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Qotw: What’S Your Family Like?

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This weeks Qotw comes from the question bank where Min starts by discussing her parents and. .. .


 


 


My parents. 


 


Have had comments from them ranging from “people actually buy these?†to a remark on a speckled glaze, “oh, it looks like it has fleasâ€. Doesn’t stop there, at a market my dad came into my tent (while customers there) and said “has it been this slow all day?†Not to be outdone my mum once said, “if we pay your tuition how about going into accountingâ€. 


 


My husband and children have always been super supportive.


 


So, question would be:What’s your family like?


 (if you don't have one, want to borrow my parents?)   ;)


 


How about that one folks?


best,


Pres


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Interesting question: how honest do I want to be answering it?

 

I do not talk much with my family about pottery, or others for that fact. Pottery is a "just me" thing; although my family has seen some of my work. Up to a few years ago, they were not aware I was involved with it as deep as I am. We did discuss it briefly a few years back, and nothing since. Until I joined this forum 1 1/2 years ago, I worked alone: meaning not being around other potters. Even now, I have to resist the urge to withdraw: not that anyone has been nothing but friendly. I realize I process information differently than most, and find it difficult not to ramble on about cation exchange and electrophoresis: I find the chemistry extremely interesting. Just as I realize people cross their eyes when I do. But hey, I am a nerd......

 

Nerd

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still trying to figure this one out.  no shrinking.

 

back in 1958, near christmas, my dad came home from getting a haircut and asked me if i still had the drawing i had done of the cocker spaniel puppy in a gift box.  i said i did.  he asked again and then asked if he could see it.  i got the sketchbook and showed him the only thing i had done in the entire pad of 50 sheet. a pastel of a blonde cocker puppy lifting the lid of a white box with a big red ribbon on it so he could get out.  christmas tree in the background.  

 

he then told my mom and i why he had asked.  there was an art gallery next to the barbershop and he saw "my" picture in the window.  he said he was sure it was mine but it had a price tag on it of $50.   so he was glad to see i still had mine.  the other was worth $50 but "it was good".

terrim8 likes this

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When I was young my parents (especially my mom) really emphasized being practical and making sure that I went into a line of work where I could make an income to support myself rather than all the creative things I enjoyed like writing, dance, photography. I went through a bit of a crisis when my son was born and I quit my job to stay home with him. Suddenly for the first time since I was a teenager, I was not making a full income but making bits and pieces here and there just to contribute. He was two when I found pottery and despite trying to talk myself out of doing it, which I felt was self-indulgent and expensive and impractical, I kept finding ways to keep my fingers in clay without spending any money in the beginning. 

 

To my very great surprise, my uber-practical no-nonsense father revealed that he had wanted to start a pottery business for the past ten years, ever since he had made tropical fish tiles at a community studio for the front of their house. He has become one of my pottery buddies. He set up a kiln and that is still where I fire; he bought a wheel and with nowhere to put it at his place, it lives in my studio. Whenever I have a show he comes and helps set up without being asked, and he has lent me money for pottery equipment several times, gone on long drives with me to pick up Craigslist finds, and allowed me free use of everything he has from glazes to equipment. He doesn't say much about my work to me, just quietly inspects everything as I unload it, and occasionally saying that something came out "real nice". His support is in actions not in words but there is an enormous amount of it and it's rock-solid.

 

My mom is an extremely talented artist and I've always known that since I was a kid. I used to watch her make drawings of cartoon characters for us and they were amazing recreations. My attempts were always pitiful by my own comparison. She comes by my studio now and wistfully talks about learning to throw, or coming over to make little sculptures, but she has only come once to work on a project despite an open invitation to come anytime. I have come to realize that all the warnings she gave me as a child about how impractical it is to have a creative job were her own worries and perhaps the worries of her parents about HER pursuing her artistic enthusiasms.

 

I'm very grateful that my parents showed me by example from childhood on that making something yourself is almost always an option, and almost always better than anything you can buy. We didn't have a TV till I was a teenager so we used to craft paint T-shirts, tie die, draw, make dollhouses, sew, cook, play in the mud, and read. 

