Saturday, 30 November 2013

emerging artist: Gillian Mitchell

Bio - Having art in my life has inspired and shaped who I am today. After receiving my Diploma of Fine Arts from Red Deer College in 2009, I transferred to Alberta College of Art + Design where I graduated in 2012 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts, with distinction. Being an artist has inspired me to share my knowledge and become a high school art teacher. I am currently attending the University of Calgary where I will receive a Bachelor of Education specializing in secondary art in 2014.

Fish Huts- This new work explores the idea of introducing one of a kind, handmade art into fish tanks. I love the idea of creating vessels. It gives my work a purpose: the idea of containing something or to hold something. Evolving from vases to sculputres to dishes and now to huts for fish to live in; the continual inspiration is the ocean itself.

Creating ceramic houses, caves, huts, homes and toys for fish has been a fun experiment. The pieces have proven to be super easy to clean, safe for the fish and a different take on art.

If you don't already have a fish that needs a new hiding place, hopefully these cute huts will inspire you to go adopt a fish. 

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

call for entry (URGENT DEADLINE - Sorry): The 7th Annual International Texas Teapot Tournament

Application deadline: December 1, 2013
Entry Fee: $45 for 2 entries
Location: Texas, Houston
Show Title: The 7th Annual International Texas Teapot Tournament
Show Date: January 11, 2014-November 26, 2014
Open to: all original work, representing teapots, either functional or sculptural and completed within the last 2 years. Open to all artists who work in clay. Each piece must be at least 60% fired clay, weigh no more than 25 lbs. and be no larger than 24 inches in any direction. The $45 CAMEO membership/entry fee entitles each artist to submit a maximum of two teapots. Wall work is allowed. Overseas entries are encouraged.
Classification: international exhibitions
Slide / Digital: actual work
Contact details:
18 Hands Gallery
249 W. 19th St.
Phone: 713-869-3099

Don't forget - Penland Deadline is this Friday!!!

Spring Scholarships 2014
Spring scholarship applications must be received by November 29, 2013.
Work-study scholarships help make Penland available to a wider range of students. Work-study students receive room, board, and a discounted tuition. Full work-study students work 20-25 hours per week on a variety of tasks—principally in food service and dishwashing. Partial work-study students work approximately 10 hours per week. (No full work-study in glass.) Most positions involve physical labor, but there are a few which can accommodate physical limitations. If you have physical limitations, please send a separate note explaining what kinds of work you are able to do. This will not factor into selection, but will help us with assignments. In addition to regular duties, work-study students are required to work from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM on the day before and the day after their session. If you cannot meet this requirement, do not apply.
Scholarship applications are accepted by mail only.

Your letter should be no longer than two pages and should address the following:
Financial need: why attending Penland would be a financial hardship for you.
Seriousness of intent: your background and experience in craft, if any (prior experience in craft is not a requirement). The individual artistic goals that you hope to pursue in each of the classes you are applying for.
Work ethic: work-study students have an experience which is different from yet equally valuable to that of regular students. Do you feel you will benefit from balancing studio work with physical labor for the school?

You will also need to supply a résumé and two letters of reference which address your work ethic and your commitment to learning.
There is one work-study position in the fall and one in the spring for a student who will teach movement and also do some office and garden work. Your application and resume should address your qualifications to teach movement.

There is one work-study position in the fall and one in the spring in the development office.

Please do not apply for work-study if you are applying as a full-paying student. If you are not selected for work-study, you will have the opportunity to re-apply as a full-paying student (some workshops may be full at that time). Work-study applications must be received by November 29, 2013, except for the special work-study scholarships listed below. Because these are available for both fall and spring classes, applications for these scholarships must be received by August 2, 2013. Work-study students will be notified by December 15, and once accepted will be asked to pay their invoiced balance.
Scholarship applications are accepted by mail only.
International students note: because the U.S. government considers our work-study scholarship and studio assistantship programs to be work for hire, students who are not U.S. citizens may not receive work-study scholarships unless they have a work permit.

Cathi Jefferson at Out Of Hand Artisans Fair

"Jefferson is one of three noted B.C. potter/artists whose work will be featured in the Out of Hand Artisans Fair this weekend at the Crystal Garden. The others are Mary Fox of Ladysmith and Gordon Hutchens of Denman Island." - Richard Watts, Times Columist

Read the full article here or check out Out of Hand this weekend to see some beautiful Canadian ceramics in person.


