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For A Creator

For A Creator

You make me happy

 

I am writing this with a sleeping baby on my chest after  a day of cheering at basketball and football games and then walking into my studio to check on the kilns. I pause and with care peek under coverings that have been laid over pieces so that they may dry slowly without cracking.. This is the blur for me, the careful but familiar fluency of my life where motherhood and creative entrepreneurship intertwine. I don’t have hard lines between the two but I do have a mantra, “be here.” Live presently and do your best. I wanted to write something in preparation for Mother’s Day, a day where we as womankind often feel many complex emotions. Something has happened to me over the years as I have greeted 10 mother’s days and 7 of those have been spent as a professional artist running a vibrant business, I have settled into my core roles and I have gained confidence in mothering and creating a business my own way. 

mother and children in studio

This can’t really be something beyond encouraging you to do the same, live presently and have confidence in mothering and working at your craft in your unique and glorious way, a way that will meander and continue to shift and roll and may you come to awaken both the mother and the artist within you as your nourish both roles.  Mind your life, it is wondrous and we are traversing ancient roles as Creators who are vessels for growing life and nourishing life-giving art.  What gift, to have a whole world inside you. 

Travel Inward

I found a note I wrote to a friend when she anxiously told me she was pregnant with her second child and was nervous about her growing business and finding a way to care for her children and her business, these were some of the notes I put in my phone when she asked if I had any advice for her:


“Priorities and boundaries will become very important- the rest will fall into place or fall away.

Wherever you are, be there.

Expect your definition of success to shift.

Affirmations and empowering frames of mind will ground you.

Acknowledge your fears and speak them out loud.

Time away is not a bad thing. Rest. Care. These are important parts of creating too.

Your creative flow may not feel the same.

Begin Again.

Prepare a list of things you would like to learn about or improve, just because the way you are able to work looks different doesn't mean you cannot continually grow.

You can do it all but not by yourself and not all in the same season, consider where you will accept help.

Quiet moments are very important both quiet as in soundless but also stillness.


Look at everything in nature… it never stays the same, what does it do to us then and the conception of ourselves if we don't appreciate the natural passage of time and our place and the opportunity to grow.”

There are flows to your time with your children and your work, recognize and honor them 

I consider us a working family, not myself as a working mother. With practice we have all sort of settled into the routines that work best for our family. My family knows that if I am getting ready to release a collection, or most especially around the holiday months then some of the responsibilities that are normally mine fall to other people in our family. After an intense period of work I try hard to settle back to a more harmonious place. Going on individual special dates or having a small special moment with my kids like before bedtime, or a slow morning with their favorite breakfast also helps to restore some of the normal flow to our routines. When I am extra tired I have to really fight hard to be present in my life.


There are times I might feel overwhelmed and neglect the care of myself, our family home, or moments I normally prioritize like family dinner. Sometimes I find myself thinking it has to be a grand gesture or nothing at all but committing to a morning walk to move my body 3 days a week, or going to bed earlier twice a week,  spending an hour doing the laundry and watching a show you enjoy, or putting together simple nourishing meals for 4 days a week seems manageable. In the moment sometimes it feels like you can’t take breaks or you’ll lose momentum but those I have found are exactly the times where it’s necessary to slow down and replenish. It will be easier to begin again when you have filled your own vessel. 


I love being able to work from home but it also creates some chaos in our lives. To restore some order these are a few things that have helped at different seasons of motherhood and makerhood: 


Communicating clearly and having a family meeting at the beginning of the week so we can get everyone where they need to go, plan ahead for things like book reports, and enable my husband and I support each other in our work recognizing that he may need the weekends for work so he’ll be more involved during the weekdays so that I can have some work at nights. 



Hiring help with the kids, when my daughter Rosie was a toddler we had a babysitter on Fridays, it is amazing the amount of work you can get done and the flow you can get into when you have glorious hours all to yourself! I was hesitant to accept help with child care, for a variety of reasons including making sure my kids would be safe and lovingly cared for but we found a way that worked for our family. I have also heard of friends trading days to care for children so each gets a day for a playdate and then later the promise of a day to work while their friend is caring for the children. I find this lovely, encircling each other in our creative roles as well as our mothering. I have very dear friends who have cheered me on since the beginning and I think I would have found it more of a challenge to find my way.  


Housework was one of the first things we arranged to have help with when my husband’s and my businesses began to grow. We hired a local business that schedules a team of cleaners to deep clean our home once a month. We then try to maintain the cleaning with a simple schedule in addition to the daily chores like picking up and doing dishes: Mondays everyone collects the trash to prepare for Tuesday trash day, Tuesday we each clean a bathroom, Wednesday we do laundry… If we fall behind we just do our best and begin again the next day. 

 Nourishment and Protection

I naturally like to be busy, motherhood also ensures that many of your daily moments are already accounted for. A kind word of advice: Protect your moments, your celebrations, and your rest. I do not subscribe to the hustle mentality, I try hard to create habits and systems that will improve my efficiency when it's time to work and then enjoy the moments right after when it comes time to nourish myself to begin again. Guard your stillness but also know you will probably be tired especially when your kids are small but the power lies in being able to recognize when you have gone too far and need to come back to yourself. 

I’m certain you have heard of this thing called Mom guilt,  and I have been working hard to reframe my mentality around this to heal from an idea that doesn't help and to also invite my children to be a part of what I do. My work helps my children see the world in a colorful way. Their eyes are being trained to see beauty in others and the world around them, their minds to creatively solve problems.  My work provides money that I save for their futures, my gift enables future them to use their own unique gifts. My work gives them opportunities to see new parts of the beautiful world. My work shows them that hard work is something that is important to our family.  My children have seen me fail and be a part of some very vulnerable moments. My work introduces them to another part of me beyond being their mother. I have other talents that I am developing and I am in a constant pattern of growth and becoming even when it comes from mistakes. Spending time in my studio bonds us but also there is the time I spend alone in my studio where a particular child may be on my mind and heart and the making and mending I do while I am guiding the clay helps me to make and mend myself and my relationships with my children. It becomes important to create from a place of abundance so I am continually trying to guard my reservoirs of energy, love, and time so I can create the highest work I am capable of but also a happy life with my children.


There is a work only you can do, this is your focus. Hire help when you recognize something isn't bringing you joy and is stealing your attention and energy- bookkeeping, website and brand design, shipping orders, customer care might all be places for you to accept help. I once heard a story about a mom who loved baking but was often distracted while she was doing it causing her to perpetually burn a batch of cookies. This woman wanting to share some cookies with her neighbors or friends would try again and this time keep a closer eye on the next batch of cookies and they’d usually turn out better than the first. This mom then offered her family the burnt cookies and would give her neighbors and friends the better batch. One such time after eating a batch of slightly scorched cookies her son yelled “why do we always get the burned cookies! I want one of the good ones just once!” Who are you offering the better cookies to and who is getting the less favorable batch of time, energy, or attention?

 

believe there are so many right ways of finding your way in motherhood and your creative work. I have found it important to give both roles time and the best effort we have for that day knowing that as the sun rises again we get to begin again, improving upon the day before and with the hope that by small intentional acts great things will come to be. 

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Her Name Is Mud Ceramic Studio Tour

Her Name Is Mud Ceramic Studio Tour

A safe place for creative refuge and reflection


I remember sitting in an art history class in 2007 and hearing a line from Virgina Woolf  "A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction" Woolf 1935, p.5 A Room Of One’s Own 

I’ve thought about these words often particularly when getting ready to call a new place home.


I recently learned while reading How They Decorated, Inspiration from Great Women of the Twentieth Century by P. Gaye Tapp that is was Madame De Pompadour who wanted a place for privacy without the display and intrigue of Louis XV’s court life. This was the beginning of a place that was designed for seclusion, independence, personal amusement and respite. This was the beginning of a woman’s independence in defining a space at home that was reserved for creative expression and a narrative of personal taste. 


