1. Please can you tell us a little bit about yourself, and what drew you to your chosen craft?
Since I was a young child creating has been my favorite thing to do. I sewed, crocheted, did embroidery, painted, drew -- always experimenting with different arts and crafts. My mom always bought me craft kids for my Birthday and Christmas. I took summer school classes in puppetry, or playing the recorder, or many other creative pursuits. In high school I began oil painting. I have many of these paintings still to this day around my house. I guess you could say that creativity is an integral part of my being.
I am an architect by trade, but my current job does not really include any creativity. So, I was really aching to find something to feed my soul with some creative outlet. I took up knitting, still do it occasionally but, it is just too hot here in California in the summer time to work with yarn.
I took a few different classes locally at the Learning Exchange. These are small classes, around 1-3 months in length taught by local experts. The first of these was a mosaic class. I loved it and still dabble in this a bit from time to time. My second class was wheel thrown pottery. The class was for beginners and was about 6 weeks in length. Normally, arts and crafts have always come easily to me. Not so with pottery. It was a challenge and I was not very good at it, at all. This challenge fed my determination to get better.
If that were not enough incentive, my husband bought me a pottery wheel. This is a fairly expensive investment, so I felt compelled to continue. I took the same beginner class 3 or 4 times. Eventually my instructor thought that I had mastered the basic skills enough to move onto the intermediate class. I took these classes for a few years. Now, I have all my own equipment and create my pottery entirely at home.
2: Who taught you how to do your craft, and how long have you been creating?
My instructor was a local man named David Bradley. He is a funny guy who is very encouraging. No matter how bad my early stuff looked he could always find something good to say, as well as helpful feedback to fix it and make it better, and ultimately to do better next time.
3: How would you describe your style? Are there any crafters/artists/designers that you particularly look up to?
I am very experimental about everything I do. Even though many of the items in my shop may be similar or use familiar themes, I am always experimenting in some way. I try out new glazes, I have taken workshops on mixing my own glazes. Some of the glazes on my pieces are mixed by me and some are commercial glazes.
I like to experiment with many different decorative techniques: engobes, underglazes, sgraffito, slip trailing, wax resist, multiple layers of different glazes, raku, joined forms, altered forms, different colored clay, etc.
I love animals and nature. That is why many of the items that I have made have leaves or vines. I like to sculpt little animals to use as the knobs on my lidded jars. The piggy banks are very fun.
Locally, there are many people who have inspired me; David for one who is great at creating large, light and beautiful forms, my other classmates many of whom I have kept in contact with, another instructor that I went to for a short time Linnel, who is amazing at adding little decorative touches and in sculpting these amazing animals. I look around on Etsy too. I see ideas that others have come up with and try to do it my own way.
4: Where do you seek inspiration from?
Magazines, books, the internet, other artists. Also, my dogs and cats provide a great deal of entertainment, as well as, models for some of my work.
Although I may really love something that another artist has done, I try not to duplicate it exactly but to put a bit of my own personal style into it.
5: What are you focused on right now?
My focus is on improving my skills. I try to work on making my items bigger, lighter, better forms, improve my decorative skills, whatever I can do to continuously improve.
6: What are your can't-live-without craft-room essentials?
I have so many pottery tools that it would be hard to state just one.
My creative space is not exactly what you would call posh. It is an old brick shed in my back yard without electricity or water. I have an extension cord through the yard to power my wheel, the overhead shop light, a box fan or space heater, and my I pod docking station.
Light is important, of course. But maybe the thing that helps to inspire me most is the music. The happiness that I feel, while playing my music and throwing the clay, keeps my work joyful.
7: How do you combat creative blocks?
Sometimes I turn to my family to bounce ideas off them. Sometimes I look up images on the Internet, like pictures of birds, or butterflies or penguins. Most of the time this isn’t an issue for me, as most of my work is not preplanned. I might decide I will make a lidded jar, or a fruit bowl, but that is about the extent of my planning. The forms usually organically emerge. I go with whatever form emerges, and decide what feels right for that item.
8: Why should people buy handmade?
People should buy handmade because there is a personal connection with that object. Each item is the result of someone’s creativity and thought, not just some mindless, mass produced process. It is the right thing to do to create a more meaningful life, and for the health of our planet.
We have gotten used to buying too much stuff. Everything is cheap, easy to buy, and just as easy to throw away afterward. This is not a sustainable model for our planet. Our landfills are filling up with mass produced stuff that will probably take hundreds of years (or maybe longer) to break down and return to the earth. In some cases, this process of breaking down does terrible things to the ecosystem. Polymers poison the aquifer and upset the hormonal balance of fish and wildlife.
On the other hand, buying handmade can be a much more sustainable way of life. As an example, using a permanent coffee cup rather than a throw-away paper cup, or (gasp) Styrofoam cup, ultimately saves water, energy and natural resources to produce. And of course, having a cool permanent handmade coffee cup shows your personal style.
9: Anything else you would like to share and where can we find you?
Etsy has been a wonderful experience for me. There are so many amazingly talented people on Etsy. The people that I have chatted with have all been so sweet and kind. It is nice to have a community of supportive, like-minded people who appreciate creative pursuits.
You can find Diane Waters and her wonderful makes at:
I would like to thank Diane Waters for taking the time to write this wonderful interview and give us an insight into her world!
Clare Martin - DreamDifferently
Clare Martin - DreamDifferently