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About LeeU

  • Rank
    Advanced Member
  • Birthday 07/14/1947

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  • Gender
  • Location
    New Hampshire
  • Interests
    In addition to clay, I'm interested in painting, photography, and writing. Recently retired from 30 years in behavioral health services, just getting back to enjoying and making art. I have a BFA in ceramics from VCU's School of the Arts (Virginia Commonwealth University). I recently completed setting up a small in-home studio.

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  1. The roots that are supporting my ceramic branches and flowers, so to speak, are grounded in parental family dynamics (don’t know much about the ancestors). My mother was craft-competent in several artistic areas, such as music and sewing. My dad was a decent illustrator/draftsman, played a nice piano, and could make anything and make it well. They were supportive of my affinity for drawing, painting, and making “artful” things out of lots of cool stuff my dad kept in his shop or mom put together for little projects (like papier-mache and dough-clay). As a family, we took full advantage of the great museums in NYC. After H.S., I did graphic art for the Teamsters Union, print shops, and box die companies. When I finally got to art school (single parent on welfare, in my 30’s, with serious health problems) I couldn’t keep up with the pace of the communication arts/design program and switched to ceramics (a bit more laid back). I loved it, & was good at it, especially formulating clay bodies and glazes. Not a prayer of supporting my child, tho, and myself, and I did not want to stay in graphics. I went into a field that enabled me to make a living and do some good at the same time. Other than keeping up with the art world, from a distance, I didn’t have my hands on clay again until 2014, after I retired. That root, gratefully, survived, and is now getting sufficient nutrients and nurturing to thrive. I owe special “thanks” to the generosity of many ceramists in NH, where I live, and this CAN Community Forum (the people in it).
  2. The way I approach creating now is so radically different from how I approached it in the past. To a much appreciated extent, I am discovering the continuation of Self, which s a good thing, however slowly I get on with it.

  3. Well, that is already a pretty comprehensive list! This may not count, because I never made a take-home dime, but in another state (long ago and far away) I have had very modest shows, always with other participants, to support art-oriented fundraising events for certain agencies. For me, the selected causes were addiction, HIV/AIDS, and domestic violence shelter programs--just "my thing"--to use art as a channel for generating donations to community-based, under-funded, non-profit public service organizations. These shows have been held in churches, community centers, colleges, small art galleries, and hotel ball rooms (space donated to the agencies doing the fund drive). Also put together a show once to benefit a great summer camp in W. Virginia, where I was the ceramics instructor, for free, in exchange for my daughter being able to go to the camp. In addition to some of my stuff, and some other potters' donated work, the kids made various types of clay art and the parents scooped it up for "big bucks", to help keep the camp going-it was a blast.
  4. This, above, and this (GEP) "I have one singular goal in life, which will be the measure of my success: to be a happy old person." have prompted me to double-dip and extend my answer, since the question has continued to percolate in my mind all week. Reading other people's perspectives/experiences has been quite illuminating. It's too late for me to build financial security with any wiggle room, but I have enough; it's too late to not have regrets with consequences that cannot be undone, but there has been healing/resolution (and not creating new problems, for self or others); it is too late for a do-over of the past, but not too late to celebrate the present and find ways to make life better, to learn, and have a blast. I am finding that making things out of clay, and sharing them with others, is a purposeful activity that is a recognized accomplishment, a good and satisfying outcome of my time and effort, seasoned with just a dash of pride, kept in check by the having good sense to be humble and grateful for the opportunity to attain "success".
  5. I am thrilled to be turning down my first commission request! I am not going to do orders to specifications, but I will accommodate the person  by offering a few "close to/very similar" objects based on the desired attributes. 



    1. Show previous comments  3 more
    2. Roberta12


      Lee, can you tell me how you turned down the commission work?  For instance, what words did you say?  I just got a request from a customer today saying that she wants 3 more mugs like the one she bought from me in December only she wants red hearts and she wants things written on them and ......  I have to be able to nicely turn down some custom work.......


    3. Mark C.

      Mark C.

      I tell them I do not write words or do special orders.

    4. Roberta12


      I knew it, I knew it, I knew you would say that, Mark!!!   My husband said, no,  Just tell them no.  

