• Anything Is Possible

    Hallo dear reader,

    It’s a long time since I last wrote and so much has happened to all of us. I hope you’re okay?

    Here we are, at the end (-ish) of lockdown, and the beginning of something different. Whether these changes represent an opportunity or a disaster, we are living through uncertain and challenging times. I’m aware I’m one of the fortunate, but I’m hoping this email finds you well too, happy even, or at least with some things starting to go your way. Like my new friend Roberto, I am one of those people who says Anything is Possible. But then I’ve always believed in magic and fairies at the bottom of the garden. I’m lucky like that.

    Let’s be clear (lest you think I am mad) I’m talking of the kind of fairies you can’t see but who will grant you wishes nonetheless. I truly believe anything is possible IF you can decide what it is you really want, or more precisely how you will feel once you get it. If you are clear enough to ask for it, the invisible ones will grant you any number of wishes. It’s a big IF you may say, but I believe in a lot of things I can’t see. Like the flip in my heart at the smell of fresh coffee, the airy space in my head when I think of dear friends now passed, and, as I sit here writing this in my little garden, the certainty that there are one or two tiny blue tits squabbling over a fatball even though when I turn my head they’ll be nowhere to be seen.

    Little has changed for me during the lockdown. I work alone, I live alone, I have my health, I like cooking and I don’t like shopping! I have even appreciated the break in routine encouraging a focus on recuperation and regaining my strength. A time for quiet contemplation has allowed new ideas to surface and I have found some precious spare time for playing with clay, and to collaborate with Master Potter Roberto Gagliano.

    Pottery Gagliano has been closed during lockdown so I have been working away in my kitchen with Almondine budgie on my shoulder, two dogs at my feet, while Roberto has been creating 5 vases and 5 urns inspired by his Sicilian origins. The shape of the vase, he says, was inspired by the architectural columns of Greek temples built in Sicily. And the classical urn shape was influenced by Ancient Greek Pottery. Carefully applying glazes with multiple firings, Roberto has created natural earth and clay tones. The textures are different on each individual pot and compliment my hand-built figures perfectly. Who’d’ve thought that two such different cultures and styles would come together so harmoniously? From Stoke and Sicily with love. As Roberto says - anything is possible.

    I am thrilled with the results. These are real one-off pieces. They take ten times longer than doing a picture. It’s been such a labour of love. Roberto is having wooden crates made to present them in. Marcella, his wife, is stenciling a little logo on them. I’m making hand-drawn certificates of authenticity. It’s such a group effort, and I think it shows in the care and love we put into each piece. There are just 10. We are not planning to make more but we don’t rule it out. They are real conversation pieces. I would display mine in the fireplace, or on the landing halfway up the stairs. But any alcove or good sturdy coffee table would do them justice. The pots can be displayed lidded or separately, back to front, front to back. Perfect for a milestone birthday, an anniversary or an incredibly generous gift for the Mustard Lover in your life. You can tell I’m pleased with them, can’t you?

    I wish you peace, strength and love at this strange and challenging time. I might suggest a bag of clay, or plasticine, and an hour or so to squish things about? Who knows what would happen? Anything is possible!

     Big love, and see you soon,

     Sam Toft