The Crystal Gardens
713 Douglas Street
Victoria, BC
[see Google Map]

movie day: 陶芸作家 原田省平さん Japanese Ceramic Artist - Shohei Harada

Monday, 25 November 2013

monday morning eye candy: Kari Radasch

Kari will be having an Online Holiday Mug Sale on December 10th at 12 noon at her Etsy Shop. Last time she sold out fast so make sure to set your alarm clocks for this one!

Thursday, 21 November 2013

guest post: Revisiting and Redefining Markets, Pt. II by Jill Foote-Hutton

Before I post the second part of Jill Foote-Hutton’s thought provoking guest post, I’d like to encourage you to return to the first part ofthe post for a re-read. Not only did Jill present us with a plateful of considerations, but you’ll find in the comment section a dialogue between Jill and Carter Gillies that adds so much more to the article. In the end Jill states that she would desire the opportunity to sit with Carter to further discuss the topic in person, and I for one would love to be at that table.

For me Jill’s guest post made me stop to ponder a topic I often try or tend to ignore - my business plan. I'm the first to admit it's flawed. My relationship with the gallery “system” whether for my functional work or my figurative work has been a stressful one. I would classify myself as falling within the category of artists Jill and Carter described as the one needing a hand up the ladder. I’ve had many opportunities in my career thus far where I’ve accepted unjust contracts, lack of contracts all together, and flat out ridiculous treatment by galleries for fear of burning bridges and creating a bad name or high maintenance label for myself. In my own experience one of the unjust scenarios I’ve dealt with, which in some ways is similar to the shipping breaks for best sellers Jill proposed, is that of galleries who work two different types of contracts with their artists. Some they buy wholesale and others they sell commission. There is no way to have an equitable treatment of all your gallery artists if you work under such a model. I guess I would much rather see an equal playing field, rather than breaks or perks for the best sellers. How else do we encourage, foster and build the careers of the emerging or less established artists?

We as artists take risks on galleries same as they take risks on us. I have a body of work, my figurative one, that isn’t a popular sell. I get it, it’s hard to have that sort of subject matter in your face daily, beside you at the dinning room table. If you make political or challenging work, more often you find your work exhibited, perhaps purchased for a collection, or most likely back in your basement storage room. Does this mean that such work is less popular for galleries to exhibit due to its lack of revenue? I guess so? My concern would then be - my own work aside, I’m talking about any controversial, political or challenging work - that such work would loose opportunities for exposure. My concern would be that artists would gravitate towards “safer” work; more market viable work. And I guess I see my role as an artist is to create based on what I need to express or deal with through my work. My role is to create dialogue, provoke new perspectives and inspire. But how can I do that if I’m spending all my time concerned about sales, or what the galleries will think of the work, and whether there will be a gallery at all to support the work? 
I'm personally finding that there are alternative ways, particularly online, to broaden the market for your work, but I'm also finding this draining my time and taking me away from studio production. I would rather foster good relationships with galleries who are ideally better trained and effective at marketing and selling artwork then I am. I get tired of wearing all the hats this job requires, even if that means I have more control from start to finish.

As you can see Jill has stirred me, and my thoughts. She’s brought me out of my studio and is forcing me to address issues of the business side of art. And I love it. These sorts of discussions are how we as a community of makers, administrators, curators, gallerists, critics, etc. will grow.

So on that note – bring on part two of the discussion! Thanks again to Jill for getting us thinking. And I encourage you to join in the conversation in the comments section below.

Revisiting and Redefining Markets, Pt. II
by Jill Foote-Hutton

Last month I presented an ever-present conversation in our field of how to forge a successful business model today, examining some of the questions underscoring the current plans of contemporary makers.  In the article “Four Figure Denim for (Only) Your Figure”, the Wall Street Journal showcased a niche market in the denim industry.  What struck me while reading the article was the ability of the entrepreneur to expand their market by delving further into the niche.  What lies in the untrod corners of a market?  What profits are being overlooked?  As I read, I saw very clearly how the article connected to the field of ceramics.

There has been talk suggesting craft is dead or at least dying.  Supporting this fear is the ever-growing ominous shadow of design and 3D Printing. Let us not forget, in the larger fine art world painting has been declared dead several times, and within the arc of painting heralds have decreed, “Figure painting is dead!”

Somehow paintings and figurative painters keep evolving and moving forward. 

