Arrowmont workshop—a great learning experience!

Posted: August 16th, 2012 | Filed under: Art excursions near and far, In the studio, Inspirations | No Comments »

This summer I spent two weeks attending a workshop at Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts, taught by wonderfully talented potter  Lana Wilson. It covered hand-building techniques, plus Lana’s crazy cool slip decorating methods. We also had the treat of a guest artist for a couple of days, so we got some instruction from Sandi Pierantozzi, one of my absolute favorite potters ever!!

The best part of the whole workshop (where I learned to make several new pieces, including beautiful hand-built bowls!) was watching the contrast between Sandi’s and Lana’s work styles. Funny woman Lana calls herself “the queen of low standards,” which you certainly can’t tell if you’ve ever seen her work, but means she doesn’t stress over each seam and rim, and also just kind of likes to see what happens when, say, you slam the clay on the table 10 times. Sandi is more of a perfectionist, paying careful attention to measurements, angles, and symmetry in each piece. But both artists love texture and surface decoration (as do I!), and both produce stunning work, just with different ways of getting there. They were also charming, funny, and seemed genuinely delighted to share with us their experience and techniques, making the workshop a wonderfully comfortable learning environment—and making me energized and excited to create new work with all my new skills!


New images coming soon!

Posted: July 27th, 2012 | Filed under: Art excursions near and far | No Comments »

I’ve been busy outside the studio this week working with the wonderfully talented Bridgette Cyr, who has been photographing my work for me! It was all a blast, but my favorite part was putting together different table settings for her to shoot. I cannot WAIT to see the finished product, and to share all the new, lovely images with you all in my Etsy shop and here on the website! Here is a teeny, tiny sneak peak (and I took these two pics, with my phone no less, so they are no indication of Bridgette’s work, haha!).

Clay class with kids’ camp at Literacy Imperative

Posted: July 27th, 2012 | Filed under: Art excursions near and far | No Comments »

This week I visited the Literacy Imperative to teach an art class for their kids’ Tennis in the Center City camp (it meets twice a week all summer, and not only do the kids get tennis lessons, but also visual arts, dance classes, and tutoring). As usual, I was having too much fun to remember to take pictures during the actual class, but here’s part of the group before we got started, and the name plates they made. They are so creative!! I’ll go back to do a collage class with them next week.


Burning Fork at Blue Plum!

Posted: April 29th, 2012 | Filed under: Art excursions near and far | No Comments »

I am super excited to be participating in Johnson City, TN’s Blue Plum Festival as an art vendor this year! This is my hometown festival’s 13th year, and I have been attending for about that long to enjoy the great music and local art, and to see pretty much everyone I’ve ever known once a year on the first weekend in June.

For several years my youngest brother (the Boy Wonder, as I like to call him) has performed on the Blue Plum’s stages, and one year our middle brother and even my husband joined in to play with him. So, I’m happy to round out the family Blue Plum participation by setting up my art booth on June 1-2 this year! Here’s an article about this year’s musical lineup and more info on the Blue Plum. Hope to see you there!

Brian Sohn (my hubbie!), Avery and Dustin Deakins (left to right) play at the Blue Plum in 2010.

Local Etsy Team Upcoming Events

Posted: October 10th, 2011 | Filed under: Art excursions near and far | No Comments »

Tonight at 7 p.m. Knoxville Creative Hands Street Team is hosting a workshop for members and other sellers on “How to Get Noticed on Etsy.” Join us to learn about how to make your online shop successful! 130 W. Jackson Ave. Suite 103.

Here are links to PDFs of the agenda and handouts for the workshop:




And in other KCHST news, don’t forget about our Fall Show and Sale, happening in conjunction with the Homberg Art Market in Bearden November 5!

Another FREE workshop opportunity is also happening in November: Nov. 15, 7 p.m., Boost Your Signal, Reach Your Tribe Web Strategy Workshop with Danielle Nelson. You don’t have to be an Etsy seller or member of our team to participate!

