Here’s a time lapse video of my sgraffito process – this is the lid for a jar. I’ve already brushed on and let dry the white underglaze base, transferred my image, and painted in details with colored underglaze.
I took photos at all (most) of the stages of work on a large vase, and thought I’d share a look at my process here!
The basic process (make piece, paint on white underglaze, carve image) is how I do all of my illustration pieces. I don’t always go through the process of sketching beforehand and transferring the drawing using plastic. Usually for my birds, moths, and snakes, I just freehand the image right onto the pottery. But for people, where the proportions are more important (let’s avoid the uncanny valley), for more intricate designs with multiple parts that need to play well together, and for larger pieces where I need to get the layout just right – that’s when I pull out this multi-step process.
Hope you enjoyed this peek into the studio!
The Diverse Perspectives show in July was, as always, a wonderful event. A beautiful garden setting, tons of art, friends, and family, and a unifying commitment to surviving the Nevada summer heat!
In addition to the ever-lovely Bardy (who is growing into a very well-behaved dog), I also got to meet the neighbors’ new golden retriever puppy, whose name I’ve forgotten. He was extremely fluffy and adorable, and really wanted to get through the fence to the art show where all the exciting people and smells were!
On a personal note, I continued to develop and improve my tent set up. This year I have my own (brand new and shiny) 10×10 tent. I also had custom crates made by my wonderful wife – they do double duty for display as well as transporting all the pottery on the long drive to Reno. I was very pleased with how the whole display came together!
I’ve struggled for a while with feeling like everything I create I have to sell (or try to sell). This stems from a couple different reasons – one, I feel like I have to do everything I can to make extra money for rent (which somewhere along the way morphed into ‘everything I do has to make money’). Two, why shouldn’t I sell what I create? I make nice stuff, I put effort into it, and other people do great selling their [jewelry, art, etc]. Three, I like to create, but at a certain point I’ll have nowhere to store anything!
So for a few years I’ve worked on selling my art, but without any sense of consistency. I go off on tangents of jewelry making or embroidery or watercolor bookmarks. Which in some senses has been great – I get to focus on whatever is currently catching my attention and then just list it online. Every now and then something sells, and I have some great followers who stick with me through all the changes in media.
Now for the bad part: it really isn’t fun anymore. Every time I sit down to make something I’m already thinking about how I’m going to sell it, what the pricing should be, whether it’s something that’s easy to ship or not. And the quality of my work suffers – I simplify designs so that I can sell them without severely underpaying myself. Everything becomes about getting it done fast so that it can sell, and at a reasonable price point.
Which brings me to a few ideas I’ve come across over the past few months. First is that when you turn your passion into your work, you lose the love for it. Now I don’t necessarily think that’s always true, but you do have to be careful about how you handle it, and it really does have to be something you have real passion for in order to survive through the business plans and marketing and customers. Second is that not everything you do has to create income, despite everything we’re told in our capitalist society. It’s ok to have things for yourself that make you happy even if (especially if?) they don’t contribute financially. Third is that as an artist who makes a living (or a portion of it) through your art, you need hobbies outside of your art business, no matter how much you love it. You need that creative outlet that doesn’t come with the pressures of business and marketing, the freedom to just create and play without limitations.
I’m still going to be launching my pottery business, since that’s been my plan for years, and pottery is the one thing I’ve always really wanted to share with the world. But everything else is going back to being a hobby. I will spend time thinking up projects that really mean something to me or to my friends and family – the more complicated, the better! I’ll spend weeks and months adding detail without worrying about how long it’s taking and just revel in the act of creating.
So I’m going to be clearing out my Etsy shop and my Square shop – go ahead and claim anything you’ve had your eye on. If you’re poor like me, feel free to use the code CLEARANCE for 50% off. If there’s something you love and still can’t afford it, contact me and we’ll see if we can work something out. I’d rather have my art loved and viewed than sitting in a drawer!
Mugs in Progress
One of my first big projects now that the new wheel throwing space is set up, is a set of custom mugs for my friend Jen. She owns and teaches at Blue Plume Studio, and always has tea available for her students. Her current set of mugs is not handmade, and has lost a few of its members to sudden falls on the hard floor. About a year ago we were talking about how she needed handmade mugs once I had access to pottery wheels again, and I’m really happy to finally get a chance to make them!
The mugs just came out of the bisque kiln today, and I’m waiting on a shipment of new glazes (should be coming this week). I’m excited to get them glazed and finished – I’ll post pictures when they’re done!