Category

New Ideas

Pots, peak, and pages

By | A Little About Me, Adventure, Blog, Business, Inspiration, Making, New Ideas, pottery, Studio, Taos | No Comments

 

Just a few photos to share what I’ve been up to…

New pots unloaded yesterday!  I’m really psyched about the stacked vases!

Ski week with a trip to the Peak as they hung new prayer flags!

Coloring pages I came up with from the ideas of the GSA student group at our local high school!  Other coloring page designs and recent pots are available on my etsy page!  (I haven’t had a chance to post these pots yet, so keep checking back!)

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Commission a Sculpture for The Cowgirl or Cowboy in Your Life

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I was honored to sculpt this sweet little cowboy for his doting grandmother.  The posture was just so simple and lovely I was thrilled to capture the timid feeling of his gesture from the photos that she sent.

I have done a few other commissions for folks out here and there, gifts for or of loved ones, exactly what the Clay Cowgirls are to me, capturing features, gestures, and looks of people I have looked up to, cared for, and known.Watch Full Movie Online Streaming Online and Download

Commissioned pieces start at $675 and require a few photos and a short description of the person you would like to honor.  Tell me a little about the cowgirl or cowboy in your life, and I will create a unique, one-of-a-kind sculpture to match those sentiments.

Wild West Show

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The cowgirls are taking flight thanks to the welding stylings and skills of fellow craftsman and potter, Rene.  After firing up the little wood kiln, and watching the gang pull absolutely amazing pieces from their 10-day firing out in Tres Piedras, I finally got some decent pictures of my ‘flying cowgirl brigade.’  Born out of a little spectacle, a little Wild West free falling, and the vague memory of Big Top acrobatics.BaseJumpers6CowgirlRing2

Getting to Cowgirls

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“There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn and they make new and curious combinations. We keep on turning and making new combinations indefinitely; but they are the same old pieces of colored glass that have been in use through all the ages.”
– Mark Twain, a Biography

 

The longer version of my last post Why Cowgirls?

Growing up in suburbia Pennsylvania, younger sister to an all-around all-star, for a long time I could easily lose myself in distractions safe under the responsible eye of big sis.  My blurry lettered t-shirt proclaiming “stay focused” was a loving family joke about my incessant head-in-the-clouds syndrome.   My thoughts would easily move in and out of a wide variety of ideas, but never quite landed on the idea to call home when I was out later than expected or check-in when I was asked.

I got lost in my imagination often manifesting itself in sketches and drawings, and eventually other mediums.  I wanted to make something out of anything I could get my hands on, crafting, gluing, sculpting, painting, weaving…  And though I come from a family of scientists and doctors, I gave up on my pondering a future in medicine.  I was lucky to be supported in my pursuit of the visual arts.  Plus it was the only subject Karen chose not to spend her energy on.  Still looking up to her, the competitive sibling in me pushed in vain to be as good in academics, sports, music, and clubs.  I wanted to do everything and be good at it too.

I chose art class over the conflicting time slot of Latin class and that was where my scientific path left off.  I was all in, inventing ideas I could bring to life and copying ideas and imagery I wanted to learn more about.  I copied a lot.  (The guilt over reinventing other peoples’ ideas dissolves quickly when someone like Mark Twain says “There is no such thing as a new idea.”)

I still wanted to keep my options open so when it came to choosing a college I went with the big state school and signed up for an art education degree.  I heard that most students change their minds multiple times before graduation and I knew what an indecisive bumblehead I could be.

In my ceramics studio my professor Liz gave an assignment with pretty broad parameters; create a sculpture that was functional, metaphorical, personal, and incorporated human or animal form.  I racked my brain and finally came to class with the idea of making a dragon chiminea.  The fire in the belly would be my metaphor for being so passionate.  When Liz asked me if I was passionate about dragons I nearly laughed out loud and realized pretty clearly that I was on the wrong track.

I went home that day and asked myself what was I passionate about?  At the time I felt like even art making was something I could give up if I stumbled upon something else as intriguing.  I was easily taken with wherever I was and with whatever it was that I was doing.  It turns out that I am fed by a variety of different interests, and those interests are in turn fed by my involvement in them.  I brought the idea of my octopus punchbowl to the table and was given the ok to go forward on my project.  Each arm was treated differently carefully holding a small cup that formed the head of eight different creatures.  I was so engaged in the idea, the physics and logistics of making such a complex piece, and the function of the final product that this and assignments like this inspired me to add a fine arts degree to my schedule.

