A workshop with Rat City Studios

Don’t quit your day job!

How many times have you heard or said that phrase? Probably many dozen of times for me. But, lately I have been wondering if the idea of quitting my day job could be something to pursue. This would not be an immediate cast-off because I love it and am fulfilled in it, but potentially I am chewing on a slow-paced shift. After attending a workshop this past weekend with Rat City Studios, I am thinking about dreaming more, practicing harder, and reaching out to a few network opportunities. My BIG dream is to open up a multi-purposeful studio space equipped for classes, cafe sipping, and pottery making. And in order to get to that dream in the next couple of years, I have to practice at the wheel and work on some business strategies to make opening Foster & Feed Studio viable. It is an incredibly exciting feeling to think that maybe when “I grow up,” I can make some excellent mistakes and mompreneur the heck out of my life and change what a day looks like for me and my family.

Sitting in the workshop surrounded by 24 other women in cozy knit hats and coffee mugs in hand, I felt like I was around my people. It was a morning of being future-focused and I took so many notes for day dream. The artist shared a number of excellent insights that I have been processing since:

“Your hands are your best tools”

“By sitting in this class, I know you have the stamina to do this”

“Pottery, as a craft, means you are willing to take risks already, it means you are playful and that you are able to live with the results of your risk-taking.”

“Managing a studio is a creative process, it requires a teacher who understand how to design an experience and how to invite the community in to teach and learn alongside one another.”

If those statements were all one needed in order to rent a space and flip the sign to “Open,” I would be ready. But what I am ready for is sustaining my interest in learning all that I can of this art, learning about glaze chemistry and kiln operation, and small business ownership. There is this space in my town on the Main Street, that I have my eye on. With big windows and flooding light, easy parking and some vintage fixture features it would be a quaint space for a community & creativity building studio.

a snowy studio

0J7A3180

Today is the last day of the Fall Term at my school. It is exciting because it ushers in the holiday season and students (despite taking final assessments today) are in pretty awesome moods knowing that today is the end of the first third of the school year and the last day before a week break and the end of these courses. When we come back to school in 8 days, students will start all new classes, with teachers, and with new classmates. It is like the first day of the school year all over again and while some of the logistics on the teacher end of this can feel overwhelming to grade and finish one set of courses while prepping new courses, it is also a fresh start for everyone and a new chapter. So it is an exciting day and it is snowing! Yes, the last day of the Fall term is letting us know hard that today marks the beginning of the Winter season and I am totally ready for it. With cozy times and more festive spirits, I cannot wait to spend time in my little studio making pottery in-between the family and school moments. I am busy making orders for Naomi Mugs, ornaments, platters, and berry colanders, and I love love love making these items knowing they will go to someone’s home and become a part of their daily landscape.

0J7A31480J7A3394-20J7A3199

the best and the worst

There are a lot of emotions associated with Mondays. Dread, anxiety, and excitement rest on the continuum of Mondays’ feelings. Wednesdays get the delightful position of “hump day” when talking about the weekend becomes socially acceptable. Thursday and Friday blur as one slides into the two days everyone is working for according to the Loverboy song of 1981. But Tuesday, poor forgotten Tuesday, has the awkward status of coming after that rough and tough Monday and before the turning point day of Wednesday.

For me though, Tuesday just might be the best day of the work week.

Since school started, this once forgotten day has ascended into quite the object of affection. While the alarm still goes off at 5AM, instead of rolling over into the usual, I have to bolt out of bed, grab my “go bag,” and race to the car. There is a spin class that has started my morning for the past 6 weeks and while on Monday night I question the sanity of my next day’s decision to attend this class, when the morning breaks I am always excited to head into spin. It makes me feel like I am “conquering the unachievable” for a suburban working mom, at least. There is a pocket of time between my kids waking up and work where I can sneak off to exercise and not feel guilty that I am neglecting something. For 45 minutes at an insanely early hour on a Tuesday morning, I dig into some party music along with at least 30 other people. I sweat, burn calories, get a smile for doing “something good for my body,” grab a Starbucks, enjoy a hot shower at the gym, and soak up a morning routine that isn’t as crazy as it first seemed when that 5AM sounded. At school my Tuesday morning schedule is awesome! The first TWO HOURS are prep time. After my morning of spinning and sipping coffee, I power through grading and lesson planning with my head down and fingers flying across the keyboard. I shut the classroom door and try as hard as I can to make it through my entire to-do list or to get as close as I can to that ultimate goal. The rest of the school day continues on and having “done” so much before 10AM, I am left feeling like a real-life Gal Gadot-Wonder-woman.

