Monday, October 5, 2015

To Anne

This summer, a friend and mentor of mine, Anne Armstrong, passed away rather suddenly. It was shocking and a reminder to live my life as best I can every single day 'cause you just never know...
 When I moved home after art school to set up my own pottery studio, I wandered into Anne's shop and basically begged her for a job. She laughed in my face and said she didn't need any help. At that moment, her husband wandered in and laughed in her face. She smiled and offered me a one-day-a-week part time job. Before the end of my first day, it became 2 days a week.

Working with Anne was incredible. She taught me all sorts of things that school neglected to (like all the businessey stuff art schools steer clear of). I would watch her throw pots as I mopped the floor, or sieved her glazes, or load her kiln. I watched her wield a brush like a master and decorate simple, functional forms in fluid,  confident strokes. I learned tips and tricks that only decades of experience can teach.

Anne helped me get the footing I needed to get my own business off the ground. She was incredibly supportive and was always there to answer questions, offer advice, and crack a joke. She made a mark on me and my work, and I can't even begin to describe the influence she has had on me.

This past Saturday, I spent the day helping her family have a farewell sale, selling off studio furnishing, tools, supplies and of course, her pottery.

Anne was in business for over 40 years. She traveled a lot to craft shows, taught workshops, had work in galleries and published in books. She had an incredible and loyal group of customers fans. And to see them out in force on Saturday was incredibly humbling and awe inspiring. I was struck with joy and grief at all of the people who wanted just one more piece of Anne to bring light into their homes.

I will do you proud, my friend, and wouldn't be where I am without you. Thank you for everything.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Shifting Sands

This year marks my tenth anniversary as a full time potter. It also marks a shift in the direction my business is headed.

When I first dipped my toes in the full-time-potter world, I tried to get my work out locally. While everyone loved it, very few bought and it became apparent that if I was to make a living, I had to either make new work for the local crowd, or send my work out into the world through markets that were a better fit. So off to the city I went, where my post sold well enough to keep me going and pay my bills.

I am now at a point where I have come full circle and would rather engage my local crowd than haul a truckload of tables, pots and tents all over hell's half acre. And I seem to be figuring it out, slowly but surely.

And not without a lot of help either. 
I now have a fabulous shop that I share with my mom, who makes incredible hand-crafted body and home care products out of lavender that we grow and harvest right on our own farm. I have a potters wheel out near the shop so I can interact with customers while throwing, and give people a chance to see what this pottery thing is all about.
 There was a time when I never imagined I would be cranking out orders of 400 mugs at a time. And there was also a time I never imagined that I would enjoy throwing for small audiences, talking about what I'm doing as I'm doing it and yet that is exactly where I find myself.
Over this past year I have made some incredible partnerships with several local businesses, Like this amazing place, or this amazing place. I have figured out how to make my business fit in the local scene and I am excited to see where things take me.

There's only one thing in this world that can be truly counted on, and that's change. I am enjoying my current transitions, and looking forward to what lies ahead.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

10 Years

This winter will mark my tenth year as a full time potter.

And that's kinda a big deal to me. Over the years I have watched friends and acquaintances struggle or thrive in their own craft business. I have seen incredibly talented people throw in the towel, or be pushed out of the market. I have seen people give their own blood sweat and tears only to have their lives give way to family, financial pressures and the general reality of everyday life. And yet here I am. Still swimming.

Swimming, swimming, just keep swimming.

I would not be where I am without the love and support I receive from the people around me. I would not be here, marking this anniversary, were it not for my parents. Or my husband. Or my friends. All of whom have been there for me, as a shoulder to cry on, a board to bounce ideas off of, the muscle in the background keeping the cogs greased, and the people who put up with my obsession/passion/need for pottery.

And while those closest to me have been invaluable in my journey, the picture needs to be much, much larger.

This year has marked a shift in my approach to my business. I have reached out and am making all kinds of amazing partnerships with other business all across my community...

With a local botanical garden for commemorative pieces celebrating all they do within the community...

With local chefs and restaurants for a month long culinary lavender festival...
With a local cakery for stands and plates...

The work is all about community. All about helping and being helped. About reaching out and offering support to ensure my community is successful. It's about karma. About putting good out into the world. About being a part of a larger whole.

While I want to be successful in what I do, I can't do that alone. I haven't done that alone. And I AM a part of a vibrant, dynamic and successful community. Local community. I want the people around me to be able to thrive in their dreams. If my own little small business can in some way help raise the profile of other businesses in my community, then I'm in. If we can find ways to promote each other, spread awareness, and strengthen our little corner of the world, we all benefit. Especially when so many others within that community share the same values - offering unique, quality products or services that focus on fostering a healthy, vibrant community - that bring people together.

I can't even believe this year is happening. I can't believe that I have found myself a part of this larger whole. The ideas haven't stopped since the new year began. And everywhere I turn, there's opportunities to be had or shared, and community that's growing. And to it all, I have to say,

Bring it...