Tag Archives: ooak

Getting out of a creative rut

Today I am sitting here patiently waiting for my ceramic jewelry pieces to finish firing in the kiln… okay, so maybe I am not really sitting here patiently. I have to admit I am obsessed with walking over to the kiln, checking the temperature and looking through the side wall peep hole to see if my pyrometric cone has slumped over. This brings to mind a saying my mother used to tell me whilst growing up: “A watched pot never boils” and so it seems that this is more than true, especially in the case of creating ceramic jewelry.

My usual medium of choice would be polymer clay, however after getting a wild notion to use my kiln for other than my usual sporadic glass fusing moments I decided to give ceramics a try. I won’t lie; at first handling ceramic clay was a bit, well, on the slimy side for a moment and certainly not pliable like polymer clay. It took a bit of playing around with this new medium before I actually decided to make something from it. Sitting at my studio desk I looked at all the clay tools laid out in front of me, it was as if they were taunting me with an artistic malice that only a craft person can understand. I picked up palette knife and started to create a thin band of pottery clay. Pottery clay isn’t as easy to cut or slice through as one would think, and my first attempt was not what I had pictured in my mind. What normally would have been a perfect form cut in polymer clay turned out to be a snagged and not so straight attempt. I wadded up my little mess and started over, this time being sure to keep the blade of that palette knife somewhat wet with water. Presto! A smooth, straight and every thin strip appeared before my eyes! The palette knife and I had a new understanding and respect for each other, I realized that what that palette knife was trying to tell me is that pottery clay is in no way to be treated like polymer clay. With this new respect I had found not only a new and interesting medium, but quite possibly my new favorite medium of choice. I have to be honest; I think much of the allure is that unlike polymer clay you have to wait to “SEE” the outcome of ceramic pieces. This is time consuming process, taking as much as up to 14 hours from start to finish in the kiln. I strongly advise that this is not for those who are impossibly impatient, as the suspense will kill you or at best, when you just can’t handle anymore and open the kiln and risk ruining the pieces you so lovingly created.

Now that the pottery clay and I had spent some good quality time together there was a special bond that formed, a mutual understanding of what this material and my acceptance of its different, yet unique texture could create there was no holding back. I began creating pieces of clay in the shape of hearts, flowers and whatever else came to mind. I was truly enjoying working with this wonderful clay and before I knew it my creativity sparked to new levels! You see, I had been in a creative rut for a while, I hate to admit this but as an artist I got so involved with creating treasuries, trying to land the front page of Etsy and the endless promoting of my treasuries as well as those of my team mates that creating art took a back burner for a very long time. You see, discovering this new medium brought back what I had been missing for so long, the desire to create something beautiful and from the heart.

I bet you are wondering where I am going with all of this, my hope is to help other artists who are in a creative rut to spark a new interest and keep creating. You see, it’s so important to try new things, whether you work with glass, wire, paper or even edibles. The thing is we all benefit from learning new things, and you never know what a new medium can teach you about your old one.

In closing, I have a date with some pottery clay while waiting ever so patiently on my kiln to finish my next round of jewelry creations.

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Meet Marshfellows!

I have a treat for you today, an interview with Marshfellows!

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What is the name of your online shop and link?

Marshfellows
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/marshfellows
Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/MarshFellows
Blog: http://marshfellows.wordpress.com/

How has your experience been selling your art online?
So far it’s been very positive. I’m still a ‘beginner’ in many ways, but I have been lucky and grateful to those who have extended their help, expertise and advice.

What has been your most exciting moment as an artist?
When I first started making Marshfellows, the biggest thrill was just the idea that someone would pay for my artwork. It still amazes me that so many people want to bring my little guys into their homes and lives. But it’s also wonderful when other artists contact me and want one for their own.

How long have you been an artist?
I’ve been working with polymer clay for about five years now, but I’ve always loved arts and crafts ever since I was a little kid.

Who or what had the greatest influence on you as you developed as an artist?
All the credit goes to my Grandmother. When she was still with us, she was always crafting. Sewing, knitting, crocheting, sketching, painting, pottery, ceramics. You name it! But working with clay was something the two of us always did together. She encouraged my love of art and even taught me some of the techniques I know and use today. I absolutely have her to thank for my deep rooted obsession with all things arty and crafty.

How would you characterize your work?
Marshfellows are cute, chubby, silly, sweet, funny and whimsical. They’re like little reminders to smile and giggle. Which you should, it’s good for you!

Describe your workshop/studio for us:
I don’t think I’ve ever actually eaten at my kitchen table, it always has materials, tools, papers and empty coffee cups scattered all over it. When I’m working the music is always playing and the coffee maker is always on. I work at high speed when I’m on a creative buzz and being in the kitchen to work is a reminder in itself that I need to stop every once in a while, come up for air and eat something. Lol.

What’s the hardest part of being an artist?
I think the hardest part has to do with pricing. I have come across situations where a would-be buyer didn’t agree with a listed price and suggested I come up with a more ‘realistic number.”
Of course for the obvious reason it bums me out. It takes my time, money and materials to create a piece, so I can’t just give it away for free, all those variables are valuable to me.
And at the same time a potential customer should see their purchase as a gain, not a loss.

How many hours a day do you create?
Anywhere between 1-4 hours. It’s usually a mixture of creating new pieces, answering e-mails and updating information on Facebook, Twitter, etc.

How does creating art make you feel?
Being able to sit down and create something new and fun is like a drug to me. I love just listening to my tunes, sipping a hot coffee and bringing something new to life. I enjoy the entire creative process from a simple idea in my mind to the final product sitting before me. It’s very relaxing.

“What is Art?” is certainly too big of a question to ask here, but what do you hope your audience takes away from your art? What statement do you hope to make?
When I’m going about my daily life and I pass by a Marshfellow sitting on my shelf or on the window sill or even as the background for my desktop, I can’t help but smile. That’s all I want for anyone who brings a Marshfellow into their lives.

What are your artistic goals?
I would really like to venture into different mediums by collaborating with other artists. There are plans already being set in motion for future projects. I’m really excited about working with new people, pooling ideas, designing new products and taking advantage of learning opportunities. I think 2012 is going to be a great year for Marshfellows.

How have you handled the business side of being an artist?
I have been lucky to have received help from those who are more experienced when it comes to running a small business. But the most important aspect of any business, providing good customer service, is probably what I’m best at. I figure as long as I remember to take good and proper care of my customers, the rest I can learn along the way. Because in the end, if you don’t have happy and loyal customers, you don’t have a business.

Where else on the Internet can we find your work?
Right now I’m working on setting up my shop at TheArtLand.com and I hope to set-up an Etsy account in the future. But for now I’m taking orders via e-mail and Facebook, which I prefer for custom orders. That way I can work closely with the customer and create something that is exactly what they want.

Thank you so much for taking the time to let me interview you Autumn, your items are simply adorable!