I'll get right to it, after several years I've decided to end my leaf-printing style.
If you follow me on Instagram you may have seen me doing some mulling over this decision and being more conversational about the sustainability of working with living plants. What I can try to convey here is that I'm excited for this change in my work!
Plants have always had my love. As I started using them I grew a special interest in identifying and learning about the local plants here in the Boreal Forest. I am still so charmed by all the details held in a single leaf! Hiking became less calming because I would be so excited to capture every plant I saw in clay, mentally writing to do lists as I walked. Add in the fact that the forest is covered in snow for 5 months of the year, tension was building.
The main factor that changed my mind on leaf-printing was the realization that I had changed from a potter to a print-maker! When I first stared learning about clay I was drawn to the fluid gestures of Japanese tea bowls, the deep rough textures of wood fired pots, and the rich variations of reduction glazes. Somehow, through a series of branching decisions over years, I had created a practice where I work with templates and scalpels, and where a single smudge in early stages would ruin the entire piece. The plants I showcased were beyond beautiful, but every summer was a rush, and every fall was a panic.
So I made a tough choice to let go of leaf-printing. I know a shared love of plants is what brought many of my customers to my shop - for me every creative choice is also a business choice with certain risks involved. As I gain experience as a one-person creative business, I'm learning that leaving my creative joy out of my decision making process has risks too. In the past I have made work that sells, but that leaves me dreading to go back to the studio, even when I think the finished pieces are good and aesthetically beautiful. For me, running my business this way has led to burnout and an unsustainable future. And my goal is to be a ceramic maker for many more years to come!
Change has always been my friend. Looking back I can see that running this business has always been a big experiment with no roadmap. I sometimes think that the folks following my work must get whiplash watching me figure things out! So to you goes my biggest thanks. I'm so grateful for all of my supporters, customers, even those just watching from afar.
I'm genuinely so excited to see where my work will take me. I'm putting my creative joy at the helm for a while and I can already feel the fresh energy from that decision! I don't think my "vibe" will change, but the processes that I use to create will certainly need to change.
I once had the opportunity to chat with Liz Powlowski of the former Strawberry Hill pottery. I was in the middle of deciding if I should risk pursuing slab built mugs or stick with wheel thrown, she gave me the best advice for a young potter, "Well, you are going to be making hundreds, so just pick the one YOU like the best".
Wood fired teapot by Thunder Bay potter Fritz Lehmberg, photo by Kat Twomey.