Wednesday, September 19, 2012

from our holidays: Victoria and girl friends

I keep forgetting about some of the photos I have from our holidays this summer.  In all the back to school and studio rush, the blog has been a bit neglected, but I thought I'd post a couple of photos from this GREAT house that has undergone a transforming fresh coat of white paint since the last time we were there. There are so many things about this house that I love- Caroline has such a great way of putting it all together!

We spent much of our summer holidays hanging out and staying with families who have girls.  I have to say that it was something quite special to see my boys playing with polly pockets and my little petshop stuff.  They would be absolutely livid if I told anyone that they a) played with girls for their entire holidays, and b) they played with girl toys, because they are so in that stage where they think their friends would tease them about it.  But the reality is that my big, boyish boys loved playing with the girls this summer, and I couldn't help thinking how good it was for them to have to play differently, negotiate differently, and frankly just enjoy hanging out with friends we don't often hang out with. 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Sun rays

Some days it just takes your breath away, doesn't it?  It's not often here in Vancouver, with the mountains on one side and the ocean on the other, that we get such amazing sunsets with actual rays of light fanning their way across the sky. 

Thank you to all the lovely blog posts and mentions about my vases at the West Elm Vancouver store!  I managed to check out the West Elm opening for all of 15 minutes (Dean and the boys stayed in the car so I could jump out, have a drink, check out the store and get back in the car during the opening- not really much time to actually shop...).  In all fairness, the 4 Etsy featured artists were only sent the invite the day of the invitation-only opening (hmmm), so things were a little complicated schedule-wise by that time.  Anyways, if you are interested in checking out the shop, please do- such great stuff and it was great to be included in such a fantastic store. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

Practice verses Business...and a bit more of the new studio

Ever since Forage, I've been thinking through the difference between having a 'practice' and running a 'business'.  One of our panel discussions had to do with grant writing, online financing campaigns, and award applications for making art.  The term when to use 'business' and when only to use 'art practice' came up - for instance don't ever use the term 'business' when applying for a grant- always use the term 'practice' or the grant jurors won't even consider your submission.  Although when it comes time to collecting and submitting my taxes or applying for a business license to be able to use my studio, I essentially operate as a ceramic manufacturing business.
So I started thinking through how I felt about the terms 'business' and 'practice'- whether or not one applied to me more then the other, and also, if these terms were really in fact the same way of talking about what I do.  I generally use 'art practice' and 'business' interchangeably but I often feel ill-equipped as an artist to be running a viable business.  For instance when the chatty guy at the bus stop starts asking what I do and I say 'ceramic artist' and he replies 'Is there any money in that?' I kind of stumble over my words.  Not like it's any of his business, but it has become clear to me that I'm much more comfortable understanding what I do as a practice where the personal out-comes of creating and making are more important than the dollars and cents of it.
Part of me realizes that my core values are being triggered here- that I have always viewed 'business' and 'making money' as self-serving and with a negative slant.  The artist in me wants my motives for making decisions to be 'pure'- as though making decisions to do with my creative goals and out-comes are more honourable then if those goals considered financial out-comes.  I totally admire those who feel like their ability to profit financially through their creative endeavors comes honestly or naturally, and always hoped that this would be really seamless for me as well, but am recognizing that making decisions based on my artistic out-comes alone and not considering the financial isn't healthy, viable, or sustainable either.
Every milestone I have crossed with 'dahlhaus' has been really amazing and I'm truly grateful for the opportunities that have come my way.  The potential I see in what I do will come at the cost of other things for sure, but I sometimes mourn the missed opportunities that have come across my desk- missed because I wasn't ready to have all the pieces in place to make those opportunities happen.  I have always been less prepared for success and more prepared for failure and I'd really like to change this notion (*thank you to Fiona from Cartolina Cards for clarifying this in her talk at Forage).  I'm hopeful that I  can create a more symbiotic relationship between the business of what I do and the practice of making so that the decisions and the opportunities don't overwhelm or stall the creative path that I'm on.
 **These are a few photos of sections of my new studio. It's a little hard to see how big the space is (360 sq. feet!).  I have yet to photograph the whole thing because last week I purchased a used slip-casting table to help me out with some of the heavy lifting that slip-casting demands.  It's a big massive table that I still have to sort out how to configure the rest of the studio around it.  I'll also be sharing this space with my former studio intern from a few summers ago, Kelly, who wanted to share some studio space for the next few months before she moves far, far away.  I'll be missing her when she goes so it will make for some good time together before she leaves.

