Which pots are yours? How does having a partner work? Who made this pot?
These are some of the questions that we are frequently asked. I am not sure why it seems so out of the ordinary to work collaboratively in clay. After all, there are a number of successful collaborations in many media: Rogers and Hammerstein, Simon and Garfunkel, Ira and George Gershwin, Hall and Oats. And, those are just off the top of my head. The reality is, most creative work is collaborative. No movie is made by one person – the ten minutes of credits are testimony to the host of people involved.
Julie and I met while working at a community studio. We were both ‘clay crazy’ so when Julie was approached about purchasing a booth in a local craft fair, she invited me to split it with her. After, a while, we began working collaboratively.
Every partnership is unique. Although Julie and I are different, we are compatible in essential areas. We share a similar work ethic and susceptibility to guilt. This means we each worry that we aren’t carrying our own weight which results us making a lot of pots. We also have a similar aesthetic. This is valuable because otherwise our body of work would not have a unified feel. Julie and I also share a respect for well-thrown and balanced pottery. This causes us to be open to one another’s critiques because when all is said and done, we want to make better pots.
Here is an overview of how we work. When we throw together, we work at Julie’s studio where I have a wheel. We get the clay ready (sometimes she has this done before I get there) and throw whatever pots are on our agenda. Then we work on finishing them. This means that one or both of us will trim or add attachments regardless of who threw the pot body. Sometimes we work independently; this is mostly due to our schedules. We each have a list of things that we make monthly; but we still glaze the pots together. When we glaze, one of us waxes as the other preps glaze or starts the glazing. As the pots are finished, Julie loads them in the kiln (her super-power is packing). While we throw or glaze pots, we have an on-going discussion of ideas of things to implement and change. This is when we come up with new designs or ways to improve our existing work.
Having a partner is great because it divides the administrative and non-pot making tasks. I handle most of the book-keeping, show applications, photography, and glaze-mixing. Julie handles most of the ordering and purchasing (supplies/glazes/business cards/lunch, etc.); she also does most of the kiln loading/unloading and recycles most of the clay.
I know that I would not have accomplished as much as I have without having worked with Julie; and, for that, I celebrate my friend today. Happy Birthday!