I may seem quiet on the social media front but in real life I am fully occupied. If I am not working on a project or projects (it is nearly always more than one) I am looking for the next project. In fact my continuous project is that of always looking for the next project. Living the all too familiar feast or famine life I find myself in.
Aside from the community arts work I am doing – The Ginnel Project Leeds, there has been some interesting collaborations, a reunion with the Pottery Throw Down crew, series one, and a magical gift from one of my most favourite international artists. Read on….
RJC DAnce Leeds
In January 2022 RJC Dance as part of their Black Cultural Exchange Project visited my studio and talked to me about my practice, its beginnings and how ceramics and business features in my life. There are several other creatives featured too. Check them out. The emphasis is on showing young people, especially those from African heritage how they can fulfill their dreams if they work towards that goal.
See the You Tube video here. Its 36 minutes long and an interesting watch!
Ceramic Arts London 2022
It was good to get down to Ceramic Arts London this year. First time since 2019. Some wonderful works on show from some pretty awesome makers (see slideshow below for a small selection, Dylan Bowen, Emily Stubbs, Anne Butler, Lucas Ferrier and John Higgins). Met up with some of the old Pottery Throw Down crew and friends which was fabulous and met some of the latest throw down contestants from series five.
A gift from Chicago
I am just coming down from the high of being totally thrilled by the gift I received from the massively talented, entrepreneural, internationally recognised and socially conscious mixed media artist, urban designer and place-maker, Theaster Gates.
A selection of happy workshop participants at SAZi Studio with their works. I offer tasters, one day and two day workshops and will tailor workshop to suit your requirements.
From April 11th 2022 the cost of SAZi Workshops will be increased by 10 -15%. I try to keep costs low and affordable for everyone but lately it has been difficult to meet rising costs of materials, and energy bills.
Bookings made in March and before April 11th will be at the current price for workshop dates after 11th April 2022. So book now while you can. Get in touch for more details.
Catch me on Instagram and Facebook for more chat and image sharing.
This blog post is me trying to stick to the quarterly entry that I promised myself in the last post, yeah it is a bit late but I still congratulate myself for fitting it in to my tight schedule (just before I get ready to go to Ilkey Literature Festival ). The other thing that has prompted me to write is the fact that I am one of 20+ artist in Leeds chosen to work in Chapeltown with the aim of co-creating and showcasing community culture in that part of the world. Check the Leeds 2023 My World My City My Neighbourhood project. Keep an eye out for updates and progress. If you want to take part and be involved please get in touch.
If you know me or have known me, you will gather that I love hats and head wear, but actually how many hats can you wear and still look good and be effective in your daily life? Of course this is a metaphor for the work load that I am juggling to ensure that I can pay the bills, develop my art practice, nurture new knowledge and stay current in a rapidly changing technical environment. By the way my latest hats are all from Kempadoo-Miller Headwear. Quality, design and good ethics at it’s best.
So why am I bringing up hats? The often talked about ‘imposter syndrome’ that many of us may have felt at some point in our profession has not escaped me. Until recently I had the feeling that I am faking it. On deep and long reflection I am now at a place where I can confidently say “Sandra you are good at what you do.” How guilty are you of under playing your skills and experiences or comparing yourself to others? I know I have been. Heard this today ‘comparison is the thief of joy’ so true.
However, I have achieved so many things that I am proud of. This year I graduated from an MSc in Real Estate Management (it was really hard and involved proper math all during lockdown!) and I am currently working freelance (part time) as an associate consultant looking at creative spaces. Loving that. Another very diverse project I am doing is an art commission, which is almost done, for Jamaica House in Leeds. Enjoying that too. Add that to the Leeds 2023 and my SAZi Studio business you can see my hands are full. It maybe a challenge and very time consuming but it adds strings to my bow and credibility to my skill base, pushes my work ethic and time management practice. Thank you to all those that have been part of this journey to date.
Keep doing what you are doing until you get to where you need to be. Ignore the naysayers even if they are family.
Remember those? Well, I have asked other studio holders to join me in November for a selling event at Barkston House ceramic studios. Even though on line selling is the growing trend, in fact it is expected, I still like to sell face to face. Don’t worry COVID guidelines remain a priority.
So, the Barkston Ceramic Makers have a selling event on the 26th , 27th and 28th November.
