These are eight of the fifteen bats I cut in an afternoon. It may seem like a silly thing to be excited about, but these circles of wood are going to make my studio life a lot easier.

 So I just made a bunch of bats out of scrap laminate counter top I had left over from putting my studio together (yes, that was about six years ago; and yes, that scrap has been in my garage since then). It’s perhaps not quite as satisfying as making a bunch of new work, but then it’s a different kind of work. There are so many tasks like this that surround studio pottery, and I think most of us actually enjoy them. And this one just about doubles the amount of work I can throw in a single session. It’s not that I will now expect myself to make twice the work I made before, which is admittedly not very much, but it will mean I don’t have to stop when I get on a roll at the wheel. I won’t need to force dry things or try to handle wet work that really should be left alone for a day, and I have enough bats to make an entire set of something all at the same time. I’m not sure why I had not planned this before, perhaps when I was making a dinner set, but it only occurred to me after the bats were made that there may be an advantage to having them that would translate into more consistency in my work. That may not end up being the case, but I think we all have experienced hitting our stride and really getting a form dialed in, only to have to leave the work for a while (sometimes for a day, because of the capacity of our tools or studio; sometimes for longer because life just tends to happen), only to return and realize the groove is gone, and we need to start from the bottom and warm up all over again, maybe never quite getting that form the same as the last time. Well, at least having enough bats removes one small barrier to that.

Maybe it’s because I actually spend a fair amount of time with a pre-toddler, but I am appreciating baby steps—and not just when it’s the baby taking them. If I can do one small thing in the studio to improve something, then that is a step in the right direction, regardless of how small. 

These small improvements can happen outside the studio as well, and sometimes that is where makers need the most help. One baby step that really can help on the sales end of the cycle is making hang tags for your work. Making these can seem like a small, pesky thing to do, but Mea Rhee explains and illustrated the advantages of making and using them on page 16, and I think I’m going to start designing my own immediately. After all, the success of large endeavors comes down to the small details, doesn’t it? And if you’re looking for a brick-and-mortar venue to sell your work (and test out your new hang tags), check out our annual Gallery Guide listing starting on page 61.


So, whether your baby step is taken with a circle-cutting band-saw jig and some scrap counter top, or it’s an actual step through a gallery door, take it with confidence—with the knowledge that it only feels awkward because it’s your first, and that it will teach you something, and that it will get easier very soon. Bigger steps are right around the corner.

—Sherman Hall

Send a letter to Sherman


Check out the rest of the October 2012 issue!

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