by Leslie Farin
My home ceramics studio has been in place for almost six months now and I feel very comfortable in my new space. I love the convenience of being able to work any time, day or night, as well as the quiet solitude where I can work without distraction. Due to the large ceiling fan I installed this spring in anticipation of the Texas summer heat, the temperature in the studio was pleasant enough the last few months, allowing me to happily toil away for hours at a time. One downside though to working at home is the camaraderie and energy found when working in a group setting is undoubtedly missing.
The benefits of a home work space are many. Alone in my studio, I spread out without worrying I am taking up more room than entitled. I focus completely on my work without interruption, and I decide what I will do and when. My creativity and production are limited only by my imagination, supplies and kiln space. The time flies by as I blissfully lose myself in my work.
So what’s the problem? The truth is that working with others seems to be more fun. I like watching other ceramic artists at work. I enjoy the conversation, critiques, brainstorming and advice readily available in a group setting. I am able to strengthen and support others as much as they strengthen and support me, which helps us all to grow and reach the next level more easily. If my pieces break, crack or are simply uninspired, I have creative souls working close by who are happy to share their insight as to what went wrong. I did not realize how much I missed that dynamic.
The obvious solution was to find a shared studio space where I could go every week or two when I need the type of inspiration I find only when working with others. Thus, when I found out a few of my talented colleagues were working in a well-equipped studio at a local college, I decided to join them. I am particularly happy to have access here to a Raku kiln, which yields beautiful metallic finishes when fired. Due to safety issues inherent in the Raku process, most home studios are not set up for this type of firing. Though the location of this shared studio space is not convenient, and I am not able to go as often as I would like, I love my time there. The enthusiasm, shared ideas and lighthearted chatter are wonderfully motivating.
Back in my home workspace, I am reminded of how lucky I am to have a well stocked studio in my garage, which is where I continue to spend most of my time. There, all the tools I need for each specific project are readily available, which is not the case at the college studio unless I remember to bring them. Pros and cons certainly apply to both settings, but I feel I really have the best of both worlds; convenience and the ability to work alone in my own space whenever I want, and a shared studio where I can join a community of artists as needed.
Do you like to work alone or in a group?