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I wasn't either encouraged or discouraged, the only time I saw any interest from them was when I won a gold medal in the National Scholastic Awards.  They had found a article in the newspaper about it.  My dad didn't think women should go to school after the age of 14 so I had to earn money to pay for my school fees.  He said that women should be barefoot and pregnant.  Didn't get to go to college after high school,  my dad wanted me out of the house even though I was paying rent to live in my own bedroom. His Idea was that children should be out of the house by the time they were 18.   My husband has been my rock, he has supported me in going college and getting my degree and later quitting work to be full time in my studio.  Denice

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I was always drawing as a child. When I was 11, my aunt paid for me to start Saturday art classes and my father often drove me downtown to the Art School. Often I would stash my portfolio and tool box in a locker by the subway and spend the afternoon exploring the city. My mother was very supportive. When I was preparing for an art scholarship, my art teacher recommended going to Fleischer's at night to draw nudes. That would have been a little dangerous thought my parents, so my mother modestly posed for me. This was a woman who had a mastectomy when she was 32. My drawing was simply a view of her back while she sat. I won a Board of Education scholarship for 4 years.  Both my parents have been very supportive. In 2002 I had a show at Hood College in Maryland and many from my family members came to my slide lecture. I heard my father jokingly say "we were never sure where she came from" as I guess I was much different from my siblings.

 

My husband is very supportive although he says I am like a goldfish expanding to fill the space. I got the whole oversize garage for my studio in Red Lodge, plus a 12 x 16 kiln shed, and I am about to build a covered raku area. He knows ceramics very well and can tell what things are. We have spent much of the last 2 weeks putting our collection of art and pottery around our new house. It is a wonderful home. I appreciate all that support and have enjoyed a wonderful 50 year+ career doing something I love to do. 

Marcia

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What an interesting question.  My family, my husband, 3 kids, sister, SIL and BIL's, have been amazingly supportive.  Mostly, though I think they are just surprised at what I am doing! (I have no art background whatsoever!)   My middle son was the one who held my hand while I was trying to set up my business.  My husband was the one who said, "no you can't put the kiln in the garage, let's build a shop!"  My daughter is the one nagging me to get a website.  My oldest son is always trying to find another shop for me to contact about placing my wares.  My extended family have helped at craft shows, shared my work with others, and always ask how things are going.  And I have to say pottery is absolutely the only thing my mom has even noticed that I have done!   It has been wonderful to have such a supportive network.....even though I would still keep plugging away if I didn't have that support!  I loved Marcia's husband's quote about being a goldfish expanding to fill the space.  I feel that way both with the house and the shop and internally!  Still expanding!  I feel like my family has enhanced that feeling of expansion! 

I have also expanded my circle of friends.  My friends of 40 plus years are mildly surprised by my pots.  But my new friends include others going through a lot of the same struggles, and elation.  It's a wonderful journey, to say the least!

Roberta

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The community started a summer program where Moms made pottery & the kids were entertained elsewhere in the park. The end of summer we continued hand building in our homes & the school allowed us to use the tiny kiln provided we taught pottery to students.

I eventually joined a class. My biggest support was my brother. I eventually obtained equipment & kept learning. I was determined to continue potting no matter what. I am so hooked on making pots, the feel of the clay slipping through my fingers gives me a sense of wellbeing.

Joy

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Well, my Dad was an alcoholic who had all of his career choices made for him by his immigrant parents, who wanted him to have a prestigious white collar job of some kind. He would have far rather been a mechanic, and offices made him miserable. But because this was the "adult" thing to do, that's what he did. Despite being a compulsive fixer and tinkerer himself, he did not understand my need to make pots at all. He tried to back out of an agreement to help fund some of my college living expenses more than once because I was going to art school. Before he died, he still didn't understand my need to make things, but understood that I did need to make them. He then encouraged me to keep it as a hobby, so that I wouldn't get hurt, because no one makes a living at being an artist. He relaxed when it looked like I was settling down with my husband, because at least I found a reliable guy who would support me, because he didn't really think I'd be able to do it myself. (Facepalm).

