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

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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.

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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 …,,,

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.