Friday, September 7, 2012

New for Fall available at West Elm Vancouver!

Introducing my new glaze pattern for the fall- the Herringbone in colour-ways of turquoise to green, orange to red, grey to blue, shades of blue and yellow to green! Really, the possibilities with this design feel endless and I'm looking forward to not ever feeling bored with this one, despite the extra effort and work involved.

I'm heading over today to the new West Elm store on South Granville in Vancouver to drop off these new vases for their store launch and 'WE heart handmade art' Etsy event that's happening on the 13th of September! It's one of those opportunities that came up while we were away on holidays with a super fast turn-around date.  Fortunately I had pulled these new herringbone colours out of the kiln before we left on holidays.  I'll be expanding the series to include the colour-ways as mugs, teapots and large vases over the next month, similar to the series in blue I created for the Kindred in Blue exhibit this past June!


Thursday, September 6, 2012

Post Forage Part 1

The Forage Symposium was a 3 day conference jam packed with guest speakers and panel discussions from participating makers, artists and designers.  We covered topics like marketing your work, finding your audience, how to apply for grants, issues to consider with outsourcing, social media tips, selling online, and how to juggle family life while being a maker.  When I say 'jam packed' I do mean that the schedule pretty much had us in a session from 10 am until 10 pm with small breaks for lunch and dinner.  Hosted and planned by Mariko McCrae and her husband Brian in their beautiful studio- it was truly an amazing time to really reflect on what I do as a maker, a mom and a creative person.

At Forage I re-learned that a creative life is ever evolving (I think Bianca was the inspiration on this one)- whether it be in finding new inspiration, launching a new product, moving to a new studio space, or completely changing mediums.  It felt empowering to be reminded that whatever stage of the journey I am on, that I have creative license to change things about my practice when things aren't working.  Every project and opportunity in my life can viewed as a creative venture (thank you Doug Jones for this reminder)- to learn and grow and also perhaps to fund the next creative opportunity I embark on.  Sometimes the opportunities that come across my door demand change, and other times I recognize that I'll need to channel change in order for me to be prepared for potential opportunity or growth.

I came home after Forage feeling completely inspired and overwhelmed at the same time.  I needed these pep talks, the encouragement, and the advice more then I thought, but I also am more aware of the out-comes of each decision I need to make for the next stage of my creative life to begin. 
The most amazing part of being at Forage was meeting a new community of artists and makers who are making really exciting work.  I look forward to connecting with them and introducing a few of them here on my blog too.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Gabriola home love

While on Gabriola Island I was invited to stay with Christine and her husband in their beautiful home while we attended the Forage Symposium.  Not only was it a beautifully designed home with beams and big windows, but it was full of Christine's collections of vintage ephemera, beach combing finds (like the Ice Cream/Take Out sign), as well as pillows and bedding that she makes out of vintage fabric.  Christine's one of a kind pillows are for sale at the market on Gabriola and I have a feeling she'll be selling her pillows online soon, so I'll link soon!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Holding on to those moments

There are so many moments that make me want to hold onto summer for just a little longer.  This year we managed to find a totally new swimming spot in Vernon (we've been holidaying here with our friends for about 10 years- thought we had all the good spots dialed!), spending 2 full days of our holiday enjoying the view, the little beach hut, and the cool water.  I'm not a real sun-bather and get pretty worried about the possibility of skin cancer creeping up on my fair and freckled skin.  Sometimes this clouds my ability to really enjoy beach days as I'm constantly re-applying sun-screen or seeking out shade for the boys and myself.  My Mr. is of the belief that sunscreen causes cancer- even though we use the paba-free kind and, of course, he rarely gets burned so that's easy for him to say.

The boys start school tomorrow and the fall kicks off with a bang on the studio front.  I have shop orders coming out the wazoo these days, all of which I already feel behind on, even though it's only September 3rd.  It's the month I start thinking about my holiday shows, so I'm doing a whole lot of planning and organizing to hopefully be prepared.  This summer was all about the new studio and trying to come up with a strategy for how to grow or change some of the things that feel as though they are holding me back as a maker.  Attending the Forage Symposium at the end of our 2 week holiday felt a little like plunging into a cold lake on a hot day.  The symposium included panel discussions and guest speakers from a variety of creative practices and businesses and I learned so much.  As a way to process this, I've been writing a number of blog posts, hoping to wade through the sometimes murky waters of this self-employed creative life.  I appreciate feedback on this blog and with these posts, will appreciate it more then ever.  As much as it's to process my own thoughts, I also hope that it creates a dialogue in the process.