Monday, September 24, 2012

Reflections on doing my Kickstarter

It is 7:00 on a Monday morning. I am sitting here with a cup of coffee, determined to get some work done like a real, live adult. I'm downloading writing software for my iPhone so I can write stories while Maddy is asleep (her crib is in the same room as our computer). I don't know how long it's been since I've posted to this blog, but it feels like an age.

Most of my energy has been directed towards my Girl Stories project, which is SUPER SECRET. I've only been sharing my updates on that with my backers, which doesn't leave much artwork to share here. Everything else I've felt like sharing has been everyday Facebook type stuff - lots of stupid MS Paint style drawings, and videos of Maddy. There's not much left over for the blog.

The one thing I've been meaning to blog about but haven't is a wrap up on my experience with running a Kickstarter. 

One of the coolest things about doing that project was that it forced me to reach out to a lot of people. I don't just mean asking people for pledges, either. I mean that it gave me a reason to contact organizations, fellow artists, and friends to talk about the work I wanted to do. That's something I've always struggled with - putting myself out there, believing in what I'm doing enough to tell people about it. Suddenly, I find myself less intimidated by the idea of calling a gallery or the director of an organization. This project gave me a laser-light focus for my ideas, and a framework to talk about them that got people excited. I realized just how many people  I can link up with to get things done for girls and for myself; whose interests and passions line up perfectly with my own. I don't think I realized how much my shyness was holding me back, making me miss out on opportunities that would enrich my life and my work.

Doing this project made me realize that what really gets me fired up is storytelling and human connection. I've always been turned off by the elitism of the art world, and have found traditional gallery settings cold and disengaging. I am drawn to the low brow, to art that is accessible to the masses. Not that I want art dumbed down - I don't think that public art has to be unintelligent, and I think its foolish to assume that because the general public is not educated about art in a traditional sense, they are stupid and unable to enjoy it. I just want to make art that is authentic, not contrived. I want art to be placed in the hands of people who feel the least like they have a story to tell. I want to connect with those people, and figure out how best to have a conversation with them.

My friend Courtney just shared a TEDtalk with me given by Brene Brown ( about human connection and vulnerability that has really stayed with me. Suddenly, the word storyteller is popping up everywhere I look, and it lights my brain up. I feel like a kid playing punch-buggy, suddenly seeing VW beetles everywhere because I'm looking for them. I watched this TEDtalk about vulnerability and risk, and how the happiest people are the ones who live with "wholeheartedness", a willingness to make themselves vulnerable to others, to live with authenticity and take risk in personal relationships. I always thought I was a very open and unguarded person, but I'm coming to realize that I am the very definition of guarded. I have a hard time letting people in. I crave friendship, but socialization exhausts me. I fear being rejected or judged. I feel strange and alienated from the people I'd most like to build relationships with. I am afraid that if put myself out there, I will be unwanted. People will see my strangeness, and be repulsed by it. 

Fear of rejection has limited my friendships, my sense of connectedness to the community, and even my artwork. I'm beginning to take a hard look at how best to lay my guard down, how to lay myself bare, make the most authentic artwork I can make, and really open myself up to people, even if I risk the most brutal rejection. The alternative is to hole myself up with my family and my cats, playing iPhone games and surfing the internet, catching up on seasons of New Girl on Hulu. I could easily see myself falling into that trap, forever. I do, from time to time. I have to push myself to get out into the world, and I'm always happier for it when I do, but each time still feels like a colossal effort.

This blog post is ridiculously disjointed and rambling. It is in dire need of editing. But the point I am making, if there is one, is that I'm so glad I pushed myself to do a Kickstarter. I didn't really believe it would succeed, or that people would get behind me. I had no confidence in my work, but I faked it to myself, and pushed myself to do it, to believe in it, and to get excited. It really makes me wonder what else I can do. Can I talk to strangers on the street about art? (Utterly terrifying!) Can I found a non-profit organization for clay art for underprivileged girls? (Someday! Maybe soon!) Can I push my work to a level of technical and conceptual excellence that I want it to achieve? (YES! With hard work, and a lot of vulnerability! And a lot of heartache and insecurity, and more hard hard work. Yes. I can do this.)

Fall is coming now, and I'm already bracing myself for the chilly weather, and my studio concrete floors getting horribly cold. My first inclination is to curl up in a corner with a blanket and a mug of hot cocoa and hibernate away from the world. Instead, I'm going to buy a new space heater, a kettle, and some tea, and LIVE IN MY STUDIO until I can pour out every ounce of creativity and heart into my work, and my studio shelves are fit to burst with new art. I'm going to "lean into (my) discomfort," as Brene said in her talk. I'm tired of being comfortable. I want to be alive.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Pottery - the geekiest art!

My backers and friends have been sending me a lot of exciting projects on Kickstarter and elsewhere that are in line with what I'm about. Most of them are girl and women empowering, and quite a few of them have a nerdy flavor to them. One of the things I get really excited about is seeing all the projects out there aimed at getting girls into science and math. I'm glad that the idea that boys are better at these fields is being broken down, and people are working to change the stereotypes.

I was never interested in math until college pre-calc, the very first time I saw it having any practical application. I was going to be a writer or an artist; what did I need algebra for? I often wonder whether I would have taken more of an interest if someone could have shown me women using math in the real world to do things like engineering or astrophysics. Science was always wonderfully interesting to me, but somewhere between junior high and high school, I was convinced that I was bad at math, and therefore would be limited in the sciences, so I focused on my strengths in art and literature. However, I always had a fascination with finding out how things worked, and I think that's why I ended up majoring in ceramics, rather than painting. I feel like it's about the nerdiest art technique you can do; it involves creative problem solving, mechanical engineering, ergonomics, and chemistry just for a start. I was surprised to find that quite a number of professional engineers take up pottery as a hobby, because it seems to fit their skill set and the way their brains work.

