How I've increased my productivity in the studio

“Early to bed early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise”  So said Ben Franklin. I’m sure that he meant that for lady artists too.

I’ve been very productive lately, rising at 5:30 in the morning. Horrendous, I know, but I have always been at my best in the morning. I grab my coffee and head right out to the studio enjoying the crisp autumn air and looking up at the stars still in the sky on my way in. 

It feels really special to go into the studio when the world is still quiet. I put on an audible book (Jane Austen’s “Emma” at the moment), or some music or a podcast and start working. 

Being up at this hour affords me the time to study, play and practice.

I tried my hand at some new double edge bowls which I had never done before and found that I could make them fairly well the first time around. 


I had an idea for some painted platters and messed around with those but working with porcelain can be pretty tricky sometimes. I spent a lot of time finishing the surfaces and decorating them with sgraffito (carving into the clay), paintings with mason stains, trying new color palettes for my poppies and slip trailing the details. 

I also wanted to try something completely new in my color schemes- the addition of black backgrounds. 

I made a custom chip and dip set utilizing my new bowls and a platter.

I made a custom chip and dip set utilizing my new bowls and a platter.

Another thing I have been experimenting with is sculpture or hand building. For this, I used mostly a stoneware clay that was less prone to cracking or coming apart at the joints. The inspiration to make these came after taking a class with potter Tracy Morgan who is known for her beautiful cephalopods which are much prettier than this guy.

So here’s what went right: 

The double edge bowls.

The decoration on the platters.

The chip and dip set.

The sculptural plates.

Here’s what didn’t go so well.

Unfortunately, despite all my effort on the poppy platters, they broke my heart coming out of the kiln. One was completely split apart and the one pictured above has a substantial crack in it. Chalk it up to the learning process. I believe that putting too much stress on the platter itself with the addition of a large foot of clay with a different moisture content caused the platters to crack.

Working with clay can be really challenging and heart breaking sometimes. You can put hours and hours of work into a piece and never know until it comes out of the kiln if it will be a beauty or a bust. These kitties, after hours of work, didn’t make it through the first firing as their hips popped off in the kiln. 


So as you can see, I have been very productive in my early rising hours and I hope to continue and maybe even get back to painting for awhile too!

And here are the misses: 

By misses, I mean the projects that failed. Even though it is sad and frustrating to have items blow up in the kiln or to have your beautifully painted trays develop large cracks during the firing, if you can figure out what probably went wrong and look at it as a learning process, then your efforts were not wasted. 

Karen O'Lone-HahnComment