Friday, March 01, 2019

Connecting with Mother Nature | My Summer Garden.

Today seems like a perfect day to start writing about our summer garden that lays buried under  a two-feet thick mattress of snow and ice. 

In Minnesota, US we are covered in snow almost five months of the year, but come May the anticipation of the delightful warmer seasons with it's perfumed air, melodious bird calls, bursting tree branches and seedling grows stronger.

 
Our May Blooms~ Pink Honeysuckle

I am going to share with you the story of how our summer garden became an integral part of the season that yields palpable results like basketful fresh vegetables, fragrant herbs and flowers but also how it helps me slow down, provides me a space to connect with something greater and completely grounds me.

Come join me into this small piece of urban land that is our summer haven.


The first summer after moving to Minnesota we watched our backyard sprout with perennials like peonies, honeysuckles, lilacs, lily of the valley with passive fascination. 

Walking through the backyard collecting seasonal fresh flowers to decorate our home was one of my favorite summer activities.




Having watched too many episodes of the British cooking show 'Jamie at Home' where Jamie Oliver strolls into his organically grown garden in rural Essex and pulls out a juicy carrot, snips some oregano and garden fresh tomatoes for his menu, we decided it was time to plan a summer garden with all our favorite vegetables and flowers.

Initially we used raised beds for the vegetables but few years back we realized we needed more space for our gardening endeavors. With planning we divided the space into blocks for various vegetables, herbs and plants based on how much sun was needed.

The initial years of tending to a garden were filled with learnings & adventures. We planted spinach, chard, broccoli, cauliflower and woke up to find the  plants chewed to the ground by a bunch of cotton tails!
Planted mint in the ground that took over the whole vegetable patch!! 

Sunny view of our summer garden~ Early June

Marigolds are easy to grow and I use them extensively for Ayurvedic face masks and for floating them in Urlis.

Maintaining a garden means hours of pulling out weeds, pruning, watering, fertilizing basically mothering the plants:-)

Kneeling in the garden, amongst the plants, smelling the dirt and pulling out the most pretty looking weeds is something everyone should experience. Its healing and invigorating! A great lesson in mindfulness as one is completely present in the task of pulling out the weed.

The more weeds I pulled out, the more I learnt about the medicinal and edible weeds like Lamb's quarters, Dandelions...its a fascinating world down in the dirt.



The experience of that first tomato harvest is a fulfilling one.


I definitely felt like Jamie Oliver, walking into my garden plucking freshest vegetables grown with love and patience. 
Nature creates magic in our garden, listen to the bird calls and the air pregnant with anticipation of the first bloom.
 


 

Amidst the busy activities of summer, there is a place of rest and rejuvenation right in our backyard.


A full view of our summer garden in it's peak glory! Lush and green.


Writing this post and sharing our summer garden story with all of you has got me all inspired to start planning my garden for this Spring. 


I encourage you to cultivate a small piece of land in your backyard or few pots in your balcony. Get your hands dirty, smell the earth, plant a few seedlings, nurture it and you will see nature quietly revealing to you the deep secrets of the universe. Try it!
  
A great lesson in letting go after the season has passed.

I truly believe~

'The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just on the body, but the soul.' - Alfred Austin 

I share my gardening adventures on my Instagram stories during summer. If you want to follow along, you can follow me here https://www.instagram.com/archanasr_2000/ 

( Images by Arch. They are copyrighted, please do not use without permission)

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Reminiscing few memorable moments from 2018

Dropping by to document some wonderful moments from 2018.

Home & Design - Mpls.St.Paul Magazine a very popular local design magazine did a beautiful feature on our home, my pottery work and blog on their September 2018 Issue.

It was a great experience working with Kelly Kegans, the wonderful Editor and Caitlin Abrams, their talented Staff Photographer.

Loved the beautiful Pause to Connect introduction to our feature by Kelly!


Absolutely loved the fact that a Midwest Design Magazine appreciates diversity in design and style and is inclusive of such features.

It has been five wonderful years of pursuing my love for clay and 2018 marked the year when I took a leap of faith and decided to sell my pottery work at Minneapolis Craft Market ~ A vibrant creative community.

 Ceramic necklaces

Archana Srinivas Pottery did sell on ETSY before but for craft fairs one needs to build an inventory of pots. The latter half of the year saw me throwing pots, loads of them:-)


Carved Stoneware Mugs.



Archana Srinivas Pottery Stall at the Linden Hills Holiday Market

A dream did come true that day. A potter’s dream that took five years and how rewarding. So grateful for all the wonderful, talented, warm hearted individuals whose paths were meant to cross mine. A big thank you from the bottom of my heart to all who supported me in this journey.

One very important person, Mr. Husband who is my biggest supporter, who helps me follow my 'Ikigai' Thank you!

Sending out loads of love and gratitude into the universe. Dream on.... they do come true!

( Images by Arch)

Friday, June 08, 2018

On the Potter's Wheel: Warren MacKenzie Studio Visit

I heard the name Warren MacKenzie for the first time five years back as a beginner in studio pottery.

A famous North American Craft potter known to bring the Japanese 'Mingei' folk art style of pottery to Minnesota.

I was super excited when I had an opportunity to visit the legendary potter in his studio in Stillwater, Minnesota.
Warren Mackenzie Studio with the traditional kick wheels

Warren demonstrates the making of a pot.

He was born in 1924 in Illinois, US. At the age of 94 he is a personification of humor, continues to throw pots in his studio with his assistants and narrates wonderful stories from his long life as a potter.
Potter's tools

Warren and his first wife Alix Mackenzie studied with Bernard Leach in Britain during 1949-1952
His functional 'everyday' pots are deeply influenced by oriental aesthetics of Shoji Hamada

Old wooden combs and wheels used to alter and surface decorate the pots.

The pots that he demonstrated for us.

Warren's stamps on wet clay.

He has always kept the prices of his pots low as his goal was to make everyday functional pots that people can use in their daily life. With fame, his work also became collectors' items hence became expensive pieces. At one point he stopped signing his pots for that purpose.

Studio amongst nature in rural Minnesota.

Greenware drying in the studio.

Warren MacKenzie's unique clay made by Continental Clay especially for him.

Shoji Hamada poster on the studio wall.

Glazing tools

Glazing studio with bisque ware.


Warren is extremely forthcoming in sharing his techniques and clay recipe. It's written on his studio wall for anyone to learn!

One of the gas kilns.

Warren Mackenzie was also a teacher at the University of Minnesota and continues to share his knowledge of pottery even today at his studio.

Sharing few frames of glazed pottery that were up for sale at his studio. Some made by him and some by his talented assistants.









Sharing a hearty laugh with Warren.

It was an honor and once in a lifetime opportunity to visit Mr. Warren Mackenzie in his studio and see him throw pots and share his knowledge with us.

Hope all of you liked this post that I completely enjoyed making for you all!

( Images by Arch and are copyrighted. Please do not use without permission)