February. month seven of being in business. With the first six months under my belt, and with the new year, I'm feeling the need to lay out some goals with my business for 2015. But first, a recap of 2014:
Summer, 2014: Joyful Clay became a trade name and an official business. Many important things happened behind the scenes: I sampled many, many different glazes and clays. Tried out my (new to me) kiln, resulting in some success and a ton of failure until finally figuring out what the heck I was doing. Played with different forms until deciding what kinds of things I wanted to make. Practiced, practiced, practiced. I began building up stock in my items. I took many deep breaths and repeated my mantra: You can do this. This is not crazy. You can do this.
Fall, 2014: I hit the ground running, signing up for markets, sending work to local shops (being picked up by Twisted Sisters, Sweet Clover Barn, and HERE.) launching my etsy site. I managed to make pottery in between the endless hours spent building my website and promoting on etsy. Oh, and still was mama to my two littles and took care of all that goes along with that. Thank goodness for my super ultra supportive husband!
Winter, 2014: Probably the most exciting news came in late fall when Starbucks (yep, Starbucks!!) contacted me to do a promotional line of mugs for one of their exclusive stores in Seattle, Roy Street Coffee and Tea. I repeated my mantra several times (you can do this), took some deep breaths, the little voice in my head called self doubt receded, and I got to work. After a few weeks I had 17 samples ready to send out to Roy Street just in time for Christmas. Much to my surprise, they put the samples right on the shelf and they.all.sold. The Starbucks partners narrowed the selection down to their top five favorites, and I recently shipped my first order, with more surprises in the works to be announced shortly.
Needless to say, It's been a busy six months. And now, February. 2015. New year, new plans. In 5 months I will hit my one year anniversary. Where do I want to be? Here are my goals, in brief.
Goals for 2015:
Thank you so very much for your support over the last 6 months. Your encouragement keeps me moving forward with this crazy dream that was born 20 years ago when I first sat down to a potters wheel and realized this was really something special. Looking forward to the year ahead, and I hope you are too!
So very joyfully,
September is proving to be a very busy month around here! Friday the 19th is an exceptionally important day for Joyful Clay, as it launches its debut in two new storefronts: HERE. a pop up shop in Annapolis, Maryland, and Sweet Clover Barn in Frederick, Maryland. I am so proud to be included in HERE., the pop up shop that supports local, supports art, and supports small business. (not to mention happens to be the talk of Annapolis)! You'll find a sampling of all of my wares HERE., from soap dish to necklace, coffee mug to sweet little affirmation ornaments.
And below is a sneak peek of my jewelry display at Sweet Clover! (as a side note, how cute is that table? Sweet Clover has some of the best one of a kind finds. When I walk in there, I wish I had brought a moving truck because I want to take EVERYTHING home with me).
And finally, to round off September as being the busiest month, Joyful Clay will be at two markets: every other Saturday at the Severna Park Farmers Market in Severna Park, Maryland, until its closing for the season on October 25th, and every first Saturday at the Makers Market at the Annmarie Sculpture Garden and Arts Center in Dowell, Maryland. Be sure to stop by and say hi!
Wishing you all a wonderful TGIF!
For directions and hours and details on all of these happenings, please see my Events page.
Rumor has it Joyful Clay may be in a Market soon! Stay tuned for the details--
In the meantime, I have been diligently working at the wheel, expanding on my housewares to include items for kitchen, dining, and now home decor as well. Votive candle holders, spoon rests, salt cellars, mugs and bowls. A little something for everyone!
There is a hurdle in throwing that you have to get over in order to move to the next level of being a potter, and that is the ability to create a consistent form on the wheel, over and over and over again. It has been something I've put a lot of energy into fearing rather than embracing.
It is one thing to be able to throw a cool form on the wheel, that in itself is an achievement. It is quite another to be able to make that same cool form repeatedly. It takes a long, long time for most people to master this craft. But it is a necessary skill if one is to become a production potter, or anything close to it. Time is money, and the faster, easier, smoother a pot can be thrown to consistency on the wheel, the better.
The potters I worked for were amazing at this. 30, 40, 50 mugs or more in an hour, all of equal size and shape, were a non-issue. But when it came my time to practice, the results would be mediocre. Amateur. Frustrating.
Now in my own studio, I'm working harder than ever at achieving consistency, and I'm getting better. I've discovered three things:
Here's a sampling of my consistency. I was almost out of my beautiful new clay, having only bought one box to see how it fits. But these shapes, they only took one try, where in the past it would have taken me maybe 10 attempts before being able to match the shape. Oh, and these are going to be mugs, to be proudly sold in pairs.
So for the first ever Joyful Clay 'blog' entry, I wanted to show you my workspace. This studio/shed was years in dreaming and several months in the making, and it's finally here. It is an 8x8 Amish built studio, custom designed by me (when I told them I wanted a sliding glass door, they looked at me like I was insane!). I wanted it to look something like this, a shed I saw online:
We stuck it on cement footers on our not-so-slightly inclined back yard, fearing the weight of the kiln might make the whole thing slide right down the hill into the ravine below. I shellacked the heck out of the interior floors using about four coats of deck sealant. My husband and both of my kids chipped in to build the deck and paint the shed to match the house, and voila. A studio is born.
Months before the studio came to fruition, I began collecting equipment. My wheel was first, a Shimpo electric that I found online previously well-loved at a great price. My kiln's story is similar, though it was a bit of a risky purchase. The price couldn't be beat, but it is a Sno Industries kiln, which is now a defunct kiln manufacturer, so replacement parts will be harder to come by. But it is in pristine condition for its age: the tiles are solid, no cracks, no damage. And she has proved to be a beast so far, getting up to temperature without issue and beautifully firing my pieces.
I have a friend that refinishes furniture, and one day word got out that she and another friend had taken a bunch of wood pallets and built a 'potting bench.' This news came serendipitously as I was searching for a workbench that would be sturdy enough to handle all my clay wedging, as well as hold several hundred pounds of clay to be stored. I was so afraid that it would sell before I had a chance to buy it from them! Luck was on my side, though, and for the price of a few promised pieces of pottery the bench was mine. I had to make it a tad shorter, and added a thick piece of MDF to create a smooth workspace, and it has worked out perfectly.
My studio is exactly what I had envisioned and hoped it would be. And it has taken so much to get it here: from the support of friends and family listening to me grumble for months about my struggle with my homeowners association to get the shed approved, to actually planning and ordering the shed, to having family help get my kiln from some remote county in Maryland (thanks dad!) and bringing it to my house (after months of storing it in his garage-- thanks again Dad and Jennifer!). But my biggest thanks to my greatest supporter, my husband Marc. It's because of him that I'm able to live this dream, truly. Thank you! xo.