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

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