Thursday, January 31, 2013

Wants, Wishes & Dreams

How does one achieve their dream(s)? I really have not got a clue. I have a vague, fluffy, romanticized dream which I can not see coming to reality. In this dream, I kinda know what I want, or sort of., these wants change regularly, but the core wants remain the same (mostly). The conflict within me is that the dream, to ever become a reality, does not dovetail well with my personality. I like the idea of the dream, but to get there I would need to change (I think). I think I need constancy and reliability (who doesn't?), but my dream, if it were to ever come to this side of the looking glass, would probably entail a certain element of uncertainty.

So let's lay it out.

My airy fairy, pie in the sky dream is this. I want to have my own personal studio (& show room?). I don't think I would want it in my home though. Right now, I couldn't do that due to space limitations. But I also know that if I did, I don't think I would have the self discipline to put the time in and not get distracted by household matters (ie: a good movie on tv, food, sleeping etc). So, this imaginary studio would have to be at least a few minutes away from my house where the temptations of being a sloth were not temptingly nearby. Once I get stuck in, I'm good to go as long as there is some music playing in the back ground. Often, as I drive around town, or walk around my neighbourhood, I try to envision myself in some of the retail spaces. I would need to be in a trendy part of town, not too industrial, and definitely not residential, unless there was some element of artsyness and had a good “cool” quotient. Also in this dream I would have a gas kiln dedicated to salt or soda firing (this would probably never happen what with the city bylaw restrictions on things like air pollution etc (I know city hall employees wouldn't understand the need to have one)) and at least 2 electric kilns (front loaders would be nice, but not necessary). I already own 1 electric wheel, but hey, I could always use another, or even 3. Maybe even a Leach treadle wheel for fun, but probably just a show room vase holder. This space would be (in my minds eye anyway) split front to back. The back would be the making area with a ground level loading door for easy unloading of clay and other materials. The front 1/3 to 1/2 would be a show room with a bit sectioned off for the packing etc, but there would be easy access to the back so that the “hoards” of customers would be able to watch me throw if they wanted. I have not cloned myself though, so this would require some thoughts on how to run a show room and an operating pottery by myself. I don't think I could deal with an assistant, that would require paying them and then all the associated headaches like payroll deductions etc. In the back there would be dedicated areas for wedging, throwing, glazing, glaze mixing & ware storage (ie pots waiting to bisque & glaze fire). The floors would be concrete, but sealed for easy clean up. Counter tops would be stainless steel and there would be a good sized sink with a clay trap. If enough room was available, then I could even think about a plaster room for mixing and making plaster molds, but I know nothing about mold making, so that would be a tentative want.

Now that I have laid bare my secret dream, the things holding me back are these:

I like a steady income – not so sure that a pottery in the inner city of Calgary would or could turn a profit, or even break even for that matter. My mortgage company also likes it if I have a steady income, not to mention the bank where my car loan is, my credit cards, and other things like that.

There is also the fear of failure and filing for bankruptcy. It is kind of funny though. I have known or heard of so many people who take the plunge into large projects or owning their own business without thinking farther than the end of next week and then of course fail when reality steps in and throws it's weight around. I on the other hand probably think too far into the future. All the “what if's” are imagined. Like “what if no one likes my work?”, or “What if I can't pay the bills?” etc.

It appears that I am an artist trapped in a practical person's body. I am fairly sure that this dream will never come to fruition unless I were to inherit gobs of money from a long lost relative (all the not lost relatives are poor), or win the lottery and my chances of that are less than being hit by lightning.

I could also look at it this way. I work so that I can pot. I pot in a place that is almost like a private studio except for the 50 or so people that also use the space and that I don't own it. I am there when I am not working or sleeping. In fact, I spend about 18 hours a week at the studio, 15 of which are dedicated to my own work. I would get a whole lot more done if I didn't also work 40 hours per week at my regular job. I might also get a bit more sleep, but probably not.
I know it's silly, but a dream is a dream, and if I can't dream, then what's the point? Also, if I don't put it out there, then how will my long lost relative with lots of spare cash know where I am and how to find me?

Back to reality. I unloaded the kiln on Tuesday, took a bunch of pictures last night and took a few pots down the Centennial Gallery. I will take more pictures tonight and hopefully get some of the ones I kept out of Centennial onto Etsy as that particular shop is bare. So maybe some pictures tomorrow?

One more thing - As I wrote this, I envisioned my realtor/mother (one and the same) reading this. So before you ask Mum, no, I do not want to move.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

That Was Exhausting

I taught my regular Tuesday class last night and it was jam packed (14 people I think?) In contrast, I taught on Monday night, and there were only 5 people there, 2 of which are taking some time off to have a baby and were only there to finish glazing their pots. I like teaching smaller classes, but of course, that doesn't keep the studio doors open. Fairview Studios is in fact looking for more students as enrolment has been down for quite a while. This past summer we dropped the Wednesday night class as nobody was showing up. I know we would like to bring it back on line, but the demand has just not been there. Hint - if you are looking for classes and you live in Calgary, check Fairview out.

I can usually deal with large classes, but I had a couple of fairly new students, and I had to do 3 demonstrations when normally it is usually just 1. First the throwing demo (normal), then I had 2 new students from last week that needed a trimming demonstration, and finally I had students that had yet to glaze anything so they needed a glazing demonstration. I usually arrive at the studio at 5:30pm right after work so that I can get a few of my own things done before class begins at 6:30, and then I can usually continue to work on my own stuff throughout the class in between the odd question. Not so much last night. I was going to load a bisque last night, but that definitely did not happen. I will see if I can load it on Friday and glaze on Sunday. I really need to get some work finished to take to the galleries and complete commission work etc.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Work in progress

Lately I have been working on a few different things in the studio. I have begun making for the salt and soda firing in April, but I have also begun to experiment with a low fire porcelain body. I mixed up a 5000 g batch of this "porcelain" and threw a few little cups and even constructed a small teapot to see how this body throws and fires. Kurt Weiser talked briefly about this when I saw him at the workshop in Lexington, but only talked about it as a good formula for making beads etc so I was not sure how it would throw, if at all. The recipe is 50% New Zealand Kaolin, 50% frit3195 and an addition of 2% VeeGum by weight. It fires to cone 04, but just to be cautious, as the test kiln seems to fire a bit hot, I only took the first firing to 05. As you can see from the first 2 pictures below, it is quite translucent. I did not glaze them either, they became quite glossy on their own (although a bit pebbly in texture, I am hoping it will smooth out at 04). Nor did I stilt them. Although the "clay" vitrifies completely, the placing sand that I set them on buffed of with sand paper to reveal a satiny smooth foot. The rest of the pictures are just more of the sgraffito work I have been obsessing over.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Help an artist save his eyesight

It's a pretty sad state of affairs when a Canadian Citizen has to raise money to save his eyesight. What ever happened to universal health care?

Check out this campain and if you are able to help I am sure it would be appreciated.