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.
Truly amazing what comes up---I got this, from back in Virginia in the early '80s: Fan Free Clinic "Artists Against AIDS," works by Lee Ustinich and Gardner Phillips to benefit the People with AIDS fund. Through Aug. 1. 1010 N. Thompson St. 303-9266. We did some really nice ceramic elements in collboration--fragmented body parts made by slabs pressed onto shoulders, backs, faces, knees etc., left unglazed, hung on chain link. It was such an obscure little show, I'm astounded it popped up on the Internet over 30 years later. We didn't even have personal computers then! ! Also got some of my Pinterest pins, an obiturary guest book I signed, posts made on CAD forums, a post of a donation to a family cancer fund, articles I have been correctly cited on as co-author, MH block grant stuff (used to manage it for the state), my old addresses, LinkedIn stuff, my ex-husband's high school, my ex-boyfriend's mother's name and on and on!!! We can run, but we cannot hide!!!
Not able to compartmentalize, from the dream state to the done state. For me, every minute, every aspect, is infused with the rush of making something satisfying. If it doesn't satisfy after it's out of the kiln & sat around for a bit, it meets Mr. Hammer. If it didn't satisfy before that, it doesn't make it to the kiln. Not sure whether the Self is expressing a creative outlet, or inhaling a creative inlet. Probably doesn't matter, as long as something more positive than negative is happening. The creativity is a gestalt of the clay and the maker, by which the whole must exist independent of its parts, and yet be a merging of all influences in, by, and of, the process. That said, I get the biggest charge when playing touchy-feeley with the physical item, and that in turn gooses the cycle (creative outlet/creative inlet) to begin again.
Makes my head spin----I've been taking most of the free webinars from SCORE and am learning a lot--especially the lingo and it is helping me decide what is important to what I want to do and what is not worth me angsting over. The webinars are especially helping me to see how all this online marketing/social posting, SEO etc etc. is interwoven, which, again, helps me decide what to focus on before I try to build a web presence. I'm getting closer to finishing the site--the items are all inventoried (product codes), the photos of the pieces are well in progress, my jewelry finisher is receiving my pendants this week, and I'm about to begin to stockthe "store". LOTTA WORK for a hobby,but that's OK, if it pays for the clay!
As a little kid, I began to study how to draw Woody Woodpecker from Walter Lantz's books, and horses from Walter Foster. Ignored Bob-with-the-big-hair when he came on TV. Dug “blue” clay in my yard as a kid and made little things with it. Used all my allowance for art supplies. Was addicted to drawing with my magic TV drawing screen for the Winky Dink show (read it-too hard to explain) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winky_Dink_and_You Learned about Jackson Pollack the year he died, when I was nine. He made sense to me and I wanted to do what he did, be what he was (the artist-not the alcoholic). Won all kinds of school poster contests. Got fired from my first job in H.S. for drawing on the paper bags instead of paying attention to the customers. Took watercolor lessons from a woman who used purple for shadows for everything—every single thing. Decided I did not need lessons, I could figure it out on my own. Went to all the museums in NYC from an early age-my favorite places, aside from the New York Public Library. Won a place in the old Greenwich Village sidewalk art show, but lost it when they found out I was a minor. None of this was OK in my family-girls just did not aspire to be artists. As an impoverished young adult I stole tons of art supplies from the NYU bookstore; finally got caught--learned several painful lessons about criminal activity, humiliation, guilt, and shame. Kept painting and drawing; finally went to art school. The real warning sign that I was of an artist’s mind and heart was the early pride that I felt when satisfied with my own work, followed by an insuppressible drive to keep doing it, and to do it better.
Here are pics of my faves of the moment: Coyote's Turquoise Matte (a small tea light or incense cone holder-unglazed porcelain), the Amaco Palladum (a fancy incense cone holder or single ring display (nice to feature a wedding ring while you're not wearing it, in case you're wondering "what the heck"), and; a shallow tray w/the Laguna Crystal Forest as an edge drip.) I've also recently fallen hard for Coyote's Texas Two-Step (Texas Rose, in the pic) and Amaco's Acai Shino Matte-here they are side-by-side on a little incense cone holder.
Shims are masonite boards the same size as the roller bed that you insert to set the thickness of the slab, by adding more or taking some away. I have a Bailey table top, whch has 4 boards, and I love it (I am 70 and have many "structural" issues wth forearm strength, wrists,spine etc. and the slab roller does help compared to the rolling pin. Having read the description of the one commented on by Sallieg T, I have to say that being able to adjust thickness without shims sounds lovely, and the price is essentially the same.
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.
Stephen--you wrote "...I didn't quit, I failed." Then you added "I stopped because there was simply no choice and literally no way to continue." When I read and re-read your post, I nothing came through-absolutely nothing--about "failure". What I got was a clear picture that it did not work out--costly and painful, obviously--but still, that's all--it just didn't work out. When one is backed into a corner and one has to do something differently, that is not failure, that is common sense survival. I imagine you will do some grieving-sad/mad stuff-but I hope you don't play kick me-beat me with yourself over having to make such a hard change.
For wedging, I use the cut, stack & slam method-I have all kinds of problems with hands/forearms/spine etc. and this is much easier than other technques. Took a while to get the hang of it, but well worth it. A friend made me the cut & slam set up. He chose steel for the base before I could suggest a board w/canvas but it is working out just fine. Spiral wedging is my second choice, especially for small quantities for wheel work. I also chose stoneware clay without grit and avoided earthenware because I hate that red mess! Less and less water needed over time-comes with practice. Just curious--betta, as in Siamese fighting fish?
OK..........just FYI, I may not be around in 10 years (70 in July-though as an aging hippie and inherently resistant to aging, I intend to live to 100-we'll see how it goes). I am not overly concerned, as a hobby business, about profit over time. I want to pay for my supplies-basically any real profit is gravy. The original query had to do with the valuing (reflected in pricing) of the creative aspect to my pieces, versus the basic formula of covering overhead/materials/time.
And please bear with, re: the purpose of this Busness forum, as I am not a professional and don't intend to be. I do make every effort to learn good business practices and apply them. I am approachng my "hobby biz" as a seasoned and trained amateur, in the correct and best sense of that term.
I did an interesting experiment recently--I selected a quantity of various types of pieces and ranked them into "A" ($30-35), "B" ($20-25) and "C" ($10-15) pricing tiers, based on my perception of value-added (the creative twists) and basic comparison research for similar products, tho that was pretty limited. Then I got a few people who I could trust to be objective (if not brutally honest!) to take the same batch of pieces-without knowing how I priced them-and asked them to rank them A-B-C for higher to lowest pricing within a $10-$35 range. What warmed my little heart is that the emergent concensus was that I was under-valuing the Cs, and some of the Bs. Something I discovered was that they cared less about size (i.e. I priced smaller items lower) than the surface attributes. For example, an especially attractive small spoon rest (I had put it at C) was priced higher by the majority of the group than a much larger, less intricate, one (I had at B-they pegged it a C). Cool. This will clearly be a live & learn adventure!