 

My Mom, on the other hand, is overly generous with her praise of anything I have ever made *ever* and tells me constantly how proud she is. Problem is, because it's not overly-examined praise, and often so over the top, I can't trust it. I suppose the good thing in all this is that I've had to learn to trust my own opinions, and not either of theirs.

 

My husband Wayne does support me, although not the way I think my Dad invisioned. He knows I need to make my work, especially when I try to talk myself out of any further wasting of time, and in the low moments when I think I need to just post all my gear on kijiji and get a real job. He gives me the headspace I need to be myself, and a kick in the @ss when he thinks I'm avoiding myself for too long. He is no small gift to my life.

 

And from personal experience, a good shrink is worth her weight in gold.

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Whenever my mom glanced at one of my full-sheet landscape realisms or whatnot's, -we're talking serious subjects here, she would derisively tell me I should add a flying horse or unicorn to it because I drew horses as a kid. No, it made no sense whatsoever on the surface, but that's how she was. Always looking for something dismissive to say about my accomplishments and that's the best she could come up with without being overtly nailed as hostile. My dad once praised me highly for always using the gold crayon to color in the hummingbirds in the coloring book because we both agreed they were shiny and it was the best way to depict them. That was also the last time he praised me for being an artist. They are both gone now.

I grew up in a household with no art whatsoever and I'm the only person in my family I know of with an artistic sense and ability (maybe someone is living as an unknown, like me). It probably sounds like I'm exaggerating but art as a subject was literally dismissed as not worth acknowledging, not just by my immediate family but what I know of my distant relatives as well. In fact come to think of it talent of any kind in my family is seen to violate the protestant work ethic I think, to them it means you're a crazy hippie basically, and a burden on their taxes. I'm a genetic anomaly, which was tough for me because it's one of the few areas where I excel. I spent my early years drawing in pencil everywhere obsessively, mainly horses and other animals.

I love this tale from my past: In the fifth grade, a teacher gave us all a xeroxed picture of raggedy ann and andy and told us all to copy it freehand on another sheet of blank paper. When she came around to pick up the work she insisted I had cheated and traced mine, which both I and the kids who had been watching me do it complained loudly I had drawn it freehand as directed. Which I had. The teacher refused to believe me. Although I was about 10 yrs old, it didn't take me long to realize I could really freak out adults with my drawing talent. I enjoyed that. My mom had the same reaction, the more I got into art, the more it bothered her. A lot of passive aggression there back and forth which both drove me nuts and helped me feel separate from them. This came at great cost, instead of pursing a degree and career in art, I failed at business and horticulture and got a day job, doing my art in fits and starts on the side between crises as affordable. i couldn't afford the framing so switched from watercolor to oils, when I painted, which wasn't often. Long story.

Only recently have I committed myself to doing art most days and turning it into a money-making, if low-key, career the rest of my days.  Ceramics has greatly helped me find new interest in it, and the site is great also, in helping me get back in touch with my art in general.

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My family is all over the place on this topic- some think they are avant-garde designers and tell me what to do, others offer marketing advice that doesn't really apply & others poke fun at the work.  Thank God I have a nice little studio in my basement that I can hide out in.

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Hi folks,

My family was involved with the military quite a bit, as my Dad flew C-124's in the Air Force; Mom was a stay at home mother of the 50's and 60's. We usually were situated in one place for about 3-5 years, and as such learned early that home was not a place, but where family was. The good thing about the flying of my Dad is that he would return from trips all over the world with bits and pieces of culture, food recipes, small carvings or paintings, pottery, sculptures, miniature houses, and so many other things. His favorite grill was a Japanese made egg charcoal grill that he bought in the 60's. Art was not pushed, but expected in our household, as part of decoration, and something we were encouraged to do whether learning to play the Ukulele, guitar, dance Korean or Hawaiian dances or visiting all sorts of museums, monuments, architecture or whatever in the areas we lived in. So when I decided to study art education in college, not big deal. Although at the time others wanted me to be a scientist, or a preacher.

