Beyond the Brickyard

So, a while back I wrote a post (Lesson Learned) about how I was going to make myself apply to more things, whether I thought I stood a chance or not. It’s been a really good exercise to put myself out there—the interesting thing has been that the shows I didn’t think I stood a chance at, I’ve gotten into, and some of the ones where I thought I had a pretty good chance at, I didn’t. Go figure.

One of the shows I almost talked myself out of applying for was the Beyond the Brickyard show at the Archie Bray Institute in Helena, Montana, but, keeping Gretzky’s mantra that you “miss 100% of the shots you don’t take” in my mind, I figured I had nothing to loose. So you can imagine my surprise and delight a few months ago when I found out I got in!

I just got emailed the postcard for the show, and almost pinched myself to see my name in print with these amazing artists (heck, Kristen Kieffer was one of the demonstrating artists at NCECA last year, and Trey Hill is a professor at one of the school’s I’m applying to!).

Here it is in all it’s glory:

Beyond the Brickyard, 2014 (that's my flower brick at the bottom in the middle!)

Beyond the Brickyard, 2014 (that’s my flower brick at the bottom in the middle!)

New Years Resolution

For the past several years, my only New Years Resolution has been to floss more. Not really earth shattering I know, but on the other hand, I tend to be able to actually keep it. However this year, I’ve decided to throw another one into the mix: use my own pots.

Maybe it’s that I’m always eager to sell my work and so don’t often keep any of it for myself, but I rarely ever use my own pots. Seeing as my artist statement is all about how I want to make pots that bring joy to people’s daily lives, I figured I had better start actually using some of them to see how they hold up. Plus, there are few things worse as a maker than making a beautiful pot, only to discover upon actually using it, that it just doesn’t work very well.

So, here’s to actually using my work, and hopefully learning a bit about it in the process.

Mug by Naomi Clement, 2013

Mug at work

Hello 2014

Happy New Year all!

I’ve never been one for horoscopes, but I’m hoping that my 2014 one from astrology.com is right:

“To say that 2014 promises to go down as a career year for you to remember is no exaggeration, Capricorn. You’ve been working your tail off the past few years with Pluto and Saturn pushing you past any remaining comfort zones — and the rewards are just beginning to peak. Plus, with Mars pushing you hard for the entire first half of 2014, there’ll be no rest for the weary. But not to worry because you’re at your best — and often happiest — whilst being an industrious little goat. Achievement is incredibly fulfilling, and this year the planets are bringing you ample opportunities to excel.”

I suppose that they make these things general enough so that you can read into it what you will, but it does seem pretty apt (not to mention welcome), so I’m going to go with it. 2013 was a year of a lot of change, hard work and new beginnings for me, so it would be nice if it all started coming together and solidified into something tangible in 2014…

Here’s hoping.

New Work

I’ve been showing you all bits and pieces of my new work while it’s been in progress, but here it is for the first time all in one place. A lot of this work marks quite a new direction for me on the decorating front, and I’m excited to keep investigating it in the new year.

Huge thanks to Cecil and Diane Finch for taking the photos—if not for them, many of these pieces would likely have been smashed in frustration as I made my own futile attempt to take good shots.

Many of these pieces will be in my final MFA portfolio, so I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Million Dollar Teapots?

I finally mustered up the courage to glaze the teapots I posted about a few weeks ago, so I thought I’d share the results with you. I took some risks on two, and played it safer with the other two, and all in all, I’m pretty happy with the results. Personally, I like the turquoise one best, but I’d love to hear your thoughts!

I really had some fun decorating the grey and the turquoise one—using a combination of brushed and inlaid under-glazes, and dipped and trailed glazes.  I’m looking forward to playing with these techniques even more in the next little bit, hopefully squeezing out a few more pieces for my MFA portfolio.  I anticipate some more late nights ahead…

New Glazes

The opening of a glaze kiln is sometimes likened to Christmas morning, which is a pretty apt description, as you are all anticipation and nerves, and are just as likely to be disappointed as you are thrilled.

