5/24/16

The anniversary

Sketched Concept
The following story has been written from a perspective of "What a great gift for a man to give his wife!

When one has been married for quite some time, the love and respect developed over time can be quite rich and genuine.
So what do you get that person for an anniversary gift?
Jewelry? Great gift! However, how many times can you give that? Ironically, jewelry is a hard one to be successful with. And it isn't for everyone!
Diamonds? Yeah....but how many times can you give diamonds?
@ Potters Wheel
What is left?
Flowers? (I love those!) Flowers are always a wonderful gift in my book. Unique, unusual, or plucked out of the garden! All wonderful options.
Ok, now what is left?
No. Not a vacuum. Nor a washer or a dryer or a dishwasher. Those don't exude love to me.
Unless of course you are one that has the distorted love affair with your spouse. (Disclaimer on this perception. That is solely my impression.)

Sketched on Clay
I had a gentleman ask me if I would create a commissioned piece for his wife on their anniversary.
She is special. He, I believe, is probably a gem of a husband as well, to have thought of this!

Her favorite flower? Tulips. Great! We agreed on how much he wanted to spend,
and the process began.

Here is the fun part of this story. He didn't just give a gift. He helped design it.
Carving Base
I asked how many children they had, and subliminally added that element into the piece.
I thought at the early onset of the process, that it would be fun for him to see the progress.
So I sent him shots of the progression.
Game changer!
I didn't realize how much of a game changer it would be until about the second session of photographs were sent to him.
It is called "ownership".

He owned the process as a participant. What a fantastic way to give a gift.
Ready to Stain
To see something artistic come to life before your very eyes.
(Caveat: Commissions aren't for everyone. There is a necessary freedom required for the artist to do their best work. That means trusting the artist as well as the artist being a good listener to the client. I strongly recommend loving the style the artist has before you ask them to create a piece for you. And give them some - only some direction.
Red Iron Staining
And then - let them do what they do best. It will be a joyful experience for you - as well as for your recipient.)


Living fully - carving a life,

Michelle

Finished Gift

5/17/16

Diary of a clay vessel


A big day. Even on a Sunday.
I had many wonderful activities. Gardening. Working on my website. Reviewing photos. Trimming trees. And - collecting high fired works at the Arts Center in St. Peter, that were completed and ready to pick up.
Oh...the anticipation.
Do you ever work on something for a long long time, and then hand it over for the final step? Knowing in your mind what it is supposed to look like, and crossing your fingers that it will indeed look like what you had envisioned - in the end?
I must admit as a potter, that outcome is not as common as one would hope.

Let me explain.
Pottery is unlike painting. I think.  As I am not a painterly person. I enjoy dabbling in painting on pottery, however that is few and far between in experiences.
I can not give a personal account to the processes one goes through when painting, writing, or singing/composing.
However - as a potter I will share my own personal experience of the many steps that a piece goes through - for me - before it is complete.
1. Throwing (ie: centering, coning, creating centered pilot hole, opening up the inside shape, and pulling walls up) the initial shape from a hunk of clay into a vessel on the potters wheel - hoping it will be a successful throw, and that it will succeed in emulating what one has in ones' mind of what they are creating.
2. Trimming. A process of using tools to eliminate excess clay at the base - using the potters wheel and trim tools. A typical process that bombs if the vessel ends up too thin or too thick, or if the vessel lets go (ie: flying off the batt) while trimming due to wads of clay releasing the pot before completion.
3. Designing what will be carved into the vessel (Scale and design are elements that make or break the piece in this step.)
4. Carving (A slip of the hand can cause the vessel to be - a vessel with a hole - destroying the function of the piece)
5. Cleaning up the design, making it look professional - yet artistic and hand-crafted - with a professional touch.
6. Carving corrections (Carved corrections tend to stand out because the dryness factor is not matching the rest of the vessel when the carving took place.)
7. Letting the piece dry completely (hoping the piece does not crack during this drying phase - in places that compromise the function and integrity of the piece)
8. Handling the piece (sweaty, dirty, or oily hands cause fingerprints - creating undesirable areas where glaze or stain does not adhere - which unfortunately does not show up until after the piece is completely fired.)
9. Placing piece into kiln. (pieces are solely dried clay at this point and any bump or mis-handling can cause the piece to break.)
10. Bisque firing (susceptible to cracking - or blow outs due to air bubbles or compromised base construction, lack of complete dryness, or too cold - at this stage as well)
11. Handling the piece after bisque firing may also cause undesirable effects to the finished product - unknown to you until final step is completed.
12. Glazing the piece, or staining it to add interest to the vessel
13. High firing the piece (Hoping it does not crack - and hoping the glazing/staining outcome is desirable)
14. Realizing that the glazing and/or staining process will either make or break the final outcome, glazes can under fire or over fire easily and cause undesirable bubbling, crazing, or flat finishes- or fantastic unexpected outcomes
15. Complete
16. Taking photos of the piece. (Hoping to translate what has been created into representational and beautiful photo(s).)
17. Pricing. Hoping the efforts that have taken place to create this unique piece are truly - understood.
I love the arts. I value every single step that creations go through to get to the complete step.
May your art form be blessed with success. Meaning - may it be a piece (whatever art form you express) that is truly what you envisioned.