When I sit my students down at the wheel, I like to tell them to treat throwing like an experiment. How much force does it take to center the clay on the wheel? What body position gives you the most leverage on the clay with the least amount of effort? What happens when you try to manipulate the clay in different ways? If I want to make a specific form, what is the best way to go about that? If this technique doesn't work, what else can I try? There are no mistakes, just experiments. It's fun to approach a creative activity with curiosity, rather than a desire to make something pretty and perfect. I've been pretty inspired by having a baby, actually. Everything kids do to learn about the world is basically the scientific method; I approach teaching and making the same way.

Here are a few awesome things that I love that are making the world better for girls and women in one way or another, and that are geeky, or math and science minded. I thought I'd share them with you.

"Wollstonecraft - A Snicketesque girl-power adventure featuring Ada Lovelace and Mary Shelley at 11 and 14 in 1826 London, for ages 8-12"
This project has already been fully funded (and wow, was it ever successful!), but it's so cool, I have to share it. The bit that gets me pumped is this:
"This is a pro-math, pro-science, pro-history and pro-literature adventure novel for and about girls, who use their education to solve problems and catch a jewel thief."

I cannot wait to see these books come out, read them myself, and share them with Maddy as soon as she's old enough to enjoy them!

"MOLLY DANGER - The world's most powerful 10 year old superhero is comic book superstar Jamal Igle's new creator owned graphic album series."

I know I shouldn't be promoting other Kickstarters when mine is still going, but I really love this, and I want it to succeed! Jamal is a successful and talented comic book artist who has worked on some major books for Marvel and DC. He is also the father of a little girl, and he's working on this book with a young girl protagonist who is, in his words "the most powerful girl in the world, but also the loneliest". I love that a professional in this male dominated industry is making an effort to change the industry for the better, and tell a new kind of story that the major comic companies probably wouldn't touch. I wish you the best, Jamal!

Finally, one of my backers is a programmer, and is planning to teach his daughter programming as she grows, so she can make awesome games too! He sent me a link to a programming language called Scratch, which is a visually based programming language that is easy enough for kids to learn and use. When Maddy gets a bit older, I'm looking forward to sitting down with her and trying to learn it together.

Do you have a geeky or girl power project to share? Post it in the comments! The more people out there doing inspiring things for girls, the better, and I want to know about them! What projects are inspiring you?

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Girly stuff

I've got some thoughts on the word girl that I felt like sharing here.

The first thought thread is about the negative connotations associated with the word "girl" or "girly". I'm gonna tell you a little bit about my childhood, so bear with me here.

When I was a kid, I was kind of a tomboy. My parents really wanted to dress me in lots of cute, frilly dresses, and I know I looked totes adorbs in them; I've seen the pictures. I was a damn cute kid. But at some point it occured to little-kid-me that being and dressing like a girl = not getting to have fun. Girls in dresses and skirts were expected to sit "ladylike". They were supposed to stay clean. They were supposed to "play nice". I never thought it was fair that because I was a girl, I was limited to being able to do certain things, if not because I was explicitly told not to, then because of the way I was supposed to dress. My parents must have gotten tired of fighting me on this, or must have been at least somewhat practically minded, because I remember many summers of running around in shorts and t-shirts with no shoes on, running around my neighborhood and getting into stuff. I think I tolerated skirts and dresses for church, or for special occasions, but otherwise, I was pretty much not having it. You cannot collect bugs and dig in the dirt when you're wearing a pretty dress, ok?

The other thing that bugged the shit out of me as a kid was being constantly reminded that girls were bad at things. "You run like a girl" or "you throw/play like a girl" was a pretty common insult, and I heard things like that all the time. Girls are prissy and fussy, they take forever to get ready in the bathroom, they're creeped out by bugs and lizards, they can't fight, etc etc etc. I used to get so angry and frustrated every time I heard these things. They didn't apply to me, and I hated that being a girl was seen as such a bad thing. I didn't want to be a girl; I wanted to be cool. I didn't want to be a boy either, because they were generally jerks, so I figured I was just a different kind of girl. A better kind, one who did not get scared by the boys dangling a lizard in her face ("Oh cool! I love lizards," I'd say, and the boys would be disappointed), and who was not afraid to punch a boy in the face if he was mean to me. With this mindset firmly in place, I got into A LOT of trouble, and wasn't very popular with either boys or girls. They all seemed kinda stupid to me. Luckily, I had a few female friends who were awesome, vulgar, and also willing to punch a boy out, and we were awesome together through elementary school, at least. However, as I got older, this mindset meant I had a hard time identifying with other girls. I always felt awkward and alien around them, and could not for the life of me understand their interests in "girly stuff".

As an adult, I'm beginning to stop judging "girly girls". I realize how much I hated being told what I could or couldn't do, and no one should have to experience that. If you really love lipstick and pink dresses, then rock it the hell out. But it has slowly dawned on me that as women, we can't win. Whatever we choose to do, society will see our interests as either appropriate, and therefore girly and weak and frivilous, or as inappropriate, and therefore we're scary dykes and feminazis, and we're ruining the fabric of society. It is INFURIATING. If you're my facebook friend, you'll occasionally see me going on a mini rant because yet another guy friend made a candid statement about Pinterest (which, OMG, is fully of girly things like flowers and weddings, so it's NO MANS LAND and totally not relevant to my interests), and I get so mad because I'm tired of things for ladies being automatically branded as irrelevant. I'm also tired of feeling ashamed or embarassed when I do happen to like something that is stereotypically girly. As a feminist, I almost feel like I have to apologize for being a stay at home mom, or appreciating the way a killer set of pumps look. Because liking those things makes me look weak, both to society, and to fellow feminists. Girly = weak.

