Kara Leigh Ford Ceramics

Handmade pottery from Somerset

Two Years earning a living as a Full Time Potter...

Kara Ford1 Comment

I can hardly believe two years have passed since I started my potting adventure. This is officially now the second longest job in my life (the longest was 9 years) -  I have a bit of a way to go before it's the longest but I will get there - this is it now; I'm thrilled to say my career path is sorted. Period. I keep saying to my husband "I'm not going to retire, I am going to continue to make pots until my body literally no longer lets me, you may well find me slumped over my wheel, aged 99 with lots of cats around me".

I spent the last few days in a tent by the sea, with my love. It was only when we realised the date that I remembered: on the 27th April, it was 2 years since I gave up the 'proper job' and became a potter. It was a really nice opportunity to reminisce over a pint of cider about my time as a self- employed maker.  I decided to document a few things in this blog mostly as a reminder to myself of how far I have come, the lessons I have learnt and also because they might offer a lighthearted example for others who are on their own journey...

1) Shipping...don't EVER estimate how much shipping is going to be. International shipping is expensive, especially heavy things which need a lot of padding like ceramics. Remember the time you paid £50 to get £90 worth of mugs to the US but only charged the customer £10! That was your profit you just gave to the post office. Slow clap.

2) DONT SAY YES TO EVERYTHING. I know you're excited about someone being interested in your work and it is very flattering when someone asks you to make them something. But think about it first. Tell them you'll do some sums and get back to them. Don't just say yes, you may end up regretting it. The point of this whole thing is to enjoy what you do - don't ever make yourself wish you hadn't agreed to something. Yes, it is right to keep learning and stretching yourself but you are only one small potter, you cant accept every commission on every budget. Make sure you can actually achieve what is required, in the timescale and that it fits with your (in order of importance) style, creative interest, skill set, time, space and what the customer is willing to pay. If one of those things isn't on-point then politely decline the commission; you'll thank yourself later.

3) Don't forget people. You know, 'people'. You used to work alongside a lot of people, you even really liked some of them. Don't forget you enjoy the company of people. It's very easy to mistake radio 6 for social interaction. The cats don't count!

4) Self care - brush your teeth before you go out to your shed in the morning. Do yoga. Don't drink too much coffee. Clean your studio more than you do - it helps focus your mind and the dust is not good for you. 

5) Take time to enjoy yourself. It's easy to jump from one task to the next without stopping to enjoy the bits you love. This is why you did this- right? To enjoy your job - don't forget that.

6) Be grateful - everyday. You are very lucky. 

7) Trust - in yourself, the decisions you've made so far not just in your business but in your life. Trust in the universe - it will provide the answers and lessons, and know that where ever life takes you; it's exactly where you are supposed to be at this time. 

8) In the words of Baz Lerman - 'Don't congratulate yourself too much or berate yourself too much either'- you're still learning.