Howdy clay People! I've Got Some Questions for Ya'!

I checked in with my pottery pal Ron Philbeck the other day on his way back from doing a workshop. For all of you who follow the blogs I know people click back and forth between ours at times so I'm sure some of your read his post with apologies for some comments he made on Sawdust and Dirt.

I did not read Micheal Klines post that day so I had to ask Ron what that was all about! He explained to me that someone had commented about blogs and what people write about...weather those of us who purge our thoughts, feelings and day to day studio work was really what needed to be written about on a pottery blog. I have to admit and I know I've said a few times that I am amazed that folks enjoy some of my on going moans and groans about family life and studio time. I of course really appreciate all the parents that leave me messages about things I write about and I love reading stories of there on going pottery lives.

So, I thought I'd throw a few questions out for those folks that parent and also try to be productive and pro active with their career.

Please join in with comments about any of the following questions.

*Do you have a set time you work in your studio or do you enjoy having your kids play while you work along side them? Do you find you can get what you need to done?

* Do you feel that you miss out on important residency's and workshop/teaching opportunities because you have another full time job? How do you fill in these voids?

*Do you have a significant other who supports you financially so you don't have to rely on your income? If not, how stressful is it for you to parent and juggle all the rolls you have to take on being a potter. IE - photo's, paperwork, repairs, shipping and selling your work?

* If you have older children, have they ever resented the amount of hours you put into your studio work while they where younger? Do they appreciate the fact you where home with them but still worked?

Just a few thoughts I had that I thought would make for some good conversation. I've thought about these things or listened to other craftspeople talk about these struggles.

We all can use a little advise here and there so offer up yours!


Linda Starr said...

I don't have children but if I did they would come first and I'm sure it would be stressful working at home as a potter with their needs coming first. I don't have a set time in the studio, I work when I can but moving, remodeling, and health issues have interferred more than I'd like; financially neither of us makes enough to live on nowadays with health problems and costs they way they are; I feel I miss out on important workshops and other opportunities because I can't afford them, thank goodness for clay and blogs.

Gary's third pottery blog said...

gosh, I cannot say any of those issues has occurred to me....living here in my little bubble :)

Gary's third pottery blog said...

Jen, I just did a post on the debate you are talking about. I don't know all the details, but I couldn't resist. People were arguing over what a pottery blog should be? How dull!

Jen Mecca said...

Hey Gary,
Ron filled me in on all the back and forth. I'm sure you did chime in since I know you hate the "high brow" talk. Good for you! Someone left me the link on my facebook page so I could read it but I haven't had time to look it up yet.
Enjoy your bubble :)

Judy Shreve said...

Jen - great questions. I only have one kid -so I admire you with your 3 and all you juggle. I remember when Luke was little, I would get really excited about an idea I wanted to try. Then I would not get back to my studio for days -- and when I did, I'd stand there and try and remember my idea. Or I would start something and not get back to it and just totally lose my momentum. I started keeping a journal -- with words & pictures that I could refer back to --- oh the joys of motherhood!

and that question about spouse support -- you have to guard against building resentment. You have a tendency to feel as if your work is not taken seriously because you are the one who has to stop working to run the household -- it's very disruptive to the creative process! But thank goodness someone has a real job with benefits & a steady pay check -- lol -- there's a lot of freedom in that. It's finding the balance that's difficult.

cookingwithgas said...

Hey Jen Balance is such a ----balance.
I had two kids to raise and we had a full time home business.
Balance- I worked while they were at school.
I was Mom when they were home- but I had a business partner-their Dad.
We spilt taking them to school listening to their lessons and doing all the things that needed to be done.
I never counted hours but I tried to work from 8:30-2:30- I know that does not sound like much but it worked.
There were times that I went back in the evenings but now so much.
Our kids remember the time we did spend with them and loved the sit down dinner and talk we did every night.
I would love to have you email with my daughter- who might give you some insight into what she thought- our son is not as open...
Just know this one day they will move away and now is the time you need to be Mom- cut down on some stuff is a great idea, you can't do it all.
But there will be a day you will have all day and night to make pots and you will wonder where the time went.

jim said...

hi jen, as far as the 1st question, i do enjoy having sofia work along side me. if i'm throwing and listening to some good music and look over and see her contentedly smushing clay on the banding wheel and singing with the music, i get a feeling that there will never be a better time ever. however, when i'm decorating with very detailed work and sitting on the loveseat that i sit at with my little brushes, i do have to be careful to make sure she doesn't get too rambunctious and shake the seat or bump my arm, etc.

Tracey Broome said...