The reason I wanted to write about this, is because I titled my Kickstarter "Girl Stories", and I know that a lot of feminists get riled up when women are called "girls," for the same reason that grown men do not want to be called boys. It seems belittling and patronizing. At the same time, I call myself a girl, or a geek girl, because it's a word I've struggled with my whole life, and because I strongly identify with childish things. I don't feel like an adult - I feel like a giant kid hiding in a woman's body. I know that my interests and favorite things are totally childish, and I'm ok with that; in fact, I love it. Watching Sesame Street and Yo Gabba Gabba BRINGS ME GREAT JOY. So girl just seems to fit; and since my project is especially geared towards young girls, that seemed to fit there too.

So, I'm not writing this to attack my feminist friends, or society at large. These are just my thoughts about the word "girl", and why I get kinda pissed about it. Call it the word of the day, if you will. I'd love it if you all would share your thoughts about this in the comments. Does being called a girl, as opposed to a woman, piss you off if you're female? Does it depend on who says it? Guys, do you worry about having interests that are stereotypically "girly"?

So btw, my Kickstarter has 5 days left. I would LOVE to raise a ton more money, but what I REALLY want is for everyone in the world to see it. Like, EVERYONE. I'm incredibly proud of it; it was a huge accomplishment for me, and it is the beginning of a project that I will be spending the next 6 months working on. Thanks to all of you, it will be successful, but please help me out and keep telling everyone. I don't care if no one donates another cent. I just want the world to know about Girl Stories. Thanks everyone:)


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A busy week; a revelation

There is so much going on lately, I can barely keep my head on straight. If I were to blog about it all, we'd be here all night! I did a screenprinting workshop over the past weekend, and had a blast teaching people how to print on clay. (A friend of mine saw this on Facebook and was like "What?!? You can screen print on clay?!?!?" Mwah hahahahaha, this is how I suck you in...) I made a screen of my Picard mug designs, and ended up printing the Star Trek insignia/communicator, which I cut out and plan to make into a brooch. It just so happens that the freakin' enormous gaming convention Gen Con is this weekend, and two amazing actors, Nichelle Nichols(!!!) and Wil Wheaton, will be guests of honor there. I pretty much have to go, wearing my handmade pin, with Maddy in her Star Trek onesie. Do you think it'd be weird if I asked them to autograph my child? But I digress... I've been nerdin' out pretty hard lately, I gotta say;) Between getting to teach clay techniques and making all this Star Trek stuff, I'm pretty much exploding with nerdiness. It's making me pretty happy:D

The Kickstarter is going amazingly well - I'm at $2200 now, which is soooo amazing! I met with a program coordinator with Big Brothers/Big Sisters today, and we're putting together a workshop with 10 littles and their bigs. That's 20 girls and women getting to make awesome art, for free! And it's all thanks to you awesome people! Anyway, I've been hard at work in the studio, in my sketchbook, and on the internet sending out press releases and messages to people. It's exhausting, but exhilarating. I'm just buzzing with energy and ideas! I feel like I could do ANYTHING!

I finally finished painting these two plates I made months and months ago. I kept meaning to sit down and paint them, but I just now got around to it. They are for another show that is in the works with some friends of mine... and I will let you know all about that in the near future. SPOILERS;)

This is a jar somewhat related to the Girl Stories series. I made it before the idea had really crystallized in my head; I was thinking of girls and princess culture at the time, and had just finished reading a poem about feeling like a queen rather than a princess. I liked the connotation of that - power, strength, dignity, respect, wisdom - nothing at all like the pinky-pink princess culture we market to our young ones. The queen here is still not a girl of action, though. She was even mouthless and pale before I began filling her in. The old fairy tale princess tropes creep into my head too, I realize. I gave her a big grin, and made it so she's making the seedlings grow, rather than just wandering through them placidly. She looks a bit like my sis-in-law Mariah now.

On a more serious note, I feel like this Girl Stories project is really making me more conscious of the work I make, and what it's about. I've done a lot of pretty things, without really thinking much about the aesthetic I was referencing, or why I made girls that looked this way or that. I've been thinking a lot about the lack of girls of color in my work. My sister in law is black, and I was inspired in part by her love of nerdy things to do this project. Meanwhile, I was still drawing nothing but little white girls. I realized that just this week, and I was gobsmacked that I hadn't even noticed, or thought about it. I have to keep working to be conscious of my own sense of privilege if I truly want to help promote the voices of all women, not just the white ones.

Monday, August 6, 2012

I'm only mildly obsessed with Legend of Zelda. It's not a problem.

So, I've been thinking about Legend of Zelda A LOT lately.

My teenage sister-in-law Mariah is volunteering at Gen Con this year in exchange for a four day pass, and she's been flipping out over what costume she wants to wear. While I was putting together my Kickstarter, I was also helping her figure out what she'd need to make a costume herself, and who her favorite video game characters were, since GenCon is a gaming convention. We started by working on a Sora costume from Kingdom Hearts II. Then she saw a Youtube tutorial on making a Link hat from Legend of Zelda, and she felt like that would be an easy project for her to tackle by herself. We've been trying to finish both a Sora costume and a Link costume, and we've been listening to a lot of geeky music while we work, like the DDR soundtrack (don't judge!) and a lot of Lindsay Sterling.

