About The Artist

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I am a jeweler, a potter...an artist I suppose. I have been creating hemp, glass bead and wire jewelry since 1996 but have only been throwing pottery since the Spring of 2008. I plan to open my own gallery and workshop within the next five years but for now I make my work out of my home and sell in galleries and online. I sell my work to feed my hobby and because I am running out of room for my creations in the house. My art, like this blog, is in it's beginning stages and I hope that as my reader you will join me in my journey as an artist and enjoy it as much as I know I will!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Searching for Inspiration

For the past two weeks my work has been awful. My muse has left me and the result is many failed attempts to create. I think part of my problem though is that I have too high of expectations when I go to throw. I plan to make too many pieces and then get upset when one doesn't come out and its a domino effect from there. I have had days where I was unstoppable and have thrown 12 pieces in a sitting and I guess I just expect that to always be the case.
As of right now I struggle to leave my workspace with two complete pieces and usually I am dissatisfied with both. I have so many amazing ideas in my head that I just want to make it all at once and I think I'm aiming too high. I also feel like I'm lacking motivation at times. I look at my week to come and find my free nights to throw and plan out my time, only to get home after work one of those days and just want to lay around and read or hang out with the roomies.
One of the major problems with pottery is that it is time sensitive and every day counts. Let me explain. There are three stages of a piece of pottery before firing: Wet, leather hard and bone dry. The wet stage is obviously right after the piece is thrown and it can easily be misshapen coming right off the wheel at this point so it is just set aside to dry. Leather hard is the next stage which, in my basement, comes roughly 24 hours after I have thrown the piece. This is the most important stage when you can trim the piece, add handles and shape lids, carve and imprint and, in my case, add the necessary elements to make the piece look like an animal. Then the bone dry stage is when all of the moisture has dried up out of the piece and it is ready for smoothing with a sanding block and bisque firing. Bisque firing is the first firing of the piece, followed by glazing and a second and final firing before the piece is complete.
So if I throw on, say Tuesday evening, I have to work on those pieces Wednesday once they are leather hard or they will dry out and be left as-is. My problem is some nights I feel like throwing but the next day I don't feel like spending hours working on my leather hard stuff. Other days all I want to do is the hand-building work and the fun stuff but its a day to throw because I have no pieces made. Its tough getting used to the schedule, unlike jewelry making where I can pick up and put down a piece I'm making at any time.
I think right now the lack of motivation stems from fear of disappointment. My recent work has hardly been worth my time so I'm hesitant to keep throwing.

I am hoping this weekend will provide a little inspiration for me. I am traveling to Dillsboro for a pottery festival where all the local potters will be doing throwing, glazing and firing demonstrations and have their work on display. Also, most of my pieces in Waynesville will be bisque fired tonight and I will be glazing Saturday, hoping to get them all into a glaze firing that evening and back by next week. Then I should have most of my Christmas gifts done and some pieces for a gallery or two. If I have several pieces come out that I really like, I think they could also be an inspiration and provide the motivation I need. Right now I'm just not seeing the fruits of my labor and I'm finding it hard to want to continue on.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Finally Finished Pieces!

I wanted to share a few photos of some work I have finally finished! I am struggling to get a lot of work complete right now because I do not own my own kiln and the kiln I am using is owned by a very busy woman! The woman is selling her work full-time. She has been in a craft show nearly every weekend since she bought her own equipment and since I work full-time, I usually only have weekends to go to Waynesville to bring her pieces to be fired and to glaze my bisque pieces. So since I started I have had to go to Waynesville just for the evening, after work, to glaze my pieces. Its only a half hour drive so its not horrible, but it still only gives me several hours to work. She is also so busy with her shows that I now have four boxes of work at her house that has not even been bisque fired. It is in no way her fault nor am I blaming her for the slow process, she has been wonderful allowing me to use her kiln and glazes, but I'm frustrated non-the-less. When I throw a piece I get really excited and I want to see it complete! So its been hard being patient and having to wait to get my work back to me. Not to mention that I have nearly 30 pieces waiting for firing and 3 galleries waiting for my work...it just makes me a little anxious.

Anyway, here are my first two finished sale pieces:

This is my first turtle bowl. I am unhappy with how the green glaze turned out because I painted it on instead of dipping it and I feel it came out too thin. But some say it gives it a unique look and that it fits the whole turtle idea so maybe someone will like the look enough to want to take him home. I have made another turtle bowl since this one so I can better glaze it.*

*I just wanted to point out, in case you haven't already noticed, I am a PERFECTIONIST! None of my work will ever truly satisfy me and I will always strive to improve everything! So please excuse me as I complain about my pieces' flaws time and time again.

This is the first of my "drinking buddy" mugs that I have designed. I have two others that have currently been bisque fired, one has a turtle hanging on to the side of the mug and the other has a snake wrapped around the mug with part of its body as the handle. I will be glazing these mugs ASAP.

