Saturday, May 24, 2014

Even Though I LOVE it, It's Still Hard Work.

Today I worked at the Cache Valley Gardener's Market, trying to sell my creative work. I spent most of Thursday unloading the kiln, then waxing the bottoms of the pots, decorating, then dipping each piece in a bucket of glaze, that I hand-mixed--measuring and stirring and screening ingredients--then cleaning each piece by hand, then loading each piece one by one into the kiln. Friday I made some more pottery that won't be finished until next week. Friday night I wrapped pottery in newspaper, packed it into boxes, then my husband helped me load all the wares, boxes and boxes worth into the back of the Subaru. Then on Saturday morning, we unloaded the kiln, then finished packing the new work into boxes, then finished loading the car. Then we drove to Logan from Avon, backed into the spot we were assigned--unloaded all the ware and set it up on two banquet tables. At the end of our four-hour work day, we loaded it all back up again. And unloaded it again when we got home.

Why am I telling you, my unknown readers all this? Because invariably someone says to me, "I bet making pottery is so relaxing." Or, "It sure must be nice having a hobby." Can you tell that I find those comments just slightly annoying. I know, people mean well. They are just trying to find a way to relate to me. I often smile and explain that there is a lot of work involved. Work that I love, but none-the-less, it's still work. I don't usually go into how many hours and hours and hours, thousands upon thousands, it has taken me to learn my craft. I don't often tell them that I earned through sheer hard work a BFA in art, or that I have been creating pottery for nearly 40 years. I don't often tell them that I've had numerous failures, whole kiln loads of failures. Pots crack or glazes bubble and quite often I still fail even though it's less often than it used to be. I find the whole process enjoyable, but far from relaxing. Relaxation is sitting on a beach with a pina colada watching the waves. It's sitting on my front porch reading a novel. It's what I'm doing right now, watching an episode of Doc Martin in my big cushy recliner after working--extra hard.

Friday, May 9, 2014

You Aren't Just Buying a Thing...

A very dear friend shared this with me. I feel like she peeked into my heart and "read my mail"
This is so true!

I've seen this meme posted on facebook every once in a while and I could not agree more. Another season of art festivals and farmers markets is upon us. I feel excited to have the opportunity to sit in the sun and meet and greet potential customers of my pottery and occasionally my novels. To give you an idea of how I came to be a potter, let me educate you with some of what has gone into it. I first began creating pottery in earnest when I was in high school. I am now 56 years old, so that was a long time ago. I would spend hours every day in the art room at Orem High School each day learning the craft. I'd start each practice session with a stack of baseball and softball sized pieces of carefully wedged clay. And try to first center the clay, then pull it into a form. It took months before I kept anything I made. Most of those attempts were failures. Eventually, I began to get pieces that I felt were worthy of taking to the next level, that of firing twice in the kiln, once bisque and then glaze fired. Even then, when you opened the door of the kiln, often what I found as a beginning potter was more failure. Only in learning an art, there is no failure because everything we do helps us learn to become better and better. With every single piece of pottery I've ever made, I can honestly say that I put my all into it. I love that my pottery graces the homes of people all over the United States (a few pieces have ended up in other countries even).

For my high school graduation present, my parents helped me buy a potters wheel. It was expensive, around 600.00 at the time. But considering many pay that much for a phone, I can't complain, especially considering I'm still using that same wheel. There isn't a whole lot of technology involved. It just has to be sturdy, smooth, and revolve fast. For a while, I used a friend's kiln to fire and then the teacher at Provo High lived near me and he let me throw pottery and fire at Provo High after hours, in exchange for helping around the studio. It was a superb deal for me and taught me how to fire a kiln by myself. I spent many long hours at night in the Provo High Ceramics lab. There was a lot of trust that went into that arrangement and I'm forever grateful. I started out at BYU art department, but after two semesters transferred to Utah State where I continued my studies in art education focusing on Ceramics/Pottery.  Finally now, I have a studio in Avon, Utah where I can make and fire my pottery. And to this day, I put my all into each piece that I make. I'm sure most artisans that you meet will have similar experiences of how they learned their craft. So next time you are perusing the wares at an artisan market, remember that and enjoy the experience. Treasure the things that you buy, knowing a little more about what has gone into the creation.