On Saturday, I participated in the Spring Horseshoe Market in Denver. My friend Sarah and I shared a booth because we had both just finished the Colorado Potters Guild Show the weekend prior. Needless to say, individually, we had low inventory thanks to the back to back sales. But, by sharing a booth, we were able to fill up the space nicely. Also, we saved a little bit of money sharing a booth – the cost to share a booth as a vendor is $100 each as of spring 2017. The price to reserve an single booth is $150.
Spring Horseshoe Market Wrap-up
Unlike the Colorado Potters Guild Sale where everyone’s work is all mixed up, we decided to split the booth in half. In the photo above, I took the left hand side, Sarah took the right hand side. While our work is different from each other’s, it complemented and did not compete the other’s. Our booth was sandwiched between an active wear clothier and a personal care product business.
The organizers of the Horseshoe Market do an amazing job curating the event to make sure that there is not too much of any one kind of product and that the indie artisans are interesting for shoppers. Load in and out is very well organized which takes a lot of the guess work and chaos out of set up and break down.
Crowds and Sales
I had really low expectations sales wise at the Spring Horseshoe Market since I had just participated in the Colorado Potters Guild Sale and didn’t have a ton of inventory.
I suppose it’s always good to exceed expectations, because that is exactly what happened. There were steady crowds throughout the day which tapered around 2:30/3:00 pm or so. The crowd was very diverse in age, gender and family status. As a vendor, I always love people watching and also interacting with everyone who wanders into my booth.
Of course there were lots of dogs in attendance. As a side note, I wish I had taken some photos of all the 4 and in some cases, 3 legged creatures who found refuge from the sun in our booth. I recently started following Dogspotting on Facebook and scroll through the photos when I need a pick me up. I could have contributed so many photos of doggos and puppers this weekend. 🙂
Unlike the past couple of Spring Horseshoe Markets where the weather has been iffy, we enjoyed beautiful sunny skies and warm temps this weekend. In fact, it was almost too hot, but I’ll take that over the rain and hail that Denver experienced earlier in the week. Note to self – don’t forget hat, spf 60 and more water than you think you can drink. The market is in the parking lot of a funeral home. Asphalt gets really warm as soon as the sun starts beating down.
Booth Set Up
I used my new collapsible shelves that my father in law made for me at this show. All I can say, is thank you best FIL in the world! The shelves work well and when they’re broken down, take up very little space in my car. Since I shared space this time, I had to fit all of my work on one side. I’ll be participating in the Summer Horseshoe Market on July 8th, so I will be able to spread out my work. I plan on making an L with my two 6′ long tables on the right, leaving the lattice on a dedicated wall for my hanging work. I might also debut some of my sketches at the next market.
That’s it for today…I took yesterday (Mother’s Day) off and today, this blog post is my big task. I’m going to the movies this afternoon with my daughter who is home from college for the summer.
First, I want to thank everyone who visited the Colorado Potters Guild Show this past weekend! I am so humbled and honored at how well my new ceramic bird totem sculptures were received and am pleased that all but 1 of my sculptures sold.
Ceramic Bird Totems
As prototypes, I made 2 larger stacked ceramic totems that featured a bird on the very top. Unfortunately, I only have a photograph of one of them. I do have some rough photos of the work in progress that I can use for future iterations.
My thought in making these stacked sculptures is two fold. I am interested in sculptural art work and other than the ceramic wall pod installations that I have made in the past, I’ve never made sculpture. I didn’t know if I have the capacity, interest or even the market for the work.
Amazingly, I have the interest and the market! I am pleasantly surprised at people’s reception. It’s affirming and wonderful to know that people really like the new work. I’m happy to say that I had one of my best shows ever in terms of comments and sales. It’s enough to keep me going!
Ceramic Garden Stakes
8 ceramic birds that I envisioned as garden stakes also made their appearance at the potters guild show. I will be making more sculptural work for the garden in the near future, including totem stacks. I sold all 8 garden stakes by the morning of the second day of the Colorado Potter’s Guild show. Displaying them required a bit of on the fly thinking. I lugged a terra-cotta pot filled with Mexican beach pebbles to Denver that I picked up at a local hardware store to use for the display.
My rigged display is pretty heavy, but it works to hold the garden stakes in place.
Spring Horseshoe Market
In the meantime, I need to finish decorating some greenware today that I plan on bisque firing tomorrow. I’m participating in a one day craft market this Saturday, May 13, 2017 in Denver, CO at 46th and Tennyson. If you’re in the metro area, please stop by and say hello!
I’ll be sharing a booth at the Horseshoe Market in Denver with Sarah Christensen Ceramics.
Olinger Moore Chapel
4345 West 46th Ave
Denver, CO 80212
This weekend marked the very last making push in the greenware stage so that I can finish everything before my next two events.
I’m doing back to back sales in May. My first show is the Colorado Potters Guild Spring Show that runs May 4-6, 2017. I’m also participating in the Horseshoe Market one week later on May 13, 2017. What this means for me right now is that it’s crunch time!
I’ve been making as much work as I possibly can so that I have enough ware for both shows. Inspiration strikes at curious times for me – often when deadlines are looming. So, this weekend really was my last making push with greenware. My goal is to bisque fire my kiln this evening, glaze tomorrow and then we load the soda kiln on Wednesday afternoon at the Colorado Potters Guild.
Did I mention that I’m also the chairwoman of the Colorado Potters Guild show this spring? It’s always a busy time right before the show, but now it feels doubly hectic.
