We get by with a little help from our friends. In this case, it is my niece (and an artist in her own right) Jill Reynaud at the button table with me. Her eye for texture makes it easier for me to accept help, and she didn’t even flinch when I used the term “aggressively sponge”. I am a control freak when it comes to accepting help in the studio, and up until now my Mom, with a lifetime of artistry under her belt, had been the only other to touch the buttons. There are many that have offered and I’ve always declined because quality control is my #1 priority, and I don’t want to offend helpers by harping at them to “do it my way”. I need for ceramic buttons, diz, pendants, and everything else coming out of the studio to have smooth edges so they never catch or cut yarn. Smoothing every edge and hole is incredibly time intensive, but I personally feel that the final product quality is worth it. With two fibre shows coming up, and custom orders waiting for my attention, getting some help is the only way to get clay beauties into everyone’s hands. The clay gods heard my cries, and Jill arrived, eager to jump in. And I don’t offend her (or if I do, she just smiles and keeps making beautiful things) Thank you, Jill!
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.
Spring cleaning started early on this website, and welcome to the new site design! I’m working out some interesting bugs (where did those photos from 2011 disappear to??) however I’m happy to have a responsive, stable website with usability across platforms. The biggest bonus for me is the additional new ease to post photos and ideas. Bye bye, grey unresponsive site. You were lovely but if users can’t navigate from mobile devices, you’re outta here. Helloooo purple!
More photos of buttons in action! Get a load of these adorable little models. (and check out the buttons on those sweaters! They match perfectly!) These sweaters were knit by Tabitha Rose from Harrodsburg, KY using her own hand dyed yarn. I posted photos of these in November however they are even more beautiful when seen in action. From Tabitha: “The yarn was my Wishfox Dyeworks Arctic Fox Aran, and its 100% superwash bfl, squishy and awesome. 182yd/100g. It took less than one skein for the orange sweater, and I used 2 for the brown/teal, but there are substantial leftovers. The orange is approx 2t, and the brown approx 3-4t. I made the patterns up as I went along, but I’m hoping to get them written up sometime soon. I’m a stay at home mother of one from Central KY. I do all the dyeing and fiber processing myself, in my living room and kitchen, and really put my heart into all of it.” January 1, 2013 was Tabitha’s one year anniversary so please visit her online shop and wish her happy anniversary. To celebrate one year in business, she is offering a special January coupon code “YearOne” for 10% off your order. Enter the coupon code at checkout.