Creative Whirlwind

Hello, friends.

I hope this past week has brought you a little closer to thoughts of spring. Here in Southern Germany, it’s been a cold one, but today there is a sense of warmth in the air that has been absent since early December. I know logically there are only a few more weeks of winter, and my mind has already turned to turning the earth, trimming, cleaning, and seeding.

But first things first. Next week we finally (I say finally because we’ve postponed this trip three times now) are heading down to Italy, where work also awaits us. We’re about to have our first winter’s stay in the Tiny House, and we’ll fully test out the heating capacity of this beauty that we put in during our last visit.

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This is our only heat source and as you can see, it double as an oven and cook top. We have an oven and cook top in the kitchen there, but I look forward to trying this one out. We ordered and stacked firewood before leaving last time, so this should be a breeze, right?

We’ll see.

In the meantime, I found this beyond amazing natural paint company that I’ll be ordering from for the exterior walls of the Tiny House and for some of the interior walls both in Italy and here in Germany. The colors and textures are gorgeous. If you’ve never thought about using lime paint on your walls, you might want to. There are no toxins at all in the paint (normal dispersion paint is acrylic - which in effect creates a plastic seal on the walls in your home. Lime paints can breathe - they allow humidity to flow through and dry naturally, where acrylic paints block humidity). As our home is under historic preservation, we’re required to use only natural paints, pigments and treatments. They are beautiful to work with - no fumes at all - and are like applying cream to the wall. I do love these Bauwerk paint so much. Here’s a couple of photos from their website to give you an idea of how they look.

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Very streaky and toned. Just how I like my paint!

I look around and I see so many projects to do, and I feel completely inspired to do them, but have to be a bit careful with the division of my time. Between pottery orders, renovating, redecorating and book writing, my life is very full. But I really don’t want it any other way. I enjoy creative endeavors so much, and don’t feel anywhere near my age - especially when I am being actively creative. I can’t wait to show you how the Tiny House is shaping up and the creative, inexpensive solutions we’re using there.

Last week, I took a train to Frankfurt, which is about 3 hours north of where we live. During my trip, I was able to pay a visit to Holly Becker’s event at a Depot, a German lifestyle retailer for which Holly developed a new limited-time home accessories line. The line is truly beautiful and the event was amazing. It was a chance for me to meet in person someone I have had online contact with for over a decade. Holly’s an interior design star here in Germany and has worked hard at perfecting her craft - something I can honestly relate to on just about every level. It was a such heart-warming meeting and event.

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Holly’s collection is full of beautiful tones in copper, apricot, pink, lavender, anthracite, and shades of white. These pieces combine so well with so many things - Holly did a beautiful job at keeping the entire collection extremely easy to bring into a home without having to change everything. I’ve already picked up a few things for myself.

I wish all of you in America could purchase some of these pieces. But who knows what the future will bring? Knowing Holly, the sky’s the limit, so I would never say never about anything she does. A true inspiration.

table runners #depotxhollybecker, pottery by diana baur creations

table runners #depotxhollybecker, pottery by diana baur creations

Cushion to the right and paper feather: #depotxhollybecker photography: michele bogrette pottery and ceramic wall hangings: diana baur creations

Cushion to the right and paper feather: #depotxhollybecker photography: michele bogrette pottery and ceramic wall hangings: diana baur creations

The thing I like the most about Holly’s whole collection is how I can combine almost all of my ceramics with pieces of it. It’s versatile, fresh and pretty. I have several other pieces I’ll be photographing over the coming days as I figure perfect spots for them in my home.

Holly and over a dozen other brave pioneering women are the subject of my upcoming book on expat women and the lives they lead in the countries they have settled in. This trip to Italy is going to give me the chance to focus on writing and editing these amazing and wonderful stories.

I’m so excited about going to Italy this time. I miss the friends we’ve made there, and I’ll be having some interesting meetings about creative projects - yes, more projects! I can’t stop!

I’ll write when I am down there and show you some photos of our Tiny House turned Boho Loft in the heart of the wine country!

Have a wonderful week!

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My Little Creative World...

