A Chat with Local Ceramic Artist Janelle SongerWe are continuing our discussion with ceramicist Janelle Songer (if you missed Part 1 click HERE), as she generously lets us into her studio and shares her insights, experiences, inspirations and some beautiful images with us!
What does your studio routine look like?In the morning, I am happiest when I can roll out of bed and into the studio ﬁrst thing. It’s best to get a few hours in before the rest of life distracts me. I’ll start by hand-building a series of wall ﬂowers, bases for bud vases, slabs for plates, and/or wheel-throwing some vessels, all of which will need to sit for a while before I can continue working with them. Once all the ﬂat surfaces in my studio are covered with works in progress I get to take a break to walk the dog, garden, run errands, etc. If I’m lucky I’ll get back in the studio later in the day to ﬁnish what I started.
How do you sell your work?I’d estimate about 10% of my sales come from my on-line store, 40% from shops and galleries, and 50% from art fairs. I still have not branched out of Michigan with the art fairs and galleries though. That is my next goal.
Do you have any advice for artist who are just beginning a career in clay?Say yes to everything! In the beginning I said yes to every opportunity that came my way, from participating in art fairs to joining a clay cooperative to showing my work in boutique shops and galleries. After the ﬁrst three years I had a much better understanding of what areas were ﬁnancially working for me and what weren’t. I’ve since been able to be a bit more choosey as to where I want to focus my time and energy in order to get optimal results.
What are your "go-to, can't live without, the world would end if they broke" tools?
I feel like there are so many but the top three are my sgraﬃto tool, Exacto knife and small rolling pin. Panic ensues when these cannot be found.
What have you found to be the biggest challenge either professionally or in your process, and what have you done to overcome it?
The glaze ﬁring stage of the ceramics process seems to be the most frustrating for me. So many diﬀerent things can go wrong over the course of time that it seems like when one problem is ﬁnally ﬁxed another one is waiting in the shadows. I’ve had to deal with sticky shelves, pinholing, blistering clay, gook stuck on plates, and an underﬁring or overﬁring kiln. Each time I’d research the problem on-line, call the wonderful staﬀ at Rovins, and ask other ceramic artists for advice. So far, I’ve found solutions for everything.
We would like to thank Janelle Songer of Janelle Songer Ceramics for generously allowing us into her studio and share her insights, experience and beautiful work with us! If you would like more information about Janelle and her beautiful terracotta pottery (made with Rovin's RO-82m in fact), please visit her website at JanelleSonger.com or follow her on Facebook by clicking HERE. You will also find her at the Ann Arbor Art this week, booth #270 on Liberty St. between 4th and 5th if you would like to check out her gorgeous work in person!