Winter & Conifer Collection Blog

"Buehla La Van”: my dream on four wheels

🎧 Hip Hop by dead Prez

For over 10 years (way before #vanlife was cool), it has been a dream of mine to explore and experience life and people the caravan way. A year ago today, I took all my savings and I purchased my lovely Buehla. I proposed the outfitting and reno project to two amazing carpenters Evan Akins & Guy Hollinworth (who probably thought I was completely nuts at the time, but gladly accepted the project). In fourteen days, we designed, built and brought to life this camper van I called home. She was ready, I was ready. Everything was “coming up Milhouse!”

🎧 Smooth Sailin’ by Leon Bridges

Buehla and I drove from Ottawa to Newfoundland, a test run before heading to South America. My goal was to combine two of my passions: learn about Indigenous grapes of the region and my love for amphora pottery. I returned to the National Capital region to see my family before going on my journey.

October 2018

LIFE HAPPENED. Buehla now needed some serious repairs that I, unfortunately, couldn’t at this point, justify the expense. My dreams were shattered, I was fucking heartbroken. I also had to refuse help, I just couldn’t accept charity, because to me, there were much bigger problems in this world besides me continuing onwards. Some of my closest friends even offered to create a CROWD FUNDING campaign (I have the best of friends on this planet, ya'll know who you are). I also have an amazing family, who I am very close with, and who know me too well. They knew that if I didn’t get back on my feet and fix Buehla, I’d regret it for a lifetime. "WHO’S GOING TO TRY AND SOLVE ALL THE PROBLEM IN THIS WORLD?” Although appreciated and all the love was sent my way, this solution didn’t seem appropriate, this wasn’t my way. I needed time to think.

I discovered my therapy: pottery. Time to sit and focus my thoughts and creativity, it shed light in some tough pieces of my life. With mud and glazes, I found an outlet to share my story. I’m fortunate to have been mentored by some of the best in the industry Basma Osama in Montreal and Jason Holley & Maaike Charron in St-John's. I found my solution.

🎧 Like Gabrielle’s 1993 Hit R&B song – Dreams (if performed by Patrick Swayze)

With my new energy, I went back to the auto shop and told my story. Maybe the manager felt some sort of magic spell as warm tears were flowing down my face, but he decided to help me by offering a “get back on the road” deal I just couldn’t refuse. I was ready to accept help on my own terms, a way to fund the repairs of this once in a lifetime deal:

I decided to create a pottery collection inspired by all of you, where all the profits would go to fix Buehla.

She might not be able to make it to South America, but I sure as hell will bring her and I as far as she’ll take me. To your backyard for a campfire over the summer maybe? Or a harvest in some magical North American Winery? Or just for a quick swim in the lake with you, sharing craft beer and a hammock? We’ll just have to change her name to Franken-Buehla for now.

Written by Valérie Bélisle
Proofs and Edits by Jacinthe Goulet

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