Join us, mark the date in your diaries, we would love to see you. We have sculptures, table ware, vessels and decorative items. All handmade by experienced makers.
The online shop has not been stocked much since earlier in the year. Sorry about that but I have been making so there will be new items added as soon as I glaze them, grind them, photograph them, upload the images and write the descriptions. Phew!
If you are thinking that you might want something making by SAZi Studio as a gift to yourself or others, now is the time to ask me. Just get in touch.
OK, I am done for now. Off to sort out my online shop and get it ready for the new stock.
Catch me on Instagram and Facebook for regular news and views.
I had started to write this blog about 4 months ago using the above title, the intention was to witter on about my tenacity, resilience and fortitude for maintaining some semblance of a business during trying economic and social distancing times. In the last month or so I have begun to think that that maybe I am flogging a dead horse, should I cut my losses and give up trying to make the business work financially? Become the little hobby potter which seems to be a common view and expectation.
Many artists and makers need to supplement their income with a second or third job. I am no exception. The really clever ones, i.e. creatives and makers, know how to leverage their talents to generate funds via all kinds of social media platforms. The old adage of working smarter not harder seems so easy but in reality, for me at least, it doesn’t appear to be so straight forward. The lucky ones have a partner or parents that can support them financially (living costs) and mentally whilst they create with abandon. Not jealous, just making an observation. I love working with ceramics and I love making, design and creativity in general, so why can’t I make it my primary source of income? Why does it have to be so hard? What am I failing to do, what am I missing?
Don’t misunderstand me, I am aware of success pathways and I have spent money for the information. I have signed up to dozens of guru type people who tell me how I could make 6 figures by following their blueprints, their 6 point plan, their how to get rich programmes and mindset changing ‘how to’s’. I have listened to how they were £40k in debt 2 years ago or homeless 4 years ago or were made redundant or worked 60 hour weeks and now enjoy lifestyles most of us can only dream of. All I need to do is pay them £3000, £2500 or £1000 and they will show me how… sigh. If I had £3000 to spare I wouldn’t be in such a challenging position. I would use it for marketing, product development or a holiday. I would love a holiday.
So many independents have struggled and some independent business have disappeared because of the lockdown caused by COVID and it isn’t over despite the easing of the rules in the UK, but I don’t want to talk about that (or the racism, sexism, ageism, homophobia, disablist obstacles that blight our paths to self actualization). I am just acknowledging one of the huge obstacles we all face on top of everything else.
I am congratulating myself for still being here, for producing ceramic work in my studio. I am thanking every person that bought from me, from the UK or internationally, whether it was an item or workshop, every person that has recommended me or my work to a friend or colleague or has shared or liked my social media content. Thank you.
‘Failure is only when you permanently give up. If you learned anything and you apply what you have learned, failure is a stepping stone’Tony Robbins
‘Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new’ Albert Einstein
I don’t give up easy so despite my despondent and miserable opening paragraphs I have some positive and forward thinking ideas:
Start making for the festive season (Diwali, Xmas, New Year, Kwanzaa, Hanuka etc) – I know it is only July but you gotta start early, trust me. ( I have never done it but I will) Last year, December, I was at the studio in all kinds of stupid hours, making for the festive season. Don’t want to do that again.
Post more on Instagram (YouTube, Tik Tok, Facebook, Pinterest) – Reels and videos are supposed to be the thing. Still trying to learn about how to do these effectively and understand social media hacks so it works for me. 2000+ followers on IG in 6 years is shite, lets face it. Tried my good looks, youth, 15 minutes of fame and boobs. Failure. So need to push my talent onto the world in some other way. Educate, rant, problem solve, add value and entertain.
Meaningful collaborations – I have tried this and will try it again. Learned that all sides of the collaboration need to have the same amount of enthusiasm, energy, respect and time to make it work within some kind of agreed time frame. Collaborations should emanate provocation to create something new and build on each party’s creative processes.
Improve the marketing for SAZi Studio – I have actually started re-branding and relying on a family member with graphic designs skills who is doing it at no cost. Been waiting for over 5 months…. Learning the lesson. Gonna pay for it elsewhere. Can’t wait much longer. Btw, I offered to pay. Also learned that sending someone with masses (200k) of followers a SAZi Studio made gift doesn’t work. Different expectations on both sides.