I have always found value in having a little space of my own from the time I began my creative career, beginning with a small desk in art school that housed my ceramic ambitions and the work for my BFA. During these years I was newly married and I had claimed the closet in the  second bedroom of our apartment. I pinned inspiration on the walls, burned screen prints in the dark closet with a single bulb and reclaimed the screens in our bath tub.  I have always had a little parcel to call my own even if it was just a little table wherever I have called home, and that has brought a particular kind of refuge.


When my husband and I hoped for a fourth child we had to seriously consider the space we had at our home since I choose to have my studio space at home while my children are little. It became clear that there wouldn’t be room for both a growing family and a growing business at our current home. I looked at my blush penny tiled studio of 3 years and knew it was time to move on. I don’t know if I properly had time to thank that room for all that it was to me. For the growth and exploration it allowed me to have as an artist, I made and learned a lot of beautiful things there often in the early morning hours or while I watched the tree outside my window dance and cast dappled light on my work tables.



When it became time to work out the new studio space I considered the pain points of my previous studio (as in “what a serious pain in the rump that was, we have to figure out a new way!”) but also who I am now as an established artist. The house we bought was being renovated and I had to make some rushed decisions before we had the baby, decisions that would later be changed as I considered how I actually wanted my space to feel. At one point I considered lively wallpaper but knew that I would probably grow tired of the pattern and wished to make a canvas that could be adapted easily for the whims of new work. So I stripped everything back and know it will fill itself with time. 


Here are a few “before” photos, the previous owners left this furniture for me wasn’t that nice ( insert eye roll) 

this is the corner where the cabinets will go

featuring the purple ceiling and furniture so disgusting I wouldn’t let my kids sit on it. 

Work We Did To Renovate The Space of the New Studio on Adobe Street :

-Walls were smoothed to fix wall paper removal seams

-Sconces were removed and the wall was patched because this space had been a formal dining room

-We changed out the light fixture with this one that I purchased for my other studio but when it became clear we would be moving I saved it for this new one.

-The walls were painted Alabaster by Sherwin Williams, the tray ceiling had been purple and with it now painted white I adore this feature.

-The trim was painted Roman Plaster by Behr

-We cut a space for a door and moved the electrical work so I could to go directly out to the kiln yard and garage storage space from my studio. 

-We trenched 80 feet in the front yard to run electrical for my kilns (of course the electric box was on the other side of the house!)

-We installed cabinetry and a stone countertop which were originally going to be painted Lichen by Farrow and Ball but then because of a paint shortage and the painter’s shortened time constraints, I changed the cabinet color to Escape Gray by Sherwin Williams which wasn't gray at all but more of a celadon green color which was lovely in theory but began the color and light troubles. It just didn’t feel right.  

the white cabinets before they were painted 

painted escape gray (which I think we can agree is celadon)

Painted Escape Gray by Sherwin Williams (which I think we can all agree is very much a celadon green, very ceramics nerd of me to accidentally choose that!) 

-I considered built in drying racks in the angled cove area but decided to wait until I had worked there to see how the flow went and I’m glad I did. That space is now one of my favorite corners. 

 

 First Priorities:

-My three work tables which fit PER-FECT-LY under the windows which are optimal for photo taking and documenting my days. My studio faces North and that light is just *chef’s kiss*


-I felt overwhelmed with decisions I had to make in a short amount of time especially since we were doing the main renovations in the studio along with the rest of the house so I opted for a blank inspired canvas that I could begin adding personality and memories to. 


-Light and color a place for my creativity to be bold


-Optimized storage in the drawers and cabinets by using these clear organizing bins in different sizes, my studio is larger than my other one plus I have two of the garage bays but the storage situation wasn't as efficient so I worked on a solution


-I wanted a space for packing and finishing pieces which was a huge problem for us as the other studio


-Hardware is like the jewelry of a room, I thought my selections would add some personality but they had to be changed when it became clear the quality wasn’t great and the handles kept breaking! bad news was they had already drilled the holes!



The Overarching Feeling I Hoped For:


One morning when I was up early with my baby I came into the front room to see this golden glow coming from the sun through the windows and I knew that  is how I wanted this studio to feel, like a golden glow radiating from the work that I made here. A comfortable confidence. Golden Hour always. It feels like a studio that has grown up, settled into itself and knows what it needs to make beauty. A resonating spirit of creativity. We can only be who we are and I find this idea by Beata Heuman an award winning British interior designer to be just the words I needed :

“It can be pretty irresistible when you see the unabashed, true character of another individual. It may be very different from yours, but it is all the more alluring for it. Therein lies the secret of any work of art that touches me, books that make me think, rooms that linger in my mind, and people whose spirit intrigues me.It resonates, but is at the same time something so innately other from yourself; and the only way to fully experience it is to spend time with that person or thing.” Beata Heuman p. 9,  Every Room Should Sing


I knew the cabinets needed to be repainted as annoying as that was and it turns out, I needed to order new hardware, less pretentious- maybe? The green cabinets were a color I loved on its own (I even made a custom tinted clay this exact color a couple of years ago, that's how much I like it!) and in theory if you start with something beautiful shouldn't it all work out? One of the main problems was the green paint reflected a kind of sickly, cold green light all hours of the day and I kept trying to make it work but when I would come into the studio every time it just didn't feel right. I kept saying I can't work in there with that light and I didn’t have any motivation to keep unpacking and begin designing a collection!


My husband and I bought a paint sprayer and repainted the cabinets, perhaps laughing and swearing in equal amounts because an artist and a man who has worked in construction, property management, and real estate should be able to handle a little DIY painting project but newborn life mixed with a general attitude of : “we hate this and we should have called Primo who could have painted these in two hours” made sure the “little” project lasted about a week!

The perfectly golden ochre paint I chose was India Yellow by Farrow and Ball. Does my color choice surprise you?!

There is now a joy I feel when I walk into the studio, I am met with something that feels like an unabashed introduction to Krista. 

Pieces I repurposed and pieces I purchased:

I purchased this cerused oak table and two sculptural chairs, at my other studio it was a major growing pain to have to pack orders in my kitchen. It took over everything [particularly around the holidays so this table is meant for packing orders, finishing things like assembling my ceramic paint brushes, admin work, working through designs and translating sketchbook inspiration, my studio manager Maylee and I have Monday meetings here and sometimes lunch together here. 


I wanted a curio cabinet but haven't been able to find a vintage one I loved quite yet and fits in this space, but I needed something to hold some larger tools like my hand held clay extruder and work bowls that didn't fit in the cabinets so I repainted a dresser that I have used in three of my four childrens’ rooms. The color is Pitch Black by Farrow and Ball, I hoped it modernized the space a bit and anchored this corner, I love what black accents do for a room. 

I purchased this bakery cart and it's amazing. I wheel it to the door and have a shorter distance to go to the kilns with fragile things. It also fits my workboards that I use for workshops so I didn't have to get anything extra. It also has what I call a  jacket so I can drape the plastic jacket over it to help things dry more slowly and evenly. I have another drying rack in the garage and a few more shelves if I need some overflow space with larger projects. 


The floors. I did NOT want these tumbled travertine stone tiles in my studio but was going to cost around $12,000 to $15,000 to replace with the labor to demo the stone, grind and level the floor again, purchase the new product, and install the new floor tiles. I knew I was going to be going on maternity leave and it just didn't seem like a wise or necessary investment at the time. So I made do, I changed my perception of them. I habitually thought about them in a beautiful way even if they weren’t what I would have selected and this beautiful thing started to happen…I actually kind of really like the floors now. They give my studio this earthen, English sort of vibe. I love natural elements like wood and stone and ceramic in a space and they have a really good feeling about them. I tried to adjust the other design elements to compliment them and I think once the cabinets were a warmer yellow, and a few modern touches they really began to sing!!! The stone + clay also means there are more petrichor scentings which I find a comforting smell. How we think about our space matters and I learned a valuable lesson that gratitude for what we have brings an incredible mindset to our lives. 


Projects to come:

I do not have a sink in my studio. I don't mind one not being in my space because they can be stinky, much like a pond would smell because clay sometimes sits in there until you get around to cleaning them out ( washing clay down your sink will cause havoc on your drains and pipes!!) I use work bowls and then wash them out with a hose in my yard or plug my utility sink in the laundry room and clean things and then after clay sediment settles I clean the clay out of the sink. 


