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Say what you will about Facebook. Some people passionately argue for its ability to more easily connect friends and family in far-flung corners of our vast nation, others argue that it is full of narcissists that merely want to shout to the world, “look at me!” I can see both sides of the argument, but recently I have found it to be a great connection to my past.

In my artist statement, I have written about my time at Church Street Station’s Rosie O’Grady’s as a Can-Can Girl and how that experience left such a profound impression on me, that it became the genesis for my line of barware. As I move further and further away from my time at Church Street and the wonderful people I met during those five years (I left my second stint at Rosie’s in 2000), I have found myself questioning whether or not that experience should continue to inform the course of my work going forward.

Hurricane Chalices (left) influenced by the signature drink of Church Street Station, The Flaming Hurricane (right, on table).

Recently, though, a Facebook group was started connecting the Church Street Station “Goodtime Gang,” as Church Street employees were referred to. Over the course of the last couple weeks, flurries of memories and pictures have been posted from Goodtime Gang members who worked there in the 1970s through later members – like me – that worked there in the mid- to late-90s. What I have found is that the immense nostalgia I have held for those times in that place is not unique to me. From the first day I started, it felt like you were part of a very large family, one you would never stop being a part of. And, it seems, that generations of the Goodtime Gang agree.

Rosie O’Grady’s and Church Street Station may have officially closed in 2001, but those memories are woven into the fabric of who I am, and I live those memories through my pots. There is no denying that all potters inform their work through past experiences of some kind whether it be time with a relative, a relationship with nature, or in my case a very special relationship with an entertainment complex. 

So, I just wanted to say thanks to Facebook and the Goodtime Gang for reminding me not to deny the influence of my past. It is through using our experiences that potters bring a genuine life story into a three-dimensional realm that we can share with others.

 

“Gulf Coast Sunset” Hurricane Chalices by Jennifer Lachtara, are available for purchase on the Lach Arts’ Etsy site.

While at a show this past weekend, I was asked how I come up with my designs and color schemes.  I responded that I get my inspiration just from things around me that I find beautiful.  Not, perhaps, the most enlightening answer.  But how does one explain that I find inspiration in something as simple as the tree in my neighbors’ yard in springtime without a suitable picture to back it up?

So, I thought I would periodically post images of the inspiration for my color combinations or designs alongside of the resulting work.  I begin this series with the inspiration for my Spring Sky color combination as Spring has come to Florida already and the neighbors’ tree has bright green shoots on the branches again.

Inspiration: Bright green spring leaves against a clear turquoise sky.

“Spring Sky” White Wine Chalices

 

Where do you find inspiration?  Let me know in the comments!

 

“Spring Sky” White Wine Chalices by Jennifer Lachtara, are available for purchase on the Lach Arts’ Etsy site.

“If you dislike a man, the way he holds his fork will anger you; but a friend can dump his entire plate in your lap, and you are quick to forgive.”

Someone posted this quote in the kitchen of the Clay Company a number of years ago, and it popped back into my head Monday afternoon after a particularly bad day.  (The quote is paraphrased above, seeing as it has been ages since I read the quote and I cannot find it online.)

Those of you who know me, probably know I work two jobs.  My primary job (and passion) is clay, while at the same time, I hold down a full-time day job to bring in extra income until Lach Arts is fully self-supportive.  Sometimes, it becomes painfully obvious which of the two is the referenced “friend” from the above quote.

Utter destruction all around - except for Jason's completely intact pitchers.

Monday began with a bang – almost literally.  I had done a bisque firing Saturday night into Sunday for the upcoming show at Lakeridge Winery.  While much of the United States has been blanketed by snow for the past few weeks, Florida has been dealing with quite a bit of rain and humid air (it just doesn’t get cold enough to freeze into snow here), and nothing was drying.  So, I attempted a slow bisque firing to help dry out the four pieces that had not dried in two weeks.  You may have guessed by now that none of those four survived.  The force of the explosion of one piece actually sent bits of clay into the roof of the kiln.

Yep; not the best way to start the day.  But, oddly enough, I was not angry or frustrated at it.  I was merely amused that my impatient, inner-Aries had taken over against my better judgment and even attempted such a folly – especially for pieces that I really liked but did not really need for the show.  Oh well, I figured I would just make more.

As I went through the rest of my day at my other job, I was repeatedly irritated by trivial things.  Things that should just roll off my back.  Things that would NEVER bother me in the studio.  It was such a stark contrast that I could not ignore it when the quote from above came roaring into my head on my drive home.

So, as I headed into the studio to meticulously clean the kiln, shelves, posts, and surviving pots; I had only to smile at the thought that my friend may have dumped his plate in my lap but all is quickly forgiven, and I cannot wait until I get a chance to remake those pieces and share them with all of you.

Orion Lantern by Jason LachtaraOK…this is probably the 9,999th blog post you have read this month that is looking back on the year that was.  What can I say?  There is just something about the close of one year and the seemingly fresh start of the next that causes introspection in all of us.  That’s what New Year’s Resolutions are all about, right? 