5/13/16

What NOT to do to get a grant.

My writing is a bit too poetic.
Atleast that is what I was told when I applied for a grant. They wanted passion. Not poetry.
And at first I was so heartbroken, I didn't know what to do with myself.
But then I realized something. I can't change me. Who I am.
Well, technically yes I could change me. If I wanted to.
But you know....I kinda like who I am!
So what do you do when you find out your writing for money is a bit too 'sweet'?

I just keep on writing just the way I am now. From the heart. And for real.
I don't sugar coat how I feel. Atleast I don't believe I do.
I am gentle sometimes. Especially when it comes to topics that involve pain, sadness, or the need to be mindful.
Life can be hard. And I am aware of that. Oh am I aware of that!

After much processing, I have come to a place of peace regarding this poetic thing.
I remember when I was in high school, I took a Creative Writing class. I loved that class!
It was way better than the Debate and Speech exercises I was involved in.
I remember a poem I wrote about the frost on the trees in winter, looking like diamond coated fingers.
Yeah....I know. It makes me smile just thinking about that poem. It was the epitome of 'wordy' - but that was what I was supposed to be doing! Adding flourishes of creative and descriptive words to my sentences. Wordy right!? (sigh)
That class stuck! It was and still is in my blood - thick and red. (haha)

My life is like my writing - I look at life with richness, and from different view points.
So I will live with the poetic, and even embrace that fact!

What a revelation...As I look at my style of art, and the poetic factor, I am amazed at the similarity.
Yes this is a "hit me between the eyes" moment - again! Didn't I have one of those just recently?
My art is very rich in detail. Descriptive in style. Emotionally packed.
Yes - P O E T I C.
I guess it is hard to kick the poetry out of the poet.
So much for more grant writing!

Living fully - carving a life

Michelle

5/10/16

The guarantee

Flower with Leaves
As sure as the sun is setting and the sky is darkening into night, I have celebrated yet another day of living.
For others, their time of crossing over has come and gone. They are on the other side.

It's pretty common knowledge. We all know we are mortal.
For many, the concept of passing is vague and barely conceivable. On the contrary however, for others, the concept isn't just a far into the future forecast. It is staring them in the face. Like a cloud that looms - a constant. Not letting them forget. Some days that cloud is more ominous than others. On good days it is mostly sunshine with only a tiny hint of overcast.
How do they do it? Are they ignoring it all? Playing against the odds? Are they making a deal with some unforeseen force, to win their hand at cards? Or are they pushing on. Persistent. Brave. Strong. Willed. To. Be. Here.

These are thoughts that are going through my head today.

Yes, sometimes I even, am a bit vague...being very philosophical - but vague.
Sometimes that is how I carry on. My survival mode.
Some may call it denial. Others may call it being brave. I call it living.

Today and always, I believe there is a guarantee.
A guarantee for life. To be present. To make choices. To live a life filled to the brim with experiences uniquely created for us.
The guarantee is that there are no do overs of moments out there. They are unique to one -  the one and only. You. Once.

So my question to you is - how will you act on that guarantee?

Dedicated to those crossed over, those living, those I love.

Living fully - carving a life

Michelle

5/6/16

2:38 am

My posts have been few and far between as of late.

However I have been very 'productive' and very very happy.
SO much so, that at 2:38 am, I woke up - as is quite common.
The part that was joyfully different was this:
I was feeling in my bones - happiness.
Happy to be doing what I am doing. Living fully - carving a life.

These blessings do not go unnoticed. I am grateful beyond words. And when I wake in the early morning hours,
and feel that sensation of joy in my very being, I am blessed to be where I am. Now.

