It all started with a Dream

No, not like a "Oh man, and there was this dog wearing a tutu, and my mom was there and she kept trying to get me to eat an egg salad sandwich" kind of dream. The big kind. The capital D Dream. The kind of Dream that sounds like "At some point I'd like to..." or "When I save enough money...".

Except I've stopped waiting, and just gone ahead and grabbed my Dream by the nether-regions and come hell or high water, I'm going to make it happen.

I'm starting my own pottery studio.

Now, if you know me, you know I am no stranger to making things happen. My husband and I traveled around the world this year, after only about four months of planning. Every once in a while we would hear the phrase, "You guys are so lucky that you get to travel like this!" Which is lovely, but believe me, no one handed us the tickets and lodging bookings and said "Here's the trip you've always wanted to go on, have fun!" We had to just make the choice to pick up and go. We are the creators of our own realities, and all you need for that is a lot of determination, and a little bit of experience.

So how did I get here? I started taking pottery classes late in 2011. A few months later I became a studio assistant, because I wanted to learn how a full-service studio is run. I learned how to keep an eye on the consistency of the wet glazes and grind down the glaze drips from the kiln shelves. I played around with different methods of clay wedging and learned all of the steps involved in the reconstitution of slop and bone dry clay. I organized tools, mopped, swept, and laundered clay-covered towels and aprons. I learned just about every aspect of what went on "behind the scenes" at my little pottery apprenticeship.

Some months later I began teaching. Private lessons at first, and then group classes. I learned different ways to say the same thing and watched students become more aware of the fine motor skills they possessed in their hands and fingers.

At some point, my work started to take on a style, and I still don't know whether naming my Etsy shop Everyday Stoneware had an influence on that aspect. Does the work inform the brand or does the brand inform the work? Both, probably. Either way, I discovered a true love for simple, functional goods. Lucky for me, that caught the eye of a woman who was doing a casting call for designers for a holiday pop-up shop, and I think this is really where the ball starts rolling.

After being confirmed to participate in the pop-up shop and having a design meeting, I ended up having just about two months and change to create the 200+ pieces I had decided to make for the event. I was pretty sure that the creation of all the pieces wasn't going to be a problem, but that I would really have to manage my firing schedule.

Having been a part of the community studio for years at this point, I knew that there was a sort of formula to the kiln firing. Smaller, skinny pieces were more likely to get loaded into a kiln faster than larger, wider pieces. Loading a kiln is a bit like a three dimensional game of Tetris, where all of the pieces are breakable. Fun, right? The pieces that make the best fit are the ones that will get loaded, and it's much easier to make small things fit. Trust me, this is good information to know when you're part of a community that has over 200 artists, and everyone wants their stuff to get fired first. And it's the holiday season.

So I made a plan! I started with making bigger jars, interspersed with bouts of making bud vases and small bowls. I ran into a few problems with this process. There is only so much space for storage in the studio, and it has to be shared by those hundreds of other artists as well. I had to start making things in shifts, so instead of being able to come in and just knock out 30 jars, I had to make four, and then wait. And then make four more. And then wait. Borrrring.

The other problem I ran into was everyone else. Don't get me wrong here - being part of a community studio is amazing for the possibility of being able to hang out with your friends, share clay advice and tips, and get work done at the same time. But when you're trying to make 200 tiny vases, it gets a lot harder when there's nowhere to spread yourself out because you're trying not to be a jerk and use three other wheels as tables.

As a result, I found myself doing most of my work between 6am and 2pm, which made for very early mornings and afternoons filled with the anxiety of wondering if I'd left things uncovered enough for them to dry sufficiently to be able to work on again at 6am the next morning.

This is probably the point in time where I realized that if I was going to continue to do production style pottery, I needed to think about having my own space. And here I am! I'm in a living situation that currently allows for a place to put a kiln and a wheel, I have a fairly good idea of what kind of gear I need to get myself started, and I've got the go-getter attitude to do it.

I think.


Stay tuned for upcoming posts: I Think I'll Start That List... Tomorrow and I Need How Many Volts??