I am meeting with a plumber to talk about the possibility of having a special sink installed in the garage. We would have to cut into the concrete and also figure out the drain situation but it's something I would like to save for and figure out because I think it would help with our efficiency and work flow. 


TILES!! I am going to be making them for the backsplash in between the cabinetry once we begin the O’Keeffe Collection again at the end of May because I will be using that clay body for the tiles. I’m currently working in porcelain and those two clays aren’t to be mixed so I’ll finish up my porcelain work and then prepare for tile making and be sure to document the process. I designed these tubular tiles that will add some lovely texture to that area. 



-In time, and most likely after my children have grown to more independent ages I would like to figure out a way or a space that is more community oriented . A place for teaching.For gathering. For hosting brunches, lunches, and dinners. For listening to music loudly while we talk on nights I open the studio for friends and stimulating conversations. A place more like a salon in Paris during the 20’s.  Someday. I’m saving for it and speaking it into existence. 




All rooms ought to look as if they were lived in, and to have so to say, a friendly welcome ready for the incomer.

William Morris


 


Elements I recommend for making a studio space full of personality and usefulness 

(because I would not claim to be so bold as to tell another artist what to put in their space to reflect their own creative spirit but these few things have seemed to make appearances in each of my creative spaces)


  • My sister once told me that I am very good at finding beautiful things to hide the mess, I was flattered and have leaned into that. Collect jars, baskets, wall organizers that are both lovely and useful for holding and displaying studio materials and tools 

  • A visual reminder of your “why” or perhaps your goals. I keep a photo of me and my kids in the studio together (although I need to update this with baby Harrison)

  • A wall calendar, Maylee and I add to this and go over our calendar each month. We add things like “Maylee out of town” or “fire the workshop pieces” ; it helps us work in an orchestrated way even though clay can sometimes be unpredictable, communicate with each other, and meet deadlines. I also have a desk calendar pad we assign weekly tasks on so we can split up the things that need our energies and attention, each one better suited to our skill sets and natural inclinations. We visualize our goals and work backwards with small daily tasks to achieve them.

  • Something made by an inspiring friend. Keep your friends with whom you hold a creative kinship very close. It’s very endearing to walk by something made by a friend and say “Hello Nadine!” and send them loving thoughts. 

  • Something made by you maybe even from a different era to see how far you’ve come as an artist. Celebrate your progress and journey as an artist. Make and keep things just for you. 

  • Something green to tend to and add vibrancy and life to your space, plants are friends. 

  • A signature scent I love these room sprays by PF Candle Co for instant scent transportation but my signature scent I burn in the studio is armitage street by Wax Buffalo



I leave you with this my friends to consider as you design your own spaces whether for the time being that is in a closet in your spare bedroom or you are building the creative space of your dreamS, I edited the John O’Donohue blessing for a home with bracketed words so you may consider these words for your own creative space. 

 

 

May this house [ INSERT CREATIVE SPACE HERE ] shelter your life.

When you come home [WORK]  here,

May all the weight of the world

Fall from your shoulders.


May your heart be tranquil here,

Blessed by peace the world cannot give.


May this home [STUDIO]  be a lucky place,

Where the graces your life desires

Always find the pathway to your door.


May nothing destructive

Ever cross your threshold.


May this be a safe place

Full of understanding and acceptance,

Where you can be as you are,

Without the need of any mask

Of pretense or image.


May this home be a place of discovery,

Where the possibilities that sleep

In the clay of your soul can emerge

To deepen and refine your vision

For all that is yet to come to birth.


May it be a house [PLACE] of courage,

Where healing and growth are loved,

Where dignity and forgiveness prevail;

A home [SPACE] where patience of spirit is prized,

And the sight of the destination is never lost

Though the journey be difficult and slow.

May there be great delight around this hearth.

May it be a house [REFUGE] of welcome

For the broken and diminished.


May you have the eyes to see

That no visitor arrives without a gift

And no guest leaves without a blessing.

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Tips For Teaching A Ceramic Workshop

Tips For Teaching A Ceramic Workshop
It's hard to resist clay isn't it?! There is something about that squish in your hand, the grounding of your senses that happens with you handle a material from the Earth, and the beautiful mess it makes that appeals to so many. Let's not forget the fact that your creation is something that will be able to be used and enjoyed long past the day its made! There is a tricky part to ceramics though, while accessible in nature it is not as accessible when it comes to the equipment and tools needed to finish your pieces, therefore limiting the ways one can experience this grounding medium.
Teaching ceramic workshops is a way for you to be a part of your local creative community, provide a different stream of revenue for your business, and gift a creative experience that so many are in search for but lack the studio set up necessary to complete ceramic work.

Let's work through some logistics and preparations that will empower you to design a workshop of your own.
 

MAKE WORKSHOP KITS THAT CAN BE REPURPOSED FOR DIFFERENT OFFERINGS.

I have 18-30 sets of common tools like exact knives, sponges, loop tools, clay cutters and ribs that can be rearranged in kits to suit any direction the workshop is going. Ornament workshop? Spoon making workshop? Hand building a mug? We need these same tools for each of these.  

After each each workshop tools I wash and dry the tools and then store them in lidded bins in my studio storage. I don't mix them in with my personal tools so I know when I go to teach the next workshop I can "shop" for the right set of tools and reassemble what we need from my kits.  

 

CONSIDER COMMUNAL vs. INDIVIDUAL TOOL SETS

I hope you have included pricing for your tools and material in your workshop price, If not is it easy to take chunks out of your profits as you prepare for a workshop. For several workshops when I was just beginning, I budgeted a little bit from each one to be used to improve my tool kits. For my first workshop I knew I needed transportable workboards so I bought MDF work boards we cut into 12x18 boards at the home improvement store.  The next workshop I ordered many of the little tools like paint brushes, sponges and the next time I got matching work bowls. Little by little you will build a collection of tools that will enable you to provide a unique creating experience. 
There are some tools that either I made for a specific purpose or are expensive like rolling pins, high quality shape cutters,  or scissors that I choose to buy a smaller amount of and have then be communal tools we can all share from as we work.
My guests do not keep their tools, ceramic tools aren't very useful outside of a studio setting instead I give them a gift and a few special elements which I share more about later. 

 

 

 

WHAT SHALL I CALL YOU?

THE PART WHERE WE MAKE NAME TAGS FROM THE CLAY BODY YOU WILL BE USING

 Making name tags is a nice little touch that isn't necessary but I will tell you a few reasons why this has become one of my top tips for hosting a ceramic workshop. 
1- I mean how special will your attendees feel to see a spot intended just for them?!
2- It helps you get on a first name basis, its always nice to be able to offer personal instruction and call them by their name.
3- You will most likely be working with creative people, people to whom color and texture matter and I use the clay they are working with to give them an idea of what they are creating with and how it will look transformed and fired.
4- Making name tags helps with organization and clarity. When I load their pieces into the kiln I load these name tags in with their pieces to help ensure the right work gets back to the right person.When returning their pieces either by mail or local pick up these tags also help keep the pieces organized and help the right pieces get back to the right person.

5- Bringing a sample of their glaze choices on the clay body you are using is also a helpful visual for your workshop students.

 

 

WELL WHAT SHOULD WE MAKE? 

