To see scenes from the two-woman exhibition of my pottery at the Arts Depot in Colorado, click here.

Artists giving back to the community 

Starving artist is a term we hear often referring to how hard it is for an artist to make a living from her artwork alone. And face it, art is a luxury item versus something a person needs (although I would counter that we all need some form of beauty in our life to make it worth living).

So isn't it ironic that some of the most generous people you'll find are the very artists who have little in the way of financial resources but lots of willingness to share what they have and support good causes?

One great example of this is a nationwide yet very local project that ceramic artists participate in annually, called the Empty Bowl Project. In many communities across the country, groups of ceramic artists get together and create a fundraiser for a local nonprofit organization, often the local food bank or soup kitchen.

The artists create ceramic soup bowls, contact local restaurants to donate soup, desserts, bread, etc., and then host a fundraiser where the ticket cost includes a handmade bowl filled with delicious soup. The diner gets to take their bowl home with them; the nonprofit receives all the money from the ticket sales.

In my small community of Steamboat Springs, Colorado (pop. 10,000), our group of around a dozen ceramic artists has been putting on this fundraiser that we call the Soup Bowl Supper for 10 years now. Each year the beneficiary changes. They have included our local food bank, a recycling group, an historic preservation group, the animal shelter, a mental health organization, the local botanic park, an organization that helps the elderly, and others.

Local nonprofits send us a letter of interest, explaining how they will use the funds we raise, and we vote on the nonprofit to support with the event proceeds. This fundraiser is a sell-out each year, with many participants coming back year after year to build a collection of soup bowls.

The nonprofits who are chosen tell us they are so honored to be the beneficiary -- not as much for the money (which is greatly appreciated) but also for the publicity and great esteem this fundraiser has garnered in our town.

Our group of ceramic artists - most whom work full-time, non-art-related jobs - seems to have unflagging enthusiasm for this project and comes through every year with the most beautiful creations for the event.

I daresay we get as much if not more out of helping these groups as they receive from being our beneficiary.

So we might be 'starving artists' but the sustenance we receive from giving back to our communities fills our souls.

Galleries and Shops where you can usually find my work

Villager Shop, Auburn, Alabama

Clarksville Gallery, Austin, Texas

Artisans’ Market, Plainville, CT

The Artists’ Den, Valparaiso, Indiana

Artfully Framed, Poplar Bluff, MO

Island Artworks, Ocarcoke, NC

Art Mart, Boulder, CO

Juniper Sky Gallery, Kayenta, UT

Why handmade pottery costs what it costs

A friend of mine a while back was asked if she would lower the price on one of her beautiful handmade mugs to something closer to what you could find at WalMart or Pottery Barn. After giving it some thought, she came up with 25 reasons why her cup cost the price that was listed. I thought I'd share that list with you:

1) Drive 3 hours to pick up the clay
2 Unload clay into garage.
3 Weigh out amount needed for the mug.
4 Wedge (knead) clay.
5 Center clay on wheel and throw the mug shape.
6 Remove from wheel and let dry 24 - 48 hours; depending on humidity.
7 Put mug back on wheel and trim.
8 Hand create handle.
9 Let handle dry 1 to 5 hours; depending on humidity.
10 Attach handle to trimmed mug.
11 Cover handle in hot wax to slow drying on very dry days.
12 Let mug dry 1 week minimum. If mug cracks at this point, re-cycle clay and start over at step 3.
13 Place mug in kiln and fire to 1850 F - about 18-20 hours.
14 Unload mug from the kiln. If mug has cracked during first firing, discard, write-off and start over at step 1.
15 Mix glaze(s). Each glaze requires approximately 3 hours to mix and sieve.
16 Put hot wax on the bottom of mug so it will not stick to kiln shelf.
17 Choose design and glaze mug. This can take anywhere from several minutes to upwards of an hour, depending on the design.
18 Let mug dry thoroughly.
19 Load glazed mug back into kiln. If glaze scratches or gets bumped, wash with hot water and start back at step 13.
20 Fire glazed mug to 2250 F. This takes 14-16 hours depending on electricity demands.
21 Hold at 2250 F for approximately 20 minutes. Make sure all shelves reach the exact same temperature.
22 Wait approximately 14 hours for kiln to cool to under 350F before opening.
23 Remove and check mug. If cracked, discard, write-off and start over at step 1.
24 If mug has miraculously survived to this point, clean sharp bits off bottom with grinding stone by hand, and put out for sale.
25 Last, but certainly not least instruction; try not to attack the foolish person who innocently asks "Why does this mug cost so much?"

AND, let us not forget all the hidden steps NOT numbered in here.
* Answer phone
* Sell pots
* Pay electric or gas bill
* Develop new glazes and slips
* Create new designs
* Re-cycle clay
* Clean studio, tools and wheel
* Not to mention the time, effort, and $ to list, photo and ship on etsy.

I guess that's a list all by itself...
Thank you for asking♥

The difference between handmade pottery and mass-produced pottery

Handmade pottery differs from mass-produced pottery in similar ways that a home-cooked meal differs from a frozen entree out of the grocery store freezer.

It is lovingly made in a manner that takes more time, has ingredients in it that the creator has chosen with care, and offers qualities that could never be achieved with something mass-produced. Sometimes it doesn't look as polished or perfect as a manufactured item, but it certainly has soul, and the imperfections give the pieces a certain charm and character.

Most handmade pottery is one-of-a-kind since each piece is made individually, one at a time. It has an inviting feel to it that makes you want to touch it, hold it, and enjoy using it.

Because it was lovingly made by an individual, it has a positive energy that flows through to the person who chooses it for themselves or another.

It also offers qualities that manufactured pottery cannot hope to achieve, such as being created for a very limited use purpose or being personalized with a name, message or a particular size, shape, color, texture or design.

Handmade pottery is generally more ecologically friendly than wares that come from far away places, most often overseas, and the individual craftsperson is generally more likely to recycle and reuse materials in the creation of handmade pottery. No waste going to landfills; no chemicals and toxic materials being released into the environment.

For more ways that artists think handmade is preferable to mass-produced, check out this blog article on 101 Reasons to Buy Handmade.


Judy Freeman (JudyBFreeman) says:

Love love love this tumbler! Love the extra care that Deb took in creating it, special packing to make sure that it made the journey safely and fast turnaround. Fabulous potter, fabulous Etsy seller and very creative and fun product. Thank you so much!!!


PrinceAndPauper says:

My love for your pottery grows with each piece I order! Beautiful Cup!!!

BakersArmor says:

I'm in love. I don't ever want to go back to regular, boring dishware again. Thank you for such beautiful work!

Cynthia Patton (pattoncy) says:

A very special set from one of my favorite Etsy sellers! Deb's work is exquisite, and she is ultra-friendly, professional, and reliable. I'm so happy that I found this shop, and equally happy to be a repeat customer!

cyndi stallings (celebrie2) says:

I also have these plates in green and used them so much ordered more. Deb remembered that i had originally requested them in blue, and let me know when they became available; great customer service, I love working with her! shipping was quick and they were well pkgd! I'm definitely getting more from Deb, her products are wonderful, and so is she!

basketofpatterns says:

Drop Dead Gorgeous! I just love it! I could not be more pleased. Seller is super nice, communicates quickly and packs her products very well! I was very impressed with how quickly it arrived.