I’ve been making pottery for so long, that I hardly remember a time when I couldn’t. It’s such a central theme to my life, and has really grounded me when so many other things have caused me to swirl around, stumble and fall. Pottery, even in the darkest moments, has been a refuge, a place I can go, center, and forget the outside world for some precious moments as my mind and spirit realign with my core. I wish everyone could have something as wonderful as pottery.

Last year I focused on design and really nailed my own personal style. It might seem strange that after twenty years I still had problems with my own ceramic identity, but the truth of the matter is that there are just too many possibilities in the world of pottery. The easiest thing in the world to lose focus. Also, I had a few international moves and huge lifestyle changes that challenged me. But I’m hitting my stride and I love what’s coming out of my studio now.

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These soft greys and blacks really have a lush texture and feel. I love this glaze so much as it is so variable and so versatile. I don’t like flat, opaque glazes at all (boring and dead looking) and that’s why I worked hard at developing this one because it’s got such great tones and shadings. Developing glazes that work is a long, difficult process that involves a lot of calculating - so once a potter has one that works, it will get used again and again. I just hope my raw material supplier doesn’t change any of their suppliers because even that can alter a glaze. But for now, this works. Here is the same glaze with cobalt on a bowl I thought I would HATE.

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The white microcrystals are caused by titanium and are a natural part of this glaze - especially when it reacts to cobalt. The greens and blues come from cobalt and clay impurities. All in all, I pretty much adore this bowl. I normally end up loving all the bowls I think will be ugly, and hating all the bowls I think will be beautiful. So much for planning in the ceramic world.

Toward the end of last year, I started working on a concept which has been nothing but pure pleasure and fun. The birds! I can’t even remember how they got started exactly, although I know it has to do with the awesomely fabulous American artist Jacqui Fehl who paints birds as part of her body of work. Her work inspired me to start drawing and painting birds, and one thing led to another. Pretty soon, there were birds everywhere. And I mean EVERYWHERE!!!

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Requests and orders started coming in and now I am designing a line of birds for this year - this is such a wonderful, fun project and has endless possibilities. It’s full of love and darling-ness and joy. It’s exactly what the doctor ordered in these trying times.

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And quite honestly, what is artisan craft if it does not bring joy to people? We can all get cute things at stores that come from China or wherever. But to have something that someone hand made and put their heart and soul into is something extremely special. I am referring not only to myself, but to all artisans who work hard to make beautiful things. It’s a privilege to be in this position of making. I can’t imagine anything else that would bring more joy.

Another thing that is bringing me a lot of joy in 2019 is the Fire and Food Artisan Workshop that I will be leading with Letizia Mattiacci in the pilgrim city Assisi, Italy from June 5 through 12th. We’ll be firing pots outdoors, visiting historic artisans who make pottery, glass, tapestry, beer, wine…a guided meditation in the Francis of Assisi woodlands. As of this writing we have a couple of places still open and would love it if you could join us. You’ll find more info right here.

this is an artisan weaving studio with antique looms still in use to produce gorgeous tapestries. Just one of the many artisans we’ll be visiting during the fire and food tour.

this is an artisan weaving studio with antique looms still in use to produce gorgeous tapestries. Just one of the many artisans we’ll be visiting during the fire and food tour.

February will be spent in Italy, where we’ll be doing more work on our Tiny House Italia. I’ll be posting from there to show you the updates. It’s by no means finished but it’s getting cuter every time we go down there. I’m also going to be doing some test pit firing for the workshop. while we’re down there.

At least we’re past this point. Not my sexiest moment, but I can’t say I didn’t love doing it….

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Have a great weekend!

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December Wishes

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So many things happening - so much going on. And I mean that in a good way. I don’t know why it works like this, but it seems that nothing can happen for a long time, and then suddenly you’re swamped. But it’s good, too, because it shows that hope and positive energy inevitably manifest new and interesting opportunities.

First of all, I hope you’re all having a wonderful holiday season. This is the time of year which is fraught with different emotions and stresses. Life throws curve balls at us regardless of what time of year it is. I’ve decided to take as much stress out of the entire process as possible, limiting decorating and “preparing” to only a few pieces of greenery and treasured decorations, and letting the rest go. We’ve both been working at full tilt on our businesses, and my arms and wrists are feeling the result of too much throwing and centering. So it’s time for a break and quiet time to rest and heal… and create designs for 2019.

