January 31, 2009
Here's an excerpt from Lost Crossings, by Katey Schultz:
...The idea came slowly at first, like snowmelt filtering down a mountain stream. I'd been told the swinging footbridges are maintained by North Carolina's Department of Transportation (DOT). I also learned that Mitchell and Yancey Counties are home to 13 of the state's 23 remaining footbridges. Nowadays, many of these footbridges lead to a dead end: private property, a cemetery, or an old train depot.
I made a pilgrimage to the Honeycutt Bridge (223W) and it was there, where Bad Creek flows into Rock Creek, that this notion of Lost Crossings came to fruition. Anchored between Highway 226 and a steep hillside, the space begged for interpretation. I could almost hear the stories being told, memories from a way of life nearly forgotten.
Yet it wasn't enough to imagine these stories. I stood above a confluence of pure mountain waters and understood it would be necessary to trace the story of each footbridge back to its source. Bad Creek had come a long way down the mountain. The families and buildings around these footbridges had come a long way, too...
The book is now published! You can buy the book here:
January 28, 2009
1. How long have you been involved with your craft?
I have worked in clay for eight years. Although growing up with an involvement in music, it was later in college before I began taking any art classes and decided to pursue ceramics.
2. When did you decide you would pursue craft as a career?
In college I became interested in taking some art classes, particularly photography and ceramics. In the clay studio, I immediately became engrossed and knew this was the direction I wanted to take. For the first few years of college I was an undecided major and was very unsure of which career path I wanted to take. Once I took my first clay class, it immediately felt very clear and I noticed my focus and intent changed. I, of course, had no idea what it took to be a studio artist, or if I could even throw pots for that matter, but for some reason I blindly went ahead and completely became engrossed at working in the studio.
3. What was your motivation? (For example, do you have a parent or sibling in craft? Was there a mentor who influenced you? Do you just love doing it?)
My mom always had pottery in the house while I was growing up because she had taken a few wheel throwing classes at a local clay studio. I always had thought it would be fun to try and felt I had a creative edge even though it was always channeled through music lessons. What I learned about myself once I got started, though, is that I really love process oriented projects. I love working hard and keeping busy. Working with clay on the wheel requires serious commitment in the beginning to get past the technical difficulties. I found I really enjoyed the challenge as well as seeing the effects of my practice as I continued to grow more comfortable on the wheel. I love the tactile, hands on approach to working with clay as well as the endless possibilities that come with each angle you discover. Eventually I was able to focus past the technical difficulties because early on I felt compelled to find my own voice and express my inspirations in clay.
4. How did you learn your craft?
I received my Bachelor of Fine Arts in Ceramics at the
5. What are the biggest challenges you are/have faced in choosing craft as a career?
Maintaining perseverance! Choosing this lifestyle and making a living in craft is difficult without serious dedication, patience, and a willingness to make sacrifices for yourself. My work in clay has become so personal and all encompassing that it absorbs into every aspect of my life. I have found that in order to support myself financially I have to work extremely hard and around the clock in learning and growing as a studio
artist. At times this can be very hard and feel never ending. The business part of choosing craft as a career is by far the hardest part, and the one thing you don’t ever think about when you first start. A lot of time has to be dedicated to promotion, marketing and exhibitions, and etc., etc.! This takes time away from the studio, but is integral to getting exposure for your work. Despite the challenges, there are numerous advantages to this creative lifestyle I have carved out for myself. I enjoy the freedom of being self employed, being able to express myself creatively, and being able to share my visions with others.
6. What would you say to a person still in high school about choosing a career in craft?
If someone is very serious about pursuing a career in craft I would recommend broadening their exposure and education in every way possible. After getting my degree in ceramics, I was accepted into a resident artist program at a clay studio. This changed my life and really helped me grow as an artist in numerous ways. The residency afforded me the time to hone down my skills and develop a cohesive body of work. I also found it very helpful to find local craft artists and work for them, particularly potters, by assisting them in their studio. I needed odd jobs to support myself at that time and it was great to be able to find odd jobs that were in my interest of work. By working for other artists, you can really learn about all the details of a studio artist and see their perspective about being a craft artist. Another priority I made and still make for myself is exposing myself to exhibits and galleries as much as I can. I learned early on to just apply to everything without worrying about whether or not I was accepted or not. The experience of simply trying led to personal growth and determination. I would recommend to anyone to always seek outside feedback from your mentors by asking them for critiques. Learning how to be your own teacher and how to effectively evaluate and critique your own work is crucial. The most critical aspect for me was simply working in the studio as much as possible. I made my time for studio work and practice to be a high priority. Things just take time in the studio and you have to learn to keep on working sometimes, despite all the ups and downs of this roller coaster lifestyle.
