There is something else I need to say out loud. Last year when I moved into this house and a broken kiln switch delayed my work for a few weeks, I began a new chapter in my career as a potter. I began blogging in earnest, wanting to document my processes, first and foremost, for myself, and for any other artists, or buyers or just the general audience who might find some interest in the ins and outs of daily life by the seat of my clay covered pants. The new chapter involved making some big changes in the direction of my work. Most of you may or may not know, but for many years I had a very distinct style of work. My stoneware multi colored line:
was where I earned my bread and butter, and it was 98% of the work I made from 1996-2009. (that's a really long time!) During the years I had a retail outlet I occasionally experimented with other glaze palettes, but really didn't have too much time to experiment. It was great to have the freedom to make whatever I wanted and put it out for sale. Even though I make my living selling a particular line of pottery, and most people associate me with that style of work, I have never been one to have any interest in developing 'one' particular style and not ever producing experimental work. I actually have always enjoyed having two or three styles of work going simultaneously. I know many successful potters out there who have one very distinctive style in, let's say, porcelain and you'd never see a stoneware piece in their shop. They stick to their style and brand and if they are experimenting they keep it to themselves.
Me, on the other hand, I just can't do it. When I had my shop, I loved coming up with something different and wacky every once in a while and putting it out on the table to see how folks reacted. Most often these experiments sold on the first day out of the kiln. The reason being, I believe wholeheartedly, was they were 'fresh'. They were a physical embodiment of my excitement with my medium. Nothing stale about it. It just screamed at the customer, 'pick me! pick me! I'm new and exciting!'
So last year I noticed that I recieved a bit of attention when I made a switch in style, or, more accurately, added something new to my repertoire. For me switching the style of my secondary lines is nothing new, but I've only been working online and photographing my work since 2007. So the online record of my work shows only what I've done since then. I guess people expected me to keep doing thins the way I had been doing them, and were surprised to see something new. When my kiln was down last year I did my first glaze tests in years. I blogged about how I was ready for a change and was starting to feel the itch of something new brewing. I felt that my stoneware line was feeling a bit stale and static and I wanted to incorporate some of the design elements I'd played with in the past into my work and see how it fared. My bronze green glaze:
was proving to be such a pain in the ass, I decided to not waste my time with it anymore and wanted to come up with something different that worked well on my smooth stoneware and porcelain. A wholesale client requested a design incorporating my little bird sculptures into my pottery, I started making my birdie vases. She was thrilled and placed a pretty large order. I made her a batch of pieces in various sizes and ended up with some seconds which I put up on my etsy store--which recieved a hugely enthusiastic response. Several people contacted me for more of these pots. What I thought was going to be a secondary line of pottery has now become one of my most visible items with a lot more potential for growth in other styles and colors. My new glaze colors that I started working with last January have proven to have a good appeal. (which is nice, since I really don't enjoy testing new glazes all that often)
So this year, I'm looking at ways to move forward and expand on what I started in 2009. I have a few new glaze tests in the works, some new design ideas, but I want to commit myself to growing on what's already strong, and not doing too much experimenting. Except for maybe a few things like this: