When dreams become reality

In 2018 my hubby excitedly showed me a Facebook Marketplace ad for a lakefront lot on Sugarloaf Lake in Arkansas.

It was always my dream to own a place on a lake. To set the record straight, I am not a swimmer, or a boater nor do I even like the taste of fish, but the thought of having a place on the lake was just something I knew would soothe my soul.

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The lot wasn’t a big one, I believe its .75 acres but it was a mess. The original house had burned two years earlier and although most of the debris was removed there was still a lot of cleanup needed.

An old stone fireplace is all that remained.
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An old stone fireplace is all that remained.
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One thing I fell in love with was this stone fireplace. I have always been intrigued with ghost fireplaces. It stayed!

The clean-up was mostly cinder blocks….and there were a lot of them. And broken glass ripped out carpet and leftover roof trusses. What the lot did have was electricity, septic, water, several concrete pads, and a privacy fence surrounding the lot. It also had a run-down dock and a boathouse!

It was hard to pass up, so we bought it.

We bought it as a place to leave our very small travel trailer (21 ft) and spend weekends there with our three dogs. It was only 30 minutes from home (and 20 minutes from my studio) so that worked out perfectly.

Quality time in a tiny camper with another Human and three dogs
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Quality time in a tiny camper with another Human and three dogs
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Chilling outside of the tiny camper is great when the weather was nice but rainy days were hell!

The First Year

The first year we spent cleaning the lot up. It was an awful lot of work for these two old folks but we incorporated the 20/40 rule. Work 20 minutes, rest for 40! (See above Photo of Ben during that 40 minute period)

It worked and eventually we got all those damn cinder blocks gone. The land was leveled out, old timber was burned and trash loads of broken glass and tile were hauled away. Three years later and I am still picking up glass after a rainstorm.

Sunrise over Sugarloaf Lake, Hackett Arkansas
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Sunrise over Sugarloaf Lake, Hackett Arkansas
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The Gorgeous sunrises were not something we were expecting. But they are amazing

As soon as the place was cleaned up enough we moved the travel trailer into place and started to enjoy all our hard work. It did not take us long to figure out that, although we loved the lake lot, two adults and three dogs in a 21 ft camper on a rainy Arkansas day, was not going to work.

In 2020 we made the decision to build a small one-bedroom cabin.

I scoured the internet for floorplan ideas and eventually found a floorplan blueprint on Etsy that was really close to my vision. There is only so much you can do with a one-bedroom, one-bath and this floorplan fit the bill, both space-wise and budget-wise. This was the plan we purchased. It was well worth the $30. We did not build exactly like the plan but it was a place to start and a way to find out if it was something we could afford to do. We started this process well before lumber rates went haywire due to the pandemic so it WAS something we could afford. If it was a few months later, I doubt we could!

After a few hand-drawn modifications, our very handy house-building friend built our little dream place.

Our Lake Cabin
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Our Lake Cabin
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It’s simple but absolutely perfect

Once the shell of the cabin was built it was now up to Ben and me to put “us” into the place. Ben was tasked with building the kitchen and bathroom and I was tasked with wall painting and decorating.

Which meant POTTERY!!!!!

One of the things I wanted to do was make all my kitchenware. I knew that was going to be a challenge when it came to plates because they are all that easy to make. They warp, crack, out of round, and all kinds of weird things. But I was going to try.

Ben Building the Kitchen Cabinets
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Ben Building the Kitchen Cabinets
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Ben built the entire kitchen in the kitchen!!

And to match the rustic look that Ben was putting into the cabin with his shelves and counters, I needed something equally as rustic looking!

Cabin Bathroom
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Cabin Bathroom
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We wanted the cabin to look like a cabin so Ben built the cabinetry rather rustically.

Plates have never been something I made a lot and they are not as easy as they look like they would be but somehow I managed to get some through the “making” process!!! I really only wanted 4 plates of each size but I made 5 of each “just in case”.

Pottery Plates waiting to be glazed
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Pottery Plates waiting to be glazed
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Pottery Plates getting ready to be glazed

Now came the REALLY HARD part… finding the perfect pottery glaze.

I have never really felt good about traditional pottery glazing and am pretty much self-taught.  Since I make my own pottery glazes in my studio I don’t have the resources available that the commercial pottery glaze users have on what glazes look like when layering, so everything right now is experimental

I knew I wanted rustic and I also am someone who loves spontaneous and unique. After experimenting around I found a pottery glaze combination that I loved. It’s comprised of three glazes and they look wonderful together!!

Finished Pottery glazed Plate
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Finished Pottery glazed Plate
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The Perfect Pottery Glaze. I love how the three glazes all look together and flow into one another

My experimental Plate above came out beautifully and I was super stoked. I moved forward with the rest of the plates and ran into a WHOLE LOT OF pinholing with the pottery glaze. It was so disappointing. Pinholing is a bane to potters and I got a lot of wonderful advice from other potters which I am working through now. That will be the subject of another post.

Meanwhile, we are using and enjoying our cabin and our plates. My hubby has finished the bathroom and the kitchen, and I have everything painted, the walls are full of my artwork and my kitchen is filled with my pottery.

This cabin is all about US!

 

Follow Me

Dani Montoya - Potter
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My name is Dani and I am the potter behind this page! I am retired and having a ball being the artist I always wanted to be. My studio is located in NW Arkansas where I live a quiet life, on a lake with my husband, 3 dogs and two cats.

Have a look around!

Diamond Hand Pad for sanding

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This diamond sanding pad works very nicely to smooth out the bottom of those pots!  You can use it wet or dry. I bought the 200 grit but they have several other grits to choose from
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Phone Arm for Overhead Videos

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I bought this so that I could record video while I am making stuff. It works great.  The arm attaches to the table with a thumb screw. The part that holds your phone is spring loaded and almost too strong of a spring. I pinch my fingers a lot but I know the phone won’t fall out into my clay water!!
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LED Shop Lights

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Do you need some extra lighting in your studio? I bought these and I couldn’t be happier. They are lightweight but really bright. There is basically no installation. You can hang them or screw them into place. You can even plug them into each other so they turn on altogether. Plus they are LED which means they will last a really long time and use little electricity. 
View on Amazon

4 Comments

  1. Lettie
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    Love your story. Such an amazing place

    Reply
  2. marti castelluzzo
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    This is so beautiful (just like your cabin). Be happy Cuz

    Reply
  3. Vicky Hensley
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    This is a wonderful article. I want to know more! This reminds me so much of our experience designing and building our own cabin. This all looks so like your vision – two artists must have planned it. 🙂 Love your view AND I’m intrigued with ghost fireplaces too!

    Reply
  4. Kurt Hoffmann, Mt Shasta, CA
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    What a great story Dani. Cabin looks great! Good job. The plates are beautiful, I love the glazes … but “pin holes” Yes, the bane of us all! I have a full load of pots in my kiln right now … cooling, hoping for some exciting results. Keep up the good work!

    Reply

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