If you're not a gamer or a geek (this is a ceramics blog, after all), I should explain. Legend of Zelda is a video game franchise that's been around since the 80's, and I've been playing it since I was a little girl. Despite the title of the game, the protagonist is actually Link, a little elf looking guy dressed all in green who runs around the forest solving puzzles and fighting monsters in a quest to save the Princess Zelda. It's a really fun series of games, and they're still making new ones to this day.

Lindsay Sterling is a punk rock violinist who does a lot of geeky musical renditions, and my sister Mariah ravenously devours every video she puts out. If you check out her website, her story is an inspiring one! I saw her Legend of Zelda medley a while back on Topless Robot and kinda flipped out. Because yeah, when you played Legend of Zelda as a kid, you never imagined yourself as a boring, sleeping princess. You imagined yourself running through the woods flipping out! I know I did, and I know the same is true for my sis. We loved that game because we could picture ourselves in it, even though Link was a boy character. Just like Lindsay Sterling flipping out on the violin and running around woods and caves.

Thinking about this game and my sister's costume making ventures is a large part of what inspired my Kickstarter. Every costume Mariah was interested in making was male, and I started to think about why that was, and how much I could relate.

Which brings me to an article I saw yesterday on Kotaku about the Olympic gymnast from Mexico who used Lindsay Sterling's Zelda medley for her floor routine. I flipped my shit when I saw this. A hardcore female gymnast representing the best of her country and working hard at her craft, while giving a shout out to gamers everywhere. There's a bit in the Kotaku article where the gymnast, Elsa, talks about hearing Lindsay's music and considering using it for her routine: '"I thought of Link running around through the forest, mountains, caves, and how agile he is, it was funny to think that I was doing something similar but in my own way," Elsa said. "I liked what it reminded me of: the whole concept of never giving up on my quest."' I was like YES! YES! That is it exactly!!! Here I am doing a series of art inspired by this exact thing - girls of action, doing what they love, not just imagining themselves as the hero, but going out there and living it too. My heart just swells with happiness to see all these amazing geeky ladies out there kicking so much ass!

So that's where my head has been at lately, lol. Long story short, my first doll jar has a bit of Legend of Zelda on it, and my first story is going to be inspired by all of this. I'm pretty pumped about it:D

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Kickstarter: Day 2

We are nearing the end of the second day of my Kickstarter. If you haven't been following along, I'm proud to say that I woke up this morning to find I'd been fully funded in less than 24 hours. I am still a little bit in shock over that. Now I'm almost $200 over goal, with 28 days left to go. All I can say is WOW! and AWESOME! and THANK YOU! If you haven't seen it yet, you can check it out here, and see what all the fuss is about.

Now that I've met my goal and can make the work I want to make, I want to pay it forward and give something back. My plan now is to use additional funds to start a mentorship program for at risk and underprivileged girls. I haven't worked out all the details yet, but I've contacted Big Brothers Big Sisters, and I'm waiting to hear back from them. My plan is to give girls the same opportunity to make art and tell their stories that I've been given. I've been very blessed by all the opportunities that I've had in my life, and certainly having loving and supportive parents gave me a solid foundation. A lot of girls don't have any of that. These are the girls that need to tell their stories most, and need to know that their voices matter.

I have dreams of one day expanding this idea into a fully fledged art program that would help build girl's self esteem, teach them to value their creativity and their experiences, and to help them gain business skills that they can use to go into the world and do awesome things. It would be really cool to be able to bring in other women artists and crafters for workshops too, so they can see strong, inspiring women that are out there doing their thing. It would be AMAZINGLY cool to do something like Girls Rock Indy (which I am so inspired by, btw!), but with art. Right now, I just want to start small. Clay classes for girls, learning to make sculptures that tell their stories. I'm really excited about this idea! I want to get a bunch of girls playing in the mud, getting dirty, and making cool things!

The more money I raise, the more I can do with this. If you can, please donate what you can spare, and share the link everywhere you can!

Anyway, doll jar number one is in the bisque kiln right now. Wish her luck and safe passage through the fire! She's got a lot of work to do!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

My Kickstarter is live!

I did it! My Kickstarter is live and I am overflowing with happiness, excitement, and gratitude. So many people have supported me in this with advice, kind words, and a whole lot of cheering me on. Now it's happening, and I couldn't be more proud for getting this going.

Please check out my video and support my project if you can. This is something so close to my heart, so your support means a lot to me. Donate if you can (and get cool stuff for helping!) If you can't donate, I understand. You can still help me by sharing the link to my Kickstarter, and telling your friends about Girl Stories. Help me spread the word and tell cool stories about girls!

Thanks for all the love, y'all:)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A momentous occasion.

So, I got this comment on yesterday's blog post. I thought I would save it here. You know, for posterity.

It's my very first comment from a troll! I had a split second of disbelief and incredulous anger, followed by a sudden sense of the hilarity of that comment. I mean, really, it's kind of awesome, isn't it? That someone on the internet who has never met you, has probably never read your blog before, and knows absolutely nothing about your life, suddenly has the gall to pop up out of nowhere and tell you what a lazy, entitled, general waste of human breath you are. Honestly, it's pretty sweet.

It makes me wonder: do internet trolls have Google alerts set up for this kind of stuff? Maybe they get a nice little email everytime the word girl, feminism, or Kickstarter pops up on the internet? I mean, that's got to be a lot of work, policing the entirety of the internet, and putting us lazy, entitled assholes in our place. Whew! Makes me tired just thinking about it.

