29 May 2017

new start

Last Friday was my last day at the pottery workshop at Henshaws Arts & Crafts Centre, where I have been working for the last 8 years. I had a lovely farewell from my colleagues and students, even from some students parents. Lots of hugs and rather emotional day it was. 

After completing my first diploma study in ceramics back in 2000, I took a totally different career path as a social health care worker, for which I also studied and specialised in working with people with learning difficulties and Autism. I worked in many different sectors including educational setting, hospitals, community housings and day centres. Once I was working as a team leader of residential college and was even considering the career step. My pottery dream was hidden behind, even though I was working as an occasional assistant to my late mentor David C White on my day offs. Or maybe because of seeing him and experiencing how the studio potter works day in day out, I was not confident enough to start up as a potter myself I guess. 

Things slightly changed 8 years ago, when I got a job as a pottery instructor at the local organisation for people with special needs. My pottery vibe has returned and I was so delighted. My focus was to empower those people regardless their disability by finding a way that they can create, develop and achieve through the pottery. I met many wonderful students who gave me inspiration over the years. I have learnt so much too. 

Running a workshop is different from making your own work as a potter. I didn’t start that until much later and it was after David passed away (→ read this post). He told me that he didn’t teach me enough, holding his last breath flighting with his cancer. It was a moment that I felt rather guilty. I felt that I haven’t given him back for what he did. Indeed he did teach me so much. That sort of niggly feeling was somewhere back in my mind always, but I still did not have enough courage to become a full-time potter.

It’s been nearly a year since I started one-day-a-week studio work, after three year break due to my family commitment with my daughter’s medical condition (→ read more here), I found myself struggling with getting the timing right, getting tired and stressed, juggling two different jobs as well as looking after my girl. I often questioned myself, what my priority was and what I was pursuing in my life. The answer required a leap of faith. And I finally decided to take the step.

From tomorrow, I will be solely working at my studio. It’s a new start for me and a new start for my family. It will be a big challenge but I am now so happy to have made the decision. (Only took me 17 years, gosh!)

Thank you my family for believing in me. Thank you David for your spirit. Thank YOU for your encouragement. Onward and upward! Watch this space! 

14 May 2017

studio story 2

my current studio view

Last two weeks, my husband and I have revamped my studio floor. It was a big job as we had to move everything off the floor including the kiln and all heavy stuff. Like the photos here, we used all the shelves to store things temporarily and moved things out to the gazebo propped in the garden. 

So how come I’ve decided to do such a thing now? 

If you are my blog reader for a long time, you might remember where it started. All of my studio has been built by ourselves one by one going back to 2007! Yes, it was ten years ago when we first started! You can view my old blog post for what was like (→ read “studio story”). I wasn’t working as a potter, doing a totally different day job. The pottery studio was a big dream. 

I remember we laid the concrete floor and painted the surface in 2011. It was winter, which wasn't great to lay concrete. Also we had a tight budget, we used a rough surface finish, which was ok to start with but soon the problem has cropped up. Clay contains scilica, which is hazard to your health if you breathe in. So it is important to maintain the studio clean and free from clay dust as much as possible. Unfortunately the rough cobbled floor surface was very good at collecting the dust, no matter how much I tried to sweep or mop it. Even I mopped the floor, I felt dust in the air. I got lazier and lazier due to the lack of time so I neglected a proper cleaning. Over the years it got worse and the surface painting started to come off too. 

I know by then I should have chosen expensive smooth surface finish or asked a professional to do so, but I wasn’t working as a potter and it seemed to be a very luxurious option. 

Since my daughter’s arrival, I I’ve never brought her into my studio because of concerns over the dust. Now she recognises that her mummy works in the studio and makes pots. I really wanted my studio to be safe for her to pop in, so she can see what I do. That was it. I’ve decided to go for the luxurious option. 


So here are before and after view. Isn’t it brilliant? I was very pleased with the result. On the top of that, I spent little more time to reorganise the studio wall etc. Now it’s much easier to use, move stuff and most of all clean too (even for me!) My girl would be happy watching me working one day I hope.