Hamlin Ceramics: Vibrant Art, Inspired by Gardens


In August of each year, the New Morning Gallery in Asheville sponsors a popular art and craft show on the grounds of the Cathedral of All Souls in Biltmore Village. The show is known for its high quality crafts representing artists throughout the U.S.

This year, I had time for a quick tour of booths on Sunday afternoon, just before the show ended. One display stopped me short: the colorful, textured vessels of ceramics artist Mike Hamlin. Some pieces were cratered, very organic-looking, as  shown above.


Others were more elegant, with smooth finishes and a more intense spectrum of colors.

The creator of this varied work is Mike Hamlin of Hamlin Ceramics. He is influenced by gardening (“I combine my passion for gardening with my passion for ceramics and design forms…”), as well as by Scandanavian and mid-century design and other influences.



Mike’s creations are almost surreal, especially contrasted against a white background. These gorgeous colors and textures made me daydream: I would redecorate my house, using hues of blue and green, with several of these vessels as focal points. I would fill them with wispy native flowers or, in winter, arching sprays of dry grasses. But since redecorating is out, I’m content with one of Mike’s smaller pieces, a perfect complement to my rotating collection of seedpods, tiny shells, dried petals, and other objects.


I had never met Mike before the craft show, but I enjoyed talking to him about his work and his gardens. You can reach him at  http://www.hamlin-smith.com.

A House in the Woods: Oh the Joys


Getting ready to fill the coffee pot this morning, I lifted a dishrag left overnight in the kitchen sink. This spider — very much alive beneath the damp rag — is what I saw. This spider is what made me all quavery inside as I corralled it into a glass and carried it outside to dump out on the deck.

Either sated by milk or just as shaken as I was, the spider sat motionless for a long, long time.

There was a cardinal lingering in a branch just above the spider. The next time I looked, the spider was gone. Escaped to the nearby rock wall or food for a hungry bird? I’ll never know. I do know I won’t leave a dishrag in the sink anymore.

Why So Busy? Rest. The House Can Wait.

Autumn Light, In Sharp Focus

This past year has been a blur of busy-ness, much of it related to home upkeep: roofing, painting, plumbing, replacing boards destroyed by carpenter bees and woodpeckers, doing the planning to make all these projects happen.

This has been a year of re-evaluation, too: Questioning the wisdom of expending so much life energy and resources on the maintenance of property. Thinking about The American Dream of owning a home and immersing oneself in overseeing it, insuring it, paying taxes on it. Thinking about shelter as a concept and about people who are homeless, or displaced from their homes, in places throughout the world. Realizing, on a personal level, that there are important things to do in life, and that time — and energy –are not as infinite as they used to be.

Sometimes, all this pondering is too much, and a seemingly minor event interrupts the whirling excesses of the brain. This time it was in the form of an unexpected beam of autumn light.

This summer, I put two small, wire chairs out near the creek, in order to work on a writing project (or something). I sat by the creek, not paying much attention to my surroundings. I went back inside. The season passed, and I used the chairs a few more times, mainly as a convenient surface to hold pots or garden tools while I was on my way somewhere else. Then, fall came, and with it, unexpected patterns of light and reflection.

One day,  I looked out the window and saw the light focused on my chairs as if to say, “Here’s where you need to be. Slow down. Listen to the sounds of the water. Rest, just for a while.” Resting is not something I do very well. Idleness was not considered a virtue when I was growing up. So now I’m going back to that little girl and gently suggesting that she doesn’t have to be working, or busy, every second of the day. She’ll be glad to hear that, I think.

By the Creek

This is my wish for you, and for myself : Some time to rest. A soothing spot in Nature. Peace of mind. And no housing worries, whatsoever.