
And especially when it comes to urns.
Here are some examples of words I used when I was searching for unique, one of a kind urns that artists had made:
Unique
    My definition as I was looking: Meaning something very original and not mass-produced
    Urn Industry definition: An item available in color or design options
One of a kind
    My definition as I was looking: A term to say "You won't find this anywhere else'.  It is a one and only.
   
Urn Industry definition: An item with an inscription option for a mass-produced manufactured urn to make it personal to you
Custom
    My definition as I was looking: An urn that is designed, created, and completed just for you with inspiration derived from you and traits or interests of the loved one for character.
    Urn Industry definition: A manufactured urn with inscribing, painting, or plaque applications unique to your needs

Disclaimer: These findings are from my own research only. Not to imply that manufactured urns are the only pieces you will find with these descriptions....just that you will find quite a few in your search that are manufactured as well.

What I am trying to get across is this.
It is hard to find an urn that fits your vision, and I empathize with the search process we currently have. Especially when one is seeking during an emotional and sorrowful time and maybe even working with a tight time frame.
My suggestion if you are wanting a piece that is hand made by an artist?
Call a local art center for help in locating a local artist who creates urns or keepsakes or use Google. Quite a few artists have lidded vessels that are beautifully hand done - and typically are not found at funeral homes. I understand why the funeral home industry does not carry too many original, handcrafted, artistic urns. It just is a difference in their perspective.

So, below are some words that might help you in your search - again - if you are looking for something truly made by an artist.
Granted everyone searches differently, so if you find other terms that work better for you - I would love it if you would share with me. I will be happy to add them to the list below to help others in their search as well.

These words will help you find vessels that are made by a soul - for a soul.
Original
Handmade
Handcrafted
Artistic

(More Tags/Labels I use: Carved Sculptural Wheel Thrown Stoneware Cremation Lidded Jar Youth Baby Pet Ashes Cremains Bronze Keepsake Locket Jewelry Urn Vessel)

Etsy is a shop on the internet that provides a platform for many studio artists like myself to get their work out there.
My pieces are available there, and here, at a site that offers both manufactured and artist created pieces.
If you are in the area, and want to see some crafted vessels in person, give me a call (507-351-6945).
Remember artists also are available to create special pieces just for you, with inspiration from you or your loved one.

Living fully - carving a life,

Michelle


1/13/16

The power of words

baby urns KH1357Most recently I have been working at the business side of my career. Marketing what I create.

And as you might guess, business and creatives go together like oil and water. For many. You know - left brain - right brain...

Now add to that - from a creative's perspective - many of us are introverts, many of us question our talent, and many of us are very humble of the work we do create. From the marketing side, yes we have many skills, however we would much rather be creating instead of marketing. That means we have to become 'not introverted'!

Society has set some pretty negative beliefs when it comes to putting together creative and success in one sentence. We are typically told "Oh that's a good hobby!" or "Oh, you must be a starving artist?"  Both of those words are avoided emphatically in my vocabulary, and the statements make my skin crawl!
And yet we are inundated with those messages all the time! So you can understand why it is difficult for artists to combat the 'starving artist' stigma. Ok....I will get off that soap box and save it for another time....

So the introverted, humble creative has another side of the conversation that they deal with every day.

1/5/16

Nurturing

handcrafted urnLove. Embraced. Spirit.
These words describe the creation thoughts I had while handcrafting this piece.

As mentioned in the past and something many artists experience, is the evolution of a piece, sometimes, from a voice other than their own. Meaning "I didn't create this by myself." True to form, the same experience happens to me on many occasion. I am the portal if you will. This piece is one of a few free form pieces I have created. First throwing the initial vessel on the wheel, and then hand shaping and carving it.

Have you ever wondered about a piece? Looking at it - wondering - what am I supposed to be seeing? Many times, artists want the mystery to be solved through the viewers' eyes.  And on occasion, there are important elements the artist wants you to see. As in this piece. There are three impressions of hands. Each one embracing and 'holding up' if you will, the spirit within. And the spirit within being symbolized by the small sphere on the inset lid.

Below is a quick video that shows you the complete piece.
I title this "Nurtured". It was a very special creation experience for me.


Living fully - carving a life,

Michelle

12/31/15

A lasting impression

Devil's TowerDevil's Tower.
A place of reverence and beauty to many. Myself included.

