Tuesday, November 23, 2010

My Very Own Studio!

That's right, friends, I'm so very excited to announce that I have set forth in the new adventure of setting up my very own studio, complete with wheel and kiln and boxes of clay and plenty of dust to share!  It's been, I think, a long time coming, and yet the decision to move forward happened very quickly.

I'd like to first off thank my dear friend John X. for egging me into making this move.  He's an old friend from college (we spent more than our share of nights sitting around playing cards or guitars when we should have been writing papers and doing homework) and has been a supporter of my pottery for almost as long as I've been making it. 
John, wearing one of my pots on his head.  My, we were a wild bunch back in the day...
Long story short, John told me I'd better get back into my pottery or bad things would happen to me.  Well, more to the point, he made the case that living in South Dakota was no reason not to be a potter, and that my work was still in high demand.  See?  Great friend, great support!  I credit John's friendship and support as instrumental in my artistic confidence, if nothing else.

I set off to do some fact finding, with plenty of online window shopping followed by a visit to the Continental Clay Company in Minneapolis, MN.  A follow-up call to Ed Swartout at Continental Clay to inquire about some kiln specs (better to have the information before having the garage rewired!) led me to discover that Ed in fact had a rebuilt kiln on hand that would be available for half the cost of a brand new one.  HALF!  And not a used kiln, but essentially a brand new kiln stuffed into a slightly used shell.  Brand new heating elements, brand new wiring, brand new computer controller.  Slightly used bricks and frame.  What a deal!  For those playing along at home, cutting the cost of my kiln 50% reduces my entire start-up cost by 25%.  That's pretty significant.  So I took the plunge and told Ed to put my name on that kiln and I would liberate it as soon as possible.

Made my way up to those Twin Cities on Friday with a borrowed van (thanks Mom and Dad!) to pick up my order.  Can I stop for a moment and say that the folks at Continental Clay are a fabulous bunch?  I know that every region has their own dominant pottery outfitters, and I'm sure they're all more than swell, but I wanted to make it clear what a wonderful experience it was to work with Ed and Helen and everyone else up there who made placing and picking up my order a totally slick experience.  Now, if only somebody wanted to help make paying for the order a little easier...

After walking through my order - prepped and ready on two palettes! - the Continental crew went to town on getting us loaded up.  I tried to help, but they wouldn't let me.  Kept mumbling something about how I'd get to unload it myself on the other end.  I guess that was a true statement.
Here's my "new" kiln, a Skutt 1227, all loaded up.
That's me and Ed (left) with the fully loaded Odyssey.
We finally made it home Monday night after an extended stay in Iowa due to some family obligations.  Pierre welcomed us with near blizzard conditions to help make unloading the van extra fun.  Really, it wasn't so bad, although it would have been nice to borrow a skid loader to help with the heavy lifting.  Krystal was a trooper, though, and we had the van unloaded in no time.  She was kind enough, however to leave the kiln for me.  By myself.  In the cold.  While she was inside snacking on bon bons - just kidding! But seriously, the kiln breaks apart into pretty managable sections.  Here are a few of my new toys:
My kiln!  Broken up and waiting for the electrician to come work his magic so I can reassemble it in place and get to work!
Glazes, chemicals, etc.  Good stuff!
Got some clay here, and a little bit of potters' plaster for good measure.
Kiln furniture - little kiln tables, divans, and bureaus.
Awful excited to have my own wheel.  Brent Model B.  She's a beauty.  All bright and shiny and mustard yellow.
Part of my work space.  More pictures as it comes together, I'd imagine.
My own corner of the basement.  Officially the first piece thrown on my wheel!  Nothing too fancy, since I didn't have much time for it today, but just enough to get some clay under my fingernails.
So there it is.  I spent some time trying to get my studio space organized today, but it didn't really leave a whole lot of time to get back into the throwing.  It will probably have to wait until after the Thanksgiving holiday, but I'm all set up now and ready to roll.  Except for the rewiring in the garage.  But we're working on that.

Special thanks again to Ed and everyone at Continental Clay; to my dear friend John for his encouragement and coercion, and, of course, thanks to my lovely Krystal for her unending support, for putting up with clay everywhere, and for always encouraging me to follow my dreams, even when I'd rather just find out where they're going and hook up with them later.

1 comment:

Mr. Young said...

I'm jealous! Oh to have a home studio - and the time to use it!