Regardless of how many tests you do, the glazing process is still one of taking calculated risks… you have some idea of how it might turn out, but you’re rarely ever sure. That’s both part of the joy and the madness of the process. I’ve been doing a lot of tests recently as I was getting bored with some of my old glazes (I guess I must be a masochist, because as soon as the results start to get too predictable, I get bored with them… go figure). I’ve also started introducing some underglazes into the mix, which I’ve been enjoying, as it has been nice to start decorating at the bone dry stage.

So, here are some of my favourite results from my most recent glaze kiln—5 portfolio-worthy pieces out of 30, which in the ceramics world is pretty awesome. I’d love to hear what you think!

Teapots in Progress

I had a stretch of three uninterrupted days in the studio last week, so I finally  embarked on some teapots. I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with them—as I think many potters do—I love their complexity and the challenge of making them, but by the time I’ve attached the last handle, I’m honestly a little out of my mind.

For the uninitiated, teapots are so time consuming (and therefore expensive!) because of all the parts you have to make and then assemble. There are at least five parts in total—body, lid, spout, knob and handle—and I generally make several more lids, spouts and handles than I actually need, to ensure that I have lots of options when I’m assembling.

After I finished making this last batch, I posted to Facebook the following: “Dear friends: next time I agonize over what I should price my tea pots at, please remind me that they should be ONE MILLION DOLLARS. Thank you.”

I was only partly kidding.

Here are a few pics of my “Million Dollar Teapots”… I’m pretty happy with the results so far, but I’d love to hear what you think!

Lesson Learned

This past Friday I had the pleasure of attending the opening of Medalta’s first annual International Cup Show. It was the first of what I am sure will be many openings in the next year, and, if it was any indication of things to come, it’s going to be a great year (not that there was ever any doubt).  The show was curated by the lovely and talented Carole Epp, the creative force behind the fantastic blog Musing About Mud. I’ve been through the exhibition several times now, and it really is a wonderful show—a new piece catches my eye each time. I know it has been said before, but mugs and cups have this almost visceral pull that makes it almost impossible not to pick them up, hold them in your hand and see how they fit. It’s why they continue to be one of my favourite things to make.

The only fault I had to find with the show was that none of my mugs made it in. And the worst part is I can’t even blame it on the curator… Nope, it was all me. I didn’t even enter.

I’m not usually one to use a sports reference, but I believe it was Wayne Gretzky who said “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”. I saw the call for entry months ago, and managed to convince myself that my work wasn’t good enough to get in (don’t worry, I’ve already kicked myself several times since then, so there is no need to berate me any more friends!).  Not to toot my own horn, but after looking at the range of work that was represented in the show, I think I would have had a pretty good shot of getting in, so I only have myself to blame, which is always a humbling realization.

It’s been a valuable lesson; I’ve always known that I can be my own worst enemy, but there is nothing like good empirical evidence to show you the error of your ways. So I’m making a pledge to apply to more things whether I think I stand a chance or not. First up? Beyond the Brickyard at the Bray—go big or go home right?

Mug, 2013

The mug that could have been?

Front Page News

Naomi Clement

Turns out artists are front page news in Medicine Hat.

The Medicine Hat News came to interview and photograph me and one of the other new artists (Jason Desnoyers) at the studio the other day—a little surreal to be honest, but definitely nice to be in a community that is so supportive of the arts. Imagine my surprise when I found myself on the front page (above the fold too!). Check out the full article here. Perhaps in later years this photo will be shown in one of those “clay stars without their make-up” magazine spreads they have in Ceramics Monthly.

In other news, I’m still settling into my new studio space (which is pretty awesome by the way!). And while I always like the idea of change, I am not so good at the process of it, so I’m trying to be patient and allow myself the space to get acquainted with my new surroundings. My brain wants me to jump right in, but somehow my hands aren’t quite ready. The addition of a radio and the CBC helped a lot over the weekend.

Plainsman ClayI’m also using a new clay body for the first time in years (Plainsman M370) which is taking some getting used to.

So, what with the new clay body, and a way drier environment (my previous studio was a nice damp basement),  I feel like a bit of a beginner again—cracking handles and all.

Right. Patience…