Really, I feel like patting myself on the back. If my asking for funding for a silly little art project (which, in fact, is not silly at all, it's FUCKING AWESOME, and I'm proud of it) pisses off random people enough to come comment on my blog, I must be doing something right!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Pre-Kickstarter Kickstarter update

One of my Mom's favorite things to say is always "The best laid plans of mice and men often go astray." This is a truism that is particularly true for me today.

My Kickstarter was supposed to be ready to launch yesterday, but sadly, things are not going as smoothly as I'd planned. I need a video, and I've been wracking my brains trying to come up with something cute or clever, but until today, I had nothing. Today, I decided to film Maddy running around the backyard in a cape, but it was brutally hot and she got really overheated, and then my camera battery died.

So now I'm stumped. I can write, and I can make art. But getting in front of a camera? Soooooo not my thing! I have no idea what to do for this, and everyone says the video is so important.

My camera is charging up downstairs. I don't know if I should just sit down in front of it and ramble a lot, or keep trying to think of something better. I just don't know. I want this project to be awesome! I want it to show people how excited I am about this, and tell a good story.

Just to tell you all a little about what I have planned, I want to launch this Kickstarter to fund a new line of work I call Girl Stories. As I've said in my previous two posts, I really love stories. I love movies, video games, comics, and books of all kinds. I love to lose myself in a really good story, something that is true, that is fantastic, that makes me think, that entertains, and that has a profound effect on the way I view the world. However, it's become clear to me that the majority of the stories I really love have male protagonists, and the majority of the stories I like with female protagonists are just not characters I would want to emulate. Being kind and pretty and nice to animals is great and all, but I want more out of my girls! I'm tired of every girl in a video game being either a weak throw away character, or a sex kitten who kicks ass. I want girls who have adventures, who are strong. I don't just mean physically strong, I mean capable, independent, self assured. Totally able to have their own adventures.

My Kickstarter is to fund 12 new doll jar sculptures, along with some mini related works, that will tell stories. I plan to write stories to go with each doll, illustrate them, and store each story inside its corresponding doll. I feel like it's time to stop bitching about the lack of stories that I want to hear. If I want them, I have to make them myself!

My hope is that not only will I get the opportunity to tell kick ass stories about girls, and make some awesome art, but that I will inspire other girls and women to do the same. We need more of us out there, in all media, making our voices heard, telling our stories.

So, that's the plan. I'm nervous and excited! This is a subject I feel really passionate about, and I'm just now getting the guts to do something with it. But I don't want to launch something half-assed, so I'm going to keep working on Kickstarter until it's worthy of public view. Then, I hope you all will support me in this. Wish me luck!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Comic mugs, and a KICKSTARTER!!! ARGH!!!

I had such an awesome kids class yesterday, I don't know where to begin. I decided I wanted to do something illustrative with the kids, so I decided to have them draw a comic on a slab of clay, and then turn that slab into a cylinder or mug. I thought it was a pretty cool idea. The kids thought it was an AWESOME idea, and they flipped out.

The idea was to think of setting for the comic to take place, which would be your background. We talked a little about brainstorming, and how you can throw out a lot of ideas for something until you hit on something you really like. They drew their backgrounds onto a slab of clay with pencils. Next, they came up with a character to interact with the setting. We talked about how the characters in their comic could be anything, not just super heroes. (We also talked about how Calvin and Hobbes is an amazing comic. Warms my heart that the next generation knows about how good that comic is, sniff sniff.)

Finally, they had to give their character something to say or think, and we talked about the difference between word balloons and speech balloons, and how to draw them.

Every one of them did such awesome work. I'm so proud! I can't wait to see these finished.
A desert island, and a whale in need of sunscreen.

A robot with explosions on his mind.

What do pandas think about? Bamboo, of course!

A diamondback rattlesnake (she was very specific) in the desert. He says "Gimme your mug, or I'll bite!"

Josie's in spaaaaaaace! This one's mine, of course.

The idea of telling stories on clay has been on my mind a lot lately, and it's something I've been trying to figure out how best to do in my work. More specifically, I've been trying to figure out what kind of stories I want to tell. What is it that I have to say, and does anyone want to hear it?

You may remember that a month ago today, I said I want to launch a Kickstarter. Well, I've been working on that all month long, and I'm just about ready to launch. I'm really excited, and more than a little scared, but I'm ready to do this.

I can't launch today as planned, but I will be hitting publish on this bad girl tomorrow evening at the latest. I am so SO excited to share this project idea with you guys, and I hope you'll back it and me! I'm gonna tell some awesome stories in clay, and I just can't wait for you guys to see what I have planned.

Stay tuned! <3

Monday, July 16, 2012

Story time

Inspired by my friend Danette and our talks on the way to and from Cincinnati these last couple of weeks, I've decided to apply for a grant. This feels like an absolutely grown up and intimidating thing to do, but I'm doing it. I have to write a bit about my work, and I've pounded out a page so far, but it's a bit dry sounding. So far removed from what my work is like! I tend to write in a very dry, academic style when I write about my work, and I hate it. I've given up for the day, but I think I can sit down tomorrow with fresh eyes and make it better.

Thinking about how to describe my work, the simplest and most cohesive theme is that I like to make work that tells stories. I'm a reader, and I love comics and video games and movies. I love storytelling in any media, and I think that is what goes into my work more than anything. Or at least, that's the direction I'm aiming for.