Support Just Ripe, buy local art!

Posted: January 14th, 2011 | Filed under: Art excursions near and far | No Comments »

If you’re in the downtown Knoxville area this Saturday (January 15), don’t miss out on the opportunity to check out two of my favorite things: food and art! Better than that, it’s LOCAL food and LOCAL art, and you can buy a lovely set of cups from yours truly if yours is the winning bid in a silent auction to benefit Just Ripe, a local foods organization right here in town.

Just Ripe is opening a new store, offering local, seasonal foods—they’ll have some groceries and some of their own culinary creations available for purchase each day. Their fundraiser will feature local artists’ works, music from local musicians, and of course, good food. Learn more at their web site (link above). Bon apetit!

The Humble Student

Posted: November 3rd, 2010 | Filed under: Art excursions near and far, In the studio | No Comments »

I have signed up for a hand-building class at Odyssey Center for Ceramic Arts in Asheville—a nine-week course with Cynthia Lee on hanging hand-built pieces on the wall.

I wanted to take this class because I wanted to learn a better way to hang the ceramic mirrors I make, and during the first class I decided I had learned all I needed to know in the instructor’s introduction. Ahem, ego much? Lucky for me, having spent the money on the course already, I decided to go back for the second week, and (shocker!) it turns out there’s lots more to learn.

The list of artists Cynthia gave us to look up, and her subsequent slide show, had me drooling with envy over the polished, professional pieces by countless talented individuals. There were beautiful hand-built pieces by Jill Allen featuring charming curly cues of wire and bright colors; incredible, quiet forms from nature by Alice Ballard; gorgeously playful glaze treatments by Liz Zlot Summerfield—the list goes on and on.

So now I’m thinking maybe I don’t know it all, which prompts me to bring one of my mirrors to class to show Cynthia and get some pointers. Miraculously, as I unwrap the porcelain mirror in front of her, it suddenly becomes one of the ugliest things I’ve ever seen. I can’t believe I made this hunk of junk, and am now standing before a real, live, accomplished artist with this beast in my hands. Compared to Cynthia’s beautiful, smooth, wall-hanging pieces with their graceful frames and their backs just as lovely as their fronts, this mirror of mine looks like a third grader made it. I am so embarrassed. And so very glad I am taking this class.

My last post here was about learning from my own students, but there’s a lot to be said for putting oneself back in the classroom as the student of someone who knows a whole hell of a lot more than you know. Maybe my mirrors aren’t that bad, but they (and the rest of my work) can certainly use improvement, and we can all always use more learning. Stay tuned for more updates on my ceramic classroom adventures in the weeks to come!

ARTWalk in Whitesburg this Saturday!

Posted: October 12th, 2010 | Filed under: Art excursions near and far, In the studio | 1 Comment »

My studio is a mess and I’m feeling a little frantic—that means there’s an art show coming up! This week I’ve been choosing which pieces I’ll include in the event, pricing, labeling, and taking inventory.

ARTWalk will take place in Whitesburg, KY, Saturday, October 16, from 4-9 p.m. My work will be on display in the basement of the Visitor’s Center on Main Street, across from Summit City (where there’ll be live music to enjoy after the art!). ARTWalk is a big marketplace event featuring local and regional artists’ work in businesses in the historic district of Whitesburg—it’s a great opportunity to see and BUY local, handmade art! I’m excited to get to participate, and hope to see some folks there!

Ceramic Earring Display ARTWALK FALL BROCHURE Studio table with pieces for show and labels

Arts and Crafts Inspiration in Boulder, CO

Posted: September 9th, 2010 | Filed under: Art excursions near and far, Inspirations | No Comments »

Last weekend my husband and I attended a wedding in Boulder, where we stayed in the charming neighborhood of the Colorado Chautauqua National Historical Landmark. This lovely place at the base of the Flatirons is full of adorable Arts and Crafts style bungalows, like the Missions House where we stayed, which got me thinking about the Arts and Crafts movement.

