Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Preview of things to come

Over the past few months as my recovery has progressed, I have had more than ample time for navel gazing. (funny thing: I currently have what looks like three navels... thanks to some of the holes that were drilled into my abdomen to remove the sutures a month ago.)

Upon reflection here is what I have found:
  • Even if my recovery continues with no major setbacks, I will never regain the abdominal strength I used to have.
  • Lifting things like boxes of clay or kiln shelves can cause herniation at the ostomy site.
  • Herniation looks to be the bugbear under the bed for ostomates.
  • The only tried-and-true solution to avoid herniation looks to be having a reversal surgery.
  • That means at least two more major surgeries.

Given this scenario, my assumption that I can simply slide back into my life as a potter is simply erroneous. Sure, I can make pots, and in fact, I am trying to make pots everyday. But what used to be my warm-up time is now my total time in the mud for the day. Stamina apparently takes a long time to come back.

I have relied on my self-sufficiency, like all potters, for most of my life. My life has been built around the premise that brute force could surmount adversity. That simply isn't an option at this point. I can't just wrangle kiln shelves into the bottom of my kiln without injuring my ostomy site, never mind the potential for actually blowing a hernia through there as well. I can't lift glaze buckets the way I used to. Even simple things like moving a board full of pots and batts is out of the question. Too much abdominal muscle engagement.

So what to do ? :
  • I may consider trying to bring on another apprentice when Hannah heads down to NC in a few months. Someone with the proverbial strong back/weak mind. I just have seen so little interest or discipline in this area. I'll keep my fingers crossed.
  • Renovate/redo the studio so heavy things don't have to be moved for daily work.
  • Find other aspects of my interests to pursue.
The last one there is the rub.

I have always had many interests that would qualify more as a profession and less as a hobby. I don't really know how to do the hobby thing. If I am interested in something, I dive in with both feet. In the past decade, this has been a rediscovery of my love for photography. After seeing the dearth of good photographers in the central NY area, I am encouraged. Maybe there's room for another aspiring photog. Then again, that was my feeling about setting up a pottery studio. If I have learned nothing else in the last decade, if you don't make work that fits within the stylistic needs/wants of your local clientèle, then you are forced to either ship work out or search high and low for ways to draw new customers in from far away. Neither is simple.

Which leaves me with massive questions about pursuing photography as a potentiality. Much in the same way that most of what I learned in grad school was learned AFTER leaving. There was so much that couldn't be taught in the classroom. That makes me wonder how do I begin the dive into photography so I don't make all the same mistakes and gaffes I made establishing my pottery studio? Ideas? Suggestions?

If anyone wants to check out my beginner's attempt at setting out my shingle, so to speak... check out our new website: Cold Springs Studio Photograhy

Ideas, critiques, etc., are always appreciated.


Linda Starr said...

Beautiful photography, you don't look like a beginner to me, good for you branching out.

Brian said...

I've always liked your photography when you've shared it here on your blog.
Very well done website, very clean and professional looking. Looks like the Fine Art, Landscape, and Contact pages aren't quite done yet.
I also hope you find a way to keep up the pottery. As you told me, make less, raise prices!

Alex Solla said...

@Brian- Right you are. Raise them prices! I think that will be an easier thing to do since I plan on making less repeat work... ie, small ice cream bowls, mixing bowls and regular diner mugs. Making work that is one-of-a-kind seems to encourage higher prices. And I hope to start making larger work by way of throwing parts and assembling (by way of Tony C.)

@Linda- Thanks! I may not be a beginner behind the lens, but I am still a start-out entrepreneur. Business-sense has never come easily so this is still quite intimidating. Thanks for the encouragement.

Bruce said...

There's probably many ways to attack this problem, but I like your bullet two - start by figuring out how to require less brute force. Tobi and I saw an interesting video on mountain climbing years ago about some people who swallowed thermometers with radios attached so their body temperature could be monitored during the climb. One poor guy didn't seem cut out for mountain climbing - he overheated when moving, and froze when still. However, it occurred to me that with great skill and precision, there was a third path - to slow WAY down and simply walk at the exact pace needed to generate the exact right degree of heat.

So the question is - how can you balance your life to get things done without moving big things - or to move big things without effort?