Trying My Hand At The Wheel To Cope With Loss

I am so looking forward to spring. These Midwest winters can be such a drag; each cold, gray day seems indistinguishable from the one before. Monotonous weather, combined with the fact that my dad just passed away from cancer in December, has me working harder to make myself feel OK lately.

I once read an article about how learning a new skill can help boost one’s mood by creating a positive feeling of accomplishment. I thought I’d draw on this knowledge, so I signed myself up for a pottery throwing class at a local studio. I’d always had a desire to get my hands on some clay to see what I could create.

After many failed attempts at centering and raising my pieces, I’m finally getting the hang of it and things are almost going my way now. I’m not great, but I am slowly making improvements and I am feeling pretty good about myself these days as a result (turns out the theory holds water).

Thanks to my teacher Andrea Horyn for sharing her incredible talent with me, for all of the great talks and laughs we’ve had during the process and for (unknowingly) throwing me a life preserver when I felt like I was struggling…

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A few of my pieces — I've started on bowls and I'm moving on to plates and vases soon.

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I'm into glazed, bright interiors and flat, white exteriors.

family chicThey nest too – this is a big deal for me.
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My kids are getting behind the wheel too – I love their beautiful work.

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Me and my dad in November, 2012. He gave the most courageous and admirable fight; he always stayed positive and interested in life.

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Even when his cancer and radiation treatment were taking a toll on him, my dad could always muster up the positive energy for one our famous outings. Here's a photo of us with my daughters, on a visit to one of our favorite spots in Tarrytown, NY — the historic home of Washington Irving.

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From the 1970's – an old photo of me with my mom and dad. My mom made the dress I'm wearing in this shot as well as the quilted ottoman cover and my dad made the built-in bookshelves in the background. My parents taught me everything I know about creative family living.

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My parents, Joan and Sam.












  1. Jana Miller  March 23, 2013

    I’m sorry about the loss if your dad. And I do agree that in the face of suffering, taking a risk by learning something new is wonderful to soothe the pain. Love your blog my dear!

    • camilla  March 24, 2013

      Thanks so much, Jana! xoxo -C

  2. catie  March 24, 2013

    oh, camilla. i’m so sorry.
    what a tender tribute you’ve made here.

    • camilla  March 24, 2013

      Thank you! xoxo – C

  3. Val  March 24, 2013

    Dear Camilla, I wish you lots of strength to go on. This loss is a hard one to cope with, but memories remain, and the thing that most amazes me is that we do go on after departing with a dear one. Your beautiful family and gift for crafting sure are a great way to keep going on beautifully.

    • camilla  March 24, 2013

      Thanks, Val – xoxo, C

  4. Sophie  March 24, 2013

    Dear Camilla,
    How touching is your tribute to your parents ! I feel that everything you published in your post is about the transmission of know-how in the love from one to another. My father was a ceramics craftman. He taught me a lot of things except potery… Reading to you, I told me that I have to ask him to teach it to me before his knowledges disappear with him…

  5. kristen  March 24, 2013

    The pottery is BEAUTIFUL! Thank you for sharing that tip.

    I have an older father, who’s age is 86, who is beginning to lose his fight with dementia. My mom died almost 20 years ago, which still takes it’s toll on me, to this day. Losing a parent is heartbreaking. All this to say, I’m so so sorry for your loss! Sending you a virtual hug today!

  6. Pip  March 24, 2013

    I’m so sorry for your loss Camilla – thankyou for sharing these special memories of your Dad. Thinking of you and your family. Your parents looked like a wonderful couple together xx

  7. Caroline  March 24, 2013

    That is a beautiful homage to your family. May they ever live on in your heart.

  8. Dani  March 24, 2013

    Camilla – I read your blog often. Your creativity and love for your family is inspiring. I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your dad. The pain doesn’t go away entirely, it just changes over time. It sounds like he was a lucky man to have such an adoring daughter.


  9. Marycarol  March 24, 2013

    Lucky to have had such a great dad and that your kids hadca chance to create memories with him. Bug hug and wishing you joy in keeping his spirit alive.

  10. Alexis  March 24, 2013

    A beautiful post! So sorry for your loss.

  11. Cassi  March 25, 2013

    I am so sorry to hear of the loss of your father but glad you were able to spend special times with him that I’m sure were as dear to him as they were to you. My father is under chemo treatment for cancer right now and I feel as if I am walking on ice every day, expecting it to crack. That’s interesting about learning a new skill to boost one’s mood, I’ll have to think about that, it would be nice to have something to look forward to. Thank you for sharing the pictures of your dad too, what a handsome couple your parents make.

    • camilla  March 26, 2013

      Dear Cassi, Thanks so much. I am very sorry to hear about your dad. There’s got to be a cure soon. Sending love and strength your way – Camilla

  12. Courtney  March 25, 2013

    Such a beautiful post, Camilla. Your father gave me two of my favorite things. A gorgeous still life painting that reminds me every day how abundant life can be and a fabulously creative and inspiring friend, you! Can’t wait to give you a big hug in a few days! Love, Court

    • camilla  March 26, 2013

      Love you, Courtney! xoxo, C

  13. katie metzroth  March 26, 2013

    I’m sorry for your loss. Your nesting bowls are lovely! very impressive.

  14. Susan  April 28, 2013

    I was so sorry to read about your loss. Your creativity, thoughtfulness, and warmth–which shine through this blog so strongly–are a real testament to your parents. I am sure you made them both very proud.

    Kudos to you for seeking out something new and positive in this difficult time. I’m glad it helped. The pots are great! I love the contrast/colors.

    To echo what Cassi said, thanks sharing the photos. They are touching, and that last one is so glamorous!

    Wishing you peace, comfort, love and happiness from the East Coast.

    And thank you for all you give to us, your readers.


  15. Tanja  May 10, 2013

    Dear Camilla,
    I am so sorry for your loss, just read it now. My father, too, fell asleep for ever last December after having been ill for quite a few years. Not cancer, though. It is very sad but I keep talking to him and he is in my heart. Still – I have to cope with realizing he won’t be there when I go to visit my mum. I hope you do well and that you can think of your father with great love and less and less sadness.
    Love, Tanja

  16. H from O-Town  May 11, 2013

    Sorry for your loss Camilla.
    Good for you for finding some sunshine in difficult times.

  17. Maggie  June 2, 2013

    The pictures of your parents, as well as the slips of your story are beautiful!

    It’s so wonderful to see your love transformed into these lovely bowls! The saturated, polished colors, against the rough-hewn, stark white. I love them!

    Thank you for sharing.