Yes, if craft artists only continue to follow the very traditional models set forth in our history, we would all be in trouble, but how can we remain stagnant in our evolving world?  We can’t.  We aren’t.  There are new corners of the niche to mine and several makers are doing just that, they are investing in the four points I mentioned in the first half of this essay:  Planning, Perseverance, Integrity, and Diversification.   Some use the questions to evolve their concepts and are just at the beginning of the journey, others are further along the path with a few successes under their belts.  The momentum gives me hope that our field is smart enough to continue evolving.  The village potter will live on even if the model looks a little different. What follows is a series of snapshots from conversations with four makers who are at the leading edge of this conversation.  They are not the only makers forging new ground, but I found their stories illuminated various corners of potential within the niches of contemporary craft.

Andrew Gilliatt's Op-Dot Jars
Andrew Gilliatt was a resident at Red Lodge Clay Center in 2011-12.  During his introductory image lecture he shared his interest in the idea of mass customization. He shared images from the sneaker industry’s mass customization models alongside the selections of color combinations and designs offered in his studio production.  To be clear, Gilliatt has no delusions he will be able to seize a market share as large as Nike, but the model does influence his concepts. He raises an interesting contrast between the potter’s studio and a large corporation. Before any maker can move into a new market, it is also important to know where one doesn’t want to go.  Now a resident at the Archie Bray Foundation, Gilliat’s conversation has continued to evolve.  First, to be clear about what mass customization is and how it impacts his studio practice, Gilliatt defines the matter in his own words,

Mass Customization is a system that, through the integration of new computer technologies (e.g. CAD, CAM, Rapid Prototyping, etc.), combines the low cost unit of mass production with the flexibility of the personalized custom-made object. In a nutshell, it is the manufacturing of a customized good straight from the factory.

“There are two basic types of mass customization - adaptive customization and collaborative customization.

“With adaptive customization, the company provides a standardized object that is customizable by the user before manufacturing. Examples of this are Adidas, Nike, and the Mini Cooper. The 2 main points from this are

1.  That there is a standardized object
     (in the case of Adidas, the shoes that are customizable are their most
      popular models throughout the years)
2.  The object is customized before production of the good.
     Something like a reversible jacket is not an example.

“Collaborative customization is where a company works in partnership with the customer to manufacture a precise product. Unlike adaptive customization, there is no standardized object. The example here would be the company Shapeways. Shapeways has a bunch of user submitted designed objects that can be purchased and produced in a variety of materials (plastics, metals, and maybe now porcelain). The customer can do one of three things:
Shapeways Homepage Products
1. Purchase a made design and decide what material to manufacture
     it in.
2. Purchase a design and alter it.
3. Create their own design and have it manufactured.

“Some of the implications of mass customization are that it could potentially encourage a situation where a specific supply meets the specific demand of the customer; a balance of supply and demand. Another possibility is that the factories would be more localized or regional and cater specifically to the needs of that geographic culture; raincoats made in Seattle customized by the population of the Pacific Northwest. Another possibility is that these factories would only use local materials and resources thereby limiting the impact of fossil fuel/resource consumption.

“As a craftsperson, I don't know how hard-pressed I am to implement true mass customization within my own line of work. At the moment I have autonomy, authorship and control of what objects get made/produced and what sort of "combinations" get made. Without a doubt though, the idea of mass customization has totally reframed how I think about my work, methodology, and practice (standardized object, finite amount of color choices, pattern options, and decal graphics that in combination yield a sense of infinite variety).

“As a designer, I would be ecstatic to work with a company who has the overhead and capital to encourage some sort of venture similar to my own hand-made work, but a venture in which, ultimately, I would not be incurring the same type of risk that I might as an individual maker.”

Gilliatt’s research really taps into a core conflict, how does a maker evolve a viable market, evolving while compromising and still hang onto the soul of what drives the creative process?  Mass customization is a tantalizing avenue and can allow clients from a broader economic background to break through the door of price point concerns.  We have to accept the premise of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.  The handmade product is a luxury item when put up against other economic pulls put on households today. 

The need to understand one’s market is illustrated in Nicholas Bivins’ attempt to branch out with his line of stunt cups.  Stepping away from his minimalist designs, which were inspired by the half-pipes and tabletops familiar to skating, BMX, and snowboarding, he took the narrative a step further and began including silhouettes of athletes mid-stunt.  The figures fly over the surface of his vessels, celebrating the human potential to defy gravity.  He then reached out to share the work with his extreme sport community in a tentative exploration by posting a link to his Etsy shop on Reddit. The reply?

Nicholas Bivin's Tumbler
“A $45 cup?  No thanks.  Cool picture though.  Might pick it up if it was like $3.”

