My First Year In My Small Creative Business Series, post 1.
Hello and welcome to:
Me, Myself and I
I can’t quite believe that it is coming up to a year that I have been a small creative business owner, still not used to how fancy that sounds. To mark this occasion, I have decided to do a series of blog posts that will give an insight into everything I’ve learnt, obviously hoping I don’t bore you too much with this one.
Apologies to everyone who knows me already but I am going to use this first post to introduce myself. I have given each section a title so feel free to scroll through the information you’ve heard a zillion times before!
When I was first introduced to ceramics…
I studied Contemporary Crafts (yes this is a real degree!) at Plymouth College of Art and graduated with First Class Honours. I loved this course because you could experiment with lots of different materials and then at the end of year one you choose which one you’d like to specialise in.
One of the first processes we were introduced to was throwing. Here’s one of my first pots I made…
Laugh away, we’ve all got to start somewhere! I was so proud of this pot I wanted to fire it, even my technician asked me if I was sure I wanted to. This is the feeling I can see in my student’s faces that come to me for pottery lessons. It’s such a great feeling because the process is tricky to get your head around at first, so you’re surprised you’ve managed to make anything at all (well I definitely was!). This is the moment I fell in love and couldn’t imagine my life without pottery in it somewhere.
Although I loved throwing, I also wanted to experiment with different processes to learn as much as possible. I did a lot of mould-making and slip-casting (pouring liquid clay into a mould). We did a lot of projects, most of them I’m proud of, others not so much. One of my projects in second year was a comment on the amount plastic that is being washed up on the beaches and killing lots of sea life. I decided it would be a good idea to make a turtle from the plastic I found on one of the local beaches. It ended up stinking the whole of the workshop out and you couldn’t even tell it was a turtle. Let’s just say I had good intentions..
Skip forward a year and I’m still making smelly/weird projects…
The idea for my final Degree project ‘Deterioration’ came from working as a home care worker. It ended up being a porcelain cast of my mum’s head, which needed a fourteen-part mould. I put health foods that were recommended to eat by specialists to delay the onset of ageing like kale, seeds, beans, etc, into each cast. These were left to grow in our warm studio which made everything go mouldy and the seeds started to grow. It looked as creepy as you’re imagining, I’ve put a picture below so you can have a look for yourself.
I loved the challenge but it was a MAMMOTH project and was a massive risk considering the biggest mould I had made before this was a basic drop out mould… The mould in total took me 80 hours which meant I was in the workshop from 9am – 8pm everyday. It’s put me off doing any slip-casting in the future, I am just soooooo thankful that it’s over and it worked.. if it hadn’t that would’ve been £27,000 and a degree down the drain.
I finished university and lasted a couple of months before I needed to be creative again. So I decided to do an internship in a pottery. It was the dream set up, a shop with a workshop underneath – the only set up I will say that’s better than the one I have at the moment! It was great to experience what it would be like, I felt like kid in a sweet shop. Unfortunately a few incidents happened where I felt like I was being taken advantage of, which I’ve heard this feeling is quite common in internships. I lasted a couple of months before I had to get out.
I got a part-time job at a pub to get a bit of spending money. I realised that a hangover doesn’t just happen when you’ve been out drinking the night before. I quickly realised that to work there I would have to forget about sleeping. I then got a job working as a learning mentor at a people referral unit, working with primary and secondary school students who are either at risk of being expelled or have been already. It was great having both incomes but it got to a point where I couldn’t balance the two anymore. I’m someone who needs their beauty sleep!
I know the PRU job seems a bit random but I’ve always had a distant dream of becoming an Art Therapist one day, as I would love a job which combines my two passions; helping people whilst throwing. Makes me smile thinking of it, one day.
I used my monthly pay checks from the jobs to pay for different bits of equipment, until finally in the summer of 2016, I had enough to convert my garage into a little home studio, much to mum’s delight…
I started working on my ceramics as a hobby but taking commissions and doing shows. Trying to find time to throw around working my full-time job, which meant I was mainly throwing in the evenings and at weekends. This made time a lot more precious. It became important to try and get pieces right first time but the pressure made breakages a lot more frequent, a very annoying catch 22. It came to a point where I had to make the decision of whether I wanted to take my ceramics a bit more seriously or leave my ceramics as a hobby and stop doing commissions. I decided to leave my job and go full time with my ceramics, because it really was an ‘either now or never’ situation. Best decision I have ever made. I absolutely LOVE what I do and I wouldn’t change it for the world.
I was going to do a blog post every week so I could use it to track progression and set realistic goals. Obviously, this never happened but I did do it for the first week.
Here is the best bit;
“I can’t begin to explain my relief at making the decision to go full time ceramics. The mind-set I found myself in before doing so, I knew I had to change. I was stuck in a rut, without any motivation and I felt like I was being held back from what I really wanted to be doing. I wanted to become inspired again, get the cogs rotating and get me moving.”
It’s been great to read it back. I am blown away with how much my state of mind has changed in a year, I am so much happier. I’m always buzzing with new ideas and I am always motivated to make more pieces and wanting develop ideas.
So here we are now, one amazing year later. I have learnt so much and I would love to share what I have learnt with you guys. I would’ve found it really useful to have an overview of different topics to get me started in the same place so I hope this helps you if you’re either questioning whether to take the plunge, you have just started out or you’ve hit a road bump. I’ve focused on the areas I have learnt the most about.
These topics are;
- Introduction to small business life
- Before you take the plunge
- Be you
- What have I achieved this year?
- Top tips
- Recommendations books/podcasts/websites
They won’t necessarily be in this order and I might do a couple of posts about certain topics but you can either keep updated by signing up to my newsletter or by following me on my social media pages with the username @FICHceramics on both Facebook and Instagram. If you have any suggestions for topics I should cover or if you have any questions please feel free to either comment below or email me at info@FICHceramics.com. The link to my website is; http://www.FICHceramics.com.
Thank you for reading,