Friday, December 20, 2013

the re-education of whitney smith

Now that my studio re-model is done, I have been easing myself back into the studio. I have not done any serious ceramic work since the beginning of the year as I have dealt with my burnout issues. I spent at least 3 days trying to figure out what I should work on first. That was fun, arguing with myself about where to begin. Finally, realizing my inclination to make things hard so I feel like an effort is worthwhile, I decided to start with the easiest thing, which was an order for a cake stand.

I'm treating myself like someone who has been injured and has to be handled very delicately, and I'm watching every thought, every move to check for signs of burnout, boredom, disgust, and despair. As those things come up, and they do, I have to pause, and check myself:

  • Am I trying to move fast when I need to move slow? (Years of production has made me hurry all the time.)
  • Am I giving my process a chance to work out the problems of this piece? (Sometimes my lack of patience makes me give up quickly when I  think something isn't working.)
  • Am I following my impulse with the direction I want to follow with the piece or am I trying to force an outcome? (This is all about trusting my instincts as an artist.)
  • Am I deciding how this piece will be accepted or not accepted in the world before I've even had a chance to finish it? (I compare this to parents who have decided what their children are going to be when they grow up.)
  • Am I staying present with what I'm working on, or am I drifting off into thoughts about the past, the future, or just not paying attention at all? (Hello bad habits.)
Asking myself these questions helps me adjust my pace, attitude, and internal dialogue. It takes discipline and patience to stay on top of myself like this, like trying to teach a child. An angry, drunken child. It's the re-education of Whitney Smith. I have this little sign on my studio wall, courtesy of rae dunn, which are serving as my current watchwords:

Monday, December 09, 2013

open studio

My Open Studio + Holiday Sale is THIS WEEKEND!
I will have LOTS of beautiful work on hand for all of your gifting desires.
I hope to see you there!

Holiday studio hours:
Saturday, Dec 14: 10 am to 4 pm
Sunday, Dec 15: noon to 4 pm
539 Athol Ave
Oakland, CA 94606

Sunday, November 24, 2013

making things happen

I loved a recent post from one of my art heroes, Elsa Mora. The title of the post is "Making Things Happen," and it's about, well, how a busy artist can make so many things happen the way Elsa does. The steps she names go like this:
  • Think: sit down with a piece of paper and a pen and think about what to make and why. This helps to clarify the mind and gives you focus and purpose.
  • Make a Plan: figure out what the big picture goal is, and break it down into small steps.
  • Start: the hardest part-- do not abandon the project or plan. One foot in front of the other, and begin.
  • Manage your time: try to work in 2 to 3 hours bursts with no interruptions (internet, phone, people) followed by a break.
  • Discipline: set a deadline, hold yourself accountable to finishing the project.
  • Have fun: Elsa believes projects are more likely to get done when it's fun, and a project stops being fun when one step has not been done correctly.
This formula has been incredibly helpful to me as I get back to working on creative projects. Like Elsa, I am very impulsive. Often when I get an idea, I run headlong into trying to make it, leaning heavily on my creative abilities to carry me through and not thinking about a concrete plan. My studio is littered with unfinished projects that seem to hold promise but stopped being fun to work on.

Her post inspired me to work on a large scale papercut for my front window at the studio. It's something I've been thinking about since the springtime, but I was hesitant to start because I know my penchant for starting big projects and then not finishing. I didn't want to let myself down or have some lame bullshit in my window. I followed each step, including the working for 2-3 hours at a stretch. This piece took about 8 hours and it about 3 feet by 3 feet:

The thing I really learned through this process is that I have a tendency to rush through "tedious" details. For instance, I wanted to somehow cheat on cutting the scallop frame properly.  I noticed that I wanted to rush, or get bored with the process, but then I remembered the plan, and that the scallop frame was really important to making the piece pop on the window. That helped me re-focus on it, enjoy it, and do the work so it would look great and not sloppy.

I've started using this technique with every project and I'm hoping it will continue to help me finish great projects. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

be uncomfortable

I received a timely email the other day:

Hi, I'm a 15-year old thrower, I've been throwing for 2 or 3 years now. I think your work is *perfect* but lately I have felt like what is the point of this.  I truly enjoy throwing, but I can't get out of this rut. Have you ever had these feelings? How did you conquer them?

Dear CL,
I wish I could say I have no idea what you are going through. Unfortunately, I know your feelings all too well.