We have traveled to and around the base of Devil's Tower a few times, and each visit leaves an indelible imprint on my spiritual being.
Here is a bit of history about Devil's Tower, both about the Native American's connected to the location, and the importance of the prayer cloths they tie to trees at the base of the tower.

This week I created a vessel with the intention of capturing the feeling I had while at Devil's Tower.
Here is an almost finished image of the vessel.
I will be able to attach my own prayer cloths.
Feeling very blessed for the year past and the one we enter into today.

Prayer Cloth
Living fully - carving a life,

Michelle

12/23/15

Artistic Urns

One World Memorials Artistic Urns and Handmade Lidded Jars
The urns and keepsakes that I create have their own story to share. These one of a kind artistic creations are handmade through the use of clay on a potters wheel, throwing a shape, and then designing and carving elements unique to that vessel. Each one is carved with deep respect and an integrity for the loved one this urn or keepsake will represent.

Because of the special attention I give to each piece, joining up with Ira Woods and One World Memorials is a natural fit. Through his direction, this company assists those seeking vessels for their beloveds who have passed on, and their personal service is what sets them apart.
Through a wide range of vessels, from urns for the home, to scattering vessels and biodegradable vessels, he can be of assistance to any client. And that is why I am grateful to have joined up with Ira and his team in offering my urns and keepsakes - both the handmade stoneware vessels, and the bronze cast keepsakes.
The complete selection available is here.
For viewing of the pieces in my collection, follow to this link.

Blessings
And live fully,

Michelle

12/22/15

Can you change your mind?

I learned another valuable lesson this week! And it was only Monday! 

And I had to share.

As we travel through life, we hear and see many things.
Our life lesson is "how do we act'?

I believe in many things. And I am sure you do too.
You have your standards. Your family traditions and upbringings.
Which I have learned through the years is....the roadmap!

The caveat to that is - do you continue that way?
Or do you take time to discover what your own values are?
I believe, as a culture, we have learned many beliefs have 'absolute' answers.
And if you get the answers wrong....you received a red check mark on your paper.
That is what it was like when you were in school.
But you are 'grown up' now. And are supposed to know all the answers.
What if the answers are changing??? Or if what we learned is really....wrong?

Pause...

Actually I learned two valuable lessons within two weeks.

Lesson number one:
People can change an opinion - if willing - to see through a different lens.
If they listen to their gut or their intuition.
Deep down they may know that things might be different than they were brought up to believe.  
That is growth, and I have great respect for growth and willingness to listen to something other than what we know.

Lesson number two:
I had the joy of meeting a woman in our leadership group a couple of weeks ago. The timing was perfect.
She had lived in Somalia. Moved to Saudi Arabia due to the conflict. And later moved to the United States.
She shared her story and answered all of our questions with such grace! There was no indifference. No animosity.
She was open to teach us what was real in her life experience.
And the lesson?
We can't be afraid of someone just because their religious beliefs might be different than our own.
We can't be afraid of someone because the color of their skin is different than ours.
We are afraid because we don't know them.
I knew all of this already. Yet the act of bringing in someone who was culturally different in many ways - and inviting an open forum so the uncomfortable-ness is dispelled? THAT is what makes us learn in a healthy environment.

So this is my proposal to you this week. Ask them!
If you see someone that you don't know. And feel you might make a judgement because you don't know them.
Talk to them. Say hello! Ask them if there is something you can help them with as they adjust to the new environment.
Be kind.

Remember. Our family didn't start 'here' either!

Living Fully,

Michelle

12/17/15

Today

Work in Progress
People say artists are a different breed.
I admit that sometimes I feel that way.
Some days are filled with questioning whether you are fulfilling your purpose, and then there are the days of creating and saying yes, and then there are the days of engaging with your clients and thinking "YES" this is why.
I guess it is no different than any other profession.
There are days, as you drive to work in the congestion of traffic when you hear yourself saying: "I wonder if there is a better fit for me out there?"  And then there are days when "That was a good day." is felt from your core. The best days are when you are your own cheering section for accomplishments fulfilled!
Yeah.....we aren't so different.

Cheers to a week filled with intentions, plans completed, and accomplishments!

