I have been waiting for the pandemic to die down as I have started to get my ducks in a row for selling at local farmers markets. I had planned on hitting the local markets much earlier than this but I had waited because I didn’t feel safe doing so and most markets were either operating at half capacity or not at all. I am at a point where I need to get out and sell some work not because I am tired of being at home but because I need the income for my next project (more to come at a later date on that). So any way I will be starting to sell at the Denton Community Market this weekend (8/22) and September 5th. I am hoping to be there every weekend in the future but we will see how sales develop during this trying time.

All sellers have been advised and trained on social distancing and mask wearing policies for the event and I will be sticking to those guidance’s.

I hope you can come buy some work from me.

Greetings all. I am excited to inform you that I will be giving a online class August 25th covering my approach to hand-building boxes using both slab and thrown elements. I will discuss my approach and aesthetics for these items. The course will be a two hour online format and will cost $35 per person. Payments will be processed via Venmo or Paypal.

To sign up please contact me at bloomerceramics@gmail.com or via instagram or facebook.

Lots of new things in the works. Its been a while since I’ve posted much mostly because I was so busy in California for several years and it just ground me down to a certain extent. At one point I was working what equated to 7 part time jobs (including making my work) and that didn’t leave a lot of time or energy for much else. Since then I did a brief stint back in Colorado before COVID hit I was teaching at Colorado Mountain College in Aspen and at the Carbondale Clay Center. But as things shut down I decided I needed to prioritize my life over my work and moved back to Denton Texas at the end of May. I lived in Denton from 1998 to 2011 and have wanted to get back here for many reasons for quite some time.

Now that I am here I have a temporary studio space set up in my garage and am working on a better and more permanent set up that will help grow the ceramics community here and eventually, if all goes well, help serve the community through arts education outreach classes.

Right now though its been a little more difficult to find a job as I am trying to transition away from Adjuncting at local colleges. I have been hoping to build more income from selling my work and am on several community sales and farmers market lists at the moment but not participating due to my concerns over COVID. In the mean time I do have a part time job but am still trying to sell my work on Etsy. For the rest of the summer I will be offering free shipping on all work through my Etsy shop and am running a 20% off plate sale right now. Please if you get the chance go pick up some work and I will ship it out to you post haste.

Hope you are all well.

HP

This is a great one hour lecture by ceramist Jim Connell which was presented at NCECA 2019 in Minneapolis

 

I am reposting this mostly so that I have it on hand to re-watch it or present it to students with ease but more over I am sharing this on my blog because there is so much valuable information in this episode to absorb.

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In Our Brutal Modern World, Science Shows Our Brains Need Craft More Than Ever

SUSAN LUCKMAN, THE CONVERSATION

28 JUL 2018

 

At a time when many of us feel overwhelmed by the 24/7 demands of the digital world, craft practices, alongside other activities such as colouring books for grown-ups and the up-surge of interest in cooking from scratch and productive home gardens, are being looked to as something of an antidote to the stresses and pressures of modern living.

Crafts such as knitting, crochet, weaving, ceramics, needlework and woodwork focus on repetitive actions and a skill level that can always be improved upon.

According to the famous psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi this allows us to enter a “flow” state, a perfect immersive state of balance between skill and challenge.

With what is increasingly referred to today as “mindfulness” being a much-desired quality for many people, it’s not surprising crafts are being sought out for their mental and even physical benefits.

Craft as therapy

For over a century, arts and craft-based activity have been a core part of occupational therapy that emerged as a distinct health field around the end of the first world war in response to the needs of returned soldiers.

This includes many suffering from what we now refer to as post-traumatic stress disorder, but then referred to as “shell shock”.

Knitting, basket weaving, and other craft activities were commonplace in the repatriation support offered throughout much of the English-speaking world to the returned veterans of the two world wars.

This was as both diversional therapy (taking your mind off pain and negative thoughts), as well as skills-development geared towards re-entering the civilian workforce.

More recently, research is seeking to better understand just how craft is so beneficial for the body and mind. Interestingly, much of the focus has been on the mental health and well-being brought about by knitting.

large-scale international online survey of knitters found respondents reported they derived a wide range of perceived psychological benefits from the practice: relaxation; relief from stress; a sense of accomplishment; connection to tradition; increased happiness; reduced anxiety; enhanced confidence, as well as cognitive abilities (improved memory, concentration and ability to think through problems).

In more clinical contexts, introducing knitting into the lives of hospital patients with anorexia nervosa led to a self-reported reduction in anxious preoccupation with eating disorder thoughts and feelings.

Some 74 percent of research participants described feeling “distracted” or “distanced” from these negative emotional and cognitive states, as well as more relaxed and comfortable.

Over half said they felt less stressed, a feeling of accomplishment, and less likely to act on their “ruminating thoughts”.

In another study, knitting was found to reduce workplace stress and compassion fatigue experienced by oncology nurses.

Quilting has been found to enhance participant’s experiences of well-being as they move into older age.

Research reports quilters find the work challenging, cognitively demanding, it helps to maintain or generate new skills, and working with colour was found to be uplifting, especially in winter.

While knitting and other textile-based activities tend to be female-dominated, similar benefits have been found for men in the collective woodworking, repair and other productive tinkering activities of the Men’s Sheds movement.

Participants reported reduced levels of depression.

Why does craft make us feel good?

What unites almost all of these studies, is that while the practice of craft, especially those such as knitting, quilting, needlework and woodworking, may at first appear to be relatively private activities, the benefits also substantially arise from the social connections craft enables.

These have even been reported across whole communities impacted by disaster, such as the recovery following the 2011 Christchurch earthquake.

One of the strengths of craft practice, especially as a contributor to well-being, is precisely that it can be both solitary and collective, and it’s up to the individual to decide.

The research into the physical and mental health benefits of craft remains largely qualitative and based on self-reporting.

And it especially explores its capacity to generate positive health outcomes through positive mental health.

While there’s much more work to be done here, it’s clear craft continues to play a key role in enhancing the quality of life of those who participate in its practices.

Susan Luckman, Professor of Cultural Studies, University of South Australia.

I just put these up for sale on my etsy site for those of you who want some wood fired work. http://www.etsy.com/shop/bloomer4

Here are  a few of the pieces from my recent soda firing here at Cobb Mountain Art & Ecology Project. I had some pretty successful pieces come out of this and will be sending a few off to a vase show at Red Lodge Clay Center and posting some on my Etsy Shop as I get images edited.