Organise my time better – I am a freelancer and have several other paid (and unpaid) work that I need to fit into my life plus family commitments… you understand right? A VA or PA would work. My social life after having gone to shit is regaining some kind of shape, that needs to be crow barred in someplace. Systemise everything, yeah? Any suggestions readers? The best thing is to reduce my workload and say no.
Write shorter and more regular blogs – every three months maybe, who the heck wants to read all these words, not sure I would? Make a plan. I intend to make the read less morose and more captivating or interesting and less about my woes – dull. I can do it.
Clone myself– How else can I get to do all of the above?
selection of Work made in 2020 and 2021
Check the online shop, click here, or get in touch if you would like to commission something special from SAZi Studio.
Thanks for reading. Always happy to get (constructive) feedback. Back in 3 months.
I should have lots to say and I have but where to start? What a year. The clocks went back an hour today but I wish it could go back to 2019. Back before 1000’s of the worlds most vulnerable died of a virus that came out of nowhere. Back before we all sat in our homes and watched the day light lynching of an unarmed black man, by the state, in the USA. Back before 100’s of businesses closed and 1000’s of people lost their jobs and were forced to claim welfare benefits that barely cover their living expenses and back to before the government deemed it unnecessary to give children of struggling families free school meals. There is more but jeez I don’t want to think or talk about it anymore. It’s exhausting and stressful because to add insult to injury there are those in our societies who pour fuel to the fire, doubling the anxieties one may feel. The racists, the naysayers of covid or the ones that believe it is the end of the world or the new world order and conspiracy theory groups, the rise of the extreme right, the bickering parties, don’t even get me started on that orange one across the Atlantic…..sigh. Tiring.
We have all, across the world, been subject to the new COVID 19 restrictions enforceable through law passed earlier in the year and will be enforced for some time to come, years probably, until a new thing comes along. This has been a time to reflect on our personal practices at home and at work, if you still have paid work. For me, as a freelancer, the lockdown was a welcome break from the hustle and challenges that is my life however the lockdown and the restrictions has also meant no earned income. The reality is, I love what I do but can only do it if I can sell my products and my services. Over the years many people have asked me ‘why don’t you get a [proper] job’. This is my job!! I love the freedom of managing my time and my creativity and developing products and ideas. When it works it is the greatest feeling. I just need to make it sustainable somehow without selling my soul.
Zoom is my new best friend, we have parties together, meetings, we exercise and do yoga together and sometimes we fall out but all is forgiven when I need to speak and see family near and far far away. Use of digital technology in the home and at work is the new norm. Everyone is forced to use it as long as social distancing and prohibitions on face to face meetings and gatherings with friends family and strangers are in place. I am adapting, I am researching and trying to understand and formulate how it can work for me:
Online tuitions – I was fortunate to get a small emergency grant from the Arts Council at the beginning of the lock down. Apart from the fact that it helped me not to starve and supported payments for my studio rent, the funds have supported my research into developing an online tuition and pottery kit project. I intend to make short ‘how to’ pottery technique videos to be shown on social media and my website and send out pottery tools, with some clay, in a kit which can be used in the home. Bringing pottery to the people. Still figuring out video editing and stuff. If you have any tips, please send them my way.
Pottery workshops – Another challenge. I have delivered about 4 workshop in the last 6 months and a few have been cancelled because of people or family members testing positive for COVID. However, I have not stopped and I run workshops with COVID rules and a risk assessment in place so everyone is protected and safe. Equipment is cleaned, hand sterilizers are in constant use and people are as socially distant as possible. The workshops are good, small classes i.e. 1-2 people for throwing on the wheel and up to 4-5 for hand-building, meaning not using the pottery wheel. See the shop for details.
