Oval bowl, 23 in. (58 cm) in length, porcelain with glaze and terra sigillata, fired in oxidation, 2008.
Wall plates, 24 in. (61 cm) in length, porcelain with glaze and terra sigillata, fired in oxidation, 2009.
My last teaching job ended in 2002 and I consider myself to have been a
My studio is in a building that is part of a
The necessity to be
Of course, when doing your own marketing and promotion, you can control the look and feel much more. Fitting the presentation of my website to the aesthetics of my ceramics was very fulfilling. However, that does take extra time from an already busy schedule. Having to sell work direct to customers from my studio gallery can be physically and mentally draining during long open-studio events, but it does create a unique connection between the artist and the customers. A handmade object tells the story of the maker and of making the object. Ultimately, it really works for me to have two major studio events per year. Besides the sales, it is a wonderful time to visit with many friends and acquaintances I could not otherwise keep up with.
My introduction to clay began with a three-year traditional apprenticeship in Germany right out of high school. The idea of achieving the status of full-time studio potter seemed a noble goal, but was not quite on my radar upon graduation. Moving to Minnesota and visiting many of the outstanding studio potters and role models here affirmed my goal to create a studio career for myself. The biggest challenge, of course, is to set up a viable studio facility and to establish outlets to sell the work, not to mention the necessity to develop a signature body of work after many years in school.
Perhaps I never expected to live in an area that has such a wealth and depth of ceramic tradition and a plethora of working potters. It always seemed as if it would be a rare and largely unrecognized existence. In Minnesota, it’s given respect and is woven into the fabric of the arts community in a unique way.
The switch from soda firing to the electric kiln was initially a very difficult, and even scary, decision. I started soda firing in graduate school in the early ’90s and continued it through 2002. There was a time when I could never have imagined separating my work from soda firing. A visit home to Germany and also to Holland re-ignited my affinity for a Northern European aesthetic and I was looking to express a more austere and minimalist feeling in my work. The control electric kilns offer allows me to express this style more precisely. Electric firing also gives me flexibility in terms of location. I have always enjoyed living and working in an urban environment, with architecture as important artistic stimulus. Computerized electric kilns make it possible for me to have an urban studio.
I have health insurance through my husband’s employment, but I was without it for several years. It can be a daunting situation to be self- employed without health insurance and I think it should not be a privilege but a right to have universal coverage. Yoga is the perfect activity that restores my physical balance. I find it extremely important to have a routine like that to counteract the physical demands of studio work.
If I had my way, I would promote the idea of developing an accredited ceramic program that would merge a traditional apprenticeship (the European model) with a three-year college education. I think academic programs, while wonderful in many aspects, could contribute a lot more to prepare young artists for a career path other than teaching. A second fantasy would be to create a national potter’s union that would help set guidelines for issues like pricing, gallery contracts, collectors’ discounts and offer health insurance to its members.
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