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A big catch-up

Happy almost summer! It's been months since I last sent out an update, which is unusual. So now it's time for a big catch-up session and share with you what has been going on in the studio(s) and my creative life.

 

A big shift has taken place since the beginning of the year, first gradually, because I was resisting hard and pushing against reality. You know when you do that? Hold out against the universe because you think things have to be a certain way? Yeah, it's a lot of work, mostly for nothing. I was tired and grumpy as everything I was trying to hold together was falling apart in my hands, like pots I was clutching too tightly after working on them for hours. (Yes that literally happened twice in one week).

 

My teaching studio, Vallejo Clay, has become my primary focus these days, and I have not fired a kiln in my own studio since November. If you keep perusing my shop looking for something new, that's why nothing has changed there in months.

 

I was trying so hard to be in my studio, and work on my pots, while also trying to build this Vallejo Clay business, and feeling like I was failing at both. I'll briefly describe how that feels: Like being crushed between two flat rocks.

 

Then change happened all at once right around the same time pots started breaking in my hands. I started smelling something in my studio, something not so good. My studio does have a smell, a clay smell, which is not always a fresh smell but it's not a bad smell. This was a bad smell, and it started getting worse right around the end of March. By early April it was clear that something was terribly wrong and it wasn't only my studio, it was the other businesses that share the building with me, including a restaurant. The day I realized it was not safe to be in there I took a small rolling bakery cart that I use as a ware cart, loaded it up with my essential tools, rolled it 2 blocks away to Vallejo Clay, and I haven't worked in my studio since. That was almost 2 months ago.

 

It took weeks after I left to get the story from the property manager. My building, which is situated near an underground stream, was flooded due to the sub-pump breaking down (probably years ago) and the basement had 9 FEET OF WATER lurking under it, mixed with debris and sewage from a pipe leak. (I was told 9 feet by the plumber, and 6 feet by the manager, so who knows what it really was, all I know it was an Olympic-sized pool of disgusting, stinking, toxic water). The water was pumped out over a period of days, and now my studio smells like mold, and I honestly have no idea if the landlord even has the money for the needed remediation, or if I will ever work in there again.

 

Strangely, I am not sad or even very upset about any of this. I'm only sad for my studio as a space, which deserves better treatment and care.

 

MEANWHILE... Vallejo Clay is growing, and needs daily attention. The whole point of creating Vallejo Clay was to get students out of MY studio so I could work without interruption or distractions, and now here I am in THEIR studio. But I am not working on "my work". By that I mean the work that you know and love, the work you used to see me posting on Instagram and loading up in my shop. Because I can't right now. There are too many distractions. Instead, I'm am making whatever the hell I feel like, whenever I can find the time in between taking care of Baby Vallejo Clay.

 

I have been making soap dishes, hanging planters, mugs, basic bowls, and I'm selling them on a table outside the studio during Farmer's Market, along with whatever my students make and want to sell. I don't care about making it look like "my work", I don't care that soap dishes are not "my thing", I don't care that I'm slinging pottery during a farmer's market and not a fine craft show, I don't care that I'm selling bowls for $50... okay, I do care about that a little bit. The point is, I have had to let go of a lot of things that I thought were important in order to move forward.

 

 


I identify primarily as an artist. I am proud of the fact that I have been able to work full-time making pottery for 25 years without financial support from a trust fund, my husband, or a side job. And here is something that I have been holding and working around and over-explaining to people who honestly don't care at all-- I teach because I WANT to, not because I HAVE to. I am an ARTIST, not a TEACHER. I just happen to know a lot about pottery and I want to pass it on, but I am an ARTIST. Did I mention that I am not a TEACHER? I am an ARTIST THAT TEACHES. Got that? I have been clutching to that identity like it means something for almost a year now, running back and forth between Vallejo Clay and my studio, trying to tell this story to myself and the world, which I have already mentioned, does not care. Not one fig does anyone care. They just want to sign up for a mug-making class, please.

 

All of this is embarrassing, and yes of course I realize I can be both, and teaching IS an art, and most of this is being fed by the cultural denigration of teachers that this country engages in and my own ego. Rest assured, I'm getting some therapy during this big transition, and when I'm not being ridiculous, I feel like I am exactly where I need to be.


So where does this leave everything, specifically my studio work? I have no idea! But I have been finding that this letting go thing has really been working for me. I think if I keep holding the light up and taking steps as I see the way, and picture in my mind the studio work that I want to do next, it will be okay and I will find my way back eventually. No clutching pots so hard they shatter, or pacing around at 2 AM, or screaming at my property manager-- I didn't do that, I just think about it. Don't I sound incredibly sane? (Cue maniacal laughter).


I can't think of anything else to say. This was a lot and I appreciate you reading my words. I will stay in touch and I hope you have a lovely June.




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