Getting to grips with creating an online shop is making my hair fall out. It looks easy but it certainly is not. My attempts to get my shop bulging with products is slow and hesitant. Watch out this week I am going to put some product in my shop. No, really, I am. Or if you go to my Instagram account @sazistudioceramics and see something you like please message me and I can sell it to you. The social media and digital world is here to stay and shopping on-line is superseding the high street for actual walking from shop to shop and feeling, smelling and looking up close at items. You can shop from your bed, in the bath while watching ‘A Place in the Sun’ (is that just me?). Goods and produce are now stocked in large out of town industrial warehouses. There are so many tips and procedures and processes to selling on line. Not straight forward. If I could pay someone to do it all for me I would. I’d have to pay them in clay though…
So to add to my already full days I have embarked upon a collaboration with @yussico This is a fine leather crafts business in London run by Yusuf Osman who I met at Flourish, a Craft Council event, last year. It is a clay and leather collaboration and we are in the 8th week. Nothing much has been made yet as we explore and experiment with the materials, also juggling the other things in our lives to make room for something new. Collaboration is certainly a thing that you need to be invested in and committed to if you want it to work. I have started a small project and hope we can produce something unique and wonderful between us. I have to say though that I have some discomfort about using leather and I will be looking at alternative materials to partner with the ceramic and clay in the future.
The gift giving season
December is almost here and you know what that means. If people don’t lose their minds buying all the toilet roll in the shop or all the turkey ( I heard someone bought 5 turkeys last week, 5! Why?). Worse, if they don’t buy all the chocolate and alcohol (!) the festival of ‘Good will to all men’ lets replace that with ‘Good will to all people’ shouldn’t be so bad. If only there was good will to all people all the time everyday.
If you could show me good will by buying my stuff that would be fully appreciated. I have started, late but better than nothing, to make and plan for the gift giving season. I have not done one craft and art market this year. So I have to focus on the online thing. Yayyy…
If I am part of an Xmas market for 2020 I will publicize it widely. Also if you want me to make anything special meaning if you want to commission a uniquely made quality ceramic item made by SAZi Studio get in touch NOW so it can be made on time.
‘I just want to say again how beautiful your plates were that you made for me. My sister loves them (they were a birthday gift as she’s moving home) and you can tell the skill and artistry that went into making them. Thank you again!‘ – From a happy customer
Whilst writing this long over due post I have had two requests for a workshop, a request for a small plate and discussed the development of the clay and leather collaboration with @yussico. The next 8 weeks are gonna be full on.
Wishing you all good health. Please contact me if you would like to explore, further, anything I have discussed here. Don’t know when I will be writing again because as you know I am not the best blogger in the world. Follow me on Instagram as that is where I am most of the time with news, views, opinions and showing of my latest works.
Amazon doesn’t need all the wealth. Please support independent business.
Happy New Year. 2020 is such a good number isn’t? Good for the optics (a new term I learned in 2019) good for the graphics as well. 20202020202. Do you see what I mean?
I am still here pottering around…do you see what I did there…? Life is good and I give thanks I have my health and strength.
Series 3 of the Great Pottery Throw down is back on our screens. It has been almost 5 years since the first series aired on BBC2. This series returns on Channel 4. Looking forward to seeing it. An excuse for a bit of honest procrastination. Planning my day to fit around 9pm – 10pm on TGPTD days… Sad but true.
I usually avoid channels with adverts… they spoil my enjoyment but it would be interesting to see what adverts they put on. For the Bake Off it was always stuff about cakes, flour, butter etc. Sainsbury’s was very happy. Will it be pottery wheel sales, tea set sales? It might be what ever the theme was that episode… raku firing – fireplaces, garden sculptures – B&Q, Tea set – Tea bags…. I better shut up.
Back to the competition…
It should all be self explanatory… Despite the basic graphics… I am out of practice. I do see a few typos though that are driving me maaadd, but not mad enough to go back into it all and correct them. Life is not long enough to correct all your mistakes. Learn and move on. The grammar police will just have to give me a warning.
You have until the end of episode 2 to give me your prediction of an ultimate winner. If you give more than one name, the first name will be used. If you live outside of England…… we will work something out. If you give me the name after the deadline… I will see how I feel….
Names of the12 brave contestants
Florence “Flea”, Claire, Jacob, Christian “Kit”, Matt, Leonard, Rainna, Ronaldo, Rosalind, Sampada “Sammie” and Tom (4 years ago some of these guys were still in school when I along with 9 other brave souls did it!)
Really looking forward to hearing from you. It is free to enter so just do it.
Might be back next week with my feedback of the show… Come back and see.
…. is all around us, sometimes it is easy to see other times not. It might all depend on mood, environment, company etc. As a creative I am constantly bombarded with inspiration, inspiring verse, inspiring shapes of buildings, trees, faces, reflections, conversations, clothing, history, news, other artists, people good and bad.
