Stretching Beyond the Clay

It’s one thing to be comfortable in your studio and gallery making pots and talking to your customers, and quite another to offer other potters a lesson in what you do.  It can be, well, intimidating.

I had an opportunity to give a workshop to the Comox Valley Potters Club recently, and it pushed me beyond that comfort zone of my own studio.  It made me reflect on a lot of things, like why I do what I do, how I do it and what it takes to get it done.  The Why, What and How are the backbone questions and answers for running any business, why should a pottery business be any different?  It took a deep dive into my old computer and all the pictures stored over the past 10 or so years to see my progression, what was happening at the time that contributed to the work I was making and how I was selling the work.  I created a power point slide show to walk through this journey so that the potters attending could get to know me and my story and thereby understanding my work just a bit better.  For the workshop session, I collected the tools I use, the images I collect for inspiration, the surface finish techniques and my slip/engobe and glaze recipes.

As part of this workshop, I prepared 25, 6×6 tiles that each participant could experiment with.  Since the workshop topic was Sgrafitto design and finish, I had brought along engobes and a slip as well as underglazes that they could apply and carve through.  The tiles were a little soft initially but just about ready for carving when my talk was over and we were ready to get into the experimental part of the workshop.  It always amazes me when you give 20 people an opportunity to create something with the same starting point and the end results are all so different!  I had provided some tools such as the Diamond Core fine point, Kemper Ball stylus, pencils and brushes, but each participant brought the tools they are comfortable with from their own studios.  Many potters are familiar with sgrafitto but it takes time and patience to develop ideas and images that not only sell but that be created consistently and not take hours on end on to complete.  After all, we are in the business of selling pottery so we have to keep our time into each piece in check, but that a conversation for another blog.

Here are some pictures of the day.  I hope you get a chance to create something beautiful today!