Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Studio Visit with Renee Shearer

When I first arrived in Oregon (from Austin, Texas) October 15, 2007, I found studio space at Dorothy Steele's spot near the Ross Island Bridge. With seven clay artists in house, we changed the studio name to Ross Island Pottery and promoted our work together for awhile. This was a great space and resource to one new to Oregon and Portland. Needing more space for production after awhile, Meaghan Kunzmann and I moved to St. Johns into the old Columbia Sportswear Building - but the 17 mile one-way commute became a challenge for both of us even though we loved our space and the building community of multi-disciplined artists.

Then I broke my ankle in four places when I slipped on the ice during the snow storm in December 2009. Recovery took about 14 months and made claywork, markets and shows challenging. Needing to be closer to home, I posted an ad on Craigs List saying exactly what I needed, the preferred mileage radius to where I live, and how much Iwanted to pay - and within thirty minutes of posting I received an email from a woman who had a home and workshop/garage she had bought from alongtime potter - she welcomed me wholeheartedly and I'm very happy with my space.

My studio photos here show that it is the perfect amount of space for one person - with 220 and water - and I love the overhead door for load-in and out and natural light during the warm months of the year. The privacy of a residential neighborhood has afforded me good creative focus as well as a safe, great environment to teach adult students one-on-one. I have been throwing for 15 years and selling for 10. Mostly I produce wheel-thrown functional tableware with Armadillo Clay's (Texas) Cone 6 Buffalo Wallow(yes I ship it in - yikes) and predominantly Spectrum Glazes. Even though the clay is very "plastic" - I throw exceptionally thin and I chatter the outside surface and stain it with Chocolate Velvet Underglaze to evoke the look and feel of the bark of a tree. I also add three-dimensional characters and wax-resisted silhouettes (like a cast-shadow) which distinguishes my work from others. I promote my work as: Useful - Playful - Artful. In the summer of 2009, I purchased a small, used slab roller and a BrentExtruder (yes, I'm the one who got it at the estate sale) and have been tinkering with Georgie's Cone 6 Gmix and Georgie Glazes. So in 2010 I have a new body of work and experimentations with traditionally shaped vases and watering can shaped vases which have "ribbons" flying all over the place. Iuse balloons to suspend the ribbons until the piece is dry enough to fire. I'm having a lot of fun with this and the pieces have been selling very well. These are not items I will take to market because of the fragility of the construction - best to have them in stores instead of being transported constantly. Teaching one-on-one has fueled my ideas for creative bunny paths I'd like to go down this year - an unexpected gift from the ones I teach.

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