Goodbye Urthen & Hello Other Reincarnations

2019 + Onward

  " A Ceramic artist is a person lost and found through the movement of earth ."

"A Ceramic artist is a person lost and found through the movement of earth."

At long last, I am welcoming the winds of change & allowing what is no longer serving me to fall away. It is with a bittersweet emotion, that I announce come Spring 2019 I will be taking an indefinite break from my pottery business, Urthen. This is a hard declaration to make, and one that has been brewing deep within for most of this summer. Every single cell in my body is calling out for a new home, new location (moving from Joshua Tree), new job, and new direction, thus I am needing as much room as possible to make these changes happen. This is a hard shift for me, as many of you know I have been identifying as artist for 20 years, making pottery for 10, and owning/operating Urthen for the last 4. My idea of success was always making art for my sole income, and while I fully support and encourage those who can make that lifestyle work, it is no longer working for me personally. Creating art and beauty is something I will continue to do for the rest of my life without a doubt, but I need the space to redefine what it is to me, outside of the container of a "business."

I would like to express my deepest thanks to everyone who has supported me on my journey with Urthen-my family, friends, desert family, store owners who have supported my work, artists who I have collaborated with, and every person who has sent kind words of encouragement over the years. It has been an up and down learning process running my own business, and one that I am very grateful for. It has been an honor to make the plates that you eat off of everyday, your morning coffee mug, your ceremonial cup, the planter for your favorite cactus, the striker that lights your altar, the jar for your loved one's ashes, and the vase that holds flowers from your beloved. Knowing that there are little clay pieces of my heart all over the world, joining you in your daily moments brings my heart so much joy and gratitude.

With all this being said, I am accepting final custom orders which will be made from now until March 2019. If you have ever been feeling the call for something special from me, a plate set, etc. now is the time. My online store here is still open with all items made to order. I am no longer accepting wholesale orders, and I am supplying only to local stores in the desert for the remaining next 5-6 months. Please email me if you would like to start a conversation about a custom order: info@urthenware.com.

Know that this change is an answer to my heart's calling and a deeper listening to my life's work. I am looking to find a new reincarnation of my creativity that combines my love of art with teaching, organizing, service, natural building, community building, sustainability, permaculture, ancestral crafts, and wilderness skills. I dream of being able to work with others in a bigger way, fostering creativity and connection. I’m even considering going back to school to get my Masters in Art Therapy! The road ahead is filled with a lot of unknown, but I'm excited to see what this next chapter will bring….

Below are some dates to keep in mind for my work schedule:

ONLINE STORE CLOSING FOR HOLIDAY BREAK: SATURDAY NOVEMBER 24, 2018 12AM PST *All items placed before then should preferably be holiday gifts and will be delivered in time for Christmas. Any items that are not pressing gifts can be purchased/ordered in 2019.

CUSTOM ORDER CUT-OFF: SATURDAY NOVEMBER 24, 2018 12AM PST. I will no longer be able to take custom orders after this point as they take typically 1-3 months to complete depending on size, etc.

ONLINE STORE REOPENS FOR TWO FINAL MONTHS: JANUARY 1-MARCH 1, 2019* All items will ship throughout February and March 2019.

Thank you!
Caitlin Deane
URTHEN

Spirit Weavers Gathering 2016

Primitive Pottery & Pit Firing

I am back in the Mojave after spending two beautiful weeks in the redwoods at the 4th Annual Spirit Weavers Gathering teaching Pottery and Pit Firing! During the Moon Session, I guided 22 womyn who opened their hearts and hands to learn the art of creating with the clay beneath our feet. We sculpted vessels out of Mendocino clay I processed prior to the gathering, painted them with mineral pigments, and pit fired them the final day of the gathering. Every year I leave inspired and ready to create more offerings like this, and I hope to do so in the near future. Thank you for allowing me to share one of my passions and the path I am on to reclaim reverence for the earth. If we look to nature, we truly have everything we need. Enjoy these series of photos that capture our journey with clay...

Sculpting & Painting our Vessels

Pit Firing: Photos by Hosanna White

Finished Pots and Scenes from Class: Photos by Myself, Eileen, and Leslie Satterfield

Cal-Earth Superadobe Sculpture Garden // Fall 2015

Building our Final Sculpture!

