Whoa… it has been awhile since I have sent one of these! The Fall/Winter was pretty crazy for me, and no matter how much I thought about writing a newsletter… it just never happened. I am happy to be sharing a bit of that story, and what is new with TreeBed Design!
NEW STUDIO! I’ll get right to the big news, and the main reason that no newsletter showed up during the Fall/Winter… I finally have a new studio in Vallejo! There was a year or more of back and forth about whether my space in Napa (where my kilns were) was going to continue, and in early fall it looked like I could stay. However, the landlord changed their mind, and suddenly (right before the holiday push) we had to be out of the warehouse by the end of the year!
This was obviously jarring, and the scramble to find a new space kicked into high gear. My spot in Napa had come about after loosing everything (except some ceramic equipment) in the 2017 fires… a coffee customer of mine graciously offered me a storage spot for my kiln, and then hooked it up so I could fire… and then carved out space for me to work! It was so helpful, and I will always be grateful for that foothold to get ceramics moving forward while I recovered after the fire (which all took way longer than I ever expected).
The whole past year had been filled with little events that seemed to be wrapping up loose ends from my 5 year journey dealing with the fire. In that context, moving the studio into my own space felt like another step in that process. This did not make it any less disruptive though, and it was very difficult to find a new spot… which resulted in all my equipment living in storage for two months (and VERY little work being done).
Then… after looking at lots of spaces that I could maybe “make” work… I got the chance to land in a space that I actually WANTED to make work! So now I'm settling into a space filled with light and possibilities! I am making the focus of this year, a deep dive into how I want to move through the world now that I am no longer in recovery (survival) mode. What is the work I want to make, the space I want to hold, the service I want to be in? I hope to share more about the answers to these questions as I work through them this year.
I am hoping to polish the new studio space off enough to have an open studio soon, and invite YOU to come see the space! Keep an eye out for that…
THIS WEEK! Spring is here, and we FINALLY have the weather to prove it… just in time for the April Vallejo Art Walk (https://vallejoartwalk.org) . Join me in our historic downtown Vallejo for art, music, makers, food and community 5-9pm! My neighbor The Joint is opening back up after their own experience of fire, and it is going to be better than ever! On Saturday I will be at the artist’s reception for the CLAY invitational out at Mare Island Art Studios. I’m honored to be showing some work along a bunch of talented ceramic artists. The intention of the show was to bring together ceramic artists from the area, and allow both artist interaction… as well as a chance to show off the diversity of clay work! The show is open every Sunday this month from 12-4pm, and this Saturday April 15th for the reception (small bites and wine/beer) from 12-5pm. CLASSES & COLLABORATION With the new studio, comes the new possibility of finally folding in some classes and new offerings! I’m still in the process of designing these ideas, and refining it down to something that feels sustainable. I also want it to be something that fits the needs of this community. So if you would be willing to fill out the survey below (link)… that would be SO helpful! There is also space to write in anything you’d like to see from TBD, or ways you might want to collaborate.
We have come through the Winter Solstice, and have made the very first steps towards the returning light. This particular solstice feels potent for me. As the dust settles from my holiday push... I am sinking into what feels like a more natural rhythm for this time of year: slow, dark, pulling in the warmth I can find, and looking back at the past year. How did this (ever faster) unfolding year fit into the larger arc of my life, and the growth of TreeBed Design? It was a big year for TBD, and there is much to celebrate in recounting what has been accomplished!
2021 began with Covid surging (again), and this felt especially hard after getting a taste of things starting to re-open up in the fall of 2020. My body processed this return to isolation with a great deal of heaviness and anxiety. I realized I would need to make some changes in order to dig out of the darkness I was slipping into. So I asked for help. This was the first big move of 2021 (not something I am always very good at). I checked in with my doctor (I thought my heart was failing, before I realized anxiety was getting the best of me), who pointed me towards different support options for my health. I share this mostly to normalize asking for help (the more I remind myself the better), and to maybe encourage anyone reading this who is struggling to reach out as well. Soon after taking this step I had the thought, "what if I had help with TBD... what could I accomplish?" That very day I saw an Instagram post by Camila (someone I started following by way of coffee connections) talking about the virtual assistance work she does... so I reached out! Camila was sharing on IG in a way that resonated with me, and I instantly felt supported in moving TBD forward. Check out her website, art, and the Pause Project (so awesome)!