I hope you find - or have found - the same.

Michelle

4/27/16

It's Spring and I feel like growing!

Through the last couple of months I have been coming to the studio to work, bright and early in the morning. (My husband would look at me with that twinkle in his eye and say.... "work?")
Ok, I love what I do. And yes, it is dedication to creating beautiful vessels.
With Spring has come a 'flood' of creativity.
I look at my table and I have five large vessels in the process of drying so they can be fired. And I have more at the Art Center waiting their turn for bisque or glaze firing.

If you would like to see my work as it evolves more quickly I have an Instagram account that you can follow. Not much text. Just lots and lots of photos. #thesoulremains

I have been neglecting my writing because my fingers have been happily carving instead of typing on the keypad.
However those questions I offer for contemplation are important. So I will share the next one - four days late or four days early. Which ever you prefer! :D

This is a question that may seem odd to you, but remember that your memories will be shared with generations to come - if you so choose, so the answers may be quite interesting to those who read them - then.

How do you stay connected to family members that live farther away?
Our son currently lives in California. He moved when he was fresh out of high school and has not returned for more than three weeks since then. That was ten years ago. Our daughter was in California for more than a few years as well, so the distance thing is front and center for my husband and I.
The best way to converse for us - especially with the two hour time difference - is via phone. We have had some 'skype' communications, however those get to be somewhat cumbersome sometimes. Actually when you only have the phone - you have to pay attention! And I like that. Although facial expression is very important in certain circumstances.

I bet your answer to this question might be a bit different than mine!

As I contemplate, I remember when I lived about four hours away from family. Writing letters was the mainstay.
Hmmm. Now isn't that interesting in this day and age!

Ok - now it is your turn.
Share. Write. And Share!

Living fully - carving a life,

Michelle

4/22/16

Prince, Prince, Prince....

Image by Cindy Saba-Stoewer
Why do we gather so passionately together over the passing of one person?

The power of connection he brings throughout the world is palpable today.
It is only a little more than twenty-four hours since we have learned of the passing of him - Prince.
And the world mourns.

He lived life to the FULLEST!
I am amazed at the prolific creativity and the profound inspiration this one person had - and continues to have - on soooo sooo many lives all over the world.

And in that same breath, I reflect on what we all do in our lives.
Do we live with reckless abandon - like Prince?
He was the epitome of self expression and not holding back on his creativity. No inhibitions. No 'what will they think? moments.
Just celebration of life in his own unique way.

We all are unique.
We are all individual beings.  One of a kind.
Why does the world so strongly obsess about us fitting a mold.
 Isn't life about living our true and full potential and doing what is true to our soul?

I am humbled by the gusto this man had for living
!
I will raise up that image in my head, heart, and soul, to continue with reckless abandon -  to do the same.
Thank you Prince. For being true to who you are.

Sad, and rejoicing in his love of life,

Michelle

4/20/16

TheSoulRemains.com

Please note that I am in the process of revamping my site "TheSoulRemains.com".

When I first created the site - back in 2008-9, my focus was to offer cremation urns that are nature inspired and carry soul.
I create those vessels to this day.
However I realize now more than ever, that the celebration of life is not at the beginning and at our passing....but always.
And the vessels that I create are still soulful, hand-carved vessels resonating integrity, respect, and inspiration.
They are with an added purpose. To help tell the story while we are present in this world.

So I will ask you to be patient as I put together this new site - which will allow you to purchase my items, for spirit, memories, food, nature, artistic inspiration, and for all defining moments in life.

Blessings to you this day.

Living fully - carving a life,

Michelle



4/19/16

Feeling like Singin' in the Rain with Gene Kelly

The clouds are out today. It is dry and the rain has not fallen for quite some time. However the gray clouds are heavy and dark and there is a chance of rain - soon.
Over lunch I have been going to the Millpond in a nearby park. Here is a photo I took last Friday for some inspiring landscape study.
Yes it is spring, and the studio is actually comfortably cool today, because it has been bouncing between cool and warm windy spring weather. With the wind blowing top soil around from the western bluffs, I have refrained from opening the windows just yet.

But I am in my bare feet and ready to go back to carving!
My feet remind me of the dancing we saw at a musical this weekend at a nearby college. The tapping got my toes moving, and thinking it is not too late to continue tap dancing class. Our daughter was in tap as a youngster, and my first attempt to tap was when I was over the age of 50. Which brings me to a local story that just gets me excited and needs sharing. Let's just say eighty-five is not too old to learn!