Michelle

Manzanita and Pinon Pine trees

Artistic Urn, pinon pine urn for ashes
While on a trip to Sedona this past fall, I had the most profound
experience among the oldest trees in and around the Grand Canyon, and Sedona. Pinon Pines are traced back to prehistoric times, and they join the Manzanita trees with their presence. I saw beauty in the old, withered, and craggy trunks, and I still carry that memory with me to this day. So much so, that I am driven to create in the image of their existence.

Live Fully,

Michelle

12/15/15

What does your world look like?

I am not one to banter about politics, religion, or gender.
So....
I am going to share that this week I had an experience with a gentleman who saw a post on my facebook page. He went into quite a bit of detail about the gender topic. How he saw things with men and women. He couldn't see what I see.
I won't go into or add banter about this topic.
In the end, he was willing to listen. And he was willing to envision what I see. And I appreciate that openness. Some things do take time to absorb.

What I will share with you is this.
I also learned something from his point of view.
And I also, need to be very conscious of how I perceive things.
Yes, we create our world - as we see it through our own eyes.

If you hate, you will see hate.
If you distrust, you will see distrust.
If you fear, you will see fear.
If you love, you will see love.

I chose to live fully with love,

Michelle

12/11/15

What if...

Memories.
That is all we have really, and the experiences that go with living them.
Intangible, except for the sights, smells, and tactile experiences that take us back.

As a part of a leadership group, I was at a local mortuary, for a local businesses tour.
And I saw the vessels they had in the product room.
Being a person who resonates with woodworking as well, I was most appreciative of the detailing of the caskets.
They had a warm glow about them. Speaking to the wooden ones.
That casket had been a living tree at one point in its life.

And then we came to the urns.
Ahhhhh. Yes I know why I create what I do.
Something was missing.

12/4/15

Of the Earth

The second vessel I threw on the wheel this week is now being refined.
Time to let it settle for a bit. Will finish the lid next Monday...

Have a wonderful weekend!

Living fully,

Michelle

12/2/15

Last nights endeavors

Yesterday I had a late start in creating vessels.
My creativity goes in stops and starts because of the "business side" of art.
So now I am back at it, and am feelin' the joy!

Here is one of the vessels I just put the finishing touches on. 
I had a good day of throwing three vessels.
Now on to the carving process for the other two....

Living fully,

Michelle

12/1/15

Connected through nature

During the creation.
Last week a client stopped at the studio to pick up an urn that was created especially for them.

Humble.
I use that term a lot, because it is the closest I can come to expressing how I feel inside.

Creating a vessel to be held dear - for a loved one.

How do we do that?
Create something that exudes love, respect, integrity...all emotions we feel for the one that has passed.

Each vessel created at the studio is unique.
They resonate something special that is indescribable. Intangible. Reverent.
It speaks for to person holding the memories.

I am grateful for the opportunity to translate life into this vessel.

Living fully,

Michelle

11/24/15

What would you do if?

What would you do if you knew you wouldn't fail?

I did not realize this was such a packed question until I posted it on facebook.
My daughter has a similar quote framed and hanging on her dining room wall....however hers reads "What would you try if you knew you couldn't fail?"

I thought this question would stimulate sharing of dreams people have had, when I posted it to FB. Maybe putting it out there would align them with similar thinking people, or the support they would need to make the leap.
Maybe they don't have the wear with all to attempt their dream - because of fear of failure? Lack of funding? Time?

What I realized after posting this, and reading the responses, is that this question -
and so many other forms of communication - have many interpretations.
Some comments had snippets or innuendos of the following

11/17/15

Sacred

Cave Painting 50,000 - 60,000 BC
Sacred: • regarded with great respect and reverence by a particular religion, group, or individual:

What we aspire to as individuals and as a human race is a deep and thought provoking conversation.
And how to express and interpret our ideals causes us to go even deeper into the caverns of our spiritual being.
Is creative expression really needed? Do we have ways to express our thoughts outside of the creative process?
What would you replace words, music, visual art, drama or dance with - that is equal in expression?
I am not sure that I, myself, would have an answer to that question.
(Note this conversation isn't even addressing the attributes that creativity provides within 'smarts' growth.)

I think back to the images of drawings inside of caves. So symbolic for the lives lived.

And here we are today. So many ways to communicate our emotions. Yet disregarded as valued - by many.