With Camila's support, I began creating many new aspects of tending an ecology for TreeBed Design to grow from. There was a consistent social media strategy... sharing my story, process, and products. The first TBD newsletter went out in the Summer. I opened my doors for the return of the Vallejo Art Walk (as well began volunteering to run their IG account), and I did my first intentional holiday release!
The first full year of returning to self employment was no easy road, but 2021 was the most productive TBD year yet! I made more pieces this year than ever before, and all of that in spite of supply chain problems that created major headaches to production. Along with hundreds of plates, bowls, growlers, mugs, tumblers etc... I tackled a new skill: mural making! In August I got to translate the 90 year old blue prints of a boat built on Mare Island into a giant wall mural for the new Mare Island Brewing Co. Whaleboat Room (click for a video of the making).
So on this winter solstice... I slow down, and go inward to reflect on how the journey of the past year has fit into my longer story. I can see reminders that my asking for help... is helpful. I can feel the support of that help, and celebrate new structures in place to make moving forward easier. I can honor the struggle and resistance that I had to move through in order to make those things happen. A big part of 2021 was just the simple act of starting. Afterthe trauma of the fire (or pandemic, or loss, etc) it can feel incredibly hard to start (or re-start) anything, and I spent much of the year wobbling between survival mode (patterns long engrained)... and choosing the sturdiness of success (which is still an evolving definition). I am so grateful for all of YOU who have been a part of this process, and the support I have felt while I wobble. I am not totally sure what 2022 will be for TBD. There is a lot in flux, but it feels like in 2021 I gave myself a foundation to grow into something beautiful!
Fall has arrived, and so has the 2nd edition of the TreeBed Design Newsletter! I am excited to share a bit about the summer… where I am at now… as well as a look ahead!
I was reading an article this morning that captured what I felt over much of this summer… “Why You Feel So Tired All the Time?” The core idea in the article, that many of us have replaced “excitement” with “anxiety,” resonated in a big way. The summer is usually filled with vacations, gatherings with friends/family, and fun things to look forward to! However, this was another summer where all of those things still needed to be measured for risk, and uncertainty. It is exhausting!
I felt this low level exhaustion trying to navigate increased orders (hooray!), supply chain issues (“it's going to be HOW LONG till I get that glaze?”), and the ever shifting landscape of our current world.
It has been an intense learning curve to be once again working for myself, and understanding HOW to do that in an authentic, healthy, sustainable way. Usually the lesson starts with the words, “SLOW DOWN… good, now SLOW DOWN a bit more”. I know this is not the intuitive answer for our ever faster world (especially when it comes to work/business). However, I have to keep reminding myself I am not trying to create what IS. I am trying to create what I WANT. Which means asking myself, “what do I want?” So when I don’t see a million Instagram follows or likes… I remember I actually desire an authentic community that is invested in what I am doing (Small is Beautiful). When my work flow feels messy and awkward… I remind myself that my creative outlets are crafts that I am learning on a life long path (I am growing). I keep asking… where do my desires draw me, and where is the joy and delight that can be found in what I am doing at the moment (even when I am cleaning buckets)?
Another helpful tool in finding a new rhythm this summer has been the telling of the #TBDstory (through my IG/Facebook/Twitter). It has been insightful to look back at what I have done in the past, and gain better clarity to where I am now. The past few weeks especially have been about letting go of the (sometimes harsh) stories I had been holding about myself, and embracing the beauty of what I did accomplish/learn/etc. During these challenging times, it has been helpful to look back at how my 20 year old self handled some really tough times, and appreciate all the tools and support that I now have to navigate in even better ways. I hope my 60 year old self gets to look back at this newsletter and do the same!