This mug was glazed by my 12-year-old sister, Michaela, who comes to help glaze every time I work in Waynesville. She has learned to throw on my wheel and seems to have a natural talent that skipped myself and Megan, the middle sister. I think if she likes it enough, she could definitely surpass me as an potter and she already has an eye for glazing as well. She hand-painted the turtle on this mug and then I dipped it in the blue and as an after-thought my mom suggested me throw some glass in the bottom of it (hence the darker blue bottom). My mother took several pottery classes a while ago and she was in class with a woman who did glass work. Together they decided to experiment with glass in pottery and it had an amazing result! So you will see a lot of my work, especially bowls, with glass melted in the bottom.

So those are my first sale pieces thus far. I am going home Sunday to glaze so, with the help of my mother and sister, I hope to get a lot of my bisque pieces finished. Keep checking back, once I get new pieces I will post pictures!

Rough Week

So last week was a rough one when it came to my art. I had a desire to throw but once I found the time to do so, nothing turned out right. I think I'm getting to ambitious and trying to make too many pieces at once. I have several local galleries where I want to sell my work but I do not have enough finished pieces to sell yet so I'm feeling some pressure to get some work done.

I had planned on getting Christmas gifts thrown and fired so I wouldn't worry about them any longer and could focus on some fun pieces like my turtle bowls and snake mugs, some of my "critter creations" as I call them. So last week I set out to make most of my Christmas gifts as well as a few other pieces. I took three days off of work for a small vacation and gave Monday evening and Tuesday afternoon solely to pottery. I threw 15 pieces within those two days but few ended up turning out to be what I had originally intended. For example, I had wanted to throw a tea pot that looks like an elephant but by the time I got around to throwing the trunk I completely forgot my original design and the trunk ended up largely out of proportion. The tea pot is now just a plain tea pot:

I plan to glaze it with some crazy color like a bright yellow or green so its not so boring. I have not given up on my original idea either, I will attempt the elephant tea pot again...possibly this evening.

Other pieces that emerged this week are several jars that I just threw with no real plan for them. They turned out all right but nothing really special:

This is a jar I threw that later resembled an apple...so I went with it. I did have to include a little critter though, hence the worm poking out of the lid.

This was a lidded jar that needed a handle so I made one out of a snake.

I'm hoping once I glaze and fire the jars I will like them more, but right now they just seem basic. I'm really striving to make pieces that stand out and get people's attention. Something that, when in a gallery surrounded by other pottery, will stop someone; catch someones eye. I know I am still a beginner and have a lot to learn, that my pieces are not yet very complex and difficult to make, so right now what I want is for my work to be fun and unique and to stand out. I want my pieces to make people smile when they see them and for people to say "I've never seen something like that before."

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Intro to the Artist

To my readers,

My name is Mallory and this is my art blog. Here you will be able to read about my creative process, my struggles and hopefully my successes as I strive to become the artist everyone thinks I already am.
A little bit about me: I have made jewelry since I was 10 years old and always dreamt of opening my own jewelry gallery and workshop, so I went to Mars Hill College to get a degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Entrepreneurship. I graduated with that very degree in May of 2008 and left school with the same dream, a business plan and too much fear to go through with it all. So I fell back on plan B and put my second concentration to use: Accounting.
I am currently a staff accountant with Gould Killian, CPA Group,a small public firm in Asheville, NC. I love my work, but it is not where my heart is and I have not given up on my original plan...I have simply modified it. I have now decided to work in accounting for the next five years, putting every extra penny I can find in savings which will be put into my gallery at the end of my accounting career. So for now I work full time and spend every free moment I have on my art.
I got more out of college than a degree and a business plan though, I also found a new love...I discovered pottery. My last semester of my senior year I was finally able to fit Pottery I into my schedule, a task I had attempted every semester since my freshman year. My teacher and mentor, Jane, warned me that after taking the class I would struggle to chose which I loved more, pottery or jewelry; a struggle which she herself had dealt with. Jane was right, but rather than choose between the two I have kept creating in both mediums.
My parents, who are the most loving and supportive parents I could ever hope for, bought me a pottery wheel for my 22nd birthday and now I find myself covered in pottery clay nearly every night of the week. I have the perfect set up with the wheel in the basement of the amazing house I am currently renting (see my other blog for details about the house and my housemates), and my jewelry desk set up on my home-office.

My pottery studio, complete with my faithful audience - my cat Samantha

I currently sell have my jewelry in galleries from Asheville to Waynesville as well as online and soon hope to have my pottery in several galleries and on my website as well. The pottery is more slow-going because I do not own my own kiln and have to transport my work back and forth from my house in Asheville to Waynesville, where I use a friend's kiln and glazes.
My art, like this blog, is in it's beginning stages and I hope that as my reader you will join me in my journey as an artist and enjoy it as much as I know I will! My basement pottery workspace

My jewelry workspace in my home-office