I am a disabled veteran turned ceramic artist becoming as independent, self-reliant, and "free" in this journey through clay.
HI! Shawna Mayo here, the master mind behind JSB Arts. I am a disabled veteran that turned to ceramics as therapy back in November 2011 and fell in love! I started learning by "throwing" pottery on the wheel...think Demi Moore on "Ghost"! But then my health continued to decline; I developed weakness and neuropathic pain in my left hand/arm and in my legs; and started to work more on hand building. Hand building now consumes most of my creative endeavors these days. Whether I'm sitting at my wheel or at my work table hand building, clay gives me an escape. The demons of war and my physical disabilities seem to disappear. No longer do I feel like a disabled burden to society and my fiance; but I feel able bodied again. This is something I can do independently for the most part. It is my own. When my hands are in clay, my mind quiets and I am focused on the task at hand. It not only gives me a reprieve from the constant demons of war, but it is helping me regain some of my dexterity and strength in my left hand. I have been fortunate enough to network with some amazing potters. Their guidance and teachings have enabled me to successfully launch an Etsy storefront. Please feel free to check it out...you may get a better sense of what I create.
Regardless of whether I am throwing or hand building, the end result is the same...scrap clay! The clay left over after having cut out the desired shapes and forms is what I refer to as scrap clay. Not really scrap...but it does take some work trying to reconstitute it. I try to keep all my moist scraps of the same clay type together in a plastic bag, though that's not always how it ends up working out.. :-D So once the clay completely dries, it gets thrown into a big plastic 5 gallon bucket for me to reclaim. Here's my reclaim process:
- 1.) Dried scraps get thrown into large bucket.
- 2.) Scraps are taken out and placed in a pillow case in a smaller bucket...maybe 1 gallon sized...and crumbled into smaller, more uniform size shapes (helps even water absorption)
- 3.) Water added and allowed to incorporate into the clay for a 24-48 hours.
- 4.) Pillow case full of wet clay is lifted out of the water, excess water squeezed out.
- 5.) Pillow case of clay hung up to dry to a better working consistency. Another 24-48 hours.
- 6.) Clay taken out in handfuls and laid approximately an inch thick on a plaster bat to dry out a little more. When clay reaches slightly tacky feel, I flip the clay over to pull out the moisture on the other side.
- 7.) When clay is workable, it's now time to wedge the clay. Wedging works the air out of the clay, which can be disastrous to a finished piece. A piece with an undiscovered air bubble can explode in the kiln, ruining that piece, and likely surrounding pieces. NOT good! So the clay is wedged....and wedged....and wedged some more...before being placed in a plastic bag and ready for use.
WOW! Is anyone else tired? I AM! And all that MIGHT only yield 10 pounds of workable clay. (A video of this tiring process will be coming soon!! So stay tuned and watch for updates!!)
How does Kickstarter work, you may be asking yourself..
Project creators (that's me) set a funding goal and deadline. If people (that would be you) like a project, they can pledge money to make it happen. Funding on Kickstarter is all-or-nothing — projects must reach their funding goals to receive any money. So if I don't reach my primary goal, you're not out any money. I can always raise OVER the primary goal, hence the "stretch goals" listed below. Each pledge amount has various "back rewards" listed. You're not just donating money, you are receiving tangible goods in exchange for your pledge.
Backer Rewards!!! What are they?? What will they look like??
Many of my backer rewards will be offered to you, my supporters before anyone else!!! I had a custom order for a dragonfly mug and that has been one of my most popular items...so I thought to myself, "self...you should start a product line based on that best seller"...Thus, your backer rewards have been born! The tumbler, trinket plates, napkin rings, desert plates..cup cake tray...NONE of them have been offered to anyone else! I am creating them as we speak. Be the first to own the very first few pieces of my new line!! But, to give you an idea of what my work looks like, I thought I'd give you an idea of what I do..And here is a sneak peak of the uber special backer reward for a $1000 pledge:
What does all this have to do with YOU and this Kickstarter project?
PRIMARY GOAL - $5,000
Well, as you can imagine, all that work is extremely difficult to do, even on my good health days...and nearly impossible on my bad days when I'm confined to my wheelchair. A pugmill would bring me that one step closer to "freedom" and being self-reliant...at least in my studio! A pugmill (see image below) is a machine that mixes the clay and water for you, as well as removing the air from the clay, making it ready to go! Not to mention, it would cut the time this whole process takes considerably!!! From 4-5 days, to a few hours at most! This is especially important as well, as we live 8 hours away from the closest clay supplier...so making the most of every scrap of clay is a necessity, since S&H on a 50 pound box of clay is nearly the same as the box itself. Yuck! A pugmill opens the floodgates of possibilities for what I can create. Not only does it reclaim all the scrap clay, but it takes all the air out of it as well. Right now, I can only wedge a maximum of 2 pounds of clay at a time because of physical limitations...Which in turn limits the items I can produce on the wheel. Can you imagine the things I could create if I didn't have to wedge the clay the way I do now?!? I CAN!!!