We have to do a bit of clever planning and a bit of the dirty work here in these beginning stages. I find it can be a bit overwhelming if you don't have some creative boundaries surrounding the ceramic project you designed for the workshop. I have found it to be a more accessible experience especially for beginners working in clay if you are able to simplify and be very clear about the project, your demo process, and the quantities they are able to make.
For instance if you are hosting an ornament making workshop you would prepare the same size slab for everyone and say that everyone is going to be able to design and create 6 ornaments and from the extra pieces they could make beads or something extra for their ornaments but if you don't set those boundaries then someone could use their slab to create 18 little ornaments as opposed to the 6 they paid for.  Now you have increased your work load and the time it will take you to clean and glaze each piece as well as the additional material you will need to take into account for finishing the extra pieces like silk ribbons, which wouldn't have been included in the initial price of the workshop.
I usually try to keep the active teaching part of the workshop to be around two hours so sometimes that means I roll and prepare slabs or cut out patterns for them to use beforehand so my attendees have as much time as possible to create in our time together. 
HERE ARE A FEW IDEAS OF PROJECTS THAT HAVE BEEN BIG HITS AT WORKSHOPS:
Spoons and Scoops
Jewelry and Beads
Watercolor Palettes
Hand built Mugs
Geometric wall hangings 
Mini dishes 
Charcuterie boards

Ornaments

THE PRECARIOUS PART...HOW WILL YOU GET THE GREENWARE BACK TO YOUR STUDIO TO BE FIRED?

I ordered boxes that serve as containers for their individual tool sets on the way to the workshop and on the way back to the studio they act as the transportation protection and also a means to keep their work separated from the rest of their workshop mates.

 

SOOO ARE YOU COMING TO ME OR AM I COMING TO YOU?

RETURNING THE WORK.

 Will you arrange for pick up at your studio? How about meet back at the place where you had the workshop? Is mailing an option? I have preferred mail for most things in part because many times I have people from out of town who attend the workshop. If you are able to make a piece before the workshop this will give you a good idea how much the piece and its packing material can weigh if you were to add the shipping material to the price of the workshop. 

 AN ELEMENT OF MAGIC

 

I always like to imagine ways to make a workshop feel extra special. In my studio I keep a box of bits and bobs, beads and geometric shapes, left over silk ribbon from other projects. I sometimes begin here when thinking of ways to make a little magic. For my most recent workshop almost all of the attendees were from out of town and I wanted them to experience a piece of the desert in the spring, I did a little foraging in my yard and clipped branches from my orange tree that had blossoms in full bloom.  When they opened their tool boxes, the most delightful smell greeted them, a few women even rolled the blossoms into their clay to leave an imprint. For holiday workshops I have dried grapefruits for a bit of festiveness, just a few little details make the workshop feel magical.

A LITTLE SOMETHING FOR YOUR ATTENDEES

In gratitude I like to give a little gift to those who made the arrangements to be with me at the workshop that day. I usually use this as an opportunity to introduce everyone to a new artist or small business. 

 My friend Erika Lenaye made prints of her artwork for my guests and they were so loved. 

HAVE YOU CONSIDERED COLLABORATION OR THE NEED FOR BACKUP?

Workshops are a huge expenditure of energy in the preparations and the setup and clean up. I have always asked a friend or my studio assistant to help me, this frees me up to save my energy for the teaching and the interacting with my guests.  If I am planning on having any refreshments I usually ask a friend who owns a catering business to help me and my friends who are florists to bring some of that petal energy. This past workshop we had to carry 25 pounds of clay over and over up two flights of stairs and we were laughing about how sore we were going to be the next day. 
There is the number of guests to consider, how many do you believe you can be an attentive teacher to? How many is too many to order supplies for? How much extra work can you take on at the moment? Would it be helpful if you were able to set up the venue and do back to back workshop dates so you could still have 30 workshop attendees but 15 on Friday and 15 on Saturday? I think the golden number is somewhere in-between 18-22 any less and the numbers don't work out in your favor for the investment of time and energy and any more and it become difficult to command that room and offer helpful instructions to each guest. It can be done but you will have to be extra prepared.

Another idea if you'd like a larger workshop but are feeling overwhelmed at the idea is to ask another creative friend to run a workshop with you. For instance I taught a holiday ornament making workshop and I felt overwhelmed at teaching a larger group at the time but the interest in the class was so great that I collaborated with my friend who was a florist and she taught half of the class to make wreaths and I taught half of the to make ornaments and then we switched and she taught the people who had just been creating ornaments and I taught those who had just finished their wreaths. Each person left with a wreath and I finished their ornaments a couple weeks later and shipped them.

 

HAVE YOU SEEN THE VENUE?

I dream of having a workshop outside, in a grove with lights strung overhead. I've run into some logistical issues with this dream, let me share some of the questions I work through when visiting the space in preparation for a workshop:
Have you been able to visit the space? Are you indoors or outdoors? What's the weather going to be? What are you thoughts about the lay out? How's the light? Is the space inspiring and will entice others to share on their social media accounts, improving the chances that you will get to host another workshop with the help of your workshop friends sharing about their experience with you? Will your guests have enough space to work? Are you responsible for the tables and chairs or are those provided with the rental fee? Is there access to water and will you be able to safely dispose of the workshop water? Is there a way to play music, music always helps the mood!
 

WELL THAT MADE QUITE THE MESS!

Because your tables and chairs are most likely going to be rented or a surface where after your workshop other events or food will be present, consider ways to keep the space clean or bring things along to safely clean up the mess that was made. Canvas or rolls of muslin used as a table cloth is a look I am fond of and doubles as a workable surface. Vintage table clothes, or linen table cloths that can be washed after the event are also things I have used to cover the work space. 

 

YOU ARE ONE OF A KIND

Consider the things that you do well as an artist and teacher and play to those strengths when designing your workshop experience. Find help in the areas you lack and hire out elements that could help you reserve your reneger for the things you do best. 

ONE LAST WORD OF ADVICE 

Be sure to photograph these moments as you step into a new role or arrange for a photographer to document the workshop so you can remain focused on your guests . This will help you market your next workshop and help you keep those memories. The meeting of beautiful souls and finding a place of connection will be some of the most beautiful moments of your career. 

I say photograph the event but also before you pack up any work photograph each person's work space and their pieces all together so you are able to match or puzzle together the correct pieces for each person when you return back to the studio to begin the firing. I also include a piece of paper for them to write their name and how many piece they made, their address if shipping, how many pieces in total they made, and any specific glazing instructions for me. 

 
 

LINKS FOR FEW FAVORITE WORKSHOP ITEMS

+My work boards are particle board that I asked the home improvement store to cut on site. My boards are 12x18 and I think we got 10 from a larger board. this is the 3/4 " but the 1/2 "works well too and will save you about $10.

+Favorite alphabet letters for embossing and signing their pieces. I prefer these to the kind that are yellow and purple those are hard to cut and separate the letters,  those yellow ones are smaller and you can't join them together like you can these. Also rubber stamps work but they so often leave the shape of the stamp. these are very clean and easy to use. I use them in my own studio.

+Cutters. These pastry cutters are in my opinion the only ones worth buying. I no longer use metal cutters if it can be helped because they rust and later their shape, its harder to get wet clay to release from them as well. These are thick nylon that can hold up to cutting thicker slabs, clean up well and come in their own case. A few other fun shapes.  I personally love the moon shape. I have sets I use for my own studio work too. 

+The prettiest scissors for cutting patterns 

+My favorite ribbon tool for carving and extracting clay

+Compact white sponges because I have a problem with bright yellow sponges when I'm trying to stick with my brand vibe, also we are trying to get them to use as little water as possible so a smaller sponge reminds them that its really just for a little wiping or to clean their hands. 

+My favorite brushes of all time, useful for glazing, applying slip or underglaze or cleaning up hard to reach seams. 

 +One of my favorite finishing touches is a colorful bit of silk, Tono + Co is my favorite place for their brilliant hand dyed colors and one of my favorite tips is to go to their odds and ends section where you can get such good deals on pieces of silk that you can then use to add some color and character to your workshop either tying them around tool bundles or around a gift or a canvas tablecloth to work upon. 

+Large rolls of canvas for cutting into place mat sizes or putting on the tables to help with the clay mess. 

+Linen tablecloths that add such a vibe, a splash of color and help protect the tables you'll be working on. 

+Work bowls. Often my tables start to get a little crowded and in my mind I think one bowl of water per person but when we actually start to set up it works out more to like one bowl in-between work stations so 2-4 people end up sharing a bowl. I would love love love to have the time to create bowls for a workshop, I think it would be such a beautiful touch, but alas I never remember it in time. I recently got a set of these bowls which fit my branding and make the table feel a little special. But first I worked with little clear acrylic bowls I got from the dollar store so this is a place where you can save or splurge but a special ceramic piece on the table for water will be such a moment!

