my career, that is. I spose there might be some readers out there who wonder how on earth a smart, sensible, clear headed woman ends up spending a good chunk of her life making and selling things made of clay. I was born and raised by sensible immigrants in a Chicago suburb. I was the first on both sides of the family to receive a college degree, in art photography, btw. I stumbled into clay as a hobby, introduced to a neighborhood clay class by a friend after college. I was actually hooked by the lure of clay immediately, but I also had a budding career as a corporate salesperson in a creative field. I seemed to be on the right path: a good job that I excelled in, a stable financial outlook and a comfortable looking future. ummm.......riiiiight. So it seems. Throw in the proverbial monkey wrench--my outlook in life had already changed at the ripe old age of 25. I swept off for the desert searching for meaning and depth, sure that I was finished with 'jobs' and resumes and schedules. I was seeking to discover my destiny--I landed in Sedona, Arizona with a little cash cushion and promptly began a radically different lifestyle. I briefly became a member of a quasi-sprirtual community, which served to shake me up real good. (the leader was a complete wack job, it only took me a few months to notice....) Luckily, that phase didn't last too long. Mostly I settled in as an innkeeper at a B&B, to my mother's dismay (for this you went to college??) Anyhoo, after about 2 years of life in the desert, I reluctantly became aware that a big part of me was unraveling. The part was the chunk of my ego that did indeed identify deeply with the work I was doing. I had quit the corporate gig in Chicago because my heart wasn't in it--it seemed shallow--I was almost embarrassed to put so much effort into it--we weren't saving the rainforest or discovering a cure for cancer.... Helping create advertising for Taco Bell or Jolly Rancher just wasn't really all that meaninful to me, and I could no longer put my blood, sweat, tears into making my monthly sales goals..... I was going a little bit Lester Burnham on myself--remember American Beauty?? But now things were different: I had left all that behind in search of meaning, and what had I found? That I was as vulnerable as the next person to the machinations of greed--be it spiritual or financial. I was left feeling basically pretty powerless, confounded as to what I was 'supposed to be doing' with my life. There I was, in the desert, with very few meaningful career opportunities available, and thru my depression a kindly friend offered me the phone number of his pro psychic (this is Sedona, after all) girlfriend. He said she might be able to help me. I called, and told her of my woes: barely making any money, not enjoying the work I was doing, not knowing what else to do and general malaise and lack of interest in my life. I told her I felt like a failure at 27. She paused, offered me a few 'hmmmmmms' and then said "You know, I'm tuning into you right now, and the question I am getting really, really clear is 'what is it that you WANT to do?' " I quickly responded, " Oh I want to do pottery! but I know I can't make a living at it--I mean, who can make a living at that--I've only taken a few classes...." and as I trailed off she interrupted me and said "Stop. Don't say another word. Just notice what you said: you want to do pottery. Is there any way you can do pottery? Is there a class you can take somewhere?" I replied that I had looked into a class at the community college but the previous 2 semesters had been full and had wait lists...again I seemed to be talking myself out of it. Strange, huh?
That concludes today's installment of the history of Red Hot Pottery. Stay tuned for more.
with all sorts of schizo work days. Don't get me wrong, I love being an artist but maybe I have just a little too much freedom. It's a little exhausting! I wake up and get rolling: coffee, sit at the computer, write emails, check news, list some items on Etsy, check my finances, Facebook, blogs. Then I spend the next 12-18 hours either making pots, cleaning pots, trimming pots, glazing pots, firing pots, packing pots, delivering pots, photographing pots, listing pots on Etsy, responding to convos meanwhile running back and forth in and out of the studio, running errands, cooking, laundry, yard, mealtimes with the boys, getting back at the computer for a few moments, etc, repeating throughout the day and evening until I go to bed. It's not a bad life, really!! I enjoy it, and I do have time for my son and his activities and the household stuff. But I end up going for weeks on end like this, without a 'real' day off for more than a few hours or so. Weird. I need to get it together enough that I can take 1 or 2 actual days OFF from pots per week or at least every 10 days. I've declared to B last nite that I don't earn enough money for this to monopolize my life so completely!! ( I guess I would re think that statement if I made 6 figures...) So I'm restructuring my days, I'm making a plan. I'll keep you posted. Oh, and by the way, I'm on the front page over at Etsy...yay!
So back in January, recovering from my move and from the holidays, I observed a shift in my normal functioning rhythm. (bwahahaha! doesn't that sound very proper and mature!) My world, so to speak, had been turned on its ass from all the changes, and it only makes sense that my working and creating life would also need some time and space to adjust to things. Adding to the ungroundedness was the fact that my normal wholesale business, which usually pushes me along in production and keeps the bills paid, had come to a complete and grinding halt in November and still hadn't recovered--Aack! I found myself in a new home, at a new stage of relationship with my partner, a new studio which needed a bit of work, and I didn't have any 'work' that needed to be done--yet I still had plenty of bills that my holiday income was feeding and what was I gonna do when that ran out? I tried to work on the usual stuff and then my kiln started to malfunction, which required a few weeks of repairs. This threw another monkey wrench into my my mental state. "but how am I gonna make any money, how am I gonna make any money?" was the tune on repeat in my head. I knew I still had some of my holiday sales income to get me thru the next few months, but I needed a PLAN, I needed to feel like I had things under control and that I could take care of myself and my son. That feeling wasn't happening. Now, it's not like I was panicking or anything yet, I was observing the nag in the back of my mind that kept saying " you better get things sorted out and start producing and selling and get your life back on track, woman! You are forty f**king one years old!" blahblahblah...same old crap. I know all this, I've been here before, and I now know to trust the process without completely wigging out. I keep on keeping on, get into the studio every day and keep rolling and it will lead somewhere. During the time that my kiln wasn't working I started dabbling in some new ideas--something I rarely do because I AM normally so busy working on wholesale orders. I made some glaze tests, did a bit of research online and felt the pull in my heart to work in a very different direction. I know many of you are artists, and don't do the same thing over and over for years to pay the bills, but that HAS been my deal for the last 10. I figured out a way to make my living with my hands and I stuck with it. In the last 2 weeks all of my wholesale accounts have placed orders that should carry me thru the Spring. And I have a new account that is interested in the new work that had been birthing during this winter, and that work has been showing potential in my Etsy shop with some strong initial sales, and being featured in a lot of blogs and treasuries and even on the front page a few times. This feels pretty good. I know that without all the upheaval I wouldn't have gone in a new direction, and although I don't really know where this is leading, except that it feels right and natural and in the flow. And I guess I am learning to trust it.