Your first question-- what is the point of this-- is a larger existential question that I can't answer for you, you have to answer it for yourself. My answer for me is that the point is to bring beautiful, artful objects into this crazy world, and that's pretty much it. I would like to think that creating beautiful things changes the world, so I'm doing what I can to change the world. I don't know how far I'm getting there.

So, you're in a rut, maybe your first. Being a creative type means that you will not always be inspired and have ideas.  It's great that you have the opportunity to experience a creative rut, recognize you are in a rut, and ask for help at the age of 15. When I was your age I would go through creative ruts too, but I just saw that as a sign that I hopelessly sucked as an artist.  Then I would smoke a bunch of pot, write in my diary about how the world did not understand me, and cry. You may do all of those things too, but I never thought to ask for help. It's very brave of you to do so.

You are in a rut because you are bored. Maybe you are bored with your forms, your processes, your self-imposed limitations on the wheel. The opposite of creative is not un-creative, it's boredom. Boredom will smother everything creative within you with its droning, relentless voice about how you're not good enough, that idea sucks, other people are better than you could ever be, and eating a big giant bowl of ice cream is easier than going through the trouble of making that thing you thought you wanted to make.

You can't "conquer" boredom, because it's part of the process, the ebb and flow of being a creative person. Boredom is a message from your internal self that you need to grow. What that means is completely up to you to figure out, but here is a hint: We often resist growth because it makes us uncomfortable. To grow we have to start from a place of not-knowing, and it's much nicer to be in a place of knowing.  But being uncomfortable is not boring, so in my book uncomfortableness is okay for an artist. Maybe you should think about what makes you uncomfortable, and head toward that.

I'm uncomfortable with being less than perfect in my work, which means I don't experiment enough because I'm afraid of making ugly, imperfect work. I'm uncomfortable when my sales are slow, which means I'm constantly pushing myself in production, another creativity killer. I'm uncomfortable with ease, which means I don't value my work unless I struggle. I'm uncomfortable with pursuing other artistic interests for fear of depleting my creative reserves, which means my creative self usually survives on a plain clay diet.

My advice to you is to think about what makes you uncomfortable, and adjust your approach so that your creativity can incorporate those things. I've had to address my issues in order to have a better creative life. For me this means taking the time to try new things and make crappy work, make work that is not production-oriented and and may never sell, not immediately dismiss work that seems too "easy",  and work in other mediums I love such as drawing, painting, and paper cutting.

My dear, I hope that helps.

Friday, October 11, 2013

wandering the ruins

There is a zen axiom which basically says-- heavy paraphrase here-- do not regret what you did not do yesterday, do not imagine what you will neglect tomorrow. Do what you can right now by living in the present moment. Even if that means you screwed up yesterday and probably will again tomorrow. Do what you know is good for you right now, because now is all that matters. This is a great phrase to keep in mind as you attempt to overcome yourself.

My life has been deeply affected by some events in the past two years, and I have not written about them on this blog. Then, more stuff happened, and because I did not write about previous events, I continued the pattern of not writing about the newer events. Then even heavier stuff happened, and I felt mute. How could I write about this, but not write about these other things that happened? I didn't know where to draw the line, and I clusterfucked myself out of writing anything.

That's part of the reason I have not been writing much on my blog for the past couple of years.

And this has made me a little crazy, not writing on my blog. I love writing my blog, and I have felt a sense of failure as I have continued to neglect it. A few people-- well, one-- told me it's okay I don't post on my blog because no one reads blogs anymore.  I don't even care. If only one person read my blog (my mom) I would still write it. So, right now I am just going to write about this, and no regrets about the other shit I haven't written about. Yet.

This is my friend, Kaeti, who killed herself about 6 weeks ago.  It's an old picture of her, from when she was maybe in her late teens or early 20's. This picture breaks my heart, because it captures so much of who she was: beautiful, sensitive, vulnerable. She was also a brawling, ass kicking extrovert, which this image captures quite well:

Kaeti and I met when I was 19 and she was 20. We met because we both have connections to Delaware, which is a rare thing in California. We did not become friends immediately because I am naturally wary of people who try to be my friend, and Kaeti wanted to be friends. I like to pick my friends and resist being picked. It's weird, but there you go. Also, she was so beautiful I found it annoying. I was still overcoming my adolescent insecurities. A few months later, we ran into each other again in a random setting, and somehow this immediately cemented our friendship.

