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.
My latest obsession has been imagining that my home is outfitted with its own pottery studio space. A tab open on my computer has the kiln I would order and a second has the wheel. There is a list next to my desk with a few other items needed: a small table topped with canvas and another with plaster, some glazes, and a shelf or two for holding the creations in their various stages of complete, as well as, some funky tools for trimming and styling the pieces. If I close my eyes long and hard enough, I can see our basement workshop space transformed into a bright and sunny studio all my own.
One of the appeals of our home was that the previous owners built an addition. Not only is the upstairs space our favorite with its fireplace and windows and lofted ceilings, but beneath this bonus room the sellers added a workshop. There, the previous owner held some heavy-duty wood shop equipment. His hobby was wood craftsmanship as evidenced by the elaborate ceiling he installed in the room above. When we toured the house, David and I dreamed about using the space to house our future hobbies as a family. A corner for the boys to set-up a “maker space” for designing and engineering. A corner for David to set-up a tinkering space where he can hone skills from electrical work to engineering projects and all sorts of hobbies to come. And a corner for me….for what? When we bought the home, I had nothing in mind. It hurt my heart a little to think that there would not be a corner for me filled with something I was excited and passionate about.
David always said it would come to me. I just needed some sleep, some space to think, and an opportunity to try new things. It never felt like I had time for any of that, let alone actually digging into a hobby. It is amazing what a year’s difference can reveal. Pottery is definitely a hobby I am enjoying. It is embarrassing to admit that I want this studio space in the workshop, that I want to invest time, money, and effort into making that space into a reality. This pottery thing is still so new to me. I am so naive about it. Shouldn’t I just keep my head low about the whole thing? But, I want to do it all the time and want to be able to slip downstairs into a space I made to do it. Something close so I could work more often on the craft with some cafe-like music. Never someone who likes to be “alone,” I want to be alone in this hobby but also inside the walls of our cozy home. Should I really be harboring these ideas? Open studio sessions and classes have showed me that I have SO SO SO SO much to still learn, but I also have a little dream now and while it might seem silly to be scaling up my hobby to the realm of dreams, I am going to keep on dreaming!
After weeks of anticipation, the misshapen first products of this new potter are that much closer to coming home for “use.” After throwing, centering, drying, trimming, pulling handles, adding handles, stamping, firing, glazing, and firing again, the end of the pottery term of classes is coinciding with the completion of 8 creations. I say creations because when you see the final products, they clearly represent loose interpretations of bowls, mugs, vases, and plates. And there is definitely an “evolution” of “skill.” But even if they are childlike in their execution, I am pretty proud of them. It felt so exciting to learn a new craft and to see tiny improvements each week. Getting jazzed about Tuesday nights and accessing a part of myself I haven’t explicitly connected with in too long shifted my mindset and perspective all week long. While I might have been tired on Wednesday mornings after crawling into bed at 11PM on Tuesday, it felt oddly rejuvenating to just do something different and to have something tangible to bring home in exchange for stepping out of that comfort zone. When registration opens for the Spring Term, I am for sure going to sign up for this venture. Some big life goals now are to replace all my mugs at home with ones I have made and to be able to feel like being called a “potter” is a just label to be assigned through my practice and dedication to honing and throwing clay. An even bigger idea that will take time building towards might even be to open a little booth in a summer-of-the-future’s farmer’s market in town. It feels really rewarding and enriching to get my hands messy and to make. And I am hoping keep on keeping on.