Friday, June 19, 2009

Interview: Ceramic Erin

When I posted the first ceramics survey on Monday, Carole Epp noted that I hadn't found time for it myself. Well I've already got the next two Mondays scheduled for other potters, so here's a special Friday edition surveying myself... See the image in the middle for a preview of my latest work.

Vital statistics (name, age, location, link to website/blog)?
Erin, 23, Colorado,

Where do you work in clay?
The local potters guild and my basement studio, otherwise known as the laundry room.

Do you have another job?
Working part-time at a children's consignment shop.

Are your studio and occupation decisions made by choice or necessity? Please explain.
Definitely NOT choice. Who would honestly choose to work in a basement with no windows? It's what I have available to me right now. The potters guild I work at has more restrictions, less freedom than I would like - they don't do cone 6 oxidation firing, which is what I'm interested in - but it's the only studio I know of nearby. As for the non-clay job, I love who I work with and I love that it's close to home, but if I could afford to work solely in ceramics right now I would not have a part-time job.

How do you budget your time (in the studio and out - family, errands, etc)?
Not well... but I'm working on it. I'm taking a class from art marketing guru Alyson Stanfield and she has some excellent tips for managing time. I always plan out certain days / times to be in the studio, then get distracted with things I need to do around the house. Yesterday I planned to spend at least 2 hours glazing at the guild, then got caught up in clearing out junk that's crowding my space - taking out the recycling, taking stuff to Goodwill, etc. - and I hardly had 1 hour to glaze with everything else on my errand list. I'm working on a schedule though, and I'm optimistic that once I get the house cleaned up & free of junk I can focus my time & energy where I need to - in the studio.

Why do you make pots (or sculptures)?
I love creating beautiful forms. I don't feel I "need" to make pots or sculptures, but it's something I'm good at, and I enjoy it. Lately I've been struggling making pots and I've asked myself this question many times, but I do love seeing a beautiful pot I've made fresh out of the kiln. That's a good feeling.

How concerned are you about environmental issues? Does this affect your work?*
Quite concerned... I see that we're affecting the earth in harmful ways with our everyday habits, and I want to do my part to offset that. I'm young and I don't want to live in an ugly, deteriorating world for the rest of my life.

In college our primary kiln was high-fire gas reduction and I knew of nothing else... we also had wood, salt, and raku kilns, but I wasn't interested in those. It wasn't until after I graduated that I read about cone 6 firing, then I started noticing it everywhere. So many people think cone 10 reduction firing is superior and I think that's bullshit. I'm certainly no master potter, but I've seen stunning work come from mid-range firings. It takes less time and energy to fire at cone 6 and you can get similar results... what's not to like about it?

Two years ago, partly for environmental reasons, I traded my car for a bicycle at New Belgium Brewery's Tour de Fat, and I've been drawing bikes on my pots ever since...

What do you do when you're having a bad day in the studio?
Wonder why I'm trying to make a career of this, and find something else to do. Usually the house needs cleaning, dishes need done, the studio could use some sprucing up. So on a bad day in the studio I try to find some other productive thing to do. Sometimes I just realize the problem is simply that I didn't wedge the clay well enough, so I take more time to wedge, take some deep breaths, stretch, relax, and go at it again.

Do you create art in other mediums?
I took nearly every art class in college, but now I'm clearing out my art supplies because I don't have time for everything!** Two things I wish I had more time for are drawing & printmaking. Once in a while I make art trading cards (ATCs), usually with my favorite compact watercolor set. Just a little fun :)

Where do you sell your work?
At a co-op gallery, Etsy, bi-annual Guild sales, and I'm just beginning to sell at a housewares consignment shop nearby... not sure if that one is worth it.

How did you approach those venues about selling your work?
The gallery is one I was familiar with, near the university, and I knew some past classmates who had their pots there. I asked what the steps were to get into the gallery and they gave me an application form. The consignment shop is two doors down from where I work... they asked me if I wanted to sell my pots there.

Do you have any questions you want to ask other ceramic artists, or artists in general?
Would you let me visit for a week & work with you in your studio?

*To read more about my environmental choices, see the Tiny Choices survey I took last Friday.

**If you need quality chalk pastels, cheap oil pastels, acrylic paint, charcoal, or intaglio printmaking supplies let me know. These are the art supplies I'm selling to make space for what matters in my studio :)


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