Whew! It was a whirlwind of a summer for TreeBed Design, and as places opened up… they wanted ceramics! There was lots of production happening over the past few months, as well as some design/R&D/collaboration. It is a lot to juggle for one person! Beyond the actual making of plates, bowls, growlers, vases, mugs, tumblers, etc… I was working on my infrastructure. Summer saw the return of the Vallejo Art Walk (every 2nd Friday), and I even did my first pop up event! This meant that my Vallejo live/work space needed to be ready for people to visit (which was my original idea for the space). I’ve been having fun organizing and sprucing things up to invite people in for the Artwalk, and dream into what comes next for the space (keep reading for news about Studio Visits)!
TreeBed Design has always been about creating bridges between worlds, and one of those bridges is between old and new technologies. I invested in a 3D printer this summer so that I could learn about this new avenue of creation… as well as add adaptability and independence to some of my current work flow. I am still in the learning stages of this new tool, but soon I hope to add a whole new level of creative capabilities to what TBD offers (custom branding, making my own stamps/tools/etc, and more)!
I also tackled a new version of an old skill (drawing/painting) this summer… a giant mural! The folks at Mare Island Brewing Co. asked if I could help with their new event space, by adding the original building plans of a 1934 whaleboat to a 20’ stretch of wall! Murals have long been something I was curious about doing more of, and here was my chance to dive in. I had some nervous days planning, and working through how to execute such a job (I really had no idea how it would work until I started in). However, I got in a groove once I made the first mark on the wall, and ended up being quite happy with the results! Check out this video of the process, and if you have a mural idea for your space… get in touch!
At some point this summer I realized that most everything I have made up to this point has really been R&D. I suppose this is always true to some degree, but in the early stages of learning a new craft (of which production ceramics still feels like) everything made adds new understanding. Now that I am working on TreeBed Design full time, and building the business side of being an artist… it is time to refine and settle into a bit more structure (not always my favorite ;)
In the coming months I will begin to roll out a more streamlined version of products on the website and introduce new custom pieces. It is my hope to have a mix of affordable ceramics that are easily replicated, and on hand… as well as fold in other unique offerings that are made to order in a wider spectrum. This will allow some customization of color, or surface treatments. The long term goal is to have a “community” of offerings that all feel connected, but also allow for creative collaboration!
There will be an extra newsletter edition coming in between the Fall and Winter, to highlight holiday gift giving possibilities. So look for that in Oct/Nov.
In the meantime… I am opening up my Vallejo space to Studio Visits, and I would like you to help me test the systems for that! I just set up the capability on my website to make the appointments, but it is not fully on display yet. However, this link will get you there, and you can help me with the soft opening of my studio/showroom! My goal is to create a comfortable space to visit, check out what I am working on (and how I do it), browse what is in stock (my work is meant for you to pick up with your hands), maybe have a coffee/tea to sip on, and get access to special pieces that don’t make it on the website! Come visit me soon, and keep an eye out for special offerings.
As I mentioned above, much of my work up to this point has felt like R&D. I have learned so much in the last few years about the pieces that I have been making, and so grateful that I have been able to test those pieces out in some of the best restaurants, wineries and breweries in the world (how lucky am I)! It is time to clear out what I have on hand to make room for what is coming down the line, and I want you to help! Use the discount code: (sign up for the newsletter for this part ;) on the website to receive 30% off ANYTHING in stock on the website!!! This code will work until October 22. If you know someone who might like my work… please share this newsletter and access to the code (help me grow the small and beautiful community I hope for :)
Thank you again for being on this journey with me. There are so many amazing things happening, and more to share as they unfold: new collaborations, new products, new recordings, hopefully a new studio space (does anyone have a lead on a vallejo/napa warehouse space?), and most importantly… new ways of caring for myself, and my community as TreeBed Design moves forward! Hope to see you soon, and please take care.