I’m lucky to receive custom requests rather regularly. It’s a creative kick for me to read the request and think “CAN I? Do I WANT to?”. Some I can’t because of equipment limitations, time limitations, glaze limitations however others are straight up fun challenges.
“Do you make 1:4 scale dishes for miniatures?”
Don’t I wish I had that skill! This is now on my To-Learn list however, I couldn’t satisfy the request. The smaller, or larger, that a ceramic item is, the higher the skill required to create it on a pottery wheel. I can throw the heck out of mugs, cereal bowls, even a salad bowl, but an inch tall mug? Wow. THAT’S a skill that I don’t yet have.
“Can you make 25 of these $3 buttons and I’ll pay you $25?”
My materials and labour costs are the same whether you ask for 10 or 25. The continued conversation on this request was pretty insulting and I ended the convo by suggesting that they may be more interested in purchasing from someone else. Like, Walmart.
“Can you make mugs with a horse theme”.
Yes, yes, yes!
“Can you make tiny 10mm buttons that look like pebbles?”
I answered honestly with “I don’t know, but I’ll try”. And I did try. I used all the types of clay I had, mixed them up or used them pure, some I added stain to, and then I used a variety of glazes. The results were incredible, and part of the reason I’m so addicted to working in clay and ceramics. Chemistry + Magic + Art.
This request to make pebbles led to these being added to my regular product line, and have been my top sold button since I figured out the alchemy to create them. They’re adorable, fun to make, and the process is magic: they start out BROWN. Brown. It’s the happiest experimental button accident that I’ve ever been part of.
“Can you make a diz?”
My first response was “what the heck is a diz?!?”, so I responded with that, almost word for word. (hey, if you’re going to ask me about my diz, I’m going to ask for details) She was wonderfully patient and described that it was a tool used to prepare roving. Roving is used in spinning, which creates yarn. This wonderful woman had been using one of my buttons as her diz, and was kind enough to get my imagination going. I’m a knitter and crocheter, and so many of the people in my knitting/crochet group also spin using wheels and/or spindles. I googled and found out that most diz that are on the market are sturdy, useful, attractive, however not many of them brought the word “beautiful” to mind. I’m a strong believer that if you’re going to do something, be it drink tea or spin yarn or do up the buttons on your child’s sweater, it should be beautiful. I interrogated a local spinner, read through spinner forums, and finally figured that I could make several types of ergonomic diz that would be smooth, feel good in the hand, and above all, be beautiful.
These are new to the studio as of summer 2013, and continue to be one of my favourite items to make, and it all started with a single request.
I still open request messages with excitement and a bit of fear: Will this be a tiring request to “make it exactly like X. But different.” Will it be a request that opens my mind to “What If? Why Not?” round of creative thinking?
I’ll keep hoping for the second type of request. I can’t wait to see what future requests hold.