I've finally got the first batch of finished items back from firing. It was a near perfect batch! Only one chipped pendant; no cracks, glaze faults, or washed out colors on anything else. I also finished the drawing on my first podling jar, and have plans for the next one germinating. It feels like little seedlings growing in my brain - little stories, little images, little ideas. They're playing freeze tag in there, and hide and go seek. It makes me want to lie back in a hammock in the summer breeze, close my eyes, and watch them play.

Speaking of storytelling, here is a ceramic artist I found on the Imaginative Bloom blog that is a creator after my own heart. "Ceramic art that tells the smallest stories". So inspiring!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


This is my cat, Josie. We have a lot of cats, but she is by far my favorite to draw. (Shhh! Don't tell the others.)

I put her on pretty much everything. She's on t-shirts, mugs, plates, and she's even a plushie fleece pillow.

I'm going to Cincinatti for day two of the Sarah Horn tile workshop. I already made a Winken, Blinken, and Nod tile, but I decided I needed a Josie tile as well. Josie is getting pretty up in age, so I want to be sure her regal, adorable, and perpetually angry visage is preserved for posterity, and is shared with the entire world. Soon, I'll be able to make hundreds of Josie tiles from the plaster mold I make today. Then, we can take over the world! MWAH-HAHAHAHHAHA!


It took me a bit of sketching to finally get something I liked. I had to go out and observe the Josiecat in the wild, in her natural habitat (on the floor, behind the couch). I took a bunch of photos, and was delighted with her smoosh-face laying on the floor pose. When she's laying around outside in the grass, I like to call her Jungle Cat, and Fierce Jungle Hunter. So it wasn't much of a stretch to come up with my final design. (Making the caption about her being a Jungle Cat was my dear husband's suggestion. We have been giggling over this drawing ever since.)

I hope this turns out well. I'm excited to be able to make a lot of Josie tiles. I really like the old comic book spin on this one, so I definitely want to make more in this vein. Maybe she will have a whole series of tiles!

Thursday, July 5, 2012


New doll jars in progress. My little podlings.

I've been pretty busy the last three days, but unfortunately I've neglected to take pictures of everything I've been doing. I did go out back and snap quick photos of the doll jars I'm working on. I'm not 100% happy with the forms, but I'm working on pushing them further. I'm having some trouble throwing exactly what I have in mind, but I bought a new box of clay on Tuesday, so I'm going to give them another go once I get these closer to being finished.

I can already feel that this blog post is going to lackluster. I wanted to sit down and update you all on what I've been up to, but part of what's been going on is that I'm coming down with some nasty sinus crap, and it's making be feel loopy and sick. I took yesterday to rest, only going out to the studio briefly to check on things. Today I feel better, but I did way too much today, and with the heat and all the clay dust, my head feels like it weighs 100 lbs.

I went to a tile workshop on Tuesday in Cincinnati at Core Clay, but i forgot to take pictures of the tile I was making. Sarah Horn is teaching the workshop, and her work is just wonderful. It's a 4 week workshop, so I'll be back there next week to cast my master tile in plaster. I made one tile while I was there, but I think I'd like to make a second here at home and bring it there to get a couple master casts made. It was a fun class, and it made me wish I lived in Cincinnati just so I can hang out with that crew. Laura, Sarah, and Daniel of Core Clay are hilarious and a lot of fun to talk to. It's going to be a good month.

I got my first batch of mugs stained, and they're in the bisque kiln along with my pendants right now. I hope they all come out good!

I'll have some pics on Saturday of my bisqued stuff, as well as pictures of the last day of my kid's class. And tomorrow, I should have some progress to show on those doll jars. I'm excited to get working on those, and I've got some sketches I'm very pleased with.

Monday, July 2, 2012

My continuing mission.

I got my Picard mug made today. There are some fixes I'd like to make, and I think I might do a second attempt at this, but I'm pleased so far.

I used a monoprint transfer technique - I painted my design onto paper with black underglaze, painted white slip over the image and onto the clay I wanted to print, and then put the image face down on the slab of clay and rubbed the back. Voila! A nice, clean(ish) print. Some of the black peeled a bit, so it will need a touch up later on, but I really like this method of transferring drawings. I'd like to try making some screens in the future, so I can make multiple decals instead of painting each individual image by hand. On my next mug, I'll take some pictures of the process so you can see how it's done.

I printed both images onto a slab of clay, cut out the image on the slab, and attached it to my mug so the image is raised. The slab is a bit thicker than I would have liked though. Next time I'd like it to be nearly paper thin if possible, so the mug isn't so clunky. I know I could print directly onto the mug, but curved surfaces are tricky, and I like the idea of a raised image.

Once the mug dries a bit more, I plan to carve "Tea, Earl Grey, hot" into the Federation logo. I meant to include it in the print, but I would have had to flip the lettering so that it didn't print backwards, and I didn't want to be bothered today.

Sunday, July 1, 2012


I've got 16 new mugs drying under plastic right now. They need a few touch ups here and there, which I'll do once they're bone dry. I'm thinking of staining then or painting on them, but I haven't decided exactly how, or with what. I think it's time to put my hours of time spent on Pinterest to good use and cull some inspiration.

Speaking of inspiration, I was amusing myself on Facebook and Twitter yesterday with pseudo Star Trek references, which led me to draw this picture of that sexy, sexy man Patrick Stewart as a bit of fun and drawing practice.

I decided that what I really need is mug with Captain Picard's commanding visage on it, and the beverage he always requests.
I am contemplating making several Star Trek fan art mugs, because goddamn, I love that show. That show inspires my LIFE, no bullshit. If people were as honorable and loyal and diplomatic and just downright awesome as the crew of the starship Enterprise NCC 1701-D, the world would be a better place. I am SO SERIOUS RIGHT NOW. I just feel like, if I could wake up everyday drinking out of Picard's face, my day would just be better, you know?

