Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Hi folks, I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!

 I wanted to post a quick note about an amazing project I just finished. I had posted a "Pottery in Action" challenge on Facebook. It read something to this effect:

 "Do you have a piece of Amy Manson Pottery? If you do, snap a quick photo of it "in action". Post it on this status as a comment and I will pick randomly from the posts and give the winning name a Stoneware Chicken Roaster for the Holidays!!! I love to see how folks are utilizing my pots and I thought this might be fun!"

Well, the response was a lot of fun, I had photos of chicken roasters in use, mugs, casseroles, and more from clients around the country. It was great to see the pots in action and realize that the work that I make does in fact become part of folks everyday life as well as family traditions.

So the REALLY FUN part happened today when I pulled the names out of a bowl (rather than a hat). The winner was a client from Maine. She messaged me with her address and told me that I had made her day.

In fact, this client shared that she has wanted a roaster for quite some time, but has been out of work due to health problems and has not been able to afford one.

Well,  let me tell you, she has made my day and quite frankly my entire holiday season by sharing her story. I am humbled and amazed by how something I create can make its way into such deserving hands.


Friday, May 31, 2013

Bill Van Gilder Workshop!

I am very excited to head a just a few miles north this weeked to attend a workshop given by my instructor and friend, Bill Van Gilder. I have been taking classes with Bill for the last couple of years. I had to take a break this past year due to - well - life! But I am very pleased to be able to attend this weekend as Bill is closing the Frederick Pottery School in June.

But I get ahead of myself...

Let's go back a about 10 years ago...I had a 3 year old and a 1 year old. I dearly needed to find "something" to do outside of the house. I took a beginner pottery class with a friend who persuaded me to go. I  immediately found the challenge and the peaceful quiet studio an attraction. I was hooked for good!

I started taking classes at a larger local Clay Center - Clayworks Charlotte, and had the honor of learning from some GREAT young and talented artists. Amy Sanders, Julie Wiggins, Jen Mecca, Adreinne Dellinger, Greg Scott and Ron Philbeck.  I jostled back and forth between instructors each session as I had to work around sick children, and my husband's work and travel schedule.

Many times, my babysitting would not  pan out, or a sick child, or - life- would happen and I would have to miss class.  My frustration level was high, because I could not learn fast enough. I wanted to take it all in.

One afternoon, after laying the kids down for nap, I stumbled upon a pottery instruction show on DIY Network. The instructor was Bill Van Gilder and I about cried - I could actually learn right from my living room - kids, sickness, chores, and all!

I found Bill's instruction clear, concise, and super insighful.  I watched these shows religiously and was so thankful for the opportunity to learn in this forum from my home. Remember, this was before YouTube, Facebook, Etc. - Bill and DIY really pioneered this whole pottery video concept.

Each week, I looked for this show and watched and learned- babies in tow.  I imagined his studio up in the "North East, perhaps Vermont - somewhere in New England.  I dreamed of having a studio like his one day and how woderful it would be to be a full time potter.

Well, fast forward about 8 years. My family had moved to Northern Virginia. I had moved my pottery studio from Charlotte to Leesburg, VA and I was working on settling into the community.  I was actually teaching by this point and selling my work in a few small shops and galleries.

I heard of a new gallery opening in Leesburg - The Cooley Gallery. I dropped in one evening right before the grand opening and this cool kid (Chris) said hello and told me about his gallery. He said, by the way, Bill here is one of our artists - meet Bill Van Gilder.

I about had a heart attack...I was staring at my "virtual" mentor live and in person. After I collected myself (embarrassingly not very quickly)  I found out his studio was a short distance away up in Gapland, Maryland and that there was a few rare openings in his class in Frederick by chance.

So for the last few years, I have travelled up to Maryland once a week to learn in person from the instructor I followed so closely on DIY Network. I have learned a lot from Bill, about pottery, about business, about life in general. I have met a super group of friends from his class and it has been a wonderful experience.

I am taking his workshop this weekend, excited to catch up with the latest work Bill is creating, and to be reminded of his amazing wealth of knowledge, but more importantly his willingness to share it with the world -whether on TV or live and in person!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

WHOOOT! Did anyone hear the cry of joy coming from Leesburg? It was me - I admit! I have been experimenting with this Growler and truly had no idea how to approach the topper. These two bad boys were my first experiments. I pulled them out of the kiln today and one worked and the other did not. The great news is now I have it figured out for upcoming  pieces.  I know this sounds so silly, but it is exactly why I am having so much fun in the studio these days...experimenting, playing, HAVING FUN! I will have these guys and few others at the 2013 Western Loudoun Studio Tour!!!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Is it the end of May already? Wow where has the time gone...well I know I have been busy in the studio getting ready for the Western Loudoun Artist Studio Tour. It is a few weeks away  on June 22 & 23rd. I never feel ready, but I have a lot of new work to show off this year. I have been hunkered down, working on several new techniques and really pushing myself with glazing. I have had some really nice results (and a few oops) but it has been a year of exploration and I am super happy and excited about the direction my work is going.  I am going to make this short and sweet - I have to get back to the studio - but I hope to see you in June. I am thrilled to be the guest artist of Jill Evans-Kavaldjian at her amazing studio Art at Garden Corner. Come up to see us!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Happy New Year! I have been taking my time getting started back to work this year. I have been using the down time in January to:

·       -Recover from the busy holiday season
·       -Help my husband recuperate from surgery
·       -Take time to have a good old fashioned cold  and baby myself completely, and
·       -takes notes, write down ideas and sketch

It has been a nice luxury, minus the coughs and fever.

I am excited to get back into the studio and put some of these ideas into action. I just loaded a kiln full of test tiles and experiments. I am as excited as I was when I fired my first pot 10 years ago!

I promised myself to sit down today and write for the blog  – something I had no time for October – December.  Right before I sat down, I read a Facebook Post from an old instructor of mine from Charlotte North Carolina. Ron Philbeck posted to the effect, he would love to make bakeware that folks use at home everyday, casseroles, mugs, bakers etc.  He commented on the “repetitive “ nature of such work and how some would find this boring or monotonous.  His parting comment, was that it would not have to be that way.

It got me thinking about the work that I have been doing and what I want to do in 2013.  I do enjoy greatly making work that is used in everyday life.  Pieces that  not only invite use, but demand it!  Everyday bake ware, crocks, mugs, chicken roasters, platters and such that folks will use in their daily kitchen routines. I find great joy in making these useful, functional pieces. Pieces that become part of family traditions, celebrations and nightly meals. 

I think I will always make such pieces because of my own love of cooking and my ongoing goal of having all handmade ceramic work in my kitchen.  I have to admit though, that come September - December of any given year….I have been known to say, “If I make another Chicken/Veggie Roaster, I may slit my wrists!”  I admit that I do tire after just so many. 

That being said, I agree with Ron’s comments. It does not have to get monotonous.  I find that this time of the  new year, I am so excited for the possibilities, the new ideas, the new glaze combinations and new forms to make.

My plan is to keep with some of my basic forms, but explore new shapes, handles, surface treatments, and glaze combinations.  I love this art form so much because literally the possibilities are endless.   I do want to explore some more decorative treatments and sculpture this year, but it all can be applied the basic functional forms that I love to make as well. 

So off I go back to the studio, to explore, create, learn and express myself in new and exciting ways for 2013!

Hope to see you around to discover how it all turns out!