This photo was taken with my feet in the water, tears in my eyes, as I watched the ferry come in ready to collect us from the beautiful Iona to take us home. D you ever have that feeling, when home is where you are and yet it isn’t? I felt like that the first time we came to Scotland and the power of that feeling grew with each visit, till eventually we had to move here to stop the feeling of homesickness.

Chris saw my tears and said ‘oh oh, does this mean another move..?’

But we are already home. We live in Argyll, of which Iona is a part. It is all beautiful. We are blessed indeed. The colours, the textures, the peace.. We hope you see this in our work and hear it in our poetry.

We’d love to know where home is for you..

Here’s the poet – we know that what draws people to seatree is the poetry – hopefully enhanced by the textures, sketches and imagery added into the clay along with the words – and so we thought we would aim to bring some of that to you! We’ve been thinking of it for a while and you-know-what got in the way, but we feel we can start to branch out and plan ahead a little again.

We are thinking.. poetry readings, poetry workshops, putting words in clay, having seatree pottery for sale along with poetry books (more of that in an upcoming post).. any or all of those, whatever suited you and your friends or family.

Do give us a shout and we can tailor an event for you.

This is just a little shout out for shopping local. Yesterday, before the rains came (at last), I had a wander down to our lovely local community shop. I counted my blessings as I went. The shop is owned by the community (you can read of the story here) and during the pandemic has been the heartbeat of the village. From there, deliveries, papers, food, milk, went out to those who needed to stay home.

As I went, I passed a few neighbours along the way and stopped for a blether with each, exchanging views on the weather and the pandemic, for what else is there to discuss?

The road goes downhill from our house, past a woodland which has been restored over the last year by an amazing group of volunteers called Inspiring Innellan, who have just entered our village into a Beautiful Scotland competition, past the pub which thankfully has just been bought and re-opened by new owners – we aren’t much for pub-going but it is lovely when all the family is gathered to have an hour or two with other locals and a good game or five of pool.. and waved to the owners of the local hotel, taking in deliveries.

In the shop, I banked petty cash from the recent ceramics fair, posted out orders and birthday gifts, bought local milk (delicious bottled milk that has cream on top…) and cheese, collected bubble-wrap saved for us and a copy of the local paper, not to be missed.. On the way home, it’s all uphill and I walked back through the restored woodland, stopping for a moment to admire the view…

 

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It’s not pottery, but it is all part of the same story. We aim to live as sustainably as possible and rehoming caged chooks is one of the ways we do this. Here are two exploring our pond today, finding freedom in our rambling garden. It’s a joy to see. And we get lots of eggs!

At Potfest last weekend, an elderly gentleman came to see our stall and then to chat. He said he loved our work and we had a great chat about all things pottery. As he left, I said, “thank you for your kind words” and he walked back, and said, “I was not being kind, you work is true and authentic.”  What a lovely thing to hear. It’s all connected – being open to our lives here and experiences, being truthful that life is not always perfect, keeping things as simple as possible and sharing the joys as they come, knowing they may be fleeting gifts, like the scent of roses..

It’s all connected.. a simple life and honest pots…

Recently, we’ve had an annoying spell of things breaking. Something new happened to add to it, which was flat pieces (for pictures) breaking in their first (bisque) firing – that was a shock indeed! Looking into it I discover the same old story – I’ve just been lucky so far..

What I should have been doing is putting sand or batt wash (a powder usually mixed with water to cover the kiln shelves) on the shelf and placing the picture on it, so that during the heating and cooling processes in the kiln, it has room to move and not be under pressure. Lesson learned.

One of the pieces was actually three large flat pieces forming one artwork, a triptych, that will form a backdrop behind someone’s aga style cooker. I would say I could have cried, but actually I did just cry. I dwelled on how to respond to K, the person who commissioned it, and eventually emailed her with the sad photos and the offer to remake (a long wait), refund her or start again but deliberately make it in six pieces (also a long wait). You’ll not be surprised to hear that I cried again when she phoned in tears saying how much she loved the broken pieces and wanted them glazed! The reason she chose us, she says, was because of Chris’s poetry, which reflects often on what is beautiful and what is broken within each one of us..

The fourth piece to break that day is pictured below – less of an emotional deal, although still puzzling! However, the ancient Japanese method of restoring what is broken with gold, kintsugi, works beautifully with the subtle and fragile looking trees and the poetry with it. What do you think?

We decided a little while ago to make something extra with our ceramics, something to make our poetry available more widely. It’s the poetry that appeals to many folk. A little while ago, we took a free appointment with google for advice on the internet and social media – I was wondering how to appear higher in searches for Scottish pottery – but very quickly, we realised that that isn’t what we want to be found for. To quote the lovely google mentor, clay is our medium, not our product. In general, she was right! It felt like quite a freedom to see our work that way.

