Abbie Preston
What clay body do you use?

    "B-Mix and Porcelain Casting Slip"

     

    Primary forming method?

    "Mostly wheel throwing, but recently started slip casting a few of my pieces".


    Primary firing temperature?

    "Cone 6 Oxidation in Electric Kiln".


    Favorite surface treatment?

    "Primarily smooth, clean and minimal. However, recently I’ve been experimenting with mason stain washes to create a more gestural and abstract “painterly” surface".






    Favorite Tools?

    "Metal Rib, Sponge, Fettling Knife and Surform".    



    Describe your studio environment.

    "My studio is located downtown at Hardy and Nance Studios. It’s a great space to create with two large windows letting in natural light and has some great old warehouse charm. The space is shared with a good friend, Lanecia Tinsley who is a painter, photographer and workshop leader. It’s nice to have someone else in the space to talk shop with, bounce ideas off of and the human interaction is nice as sometimes the artist life can get a bit lonely during busy seasons. I’m there everyday with the exception of some weekend days. Every studio day varies depending on what needs to get done that day, but I usually work in a rhythm of throwing enough work to fill my kiln and then finishing and firing. Each kiln load is usually a combination of commissions, work for retailers/shows and work that I want to create. Balancing my time has been an opportunity for me and I am still learning the best way to do that between creating, bookkeeping, photographing, marking, etc.  I usually like to listen to podcasts or music while I work and there’s almost always some sort of fresh greenery or plant along with a candle burning. Aesthetics are huge for me and to create in a space that is clean where I feel inspired is very important".




    How/Where do you market & sell your artwork?

    "Most of my marketing for my work comes from Instagram, making personal connections, word of mouth and markets/shows. I sell my work through various places including brick and mortar stores in Houston and Atlanta, online retailers, galleries, markets, at my personal studio and my online shop. I’ve learned that it takes numerous spaces and connections to be able to do this full time. To see the full list of where you can find my work, you can visit https://boxsparrowstudio.com/contact/".





    What sparks your creativity? What drives you to work with clay?

    "A lot of things spark my creativity! A lot of my work is intuitive, sitting down at the wheel and throwing new forms. I find that I feel most inspired by studying other artists, visiting art exhibits, noticing color and surfaces throughout our city in the day to day and connecting with other artists. I decided when I was in undergraduate school that clay was the right medium for me because I loved the possibility of what it could do. Currently I’m working mostly in the functional realm, but in the past I was able to focus more on conceptual sculptural pieces. I would love to be able to do both. The possibilities are endless and I feel as if I can never stop learning and pushing myself with this medium".


    Did you come to pottery from a different career? Tell us about your journey to a ceramics career.

      "I graduated with a BFA in Studio art with an emphasis in ceramics, drawing and painting. It most definitely has not been a straight path to being a full time artist. There were several years when I was working as a barista, in retail management and in the non-profit world. While working, I was inconsistently trying to make space to create. It wasn’t until I was able to get my own studio that I made the decision I would start working towards making this my full time job. It felt like a very slow process in the beginning, finding ways to carve out time to create and finding my aesthetic and voice as an artist. Since then it has been an unbelievable journey with a lot of learnings and equally a lot of moments to celebrate. As of October 2016, I was able to quit my retail job and focus on my business full time".






      How have you have taken your experience as a well-established maker in the field and passed that knowledge along to other artists?

        "When the opportunity is there, yes. Sometimes it’s sharing knowledge at a class or workshop, meeting a fellow artist who is just starting out or encouraging other makers via social media. I am a strong believer that one of the most important components of being a studio artist is finding a community. This can be a lonely and hard career path with a lot of set backs and disappointments. Having friends, colleagues and mentors in your corner cheering you on is sometimes the only thing that keeps the momentum going".




        What’s the best advice you’ve been given by a fellow maker, mentor, or teacher?
          "A mentor in college once told me in so many words to “Make excellent work and don’t ever sell anything that you’re not proud of.” I was working as his apprentice and I’ll never forget one day as we were unloading a kiln and he noticed the tiniest of cracks on the foot of one of his bowls. He handed it to me and said,  “Here, take it, I can’t sell this.” I was blown away by the integrity of his work ethic and the high standard that he held his pieces too. It’s a simple idea to make excellent work, but at times really hard to execute. When we get in busy seasons of creating, sometimes we push out work that isn’t our best quality. I try to remember that when clients are buying my work from retailers or galleries that it could be the first and maybe only encounter they’ll have with my work and myself as an artist. Whether they buy the piece or not, I want to make sure that they’ve taken notice of the craftsmanship, the aesthetics and that they can appreciate the hard work that has been poured into each piece. I want it to feel set apart and memorable". 


          Website URL and other social media platforms:

              artist statement: 

              Originally from Georgia, I graduated from Valdosta State University in 2009 with BFA in studio art. Shortly after graduation, I moved back to Atlanta and worked as an Artist in Residence at Mudfire Studio and stayed there until I moved to Houston about seven years ago to work with a non-profit called The Art Project, Houston. The Art Project, Houston is a therapeutic art and self empowerment program for men and women who currently lived on the streets in downtown. I loved my time there as I was able to see art making transform lives like I had never experienced before. It pushed me to be open with sharing my own creativity and process at the art table and with others. After my time ended at the Art Project I was yearning for a space of my own to create.

              Box Sparrow Studio was established in 2013 when I came to the conclusion that clay was the right medium for me and I wanted to start the path to making that my full time job. Finding inspiration in my Georgia roots, recalling memories with family around the table motivate my journey to connect story with creating handmade pieces.



              Contact ClayHouston at info@ClayHouston.org

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