Get your toes moving!

Living fully - carving a life,

Michelle

4/15/16

Moms, Memories and Smells

So many things to share!
I spoke with my daughter this past week. She is a first time mom and she had taken her son in for the two month check up. I sensed some sadness in her voice so I asked about it and she said - "He got three shots today Mom!" - sounding teary.

I remember those days when our children were little. They would either cry from the shots or be distracted enough that it was a relief to both mom and child. Later, there is the scraped knees, or the falling while riding bike. I remember yy own muscles would twinge in pain as I shared their experience with them. 

While at lunch, I was sharing with my husband about my conversation with our daughter, and he didn't see what was so bad about the shots story. That is when my own senses verified what I have always known. It IS a mom thing. We carry the baby inside our womb for nine months and even though the umbilical cord is cut at delivery, the nerve connection is still there. When we fed them as a baby and even when they were older, I would twinge if they were in pain. We have a different connection, and it is more than deep.

And speaking of moms, it's my Mom's birthday this weekend.
It is easy for me to remember, because we both celebrate during the same month. In fact my husband's birthday is this month as well.
As we were winding down our breakfast brunch together, my mom asked me "What makes me happy?" (And I thought I was the one who asks questions!?)
She really did throw me off guard. However I did come up with more than one answer. But I didn't answer that art made me happy. And she called me on it. LOL Yes - I forgot to say the obvious!

So here is a question for you - and you probably have an answer.
Just remember to share those obvious answers as well!

Here is your question - since we are on the "Mom" topic....
When you think of your Mom – what smells come to mind and why?

My answer?
Fresh air! My mom loved to put the laundry out on the line. That fresh air smell is one that does not go away!
At first I was going to say the very unique smell of an iron, hot and ready to be used on fabric. Yes that smell is unique too. My mom sewed a lot, so it was common to have the iron in use as we arrived home after school. Either she was sewing or pressing something after doing some laundry. Which brings me back to the fresh air. But wait....the obvious answer? Fresh baked homemade chocolate chip cookies awaiting our arrival home on the school bus! Yep...I almost forgot the obvious!

Share your memories. Write. And share some more!

Living fully - carving a life,

Michelle

4/12/16

Making your heart sing

Earthly Delights in Clay on PinterestOne of the most inspirational groups, The Eagles, wrote a song "Hole in the World".
It is one of the most compelling songs. To me.
I remember the first time I heard it. I played it over and over and over.
The message was palpable.
How powerful to put ones' emotions into something of beauty from so much pain!
Note - this song came about because of September 11, 2001.

It is a song about our responsibility in life.
To be here. To participate. To live consciously.

I didn't know what that meant...until I was about forty years old.

As a creative, I appreciate this song's message and I embrace it with my whole heart.
Just think of what life would be like, if we didn't have the opportunity to express.
Joy. Sorrow. Happiness. Pain.
Love. Life.
No music. No color. Wow....no color or sound.
Why do we even have it?
For a reason.
To communicate.
To connect.
The creative process is connection. Completely. Expressing without boundaries.
Make your heart sing...It is life giving!

Living fully - carving a life,

Michelle

To learn more about the emotional beauty that has been created
in honor of those lost at the World Trade Towers, follow to this link.

4/10/16

Trending April 10, 2016...

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/157837161917409725/
Found a new home this last week!
Being of a five decade plus age, it is intriguing to me to know that acquiring the news  is very different from earlier generations of reading the Sunday Paper. The local paper that is/was thrown to your doorstep - to be read from front to back over a lounging Sunday coffee or orange juice.Those times have changed!
Now it is pulling out your laptop and Google Searching the news of the day.
And it seems today, people are talking about sports, sports and more sports.
(As a person in the arts world, I won't touch this with a ten foot pole...) My husband is watching what is number four on the list...The Masters!
However at number 120 is "ageing" followed by #126 at "sculpture".
This is fascinating to me.
I was never a sports enthusiast. Unless you call riding bike in the country 'being sports minded'. LOL

So with the 'Google Trends' for today, I can honestly say I qualify. HOORAY!