The Black forest birds / cups

The Black forest birds / cups

There are these birds, Black Forest Birds and Piemonte Peeps which you’ll be seeing a lot of in 2019! Plates, mugs, cups, tea bag holders, espresso cups, egg cups, you name it, I’ll be making them. Every single one is different, because they are all hand painted onto stoneware, which make each one completely unique. I’ll be going into production as soon as I return from Christmas holidays, and working on a few big projects with them.


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to have and to hold

I made quite a few wedding gifts this past year, and I’ll be starting a bridal registry, To Have and To Hold in 2019. There will be several choices for the registry. First, 22 carat gold trimmed personalized cake plates will be the hallmark of the collection. These can be personalized for the spouse and spouse.

But other pieces will be offered as well - bowls, cups, candle holders… pieces that are very individual and will make keepsakes and treasures for life. I’ll be stocking the registry with new designs in February and March. But if you would like, contact me sooner if you would like to discuss something in particular for that special couple.


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fire and food artisan workshop

June 7th through 12th,

Alla Madonna del Piatto, Assisi, Umbria, Italy

#foodandfire

I’m also so so excited about an fantastic workshop from June 7-12, 2019 that I am leading with the amazing Letizia Mattiacci of Alla Madonna del Piatto Agristurismo and Cooking School in hills overlooking the pilgrimage city of Assisi, Italy. The name of the workshop is The Fire and Food Artisan Workshop and it will include pit firing ceramics out in the olive grove, visiting all kinds of unique and very special artisans (from potters to weavers to glass makers to beer), meditational walking in the Woodlands of St. Francis of Assisi, strolling in medieval villages, and of course a cooking class - plus a visit to a bio-dynamic winery that works with horses instead of tractors. It will be very special. All the information can be found here. We still have space available, and would love if you could join us.

UPDATE: As of December 21st, we have a few places available. Thank you from my heart to those who have signed up. This would make the most perfect Christmas surprise for a special person - someone who is creative and loves Italy.


upcoming book

I’ve been working behind the scenes on a book which I hope will come out mid 2019 - about women who have taken the leap and moved out of their home country to make lives and find their dreams in foreign lands. I’ve spoken to (and am still speaking to) strong, brilliant women across the globe. The insights of these women are phenomenal, heart warming, sometimes heart breaking, but full of resolve and honesty. It’s truly a privilege to be able to write this book. I can’t wait to share their stories, advice and thoughts with you.


We’ll be heading to Italy for the holidays and to work on the Tiny House. We still have work to do! But it’s coming along really nicely and I look forward to showing it to you when it’s to the point that I’m happy with it!


So, my friends, here’s to 2019 and to you. The days of 2018 have been just about been written and are part of the past. I hope, more than anything, that 2019 is kind to you and brings you contentment and health and love. That your loved ones are safe and happy. That struggle is minimal. That your energy is good and that your spirit is strong.

I look forward to bringing you more this year than I have in a very long time. Style, design, insight, depth, renovations (!), ceramics, art, writing….it is bound to be a busy year.

But for today, I wish you peace and love and cozy days ahead of the year’s end.

And so much love.

Diana

Foraging for Love

I've just returned from foraging berries in the Black Forest. 

After spending the morning designing and creating dozens of dessert plates, some of which are a special order for a wedding present going to New York City,  I was ready to get into my place of worship - the woods.  I had checked out the ripeness of the wild blackberries yesterday while Rocky and I did our favorite route through the forest. I couldn't believe my eyes. This year's crop is one I've never seen the likes of - all of this extremely warm weather combined with a wet spring has created mountains of blackberry brambles that line every walking path.  It's such a joy to walk through the Black Forest with its velvet mossy ground and deep black green shade branches breaking up the late afternoon sun.  Today, I intentionally didn't bring my camera. I wanted to focus my attention on picking berries, luxuriating in having the whole forest just for myself. My hands took quite a scraping, but it was well worth it. 