At the time, we were both recovering deadheads, and she had an inch thick dread on top of her head, with beads and string and maybe even a feather sticking out of it. I met a lot of girls who looked like her on tour with the Grateful Dead in the 80's and had a certain expectation of what she would be like: Smart, a little lost. Like me. So when she whipped out this deep, timeless, melodic singing voice out of her little hippie front, I about fell over. It was comically incongruous, this voice, defying all of my expectations in a moment. It was like seeing the depth and breadth of her all at once, through her astonishing voice. I realized immediately I had totally underestimated her. Little did I know then that she would sing at my wedding 13 years later, and everyone would cry. Listen to some of her music, these are a few of her songs from an album she made. This one is my favorite. This one is my second favorite.

I cannot go through my old pictures right now to find the ones of us together. Or look for the picture of her floating in a hot tub, tucked into a lifesaver float, smoking a cigarette, stark naked, hours after she sang at our wedding. I wanted to bring them to her memorial service on the east coast last weekend, but I could not bring myself to do it. It was like trying to lead myself into a fire. I also cannot bring myself to look up our last email correspondence from about 2 years ago, where she asked if she could call me, and I did not answer.

I wish that I did answer, and that she did call, because in my fantasy, this would somehow save her.

I don't let go of friends easily. With Kaeti it took some work. A crazy fight, a few misunderstandings,  a difficult move back to the east coast (hers), tenuous and brief get togethers thereafter. We did not have a falling out about any one of these things, but those are the reasons that I told myself that it was okay to let the friendship go. And when Kaeti let me go too, I did not get on her ass and ask her why. Our friendship had run its course, is what I told myself. And maybe it did. I don't know. All I know is that the moment I understood she was dead was like a kick to the head and heart at the same time, which fucking hurts.

The fact that she committed suicide puts a spin on events that is difficult for me to comprehend. Knowing her as I did, I know she suffered from depression and a sense of unworthiness which she cleverly disguised with her intelligence and unique brand of irreverent bravado. As we got older, it seemed security and stability continued to elude her as she pursued her music in tandem with nanny and waitress jobs. I always felt that a solid music career belonged to her, but I have no insight into this world, just my own awe of her musical ability. Watching and listening her sing I name as one of my greatest pleasures in life. Her voice always brought tears to my eyes, no matter what the setting. When she sang "Buckets of Rain" at my 20th birthday, I insisted she sing it again. And again. I could never get enough of her voice.

Her death, and her decision to make it so, is a mystery to me.  I'm not angry at her, nor do I feel she is selfish for killing herself, or that she did this as an act of hostility. These are all things I've heard are common emotion when a loved one is a victim of suicide. I think she was desperate, and that makes me feel nothing but sadness.

My other fantasy is that I am a time traveler, and I can go back in my capsule, and fly to Kaeti, and convince her that she needs to live, that she wants to live. Kaeti loved life, nature, and animals with a wide, generous, and tender perspective. Despite our ups and downs, I always loved her, and I believe she loved me, despite my many annoying personality disorders. And she forgives me for being a foolish ass, the way I do her.

Friday, September 13, 2013

destroying and creating

An update is in order. I have been working on remodeling and reorganizing my studio, which is something I do about once a year since my space is pretty tight and every inch must be maximized to its fullest potential.

This time is a little different though. After using Rae's studio earlier this summer while she was in France, I saw how beautiful and inspiring her space is, and I was happy to just sit in there and read if I wasn't making anything that day. By contrast, walking into my own space made me feel constricted, antsy, and the very opposite of inspired. I think the opposite of inspired is depressed-- my studio made me feel depressed.

I looked around my studio with a critical eye, and realized that many of my storage, work, and display decisions were ones that I made years ago when I had very little money, and I was either using what was readily available for free, or spending as little as possible to make something work. What resulted was a mish mashy and ramshackle looking space-- a space where work could be done, no doubt, and had lots of character, but it no longer expressed my personal aesthetic or inspired me to sit and make some stuff.

The first order of business has been to repaint the walls and ceiling. I painted the studio myself about 13 years ago, and while the light green walls were calming and lovely to look at, they also made blue things looks green, gray things look lavender, and so on. Plus, with my work, maybe it was just all a bit too much green. I actually hired someone to do the work last week, which meant piling everything in the studio in the middle of the room:

This was quite humbling, because it just looked like a big pile of trash.