With those two words meshed together, I invite you to think differently about life. Celebrating the living side of things.
Vessels can be sculptural and visually tell the story of what we are about. What inspires us to be who we are.
I was at the American & Crafts Council Show in St. Paul today. Seeking to connect with fellow potters and learn how others reach out, and connect.
I saw such unique vessels. We certainly are all different in our artistic voices.
Some being nature driven, I felt a connection with Angela Sample, earthy and edgy ceramic creations that were both subdued in exterior appearance, with the fabulous pop of color on the inside. Thus the 'edgy'.
Make sure to put that event on your calendar for next April. It is a must do!

And for your next Sunday reading, I welcome you to read about keeping your memories, and celebrating your life - presently.

Until next week....enjoy that Sunday paper....

Living fully - carving a life,

Michelle



4/5/16

I can see clearly now, the rain is gone.

I loved that song when I was a teenager.
It was sung by Johnny Nash....
I played it on my record player endlessly.

About a week ago, I wrote the heading for this entry.
No, it wasn't because it is officially spring.
I was being challenged on the life front - by myself. And Hallelujah.... I worked through it!
Finally!

I realized that this road block...was not caused by someone else. It was something that I had created. Me.
And here I am. Human and celebrating another hurdle crossed.
Thankful for the opportunity to struggle, and find the way to where I am heading. Where ever that may be.

I must say I feel pretty darn good. I just wish I would have 'seen the light' a looooong time ago.
As the saying goes "better late than never"!!! Right?
Or I should say something more like: as the song says....'it's going to be a bright, bright, sunshiny day'!

Creatively, my door has been opened because of breaking through that barrier.
I have been carving to no end. Until my hands say - "Ok....enough for today."

I am going to share a number of snap shots as I created this piece. Magnolia.
You saw the almost finished base in last weeks entry.
I always find it fascinating to see something evolve, so I decided to share it here as well.
This is just the first batch. More to come soon.

For those who want to learn how to carve in clay, stick around. You will see many more photos of pieces as they evolve! :D

Living fully - carving a life,

Michelle

Assistance note: On the first three images, the vessel is upside down.





4/1/16

Fear of water...

When I was four years old, my 18 month old sister drown in a kiddie pool at my grandparents farm. They - my grandparents - never had the pool out again. Devastation and fear drove them to put it away forever.
My mother had us attend swimming lessons until we were able to safely and confidently swim without hesitation.
However - the fear of water - was always present. So it was an underlying presence...and I still feel the effects of this life event. However for me, I reversed the fear into respect.

This weeks Memory scroll question is about that fear.

Did your parents have any fears? And if so what were they and why did they have them?
These stories are what creates who we are.
My parents had that fear, and now I love to swim.

So share your memory....and write your memory scroll!
Magnolia Memory Vessel
Living fully - carving a life,

Michelle

3/29/16

When do you let it go?


In Progress: Magnolia Vessel
Today....I learned a valuable lesson. Actually I learned two valuable lessons.
I will share with you the most recent one.

As humans, we take so much to heart in what we do. We bare all.
When someone critiques our work, we feel as if they are in essence critiquing us as individuals.
Especially when we hear a response of 'rejection' that throws us against a brick wall.
I think of the composers, poets, and visual artists of long ago. Who struggled. Who put on paper or canvas what they felt in their very core. And who were rejected - because some didn't see eye to eye with what they were putting out there.
Johann Sebastian Bach, Vincent van Gogh, Johannes VerMeer, John Keats. All experienced life without validation of their work. For some, it didn't come until after they passed. I wonder why there was negativity? Maybe it was too risky for them (the critics) to look at what they saw. Maybe it touched emotions a little too close to home.
For some artists, they were ahead of their time.
It is sad to think of those who have created with such a passion and yet led an unfulfilled life. And now - years, and even centuries later - they are being acknowledged for their creative talents.

Our being, our breathing, is driven by what is inside of us. It drives us to be persistent.

Elvis, Thomas Edison, Oprah Winfrey, Bill Gates, Albert Einstein, Steve Jobs.
They were persistent in their passion when others said they didn't have what it takes.

This whole conversation is driven by a recent grant submission that was discussed today.
It reminded me that sometimes in life...people want to put us in a neat and tidy box. They want consistency. Predictability.

I learned that it doesn't matter.

We need to follow our passion. For our own well being.
Otherwise...there is no growth. We become stagnant.

I will create work, first and foremost, for myself.
It will be authentic, real, and meaningful to me.
Mass appeal? Maybe not so much.
However I am ok with that.