Whew!  What a blow, but there it is in a nutshell. 

Still, I hope he perseveres and continues to pursue this market.  It’s a great idea!  While many folks involved in extreme sports have made their own lifestyle choice that dictates where their dollars flow, keeping them in equipment and out of the hospital, deeper within the niche may lie individuals with nostalgia or success who can be educated about the value of the handmade residing in their cupboards or who already see the parallels in the lifestyle choices between visual artist and pro-athlete.

Both Gilliatt and Bivins’ objects are stepping up to the perimeter that defines craft and design, carefully peering over and studying the markets.  They are doing a cost benefit analysis.  They are invested in the planning phase of developing new markets while they maintain the integrity of their product. They continue to persevere in their studio practice.  They are studying other markets, investigating how they can diversify their client base and, in turn, spread craft beyond a saturated market.
Meredith Host Dot Dot Dash Tumblers
Meredith Host is another maker looking over this edge. She has diversified within her own studio. A line of work under the title “Foldedpigs” on Etsy supports the creative endeavors and object output of her fine craft line “Dot Dot Dash”.   She has separate business cards, separate venues, and separate goals for each line. I suppose on the surface it may seem a little schizophrenic, but Host has managed to create a day job that allows her to be involved in making, it allows her to be a mentor to younger artists through an internship program at the Kansas City Art Institute, and it allows her to develop a body of work that reaches into the niche where she sees her future as a maker and a business woman.
Perhaps you have already heard the tale of Foldedpigs’ inception, if you haven’t, allow me to briefly introduce you.  Like many creative acts Foldedpigs was part discipline, part happy accident.  Host was in graduate school preparing for the Annual OSU Valentine’s Day Sale.  She struck on the idea of cranking out diner-style service ware adorned with skulls and brains, the sort of imagery that appeals to a zombie-loving crowd with clever tag lines.  Lowered costs, lowered production effort, higher return on her investments.  Then a snowstorm arose and the sale was cancelled. She was left with a lot of unmoved product. 

Etsy was in its infancy, so she decided to create her own storefront.  Not wanting these objects to derail or detract from the integrity of her larger studio practice, she distanced herself with the name Foldedpigs. 

She acknowledges the gift of timing in her story. 

Host joined Etsy before it was the monolith we now know.  The quality of cool ceramic objects offered on Etsy was small, so competition was low.  The work was pretty much an instant hit with the buyers on Etsy, and she was awarded a feature spot on the Etsy homepage, which meant her work was brought to the top of the Etsy haystack for 3-4 days.  The exposure brought her approximately 125 sales in that time period and resulted in product placement on the pages of some print periodicals, expanding the Foldedpigs market even more.

It’s easy to read Host’s success on Etsy as dumb luck, but really it’s a manifestation of a concept familiar to all artists.  Follow the work!  Make your own luck, is another way to say it.  She saw a market interested in this imagery and a lack of representation within utilitarian objects.  She didn’t take a snowstorm for a “NO” answer, rather she asked herself, “Now what?”  She continues to take steps forward, part intuition and part implementation of her observations and experience.  It is Host’s internal dialogue and consistent re-evaluation of her plan (business and creative) that continues to propel her forward.  She manages to maintain a studio space in Kansas City with Rain Harris and Paul Donnelly.  She manages to pay for insurance.  Most importantly she has managed to move Dot Dot Dash forward.
While in school it is easy to get consumed by lofty concepts, so esoteric they are lost on a larger audience.  Host has a penchant for tapping on the door of queasy, uneasy humor with objects like a bowl with a single strand of hair rendered on it, fake mouse droppings on the ledge of a saucer, or the drawing of an intestinal track circling a serving platter.  In art school the audience is open to such boundary bouncing, even (dare I say) hungry for it.  The larger commercial market may not want to live with such challenges in their daily life.  Host appreciates this and employs her skills of internal negotiation to honor her desire to push the envelope while appealing to a broader market.  The colorful patterns on the surface of Dot Dot Dash are lifted from the patterns of paper towels, tissue, and toilet paper.  She is still nodding to the unmentionable processes of the human body, but now she is doing it in a way that is more aesthetically palatable.  Her clients can choose where they meet the work, because the objects are also vibrant, well designed, and the surface is a considered composition that leaves room to celebrate the contents carried within or upon.

Let’s take this telling back to the topic of gallery representation.  It would seem that Host is well on her way to cutting out the middleman, but when I asked her how she perceived the relationship between gallery and artist she reported that she still saw it as relevant to the development of her market. 