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My thoughts harkened back to a special place in Pennsylvania, where my foraging skills were developed.  A few miles in the hills above the borough of Milford, Pennsylvania, there's a beautiful place called Twin Lakes. It's made up of two lakes that aren't exactly twins; one lake is larger than the other.  When I was a young girl, our father would take us in late summer to an open area in the woods just before the lakes.  It doesn't exist anymore; there's a school there now. But back then it was a wild blueberry field. Dad would cut milk containers, the plastic kind with handle, and cut out a large opening. He'd strap the carton to our waists with belts and we'd pick half-gallon after half-gallon of wild blueberries. The payoff for those blue fingertips and sore arms was that we'd enjoy Mom's blueberry pies all winter long.

I took a drive up to Twin Lakes on my recent trip to the states. It was a short excursion down memory lane, one I felt compelled to take. The beauty of the place hasn't diminished at all, but I do wish those blueberry bushes were still there. 

The time by myself in the forest today gave me pause to think about the plates I'm designing. In my mind's eye I imagined creating a plate upon which would be a piece of the lightest sponge cake soaked with wild blackberry syrup.  I could see how it should look, and how the bride would open her gift and find the recipe along with the plates. I could picture the entire thing as I collected blackberry after blackberry.   

My work as a potter and writer in intrinsically connected to nature. I gather my strength from the forest, from the river, from lakes and streams. Those places give me the creative energy I need to move forward and do my best work. 

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This is my favorite time of year for so many reasons. Nature is pumping out the best is has to offer, in abundance and in shades of color so beautiful and rich. I love cutting the late-blooming nasturtium blossoms and leaves and mixing them into our salads. 

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In Italy, gardens are pumping out the sweetest, juiciest tomatoes you can imagine.  Here in Germany, my garden is full of kale and fennel, and the plum trees are gracing the ground, with more fruit than we can possibly turn into jam. 

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In a few weeks, we'll be on our way to Italy to enjoy the last true days of summer in our tiny house there.

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My Wild Life

I've been away from home for a long time, five weeks to be exact.  It was the first time I actually spent summer in the states in twenty-four years.  Going there was for the most difficult reason of all - my mother's health.  It's the call every expat fears - the one that beckons you home because someone you love is ill.  The gamut of emotions I went through covered the spectrum. It was easy and joyful at times and deeply painful at others.  By the time I left, my sister and I had managed to clear out her very large house, prepare it for sale, review the options for mom's long term care and come to some sort of peace with the whole situation.  I celebrated my sixtieth birthday there, with family and friends. 

I missed my husband terribly, but coming home to him and my amazing dog was wonderful.  More wonderful than I can express. 

One thing that surprised me over there was how easy it is to live in a place where the language spoken is your first language.  I've beem out of that particular comfort zone for so long I actually forgot that living in a foreign country is infinitely more complicated both culturally and linguistically.

I saw old friends, some intentionally, some by chance, and some through tragedy.  It was good for my heart to retouch relationships that were so far in the past.  I made new friends, interesting people who live creative lives. It all  had the effect of reminding me of who I am at the root, and helped me to rekindle my own sense of myself - older now, on the other side of many of life's dramas and physical changes, but still, deep inside, a bit wild.  Because I was somewhat of a wild child. To put it mildly.

That wild child lives in me still. 

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Now the question becomes - how do I best communicate with her?  How do I allow her to inform me, teach me?  I suffer from anxiety and depression, but she's not depressed or scared. She invites life to present itself and walks through with a red dress and a magenta scarf and her hair in the wind. 

I found her, as I knew I would, on the bank of the river where she's been forever.  She knows the lesson of how the river is always the same but never the same.  It's as it is but it's constantly changing. Just like her. 

I love her. 

She gardens, she cooks with spices, she makes pots. She knocks down walls and makes linen curtains and furniture out of pieces of old wood.  She knows more than she ever lets on. She wears what she wants and some days her makeup is dramatic.  She tells people to fuck off when it's appropriate to do so.  She hugs with meaning.  She gives of herself freely.  She invites people in.  She loves thoroughly.  

She is me.  My work in life is to embrace her, because in embracing her, I am embracing my wild life, the one I am meant to live.  

If I ignore her - turn away from her - the result is fear and darkness.  Because I separate and isolate - from myself.  

So going there - and coming back - was a gift I needed to give not only to my mother and my family, but to myself.

To find her.  And to remember to live my wild life.