A new beginning

Some of you might have noticed that I haven’t been posting lately. It’s not for lack of want… just a lack of time. Some big changes are in the works. Ian and I just bought a house and we’re moving to Minneapolis!

We were caught off guard by our own decision.  We’ve been in Chicago for 10 years and thought the windy city would be the place that we’d be for a very long time to come. But there were some things that we’ve dreamed of that we just couldn’t see happening in Chicago. I’ve had a vision for years that we’d buy a two flat or a three flat (duplex, triplex depending on where you live). We’d live on one floor, family or friends would live on the other(s) and there would be some shared living space. Of course, a big part of this dream is that I’d have a studio at home and a soda kiln that I can call my own. I’ve been renting studio space and running the soda program at Lillstreet for the last 9 years, but I’ve been aching for my own space for quite a while now. Due to the cost of housing in Chicago, it was feeling like our dreams could not be realized in this city.

Last Thanksgiving we were in Minneapolis visiting Ian’s family (he grew up in Minneapolis). His sister had just bought a house and started putting on some friendly pressure on us to move there. The discussion was fun but I kept dismissing the idea. I’m not really a fan of big change. On the drive home I had a ‘lightbulb’ moment. It occurred to me that if we moved there, we could realize this vision of our future that has been so clear for so many years. When I had the moment of realization that the picture was right but we had the city wrong, the decision was simple. We would have a piece of land to take care of. A place to build a kiln. My sister Nora and her two little boys are moving with us to complete the vision. Nora will be starting a PhD program at the University of Minnesota this fall which has been a part of her dream for years. 



So this is our new home. Ian and I ignored the lack of heat in the middle of January and mint green walls throughout and fell in love with this building. It’s a duplex in the Powderhorn neighborhood in South Minneapolis. (Check out this amazing photo blog of the neighborhood: powderhorn365.com.) We’ll live on the 2nd floor, my sister and nephews will be on the first floor. We’ll have guest space and Ian’s office space in the attic and the basement will be my studio and a shared family room. My soda kiln will be built in the backyard. We’re hoping to get the majority of the work done by June so we can move up there and start building out the studio and settling in.

One of the things that we loved about the house was the garage out back (this picture below is a view from the 2nd floor porch). It’s actually a carriage barn from the mid-1800’s that pre-dates the house (which was built in 1927). For now we’ll be just fixing it up, but it has future studio potential. We definitely won’t be using it as a garage- but we have some interesting ideas for this interesting space.


We’re doing a huge amount of demo and construction on the house. New plumbing, new window inserts, new furnaces and hot water heaters. The picture below is of one of the bathrooms. We “discovered” a window in each bathroom that had been hidden by the tub surround!


I love the location of  our house. It’s a block and a half from Powderhorn Park, a huge park that we’ll be spending a lot of time at! We caught the end of a cool Art Sled Festival last month. Minnesotans are not afraid of winter. One of my favorite things about the location of our new house is that it’s only 1/2 block from the Midtown Global Market. The photo below was taken from our front steps. Our block is a dead end so we have a nice quieter street, but it’s close to so much. The market has been an amazing resource throughout this project. Quick access to heat and plumbing during February as well as warm coffee and food has been invaluable! I’ve been using it as an office space during our time up there- using the free wireless and plentiful table space to spend the afternoon making phone calls and writing emails.



If you’re in the Minneapolis area, send me an email and say hello! I can’t wait to start meeting potters up there. Or if you know of any references for builders, carpenters, landscapers, etc… please pass on any info that you have to me! We’re so happy to hire folks to work on the house that we have some sort of connection to. 

I’ll be posting updates on the projects (house, studio and kiln) in the coming months. For now I’m going to attempt to return to my life in Chicago. We’re not actually moving for a couple of months (June maybe?). The renovations have been totally consuming and my studio has been completely neglected. I’m heading to the studio now for the first time in a while. It’s time to start working on some tiles for our new kitchen…

22 thoughts on “A new beginning

  1. Wow! Many congratulations to you and Ian. That looks like a great place and having the studio and kiln out back will be WONDERFUL!!!! Good for you for making a change (I’m not a big fan of change either). Looks like a good one.

  2. Ron, will you be up in Minnesota again for the pottery tour in May? We won’t be moved by then, but will be up for the tour. Let me know what your plans are!

    Paul, I know it’s the winters in Minnesota that you’re really jealous of! Luckily my commute will be short :)

  3. emily,
    I am a potter living in s. minneapolis. I have lived in powderhorn for about three years now and swear by it. My studio is at northern clay center. Let me know if i can be of any help or if you have any questions. Welcome to town.


    1. Aaron, Hi neighbor! Thanks for the welcome. Your work is beautiful! I know I’ll have lots of questions once I start in on the studio set-up. Even though I make pots in Chicago, I already get my clay & kiln shelves, etc… in Minneapolis (Continental and Smith-Sharpe). So part of the transition should be smooth :)

  4. Actually that’s part of it. Winter here in Arkansas is just plain dreary (although there are a few more evergreens); at least there’s snow up north.

  5. Wow! Congratulations and how exciting! I was wondering what had happened to the blog posts.

    As much as I hate the cold, Minneapolis is one of my favorite cities. (Okay, I’ve only been there once, about 10 years ago, but it left an impression!)

  6. Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!
    First the disappearance of the Pop Art car, NOW THIS! What’s next? Will Gary Jackson give up pottery for knitting, and Tweedie become a nun?
    Just kidding – this IS a loss for Lill and Chicago, but a great coup for MInneapolis! I know you are loved at Lill, and have done a great job there, you will be missed. Best of luck in Minnesota, will you now be part of the “Mingeisota” movement? Maybe Warren MacKenzie will pop into your studio one day and ask to borrow a trimming tool!

  7. Sounds wonderful–though I found moving into our new (old) home last year the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do–you are moving into such an “arts-loving” community. The whole set-up seems perfect! Happy nesting!

  8. Thanks for the nice update! I can’t wait for you to have your own studio and kiln. I am loving mine! If you swing over to NC on your way to Minneapolis, I’ll give you my 8 hp snow thrower that sits here idle!
    and maybe some pots for your new home!

    I just spent an afternoon at the Minn/St Paul airport last month and must say I was never more pleased to wit for a flight!

    Thanks for writing your thoughts on moving and good luck!

  9. Congrats on a beautiful home! That neighborhood is awesome- I love Mpls- I lived there for 4 years in that neighborhood. There’s also a May Day parade that happens for the first of May put on by “In the Heart of the Beast” puppet theatre. Mpls. has a wonderful community feel to it for a big city. Looks like everything worked out for you guys!

  10. hi emily thats some house! happy renovating and new studio setting up, this does explain your disappearing act, sounds like quite an adventure…

  11. Wow, big news! Big congrats! Having moved at the end of last year to our dream house, I can totally relate to your excitement. Our move followed an almost year-long remodeling project too. So happy we did it! Hope yours turns out to be everything you’ve dreamed of!

  12. Wow! That is a wonderful home and that carriage barn is going to be an amazing studio space. I think it is great that you will be living so close to family and joining so many Minnesota potters.

  13. Congratulations! I love Minniesnapolis – born there. I would have moved back there in a heart beat, but my hubby couldn’t handle his nose hairs freezing up on him in the winter! Wuss.

  14. Welcome to the neighborhood Emily! You are going to love Powderhorn: May Day, the Global Market, the Art Fair (http://www.powderhornartfair.com/ – as a PoHo resident you are eligible to apply for a “community artist” spot), fireworks (right there, above our own little pond)…the list goes on. It is an amazing place to live.

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