7. Where do you see yourself in 20 years?
I see myself throwing pots and still getting excited about that feel of the fresh clay between my hands while I pull the clay. I see all the inspirations that have fulfilled me in my lifetime absorbing wholeheartedly into my claywork. I see the anticipation I'll still have for each kiln firing and what new surfaces it will bring me. I hope that I am still pushing myself to learn new things and grow in the studio. I also hope in that time I have become more financially secure as an artist and have established a balance between my art and the other priorities of my personal life.
January 26, 2009
It was a challenge walking the slippery ice covered trail, but well worth the adventure to see this.
The wind up there certainly had a strong bite to it as thick clouds were developing nearby. I managed to catch a glimpse of the purple haze of the ridges shooting down right into the Bakersville valley before I was beckoned down by thoughts of my warm car.
January 24, 2009
January 22, 2009
This morning I was able to put my new glaze test tiles in John's kiln, so we're going to fire it off tomorrow. It'll be interesting to see where I get with this next batch of tests.
January 21, 2009
John Britt is going to be test firing the baby soda kiln for a second round on Friday so that's why I was studying my notes and test tiles from last weeks class to get some new results mixed and squeezed in his next load. Hope he has room for some small test tiles! I like the idea of having a small test soda kiln for quick firings to get out results of glaze tests, or even to fire if you just want 10 cups or something.
Another thing I'm working on is enhancing my Etsy shop by opening up to international sales, as well as going out on a limb and creating a photography Etsy shop. I haven't done any international shipping before, but now I'm trying to figure out all the customs and pricing behind that. I think it could really help my sales by opening up to the whole world. I have been thinking of doing less retail craft fairs and instead focus even more on online marketing. I will still continue to do some craft fairs and wholesaling to galleries, but I've found being out of town and doing shows unsettles my rhythm in the studio. I would much rather be making than marketing, so online marketing definitely seems like a strong possibility, which hopefully means that I'll be in the studio more often! Just a thought...over and over again I analyze these things. I feel like I always have to be thinking of how to keep supporting my creative lifestyle.
January 20, 2009
I described in more detail how I make these reed handles in two older posts you can read here and here. Speaking of older posts, for those of you reading who might have recently hopped on board, I have an archive of all of my posts listed over on the right where you can view all my ramblings since last May when I started blogging, just in case you have nothing else to do! As for me, I always have piles and piles of things I come up with to do. I am rarely ever bored.
January 19, 2009
So, I've been pooling over my notes and am going to mix up some more batches altering the silica and lithium contents in the glaze to hopefully help reduce the crazing. I'm also going to try out another base glaze that we discovered in class that was extremely stable with no crazing and do a line blend of colorants in that one. Maybe I can achieve the colors I have below in that stable glaze and save the time of fixing the crazing dilemma.
My gurgling creek has been frozen over for a week or so now. It's so neat seeing the running water below the surface of ice that is hovering a few inches or so above the water level. Today is a snowy day in the 30s which really feels rather warm after last weeks cold blast.
January 17, 2009
It felt so good to be in a class, exercising a part of my brain that I haven't used in a while. It makes me miss school! We were also able to have some lab time where we mixed up several glaze tests and fired them in various firing temperatures. We finished the soda kiln that John built last week and did one test firing in that with some new soda glazes that we were interested in.
These are some of the test tiles I got out of the soda kiln and now I need to sort them out and figure out which ones I like and where I want to go from there. I think there are some good ones in there that I might test a little further, tweaking this and that in the glaze recipe to get it honed down to a good stable glaze.
We had about 8 people in the class and it was a great group full of energy. My friend, Annie Singletary, a resident artist with me back at the Odyssey Center, also took the class with me. It felt refreshing to be around her abounding energy she has for life and clay.
I've sort of turned into a glaze geek and am feeling so excited about all that is in my head right now! Is it odd to admit that I feel like going over all of my glaze notes right away so I don't forget all of this? Understanding glaze chemistry is extremely vast and it takes a while for it all to sink in. I actually had a glaze chemistry class back in college for my ceramics degree, but only now do I feel like I have more of a stable foundation in my head. I feel like I can now look at the recipes of my clay and glazes and know what the materials in there are doing, as well as know directions I can take in altering the glazes if needed. So the testing never ends...
January 11, 2009
January 9, 2009
January 8, 2009
January 7, 2009
January 6, 2009
January 5, 2009
Here we are kayaking in a tidal creek near Pawley's Island, and below is the shoreline at South Pawley's island. I had never seen this end before and of course, was amazed at the texture in the creekbeds! A potter's dream!
Then I went for a little canoe trip down the Edisto River, paddling along the black waters lined with cyprus trees.Feeling refreshed from relaxing and some adventure mixed in, I'm getting ready to be back into my clay world.