(P.S., you know you're a pottery geek when you're watching a show, and you catch yourself paying attention to the table ware they use. In the last several I've watched, they drink hot beverages out of glass mugs with what looks like a plastic ring around the base that the handle is attached to. That, ladies and gentlemen, is what mugs will look like in THE FUTURE.)

Nich and I started filming a few clips for my Kickstarter video today (doesn't that sound professional and impressive? I should have said "We started production on our upcoming Kickstarter film", isn't that what they say?). I've got an outline written for both the project itself, and what I want my Kickstarter video and page to say. I got three weeks to bang this out, guys. I'm excited!

In case you're wondering, "What are you doing a Kickstarter for, exactly?" I will reveal all sometime this week. I've got a new series of work I'd like to make, and I need your help to get it done, but I'd like to get started on it so I have something concrete to show you guys. Stay tuned!

Saturday, June 30, 2012


I got a dozen cups finished, trimmed and handled (I lost one to handle breakage, though. Oh well.) I threw 8 more last night, one of which flopped, and one which had a hole in the bottom that I didn't notice until after I put it on the drying board. I'm hoping to get trimming and some handles put on those today. I sketched a bit on 6 of the first 12, though I was kind of just playing around. I don't really know what I'm doing yet. I'm itching to make things, but I have so many ideas, and then I get into the studio and my mind just goes blank. I have a vague idea of the direction I want to go with my mugs, but so far I'm not quite there. Maybe I need to make 100 mugs to get it right?

I met up with my friend Danette at the Garfield Park Arts Center in the park near where I live. Danette is a ceramic artist as well (go check out her wonderful work - don't worry, I'll wait); we both graduated from Herron together. We have both resolved to sketch more often, so we met up to do a sketch kit scavenger hunt that the arts center was hosting. I brought Maddy, and she ingested a lot of crayon and paper, but we had a good time watching her run around while we sat in the grass and sketched things in the park.

We were supposed to draw something that moves, something our favorite color, something up high, and something that grows. Can you guess which is which?

We both talked about getting into studio and getting creative block, not knowing what to do once we're there. Hopefully sketching more often will get us back into making new art. For me, I think taking the time to sketch throughout the day as much as possible (whenever Maddy is running around outside, maybe?) or just getting in the habit of carrying my sketchbook with me at all times would really help me have more direction when I go into the studio at night.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Dreams and Goals

I made it out to the studio tonight for a couple hours after Maddy went to bed. I set a goal of throwing 12 mugs, and getting all my pendants smoothed around the edges and ready to fire. I'm happy to say I met my goal, getting everything done in just under 2 hours. I'd estimate I was finishing one mug every 8 mins. I think that once I get comfortable with a form I like, I'll be faster and more efficient. I'd like to be able to throw a dozen mugs in an hour. Maybe one day I can get fast enough to make a mug a minute! I guess I've resisted going for speed because I never expected to become a production potter. I don't know if that's what I'm aiming for exactly; I think I just want to throw a lot, and quickly, so that I improve, and have a lot of surfaces to work my designs on.

I was listening to my iphone playlist on shuffle while I worked, and I started daydreaming about how cool it would be to throw a huge art party. I thought, I'll ask Open Mike Eagle, Three Ninjas, Julia Massey and the Five Finger Discount, Kimya Dawson, and Side Pony to all perform, and people can eat hummus and drink PBR out of my pottery, and I'll invite all my favorite potters there for a throw-a-thon. There will be sushi on handmade serving trays, and live sketching in progress by my friend Narciso, who will also break dance. Scratch the hummus and PBR, it's my party dammit, I'm gonna serve nothing but Captain and Coke and jambalaya. Well, there will still be sushi. Maybe I will get really drunk, and someone will hand me a mic, and I'll sing reasonably on key and get asked to be a guest on someone's next record. And I'll make mugs for all the musicians, and they'll all be my BFFs for life. It will have to happen in Seattle, or maybe LA if I really want to flip out. While I'm dreaming, might as well invite Busdriver, too.

It could happen, right?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A Love Letter

3 years ago today, I married the love of my life. Everyone says that, but it's not a statement I ever expected to come out of my mouth (or, er, blog). I thought I'd be single forever, or maybe date a string of mediocre guys I kept around just to keep me company. I never thought I'd find THE ONE, like a freakin' chick flick or something. Except my husband isn't some two dimensional magazine model with perfect teeth and nice car, or whatever the hell passes for a romantic interest in Hollywood these days.

I married a man who loves ugly grandpa sweaters in all sincerity, not in an ironic hipster way. Who wore a vintage green western suit and a mohawk to our wedding, and ROCKED IT OUT. Who helped me move 3 separate times expecting nothing in return, and we weren't even dating yet. Who would have proposed to me with a freaking tricycle rather than a ring if his mom hadn't talked him out of it (dude, I love my antique engagement ring that belonged to his grandmother, but I could have had a TRICYCLE. The man KNOWS.) My husband is a weirdo in so many awesome ways, and he complements who I am. More importantly, I know that he genuinely loves who I am, and not who he thinks I should be, or wishes I would be. He has been my support at some of the lowest points in my life, and my biggest fan during some of the highest. He is the most genuinely kind and loyal person I have ever met, and he is an AMAZING father. He's more than I could ever have wished for in a partner.

Nicholas Manuel, if I had to do my life over again, I would choose you over every living person on this planet. You are the Super Meat Boy to my Bandage Girl. I love you, and I want to spend the rest of my life with you, stomping into the sunset and leaving destruction, mayhem, and awesomeness in our wake.