If you are curious about this period of focus on craftsmanship and egalitarianism in art and architecture, there is a great article at There I found this lovely quote from the artist William Morris: “I do not want art for a few any more than education for a few or freedom for a few.” What a wonderful sentiment! If only all of us had equal access to all three. If you love utilitarian art and lofty ideals about the aesthetics of everyday objects, the Arts and Crafts movement is really inspiring and interesting to learn about.

Boulder is a rather inspiring corner of the world aside from its connection to one of my favorite art historical periods. In fact, most people go there or live there for things like hiking, biking, climbing, and otherwise exerting themselves just for fun. While I am often moved by the sight of a beautiful mountain or rock, I rarely think, “Gee, I want to attach myself to a rope and haul myself to the top of that thing.” But, this is what my husband and his friends spend much of their free time thinking about, so of course there was some outdoor adventure associated with this wedding trip to Boulder.

While I did not climb anything, I did hike along with the crowd and took note of the incredible textures of the mountains that are so different from my beloved Appalachians. Here are a few photos of the scenery I found inspiring on the trip.

Culinary Arts: Farm to Table Dinner

Posted: August 18th, 2010 | Filed under: Art excursions near and far | 3 Comments »

Farm to Table Dinner at Riverplains Farm, Strawberry Plains, TennesseeThis past weekend I attended one of my sister-in-law Laura’s fabulous events, which are always so artful in their execution I felt like I should give at least one of them a mention here on the art blog. This particular event was a farm-to-table dinner, meaning that all of the ingredients in the meal came from the farm where the dinner was held. You can read more about the details and philosophy behind these types of dinners here, and visit Mockingbird Events’ home page to learn more about Laura’s Knoxville-based business.

It may have been close to 100 degrees shortly before the dinner, but guests were welcomed with cocktails of watermelon juice and lavender-infused vodka on ice as we drank in the stunning scenery of Riverplains Farm in Strawberry Plains, Tennessee. We snacked on homemade pickles and spelt crackers, and as the sun began to set we gathered around a long table decorated with gorgeous flowers and vintage plates.

Part of what I love about Laura’s events is that she enlists all her creative friends to help pull her vision of the party together. Our friend Susan Ward, an interior designer, helped set the tone for the evening with a plum, green, and white color scheme. It was echoed in the purple table cloths and vintage green glass centerpiece vases, which were decked out with varying shades of violet flowers and lush green foliage. Laura and Susan took the farm theme all the way to the lighting, with tomato cage lanterns wrapped in muslin fabric and stitched together with twine. Jesse and Lauren Wagner of Nathanna designed the lovely menus (with oh-so-cute handwritten headings!) that described the delicious food we ate; and the Nicely family, owners of the farm, prepared the meal. And I got to help with the setup on the day of—I love to see all the elements come together!

On the menu was a chilled tomato dill soup, hamburgers made of grass-fed beef with tomato chutney served on a homemade spelt bun, and watermelon salad and succotash. Dessert was lemon custard topped with fresh berries. Did I mention that all of this came from the very farm where we dined? I would love to show you some pictures of this amazing food, but alas, I was enjoying it too much to stop for photographs. Needless to say, it was all bright, colorful, and perfectly prepared, and it tasted real—nothing was injected with any pharmaceuticals, sprayed with any chemicals, or otherwise altered before reaching the kitchen where it was prepared. Makes you think about what you normally put on your plate.

Besides the delectable dinner, we shared great wine and conversation with wonderful friends in a much more inviting and relaxed setting than any restaurant. And it made me think about all the elements of the evening that we might not normally think of as art, but that are perhaps some of the most basic art forms: farming, gardening, cooking, setting the table, choosing the decor, etc. All of these can be approached, as they were at this event, with a very careful consideration of the aesthetic quality of the end result, and an appreciation of the process that leads to that result. What a great (and fun, and delicious) example of infusing the everyday with ART!