 

When I started with the pottery some of the first pieces had to be theirs by request. Later in life my mother asked if I really thought I wanted to do this teaching thing the rest of my life. . . My reply was that I loved the teaching, the working with art materials, and solving the day to day problems with the kids. When my mother became ill, and having a difficult time drinking, my Dad asked me to make some mugs with re cut lips to make it easier to get the mug higher so that she would not have to bend her neck up. Their house is still decorated with the carvings, paintings, Japanese prints, Japanese figurines and dolls, Fijian nick nacks and other things that they had gathered over the years, but my Mom died in 2008. My Dad remarried a year later, and lives with his new wife at her home, now 90 years old, she is 75. My family, loves what I do, and the sisters (3)  feel let down if they don't get a pot or two every year, and the others down the line are always pleased to get some whenever they come their way. My wife gets most of my rejects, and cherishes them immensely and even more so the ones I make especially for her. My children work at different careers, and don't have a lot of time for art, even though my daughter loves to paint, and my son is trained as a Chef. My grand daughter is a fabulous artist, and clamors for Gumpa's help whenever she has a new school project. She is 15.

 

Trade my family. . . Never, miss them, love them wish I had had more time with some of them, but trade them not on your life.

 

 

Best,

Pres 

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Terri:

I absolutely get your post, reason I do not talk to mine about pottery. I would get the mandatory parental nod, three " what the he** is that" from my siblings. Then there is my sister, who would go on at lengths about what she would change. Which requires me to say: " go buy a kiln and get right on that."

Nerd

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Pres it's wonderful that both your children are artist your daughter my not be full time but she will get there.  Your son is is a chef and that is a different type of art, and it takes a good artist to make a great chef.   Denice

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When I posted this question in Pres’ pool of questions thread I really didn't think he would choose it. Silly me! A heartfelt thank you to all who have been so generous with sharing your family dynamics. I appreciate that this might have been a difficult question for many to answer in a public forum. To those whose families “get it†kudos to them! 

yappystudent and Marcia Selsor like this

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I loved reading about the families that encouraged their children in their pursuit of art. I am happy there are families like that in the world.  Probably most of you are like me, you have art bursting to get out of you.  Everything you touch turns to art, there is no way to stifle it.  If your lucky you will find a partner in life that supports and encourages you.  Denice

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Oh OK....truth be told, my mother wanted me to be nice young girl in the proper sense of the times. I was raised in the 50s, and she was Southern, which made it worse-think white gloves when you go downtown, no slacks anywhere except Saturday at home, and find a husband no matter what. My dad was from Hell's Kitchen NY, raised by a single mother in poverty, and fairly demoralized by the system that just trampled many blue coller workers. He wanted a son and didn't get one, so I was proxy--which was great, and he was supportive of my art work, in non-obstructive, soft kind of way. It was much more fun doing stuff with him and learning useful and interesting things than with mom and her fixation on how I would never survive if I didn't learn to sew a decent hem (which might be why I still use duct tape on unraveled hems to this day). So she thought I should be a housewife and when I agressively vetoed that, he insisted I learn a "trade", which for girls meant the dreaded typing and secretarial route. NO THANK YOU. I split and hit The City and never looked back. 

 

Flash forward past a few decades of trauma and drama and stuff that brought some real hell and fear into their lives, along with episodic volitile estrangements. They did come to my graduation from art school in '82 (I was pushing 40), which meant a lot to me. I don't think my mother ever got over the fact that I did not marry "Henry" (that nice young man from Hackensack) and picked the drug dealer from the Bronx instead. My dad never got over the fact that I refused to learn morse code and take up ham radio as a hobby. They never saw any of my ceramics, only paintings, but they liked what they could recognize, the abstracts, not so much. Toward the end I was clean & sober finally, had ditched "the street", gave them a lovely grandchild for them to love, and had become legitimately employable, which made them feel good. We were "close enough" to a healthy reconcilliation that I can sleep guilt-free.  

 

Gee, thanks for the PTSD trigger!!! LOL 

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I had a tough time answering this since I recently lost my father, I just didn't want to think about this.