So, anyway, the cards grew from that idea. We are selling them in packs of five, each one different within the pack. We did one batch and have just had another batch printed with some of the popular ones from the last batch and some new ones. Each image is a close up of one of our poetry plaques.

Here is a snapshot of the new batch which will soon be listed on our website, later today in fact!

 

 

Sometimes, there are such big things happening in life – family illness, bereavement, financial juggling, changing covid regulations, trials and tribulations and ups and downs.. however you want to phrase it all – but the other day it was creating these necklaces that nearly finished me (Michaela) and had me reaching for the job page in the local paper..

I made necklaces in the past but wasn’t really happy with the finish so I tried again and this time created something more ‘seatree’ and more finished. On advice, I used epoxy for gluing the new findings to the ceramic pendants, which took some time – only to come in the next day and find how easy it was to pop them off. Sigh. Out comes the super glue which fixes anything to anything, apparently – it says so on the packaging but also it stuck my fingers to the scissors, the scissors to the table, my fingers to the table, my fingers to each other, the paintbrush to the pendant.. Eventually I had ti all lined up and sat for 2.5 (im)patient minutes while holding the pendant and finding together at a weird angle.. And dry. Sigh of relief. Then the next morning, off they all popped again. I could have cried. How hard can it be!

Wish us luck – as tomorrow we try a newly recommended glue by a jewellery expert. Otherwise, I might be applying for that job in the local post office…

PS The photograph I can’t take credit for as that was our daughter took it, trying to give me some hope! Doesn’t it look lovely?

Chris and I work together on everything seatree – like these clocks – and the website. Chris developed our website from scratch, very impressive, but as the years went on and the business changed and adapted, it became a little clunky with extra add-ons slowing things down. So, we applied to Highland and Islands Enterprise for a grant to update our website and our technological capabilities in general. This came partly from the pandemic too, needing to adapt further. we really needed an online shop and a website we were proud of and that reflected the new developments in our business model – like the workshop in a tin idea.

We are so grateful to HIE for approving our grant and after research we chose a local artist who also develops websites – she inspired us with her vision of what the website could look like – and it is very lovely!

It seemed like such a long time between getting the grant and launching the website, but we got there and it is so easy now for us to keep the web shop updated. We hope you like it. We sent a link out to some volunteers from our mailing list to check it over – we have so much to be thankful for!

We’ve had lovely feedback and we hope that conversation will continue…

Over the past few days, we have finally set up the display in our ‘shop shed’. This video hopefully gives some indication of where we are up to.

We can’t say thankyou enough to those wonderful people who made this possible by crowdfunding us. It is incredible to think that others will invest in us, just when we needed it most in the middle of a pandemic. We will be in touch with you all…

Where would we be too without friends? Our friend Nigel helped Chris with whole process. He is a hero!

In case you missed it, here is a bit of a montage of the building process;

 

(This post was first published over on Chris’s personal blog, here.)

We live in a seemingly perpetual Advent. Not just because of all the early Christmas decorating, but because we are all still waiting; for vaccines, for ‘normality’, for release, for and end to isolation and for the possibility of touch. Strange then that the actual season of Advent is now fully upon us.

I find myself remembering an old project, birthed by Si Smith, called ‘We who still wait’. It was a collaboration of photography (Steve Broadway), meditations (Ian Adams) and my poetry. (It is still available, here.)

I wrote the poems quickly, over a short period of time. Some felt ‘forced’, others arrived with tears, which may seem strange to some, until you realise that poetry is essentially about opening a vein and what comes out can be unexpected and overwhelming. Writing these poems forced me to fully engage not only with my own fragility, but also with those aspects of faith that still remain. Sometimes it seemed as if faith had been removed along with my religion, but at other times entirely the reverse, that only through losing religion was it possible to rediscover something deeper and more true.

Anyway, I offer you one of the poems from ‘We who still wait”. It says as much as I can say today.

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Open the sky

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Open the sky and let some light in

Let this night be night no longer

Let stars shine down in shafts of love

Illuminating ordinary things

All down with dirt and common use

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Let donkeys laugh out loud

For even basest things

Are silvered up with grace

Lubricated in kindness

He is coming

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Not to penthouses, to plump up cushions of comfort

Not to stroke the fragile ego of celebrity

Not to strengthen the hands of the powerful

Or expand their empty empires

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Not to shape new cathedrals from seductive certainty

Or even to doctor our old doctrines

He comes not to the exclusive few

But to you

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The mess of you

All your brokenness, all your failures

He comes in the certain knowledge that

You will fail again

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So, open the sky and

let some light in