“If you don’t plan out your life, someone else will.” Shaun King
My day job as a teacher has been a great source of creativity throughout the past 25 years. However, at times I have spent far too much time in “school” work mode at the expense of my own “clay” work. I still spend a tremendous amount of time planning lessons - both in an attempt to reach the students interested only in passing the credit, as well as inspire and challenge the talented and creative thinkers taking Visual Arts for the love of it. As a bridge between my two worlds, I also guide young people in the ways of clay in the Youth Class at the Mississauga Potters' Guild (MPG). So it comes naturally to me to want to guide anyone who will listen.
Let me first say that the three most important and rewarding things about being a guild member are the access to studio space and equipment, the monthly guest lecturers and demonstrations, and the opportunity to participate in workshops and exhibitions. It is through this community that you will build comradery and learn that working collaboratively will help everyone reach their goals. Five years ago, I came back to my ceramic practice with a focused intent. Since then I take almost every chance I get to see more, make more and connect more in all things clay.
Pick Your Day
Find a day or evening on a weekly basis to be your day or night. Mark it on your calendar so that family and friends know that your clay is a priority in your life. By doing so, you will be committing to yourself and your craft. I now have a home studio and Tuesdays are my night. I make sure to have a coffee at 6 pm and then I am good until midnight. I usually squeeze in a few more hours throughout the week especially when I am in a making cycle. I must point out that having a “humidor” (plaster damp box) has helped me keep work workable until I am free to complete the cycle. I make good use of the guild studio when making slab work and for glazing. We are so fortunate to have four kilns to choose from at the MPG.
Go to the Guest Speaker Meetings
I have been a guild member for almost 15 years but only started attending the monthly meetings regularly in the last few years. Boy, did I miss out on a lot! Not only are they a great way to stay informed about the guild and socialize with your peers, they are a window into the creative life of the guest lecturer. Our guest artists offer so many nuggets of information, and their technical demonstrations reinforce their ideas and give such valuable insight into the possible and unbelievable ways creative people work.
Sign up for the Workshops and enter Exhibitions
If you are just starting out, be sure to take workshop opportunities that come your way. If you are well on your way, find workshops that will help you continue on your journey and increase your capacity for quality and more complex techniques. Figure out a way to get involved. It is through the guild comradery, that I was introduced to different learning opportunities, like exhibitions and conferences. I entered my first exhibition in 2013 with the encouragement of Resident Artist (at the time) LeeAnn Janissen. My bowl was accepted into the juried exhibition and even resulted in my first big sale. I went to my first Fusion Conference (Ontario Clay and Glass Association/Korean Masters) in 2016 and have redoubled my efforts since then. I've included photos of my fellow guild members and the Masters (abov), as well as my interpretations of their teachings while at the conference (introductory images at top).
Community, comradery, and collaboration have been vital in my creative growth over the last few years. I hope to inspire everyone I meet to create with support, feedback and confidence.