I've been piecing parts of the studio back together, which is another nightmare mess:

I've had to work very hard on keeping my head in the moment and not allow myself to be overwhelmed. Over the next few weeks I will be getting two new ware racks, building a glaze table, acquiring a new stainless steel work table, installing a dedicated workshop sink, and building new display units. No more half measures!

Tuesday, July 09, 2013


Before I tell you about my kiln meltdown, I need to tell you that I will be at the Clay and Glass Festival in Palo Alto THIS weekend. Come and see me!

Since I'm about to have my biggest retail show of the year, that's usually about the time my kiln decides to go on vacation. Without telling me. Most people see kilns as an inanimate object, but ceramic artists know that kilns, in fact, have minds of their own and like to use their power for good and evil.

So, for the first time in many, many years. I lost a whole kiln load of pottery to a major overfire. My thermocouple, the brand new one I just bought and installed, was faulty, and not reading temperature properly. I just realized I'm blaming my kiln for screwing up when really, it's the thermocouple's fault. Yeah yeah, I know you are supposed to test everything, and use a witness cone, and blah blah blah.  I did not. Anyway, here is a sample of what I had to deal with first thing Monday morning:

Potters know what's happening here, the unschooled think it's trick photography. What happened is the glazes got so hot, it ran like liquid down the sides of the pots, fusing to the kiln shelf. If you look closely at the cake stand, you can see the drips. The only thing that can solve this problem is a hammer and a chisel.

So, how did this make me feel? Well, as I was unloading the kiln and seeing the damage, I felt a little sick in my stomach. It hurts to see beautiful work destroyed, and think of the wasted time and money.
But mostly, I just wanted to clean up the mess as quickly as possible, and move on. While I was chinking pieces of pottery of my shelves, I was listening to an interview with David Jay, who started The Scar Project, photographing women with breast cancer scars. So I'm listening, and chinking away, and comparing my disaster to losing your breasts to cancer, and I figure that this isn't even close to a really bad day. I know from experience that this meltdown won't even cross my mind in a month, so why let it totally get me down today?

Maybe I'm evolving, maybe I don't care as much anymore, maybe I'm able to keep things in perspective. Whatever it was that helped me get through this meltdown without melting down myself, I hope I can do it again!

Friday, June 28, 2013

recovering perfectionist

When I decided to take a break from making pottery earlier this year, I said to one of my friends, "I feel like my art is broken."  I felt like there was something fundamentally wrong with the way I was approaching my art making, that it had gotten twisted and broken, and making pots was no longer bringing me the joy that it used to. I had let it turn into a grind.

I have been doing a lot of reading, trying to understand how I can shift myself back into the joy of making pottery.  I believe my problem resides in my head, in the way I think. A book I just finished is called My Stroke of Insight by Jill Bolte Taylor. She is a neuroanatomist, a brain scientist who studies the anatomy of the brain, and she suffered a severe stroke when in her mid-30's. If you haven't already watched her viral TED talk, just go and watch it now so you can get the idea of the amazing message she is bringing to the world. (For reasons that I don't understand, none of my links are working in this paragraph, so copy and paste this to see the TED talk:

I have always thought that my streak of perfectionism comes from my creative side, the side that seeks beauty in all things. I suddenly realized while reading Jill's book that perfectionism is a left brain activity-- the logical, analytical, critical thinking side--and has nothing to do with right-brained creativity at all. It's the critical storyteller in the left brain, running its mouth again, ruining the right brained process of creativity. (Sorry, left brain, but you are a bit of a buzz kill in the studio.)

Through the process of recovery from her stroke, Jill was able to re-wire her brain to think differently, and to be more in tune with her right brain. She explains it beautifully in her TED talk and in her book, and I'm not going to attempt to lay it out here. One of her big messages is that the brain has incredible plasticity, and ability to recover from trauma. She's given me a lot of hope that with enough self-awareness and conscious practice, I can tune back into my right brain and make it stronger. And maybe learn to experience joy and lightness again in my pottery studio.

About a week before I read Jill's book, I had a funny thing happen. My beloved Grandma Stiltner died almost two years ago, and I finally sat down and made an urn to store her ashes. The design was based on the trillium flower, a flower that grew in abundance where my grandma grew up in the Pacific Northwest. When I finished the design on the still-green pot, it was perfect. Too perfect. It was bugging me. My hand, seemingly under its own power, grabbed a tool and started slashing at the design, roughing up the surface and breaking up the tight, perfect lines. Part of me was like, "Stop! Stop! If you ruin this you have nothing to replace it with!" (I was a couple of days away from going up to Washington to see my family and had promised to bring the urn.) But I was compelled by a force greater than my fearful left brain to do something to the surface of the pot to make it more interesting, even at the risk of ruining it. I think it was my right brain, showing some early signs that it is still kicking! By the way, I was happy with the way it turned out.

