Sunday, June 24, 2012

Buy Handmade vol 11

This week we are visiting North Carolina -

Name: Heather Knight
Age: 34
Occupation: Ceramic Artist/ Vintage dealer
Etsy Shop: elementclaystudio/elementvintage 

Tell us a little about yourself. 

I have been working with clay on & off for almost 20 years,which sounds crazy to me, and I feel so blessed to have been able to follow my passion and make it into a viable career. I finished my second round of college with a BFA in Ceramics in 2006, opened a group studio in 2007, and thanks to Etsy, was a full time ceramic artist by 2008. 
I am an overachiever of sorts, compulsively clean, organized & detail oriented. I live with my husband and two dogs in Asheville NC and am blessed to have a beautiful studio in the River Arts District right next to the best brewery in town.

When did you start creating and how long have you been on Etsy? 

I have always been creative, I have done a lot of drawing & painting since I was very little, and discovered ceramics in high school. I committed to ceramics when I went back to college and started my etsy shop in the summer of 2007. 

How did you come up with your business name, is there any special meaning behind it?

I was working in the kitchen at a local restaraunt and my friend James & I went back and forth on names while chopping vegetables one morning. He asked," is there a part or peice of machinery that you could use? " And I declared, "ELEMENT" --- the coils that heat up the kiln. It was magic and perfect! Element Clay Studio was born.

How would you describe your creative process?

I rarely come up with new stuff, or if I do, it may stay in my head for years before I successfully exectute it. I would call my creative process slow & gradual. I collect imagery and ideas and let them marinate over time. I try not to rush things, and as much as production can get me down at times, it allows me the freedom to create new work slowly. 

Where do you get your inspiration from? 

My inspiration comes from nature. Everything I see has the possibility of being translated into my artwork. What always surprises me is what I can become obsessed with, the variety and randomness of it. I am currently in love with exotic mushrooms and the centers of flowers. 

I usually collect imagery from the internet after I get an idea, but i have bowls of stuff I pick up on my walks all over my studio. You have never seen so many seed pods and sea shells in your life!

What is your most cherished handmade item? 

I have tons of them. My ceramics collection is pretty expansive, and each piece tells a story. we have a greenhouse window in the kitchen and its filled with my mug collection. I can tell you who made each one, when I got it, and maybe a little factoid.... about the maker or the trade I made. I can't ever have enough ceramics.

Apart from creating things, what do you like to do?  

If I am not in the studio you can find me hunting for treasures for my vintage shop, cooking something delicious on my 1970's stove, or decorating my house. If I am not doing any of those things, I am most likely on a walk.

What are your future goals and where do you hope to see yourself in 5 years? 

My big dream now is to keep growing my business while growing a family, I want to find and capture that ever elusive life/work balance and keep it! And of course, I want people to know, within 5 years, that Element is the place to go for fine, hand crafted porcelain.

Do you have any advice for anyone thinking about opening their own shop? 

One of my professors in school had a saying, "time on task".....meaning In order to hone your skills, in order to succeed at anything, you must spend your time doing it. The more time you spend, the better the outcome. This for me, as an Etsy shop owner, means that I should spend time on my photography, marketing, customer service, business plan, and my products. It takes work, discipline and dedication to become a successful Etsy seller, but I have never done anything more rewarding in my life. Etsy has enabled me to make a life doing what I love to do.