"What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?"
                      Vincent Van Gogh


Living fully - carving a life,

Michelle


3/24/16

Dancing on my Daddy's shoes.

I was at a friend's last week. And we were doing a bit of home design work.
While moving things around, it was renewing to inject fresh energy into a space - utilizing the same items, just repositioning. And refocusing.

The furniture included an old oak cabinet, that I recognized for its use. Being a lover of music, I always loved the old fashioned record players. (Mine was a plastic one. "sigh") I am talking about the stately wooden cabinets with a lid that when lifted, exposed the purple velvet album turntable. And the large stylus, that when played would echo static and scratches of a time gone by.

My friend had one of those record players! It was beautiful! 
It took me to an imaginary 'before my time' place, when my grandparents were young. Thick disks of music played in the evening, offering the soul a dance. 

The memories were right there. Sounds of dancing and laughter, carried between home and ballroom. Dancing-with friends. Can you imagine the stories that were shared?! 

Just opening the lid of the phonograph player prompted a resonance of life and living. In comparison to the lid being cautiously closed with an imaginary 'do not touch' sign sitting out front. 
That would be a totally different memory. A different memory scroll.


The question this week for your memory vessel is: When you think of your Dad – what sound comes to mind and why? 
Share. Write. And...share!


Magnolia Vessel
Living fully - carving a life,

Michelle

3/22/16

My quest.

I was reminded this morning of my trip to Sedona, as I greeted the day. By a simple stone.
Shared by one man - spreading a simple message to those who walk the hills of Sedona.

That one man, continues to make a difference. To me. To many.
Creating or finding simple stones in the shape of a heart.
Reminding us - that the greatest of all - is the gift of love.
That is his quest. To spread the message of loving one another. Pure and simple.

Sometimes we reflect on our place in this world. What are we to be doing.
It is my reflection for this week. To remember what I am here to do. To be present. To make a difference.

Living fully - carving a life,

Michelle

3/16/16

A new memory for the scrolls....

Last night the Saint Peter Area Women Celebrating Women Banquet was held.
I have been on the committee for many years and every year, I leave that event a little lighter in step.
One woman has been commemorated for all that she has done thus far in her lifetime of achievements.
I am thinking her memory scroll would be filled with excitement and gratitude for the energy and appreciation that was felt last evening.

What would your scroll read if you had received an award at a banquet with over 200 local women engaged, supporting, reflecting, applauding......YOU!?

3/14/16

A letter to myself.

A woman artist whom I have admired for years, approached me the other day.  We talked about a vessel I am creating for her.
As we discussed things, I shared something I am passionate about. Stories. Our stories. And I continued to share with her, my memory scrolls concept. Suddenly she became teary eyed. This resonated with her so much so, that it transformed her vessel, from one signifying an end - to an art form filled with life. Her life. As she is living, now.
Golden Moments
It will be a beautiful vessel housing precious memories, stories, trinkets, and what-have-you's that inspired her, created her, molded her. And they will be shared richly.
I am so excited for her as she begins to write her memory scrolls!

Ironically, I created a ton of memories with 735 students last week. Some experiencing clay on the wheel for the first time. Priceless! And that brings me to this morning as I gathered up my thoughts and planned my week.  I realized teaching for four days threw my writing off a bit. And that's ok!

So jump back to last Thursdays question for the memory scrolls.
Write a short letter. To yourself - as a teenager - from you - now - as an adult. 
What important message would you tell yourself?
Share it in your own memory vessel.

Living fully - carving a life,

Michelle

3/4/16

What risk didn't you take?


What risk didn't you take?
Life is full of experiences.
Some are challenges we commit to. Others are challenges we chose not to take.
This weeks question for your vessel of memories is:
What risk did you not take - that you wish you would have?

For some of us, that is a tough question!
These were/are turning points.
Maybe we feel regret because we didn't take that leap.
Was it something you didn't think you could do? Or was it something avoided because someone said you couldn't do it.

There are so many things about our very being that we don't think twice about because we know who we are.
But do your dearest loves know these things about you?
Usually these insights are kept deep within our being. We don't share openly. However those experiences were/are what makes us who we are!

Share. Write. Share.

What do you wish you would have risked?
Hmmm....it's never too late!