After my final semester student teaching it was clear I was not cut out to be a teacher in a public school.  I jumped on the opportunity to stay at a friend’s apartment outside of Washington D.C. while he was away for 2 months so I wouldn’t have to stay with my parents hunting for a random job I wasn’t sure I wanted.  I got my first job waiting tables and spent nights on the floor and days volunteering at various ceramic studios around the area.

I saved up and hit the road to see how the rest of the country was surviving with arts degrees in ceramics.  I checked out grad schools, residencies, potteries, and working artists and landed in Taos, New Mexico trading labor for room and board, waiting tables, teaching skiing, and piddling in clay at any chance I got.  I wasn’t making much work, but I was watching and learning as potters and ceramicists in the area were eking out a living.

I regularly attended a weekly live model session just to keep my hands in clay and eventually started renting my own studio space to work in clay and whatever materials inspired me.  One day I decided to recreate a new version of the octopus punchbowl and as was my habit I listened to a book on tape while my forms slowly came together.  This time it was Tom Robbins’ Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, and my thoughts swirled in and around all the amazing women I had known throughout my life, particularly the incredible women I had come to know here in New Mexico beating the odds and making their way.

The octopus punchbowl soon had a rider, hand shadowing her brow, seeking what lay ahead.  It took some time but eventually I started sculpting cowgirls in all manner of gesture and pose certainly informed by the many days modeling the figure, that first cowgirl riding a giant sea creature, and of course very much inspired by the women I have come to admire.

 

Cowgirl Sculptures, Pots, and Sales

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It has officially been 3 months into 2014 and so far so good, ok, getting by at the moment…

As a maker, it is a scary and daunting task to give up a regular paying job and go all in and invest wholly in yourself.  Fear and intimidation has kept me from it for many years, and in September 2013, I surrendered my steady pay check for a full time gig in the studio.  In that time with the help and support of friends and family, I have built a website for the clay cowgirl sculptures complete with the ability to sell directly from the site, (you’re looking at it), established representation in a gallery outside of my own town (Gallery MAR), and opened an etsy site (www.etsy.com/shop/BrZart).

I’ve gotten a lot of great feedback, commissions, and even some direct sales along the way and in the Taos, area I display my cowgirl sculptures in Rottenstone Pottery in Arroyo Seco, NM, as well as Su

bstance of Taos, women’s clothing store right downtown.

mini octopus

I’m still not making a living, and the day to day of allotting all the funds coming in to the steady bills that hang over my h

ead monthly has been a bit uncomfortable, but not discouraging.  I continually make headway on getting the structures of running my own business in place and I am doing what I love every day (except for those two random days in a row where I got a flat tire… they asked me if someone was out to get me!  I hope not!).

Glad to be follo

wing my dreams, celebrating my heroes through the cowgirl sculptures, making functional handmade pottery for friends, family, and fans, and staying active as our ski season comes to a close and river rafting is just around the corner, it’s time for biking, hiking, and exploring the area on the cheap while I slowly climb my way back into the working masses that have some kind of income!

girls in the kiln

 

Thanks for the support!

Etsy

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Last week I opened an Etsy store for some of the clay projects I have worked on.  I don’t have any cowgirl sculptures ready for the site just, yet but they’re on their way! I’m still producing about 12 cowgirls sculptures each month along with mugs, bowls, platters, and other ceramica.

bikemug3 bluebicyclegirls

 

A couple of summers ago I started biking with some amazing girlfriends on the various high altitude terrain here in Northern New Mexico.  Glad to have a team of strong women to get outdoors with I love getting out on the trails on my mountain bike, and thanks to a generous gift I have fallen in love with the meditative rhythm of road riding too!  I am also really impressed by the genius invention that is the bicycle.  Beautiful design, highly functional gear system, ideal mode of transportation, excellent piece of simple and complex machinery all in one fairly light weight man powered gadget!  So I’ve been playing with my brushwork and have taken on the habit of embellishing many of my functional pieces with bicycles.  Thanks to a crew of amazing women and a brilliant pair of wheels, while they aren’t actual cowgirls, for me there is certainly a clear link.

Grouping the Girls

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fashionistas

The cowgirls are meant to stand alone as individuals, but I’ve been excited about the potential to group them, have them interact with each other, and create movement between them.  I am working on a series of fashion cowgirls for Substance clothing store, and an idea for a shoot out grouping is on it’s way to the kiln later this month.

The latest in groupings? We’re getting the washtub band together, but so far there are only two.  Any ideas are welcome, maybe there will be a poker game, saloon gals, and more campfires.
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shootout