+Dowels do the trick and can be cut down to make make shift rolling pins. I chose to roll my workshop slabs in my studio with my slab roller just to cut out some time and to ensure they were beginning from a nice even clay slab. But French rolling pins are my favorite if you'd like to add some of those to your kit. This is also a chance to do a bit of thrifting and find some older rolling pins that can have a second life rolling clay slabs instead of pie crusts and you can usually pick them up for a few dollars. 

+ Boxes for transporting tools on the way to the workshop and fragile pieces back to the studio. These are only helpful if you will be making smaller pieces that can fit back inside and be protected. I also included a small piece of muslin to wrap the pieces in that doubled as a work space place mat. 

 

 

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Harrison's Birth Story and New Mother Advice

Harrison's Birth Story and New Mother Advice

I’d like to introduce you to my littlest love, Harrison Nash Coons


Our boy that would not be kept from our family and the perfect end to a decade of the incredibly trying work of trying to get all my children earthside. His name honors both sides of our family, both sides of DNA that built his bones and chose his eye color. My Pappap was a gentle man with a twinkle in his eye, a love of ice cream, a laugh that will never be forgotten, a mind that trapped the smallest of details, and a father to 6 women. Pappap carried the last name of Hare from our Irish ancestors and passed it onto his 6 daughters who all carry different surnames now. We can already tell in our short time together that Harrison, like my Pappap Donald Boyd Hare, has a gentle and most agreeable demeanor. 

Harrison’s middle name Nash comes from my husband’s Papa, the father to 12 children, a generous man with a great zeal for life and one who gathered his large family close and made each one of us feel like his favorite. Harrison will grow to be his own man but it is one of my motherly hopes that he will carry some of each of these great men with him in his own heart. 

Here we are two months later almost to the day and the day of his birth still seems like such a surreal day

This was the last photo I took of my last pregnancy; I took this at 9 am and little did I know by 1:30 pm I would be checked into the hospital and at 8:30 pm I would hold my sweet boy. Something that would bring me some worry considering I was scheduled for a c-section the next day. 


My last moments were so very sweet. I was sitting on my bed with my mom who had come from Ohio to be with me and help take care of me and my family after the baby joined us. Rosie had laid herself down in her bed for a rare afternoon nap which felt like such a gift to a tired mama. We had just ordered lunch and were watching Rosemary and Thyme while eating tuna sandwiches on hazelnut bread ( a regular pregnancy craving of mine and one I regret eating this day because I had to keep telling people what I ate that day while at the hospital while preparing for my surgery… why couldn’t I have ordered the turkey avocado today?!!!) We shared a fruit tart and I went upstairs to check on Rosie and as I climbed the stairs I began to cramp and feel sick and while I have never gone into labor naturally I  knew my body was preparing for my baby boy to come. I had a little difficulty getting a hold of my husband and I thought this is as close as we are going to come to the exciting entrance into the hospital you see in films because all three of our other children have been born via c-section. 



This was such a surprise for us, I had just been in to see my doctor for one last appointment the day before to check on my blood pressure that had been a little high for the past few weeks but between my high blood pressure, a little blood spotting, and contractions my doctor decided to perform the surgery a day early to be safe. We had to wait about 8 hours from the time I last ate for the c-section so I had some unexpected calm time to prepare to meet our sweet boy. This had been a difficult pregnancy, my hardest by far and challenging emotionally and physically and I had nearly done it!! I let myself feel all the emotions and thanked my body for doing her best. I said my affirmations and took a deep breath knowing that once it was time there would only be about 15 minutes where I would need to summon all my courage in order to meet my son. Everything went beautifully. My husband Steve cares for our newborns until my procedure is finished and then I meet husband and baby in the recovery room. It’s always so sweet to hear him talking and caring for our children until I’m ready. 

Harrison Nash Coons and his Mama hold each other for the first time. Harrison was 9lbs 11 ounces and 21 inches of pure glory. 

I thanked my body one last time for being the vessel for my four children. She and I have been through quite a few versions and each she has reminded me that she is home. 

Our kids weren’t able to come visit in the hospital so this was a sweet reunion and one of the things my heart was hoping for all along. 

I wrote this back in August when we were fixing the house we would bring him home to:

“There is an interwoven tapestry of our story, baby’s and mine. Each breaking day I write a new line and safely tuck it away between my heartstrings.

Some days I tell him that this is so hard for me to carry, I cry and he seems to understand.

Some days we call each other by name to see how it feels.

Some days I take him along with me to check on the home we are working on, the one his Dad is building and I am coloring.

Some days three sets of little puffy hands come feel for him. He is our littlest and is so very loved, these will be the hands that help care for him. He will soon learn the kind of comfort and joy that accompany each pair, one is safety, one is humor, one is freedom.

One the day this photo was taken my spirit spoke to his spirit and I told him that his worth and my worth were abundant and eternal, I promised to love and honor each of us. 

Today I will sing him a song of joy and keep writing our history together as mother and son.”


Written August 12th, 2021 but meant so much more on October 30th when we brought Harrison to the home we made for him.

 

Tips For Preparing For A C-Section Delivery:


This was my fourth c-section and I was sharing some things I do to prepare for the birth of my babies on social media and I thought maybe it would be helpful for those things to have some permanency. We all prepare for large life changes differently but I think one recurring thing we must encourage is to do the things that make you feel the most comfortable, the most supported, the most prepared. 

 

I make a visit to the Myopractor or chiropractor to make sure everything is in line and giving me the greatest chance of recovery even after my body has shifted and my core is weak from surgery.


These house dresses are very comfortable and nursing friendly, I also like the pockets. I got the Onyx and the black ribbed, this fabric, while soft, is clingy but they are beautiful for recovery and the newborn days.


Robe is helpful for the hospital which tends to be chilly, the postpartum temperature changes can be intense especially those night sweats and for a bit of modesty because there is always one person that didn’t get the memo and just pops over without warning to see the baby.


A recliner with buttons to move it up and back is one of the things I am most grateful for in my recovery. My sister in laws who have had multiple c-sections themselves passed this tip onto me, and nowI pass it onto you! For the first few days it is difficult to find a place to get comfortable especially for feeding the bay and I basically live in the recliner for the first few weeks. 


Heating pad to help with cramps, back pain, and I just find it to be comforting (when I’m not sweating from the hormones).


New linens- one last act of kindness before you leave for the hospital, change your linens because you will be spending time recovering in your bed and a new pair of patterned linen sheets is a glorious gift to yourself. I wish more sleeping would actually happen but so it goes with a newborn, but a fresh set of sheets will make a cozy haven for you to spend your days and nights. 


Roller cart or night stand bins- keep everything handy until you are more mobile. I keep diapers, wipes, nursing supplies, burp cloths, changes of clothes for the baby and snacks close by in a storage cart. you can also wheel it room to room if you need. 


Bassinet or Bedside Sleeper- My friend let me borrow this one, a bassinet that is close to the bed lets the baby have their own space for safety but makes it easier for you to do those night feedings.


A little something for mama- get yourself something nice, something to say well done you, and I know you’ll be enveloped taking care of your baby but don't forget you used to enjoy this! A little gift card to your favorite drink stop to take a 15 minute coffee run without the baby, a new scrub for the shower, soothing gels for your eyes, a new magazine to read… you’ll know what would make you feel like a new woman after 15 minutes to yourself.

 

This time I brought a little gift for my nurses, since you are at the hospital for 2-3 days for an uncomplicated c-section you spend alot of time with your nurses,  I took these for my nurses and they were much appreciated. If nurses cant accept gifts at the hospital you’ll be delivering perhaps offer to buy them lunch or bring gift cards for the nurses station for coffee or a local restaurant. 


Supplements Nutrafol and Ritual- its alarming when the hair starts to shed in bunches. Two weeks before I delivered I started taking Nutrafol a special vitamin to help with post partum hairloss. Its been three months now and my hair seems to be as glorious as ever. I also switched my pre natal to my post natal vitamins for nutrients while nursing. 