Living fully - carving a life,

Michelle

3/1/16

Bowls abound

Souper Bowl
Image by Clay Center, Arts Center of Saint Peter
This last weekend I was part of a throw-a-thon! Again :)

It brought me back to many years ago...actually back in 1995-1997 and in 1999-2002. As a board member and fellow potter at the then Southern Minnesota Clay Center. Every spring - Super Bowl Sunday weekend to be exact - we would have a Souper Bowl of our own - a fabulous celebration for the clay center.
Creating about 200 bowls in throw-a-thon weekends and evenings, we would throw, trim, and glaze the ceramic bowls, and then sell the bowls with free soup and fresh bread to go with the bowl at the Souper Bowl event.
It was so fabulous... Small tables set for 4 people, table clothes, candles, and ambiance lighting sprinkled around the dining area, to give a homey atmosphere. It was magical!
And it is a robust event now as well as then. It is a different location, thus a new atmosphere because of the change of location. And that is in part due to the popularity, which has grown to a whopping 400 bowls event!
Image by Clay Center, Arts Center of Saint Peter
Thatsalotta bowls!
If you are in the area, come join in and come away with a handcrafted one of a kind ceramic bowl.
You will grab for it every time once it is home in your cupboard. Guaranteed.



Living fully - carving a life,

Michelle

Event info:
March 17, 4-7 pm
American Legion
229 W. Nassau, Saint Peter MN

2/25/16

Are you a vessel of memories?


Have you ever written a journal? Or a diary?
Do family members around you really know what makes you tick?
A friend invited me to take part in a journal writing exercise for current and future generations.
Before this invitation, I had written about creating memory vessels - for the living to cherish and engage with.

As I perused the questions in the exercise I realized there are a lot of questions we typically don't share with family members.
Maybe we assume too often. "Ahhh, they already know who I am."
But do they really know who you are?

This spurred something in me. I want to share a gift with you.
On a weekly basis I will share a special question for you to ponder. And I hope you write about it.
I love to write (as you can probably tell).
My Grandma Mary would be so proud of my love of words read and written. She was a teacher, and gave me my first hard cover books for my First Communion. I was not too thrilled at the time. Because they were 'used'. And I would give anything to get those books back! They were still in my possession at the time of the fire. Almost fifty years later! Words are such powerful things!

So here is the first in my series called "You are a vessel of memories".
Share. Write. Share.

What did you dream about doing when you were younger?  

Living fully - carving a life,

Michelle


2/23/16

Close up and personal


hand carved urn, handmadeThe circle of life continues whether we stop and breath it in or not.
It's odd really.

I remember when a devastating tornado passed through our town. The following day, with cold rain, we helped a business collect up the remnants that were salvageable. We trudged along, tossing items into a moving truck to be transferred into a temporary space within a shopping mall. During unloading we saw the people milling around. Shopping. Living their own day to day lives.
We were in a daze, adrenaline rushing through our veins. Tears flowing. Our brains trying to grasp what had all happened within the last 36-48 hours. An absolute conflux of emotions. Life changed...in hours...minutes...seconds.

That was one of the first surreal moments I ever remember experiencing.

Similarly, that surrealism is felt when good life events happen.
Our first grandchild was born last week. And as I cherish and replay the sights and sounds of the last few days in my head and heart, I will share these images of beauty I have made for other sacred life events.
Images of beauty. We all need images of beauty!

the soul remains

Living fully - carving a life,

Michelle

2/16/16

What size urn do I need?


1568 Flower Petals Artistic handcrafted
Flower Petals
We will all eventually have this conversation. What to 'do' at the end of a life. Bury. Cremate. Along with many other alternatives that may come along.
And once that decision is made - if to cremate - there are many things that it would be helpful to know. That isn't common knowledge.

First let me tell you, when deciding to navigate towards urns and keepsakes for those in need, there was a learning curve. There are a lot of questions we don't even know to ask. So, I am going to share some of the things I have asked, and learned, that may help you along the way.

A simple Q & A converted into a lighter conversation with many analogies.
What actually creates the cremains?
Ok - if this is an uncomfortable topic for you - I understand if you leave this blog post. However, I will be gentle in this conversation.

Are you still here?

2/8/16

2016: The Year of Clarity

facebook the soul remains
Finding Clarity
My head was 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 be able to easily 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.

How many of you are aware of someone housing a loved ones' ashes - in a closet?thesoulremains.com
I have heard people say in passing..."yeah, I have _________ ashes in my closet."
It might pose a question in our minds and I think I understand the reason why they are in that closet.
For some, putting those ashes 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?

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. 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?


Say 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.


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