Creating is a process. It is exposing. It is deliberate, intentional, inquisitive, uncomfortable, validating, and emotionally charged.
And it is necessary. It is a process that crosses many bridges. It is able to cross gender, faith, age, culture, and creature.
Note: I had the joyful experience of listening to a band outside one evening, and in the hours of darkness, birds were flying overhead in joyful celebration to the music being heard. (My imagination was not running rampant.)
This video proves my point that creatures great and small respond to music as well.
(Please look past the beverage can... there...see the furry friend?... yeah...that's it. Now watch! :D)


I consider my work sacred. Which by my definition includes: nature, reverence, playfulness, respect, humor, and bliss.
I welcome you to be a part of my creative world this month as I share an installation with fellow potters at the 410 Project in Mankato MN, November 27 thru December 20. Opening reception is Friday evening, November 27, 7-9 pm.
Hope to see you there!

Living Fully,

Michelle

11/13/15

Seventh Grade bubble

Seventh graders. Ahhhh, those young energetic teens. They are our future world! 
Texture and Color incorporated into lidded vessel

Do you ever have a conversation with them?
A while back, I had the opportunity to delve into their minds.
I must admit I had an unfair advantage. A captive

11/6/15

Clutter and place

Excitement abounds.
A new artist will be joining us in our studio space.
I am thrilled beyond words. Her being is reflective, inspiring, and filled with energy that respects the earth.
This world we create.

In preparation for this new chapter, I began cleaning out the space she would occupy.
It reminded me of the chaotic clutter we

11/2/15

What I am working on today....



Day one:

Watch as this piece is transformed.
Very tall and narrow vase.
More photos to follow as progression continues.









Day two of creation:
After letting the vessel dry a bit, it turns closer to 'leather hard'.
Once it becomes less pliable as a vessel, it is easier to carve into.











Day three of creation:
Completion of carving, and trek to Art Center of St. Peter for piece to get bisque fired.

10/27/15

Nirvana, a stroke of reality

Current Project
Life is full and rich.
For some, that statement is 100% accurate.
And for others, the darkness in their life is just too much, and it is totally not how they see things.

Through all of life's experiences, we encounter questions.
Questions like: Did I really want to experience cancer?
Or: Why did I have to lose everything?
Or: Why did I lose my job?
Or: Why did they have to be where they were, when they were, and lose their life?
Or: Why me?
Why me?
Why me?

And the ultimate question. What next?
So many obstacles...or is it...so. many. opportunities.

Jill Bolte Taylor shares her story with detail and reverence.

Life is about paying attention...if. you. chose.
Digging deep to find the lessons to be learned.


Live Fully,

Michelle

10/22/15

Cycles and Vessels

People who ride motorcycles, mountain bikes, or dirt bikes may
have differences in experiences, however one thing remains the same.
They love the outdoors. They love adventure. And they love the wind.
This vessel is a tribute to a man who loved it all.

10/20/15

Texture in clay

One tool can do so much. Here is a little vessel I created using a carving tool
to give this rich effect.
I am doing a spring workshop at the Art Center of Saint Peter, teaching ways to incorporate textures and carving into a clay tile. Pretty exciting!

10/15/15

Pottery Enthusiasts and Collectors are....

In Progress
Last night I had the most joyful experience gathering with people who LOVE pottery! As collectors, and as creators.
Over coffee, I asked "So, what was it like during your growing up years? Did your parents/care providers support creative interests?"
The answers were most revealing. From: Oh, every open weekend we would

10/13/15

How accurate is the Myers Briggs?


About two months ago, I took the Myers Briggs test as
a Connecting Nicollet County Leadership group participant.

The test revolved around Who am I?

Before I took the test, I asked myself: What words do I think people would use to describe me.
And this is what I came up with: (without having

10/9/15

PLRAC Annual Art Exhibition

For those of you far away, or unable to attend this exhibit, here is a  'tour' by Brenda from PLRAC, sharing pieces by some truly fabulous artisans in our area.
Hint: The trees are peaking in the bluffs this 'glorious weather' weekend...making for a Great Road Trip! It is even better to see the exhibition first hand at the Art Center. Grab a GREAT cup of coffee and mouthwatering treat for your return trip, at River Rock Coffee.
You won't be disappointed!









Merit Award Winner
Accepted into Exhibit


9/29/15

It hit me between the eyes!