But, this post doesn’t start with January 1, 2010.  Much of what I see reflected in this year really began December 23rd, 2006.  That was my last day as the Marketing/Education/Gallery Coordinator of The St. Petersburg Clay Company.  You see, by July 2006 we all knew what was getting ready to happen to the economy – the art market is really a canary in the coal mine, and art buying had already started to drop off pretty steadily.  So, I was laid off and spent the next couple of years feeling like I was pretty adrift.  Art jobs were drying up quickly, and it certainly wasn’t (economically) the time to be forging a path as a full-time potter.  What I really remember is a succession of New Years Eves (2007, 2008, and 2009) where I exclaimed out loud, “This coming year will be better.  I can feel it.”

Now, I will admit, 2010 hasn’t been all roses and rainbows (what year ever is?), but this year I finally got answers to questions that have been keeping me adrift for the last few years.  Not all of those questions were met with the answers that I wanted, but I am finally feeling more stable (or anchored, if we want to keep with the “adrift” imagery).  Armed with the answers I had been seeking, I was able to start making some educated decisions on the directions I was going to go personally and professionally.  In a way, I now feel like I have a course laid out ahead of me – a course of my choosing.

So, this New Year’s Eve I will not exclaim that next year will be better.  I recognize that this one was pretty darn good.  Maybe not in the way I expected this time last year, but good nonetheless, and the coming year will be good in its own way as well.  I am excited where this coming year is headed, and I hope you will all follow Jason and me through 2011 and beyond to see where the journey takes us.

Lanterns by Jason Lachtara, including the Orion Lantern pictured above, are available for purchase on the Lach Arts’ Etsy site.

The Autumnal Equinox came this week.  The first day of fall!  Usually, the Equinox passes with little fanfare in Florida – a place featuring all of 2 seasons, The Hot Season and the Ridiculously Hot Season – but this year it seems that everyone took notice.  Probably because the humidity was low, the highs were only in the low 90s, and the evenings felt comfortable enough to come outside and enjoy the big Harvest Moon in the sky. 

Since so many of my friends were talking about the change of season, I was thinking of people who actually know what the change of seasons are about – how they look, how they feel.  I joke about the Florida seasons, but those who have lived north of the Florida state border feel and see changes in nature throughout the year that Floridians (especially a third-generation native such as me) do not experience.  

Read the rest of this entry »

My drawing professor once said to us that we should be childlike when producing our art (not childish, that is something completely different).  By that, he meant we should approach our work from the mind-set we had before there was a right way or wrong way to make art, a time when childlike exuberance drove us to create and before we let a fear of failure cause self-censorship.

As someone who is trying to make a living selling artwork, sometimes this can be a tough proposition.  You start to look at your work more with an eye toward sales and really start to become more and more judgmental with your work, causing frustration and dampening your creative spirit.  But, if you can find a way to look at your work with fresh eyes, sometimes you find that you have become over-critical.  Sometimes, you just need to find your way back to that childlike joy that brought you to becoming an artist in the first place. Read the rest of this entry »

Read the rest of this entry »

For those of you that know my work, you are probably well aware that I don’t shy away from color.  I love colors.  I love to find new combinations of color that work together.  There are days I think I make pots just to have a 3-dimensional canvas to put color on.  But, lest you think my love of color is completely superficial, I should also mention I am deeply interested in the psychology of color.

Bisqueware chalices. ("Sunny Disposition" White Wine chalices in foreground)

Last week, I was spraying a set of “Sunny Disposition” White Wine Chalices when I realized that my favorite color, right now, is orange.  People that have known me for a little while may be saying to themselves, “but that wasn’t your favorite color last time I talked to you.”  Over the last couple of years, my favorite color was red; before that it was purple.  So, it got me thinking:  since colors can influence feelings and emotions, could it be that our feelings and emotions also influence our choice of favorite color?

Orange combines the strength and passion of red with the joy, energy, and happiness of yellow.  Right now, I feel driven to fully realize Lach Arts as a full time business, and at the same time I am feeling energized and happy about getting into the studio and making work.  My new favorite color certainly suits my current mood and situation.

So, leave me a note in the comments section.  I want to hear from all of you.  Have you ever found that your favorite color has changed?  Did that change seem to coincide with a change in your life or your outlook?  I really want to know…I’m a bit obsessed with color.

Carving a "Spring" votive

There seem to be two types of artists in this world – one that constantly creates because (s)he just feels compelled to and the other that needs a little bit of a kick in the keister to get into the studio.  I fall into the second category.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I love going into the studio and making work and (especially) seeing the final project when it comes out of the kiln knowing, “I made that!”  However, it does take a particular project or deadline to keep me from finding house chores to do, bills to pay, my dog to play with, television to watch, etc.  I can be a prime example of Newton’s law of motion – bodies at rest tend to stay at rest until acted upon by a force.

When I was in college and being given assignments and projects to do, I just wished for the day that I could have my own studio and make what I wanted to make when I wanted to make it.  Funny what happens when you get smacked upside the head with the real world, isn’t it?  Read the rest of this entry »

Recently, Jason and I headed to Orlando to attend “Maximum Capacity” – a show featuring 32 artists from our alma mater, the University of Central Florida, who are about to receive their Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees.  (As a side note:  This was a wonderful show and we are amazed at the stunning amount of talent just getting ready to emerge from UCF’s BFA Program.)  While at the show, we spoke with some of the upcoming graduates and faculty and were reminded that we all ask the same question when emerging from university art programs:  “Now what?” Read the rest of this entry »

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