While Host is working to build her revenue streams in Kansas City by hosting studio sales and garnering more personal relationships with regional clients, she acknowledges a gallery’s reach is longer than her own.  She also doesn’t foresee a time in the immediate future when she will ditch Foldedpigs, even though she has made inroads to streamlining the production to allow for more time on Dot Dot Dash. Host is wary of pushing to redefine the structure of artist-gallery relationships echoing a concern Gilliatt talked about above, in that she appreciates her autonomy in choosing what product to send to a gallery.  She observed that if a gallery were to assume more of the risk in the selling relationship, then the gallery would have more right to demand specific products from the artists.  This is not autonomy she is willing to secede at this time.  Furthermore, she believes exclusivity contracts up the ante on how she expects a gallery to work on her behalf. 

While Etsy gives her exposure for both lines of work beyond the ceramic community, galleries within the ceramic community increase her profile.  She hopes the increased profile will result in demand for workshops and speaking engagements, the next goal on her list.  Goals speak to planning, and Host has a 3-5 year plan in place.  She consistently re-evaluates her plan, writes it down in order from least possible to the most possible objectives.  She also has a built in brainstorming community in her studio mates Harris and Donnelly.  They push each other forward and share resources. 
At the end of our conversation Host said she took a workshop with Ayumi Horie right out of grad school.  She remembered thinking, “This is a woman to watch,” dazzled by Horie’s marketing strategies.  Host acknowledged Horie’s model as the ultimate goal.  I would posit that if Host continues to persevere and plan she will have, if she doesn’t already, a host of young makers saying the same about her.

Someone else to watch, someone in the infancy of her practice, is recent North Dakota State University alum Meg Roberts.  Roberts’ thesis project is now well on the way to becoming a 501c3.  If you haven’t heard of it, the endeavor is titled “Plants for Patients” or “P4P”.
“Plants for Patients (P4P) is an idea; it’s a framework for doing good work in our communities.  It’s the way we say, “This is how we treat our neighbors — with love and empathy, not shame or hate." P4P is a program blending art, community involvement and social activism while promoting humanitarianism.
The program strives to begin breaking down the social stigmas perpetrated against women who undergo abortion care by leveraging the kindness of strangers to create a community of support.  It also seeks to create a new dialogue about the abortion conversation in American society – a dialogue rooted in compassion.”
Preparing Plants for Delivery
P4P capitalizes on the accessibility of ceramics to reach out to individuals in need.  Roberts taps a polarizing topic and creates a bridge between the divide, because both sides of the discussion have measures of compassion for the human struggle accompanying an unplanned pregnancy.  Roberts had the support of a strong faculty and was part of the new program Engage-U, which cultivates socially engaged visual art projects.  Since graduation she has been able to continue evolving the idea through planning, developing an advisory board, and generating buzz within and beyond the field of ceramics.  Because the concept was formed between her two passions of ceramics and women’s health, P4P is inherently diversified. 

Writing Messages of Support
While she is currently holding down a day job as an espresso slinger, she is also figuring out her fiscal plan.  She chronicles her time spent on the growth of P4P, assessing the viability of its future.  She defines her role as architect of a framework and recognizes the need to hire an Executive Director on the distant horizon.  She struggles to invest more time in the studio side of the equation, but wants to ensure P4P has the momentum and structure it needs to continue well into the future. Securing 501c3 status will allow Roberts to develop diverse revenue streams by mining national and regional resources available for women’s health, non-profits, reproductive health, and the visual arts. She is savvy enough to realize she needs support not only for P4P, but also aims to secure a personal income stream. 
Now don’t think Roberts is underwriting all of this from her barista income or walking that tired path of just-donate-your-time-and-resources-for-the-exposure-in-hope-of-future-return. Not this practical North Dakota native.  Roberts’ legwork has already resulted in enough support to cover studio space, raw materials, and office supplies through fiscal and in-kind donations. And I’m betting the support for P4P will only continue to grow as she generates more exposure through speaking engagements. 