These are my last few days in Jamaica and the ideas are all over the place, it is overwhelming …where to start? I am going back to basics in the SAZi Studio and looking at the 4 main shapes (bowls, cups, vase and the lidded vessel) that I make and starting again from there. The flora and fauna is mesmerising here, the colours all around and the sound; music and all kinds of animals. A cacophony of sound. Don’t know where this paragraph is headed but sharing anyway. Read on…
Those colours and patterns are wonderful. Some ideas for surface patterns.
‘It’s not wrong to go back to that which you have forgotten’ West African proverb
It is never a waste of time and money to develop your personal and professional selves. I must have attended over 200 personal and professional development events in my lifetime. They have helped me on my journey. I have not attended an event like this for some time. As I have matured it feels that they have very little to offer me. I don’t know it all and I am always learning but what is out there to meet my changing needs? Need to do some research, especially around my baggage. Yes, I have some, don’t you? In the meantime I will be attending Flourish. Flourish is a 2 day conference aimed at makers and designers organised by the Crafts Council. I hope to gain some new connections, build knowledge and expand my networks as well as acquire new skills, in this age of information technology, to build my business. Watch this space.
If you know of anything useful for personal and professional development for creatives please share.
Free pottery taster sessions!
SAZi Studio is offering FREE 2.5 hour taster sessions on 12th and 13th July.
Friday 12th July – 2 Hand building sessions. Times: 10am – 12.30pm OR 2pm – 4.30pm
Saturday 13th July – 2 Throwing on the wheel sessions. Times: 10am – 12.30pm OR 2pm – 4.30pm
These are free and give a taste () of the 1 and 2 day workshops on offer. It wont be the full SAZi treatment but it is free. If you want to keep what you have made the costs are as follows:
– Unfired – £5 per piece
– Fired and unglazed £8 per piece
– Fired and glazed – £12 per piece
Simple refreshments on offer.
The work will be available for collection up to 3 weeks after the session is completed.
Get in touch for more details and to book yourself a place.
The Great Pottery Throw Down – Series 3
Have you heard? It’s back!! Channel 4 has saved the day. It has been over 3 years since series one was aired on BBC2. I was either brave or foolish but I am glad I did it. Feel proud to be one of many bringing pottery to the masses via national TV.
Do you think you have what it takes to become Britain’s Best Home Potter?
Love Production are looking for enthusiastic people with the skill and passion for all things ceramic!
If you can throw with confidence and hand build with flair – then why not put your skills to the ultimate test!
The Great Pottery Throw Down is looking for home potters aged 18+ to take part in Series 3!
Applications closes Sunday 23rd June 2019
As I sit down to write this in Jamaica, it is 6am! I never get up at 6am!! Might be the pure coconut water I drink daily or the fresh off the tree mango I consume that makes me feel happy and energised, of course it could be the hot bright sunshine that envelopes you when you dare to step out into it with lush everlasting greenery as far as the eye can see. Reminds you that the earth gives you everything you need; food, resources, calm, wonder and beauty. We are very fortunate humans. The earth also provides us with clay of which so many creatives and artists are eternally grateful for.
I had the wonderful but brief pleasure of meeting Magdalene Odundo at the Hepworth on the 4th May 2019. I completely missed the launch party of the ‘Journey of Things’, her exhibition, in February where Ben Okri was also present, a massive, massive lost opportunity to smooze ( I might have made that word up?) with some of the art elite…..
I was determined to meet her this time at her talk, ignoring the fact that the talk had sold out 6 weeks before, I took myself down there and caught her before she was due to have a conversation with her audience.
She was lovely and didn’t call security. I gave her a gift that I made, very daring and risky, I hope she liked it. Not heard from her and no doubt I will be contacting her soon to try and get some feedback.
Finally delivered some of my Afro Hair cups/mugs to The Tetley a couple of weeks ago. Not sure how they will go down… Look out for new works coming up soon by me at the Tetley. When I say soon it will probably be July or August 2019.
Lastly….for now…. going to devour a mango that has my name on it.
Planning a few taster sessions for those thinking about having a go. They will be FREE (!!) so all you may lose is time… but you will gain experience and have lotsa fun. Look out for dates and stuff on my social media, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook and my blog site off course.