After school on a Tuesday, we never cook. Monday nights are for a big pot of something so that Tuesday we can come home and just be with the kids. Cell phones get turned off or put in drawers and for the next few hours, we are just. Just together, just doing legos, just eating some leftovers, just laughing, and just doing the family things. Before bedtime, it is pottery time. Tuesday nights are my favorite because I get to spend three whole uninterrupted hours in the ceramics studio. These productive nights have my hands busy pulling pots, glazing, trimming, and chatting with the awesome ladies in my class. I look forward to hearing their stories from the past week and seeing them make alongside me. And then at 10PM, I head home.

Then Wednesday……

is the worst. Seriously so hard to get up on this morning after a day like Tuesday! Wednesdays are the busy school day, the hardest morning waking, and the longest day. UGH.

Thursday moment

My pottery shop went “live” yesterday. It is going to have incredibly humble beginnings, but I’m excited that it is now a public dream and it truly does feel like the start of something …,,,

By request

Last night was this crazy sweet moment. The four of us were sitting at the dinner table sharing some grilled chicken and veggies and a side dish of silliness. Henry shared about his memories of preschool which sometimes blends multiple days’ experiences into one and Owen shared about his time with Mema visiting the new puppy and bringing Henry to school. It was a sweet scene peppered from time to time with a little hysteria over whether or not someone will taste every item on their plate. We try not to make the dinner table a battlefield but we do encourage everyone to taste everything…this trend tends to turn the highly objectionable item into a substance approvingly (and sometimes delightfully) consumed because, wow, that thing actually doesn’t taste like poison after all!

And last night while running through these family norms, Henry asked if he could come down and watch me “do pottery.” Then Owen mimicked the request and I thought for a moment how awesome it would be to bring together these two worlds. So often, I wait and wait and wait until the kids are asleep, the house is picked up, my students’ worked is graded, lessons are planned, emails are sent before finally giving myself the time to find my pottery wheel. Late and alone, I do one item and feel both elated and guilty that I am not in bed and guilty that I don’t figure out a way to navigate this hobby better into a daily practice. How do I do all the things? But, last night after dinner was eaten and picked up, the boys came downstairs with me and to watch “the pottery.” They helped me cut the clay and they asked questions about why I was doing what I was doing. They shared little amazements about the simplest things, like when I used a sponge to bring water onto the spinning wheel and ball of clay and it shot out like splatter plaint art. When I pulled the walls, they were both so excited and shouted, “Look at that!” And then Henry got nervous and asked, “How tall can it go!? Will it be bigger than our house.” And all I could do was smile because sharing this with them and seeing their wonderment was so freaking awesome. We are moving into this new phase of life where David and I can share in real ways our passions and hobbies with the little ones and they want to grow and expand on these little introductions and get their hands dirty and share together more as a family experiences because the basic survival mode of life with tiny babies is fading.

a new tab

This morning, I spent a little time reading about the seven mistakes all new crafters make when they open up an Etsy shop. It has been on my mind this fantasy of having my own little studio but could I really? Would anyone be interested in pottery made by me in an overly saturated market or when a trip to Target could easily yield some cheap and cheerful pieces? My friend, Lyndsay, suggested yesterday that I think about making my pottery and sharing it with the world (or at least with those in the world willing to bring misshapen ceramics into their lives). The mistakes in starting a craft shop are many including: not having enough pieces in the gallery, not utilizing search engine optimization, not having consistent or clear branding, not taking photos that are staged well and, therefore, not allowing the created pieces to shine. I am about to make all of those mistakes.

You might have noticed that there is a new tab at the top of the blog called “pottery shop.” I am about to make all the mistakes here in branding and making my shop a presence in this fast-paced world of social media. BUT I also feel like having been a teacher now for almost ten years (WOW, how is that even possible), has demonstrated countless times¬† the power of learning by doing. So here we go. I am going to do a lot of changes to that tab’s format, layout, structure, but the heart will always be the same to share these little pieces coming off the wheel.

Screen Shot 2018-05-22 at 12.58.05 PMScreen Shot 2018-05-22 at 12.58.16 PM