This coming March you can hear about P4P directly at the NCECA Conference in Milwaukee where Roberts will present a lecture on the power of social engagement and her experience.  She just returned from a brief tour where she was invited to present at the South Dakota NARAL Choice Leadership and Advocacy Summit in Sioux Falls and a spot on a panel of artists who focus on reproductive rights in Cincinnati, Ohio for the National Women’s Studies Association Conference.  Also on the Ohio panel?  The Guerilla Girls Broadband and Heather Ault of 4000 Years for Choice.  Not too bad for a project officially launched in March of 2012.  Finally, she is slated to present a workshop at the next Abortion Care Network Conference on positively changing patient experience and counteracting stigma.
Roberts on Left with her She-roes!
We don’t know yet how Roberts’ career and the future of P4P will manifest or what longevity it will have. But if the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior, surely her momentum will continue to grow.  For the purpose of this essay Roberts’ appears to be establishing an ever-more viable career path others might want to model.  Not by emulating her path exactly, but by putting a hard eye to the areas we choose to invest the hours of our daily lives and examining the overlaps.  It’s not so much that she is re-inventing the wheel, but she is digging deeper into the niche.  In doing so, she may have found a hallway that connects ceramics to another room entirely.

Finally, turning back to the fine craft market specifically, I want to introduce a project I am familiar with because I work with one of the creators, Red Lodge Clay Center Communications and Residency Coordinator Andrea Moon. Along with her brothers Jon and Ben, the Moons are a family invested in the arts with a strong business background.  They see the struggles makers encounter in daily life.  The struggles of student loan debt, insurance payments, housing, etc. are very real.  Hopefully folks opt out of this life if their fear outweighs their commitment to their creative vision.  A commonly held understanding of a life in the arts is that it is a lifestyle choice more than an investment in giant fiscal success.  Still, that doesn’t mean we can’t work to secure a larger market.  The Moon siblings have some altruistic leanings, but they are guided by practicality and business acumen.  Their project is “Pedestal” and it is meant to be a bridge connecting artists, collectors, and galleries

Pedestal is truly in its infancy, but the heart of the endeavor, and the fact that it was inspired by examining and combining the best parts of social media tools like Facebook, Etsy, and Crafthaus deserves inclusion.  Pedestal aims to create more overlaps for the artists they represent, connecting them to a broader collector base by providing a platform for collectors to create profiles that target their areas of interests e.g. wood fired functional, narrative, or basketry.  Pedestal aims to assist galleries too, providing an online “back room” venue for smaller galleries without an existing web presence. The goal is for Pedestal to expand local markets into global markets without charging a commission to the represented parties. 

The most immediate challenge Pedestal faces is getting artist buy-in.  They have to fill their pages in order to generate momentum, but artists with so many pulls on their time already may be reticent to commit to an unproven quantity.  To combat the concern, the Moon family is working to cultivate their inaugural artists, engaging in an ongoing dialogue with a handful of makers who are committed to helping launch Pedestal as a full fledged entity.  Another challenge has them examining the hazards they perceive on Etsy. Pedestal is working to devise a jury structure inclusive enough to create a broad network, but exclusive enough to maintain consistent quality in the work represented. 

What is so right about the concept of Pedestal, is the examination of the ever-prevalent role of social media in our lives and asking how it can be a more pro-active tool for the art market.  Their immediate goal is to raise enough fiscal support to develop a smart app in the next year easing the learning curve for Pedestal artists.  The long-term goals of Pedestal, and where the real visionary qualities of this project appear, are the plans to build a non-profit section of the brand that will provide a support structure for artistic development e.g. scholarships, internships, home loans, and group insurance rates.

Pedestal has some lofty goals, but their exploration of the niche is one that actually pulls back and looks at the overall construction supporting the niche, asking, “How can we redefine the game?”
In conclusion, we aren’t any parts of dead.  At best that’s a silly notion, and at worst it’s negligent to underestimate resources residing within the field of craft.  As long as artists and galleries alike continue to plan, persevere, maintain integrity, and look for ways to diversify there is an unlimited future.  We just can’t guard the niches we’ve been residing in like precious secrets.  I encourage you to share your own avenues of development in the comments section below.  Because I am convinced sharing our ideas in an open dialogue is the way to move forward.  I am equally convinced the stories I shared are just a small fraction of the ways our field is furthering the conversation and the market.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

job posting: Medalta seeks Education Coordinator

Medalta and the Historic Clay District is looking for an Education Coordinator.

This is a leadership position responsible for planning and delivering educational programs, consistent with the goals of the Historic Clay District, to a variety of audiences.  The Coordinator’s scope of responsibility includes the year-round interpretive programs related to the museum and exhibit displays, the ongoing development of the K-12 curriculum based learning programs, public programming related to the goals of the District and coordination of the continuing education programs. The Coordinator will establish liaisons and partnerships with affiliated education and community agencies that have an interest in the District’s education programs.

