Sunday, May 12, 2013

Buy Handmade vol 59

This week we head to the Catskills..

Name: Lucie Piedra & Meg Oliver
Age: 36 & 38 respectively
Occupation: Ceramicists
Etsy Shop: landmstudio

Tell us a little about yourself:
We met in 2001 as resident artists at the Byrdcliffe Artist Colony in Woodstock, NY. We have remained friends, and, after spending the summer of 2011 successfully combining puppy play dates with chores at each otherʼs houses, we decided to try our luck in the studio. We opened l&m studio in September 2011 as a collaborative project between a sculptor and a functional potter. We wanted to create a line of clean, vibrant porcelain pieces for our two favorite parts of our homes, the kitchen and the garden. We opened our Etsy shop in December, listing each item as we finished it. 

How did you come up with your business name, is there any special meaning behind it?
Itʼs a simple idea, to join two different talents to design and create one cohesive line. Lucie & Meg became l&m.

Has your Etsy shop become your full time job? If not, would you like it to be?
We each had side jobs at the start: teaching and working for other artists. Once we created a line and built up the business, we were able to cut out those other jobs. We both still teach ceramics on the side but weʼre here at the studio 40 hours a week. M-F 10-6

How would you describe your creative process?

The collaboration starts with the first expression of an idea. The moment that idea leaves the lips of one person and enters the ears of the second, that idea has already changed shape. Misunderstandings are where our best ideas usually begin. We push it further by starting the model in clay and then passing it to the other to work on. We can go back and forth like this for quite a while until we are both excited by what weʼve made. The amazing thing is that the final piece is never anything either of us would have made on our own (or even imagined). Itʼs as though a third entity has been created to design our work. 

Where do you get your inspiration from?
We get most of our inspiration from daily life, the experience of eating and drinking, from gardening and watching the way things interact with each other. The nice thing about creating functional things is that the function itself is often the inspiration.

Do you also sell your work at craft shows? 
We did a few last summer. Garrison Arts Center, New Paltz-Woodstock Craft Show, some smaller holiday shows. This year weʼll definitely be at Renegade in Brooklyn and the Garrison Arts Center. 

The holiday show in Beacon might be our favorite. It was organized by the HVNY Etsy team, so we had the chance to meet people we usually only communicate with online. Also the booth size was challenging, only four foot by four foot, so we built our display up. We used willow branches covered in Christmas lights, the reaction was fantastic (and the sales were great).

How long does it take you to prepare for a show? Do you have any special methods of getting ready?
After our first show we got our system down pretty well. We keep most of the booth stuff together. A friend gave us this amazing rolling case that is used for industry trade shows. It is huge and can fit almost an entire booths worth of stuff, wrapped in a foam mattress cover. It has made the whole process so much easier. As long as we keep inventory in stock, getting ready for a show doesnʼt take too much effort.

Describe an experience from a show (good or bad) and why that pushes you to continue with your work?
We did the Craft Fair in New Paltz last summer. It was only our second show since we started working together. It is a big show with a good reputation so we were pretty excited to be in it. We found that most of the work is very traditional and people were really surprised to see us there. Some of them were so happy to see our work, clean forms and bright colors, but it just isnʼt our market. The positive feedback kept our spirits up and we will keep going to shows, just not that one.

What is your most cherished handmade item?
When we first opened our studio, a former student of Megʼs, Jane Dodd (, gave us a set of cups she made that fit together. They are inspired by Japanese husband and wife cups, without genders intended. She gave them to us because, although we were not in a ʻrelationshipʼ, we had begun a partnership of equal importance, and that needed attention.

Apart from creating things, what do you like to do?
Gardening (we both have large vegetable and flower gardens), walking, playing with our dogs. 

If you weren’t creating your craft, what would you be and why?
This is a hard question because we both love what we do so much. It seems like most of our interests lie in things related to plants and animals. Maybe we could have been animal behaviorists or landscape architects.

Five years from now you will be…
Hopefully in a much bigger space, still making l&m work. Weʼd also love to start hiring from within our community. There are not many job options here, so to give work opportunity to the youth of Catskill would be exciting. If we could give them some business sense and the confidence to do something that they loved instead of getting stuck in a dead end job... we would feel pretty good about ourselves.

Describe yourselves in five words:
creative, thorough, hilarious, problem-solvers, animal-lovers

Carrying on with the five theme, if I were to turn on your ipod, what five artists/songs would I see on your recently played list?
Elle King/ Playing for keeps
Yeah Yeah Yeahs/ Honeybear
Citizen Cope/ Dfw
Alt-J/ Taro
Ratatat/ Loud Pipes

Lastly, do you have any advice for anyone thinking about opening their own shop or 
participating in craft shows?
We recently found an amazing resource: I . It has helped us figure out pricing, book-keeping, tax deductions, etc. If you get your numbers together, set aside a little time and emotional effort, keeping visual tract via graphs of your input and output (not only money, but production & product too) is surprisingly easy. This is all the stuff we didnʼt want to think about when we started but obviously had to address. Really, the sooner the better, by following the authorʼs step-by-step advise, you can easily figure out how to price items by inputting studio expenses, a minimum wage for yourself and the amount of time it takes to make each item. For craft-shows (and especially if you make heavy stuff), get a big rolling case from a trade show worker. Seriously. You will feel like the ultimate professional. 

Talk to people that come in your booth. Tell them about the work, about yourself, people love to share a story about the handmade item theyʼve bought when they show it to guests.