The first Christmas after I started taking pottery classes, I decided to make everyone gifts out of clay. I have always loved gifting handmade creations, but something about making something out of clay for my loved ones just seemed magical. Do I cringe to think of all of the badly made beginner pottery that I put into the world in the Christmas of 2020? Of course. But it wasn’t all bad.
Lilly was the only one that had a request. The little artist in her was just dying for a ceramic palette to enhance her painting endeavors. Just like the rest of the family, she had used the quiet of the quarantine to level up her drawing and painting skills. After hours upon hours of skillshare classes, her paintings were now spot on renderings of her favorite fan fiction. If she didn’t know how to draw something, she would take a class or two and practice for weeks on end until she mastered that skill, leveling up once again.
I went to my teacher and asked if he would show me how to use the slab roller. I was going to set out to make Lilly’s dream palette. My teacher quickly explained that not only was it not practical or possible to create a ceramic palette, it was also necessary. He collected hobbies like I did so he was also a painter and he declared that no artist would want a palette made from clay. So there was no lesson in hand building palettes for me and with my teacher in charge of the kiln, I felt like I couldn’t even attempt a palette.
Fast forward a month later and in a series of happy accidents, I ended up renting studio space from a woman who would become a mentor and friend. I suddenly had the freedom to make whatever I wanted and Christmas was still a few weeks away. Amongst the yarn bowls, mugs and planters I made for everyone else, I finished my first attempt at a palette. Actually, I finished two palettes. I was experienced and inexperienced enough to know that my disaster rate was pretty high. So I made two palettes with matching brush cups, hoping just one of them would make it out of the kiln and under the tree. Lilly loved her palette and I had one extra, which a couple months later was listed in my newly formed etsy shop in an attempt to 1. Pay for a pottery wheel and all of the supplies I was finding I needed more of and 2. Clean out some space for more creations.
Within a couple of months of listing that extra palette, Uncommon Goods contacted me about making palettes for them on a wholesale level. I didn’t know how I would do it, but I said yes. Through many hard lessons, I figured out the details. I improved my designs so my product became more consistent. My palette sales have slowly grown but now I sell them to small businesses across the united states. They make up a large portion of my online sales but what is really rewarding is watching artists from all over using them in their creative process.
I think back to that day in pottery class when someone told me to not even bother. It wasn’t worth trying. I’m glad I had a little artist cheering in my corner. She thought it was possible, no matter what the expert said. Having been raised in an era of growth mindset, my three year old grandson is the ultimate hype guy. If you even doubt your ability, he can be heard saying "You CAN! You're capable!" The next little seedling of an idea that you have? Remember that you CAN. Try it out. Who knows what will come out of it?