 

The first sculpture I made was when I about 5. I was in my father's workshop and found a coffee can fill of nails. I looked around, found a hammer and a piece of wood, and was all set to get to work. I began by hammering in as many nails as I can into that chunk of wood and bent more than a few nails along the way. Occasionally I would hold my creation up at arms length, view the esthetics and hunt down any available space left. I was pretty proud of that piece.

 

Eventually my father walked in and and he didn't look to pleased. He informed me in no uncertain terms that I needed to remove every single nail then proceeded to show me how to straighten the all bent ones. So that day I also got a lesson in metalwork.

 

That weekend he came home with some wooden boards and we made 3 birdhouses together. We painted them white and I wanted to put some pictures on them. When the paint dried he opened a couple of cans of different color paint and gave me some Q-tips to use as brushes.

 

I remember how exciting and enjoyable this was as a child and a lesson I remembered when I became a father.

 

A couple of weeks later my mom gave me a paint by numbers set and I quickly became engross in the project. When I was finished and the paint dried my father and I made a picture frame from some scrap molding and he hung up the picture on the wall.

 

A couple of weeks later he came home from work and gave me a box of Permanent Pigment oil paints. linseed oil, turpentine and a bunch of brushes. He also had a roll of some canvas backed vinyl that he cut and taped to some cardboard and I was on my way.

 

When the Beatles came on the Ed Sullivan show I convinced my parents to buy me a guitar, which they did. 53 years later I'm still playing. I never became a rock star which was my first ambition.

 

When my wife and I got married and we moved into our first home we didn't have much money left over after the mortgage and utilities to buy decent furniture. I suggested that I buy a used tablesaw and some other tools and I would build what we need. So the living room became my first workshop. Today better than half the furniture in our home I made.

 

When my daughters were little they helped me on many projects and of course the first thing we built were birdhouses. They helped me replace the windows in our home, built shelves, bookcases and chairs for their rooms. When I decided to build a 18' x 24' three season room to the back of our house they helped every step of the way from pouring cement to studding the walls, installing the roof, wiring the power and a million other things that needed to be done. They were 9 and 10 and I couldn't have finished the project without their help.

 

I was working on a shaker style dropleaf table with draws on the short side and I couldn't find the right commercially made knobs that would look good. I jokingly mentioned that I need a wood lathe to make my own. Come that Christmas my girls gave me a set of wood turning chisels. Knowing what they were and knowing that I didn't have a lathe to use them I didn't want to disappoint, so I made like a was excited and happy for the gift. They giggled at me.

 

A couple of hours later, just before dinner, my wife complained she needed something fixed. Confused why she would needed it done right now I went down into my basement work shop to get the needed tool and right there in the middle of the shop was a lathe. To this day I have no idea how the three of them got that heavy piece of equipment (650lb) into the shop without me noticing. I later found out the girls took the lathe apart and the three of them lugged the pieces downstairs and put it back together in the shop. The lathe bed alone weighs 250lb +/- and they made a sled and a come-along to lower it down the stairs. They got the idea from how we lifted the premade roofing frames on to the room we built.

 

The four of us drew and painted a lot. When the girls were in 6th and 7th grade I encouraged them to enter the art contest at the county fair. I also convinced them to enter the adult category. They won 1st and second place that year.

 

The two of them are also accomplished pianists and the older one could have made a career of it if she wished.

 

Today they are in their mid to late 20s. The younger one is an aerospace engineer for a well known company. The older one will be leaving the navy this month as an officer and will be joining her sister as an engineer working for the same company. Both will be in California.

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I came out of a creative family mostly a teacher family .

I am the youngest of 3 boys and 1 sister-the age spread in 11 years my sister is 9 yrs older

I'm also along with my sister the only ones left.

Ron I can relate to your recent loss although all my losses of family where long ago.I am a survivor of huge losses

We where all encouraged to do art and it was always supportive from both parents.

My oldest Brother taught Lithography at the University Of Santa Barbara as a tenured art professor. They built the building for him the same year they hired him (he was a Stanford Grad on a Track scholarship )he was an Olympic athlete in the early 60's (high hurdles (we had a high jump/pole vault pit in our backyard when growing up. He died of Melanoma skin cancer in 92.

