I recently discovered an old love.
For 25 years, Jim’s mother, Helen, his sister Sue and grandmother, May Pohl or ‘Cookie Granny’, had a ceramic shop here at the house where we now live. They started in the basement of Granny’s house and Helen drove from Grayville each day. They expanded, attaching a building to the existing house and moved the whole operation ‘up and out.’
They called their business Tulip Ceramics. This was for May, who once grew tulips right here on this property and sold the bulbs to help support her family. The women taught many classes each week including a kid’s class on Saturday mornings. A lot of the classes had upwards of 30 people attending.
One big event was the Christmas open house. They would have finished products to sell and they would display quilts that May had sewed.
When they closed the shop, Jim’s parents converted the shop into living quarters. They lived here with Granny and now we live here with them. Separate…but together.
When I was in seventh grade and my brother Roy and his wife Terry were dating, she used to take me to ceramics class with her in Evansville. I remember making a Garfield bank and an E.T bank, among other things. One of my favorites was a ceramic cat that painted to look like my cat Mittens. She was a black and white, long haired Persian. We used to call her ‘old cigar face’ because she had a black ‘smudge’ right by her mouth and nose. I loved painting back then, but until Jim and I married, I hadn’t painted any ceramics in years.
The shop was still here when we first married and I did a few ornaments, but never really was interested in it until recently. I forgot how relaxing it was to ‘clean green ware’ or stain (not paint as I call it) bisque. I’ve even learned to do a ‘wash’ and to ‘under glaze’ and ‘glaze’.
What really makes this fun is the fact that Jim loves to do ceramics also. He used to help his mom ‘pour’ the molds and fire the kilns, so he is an old hat at all of this. We turn on some music and search through the hundreds of molds for projects we’d like to work on.
As I mentioned, this year we are adding an herb garden to the yard, so one of the molds that is getting a real work out is a planter. We’ve ‘poured’ three (one is still too wet to clean) and applied a ‘wash’ and ‘glaze’ to two of them. They need to be fired again and I’m anxious to see how they turn out.
Also, we have numerous frogs and turtles that we have applied a variety of techniques to, trying to see which we like the best. Jim loves frogs and I love turtles and we thought they would look neat scattered around the yard, peeking out from under the leaves of plants or perched on rocks.
We have few other projects up our sleeves…some are gifts so I can’t write about them just yet…lol. But it’s so much fun to reconnect with an activity that brought me so much enjoyment in the past. And the fact that I get to share it with Jim and Helen just makes it that much better!