I love a challenge. I consider myself to be optimistic and positive, so I revel in saying "Yes!" Lately that has taken the form of wedding registries, which I adore because it enables me to make a cohesive set. Then I said, "Yes" to the challenge of an 18" tall vase with a 9" mouth which turned out to be much easier to type than to achieve- though I did end up with my tallest vessel yet at 12" tall and a 7" mouth. With a tall lid it almost reaches 18". And I said, "Yes" to the custom tile project which has taught me patience and how to reproduce a single piece of a puzzle (when one randomly decided not to cooperate), calculating shrink rate and grouting.
Recently, Anthropologie contacted me about being a handmade holiday showcase artist both at their stores and online. They wanted 460 mugs initially, which, being a 1-woman factory was not only impossible but unappealing. It’s forced me to reevaluate my business plan (again) and my intentional lack of growth. I generally say, "No" to galleries who want to buy my products wholesale and retail them at 50% markup, especially not my mugs. I don't have the means to make endless product, so it doesn't really benefit me to sell more products for less money. I do not want to mechanize my pottery, as it would lose it whole purpose of being an intentional object. I can't really imagine hiring someone because I love the absolute control and flexibility I have over my schedule (though I did solicit the aid of fellow potters to throw for me when my MS first appeared and crippled my left hand.... but those were desperate times.... )
|Broken tiles around the edges are ones I had to replace|
My mugs are pretty much my gift to my customers (or a gateway pot, accessible to almost every budget), because they take as much time, concentration and effort as my larger platters for which I can charge more. As a business, I want to be truly sustainable; earning a supportive income and maintaining my physical, intellectual and spiritual self while minimizing my environmental impact. If I make a factory of myself, all joy that I hope oozes from my pottery might be squelched in the drudgery.
To get in the spirit, today I painted 20 stag mugs, to see if the repetition would be productive or mind-numbing. I found the proportions skewed over time- my stags grew a bit more Picasso-esque in their imbalance. I've put them aside to reevaluate later. But there was also calm in the repetition, a refining of the lines and details. I have certainly done over 1000 octopuses and they still make me smile. I even painted tentacles on the Otter box of my phone so I can identify it as my own. I think I can manage this. Feedback is certainly welcome….
Life is apparently like my Pilates class; continually seeking the balance, finding the relaxation in the work, the joy in the challenge, and when you have to say "No" and take a break.