Friday, September 24, 2010

Woodland Spirit

We made it safetly to North Carolina but I've only a few minutes on battery power and can't download any photos, so I thought I'd tell you about a woodland spirit. But please stay tuned for more about the sights, sounds, potteries, and gracious folks in the North Carolina hills.

Several months ago I visited a local wood turner to see how he was using the wood I gave a student of his from two camphor trees we had to cut down. I hated to cut down the trees but they had invaded our leach field and the trees have a very aggressive root system so they had to go.

While I was there I began looking at the wood and became enamored with the unusual grains, knots and imperfections I saw. I vowed to get some planks of wood and incorporate clay with wood. Wood turners use blocks of wood and I needed planks, so I started on a search for the type of wood I wanted.

I searched high and low, but the wood at lumber yards had no imperfections and few knots, and I wanted some wood with character. I placed an ad asking for old wood, pecky cedar or cypress to see if anyone would call. Several weeks later someone in the next town said he might have what I was looking for. He was cutting up old telephone poles. He gave me a piece of wood which had a nice grain, but the smell of the treated wood was strong and I didn't want to use it. Several more weeks went by and then someone else called me from even further away.

Gary and I drove way out in the country down winding and lonely country roads and finally came to the place. We drove down a long driveway into the woods and came upon a Florida cracker house without a lick of paint, porches all around and a tin roof. I was struck by the simple beauty of the unpainted wood which fit in perfectly in the deep woods.

A boy rode up to our car on his bicycle; I told him I'd come to look at some wood. He directed us to drive around the home. As we drove around back I saw the laundry was hung under the eaves of the porch drying out of the dew. I had my camera with me, but out of respect I didn't take a photo of their home, although I dearly wanted to. Out back there was a rundown shed with logs and lumber piled up everywhere and I wondered if I'd come on a wild goose chase. Truth be told I was a little nervous back in those woods and was glad Gary was with me.

A man came out speaking with a thick Southern drawl saying he had lots of wood to look at. The man took me into the shed and I spent time looking through all the wood he had stacked everywhere. While I looked he told me how he looked for special pieces with character. I knew I'd come to the right place.

Gary waited in the car because the mosquitoes were thick, although they didn't seem to bother me that day. The man had some wonderful pieces of wood to look through, full of knots, imperfections, and character. He said he milled the wood himself and wanted to keep the imperfections in the wood intact. He had his favorite planks of lumber sitting here and there waiting for that special piece of furniture or handcrafted item he might make. In the end he was willing to part with a few pieces of lumber I just had to have.

As the shadows of autumn become longer, woodland spirits seem to come alive. This woodland spirit chose it's own piece of wood to reside. The photo is the first in a series of wood and ceramic pieces I've been working on. I like to think this spirit springs from those deep Florida woodlands where a man is milling his favorite pieces of wood.


  1. you meet the most interesting people in your searches for what you are looking for.
    Wood as it should be.
    We are so glad to have finally met you are Gary!

  2. Totally love that piece.
    That was some adventure and I am glad you found a wood sourse.
    Enjoy NC. I'm sure you are in hog heaven with all the potters.

  3. Hi Meredith, thanks, yes I am really lucky to meet all these folks in my travels. So glad to finally have met you and Mark too, what great hostess and hosts you are, thanks ever so much.

    Hi Patti, thanks about the piece, I had a hard time photographing it, but in person it is much nicer, the colors came out just like I wanted. Almost as if the spirit is watching from within the wood. We plan to have a great time here and already had the few hours we've been here. Everyone is so nice and friendly.

  4. I Love this and I think it's so cool that you always find what you're looking for and in the most interesting places. You throw it out to the universe and then wait for it to show up, with directions on how to get there. :) Hope you're having fun in NC.

  5. Thanks for posting even in your busy-ness in NC. :)..that is a terrific piece, Linda and story to go with it. What did you glaze the pieces with? they look very goldish in the photo..very cool.
    Have fun!. look forward to your tales from there.

  6. Hi Teresa, thanks, yes the universe is being very kind to me with locating just what I wish to enhance my ceramics pieces, I'm lucky that way so far. Looking back I was getting kind of impatient wondering if I would ever find what I wanted and just when I decided oh well, then I got the calls, isn't that the way.

    Hi Trish, thanks, I already had this post ready before I left since I just attached the ceramics to the wood and took the photo, so then I wrote the circumstances surrounding the piece right before I left. I used sgraffito to draw the eyes and and after bisque I used a matt yellow for the headress and the eyes and a green glaze for the remainder, then I drew in a tan glaze over the top for the eyebrows, mouth, and cheeks, then black slip to outline the eyes. The clay I used is a speckled stoneware and it tends to mute the colors of the glazes a bit which is what I wanted for a woodland spirit.

  7. That is a gorgeous piece Linda! Love the story that goes with it as well. Glad you are having such a good time in NC. I think it is beautiful there...and the people are lovely. It's one of the places we almost moved to a few years ago.

  8. Hi Barbara, thanks, this piece turned out almost better than I imagined, seeming to have a life of its own, something about the eyes looking at me, like a spirit is hiding behind a tree peeking out or looking out from within a tree. Glad you like it. The countryside is filled with so many potteries I am so surprised to see so much art and culture all in one place. Having lived out in the boondocks for so long I am truly amazed. More later.


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