Dinnerware on Pause
A note about Dinnerware–
I am now deep into my third decade of making pottery. This is a fact that shocks me each and every time I say it. A common occurrence when I opened my first professional studio was for people to walk into the gallery and begin looking at my work. Roughly five minutes into their visit, they would stop and ask me where the potter was. I used to joke that while they were looking for an old man with a beard making the work, it was instead a baby-faced twenty-three year old’s work that they were checking out. Well, the joke is on me because I now bear a shocking resemblance to the old man potter with a beard everyone was looking for twenty-five years ago. Yes. I finally look like the potter that most people see in their head.
I love looking back at each of my decades of making to recognize the patterns and work that has come out of these moments. Like a lot of us, I was so sure I knew what I was doing when I was younger. What I didn’t know was what my work actually was. I was making things…pulling ideas from thousands of years of ceramics history alongside contemporary work that inspired me while trying to find my way in the world and my way in clay. I didn’t know when it was going to feel like I was truly making my work, but I did know that I was going to keep making things until I was able to sort that out. Along the way, I’ve had an incredible group of mentors and colleagues that pushed me in the right direction.
Looking back at each of these periods I’m now able to see the big picture themes–
The past year or so has been reinvigorating and has also had its challenges. One of the most difficult parts of my current studio practice has been trying to move in a new direction while holding onto the past. I know what I want to do and I’ve been trying to balance that with what I used to do. By far, the most difficult thing to process has been to reconcile all of that with what you think I do.
For the past ten plus years I have been almost singularly focused on dinnerware. Every decision about scaling up or down and, more importantly, if I should scale was viewed through the lens of making dinnerware. How could I continue to build the dinnerware side of my studio while simultaneously making one-off pieces that fulfilled the need I have to create new work.
Pre-covid, this all made a lot of sense. I had an amazing group of people in the studio that were fantastic at making pieces for the table. With so much talented help I was able to create a significant amount of dinnerware and am so proud of what was accomplished during this era.
As most of you know, I have been working alone since April 2020. Throughout this time I have held onto making dinnerware for a variety of reasons.
One– I love making things that get used regularly and nothing does so as concretely as dinnerware. Knowing that my work is used on a daily basis to nourish you, your friends, and your family has long felt like the pinnacle of my work.
Two– It has been the focus of my business for so long that it has felt almost impossible to not have dinnerware be the featured work I make. While my dinnerware is by no means an entry-level product, it is how many people first find my work and has been the core identity of my work for the past decade. It was frightening to think about stopping.
Three– It’s been fun. Really fun. My work has lived a much cooler life than I could have ever dreamed of. My work has created one-of-a-kind experiences at special places across Austin with my Make. Eat. Drink dinner series partnering with incredibly talented chefs. I’ve been fortunate to travel across the country to see my plates used at incredible restaurants serving incredibly special food. I’ve gotten to be part of special events with my work such as Billy Reid Shindig, backstage at ACL Festival, Feast Portland, and so many more amazing experiences. I’ve been lucky to see my plates show up in cookbooks, magazine spreads, and yes…they’ve even hit the big screen. It’s been quite a moment and it has lasted way longer than the fifteen minutes I thought my plates would have.
My relationship with dinnerware is not finished, but it is time for a transformation. You have probably noticed that there have been a variety of dinnerware pieces as part of my recent Porcelain Drops. This will continue and I’m excited for this next chapter/paradigm/version of dinnerware. I am, however, hitting pause on making dinnerware sets and am officially closing my waiting list.
I’m very excited for what this change will bring. Throughout my studio life, each and every time I’ve stopped doing something in the studio, it has opened doors to so much more. I’m eager to see what happens without splitting my creative and physical energy between two versions of my studio.
I hope that you’ll continue to follow along because nothing happens in my studio without the support of so many of you and the devoted community that I’m so fortunate to have as I make my work.