A deep cleaned house- after I had my first baby my mother in law was so thoughtful and had a team of cleaners come to my house and deep clean everything, I’m talking vacuum lines on couches and ceiling fans dusted. It's been something I have started doing for myself once a month and I make sure to schedule a deep cleaning right before baby comes. Also if this isn't in the budget just yet, often times friends and family are eager to help you prepare for the arrival of your baby and would genuinely like to help! 9 months pregnant and scrubbing bathroom tile is no fun so if you feel comfortable, ask for a little help tidying.


Car cleaned we have a small business in town that comes to your house and details your car for you. As a mom of 4 I basically live in the car once I have healed a bit and have the clearance from my doctor to drive. I look forward to that coconut smell, there’s something that they use and I don't know what it is but I love it and the fact that there aren’t apple cores in the drink holders in the back of my suburban anymore. I also love to prepare a littel car organizer for emergencies, I put diapers, wipes, hand sanitizer, extra outfits, medicine, a blanket, baby carrier, snacks and water in the organizer… because having a baby will teach you that something exciting is bound to happen, almost daily!


Grocery shopping before you head to the hospital and prepping freezer meals can come in quite handy. Many cities offer grocery delivery now through apps like instacart so you can buy them for yourself or even give that as a gift but its still a good idea to stock up on some favorite items for quick nourishment.



A Few Favorite Baby Items (many from small businesses)


This changing pad, especially for baby boys. It wipes clean easily helping to avoid more laundry.


This bouncer we affectionately call the poop chair, I don't know what it is about it but without fail Harrison has a blowout when he is sitting in this bouncer. That being said it comes in handy if you need to make dinner or keep the baby safe while you shower. 


Journaling the small moments and special memories

 

I didn't know about this with my three other kids, the Haaka helps you save precious breastmilk especially in those first few weeks when your body is trying to regulate its supply. 


Favorite bottles, Bottle warmer, bottle cleaners, bottle sanitizer


For the car, forget the baby mirror and get this little video set up, it also has night vision.

 

I have had this Solly wrap for 7 years, I keep my babies close enough to kiss but hands free for making. Solly has since come out with beautifully patterned sheets, layette sets, and swaddles in the softest fabrics often designed by artists. Solly gifted us a few sleepers which was perfect timing because sweet Sonny has already outgrown the ones I bought for him as a newborn. 

 

A few other clothing basics I like, these kimono sets from H&M (I love the colors) and Quincy Mae has the most delightful patterns and baby basics.


Diaper Bag, I love a backpack style my hands always seem to be full!


This breast pump- Harrison had trouble latching and this pump was amazing, I’d pump in the car on the way to school pick up or while I was washing dishes. Hands down one of the best purchases this time but with my other kids I think I collectively pumped maybe 7 times. 

Blankets, bedding, burpcloths

Stores for toys and baby items - bitte, scaniborn, and surprisingly Zara home

Baby Settler- I brushed up on my newborn routine, that wake sleep feed cycle will set you up for some larger stretches of sleep once you make it past those tiring first weeks. I also hear amazing things about Taking Cara Babies courses.

All of my kids have these nightlights and noise machines, they also are useful for lighting the way for night feedings. 

I've never been so thirsty as when I’m nursing, these Stanley cups are always sold out and for good reason if you can get your hands on one it will help you stay hydrated but this is another fabulous style and I love the colors. 

Tubby Todd makes magical soap, balm ( I swear that this scrub and this balm will keep the cradle cap away) and seasonal lotions.

I get a diaper subscription from hello bello, I like their fun patterns and you can choose how often you'd like your diapers and wipes delivered.  

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Bounty

Bounty
The harvest moon will rise tomorrow, marking the passage of summer’s growth, emblazoning a season of gathering, and signaling the coming of winter’s rest. For years out of time, the moon has waxed and waned in a cycle of ending and beginning, and those who watched it swell and shrink, echoed their movements upon the earth in response to the wellspring of its guiding light in the heavens. In a beautiful circle, the rhythms of preparation, sowing, tending, watching, weighing, harvesting, gathering, celebrating, and resting were punctuated with life’s unpredictability, and through it all, the moon shone steadily on. 
For years, my dad has consulted with local farmers as they’ve sown and reaped in my home state of Ohio. Each year, he works with growers step by step as they read the signs of spring planting time, combine the nurturing hands of nature with the watchful eye of experience all through the hot and humid summer, until finally, at just about the time the harvest moon begins to ripen, harvest is come. He tells me harvest is an immense culmination, the fulcrum upon which balances all the year’s efforts and those of the next, rocked by past and tipped by future; and I’ll wager that any who has planted seed or seedling and kept it alive long enough to pluck a sweet fruit, tucked under protective leaf, will not find this immensity hard to understand. From backyard fruit to field, the harvest brings a fulfillment and finality and balance to all. 
An ending and a beginning within a sustained cycle.
Prepare.
Sow.
Tend.
Harvest.
Gather.
Celebrate.
Rest.
All things are symbols: the external shows
  Of Nature have their image in the mind,
  As flowers and fruits and falling of the leaves;
The song-birds leave us at the summer's close,
  Only the empty nests are left behind,
  And pipings of the quail among the sheaves.
-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Today we mark the celebration of Bounty, a project that, to me, is as full of preparation and experience and harvest as those fields of livelihoods back home. In fact, this collection has close ties to life and living; the place where fullness meets want, chaos chases calm, dreams break reality, weakness builds to strength, excitement fades, and “new and old things are confounded,”(Thoreau) and all in various times and seasons. This is a collection that takes notice of the changing seasons both within our lives and within the world we live. I hope my Bounty collection will be a moment to take note of the beauty amongst the changes, to honor the harvest, and to prepare for the days ahead that have noticeably different proportions of light and night.
When it comes to proportionality, we all have different bounties to give, and I feel a great purpose of this is to gather our bounties and together, celebrate a fullness. There is a fullness to sharing, even when our harvest is thin. There is an anti-singularity to harvest, its richness is in gathering, combining, and sharing- that is what produces abundance. To abide in bounty is to be accompanied.
For this collection I gathered experiences. They were not singularly mine, they came from dear friends and stalwart family sharing their bounty with me in the forms of kindness, strength, the sharing of their talents, the literal and figurative showing up on my doorstep with flowers, a kind word, or fresh baked delights. 
The sweet babe in my belly has taught me much these past 8 months together. I have learned new things about myself in this season, not least of all was the realization that my normally bountiful harvest and ability to share was all of a sudden limited because of a lack of energy, ability, and circumstance. 
I watched my husband and sons wake before the sun and go work on the house that will hold our future family of 6. They worked with all their might to build a special haven for our family. The building and coloring of our home will forever be a special memory for this season of my life. 
They are richer because they are not mine alone, they were shared and shared again.
The joy and lament of a harvest, though not without effectual influence, is ephemeral, yet this transitory moment makes us stop to savor, knowing this moment is here but will be soon gone, replaced with another. However, the knowledge that it will come again is what makes us stop and mark a tradition. Traditionally, and across many cultures, the harvest moon has been celebrated in beautiful, intentional ways and marked with merriment, hope, and memory. It is my hope that pieces of this Bounty collection will earn their way into your traditions and gatherings as you share what you are able amongst those you gather around you.
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Maternity Memories and Meanings

Maternity Memories and Meanings

I was driving around today, eating a chocolate chip cookie and listening to the Beatles as one does when they are in their third trimester and life's a tangled ball of emotions and stresses. I was listening to one of my favorites  “In My Life,” and I heard a line about memories and meaning and I thought to myself “ I don't want the memories of this season of my life to lose their meaning, no matter how overwhelming some days seem.”


