Ask any clay workers what is their favorite part of the process, many will respond, it’s the opening of the kiln; I still get butterflies as the door is unlatched. Likewise, ask them what they hate about it, 9 times out of 10 it will be the process. What gets you hooked is that one special small piece with that big surface that you’ve been diligently working towards achieving and praying will show up. So for the really crazy people like me, you end up signing on for the most labor intensive craft out there.
My life journey tracks with this very same process. When I was nineteen I fell in love with clay, as I look back, this joy filled dreamy space emerged while creating, that was also occupied with abundant determination and desire. You see a persevering desire is the very thing you need to carry you through the process. During those early days my Big Dream was to get a Master’s Degree in Fine Art with an emphasis in Ceramics. My life journey with clay has paralleled a similar path, a frustrating relationship with process. There are ups, downs, twists and turns along the way, each presented a discouraging temptation to quit. I took a sabbatical from my residential interior design business to push into fulltime exploration in clay. I came to Asheville to join my friend Sarah Rollands’ in an Independent Study and Mentoring program at The Village Potters. I spent many hours honing my skills on the potter wheel and endless hours researching glaze recipes and their results. Before too long I discovered the adventure of working with an ancient Japanese glaze called Shino, watching many mystery marks appear on the surface to my surprise.
I met a young lady yesterday in a town named Traveler’s Rest; she had a sparkling personality and a zest for adventure. Being Kat’s last table that evening, she struck up a conversation saying she was from Maine. I being a very curious person asked her why she came to this area. She replied that she wanted to come to Asheville because she wanted to learn how to make pottery. My mouth dropped open as I stared in amazement at my friend Kathy. I thought what you’ve got to be kidding me. I was almost 35 years older than her and that was my story. I had come to Asheville 2 ½ years ago to hone my skills and create a body of work that I loved.
At the present, I’m launching a clay studio in Asheville,that can actually help Kat realize her dream, amazing! The idea to have a studio like this started eight years ago. One morning as I awakened I heard this term, Mark 1st. Being a person that pays attention to everything, I pondered what that meant. At that time, I had been delving into clay work again and really wanted to change the priority and pace of my work life. Another aspect I was struggling with was working in so much isolation. I’m definitely a people person and an extrovert so I developed a plan for a collaborative working studio where several different artists will come together to create art and create community.
One day I looked up the word mark and believe it or not, making art is really making marks. Whenever a person begins to create there is that first mark that is made, the beginning of the work that is to be. I then, put the name with my desire to have a collaborative fire arts studio. Mark 1st Fire Arts emerged. After 8 years of process and one geographical relocation later, I’ve opened Mark 1st Fire Arts Studio in Asheville, North Carolina. So my big dream is starting out small, but you know what they say, The new Big is Small.