I was listening to a TED talk one morning by Brenè Brown.
This is the second talk of Brenè's that I have listened to. The first one, a few years back, was about shame, guilt, and vulnerability.
What seems like a decade ago; prior to fire, cancer, and accidents (not in that order), I had read her book The Gifts of Imperfection as well. I was made aware of Brenè by my daughter, at that time working at the GAP corporate office in San Francisco.
GAP had invited Brenè to speak, and my daughter couldn't say enough about what she came away with, in life wisdom.

And here I am, 25 years senior to my daughter, and I have been hit between the eyes by another of Brenè's talks.

9/28/15

My weekly walk....

I walked to the Art Center of St. Peter this morning to see what had come out of the kiln this weekend!
The anticipation!!!

Here is a set of bowls.


Love the earthy golden color.
Especially at this time of year when the fields are golden with beans and corn ready to be harvested!

Live fully,

Michelle

9/24/15

While you were sleeping...

A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasant surprise of being asked to join a dear friend on a journey to Sedona.
How could I refuse! A break from life for a week was...well...inviting.
But before I could leave, I had some things to tend to. Good things!
Harvesting grapes with my brother and family, working at the Rock Bend Folk Festival under the Art Center of St. Peter tent, entering my work into the Prairie Lakes Regional Art Show, and an interview with Polly Giantonio about my work. She is a fabulous writer, and this is what she had to say. Thank you Polly for capturing what I do!


Then off I went to the airport

9/9/15

Stepping out of my comfort zone...


A dear artist friend said to me many years ago...."I thought they would be more colorful."
I have investigated the use of color with my carvings for years and just never came up with a good process that I felt worked with my carving.
As of late, that challenge has returned, and my night thinking has come to a solution that I am wanting to test as a second avenue of design. I pushed the envelope.
The possibilities are quite intriguing!

9/8/15

Leaves and Texture Lidded Vessel

After a refreshing weekend with my husband, taking in nature throughout the southwestern coulees of Wisconsin on motorcycles, I am ready to start the week.
However, at 12:35 am, as in this morning, I was still trying to quiet my brain. Too too many ideas for future projects were racing through after all of that beauty. I. Could. Not. Get. To. Sleep.

One of my most recent pieces taken out of the kiln at the Arts Center of Saint Peter.
Live fully,

Michelle

9/3/15

Art Challenge: The Mask - Complete

Remember back in late May, I gave myself a challenge?
Here is my first completed piece.
The concept of incorporating feathers was very inspiring to me.
A stained textural stoneware surface with the soft illusive quality of the feathers, attached with leather string.



 
The inspiration was this

9/1/15

Refreshing!

It is so wonderful to be able to post some of my work....finally!
I am back at it! Hurray!

This is a platter I carved. The glaze on the inside is a lovely organic rusty, greenish, bluish brown co-mingling of colors with red iron oxide stain on rim and underside.
Details:
12 1/4" in diameter
2" rim
1" depth on glazed portion
Thrown on wheel and then hand carved
Original design

Live Fully,

Michelle



8/26/15

That Creative Process

A while back I created something out of the ordinary. And I liked it!
Then while driving the car three blocks, to deliver it for a firing, I went over a bump with my car, and "ping"....I broke the piece.
Well? Sounds like life....and yes it does go on!
I was bound and determined to save it as a reminder of this adventure into new territory, so I decided to fire it. Broken. Even after I tried

8/18/15

Respect. Integrity. Calm.


There is a conversation evolving.

It is steeped with emotion and decision as we cross the great precipice–a loved one is or has recently moved from living here on earth to passing on.
So many decisions and so much loss felt in one large gray swirling cloud of emotion.

It is no longer quiet.

8/12/15

Let the adventure continue....

Creating in clay.
I have had the pleasure of carving sculptural ceramic vessels for 20 years as of this summer!!!!
Does that mean I can celebrate?

It is a passion that has developed into a career. I am honored to be promoted and carried at a number of locations, and the newest of companies is a major step for me. I am so excited. In the last 3 months I have been working very diligently with a great company

8/11/15

Not just lolly-gagging....

On Facebook, it says something like...."hmmmmmm, you haven't been on your The Keyhole Studio account for quite some time. Your friends and clients miss you."
Ok - I have been busy! Not just hanging out doing nothing!
See!? And these are just to tease you. The other items are already on the kiln shelves waiting to be fired.....Need I say more?

Have a great week!

8/5/15

Carving....carving....carving

Working in my studio, creating lovely vessels.
Ahhhh......