After taking a break in the summer time, Laura Smith and I reunited in November 2015 to finish the final third piece for the Cal-Earth Superadobe Sculpture Garden! Our vision was based off of a design created by Dastan Khalili that would be a circle of arches. Again, we wanted the piece to be playful, explore the power of the arch, and be congruent with the existing sculptures.

Laura and I first drew up the design from a frontal and aerial perspective, mapped out the diameter of the circle, and then used a dome compass to draw it onto the proposed site. We repurposed all of our forms from ones that were used on an Earth One build in Claremont, CA. Our forms were made of varying heights so that the arches would undulate in and out of the ground.

The hardest part of building this piece, was again bending rebar to the right angle to embed into the sandbags. Brandon helped us make a rebar bender out of other pieces of metal and spare plywood. The bending process took several of us to complete successfully and was a true group effort! One bent, we placed the rebar onto the forms and cast them into the bags.

Once the bags cured for a few days, we removed them and started the process of removing/burning the bags so that our sand plaster would adhere more easily to the sculpture. During this time, we had to be careful as the evening temperatures often dipped below freezing. To help keep the piece warm overnight, we draped layers of insulation and wool to prevent cracking. The plaster in total was applied in several coats from rough to smooth and was made primarily of fine desert sand we harvested from a nearby wash. We mixed in white cement and a light tan stucco pigment from La Habra, similar to the pigments we used on the last two sculptures. After the final finish coat, we spread the remaining wash sand inside the circle and all around the piece to give it a sandbox quality!

After 4 weeks of building our final sculpture piece, Laura and I celebrated at the December 2015 Open House! Overall, Laura and I were very happy with what we were able to get done in 4 weeks! We hope that this piece will provide more space for children and visitors of all ages to enjoy for many years to come. Stepping back and observing the piece from afar, it reminds me of a sacred circle and has a temple-like feel. Upon stepping inside I feel as though it could used as a beautiful meditative space. A place where time and chaos can stand still…

Thank you to all those who helped build, plaster, bend rebar, and encouraged us along the way, especially Toby Verhines, Jack, Brandon Evans, Ian Lodge, Dave Walker, and Crystal Torres.

Elements Gathering 2015

Making pots with John Olsen

Last month I attended Elements Gathering for the second year. This gathering, like many others, focuses on sharing ancestral skills and creating community for 7 days out in nature. A variety of classes are offered ranging in topics from bladesmithing and hide tanning, to acro-yoga and sound healing. This particular event has quite the balance of helping one cultivate their self awareness to better serve the greater tribe. I truly believe that you cannot have one without the other.

Among many other skill classes I attended, I had the pleasure to learn and assist John Olsen in his Primitive Pottery class! John not only has been practicing the art of Anasazi pottery for over 40 years, but has taught many workshops all throughout the Western US in National and State Parks, and private gatherings to help share his knowledge of this work. He currently works for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) tracking local clay deposits through Southern Utah and Northern Arizona to match pottery shards for archaeological records.  His goal is to recreate functional pottery that use the same techniques and evokes the same spirit of the Anasazi people.

For our class, John brought grey clay he harvested in the Four Corners area close to where he lives. We ground up Olivene via a lava rock mortal and pestle for temper and wedged it into the clay to start molding our pieces. Olivene is a mineral containing small amounts of iron, magnesium, silica, and helped our pots withstand thermal shock in the pit firing. We used the meditative technique of coil building while John demonstrated his corrugated pottery style.

Despite two-three rain storms throughout our time in the Sequoias, our pots were able to dry enough to begin the firing process. I did my best to forage for dry sticks and fallen branches for our fuel, and small granite rocks to act as kiln shelves in the pit. We were confined to using the preexisting community fire pit, but through this challenge I was able to see how firings can be done no matter the limitation!

Over a span of 4-6 hours John and I were able to successfully fire 9 pots using what we had available and really staying present with the flames. The temperature reached was probably around 1600-1700 degrees Fahrenheit and the pots receive beautiful markings of carbon from the fire. 

Thank you John for this amazing learning experience and for memories I hold dear to my heart.

For more information on Elements Gathering, visit www.elementsgathering.com