I suppose this was my motivating factor for documenting this phase of life with my maternity portraits even though at the time I didn't have the words to express what they actually meant to me. This is my last baby, but my first time taking maternity portraits. If I am to speak honestly, I must share that when trying to sort through why a person who loves creativity and capturing and expression and storytelling purposefully skips over a phase of life that is usually regarded as something you want to remember. What it comes down to for me is when I’m pregnant I feel as though I am just trying to hang on, to make it through all the phases your body and emotions cycle through not to mention that three out of four pregnancies my husband and I have decided it was best for our growing family to move to a house with more room, which has lead to three home purchases, remodels, and moves when I have been 8 months pregnant. 

building a house, growing a baby


 The day I found out I was pregnant with this baby I remember thinking “I know what’s coming, and I will try my best for this sweet babe who I know has a special soul and role in our family but this is the last time I will be this version of Krista and I really liked her.” It takes me years to feel like myself again after a pregnancy and along the way I change, not just physically but my priorities, my energy, my habits all change and sometimes that is a gift and in other seasons it is a struggle. 

This time, before I could talk myself out of it I texted my friend Kendyl who I love working with on my photoshoots and told her that I had a wild idea, which she always approves of. I told her I felt like I was craving authenticity and real life. I wanted to do a portrait session with her at our new house, a house that is under construction and very much in the rough stages of a remodel. I wanted to be able to have these memories to share with our baby boy, that mom and dad and his brothers and sister were all working so hard to make this home a place we could settle into as a family of 6, a home that we suspect we willed to us and came knocking in a most unusual fashion and at a most inopportune time.  I wanted there to be a contrast between the old decrepit life this house had thus far endured with the new life coming, we were trying our best to listen to this house and bring her back to her glory. There is also a new life in me, my baby that would not let us forget that he was waiting for his family, this home is where I see him growing up and these walls we are building will be the keeper of small moments between mother and son, brother to brother, brother to sister and father and son.

 I chose a dress that could not be more different than the utilitarian cotton shirt dresses that are my maternity favorites. It is a dress that made me feel beautiful but also was a dress that highlighted the striking difference between the unfinished state baby’s room (and our chaotic lives)  we chose to shoot the photos in and my whimsical and hopefully serene appearance knowing that all of this felt right- the baby, the house- and it was my privilege to witness. 

I’ll tell you a secret, this dress was the last of its kind and did not fully zip up but carry on we must even if that meant taking photos sitting on a window sill with your dress back open and landscapers on their lunch break right under this window!

When I shared the news that I was pregnant, my friend Melissa messaged me and asked if she could shower me in petals for my maternity shoot, something I hoped she still wanted to do when I asked her if she happened to have Wednesday the 4th free and if her beautiful mind could dream up something for me sculpted from flowers. Melissa made me little gardens that danced in the breeze of the three fans we had blowing and an umbrella of blooms. In her floral designs there were 4 roses, one for each of my babies, a secret message written with petals. One of the memories I will always carry with me, is at one moment in the photoshoot I looked at her and she had this look on her face and she told me I looked like a goddess and she felt so honored to be there (in our unfinished house that didn't have air conditioning on a 115 degree day) and I realized the beauty I had in my life, it abounded in my friends. It felt very much like a sacred moment, three women gathered together to create and two of them had lent me their light and blessed me with their talents.


 

These are some of my favorite captures of the day: 

This is the umbrella Melissa designed for me, have you ever seen anything like it?!!! I love that I could be held above my head, casting delicate shadows, or to the side looking like a beautiful spray of botanicals.

 My husband Steve didn't quite understand the vision for this photoshoot plus I think he was worried about me because it was so hot and the air conditioning hadn't been fixed in the house yet. He came two nights in a row to paint this room for me (and the baby) and then the day before the shoot he bought us several fans, one of them was designed to make the air cooler with water although it really just made it more humid, but we were happy to have them and I think the humidity added to my glow factor! This is also when he told me he was a little embarrassed that I would be taking these photos in the house where there would be multiple contractors working. I told him to say I was the lady of the house, and an artist and this was actually perfectly normal behavior for me! 

I wore blue lipstick for some of my photos because I feel like as adults we forget to play and choose things that amuse and delight us! 

 

5 THINGS I WORK THROUGH WHEN PLANNING A PHOTOSHOOT 

You may not think you qualify as a creative director when you book a personal photoshoot like a maternity portrait session but indeed you are! This is a chance for creative expression and capturing a beautiful story in time and in turn giving meaning to your moments. How much of a production you would like this to be is up to you but I’ll share a few steps to my method when organizing a photoshoot either for personal reasons or as part of my ceramic business.  


CONCEPT

This is usually where I begin, it’s my vision, my story, it’s all the WHY’s and WHAT’S before working on logistics and translations which are the HOW’S. What would I like these photos to say? Are you craving creative expression, whimsy, story telling, documentation, authenticity, emotional release? How do you want these photos to FEEL. Once I have an idea of my concept I usually begin collecting to see if any new themes or directions emerge. 


COLLECTION

This is the gathering of ideas, objects, and themes like color stories or light. As I gather I can usually clarify and refine my concept. For instance when working on my maternity photoshoot, I kept finding myself attracted to blue ( which is very unlike me as I tend to gravitate toward warmth) so I found a blue dress that was my “moment”, chose a blue paint color to paint my baby’s room, I went to Sephora and found some blue shades of lipstick and eyeliners to try out in case I wanted to be very on theme. I collected just a few props- a dropcloth, a large brush with a wooden handle, a wooden handled paint roller, and a paint can that was silver without any labels on it. I also tend to lean towards gold but decided I wanted to wear my great aunt Emmy’s silver heart earrings. I liked the idea of generations of women in my family being there. I matched my silver earrings with silver flats that I already had. When I have these items and ideas gathered I usually share them with my photographer, Kendyl is my neighbor so she usually pops over and we talk the creative direction through or I text or email her photos of everything I’ve collected and been dreaming of.



COMMUNICATION

Photographers have a unique gift to share. A capture is more than a photo, it encapsulates so many feelings and senses for us we will remember for years to come. When we look with our eyes at a photo we can remember small details that welcomed all our senses but belong uniquely to the experience of being there and feeling the magic of that day.


 We will remember the details like how the dress we ordered didn’t quiiiite fit on the day of our photo shoot so we just didn't take any photos from the back.  Or we can remember that there was a faint smell of paint and wood that mixed in the hot air, the 115 degree air because the air conditioning was broken.  Or while looking out the window in a dreamy state there were actually landscapers casually having their lunch under the orange trees and wondering what was happening up there! For these reasons when organizing a creative photoshoot I find communicating with your photographer to be one of the most valuable things you can do. 


Have you shared a mood board or photos of your collected items or ideas, one that each of you can add to? Created a shot list together ordered from most important to least important and leaving room for your and your photographer’s intuition and creative expression? Have you chosen a location that you can visit together at the specified time of day or does your photographer have experience shooting photos in that location or at your agreed upon time? Is the creative direction you are hoping for play to their strengths, sometimes my friend and photographer Kendyl will practice new techniques or learn new skills for our shoot.  Is there anything creative that your photographer would like to try (for instance Kendyl walked into the bathroom next door to where we were shooting and found a piece of plastic and came out and said “hey I found this in your bathroom and I want to try taking a few photos through it.” Photographers also crave a change of pace, subject matter, and scenery. When you have built a relationship you trust where they place you in the frame, when they tell you to tilt your head down a little, or when it’s  time to run off in a different direction to chase the light beams.

(this is the image photographed through the piece of plastic Kendyl found)

 

 

RELATIONSHIPS

I find building relationships in your creative communities to be one of the most important and fulfilling things not only when planning a photoshoot or creative event but also just as a means of experiencing joy and to find those souls who will help add color to your life. These will become the talented people you can entrust elements of your vision. Building these relationships will take time and intention but I promise it will be one of the most fulfilling things you can do as a Creative. So boldly send that invitation you drafted weeks ago, ask them to meet for lunch, offer a collaborative idea, send gifts, remember important dates, cheer them on in their successes and failures. You will be able to support each other in living a joyful and creative life! I have friends who have graciously allowed me into their homes to photograph collections, friends who work on collections and collaborations with me using their unique talents and skills sets to create something that I couldn't even envision! It is a beautiful experience to be a part of.  I have friends with such fine luck finding thrifted treasures and the good fortune of bringing those pieces home who then allow me to borrow their treasures for styled photos. I enjoy the company of friends who use the same medium who I can say those weird words like ‘“I don't know why my luster is acting like it's being repelled by something,” and they can offer their experience and knowledge.  I have friends who create such beauty like my friend and floral designer Melissa, owner of Moelleux Events who created the floral arrangements for my maternity portraits, that you hope you can hire them because you know whatever they make will transport you and your senses to a uniquely beautiful place. I also try my very best to be ready and willing anytime one of my friends asks for something ceramic that might help them in their creative expression. 