Hi Jen: this is from a mom with a daughter that will be a senior in High School Monday morning. I had my ipod on yesterday and the Dixie Chicks song Wide Open Spaces came on and I sat there while putting a barn together and cried. It's about a daughter leaving home: "She needs wide open spaces, room to make her own mistakes". Anyway this song just makes me realize what a small amount of time I have had with Wes, 17 years, that's not a lot. When she was a baby up until she started school, I was traveling all over the country every week, had a nanny and Gerry. It sucked, she cried every time I left the house and I cried the whole time I was gone. I gave up a VERY good income to stay home with her. Don't regret it for a minute. I hated working at home while she was little, I would be on the phone with a client and she would be crying in the background, real professional! I think the life of an artist is perfect for moms, but you have to learn to not get obsessive about the work and give your kids the time they need. They should never feel like they come second to the art work. Gerry is as supportive as he can be (for him) but his job is crazy and like Judy said I have to be careful to not resent that he goes off to work and is not the one stopping in the middle of what he is doing to put clothes in the dryer, get dinner started, feed the dog, clean the bathrooms, etc. Like I have said before, I would like a wife! Wesley sees now how much I do and she is better about helping to get dinner going, washing her clothes, helping with the pets.... I work while Wes is in school, stop what I'm doing when she gets home, discuss her day, help with homework(not so much now) and then she goes to her room for some alone time and I go back to work. She often comes and sits with me while I work and we talk. I just always make sure she knows that I am paying attention to her, so that she knows what she says is important to me, and she knows that she comes first always. Now Gerry, does not do this with his job, isn't that funny? He has missed things at school and gigs she has had because of work, and when he is home editing there is no talking to him. He regrets this a lot, he is a really good dad, but we are screwed if he loses his job, so he has to be this way. Difference in an income you depend on and one that just adds a bit, huh!? We had a big slap of reality this week when our friend lost their 18 year old daughter in a car crash, Gerry went to the funeral last night, and it really wakes you up to how fragile your child's life can be. It's not easy, you have to work at it, but then again you could be sitting in a gray cubicle on the 5th floor of an office building! I think being organized and some good planning is really helpful and the MOST helpful thing for me is the calendar hanging on my frig!

Tracey Broome said...

Whew, sorry for that very long post, coming from me who just said on my blog that I can't read long blogs ha!
But this is a good parent topic for sure!

Linda Fahey said...

I don't have kids and I bow down to you for doing the brutalist and greatest job on earth! I do, however, have a full time job and a demanding one too! It impacts my work, my time, my ability to produce - so though I have a level of financial security - I also struggle with not having the luxury of time in the studio which is invaluable.

and the whole thing about pottery blogs just being about pottery? I don't get it - it's silly.
Pottery is really about people...

I LOVE when there are other discussions and I get a window into the work.

Kari Weaver said...

My kids are 12 and 9. I generally try to get all my studio work done while they are in school. They are pretty understanding when I have a piece that simply cannot wait. Sometimes, I'll return to the studio after they've gone to bed, but it's not my favorite thing to do.

Right now, I miss out on classes and workshops since I have to provide transportation for my 5th grader. Next year, he can ride the bus home with his sister, so I can be gone during the afternoon. That's always been a fact of life so I haven't really considered what I was missing.

My husband has a fulltime job and we couldn't survive without it. I'm not a great time-manager and find it difficult to manage all the "support" work that it takes to try to make a living as a potter. I do try to schedule household chores one day a week and errand-running on another.

I think my kids appreciate that I am home, even when I am working. They have friends whose parents work fulltime and know how fortuante we are that I stay home.

Kyle Carpenter just posted that he's not getting any work done during the day as he watches his two little ones while his wife is at work. I didn't work much when my kids were very little. You'll find the balance you need. I think it's just a matter of taking baby steps.

vicki hartman said...

hi jen,
i think these are all really important questions for parents and anyone else that wants a good quality of life in general! for me, my kids now 3 and 6, so still really little, when summer started in june i just decided that i was not going to do much pottery this summer, i have not been blogging much or making pots more than 2 days a week and i have been enjoying them and our summer so much. but now as it ends, i am getting so antsy to get back to work full time and i am losing patience with them too. i take them into the studio sometimes, but my space is so small and awkward they get in my way a lot.

i know that i have sacrificed my career potential because i chose to have kids. i would not change it, but it still makes me sad sometimes. i want my mfa so bad and i have no idea how to make that happen.

it really raises a lot of questions about what life is for anyways and what success is and how much our egos can drive our choices.

anyways, i appreciate your thoughts about balance and family.