If you want to read something awesome that Nich wrote for our wedding website, check this out.

Happy Anniversary my darling:)

Monday, June 25, 2012

Don't BITE your friends!

I've been really trying to make a habit of sketching more. I feel a lot more confident sitting down to make something if I've got some sketches for reference first. That seems like a really obvious thing, but I'm not always great about it. Sketching is like anything else - you get better with practice. I enjoy the hell out of it, so I'm not sure why I don't do it more often. I guess I don't sit still a whole lot, so I have to make it a point to sit down with pen and paper in hand and dedicate some time to it. I feel like if I still had math lectures and corded phones in my life, I'd get a lot more sketching done.

I started sketching a little while watching Yo Gabba Gabba with Maddy. I'm starting to get addicted to that show. It's not the deepest thing in the world, but the art style and the music are awesome. I would work as a designer for that show in a heartbeat. Also, sometimes it just has moments that I find absurdly funny, like the "Don't bite your friends!" song, or DJ Lance suddenly remembering - "Oh yeah, I CAN fly! WHEEE!" So yeah, I know everyone already loves this show, and it's pretty much targeted at my demographic. But I seem to have the heart of a grumpy elderly old man lurking inside me, so I tend to resist popular things with a scowl and crossed arms until one day I succumb against my will. Then I post about my new discovery on Facebook ("Like OMG, just heard that new Gotye song, isn't it great? Also, what's up with the chevron trend on Pinterest? Is that a thing now?") and my younger friends cheerfully tell me how late I am to the game (looking at you, Erin, lol).

As you can see, I've got MEGA plans and ideas. Soooooo many plans. I took some of my sketches and started carved them into some linoleum blocks to stamp into clay, and now I've got some tiny adorable pendants in progress.

I really love tiny adorable things, and I love drawing, so I'm not sure why I resisted making clay jewelry for so long. I'm looking forward to having a massive pile of tiny porcelain Godzilla tiles. I might even make some extra and just hide them around town. I've always wanted to do something like that, and I just saw this artist's ceramic tagging project, which is pretty much exactly what I'd always had in mind. Why don't I ever act on the ideas I have?!? Someone always does it first! But it's such a cool idea, I love those little hearts everywhere! Wouldn't it be cool to find something like that in your city? Definitely check out the rest of her work, btw. It's wonderful stuff.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Life, the universe, and everything

Hello, dear readers. It's been a minute since I've written. If you're still following this blog, then I thank you from the bottom of my heart. If there is just one person out there (and I hope there are more!), I am sending you my deepest love and appreciation.

My life has not progressed in the fashion I expected it to. Life seems fond of doing that. If you've been wondering what I've been doing during my little hiatus from art and the internet, I've been doing a whole lot of waiting, that's what. A whole lot of sitting and sighing and looking at stacks of boxes packed with all my belongings. Definitely a lot of moping and groaning.

I moped about my residency ending. I moped about being stuck in this house (which is not MY house) without my own car. I moped about our house (the one we were trying to buy), which we still have not closed on (and I'm resigned to the fact that we probably will not be getting it, because banks are dumb). I moped about not having a space to work in. Life. Don't talk to me about life.

I think I took some time to grieve, and to mourn some dreams that just weren't panning out the way I'd planned. I needed to do that for a little while, and to sort some things out in my head, before I could move on.

(One Sunday morning, the warm sun came up, and - pop! - out of the egg came a tiny, and very hungry caterpillar)

But finally, I said screw this! I realized that I'd put my entire life on hold because I was waiting on that house, and that studio space in the basement where I'd already planned out and lived the next 10 years of my life in my head. Enough! I decided to figure out what resources I had now, and what I could do today that would advance my life and get me making art again. Things do not happen for people who sit around and wait. I'd taken enough time, and now I was ready.

For the last two weeks, I've been cleaning, packing, organizing, and reorganizing the little guest house in the back yard of my in-laws, which we've been using as a storage space up until now. Every day, for about an hour and a half (while Maddy naps), and sometimes after she goes to bed, I went out back and cleaned and moved things and hauled away trash and things we no longer needed. I set up some tables, put up some old cabinets I scored from Freecycle (God bless that site!), and unpacked my old artwork to put on display.

After a lot of hard work, I made a little space for myself. I set up my wheel, which has not been used for over 2 years, held my breath, and turned it on...

Creepy alien bunny baby keeps me company while I work.

My lucky studio gator looks on. One day, I will paint him new clothes as I originally intended.

And it works! HOORAY!

I am really excited to begin making work again! I have big plans and dreams, and I hope you'll follow along with me as I make them happen. Clearing out that house made me feel strong, and capable, like I could do anything! (I think I understand why I have friends that love to clean and organize now!) I still have more to do, but my plan is to make it into a space that people could visit, where I could show off my new work, and you all could pop in and say hi and see what I'm up to. 

I went out there for the first time yesterday to work on some art. I tested out a new clay body from Laguna that I just picked up at Core Clay in Cincinnati, and I finished the mishima on these plates that I started months ago. I am committed to getting out there a little everyday, and I'm going to make and make and make as much art as I can, and it's going to be awesome.

30 days from today, I have resolved to launch a Kickstarter to help fund the production of a new line of work. I've got some ideas I'm flipping out about right now, and I want to dig right in. But before I launch, as a show of good faith, I want to get working now, use all the materials I have left, and get you all excited about what I have in store. Then, if you like what I'm doing, and you want to be a part of it, you can jump right in with me, and we can PARTY DOWN.

Stay tuned:D