  6. Success for me is not the rush of a pot well thrown, the sale of ten spoon rests, or how great that glaze combo came out. Success to me, at this point in time, means sustaining the discipline to keep on truckin', in most areas of life. For me, it's all about an interconnected state of balance. Maintaining a reasonable balance in functioning (which requires discipline) is success to me. If I indulge my aversion to showers in the winter, chomp on potato chips in opposition to managing health, and overspend a credit card, all of that ends up generating a great big YUK that I internalize. Internalized YUK results in externalized YUK, and not wanting to slog through the day. By extension, that means not even going into the studio, or not attaining anything productive once I make myself show up. So success, for me, at it's essence, is showing up and following "directions".
  7. Read and repeat; read and repeat. It is essential to learn how to remain debt-free and how to live within a budget, including regular savings, on a daily basis. I say on a daily basis because it is the day-by-day decisions on expenditures and savings, and a daily or weekly accounting, that makes it or breaks it for paying off debt, not accruing new debt, living within one's means, and having a buffer for that which is needed when really aging. Building a business with no debt to hobble you, and with your essential living costs covered, and some solid savings for emergencies and later in life is, in my opinion, the only way to go, at any scale. Everything else is a function of the vision/ desire/passion, but it will come to naught if the money is not there and you try to make it happen anyway.
  8. Competing Styles

    Stephen, you have articulated perfectly the very essence of the struggle I have been having since resuming working in clay a couple of years ago. I have always been eclectic and all over the place when making art, whether painting, photography, mixed mediums, clay, or twigs and string. I don't want fame or fortune-just want to pay for the clay & materials, and I don't care about accolades. AND YET...I too have gotten the message that a degree of refinement, consistency of style, identifiable approach, and a basic uniformity of forms is generally desired in "the market" (not speaking of the expert/high end arena). So I have come to figure that if I want to garner enough spendoolies to at least break even, I best reign it in a bit and tend to the marketing aspect of selling my work. To do that, for 2018 at least, I have decided to take my basic "doing whatever I want however I want" approach to my clay pieces, and select a core group of forms and techniques, a limited palette of glazes, and ID a few target audiences for roughly-defined "lines" of merchandise. It's driving me nuts...I feel viscerally uncomfortable when not roughly tearing/free-forming, making "excessively" heavy ware and not doing my usual slop & mop glaze treatment. AND YET...I have to admit that my work seems to be getting more refined/commercial and people seem to really like it (more). "But seriously, why? "
  9. Animals at work!

    Well, I don't sell from my studio in my rented home, and I'm not allowed pets, but I do have a studio mascot: Lucky Cat--seen here with his pet rat.
  10. I took a break from the studio over Christmas and did my Netflix binging with Turn: Washington's Spies. Listened to some indigenous, spiritual, vibrational music to center, calm, and energise myself (a friend brought me some self-recorded music from Amazonian Ayahuasca sessions he undertook , and I read some Anne Perry (which tends to have the affect of making my use of the written word even more annoying to the "give it to me in 5 semi-literate sentences in less than 10 seconds" victims of pop culture). Also keeping me company has been the activity of sending small pieces as gifts (mostly catchalls and business card holders) to friends all over the country, including many I have never met except online (those folks, in particular, have served as an informal marketing feedback panel and the gifts were a thank you for giving me their two-cents worth). Rested and recharged, I am about to take a load of items up to the North Country (upper NH, beautifully deep in snow-tho not as gorgeous as Montana and Marcia's deer!) so a friend can do reference photos for me, for my inventory spreadsheet. Something "medical" was standing in my way, which has been identified, tho will remain unchanged, so now, better informed, I can get on with the business of doing my thing. Really looking forward to 2018.
  11. Based on a recent thread on another clay board, in addition to my aversion to the misuse of the word amateur, especially when denigration is inferred, is an even deeper aversion to the phrase "playing with clay" and, equally, the term "potting", which I equate with sticking geraniums in dirt in a planter. As a serious hobbyist who applies the practices of small business to the simple running of my own studio, those characterizations, when used in conjunction with selling one's work (at any level), just make me twitch. And lest anyone misunderstand, I am in no way suggesting that working with clay, with or without profit, is so serious that it cannot be a lot of fun (play-playful).
  12. I like to do smooth and rough, cut and torn stuff...more box-like than bowls. I chisel and tear wet or leather hard, or make creases and let the clay dry a bit before ripping. Sometimes I crack areas off after it is bone dry. I do not often try for a pre-desired effect or pattern--it is much more fun (to me) to just go with my instincts and see what happens. Then again, I'm not looking to sell something for hundreds of dollars and am fairly ignorant about the history and parameters of certain forms. My guess is the texture in last one was made by scraping/digging (not tearing) when it was just a tidge shy of leather hard, but someone else may have other ideas. Edit: arrrghhh---how the heck do you resize so a photo does not come up so huge--they never used to do this 1/6 Yee Haw---thanks to Min, I was able to resize.
  13. Happy New Year! I'm thrilled to now have  someone to help with some of the non-clay tasks needed to set up an online store, which means I can focus more time/energy on making the pieces I need to make. 

    1. glazenerd


      Congrats. Get you're creativity on, and go slay the retail dragon.

    2. Roberta12


      That is a great thing, Lee!


    3. oldlady


      send him/her my way next, please!

  14. So-sounds like a sleeve--or good quality cord or leather is the way to go. I am doing porcelain beads and pendants but haven't decided on the neck hanger material yet. A sleeve probably looks great, more classy, but sounds like a "pain" to do/fit properly.) Hope to see pics!

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