Working alone is something I quite enjoy, I like to be able to switch off, focusing only on the job in hand. Working alone however is very isolating and when things go wrong there’s no one to turn to for advice, support or even just a shoulder to cry on.
Since starting my business properly just over two years ago it has grown steadily and I now supply a number of wonderful galleries and shops. At the end of last year as some of you will know I had issues with the clay I had been using without problems for years. After persevering for some time, my stock of seconds started to increase and my poor stockists started to run low on stock. I then spent several weeks researching and testing replacement clay bodies and finally settled on another clay with very similar properties to my old clay.
I threw myself into production, the new clay was working well and I had a lot of catching up to do and with increasing enquiries from new outlets there was a lot of incentive to work hard. So it came as quite a kick in the teeth when I opened the kiln recently to find that once again my mountain of seconds had grown. Most of the pieces in the kiln had an ugly bubbled surface although others were fine. What made things worse was that I had another load still to fire and sure enough I had exactly the same results on firing that.
My first reaction was that I must have done something wrong, I don’t have years of experience to draw on and it seemed unlikely that I could be so unlucky. My firing schedule was exactly the same and as some of the pieces in the first kiln load had been fine it suggested that the clay was to blame.
On speaking to my clay supplier he agreed that it seems like the problem is with the clay and he has very kindly replaced the clay.
The main thing that struck me about this whole affair was how alone I felt. It was bad enough that I had worked for weeks with nothing to show for it and once again I had to apologise to stockists for yet another delay. I now felt truly isolated to the point of throwing in the towel. I had to stop what I was doing, I had tested my remaining supply of clay and found that all of it was faulty so until I got the replacement clay there was nothing I could do.
During this time I was able to re-evaluate my situation. The time away from the studio meant I could indulge myself in my new hobby of spoon carving; something my son and I have taken up as a bit of fun. Sitting carving I realised that I couldn’t give up making pots. I am predominantly a maker and despite the setbacks I’ve had and all the dissapointment, I can’t stop making.
So today I’m back at my wheel.
As for the seconds, maybe I’ll have a big sale in the summertime or perhaps I’ll just take hammer to them, Either way I’m moving on and hopefully leaving my problems behind.