Cara Steinbuchel – ISM Class of 2023

“Graduating from the Independent Study and Mentorship Program, my heart is so full of all of the memories, laughter and friendships that have filled the studio buildings like music. It has been so wonderful to be surrounded by others who love and care about the ceramic arts as much as I do. These are connections that I will carry with me into the future. Of course, I did not come seeking only community, but it turned out to be paramount to what developed in my time in the program. Out of the fertile soil of friendship and trust between myself and my mentors, my abilities grew beyond what I imagined for myself. I was pushed and at the same time gently held and encouraged to grow. The nurturing and challenging environment of the Independent Study Program made for a safe space to stretch and explore my abilities and interests. I pushed past my fear of losing individual pieces, and into the frontier of trying fun and sometimes terrifyingly difficult forms. It felt wonderful to have a space to try, to fail, and to try again until things worked. One of the things I enjoyed the most in ISM program was the opportunity to fire my pots in alternative atmospheres such as wood and soda ash, raku, saggar, obvara, horsehair, and high-fired oxygen-reduced environments. 

Over my 2 years in the ISM program, I also honed my business skills and learned how to apply business principles that I’ve learned through having my own business, making Potters Skin Butter lotion for almost 20 years, to my life in clay. The professional resident artists at The Village Potters are making their living in clay, so they are the perfect people to bounce ideas off of and to help me to craft production plans and pricing plans for selling my work at shows and online. 

As a potter there is always something new to try, and I look forward to trying new forms and techniques in the future at my new studio space at Second Story Potters in Riverview Station. I now have the confidence and experience to know that I can try anything, and that even if my first attempts are challenging, I will get better and better with each attempt. 

When I first started the ISM program, I thought that I was learning THE way to do things in clay. Pretty soon, I saw that each mentor has their own style, their own opinion, and their own method for success. I learned the valuable lesson that there are as many ways to work with clay as there are artists. Leaving the ISM program, I am off to find MY way and contribute my voice to the ceramics community. 

Keep up with Cara!
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