Full job description available online:

movie day: Design and Ceramics in Dieulefit

Monday, 18 November 2013

Call for entry: MWSU Clay Guild - Twin Cups: National Ceramics Exhibition 2014

The Missouri Western State University Clay Guild is sponsoring a National Ceramic Exhibition titled Twin Cups. The exhibition is open to all artists 18 years and older residing in the U.S.  Submitted artworks may be either functional or sculptural representations of a pair of cups, mugs, or drinking vessels, etc.  The $25.00 jury fee entitles each artist to submit a maximum of two entries (each entry consisting of a set of two).  Artworks must have been completed within the last two years. Entry deadline January 15, 2014.  Details and prospectus are available on the MWSU Clay Guild website at

January 15, 2014 Entry Submission Deadline: Postmarked
February 3, 2014 Acceptance Notification 
February 21, 2014 Shipped Artworks Due to Gallery(artworks may be hand-delivered: between 10am-4pm)
February 26, 2014 Installation of Exhibition
February 28, 2014 Exhibition Opens - Reception: - 6 pm - 9 pm 
March 28, 2014 Exhibition Closes 
March 31, 2014 Return of shipped artwork begins 
March 31, 2014 Pick-up of hand-delivered artwork: between 10am-4pm

Aaron Nelson - Connectivity @ the Esplanade in Medicine Hat

OCTOBER 26, 2013 – DECEMBER 7, 2013
Esplanade Arts and Heritage Centre. Medicine Hat, Alberta
As a craftsman, a clay expert and the Artistic Director of the Shaw International Artist Residency program at Medalta Historical Clay District, Aaron Nelson has a very broad and deep view of making craft today. To create the art in this surprising, smart and fun exhibition he investigated how to mesh sophisticated digital technology with traditional ceramics, and explore ideas about networking and connectivity.

In Connectivity, Aaron’s handmade traditional tea cups, platters, vases and porcelain chandeliers are connected, sometimes by way of their decorative gold luster, with electrical and electronic circuitry, telephones, iPods, generators, light bulbs and audio speakers. The gilded decoration works as a simple circuit board – the surfaces of the ceramics become energized with flowing electrons as they transmit electrical current and data. Visitors are invited to ‘turn on’ and interact with the pieces physically or through their electronic devices.

Elegant and innovative, serious and playful, Nelson’s new work in Connectivity links the richness of craft objects and craft practice to our lives today, through which both digital and communication technologies flow – exploring the connections, both literal and metaphorical, between electronics, communication and craft.

***Public Reception with the Artist - Thursday November 21, 7-10pm***

monday morning eye candy: Noel Bailey

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Residency Opportunity: The New Gallery Artist-In-Residence (Calgary)

The New Gallery in Calgary is looking for calls for it’s artist-in-residence program at The John Snow House. This residency is a great chance for artists working in research heavy practice.
The New Gallery will pay for accommodation, promotional material, workspace, staff assistance, and a potential honorarium depending on funding. Deadline is January 20th, 2014. More information can be found at The Alberta Foundation For The Arts:

Employment opportunities @ The Clay Studio

Position Title - Director of Development

Contact - Jenna Savage, Executive Assistant,


The Clay Studio, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization with a focus on the ceramic arts, seeks a dynamic and entrepreneurial Director of Development to lead our annual fundraising efforts while simultaneously conceptualizing and executing an ambitious strategy for growth. With a 40th Anniversary on the horizon, this is a great opportunity to raise your professional visibility while laying the foundation for a capital campaign within 36 months.

The Director of Development plays a leadership role in formulating strategies that support the annual fundraising goals as well as the expansion of the organization’s contributed income. S/he collaborates with the President, Senior Staff and Board members to create, communicate and implement our development activities. S/he is responsible for meeting and expanding all contributed income budget goals.

As The Clay Studio prepares for an extended period of growth, the Director of Development will play a key role in driving fundraising effectiveness, community awareness, and growth on a new scale. To be successful, the person in this position will be entrepreneurial, knowledgeable about key fundraising methods, adaptive, highly energetic, and eager to take on new challenges. Superior people skills will serve you well in this position! Organizational Background

The Clay Studio was founded in 1974 as an artist collective. As we approach our 40th Anniversary in 2014, we have a proud legacy of presenting international programs, hosting three national clay conferences, and serving local artists, students, children, and adults. The organization has worked to attain a strong local, national, and international reputation in the field of ceramic arts programming.