Thursday, June 06, 2013

art demons

I have been easing myself very slowly back into some creative projects the past few weeks. Gardening has so taken over my life that doing any kind of "making" has not been an activity I've been engaged with at all. Since making, doing, and creating is so much of my identity, not doing any of those things has created a strange absence in my life, but I don't feel empty.

I have not been working in my own studio, but in Rae's studio across town. Rae is gone for 6 weeks doing the France residency again, and she is generously allowing me to use her studio as my own while she is gone. I asked her for this favor because  every time I walked into my studio, my only impulse was to turn around and walk back out again.  Right now, my studio is a space that represents all of this struggle, and I don't want to be there. It's oppressive.

Rae's studio, on the other hand, is a wide open and beautiful space. As a practice, I've been going there every day, even if it's just for a couple of hours. Mostly, I've been doing paper cut art, which I have always loved and am currently totally obsessed with. I like to look at as many images as I can before bed so I can have paper cut dreams:

elsa mora
This image pretty well captures how I feel as a creative being right now: I'm sitting on all of this beautiful work I've made in the past, and I have all of this beautiful work ready to pop out of my imagination, but my arms are bound up, too connected to my head, and not my heart.  By the way, I wish I made this piece but I did not.  It's Elsa Mora, one of my paper cut heroes.

Paper cutting has made me come face to face with all of the demons I have created through my artwork.  Put a check next to the ones you have brought into your life:
  • That's not good enough, it needs to be better.
  • Don't waste your time on something that is going to suck when it's finished.
  • That's not matching the vision in your head-- start over.
  • You've spent six hours creating something that you will never be able to sell.
  • That's not as good as Elsa Mora, Peter Callesen, or Rob Ryan, so why are you even trying?
It's interesting having these thoughts while I'm paper cutting, which is basically a leisure activity for me and does not need to be perfect, go to market, or wind up anywhere other than the trash can or on my mother's refrigerator door.  The fact that I like to use artists who are at the top of their game in paper cutting as my own personal bar is not only ridiculous, but bordering on something else quite unhealthy.

I've sacrificed a lot of the joy I find in creating in search of perfection. I've known this for a while, and it has taken quite a toll on my ability to create work that I love. But recognizing this, naming it, and sharing it with you all feels like one little step toward healing.

 This one is mine, with thanks to Pema Chodron. I had to resist the urge to make this piece again, making it better, before I shared it with you. I may, however, take a better photograph of it.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

daydreaming the future

I have not sat down to the blank screen of my blog for a couple of months now. I have a lot of things to share. First, I will simply catch you up on what I've been doing.

Mostly, I've been in my garden. I should not say "mine" but rather "our" garden since I share it, and the work that goes along, with my husband and a neighbor. Our garden is very big, much bigger than what you would usually find behind an apartment building in a city like Oakland. It has producing plum, peach, apricot, persimmon, and jujube trees.  And lots of square footage for tomatoes, artichokes, lettuce, peas, carrots, radishes, strawberries, beans, cucumbers, zucchini, celery, onions, melons, and potatoes. And flowers, all kinds. Herbs too. It's a rambly garden with multiple levels and a squirrel problem. It has basically taken all spring to re-establish the beds, fight back the constant encroachment of blackberry, morning glory, and bermuda grass, and get things growing.  We've been managing the garden for 8 years and I know for a fact that in the end, the blackberry will win.

Early in the spring, when it was a lot of plain old manual labor, I put on my headphones and listened to podcasts. I can listen to podcasts for hours at a time. My favorites are "WTF," "The Mental Illness Happy Hour," "Wiretap," "Snap Judgement," "Risk!" and "Strangers." I have about ten more that I regularly listen to, and then about 20 more that I drop in on every once in a while.

Then, I realized my head was always in this alternative space, listening in to a disembodied voice. My hands and body were working the garden, but my mind and soul were somewhere else. I took off my headphones.

A lot of what I'm do while I'm in the garden is stand around and look at the landscape. Spacing out. Trying to figure out the best way to work around the limitations and maximize what we have.