Nurturing relationships with people you admire both within your online community as well as your physical community will be one of the greatest blessings to fully expressing your creative voice. 


AUTHENTICY WITH THE RIGHT AMOUNT OF WHIMSY

When I’m feeling prepared and have worked through these other steps one of the last things I like to do is check in with myself and ask what version or part of myself am I going to be harnessing, releasing, or modeling? Am I channeling an alter ego or spirit of someone I admire Like Georgia O’Keeffe? Am I expressing all of the emotions I’ve been carrying and just needed a way to release them? Have I styled myself and collected pieces that feel authentic to either myself or my vision (we always welcome a little bit of whimsy but I don't particularly love being overly self indulgent.) Then I practice a bit. I try on the wardrobe. I decide if I’m going to paint my nails. I experiment with how much makeup feels right for this moment.  I get into character as it were, enlisting all of the elements I’ve been collecting and thinking about. On the day of the photoshoot I remember to say my affirmations, I always have a few butterflies and some nervousness but I try to bring a confident energy that will carry over and showcase all the preparation work in a glorious way!  


We must refuse to let our moments lose their meaning whether those moments serve as a way to document our growth as an artist or our growth as a person, take the photos. Remembering is a gift. 

 

 

 

creative direction: Krista owner and artist Her Name Is Mud

all images captured by: Kendyl Hawkins Photography

floral designs by the magnificent: Melissa, owner of Moelleux Events

dress: Selkie Baby Blue Toile Ritz Dress

paint color used for baby's room: Oval Room Blue by Farrow and Ball

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An Artist's Wardrobe

An Artist's Wardrobe

Oh Georgia. She’s not the kind of woman you just leave behind as you move on to another project; she’s the kind who influences and stays and carries on in the intentional artistry, the memory of a beautiful moment, and thoughtful, daily expression of art. This is where we meet today. In the place where we carry our memories, bring our artistry, lay bare our experiences, and tell our stories, from the inside out. Everything we do contributes to learning about ourselves and sharing clues with others about the person who lives here in this body with this life. All things can affirm how beautiful life is. I think of this even in the terms of the creative expression of wardrobe, or to put it more plainly, getting dressed each day. I see this act as a celebration of self, loving the current iteration of body, mind, spirit. 

 

When Georgia O'Keeffe began drawing in the modern style, she began drawing objects and shapes not as she saw them in real life, but as she saw them in her own mind. What if we were to dress ourselves not from an outside perspective-with a thought about how we are to be seen- but from an inside perspective of how we see ourselves in our own minds? What if how we dressed on the outside was done to express our inner image? 

 

“Identity… the word itself gives me shivers. It rings of clam, comfort, contentedness. What is it, identity? To know where you belong? To know your self worth? To know who you are? How do you recognize identity? We are creating an image of ourselves. We are attempting to resemble this image… Is that what we call identity? The accord between the image we have created of ourselves and… ourselves. Just who is it, ourselves?”

-Yohi Yamamoto

 

 This is not a “Dress Your Body Type,” swipe up to buy something you really don’t need, or that might not even really feel like you, kind of message. This isn’t even about me and my style. This is a call to look inside yourself and celebrate your identity, your whole self. Yourself. Love the current iteration of your body, your mind and your spirit. I want to encourage you and show you that you can discover yourself, love yourself, and create beauty in your life in small, intentional ways. Even an act as simple as getting dressed. This is wardrobe as a form of memory-keeping and storytelling. Memories and stories of the everyday kind. This is something as big as saving your hard-earned artist dollars to buy a new frock, or as simple as tucking in your thrifted shirt, as choosing to wear those dainty stud earrings that were a graduation present, or not bothering to tie your tennis (I never trouble myself with laces!). We can tell our story. Here is a bit of mine:

 

Krista:

Affinity for lipstick and winged eyeliner. I have been known to wear a fur coat to preschool pick up and a sequined kimono to mop the floors. I adore shoes that are beautifully crafted but ready for adventure at any time.  Lace up ankle boots, loafers (tassels welcome), platform oxfords, and fluffy slippers win high praise in my closet.  Wild hair offers a bit of a warning: should you choose to approach, be ready. I wear all black when I feel a bit unsure, but also I really love it.  Flat brimmed hats also serve to help tame hair on days it’s gotten away from me and serve as a nod to my southwest home. I love to wear scarves around my neck mostly because I dream of owning a 1950’s red convertible, and I think vintage ladies are classy dames. I love a monochrome moment. I didn’t appreciate a well cut dress until I was in my late 20’s.I cannot be bothered with fussy clothes, I need ones that are easy to launder (children and ceramics see to this) and free-flowing. I prefer patterns on my shoes rather than my clothes. Linen is a must because there are basically two kinds of weather where I live, hot and hotter. I only wear black jeans that rise high that appreciate my curves. Pockets are always welcome on dresses. Velvet is not allowed, although I could stare at it all day.

 

 Did you learn something new, or did you find we have something in common? Maybe a bit of both? I can tell you, the act of getting dressed, of choosing something that feels like you in that moment, is glorious. Sometimes I want to wear that fur coat to preschool pick-up just for the hell of it. I find myself getting dressed in an all black moment when I feel a bit unsure . When I mop the floor in a kimono made entirely of sequins, inevitably it leads to dancing so I can watch the reflections dance on the shiny, wet floor. When I go to work in my studio I know I have my linen apron with a grid pattern to protect my clothes from the mess that is about to ensue. 

 

Our wardrobe and the act of choosing pieces that give clues about us is a beautiful, unique, creative moment. Everyone’s wardrobe will be different. The pieces will be collected over time, with intention, and the memories of when you wore them will be woven into the pieces themselves. 

 

Memories such as picnics in the park, dresses you hope to pass onto your daughter, sweaters that were passed on to you; the sweatshirt you snagged from your dad, threadbare with fabric burnout from years of washing and wearing. Pants, shirts, tunics that always come home wrinkled, crumb covered, or marked with sticky fingers. T-shirts of triumph, covered in the weekend’s splattered paint, marking a cause you give your support, or won by training, sweat and grit. Perfume bottles, one from each trip you’ve taken across the sea. Your first-day power outfit. A collection of vintage jewels, given as gifts, divided lovingly among family to remember. The gloves of your fabulous great aunt, who never left home without them. You become a part of an era, your very own, recorded in memories found in your wardrobe.

 

My point is that each wardrobe will be different, rich in different fabric, textures, sources, and most importantly, unique in the meeting of memory with current self. Can you find yourself in your daily expression? Take a peek in your closet, see what memories you find, look for evidences of yourself-your colors, your experiences, your values, your keepsakes, your mind, your creations, then come on out. Create. Express. Remember. Share. Then, as this is of course a daily sort of thing, repeat. 






These Sketchbook entries are a collaborative effort between sisters Rachel Klis and Krista Coons, who once shared the same last name of Draper. They’ve also shared clothes, make-up, occasionally shoes, and frequently swapped jewelry back and forth as both sisters are unusually fond of accessorizing. In this project, Krista’s inner dialogue around expression and identity, combined with years of experience in dressing daily to her inner identitity, was translated by Rachel. A few accessories were added.



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An Introduction To The Venus Project

An Introduction To The Venus Project
And so, this is a project I wish to do with you. This a collaboration to give your experiences not only a voice, but a body and presence as well. This is an acknowledgement and a full embrace of your unique beauty. A place for your past and your future to merge as you claim the narrative of your form. You are made from sacred geometry, and it is my great honor to be the hands to give your experiences visible shape. Continue reading
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