New Forms – Creative Exploration
My schedule is busy and also why my creative muse always seem to show up when all pistons are firing…or maybe it’s just procrastination on my part? I’m not sure, but I’m starting to feel the crunch. This past weekend was really the very last opportunity for me to work on any “wet” ware. Of course, I took the opportunity to explore another form that has been lurking in my imagination – again based upon seed pods.
This form (see above) doesn’t exactly look like it did in my imagination. I’m going to fire it, but I don’t expect to make it again. It’s just too fussy for my taste. I probably could have used my time a little differently this weekend, but I’ve learned to answer creativity’s call when it happens.
I’m keeping this post short today, but will return next Monday when I’ll share some of the process of getting work ready to fire in the soda kiln on Thursday at the Colorado Potters Guild.
Sarah Christensen is a ceramic artist and the creative force behind Sarah Christensen Ceramics located in Denver, Colorado. She is known for her highly decorated wheel thrown functional work and ceramic wall pieces.
Please introduce yourself:
I was always encouraged to be an artist, and I always wanted to be one. While I dabbled in lots of mediums as a kid, I didn’t touch clay until high school. Only then, did I really think it could happen. I went to college to blow glass, but after many burns, found clay to be more conducive to how I translated my ideas with my hands. That was all it took, and I’ve been hooked ever since.
How many years have your been working with clay?
I’ve been working in clay 25 years.
Do you have a formal education in clay/art or how did you acquire your skills?
I have a bfa in ceramics from Alfred University, which gave me a great base of knowledge from which to work. I think I am still processing all the info I absorbed there. Since graduation I have been more interested in finding my voice in my work, and have chosen to limit my exposure to new techniques and influences. I love seeing what others are doing, but I get distracted easily and overwhelmed with new ideas which limits my focus.
As a graduate of Alfred’s ceramic program, one of the most respected clay programs in the nation, can you speak to the rigor of the program and how it has prepared you to pursue clay full time in recent years?
I can still hear my professors when I am working. It is rare for me to make anything without thinking, what would they think. Is this piece up to standard? It has made me a harsh critic of my work, and others work as well. I’m okay with that, I want to make the very best work I can and I want to encourage others to do the same.
Often, I still think of the advice my pottery teacher gave us to wait to put the work out there and to make it the very best you can. Once the work is in the world, that is the work people will expect you to make, so don’t get stuck making under developed work. I’m not sure anything prepared me for life as a full time artist, but I do feel like I want to live up to the standards set by my education and the talented people I went to school with.
Were you ever interested in pursuing a MFA in ceramics?
I’ve always debated MFA, no MFA. I still think about the possibility, if it’s something that would enhance my work or open up opportunities. I guess I haven’t made a conclusive decision about it yet so it’s still on the table.
How do you work (techniques/glazing/firing methods)?
Working on lots of projects at once keeps my day interesting. I throw for part of the day, then switch to handbuilding or sculpting. It is easier on the body to move around, and I don’t get antsy doing the same thing all day. I throw functional ware in porcelain, handbuild slab pots, make decorative wall hangings, and sometimes make attempts at what I call “real art”, but it’s really just playing in the studio.
All my work is very focused on surface decoration. I like simple forms that give me a canvas to use slip, glaze pencils, glaze and stamps, to layer color and image. Soda firing has always been a part of that process. It adds that extra magic to a surface, and it is always a surprise.
We are both members of the Colorado Potters Guild. What does it mean to you to be a member of the guild?
When I joined the guild, I was desperate to have a place to fire, but otherwise I was fine working in solitude. I didn’t realize at first how enriching it would be to have a group of clay friends to talk shop with. These days I am constantly grateful for all the enthusiasm, problem solving and fun that being in this group brings.
We have been firing the soda kiln at the Colorado Potters Guild together with a few others and you lead our firings. What is your philosophy or end goal for a soda firing as it relates to your work since it’s so highly decorated with color and fine line work?
The end goal is always the same. How can I get the most exciting, beautiful surface possible on a pot? It has certainly been a process to find just the right firing to keep the decoration intact, while making sure the soda does its magic.
Lately, my interest is in getting what I call “radioactive” color. Most people associate high fire with brown or subdued colors, so I love that I can get bright colors, but retain the complexity that comes with higher temps. The soda has the potential to really enhance the glaze colors, while also softening the design work and making it more variable.
Technically this makes you teacher or instructor by taking the lead in our firings (and you’re good at it). Have you ever thought about teaching classes to other potters or aspiring potters? Why or why not?
I have done a little teaching, but have not found a good fit yet. There are times I think I would like to teach, but it is hard to give up my own studio time for it. I wouldn’t rule teaching out if the right opportunity came about, it just hasn’t been a goal particularly.
People love your functional work and I think your sculptural wall boxes are under appreciated. Would you like to move more into the sculptural realm, or do you enjoy straddling both functional and sculptural?
There is something very comforting about making pots. They are art objects, but their function gives them purpose and meaning and definition, so I don’t have to. As long as my pots function, they are what they were meant to be. Its nice to have the container of function and it takes the pressure off when I’m not feeling especially creative, but still want to work.
I never intended to show the sculptures when I started making them. They are an exploration of a personal experience, and I really wanted them to stay private. I guess I (mostly) got over this feeling, plus I ran out of wall space to store them.
I have been missing making them lately, but the functional pots have taken precedence as I try to get them into the world…. I would love to make more of the wall pieces, but I feel so much more pressure to make them meaningful, to have them say something about me or the world. Sometimes it’s just really nice to sit down and make a mug.
I publish interviews with artists whose primary medium is clay once a week, every Friday. This regular segment is named “Feature Fridays” which can be found when searching the Ceramicscapes Blog using the category search function on the right hand sidebar. Interested in being featured? Visit the Apply for Feature Fridays page for more information.