Its Good to Have Standards

Last fall I worked out and began creating standard sizes for my planters. It makes life so much easier. I no longer have to sit and sort pots by approximate size to figure out the right prices. I no longer willy-nilly cut out slabs of clay and hope that the proportions make sense once I start to form them.

Lots of unexpected things have worked out as a result of this change too. I can easily size up or down my planters with very little effort. Before I would make what I thought were larger and/or smaller sizes only to discover there was not as much variation as I had anticipated. I can also list multiples of the same planter design in my online shop since it has become a no-brainer to re-create the same dimensions.

But the best result of standard sizes? You’ll never guess, but my planters now all nest perfectly inside one another. Isn’t that cool?! I think that’s so cool!

Lasting Impact

As some of you may know, I spent over 12 years in the corporate world in Human Resources. It is a world that I am very comfortable interacting in and one in which I had already overcome any insecurities about my abilities. It was safe.

Even when I left the corporate world five years ago, I kept my hand, so to speak, in HR by volunteering through an organization that matched professionals with non-profit organizations for free consulting services. It was through actually my work with this organization that something happened that had a lasting impact on me.

A year or so after I left the corporate world, I attended a a mixer with other professionals, who like me, volunteered their time. While there, I met a woman who was in marketing. I spoke to her for five minutes, maybe ten. At one point during the conversation, she told me that I should talk about my work as a ceramic artist with the same confidence as I talk  about my HR experience.

That simple observance had a profound impact on my life. She was absolutely right. I needed to make that change when I was talking to people about my work.

Sitting here, several years later, I feel good that I’ve made a lot of progress in this area. I put myself and my work out into the world more for exhibition opportunities and events. I’ve developed good conversation openers for shows when interacting with customers.

While this self-described introvert could probably always be better in this area, I think of that woman’s words to me all those years ago often. Its been a great reminder for me on my artistic path.

I recently ran across this TED Talk by Drew Dudley about Everyday Leadership and he talks about the impact that all of us can have on others everyday. Often times this small acts of leadership are completely unknown and unnoticed by us despite their impact on others. I took his advice and reached out to that woman from that networking event to say thank you for her words to me.

I’m grateful that I able to reach out to her after all this time. I think I might have made her day. I know, she’s often helped to make mine better.

Well … Sally Jane??

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I get a kick out of naming my pieces. Particularly the plates and tiles I make. Something about them just asks to be named. Maybe it is because they are more like canvases for my texture patterns than the vases and bottles. Or maybe it’s just easier to see and pick up the feeling when the surface is flat.

Most of the time, I look at a piece and immediately know the right name for it. The texture and glaze combination will just reach out and grab me right away – name me this.

Every once in awhile I get a piece back from glaze firing and don’t know what to think. I won’t quite know what the plate is trying to say. Its message is more vague. Or maybe I just don’t like how the piece turned out in the end. Whatever the reason, those are the pieces I struggle to find just the right name.

This plate is one of those I’m struggling with in the naming department. I was sitting in front of my computer, uploading work to my etsy shop and having named all of those other pieces felt the pressure to come up with … something.

And I thought … well … Sally Jane. See this plate and other new work here.

New Planter Options – Introducing the Clover Series

Over the past several weeks I’m been working towards standardizing my planter sizes and textures. While I have more work to do, I’m excited to start sharing some of the fruits of my efforts.

I call this pattern my clover texture. I really enjoy how this pattern takes shape as it is repeated around the planter form as well as how the glaze nestles right into the grooves of the clover. It really is a perfect way to showcase my stain and glaze combinations.

Currently, this series is available in four color combos: blue-black, blue-green, shino and pale green. Be sure to let me know if you’d like to see it in other color options!

Clover Series

Mated Pair

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This piece is from a series of work I created using shoe and foot prints collected from random folks during last October’s Downtown Redlands Art Walk. I call this one “Mated Pair” because a cute couple each pressed one foot print into the clay – His and Hers. It makes me smile!!

Don’t worry the firing process burns off any lingering germs!

Check it out in my online shop here!

No Shoes Were Harmed

Last Friday night I set-up a table outside Artisans Etc in Big Bear and started rolling out slabs of clay. I was there to collect shoe prints from folks passing by and to give them a little introduction to the world of ceramics and texture.