My Mother taught Home economics high school and Junior college level-passed away in middle 80's at age 72

My sister taught almost all grades of elementary school but mostly 5th for 35 years. still alive

Lost a brother to suicide in 72-he was the most creative I think of us all-he was 21

My father passed in the middle 60's heart attack at 44

I was 12 and was really raised by my mother-a can do person

We all excelled at  some form of art growing up ,as well as being into track and field and all things ocean related.

My father made balsa surf boards in the 50's before foam boards where invented-I had a boogie board -homemade from balsa with a redwood stringer at age 8.My whole family surfed or boogie boarded in the 50's and early 60's-we went to beach every weekend for most of year

We traveled as a family at least 3-4 times per year.Tent camping -fishing-diving-surfing-collecting insects (I still have those huge frames of butterflies and beetles)

When I was 10 I had been to Mexico 10 times-all driving

We learned about all things in the animal world and since we all collected insects-butterflies -etc since childhood we all did this together.

I still have jars of tropical tarantulas from Mexico circa 1962

Two San Blaus surf trips with my siblings in middle 60's in VW microbuses

I have more animal stories than time to tell them-like my sister bringing a live coatimundi home to her apartment where it proceeded to shred the place(ya like du)

Most of our critters where smuggled across the border . It was the 60s-really not acceptable these days.

All of us brothers had track records at all the schools we ever attended-Mine was in high jump and running

The pressure from coaches sucked-each brother quit track a year earlier than the last brother-I lasted until starting high school. 

My  middle brother took ceramic classes from Paul Soldner when he taught summer school in Pasadena in the 60's-he made really good art-I think that was my 1st real clay impression.I still have a few of those pieces .

Its funny when you are one of the last alive you end up with work you made for your mother.

My house was the one that all the neighbor hood kids wanted to come to because we did creative things-some not so smart but we survived them all and had epic adventures .My whole life really is just an extension from this upbringing where all was possible and we where not overly parented as long as we knew right from wrong and did not harm.I have a huge curiosity that was forged from this upbringing.

Now as to clay -I went thru a collage art BA program at Humboldt State and graduated at 22 years old. I started making pots full time. that was in 1976

When I was a 35 my mother asked me what are you going to do for a living the rest of your life? This shocked me as I thought that was what I was a doing without ever thinking about it. Well I said I'll just keep making pots I think.

She passed within a few years of that conversation-I was very close to her and felt she was my best friend but that is another story.

Mark Cortright

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Mark, 

Great story about your family. I can see where you get that an-do ability. I am sorry fr the heavy loss of your sibling. I am fortunate to have my 2 sisters  and we are very close. thanks for sharing.

Marcia

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Had to think about this for a bit....growing up, my parents did not believe in art as a hobby let alone a career.  It was foolishness and a waste of time.  The house was decorated from home decorating parties (similar to Avon, Tupperware, etc) and the JC Penny catalog.  Music was the only acceptable form of art, and only as a hobby.  My father was furious when I quit chorus.  The school I graduated from did not teach art after the 6th grade, but was able to metal sculptures and woodworking in shop class, which were to parent approved skills.

 

Fast forward several years, met my wife.  Her parents and grandparents were artists, main-streaming as pottery and ceramic wholesale and manufacturers. My father-in-law is the one who taught me how to throw, giving 5-10 minute lessons and a bag of clay to go practice.  They have encouraged me the whole way and doing the parent bragging as if I was their own.

 

My wife is my partner, she is with me side by side during the firings and assisting in the studio.  She prepares the saggars, and does most of the talking at the workshops and shows.  She listens as I verbalize my ideas, and challenges me to change them when they don't seem right.  I have learned to listen to her, she is usually right.

 

Our kids are happy when we do well, but not as happy having to haul materials around, they are all under 18 and get to be involved regardless of their thoughts on the matter.  They each have artistic abilities of their own, musically and visually.

 

I learned latter in life, that my birth mother was a very talented painter, but same with my parents, her parents encouraged her to find more suitable things to do with her time.

 

My parents have come around, My mother gives our pottery at every wedding.  Most of my siblings have been supportive, some buy, some just ask really good questions like they are trying to understand.

Marcia Selsor likes this

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