Wow. It's been a busy year. I threw caution to the wind this year and dove head first into my past. What? That sounds odd. I am a photographer. I have been for 23 years. I bought a Minolta SRT101 when I was 18 from a pawn shop and that was the beginning of everything. I wanted everyone to see the world through my eyes. My best friend at the time taught me how to develop and print my own pictures. I set up a darkroom in my bathroom and my soul soared. I had failed miserably in college until I found the commercial photography program at Randolph Community College (RCC). At RCC I flourish and found my people. But more importantly I found myself, my voice, and my vision. I also found my husband. So one husband, two sons, and 15 years later I have come full circle. I took a wonderful silversmithing and jewelry path in my career and learned so much about craftsmanship and focusing in to the small details. I fell in love with the aluminum printing process in Colorado last year and have been studying it intensively ever since. After buying out a commercial printing lab I set up my own in house aluminum printing. I've always felt that, for me as a photographer, I am at my best when I can control the entire process from start to finish. So, I dove into my past and added new and exciting technology to the mix. I'm excited about the future of my work and my vision.
I go to a monthly metalsmith's meeting that discusses all sorts of business and art topics and issues. This past Monday we discussed ways to renew your creative force. One of the ways that struck me was to take a workshop outside of your chosen vocation. At the moment I don't have the time to run off and dive into a workshop but I do have an amazing friend who happens to be a potter with her own studio. So I ran away for a day. I tried the wheel. When I was a kid I had a play kitchen outside. I made mud everything. Mud cakes and pies. Mud burgers. I also carved bowls out of soapstone. I'll admit when I first touched the wet clay it felt a little gross but then I felt a connection to that little girl that played in the mud. I then worked on a little hand built octopus to add to my cup. Of the two processes I preferred the sculptural aspects of hand building. Molding the cold clay into a little life form was meditative. My thirteen year old son is taking pottery classes in school and he came in and gave me some hints and tricks. It was a nice moment to see him take charge and become so self assured. It was a perfect day. I had no expectations. No goals. I just played.
I love art. So many of my friends are artists. We either gravitated towards each other and then found out we were both artists or I found their work first and then met them and bonded over art, life, kids, etc. It really makes collecting art more special when you get to know the person behind the vision. My house is filled with gorgeous pieces that Matt and I have collected over our years together on our travels or traded with dear friends for a piece of their craft. Getting to know the person behind the piece has made all of our collection that much more special.
I feel like we learned so much from our first wholesale show last year and really stepped up our presentation at ACRE Philly last month. We built tables out of saw horses to further reflect our handmade mission. We upped our signage by bringing our large wooden anvil that a dear artist friend made for us. We added dozen packs with price breaks to our line sheets and we feel those made this show even better than our last. Matt and I love doing wholesale shows. We are so fortunate to be able to meet store owners and get to know them as well as them getting to know us. We met so many that already follow us on Instagram and we have been following them as well. In this age of social media we get the feeling that we know people though their posts and it's a special treat when we get to meet them in real life and put a face to the relationship. I'll be interested to see what experiences we take from this show to add to our next. Stay tuned...
As we are about to leave for our winter wholesale show in Philly I have been reflecting on all of the journeys we took last year. The location that inspired us the most on our artistic path was Estes Park, Colorado. From the moment you enter this breathtaking wonderland you are captured by its spell. I still dream of my morning coffee spot by the river and my sons speak fondly of our time there as their best vacation ever. I found beauty and inspiration in the lichen, flowers, and animals that call Colorado home. Everywhere we travel we take in our surroundings and try to pour a piece of it into our work. We want our work to serve as a memento to others that have traveled along the same path as us.
During Hurricane Matthew we had a pipe entering the house leak into my studio and we sustained a fair bit of water damage. My husband, sons, and I moved everything we could to higher ground and hoped for the best. We have seen the devastation east of us from flooding and we feel so fortunate that we can repair my studio walls and floor and replace the pieces of furniture that were lost. I have been out of my studio for a little over three weeks and I miss creating. I can't wait to get back to work. I had laminate floors but have learned through this experience that they certainly don't hold up to water at all. My studio is in a daylight basement so I have opted to go with having the concrete ground down, stained, and epoxied. That is happening right now and I'm getting really excited about the final outcome. We have been through three weeks of destruction, and waiting so I am thrilled to start seeing the repair portion of this adventure starting to take shape.
I have taken the plunge. Vcella Kilns is custom building my new kiln. I liked the size of the B-16 but I don't need a vent hole as it let's out much needed heat and I don't do wax burn out so the carbon build up isn't an issue. I also wanted a 240v so I could get it up and going faster. With enamels we don't need to ramp the heat up or down slowly. We heat up the kiln to 1500 degrees (give or take depending on the color and affect we are going for) and the pieces are put in and taken out of the kiln while the kiln is hot. The interior of the new kiln is 15" x 15" x 9" high.
I received the kiln much sooner than expected so now I have to wait on my appointment with the electrician. More on the kiln later when it is up and running. Stay tuned...
I applied and was accepted into a wholesale show for May but unfortunately it was cancelled. I thought for quite awhile on what to do next. It was to be my first wholesale show. I decided to apply for the American Craft Retailers Expo(ACRE) in Las Vegas and it turned out to be one of the best business decisions I've ever made. Matt and I found out we got into ACRE and immediately planned out our timeline. We had 62 days to make it happen. Product, displays, line sheets, plane tickets, hotel reservations... the list goes on. I love Vegas so of course I wanted to add a few days to our time their to play as well (I'll tell you all about that in another post.) I made one of every item I make and Matt photographed them all. Matt designed our line sheets and I designed the displays. Everything we did was a team effort. I could not have done my first wholesale show without all him. At the end of the show we signed up for ACRE Philly and next year in Vegas again.