There and Back Again: a Potters Tale

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Guldagergaard! For several years I had been hearing about this magical place, wondering if I’d ever get to go and check it out for myself. I believe, that if you put out a wish/thought/dream into the universe, it will manifest somehow, when time is right. Granted that the dream is at least somewhat realistic and you’re willing to do something to attain it. IMG_0692

So, the last week of august, the 2’nd European Woodfire Conference took place in Skælskør, Denmark – a beautiful quiet little town. IMG_0681

IMG_0672IMG_0678Our campgrounds were located next to a waterfowl sanctuary – great 4 mile’ish walk away from downtown. It reminded me to slow down and take more walks, when back in the States…

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Thank you Ingrid and Andres for hooking me up with Estonian breakfast!!!

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The Danish seem to share my love of yellow houses 🙂IMG_0706

The Estonians were really representing! I counted 15 Estonian ceramists – it was like a family reunion of sorts for me! My dear kiln building peeps were there  – Evelin Saul, Kaupo Holmberg, Juss Heinsalu – all grown up and doing incredible things, living incredible lives – I’m so proud to know them, and so proud that their hands have laid the bricks of my kiln:) Just wait, you’ll be hearing more about them as time goes on!

I was there, besides the want to soak up some knowledge and inspiration, to talk about Estonian-American wood-fire exchange on a panel with Külli Kõiv, Urmas Puhkan and Nancy Gottovi. We were all very happy to have a full house and attentive audience!

Look, they pulled a three headed cat out of the kiln!IMG_0758IMG_0784

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Several people and groups of people had already been to Guldagergaard for anywhere from a month to a week prior – to the pre-conference workshops. A group of Estonian, Latvian, Finnish and Danish students fired the Babygama that Andres Allik built there, and after the firing, a “Transparent Kiln” was set up next to the Babygama. Great teamwork!

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Completely fell in love with Kyung Won Baek’s work. I wish I could have taken this whole table full of work with me. Mindblowing – quiet and complex at the same time.

Huge thanks to Priscilla Mouritzen and the rest of the organizing team for keeping a level head in “crisis” situations, and for putting together an excellent event! Two thumbs up!

However, I would pick a bone with some presenters, for not (in my opinion) keeping to their given/chosen topic, and going way over time… After all, the “this is what I do and here, look at ALLLLLL of my pots” talks would be best suited for a workshop/presentation type situation. At a conference I’d like to hear about ideas, hack on issues, push boundaries… or at least chip away a little from a specific angle on a topic…

Personal favorite speakers included: Anne-Mette Hjørtshøj; Lindsay Oesterritter; Chester Nealie – of course knows how to keep people captive; JD Jorgensen (thanks for being travel buddies for the last leg to Guldagergaard – we all looked sufficiently worn and lost – which can be a uniting force) JD was a nice surprise – integrity and thoughtfulness is what I took away from his presentation; Stefan Andersson; Elisa Helland-Hansen was a hoot!

Anyway, it was a blast and I’m ready to do it again! Next up, Wood Fire Symposium 2016. The 3’rd European Wood Fire Conference is supposed to be happening in 2018 in France. It can get addictive…

But that is not all.

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Copenhagen revealed itself as one of the bike-friendliest cities, with beautiful architecture – lots of towers, windy streets, lovely cafés and bakeries on every corner, friendly people eager to help out with directions, easy to navigate and get around on foot and by public transportation alike – I’d go back there in a heartbeat and spend more time!

And since I was already in that neck of the woods – of course I took a trip to Estonia, to visit my family whom I have not seen in two years! Well, except for my sister who was just in NC with us for the summer 🙂 Spare with me, a few pix from Estonia as well!

IMG_0862What’s a deprived potter to do, in case of no wood-kiln or work to be fired? Help out your dad with stoking the wood fired grain drying apparatus. Great day!

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Dad and my brother are building a new sauna with an outdoor summer kitchen. They dug the foundation by hand and poured the concrete one wheelbarrow at a time, plus all the rest of the building… I wish I could bring them all here for a few weeks, to get our carport-showroom walls up!

IMG_1009 IMG_1199 IMG_1214Family. My 94 year old grandmother, niece Emilia with my younger brother Villu, and me with mom and Emilia.

IMG_1145Villu’s meat smoker.IMG_1193

And some delicious smoked fish.

IMG_1268My other brother Jaanus’ grill, which he fashioned himself, out of old soviet gas tanks and other found objects. He’s also completely rebuilt/remodeled his sauna, including making all the light fixtures and any other details in that sauna. It was hot!

IMG_1010Estonians are picking bumper crops of wild mushrooms and putting them up for the winter.IMG_1152

History is just “laying around” all over the place, just reach your hand and touch it. IMG_1167Ash trees were fully dressed in red berries – I made some apple/ash berry jam – yum yum.IMG_1293 IMG_1295 IMG_1304

And of course – Tallinn – where the old peacefully co-exists with the new, and trendy new restaurants with excellent food and increasing list of handmade beers welcome you. Estonia seemed positive and hopeful, even if a bit worried about what the future may hold.

Positively Surprising, they say. I agree.

 

 

 

 

 

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