There I sat there enjoying the cool mountain breezes, I reveled in the twists and turns that had brought me to that point where this was my job. Talking people into donating their shoe prints to one of my clay slabs is one of my all time favorite clay projects. The exercise is both a reminder of works past as well as a challenge to my normal thought process on my texture patterns.

I love the process of it – creating the work around the donated shoe prints is almost secondary. I had the pleasure of introducing adults to the childish pleasures of shoe print patterns. As I listened as one of them absolutely crowed with satisfaction over compliments to his, to that point ignored, shoe print, it was so wonderful to take in the joy that art and creativity brings to us as human beings.

To use that joy people have for learning that they too can create in my work is the best feeling. I thought I’d share a little peak into the plates I created that night with all of you and I’m pleased to note that no shoes were harmed in the process of making these plates.

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New Works Up at N7 Creamery

I’m excited to share that a selection of my newest plates are up and available at N7 Creamery in Victoria Gardens in Rancho Cucamonga.  I’ve been working on this latest selection of plates over the past month and was so excited to see all of my hard work pay off in a great display!

My work is displayed on an old barn door in the front seating area just to the left as you walk in. I have a few more plates in the back, so check back for any additions as plates sell!

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Red Framed Plate

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I love, love this piece. I love it so much I can’t believe it hasn’t sold yet. Have you ever had that happen to you? Where you can’t understand what everyone else doesn’t see in something you love … something you so obviously see value and beauty and goodness in? It seems sometimes like the pieces I enjoy the most take the longest to sell and the pieces I create that make me question myself sell the fastest. Maybe its just the universe’s way of giving me time to enjoy my favorites.

Learn more here.

This is a Takeover

Last week I had the pleasure of watching a takeover of the Art Institute of Chicago’s Instagram account by one of their resident artists, Alberto Aguilar. Normally, finding out that an organization has asked someone to manage their account for a day or week is nothing to write home about. I’ve follow other Instagram accounts that have given over control to an individual in the past.

Alberto’s takeover was different.

Alberto is a visual artist who focuses on documenting a moment in time and, even more importantly to note, on his and others interactions with that moment. I would venture that when you think Art Institute of Chicago your first thought is not Alberto’s style of work. You are probably more likely to think of old masters, the Chagall window, maybe even the lions standing guard in front of the building … all of the things that the Art Institute normally shares on their Instagram feed.

There were many unhappy comments throughout the week by followers. There were arguments between strangers about the validity of Alberto’s posts as art. There was encouragement and support offered.

All in all, Alberto made people THINK about art. They were no longer being spoon fed long established ideas of what “good” art is and instead were placed in the direct path of having to decide for themselves.

He made me think. His work forced me out of my comfort zone and view of the world around me. Even sitting here, owner of a crazy found object collection and a collector of shoe prints in clay, I’d like to think I’m predisposed to look at things beyond their normal function and purpose. I found out this past week that there is definitely room for me to expand beyond my normal viewpoint.

I’m already brainstorming how to best incorporate my learnings from this past week into my work and my teaching. In the meantime, I encourage you to explore Alberto’s world yourselves either via his website, Instagram account or his takeover of the Art Institute’s account (viewable via smartphone or computer).

Thinking About Genius

If its possible to overdose on self-help books, self-help articles, self-help memes … well you get the idea, then I’m the poster child for self-help addiction.

In all of my years of overindulging, and it has been years – I’ve just simply gotten better at hiding it like all good addicts, I have learned a few things. Chief among those are that most of them all say the same things, so its not so much the message, but the messenger who is important.

The particular way a person has of explaining a concept so that it resonates with you, stays with you is key.

Everyone has experienced this at one time or another – we just don’t always realize it. Or at least we don’t until a friend or family member breaks in to our re-telling of a particularly good piece of advice with “I told you the same thing last week.”

One of my favorite authors and speakers on creativity is Elizabeth Gilbert. She did a TED talk years ago that I return to again and again. Despite being about 20 minutes in length, I can listen to it over again without fast-forwarding to the good parts because the entire thing is the great part.

I was reminded of her talk the other day in a conversation and her words, her message seem particularly timely to me right now. I thought I’d share it with you here. You’ll have to let me know if it resonates for you too.