Last week I visited my childhood home in chilly rural Michigan. While searching through a closet mausoleum I found a stack of forgotten sketchbooks. Seven of them in total. I pulled the small stack from the forgotten depths of the guest room closet and was visually delivered into my creative escape. I paged though them many times. I marveled at the color choices. Lightly fingered the textured pages. I pondered the text and phrases that I had written. I was completely enchanted.
There was a time in my life when drawing was queen. The act of mark making and the desire to create line was all that I creatively needed. I made books filled with carefree experimental drawings that reflected my own personal time and place. When I did not have a solid place to call home a box of my sketchbooks traveled with me. Like a mother hen, I thought I had gathered them all into my safe keeping. They were my home. They were my place. They were all I needed.
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Like all good MFA students studying ceramics I paid homage to the Ceramics Mother-Land when I began my first semester of graduate school. Now, I don’t want you to think that I necessarily wanted to go to China. It was more like a forced migration. China was part of my graduate studies at West Virginia University. It was school…grad school in China. I was submerged in the Chinese culture. I was submerged in Chinese pottery. I mean I was in China after all. I studied and lived in Jingdezhen, China. The birth place of blue and white porcelain. The location of the Emperor’s kilns. It was wonderful. For one glorious semester ceramics was king (or queen if you prefer). I have been home from China for 5 years, I have completed my MFA in Ceramics, and I have my first big-kid job. I look back on my time spent struggling to order noodles and hoping that I gave the taxi driver the right address with a longing that only the practice of making can fill. As a maker in a small creative community I struggle. I struggle with finding a good studio/ life balance. I struggle with sales. I struggle with concepts. However, deep down inside of my creative toolbox lies memories that are vibrant and filled with hope. They are also blue and white. They are my memories from China.
Recently I took photos of my work for my creative portfolio. The pots are from a soda kiln that my students and I built several semesters ago at Florida State University. The pots are porcelain. They are decorated with icons of comfort and protection. They are blue and white.
I’m currently editing the photos for my website, exhibitions and for my professional portfolio. You can see a sneak peek below.
i have posted work on the giant unforgiving crafty site known as Etsy. it is a world that is totally and utterly foreign to me. i love being a maker. i don’t love being a seller. now that i have pots posted in my small shop on Etsy i wait like a fisherman, silent and hopeful, that someone will find my handmade functional wares and make them his or her own. i know that these objects will not disappoint. they will make anyone’s life better and stronger for that matter. i will stand behind this work with all of my being. but that isn’t enough. i have to convince the world of Etsy that my work is first, it is important and it is worth thirty bucks.
christmas is coming folks, buy my handmade wares. & wish me luck
i feel like i’m stuck. creatively stuck. not the kind of stuck that is easy to solve. i’m stuck like a harden piece of wintergreen chewing gum on the bottom of my elementary school desk stuck. problems seem easy to find and the answers are so difficult. but, i keep making. i feel like the only way to get out of my stick is to keep pressing on. pressing on with my head down and my brows furrowed there will be success.
when pots cannot be made drawings can be made. before i left my time in undergraduate i asked what i should do next. the answer i received that day was to draw. keep drawing i was told. when all seems to be lost just draw. when you cannot work with clay, draw. so looking back and using this as my mantra i’m drawing. i’m learning. things are becoming fresh again. i’m starting to shake off the hard crusty layers that graduate school threw at me. i’m making.