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.

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making pots….

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!

Pottery makings

The first session just ended and tomorrow night begins round two of this new hobby. It was hard to step away from my studio hours for the two weeks in China but when I got home I was able to pick up some of my early makings. There is a lot of noticeable progress from the first misshapen messes to the latest “phases” of my work but there is still so much practice and learning to be had. Starting this session is very exciting but a little intimidating. There has yet to be a hobby that engaged my attention or energy level for this long but despite my typical hobby trends, I have a feeling this one is a little different. There is something about throwing mug after mug after mug that just feels so satisfying and relaxing and engaging. It makes me feel strong, and creative, and uncomfortable. All things we could use more of! Maybe the next session I should dedicate to replacing some dishes and bowls but it will be hard not to throw at least a few mugs.

P is for Potter!

It might only be about two weeks into my new craft, but I am completely smitten by it all. Less than two miles from my home is this tiny white antique home whose first floor is entirely dedicated to pottery making. I ran by this little quaint home so many times when I was training for my half-marathon this summer and always wondered what exactly went on in the Center of Arts. When researched, it became clear that this little home was the cultural center of our town where kids and teens and adults flexed their creative muscles in classes from watercolors and acting to wheel-throwing. Immediately, I was intrigued! Could I take a class here? Could I make it work within the busy schedule of a full-time working mom? While the idea flirted about in my mind for months, it never felt like it would really work out. Between grading and little ones and wanting to connect with my hubs, when would I hone a hobby? Then on my 33rd birthday tucked into my birthday card, David smiled as I opened the piece of paper that said, “Surprise! For the next 3 months Tuesday nights are YOUR night to get creative, meet new people, and make new things.” It was awesome!

David is the king of hobbies and interests. He always has something cool cooking in his head from bread baking to the guitar to programming arduinos and chess, he is never short on ideas on how to hone his mind and entertain his spirit. I on the other hand have major struggles in this department. When we were dating, we googled “What are people’s hobbies” to help me look through an extensive list of what people get into in case there was something for me to get behind. I chose knitting and while that was fun, I suffered from narcolepsy whenever I settled into an afternoon of knitting and purling. Maybe it was too relaxing? Maybe I was not really ready for hobby and my body was like, “What are we doing something for ourselves…shut systems down!” It only lasted a season. Then my free time was mostly being a teacher. There is so much to bring home when you are a teacher that nights can easily be consumed by lesson planning, curriculum development, and grading. Oh, the dreaded pile of grading! Then came the babies and I was doomed to lose sight of creative exploits that I had yet to even really grasp.

Now that Owen is closing in on that two year birthday and Henry is 3.5, things just feel really different. We are all sleeping, they are eating well, and are so easy these days too. They play and pick up and go and life just feels lighter. My mind is so much clearer as it no longer is consumed with baby-logistics like: When will I breastfeed next? What do I need in my diaper bag? What toys and gear should we have? Where will the boys nap? How do we get home in time for naps? Do we just do a car nap? When will I cook dinner? How will I fold laundry or take a shower? Our routine these days is so simple and easy and I just love so much this stage of life. It literally feels like a light has switched on and I am able to look up out of the trench of early motherhood and look around a bit.

So getting that gift certificate to become a potter was the most exciting thing! On Tuesday nights, I kiss the littles and hold tight to David for a moment longer before putting on some cozy clothes and a pair of clogs (for some reason, I feel like as a potter I should wear clogs), and head to class. What I have learned so far is that I have a deep, deep need to be teacher’s pet. I also have false expectations about how easy it should be. When I made my first misshapen pot and beamed with pride, I turned to the woman beside me and saw her perfect Roman vase and thought, “damn this is hard stuff.” But I find that while I am not a prodigy of pottery, I am loving to learn and learning a lot from being a student, from being vulnerable, and from taking this risk on my own and going way out of my comfort zone. I have never been a maker but have secretly always wanted to make. I am hoping this journey teaches me how to make mugs, plates, and bowls but also how to have fun, learn a craft, believe in myself, learn a new discipline and a new patience, and build a long commitment to being a potter. I have this fantasy too to replace all the mugs in my house with ones I have made. So, if you would like me to make you something drop a line below because I am planning on going through all the clay in the studio and would love to share my misshapen (maybe one day shapely) creations with you too!