These few quiet months, when the markets are at rest and the weather is cold (supposed to be, anyway), I'm slowing down a bit on production and looking inward; planning for the season ahead. Each year it is my goal to bring some freshness to my 'line'-- continuing favorites, of course, but also adding new colors and looks to keep you all interested, and to keep the artist alive within me.
I'm particularly drawn to bringing a bit of earthiness to my table-- olive green, burnt sienna, and plum. Also, wooden, hand-carved stamps from India! There's a plethora of shops on etsy that sell these beautiful, intricate stamps, and I'm having difficulty narrowing my selection down to a few. My mugs are calling for them, though!
Some new items are in order, to welcome in the new year. Demitasse cups, for one, to further promote habitual coffee drinking. Essential oil diffusers are another new addition, which have become rather popular to my online customers (and in my own home!).
It's important to me, for this year, to get organized. I like having many offerings on my table, but I want consistency. One style vase in 5 different colors, for example, as opposed to several one of a kind pieces that can never be replicated. Because I've found that offering one of a kind pieces can be rather frustrating for customers. A customer might like the vase, to continue the example, but maybe not in white. If I stop with the one of a kind, and start the line of product, I think we'll find more satisfaction all around. While it may be fun to not know what you're ever going to find on my market table, it's even more fun to know that if you like a particular piece, you can get it in the color of your choosing, don't you think? So I've created a brainstorm (above), highlighting the pieces I will create and the colors I will offer, and I'm sticking with it.
Happy New year, everyone. May 2016 bring you joy and inspiration. May you live deliberately and adventurously, and may you follow your heart on this life's journey.
I'm overjoyed to announce that Joyful Clay is now a seller on Amazon Handmade, the new and exciting platform for selling handmade online. Please check out my offerings at:
As I get more familiar with the site, I'll be adding more products, so be sure to check back frequently. And yes, I'll still continue to sell on etsy.com so please stop by my etsy shop to see my work.
It's so refreshing to have more and more nights stay above freezing temperatures, and thankfully soon we will be past the point of frost. Warmer weather means my studio can stay in my studio. For the past several bitterly cold months I've been storing clay and glaze in our dining room, and schlepping in all of my creations nightly to sit on a folding table in the middle of the living room to keep it all from freezing. Clay doesn't like the cold. It's rather intrusive on our home life having pottery take over. It's dusty, and big, and bulky.
I have to admit, though, having my wares around me in various stages of completeness keeps my head actively working all the time; thinking pottery all the time. And this is really exactly what I need as I gear up for the next market season and begin to think of new items to design, create, and sell! I think I'm most excited about finding silicone lids so I can create travel mugs--something I've wanted to make forever, and now I can! I'm stocking up on my vegetable steamers, too, and some fun berry bowls, pitchers, and vessels for all those bunches and bunches of gorgeous flowers you'll find at the market.
And because I love them so very much, Joyful Clay will be in two farmers markets this summer: Every Saturday morning at the Severna Park Farmers Market in Severna Park, Maryland, and every other Sunday at the Frederick City Farmers Market in Frederick, Maryland.
So come on, warm weather. I'm ready to exchange my little space heater for a fan in my studio, clear out my house and start packing up my creations for the markets!
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.