The Clay Studio has a budget of $1.7 million, of which 50% is contributed income. We are organized in the following six business units: Consignment Shop, Gallery, Studio Rental Program, Ceramics School, Claymobile, and Artist Residency. In the coming two to three years, the organization anticipates the need for a capital campaign in the range of five to ten million dollars.


The successful candidate will posses a broad understanding of philanthropic practice, have a track record of meeting annual fundraising expectations, and demonstrate a proven history of increasing contributed income. S/he will be a strategic thinker with an entrepreneurial approach to fundraising. Outgoing personalities are encouraged! CFRE is preferred and/or a track record of fundraising results.

Essential Skills
The Clay Studio is seeking a strategic thinker who also knows how to put the wheels in motion. The successful candidate will have experience and strengths in the following areas of fundraising:
Leadership, Management and People Skills Supervise a Development Assistant, volunteers, and interns as needed Engage the full Board, Committee members, and colleagues in development strategies & implementation.
Maintain a strong network of community contacts
Development Strategy
Continue Annual Fundraising schedule of approximately $900,000
Utilize existing programming to attract and retain members; going to classes, workshops, First Friday events, and public networking
Exercise your people skills to expand our giving program: devise new membership attraction & retention strategies, increase major donors, and increase corporate sponsorships giving
Develop and implement a planned giving program
Special Events Planning and Management
Devise and implement special events that range in size from intimate cocktail receptions to major galas
Create development opportunities within existing outlets such as workshops, First Fridays, lectures, newsletters, etc.
Conceptualize and execute events as a member of a team that consists of colleagues, donors, board members, volunteers, and contractors.
Grants Management
Identify and cultivate granting agencies (private, public, government)
Guide a Development Assistant who has strength in grant writing
Manage internal metrics for grant reporting

To Apply

In order to be considered, please submit the following information
Cover letter outlining qualifications and salary expectations
Professional resume
Three relevant references
Relevant writing samples of a successful grant and donor solicitation letter

Submit to Jenna Savage, No phone calls, please.
Deadline - Review of applications will begin immediately with deadline of December 13 or until filled.

The Clay Studio Intern Program

Become an active member in The Clay Studio’s community by participating in an internship. The Intern Program is geared towards ceramic enthusiast and those interested in the non-profit sector who want to further their experience and be part of a supportive educational community. Interns perform a wide variety of functions throughout the organization and can be required to do physical labor and heavy lifting.

Interns work 5 hours per week, one day a week during the Fall, Winter, Spring or Summer term. In exchange for this work, participants will receive a free class, access to open studio hours, and other class benefits such as shelf space, glazes and firings.

It is important to both the educational value of your experience as well as the stability of the program that applicants are prepared for a commitment of one full 120-week term, or 60 hours, to The Clay Studio’s Intern Program.

Internships are available in the following areas: Studio (School and/or Summer Clay Camps), Outreach/Education (Claymobile), Gallery/Shop, and Administration/Development.
To Apply

Application can be downloaded HERE. E-mail application and resume to with Intern Application in the subject heading. For more information please contact Vice President, Jennifer Martin at


The Clay Studio offers a variety of volunteer opportunities in the School and Gallery. Volunteer duties include assisting in classes and workshops, performing administrative work, staffing the School Store, helping in the Gallery & Shop, and assisting at Clay Studio special events and First Friday openings. Dates and hours vary. We are looking for friendly volunteers with an interest in ceramics.
To Apply

Application can be downloaded HERE. E-mail application and resume to with Volunteer in the subject heading. For more information please contact Jennifer Martin at

About The Clay Studio

The Clay Studio is Philadelphia's only nonprofit solely dedicated to the education and promotion of the ceramic arts, and is one of the world's leading institutions in the field. Founded in 1974, The Clay Studio supports the ceramic arts through its artist residencies, gallery, studio space, and school, educational & outreach programs. The programs of the Clay Studio reflect the dual character of the organization: as a community centered institution involved with the life of the city and region, and as a national and international focal point for ceramic arts. The Clay Studio believes in promoting broad access to the ceramic arts, therefore programs are geared to all levels of interest and proficiency.

The Clay Studio is an equal opportunity employer regardless of race, color, religion, creed, sex, marital status, national origin, disability, age, veteran status, sexual orientation, political affiliation or belief. Employment decisions are made without consideration of these or any other factors that are prohibited by law.

137-139 North Second Street · Philadelphia PA 19106 · 215.925.3453 · T-Sa 11am-6pm, Su 12p-6p ·

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