Get to know some talented folks
Community is important. Making it so imperative that we, as creatives, take the time to get to know with and engage with our fellow makers, shakers, and biz owners. Interviewing and highlighting them and give these dynamos another platform.
This month we're getting to know Ella of Studio Drift-Wood, the owner, curator and ceramist extrodinare! Let's get messy!
Hand Thorwn Magic
Ceramics, made by hand with value and intention
Vessels have a magic to them. That favorite mug, that special vase, carries with it an essence. A personality, an imbued spirit, some connection between, you, the object, and the maker. Maybe it's the fact, that before it was something, it was clay, fragments of the earth. Whatever it is, there is something special about ceramics and the people that make them. That couldn't be more true than in the case of Ella Watson, owner, entrepenur and artist of Studio DriftWood. A unique, small batch, professional Ceramist, whose taste for life brings her objects to a level all their own.
Ella let me not only be a part of a fun collaboration, but she was also gracious enough to speak with me bout some of her experiences being a business owner and creative. Let's get turning!
Photos courtsey of Studio DriftWood and Sarah Watne
Meet the Maker.
What's your name and what's your business?
Studio Driftwood, LLC. I own a small-batch handmade ceramics production business. I usually supply coffee shops with their serving ware or small businesses with retail items. Although, I'll be focusing more on online sales this coming year.
You mix your own glazes, that's crazy! What inspires your choice of colors for projects?
I do make glazes! Honestly, I get most of my color inspiration from my favorite interior designer Dabito and paint samples from Lowes. I can take these samples and build recipes based on color tones. Most of my glazes right now are formulated from already existing recipes which I take and alter them to achieve the color I am looking for. I am planning on creating some nice pinks this year and perhaps a fun yellow :)
Is there anything you use/do to help get you creating?
The past year I have discovered the truest gift of inspiration is time away from the studio. I used to be in the habit of overworking myself and learned the hard lesson of my creative well running dry. Nowadays, I know when to stop and have instilled a two-day off principle. It slows my schedule down, makes me let go of getting things done as soon as possible, and allows me the space to dream.
Another way to get my butt into action is being full-time. Giving up all other streams of income to rely fully on ceramics has made time in the studio precious. It definitely changed my relationship to the craft, but in the ways I wanted it to change. Following through with my desire to run a small-business, be a creative, and impact other lives has really freed up some blocked creative streams.
"I am strengthening my relationship to creativity & I will continue to until I die."
A way I strengthen my relationship is through reading folklore. I love the story of "La Loba". A lone desert witch singing over the bones of dead wolves. With her song, the bones transform into a woman who run off into the desert horizon. In many ways, I view this story as a reflection of what it means to be a creative. Our pain, our little deaths, our forgotten bones is where life can emerge. There is no benefit in fighting to keep the bones of our forgotten dreams piled in our hearts. To turn to them, acknowledge them, sing over them, and watch them transform into something entirely different is how we cultivate wholeness. Let the result of our tending to bones roam the wilderness of our spirit, fully woman.
What's it about working with clay and your hands that pulled you to it.
I find a lot of inspiration from my relationship with the Earth. In the book "Braiding Sweetgrass" by Robin Wall Kimmerer, there is a story about receiving love from the Earth. Kimmerer discusses how we are quick to discuss our love for the Earth; However, we often don't recognize the love Earth has for us. When I read this, I was struck. What pulled me into my work as a potter is the intrinsic bond to the Earth. Everyday, my hands are in the Earth's most profound gift: clay. Then, I set my pieces in a kiln whose history is directly derived from the discovery of fire. This is not lost on me. Ceramics is an ancient craft and was a pivotal discovery for the human race. In many ways, my relationship to clay is my relationship to the journey of humanity.
II love feeling connected to the lives before us. Pottery touches everyone, everywhere, across thousands of years. It does not easily decompose, which carries a responsibility to the artist and means my work will remain for hundreds of years to come. It requires I think
about every piece I put in the kiln and there is a delicacy to that. This year, I am embarking on a journey to dig clay on the land my grandpa built our cabin on in the Ozarks of Arkansas. This project will be a journey back to the beginning. I am honored to have the opportunity to explore ceramics as it originally was. Digging clay
from Earth, building a pit fire, creating stains from the local foliage.
What's something you have learned and wish you knew before about starting your own creative business?
Stay away from the noise of success and focus on the relationships. I have a lot to grow in as a business owner, but one hard lesson I have learned is how important it is to honor your relationships.
"Do not focus on acquiring more attention instead, focus on people."
Show up for the people in your life; Work to reach out to those who are not. This includes business relationships. If they have an event, go. If they need help, offer what you can. The pandemic showed me how important it is to be the person who shows up. I would be lying if I told you I was good at this. As a twenty-four year old, small-business owner, I am learning the art of showing up.
Just for Fun...
I am a video gamer! Even saying this makes me feel shy. There is a lot of stigma around playing video games and I am working to get over that. After a long day in the studio, I am happy to indulge in Stardew Valley, Zelda: Breath of the Wild, or Horizon: Zero Dawn.