Winter took a long time to come this year, but as sure as ever, it is here at last. For me the cold means closing down my studio, and moving everything into my basement until the temperatures are mostly above freezing again. In Vermont, that usually means late March or early April. Though I have a heat source, I cannot keep the barn warm enough to risk that my precious clays and glazes won’t freeze. Even with the heat on, there comes a point where I just can’t be warm enough in there to work anyway. Clay is cold and damp as it is.
So even though it was a muddy Christmas, and we were able to barbecue instead of ski, I was not complaining at all because it meant that I could keep making pottery in my studio. This was the furthest into the winter that I have ever been able to keep working, and I was happy.
The winter is when I can take stock, regroup, plan my future, do all of my clerical work, and dream about what I want to make next. I usually find myself making a few things in the basement, but in a 200 year old farm house, it is not the most pleasant place to work.
Even though I am a hearty Vermonter and go outside nearly every day for long walks, I kind of endure the winter, and I long for the days when I can pick fresh plants and flowers and make more botanical pottery pieces.
Every winter I have to close my studio because the little red barn is difficult to keep heated 24/7. When the temperatures drop I carry all of the clay and glazes into the protection of my basement for the coldest months of the year. In former years I used the winter time to take a forced break from my clay work.
Last winter I decided that instead of taking a break from my work during the winter that I would set up shop down under. I did, it was cold, it was poorly lit, but I was productive and I created a new line of work.
When we purchased the farmhouse, the basement had a dirt floor with little head room, but some years ago my husband dug it out (literally) and we had a concrete floor poured. The basement has a stone foundation that is over 200 years old, there are hardly any windows, and the ceiling is still pretty low.
*Winter studio in the basement of our 200+-year-old farmhouse. Notice the stone foundation.
Fast forward to this winter. I told myself that this year I really was going to take a break, and that I was not going to subject myself to the cold damp and dark work environment. Then I received a custom order that I really wanted to make. So here I am, back in the basement. And I am happy. In fact I can’t even imagine if there was no clay in my hands!
Winter as it turns out is a great time to make pottery. The busy days of the holiday season are behind me. The garden is not calling. Life is fairly low key. I am grateful for my basement.
*Pottery and a wall of shipping boxes surround the ping pong table.
*Clay camp tables and shelves come out of storage and are recycled for the winter studio.