Right now, I am pretty reliant on my fiance for many things in our day to day life...if I could make my little home studio 100% ME capable, that would bring such a sigh of relief to both of us! By decreasing the amount of time it takes to reclaim the clay, increasing the ease of the process, thus making me 100 times more efficient and productive, you are "freeing me through clay". I will have regained that much more of my independence back...and THAT...my friends...is priceless.
The end date is Mother's Day... This is no coincidence.Help me celebrate Mother's Day in style!!
(Primary goal amount includes cost of pugmill, S&H for the pugmill, domestic S&H for backer rewards, and takes into account any processing fees incurred.)
Stretch Goal #1 - $5,500
There are SOO many other tools and materials that will continue to help me along my journey, each one opening more and more doors for me to "roll" through! Raising this amount would allow me to purchase a stand for the pugmill. Also, a larger extruder would be AWESOME! With the weakness in my left hand and pins/needles that often accompanies it, it makes rolling even coils a chore. An extruder would negate this issue and allow me to start making tiles, extruded vases, trim, sculpture foundations....
Stretch Goal #2 - $6,000
Being so far away from a clay supplier, ordering clay in bulk and having it delivered on a pallet would be a GREAT help! If we are able to reach $6,000, this will enable me to buy 1,000 pounds of clay! This should be enough to last me a year!! Wow...being able to create whatever I wanted, when I wanted, without having to worry about much clay I had to last me until our next trip to southern Maine !
Stretch Goal #3 - $6,500
There are ALWAYS new glazes, supplies, and equipment that would make life easier and help me create spectacular items! If we reach this point, I would be able to buy new kiln shelves, kiln posts of varying heights, bead racks for the pendants that I make, stilts for items that are glazed on the bottom (ornaments and such)...thereby exponentially increasing the creativity possibilities!!!
Stretch Goal #4 - $8,000
Gotta dream big! I have always been one to set my sights high. Aim for the stars! I already have everything planned for what I would do in the off chance that this project truly takes off. One of the most cost effective ways to glaze pots is to mix your own. However to get the initial supplies to start playing glaze chemist, is a hefty investment. At this level, I will be able to purchase all the dry supplies to mix glazes. There are hundreds if not thousands of different glaze recipes already created by some very talented artists...but who knows...Maybe I'll be able to create my own unique signature glaze color(s)... The possibilities make me smile and squeal with delight!!
Stretch Goal #5 - $10,000
Wow...Could it really happen...to double my initial goal?!? OMG! That would be more amazing than I would know what to do with! I have been dreaming of my perfect studio for the last year..and have a "wish list" created of ALL the equipment that would be AWESOME! I've mentioned some it already. The pugmill, extruder, kiln furniture, etc. Those are just the big guns. There are always additional accessories that would allow me to make even more awesome things for all of you wonderful people. I thought I would share that list for those interested. :) HERE is the link if you're interested. :) At this level..My home studio would be complete. I would want for nothing else in the near future as far as equipment is concerned. And I would more than likely be all set for the consumable goods (clay, glaze, etc). Not to mention marketing materials for a while.
Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
Potential production delays:
My health is a big factor in my production. I have epilepsy somewhat controlled by medication, in addition to other health issues I've hinted at; that can make timely production more difficult. However, if you look at the reward timelines, I have accounted for that. I make it a policy to under promise and over deliver, so it is quite likely you will receive your backer goodies before the mentioned time frame! However, if a setback/delay is encountered, you can be assured that you will be made aware through email(s) and updates posted right here!
Kickstarter takes a 5% cut, and Amazon Payments takes another 3%-5% for credit card transactions. Meaning I will receive (in pocket) approximately 90% of all funds pledged/raised.
Since Kickstarter is an all or nothing fundraising campaign, your credit card will not be charged until 2 conditions are met. 1) We make my first/primary goal of raising $5,000. 2) The completion date of May 12 has passed. If/Once both of those criteria are met, then your CC will be charged and you can be on the lookout for your awesome backer rewards! :)