Thursday, April 14, 2016

I'm Back!

Today marks 12 weeks since open heart surgery and somehow the days passed quickly.  Prior to surgery I was dreading the days that I wouldn't be able to work with clay.  I have to admit the time passed and I was able to stay busy with other projects, mostly glazing, thanks to my foresight in working to have a batch of pieces that were ready to be glazed.  It helped me pass the time and be productive and gave me a load of pieces to take to my favorite two local galleries, Clay and Paper and Florida CraftArt for restocking.

My husband, Mark, helped me clear out and reorganize my workspace in the garage.  Actually he did all the work, I supervised.  Plus I am the proud owner of a Brent Ware Cart, thanks to Mark.  It's a wonderful addition to my small space and gives me so much more drying space for pieces.  I've come to the conclusion that it's a good idea to clean out, clear out and reorganize every ten years, whether you need it or not.

A huge milestone for me, besides hitting 12 weeks post op is that I got back on the potters wheel day before yesterday.  I threw four mugs!  It felt great and pain free.  No after effects either.  I'm excited to get back to creating and luckily I have some ideas.  So all's good.

I'm sharing a photo of my first mug after over 12 weeks.

Now for an update on my last post regarding where my focus would be heading.  As I get back to the potters wheel, I'm starting small at the suggestion of my surgeon.  Small to me means mugs.  So my plans are to keep mugs in my repertoire.  I've always felt that mugs were an important item to include.  I remember times when I would find a potter whose work I loved, but because of their stature in the ceramic community, the price for their larger work was out of my reach financially.  If they also had mugs, I felt like I hit the jackpot because I was able to purchase one of their pieces, have it in my collection and that it was priced at my level, even if it was expensive for a "mug" it was still worth it, in my opinion.  I remember those times and realize that mugs can be a good thing to make.  So, I will continue to make mugs.  I don't anticipate that I will be making as many mugs as I did in 2015.  The year of the catalog.  Looking back now, I realize that the catalog was an experience that I had to get out of my system.  It was great because it helped me to realize what my limit is for throwing in one day and how to work through the process.  But, over 200 mugs is a lot of mugs and that definitely burnt me out on mugs for a while.  Luckily, I had some downtime after surgery.

My mugs will be evolving.  I was able to take a wheel class from a great ceramic artist and potter, Ira Burhans.  I love his mugs.  In Ira's class, I was introduced to the Griffin Grip, of which I am now the proud owner.  It's a great way to easily center pieces for the purpose of trimming.  I was able to try it out for a few weeks before surgery and I'm loving the final look of the mugs that now have a foot rim.  The trimming also lightens the mugs up a bit, which I've been in need of for a while.  And thanks to Ira's instruction, I now can throw a little bit better for thinner walls.  I plan on signing up for Ira's class again in the fall.  As they way it's never too late to teach an old dog new tricks.
Here's a photo of one of the new mugs.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Change of Pace

Sometimes a change of pace can be a good thing, especially for the creative spirit.  I had the opportunity to slow things down due to health issues.  I had open heart surgery January 21, 2016.  The surgery was a success!  I had one valve replaced and another repaired.  I'm feeling better already and looking forward to starting cardiac rehab.  I was forced to set my artwork aside and concentrate on taking it easy.  Because this was a planned versus emergency surgery, I had the opportunity to throw some ceramic pieces that I would be able to glaze as I started down the road to recovery.  That's helping me now, because I have things to work on during the months that I won't be able to throw on the potters wheel.  Luckily for me each phase of the creative process is very therapeutic.

This change of pace has given me the opportunity to think about what I really want to create.  Over the past few years I've migrated into being a mug maker.  It was an evolution.  As I reflect on what pieces bring me the most joy, I have to admit that I like making mugs and its a challenge to try to make the perfect mug, but my real joy comes from the sculptural pieces. My absolute favorites are the fish teapots.  Unfortunately, as I made more and more mugs, I had less and less time to create new teapots.

The time is now!  Because I have no stacks of order sheets and Christmas is behind us, this is the perfect time for me to turn over a new creative leaf.  I have decided to change my business model. To relieve and reduce stress, I am shifting away from made to order and custom made. Anything that I sell in my online Etsy shop will be ready to ship.  I'll still make mugs but not in the volume that I used to.  Mugs will always be a great warm up exercise on the potters wheel for me.

So, my to do list post-op is to continue to recover and increase my stamina and strength.  I have already reopened my Etsy shop and deactivated the made to order listings.  I have two teapots drying on the rack that I comstructed before surgery.  I have mugs ready to be glazed and a few that are ready to be fired.  I'm taking advantage of this time off to get my kiln serviced and new elements installed.  I'm excited about the future and having time to create new teapots as well as new sculptures and experimenting with new techniques and glazes.

Sometimes you just have to stop to smell the roses!