As a child, a constant theme from teachers was that I daydreamed "too much."  I'm daydreaming the future, so back off. I quiet my mind, turn off the podcasts and lower the volume on my own personal bullshit in order to fully engage with the garden and do right by it. I enter the garden mind zone, and pay attention only to what is around me.

I've made some mistakes: transplanted stuff that didn't want to be transplanted, ignored encroaching disease in one area, put shady stuff in sunny spots and sunny stuff in shady. I'm learning to not impose my will, but to listen to what the garden wants and needs first. It is not easy for me to stand down like this, but it makes me feel easier, if that makes sense.

The garden is never wrong. Me, I screw up all the time, but the garden doesn't berate me, or tell me I'm an idiot, or kick dirt at me. It should though. It should send me straight to hell for the death I accidentally bring to the garden. But, no. It just pulls me back in to try again.

I will share more next week, maybe even sooner!

Monday, April 01, 2013

temporary hiatus

I have not posted in a while, and I apologize to my loyal readers who keep checking my blog and seeing nothing new. I see you in my stats, and it jabs me with a little bit of guilt every time. Half of those visits are probably my mom, actually.

So, if you are one of the few people who are still hanging in there with me, here's the deal: I've temporarily run out of things to say on my blog. Or, it's maybe that I want to say something different, and I haven't quite formulated what that is yet. I keep starting a post, and halfway through I lose all idea of what my point was. Which can be entertaining in itself, sometimes, but right now it just seems unfocused and boring.

I'm taking a break from a lot of things, including my pottery business. I'm selling only stuff that is already made, and just needs to be glazed. I took down everything from my website and etsy shop that I have to make from scratch. I've been working in my garden every day and trying not to monitor external indications of my status, like my bank balance, facebook comments, and website statistics.

I think I have been burned out for a while, but I kept going because that's what I do: use my will to overcome obstacles. I'm ready to stop now, just be, and see what comes up next. Sometimes, I get scared that nothing will come up, I'm all washed up, my best work is behind me, and I'm going to drain away every penny I've managed to save the past 10 years and have nothing and I should just forget about taking a break and go back to the studio and do what I do.

But, I've gotten to the point where I can't-- I have no desire to.  I'm just trying to trust myself and my instincts.

When I have something to say again, I will be back. You can sign up to follow my blog by email and when I write a new post, it will be delivered to you. That way you don't have to waste your time checking, and I don't have to feel guilty that you keep checking and there is nothing there. Not that I'm going to check those stats... anymore!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

my studio

My studio is less than a half block from my house. I live in a quiet, residential neighborhood, and my studio is housed in a row of unexpected storefronts. These storefronts used to serve as neighborhood businesses back in the day. There are people in my neighborhood who have lived here since the 50's and remember when my studio was a hair salon. The giveaway that my place used to be a hair salon are the electrical outlets every 5 feet on one side of the studio, and virtually none on the other side. The storefronts now house specialized businesses. In our storefront "family" are: an interior designer, a baker/bicycle builder (my husband), a massage therapist, a photographer, a photo stylist, and a musician. And me.

my studio is the third one up.
I've been in my space since 1998, which is the longest I've ever been in one place my whole life.  We lived further down the street until about 6 years ago, and then moved into our current place, which shaved 20 seconds off my commute. My studio is 600 square feet, which may sound like a good-sized space, and it was about 10 years ago. Now, it's a constant battle to maximize every square inch without making the studio feel crammed. I like a spacious, uncluttered workplace, and creating that in a room that needs to serve so many purposes is a constant challenge. Pottery is an inherently messy medium, and no matter how neat and tidy I keep things... it's still kind of a mess. I recently moved my packing and shipping station to my husband's studio next door, which has freed up what was a dark, messy corner in the studio. 
click to make bigger

Sometimes, I think I should just move into a warehouse space, where I could have another 1,000 square feet, but I can't bring myself to do it. For one thing, I love my 30 second commute. In the Bay Area, that short commute is worth its weight in gold. And, I have great landlords who know what I do for a living, and have raised my rent only nominally in the past 15 years. I won't tell you my rent bill because it will only make you jealous. (Thank you, Chris and Rebecca.)

And finally, I just love my space. I've grown a business in it, I've grown as an artist in it, and the very walls seem to be a part of me now. I have dreams about my studio, and in the dreams there are whole other floors, and warrens, rooms and levels to it. I think that's not just a dream of desire-- how I would love another room-- but a representation of what my studio means to me.  A complex, multi-faceted, sometimes mysterious place where I live, and that lives inside me.
click to make bigger