…building a business: lessons from clay

If you are starting or running a creative business chances are you’ve dabbled in other mediums. Mine used to be clay…and will become clay again once I can trust my kids around a 1220 degree Fahrenheit kiln firing in my basement.


I had to learn a hard lesson when committing to do an entire table setting for one of my sister’s friends. I’m talking dinner plates, salad plates, soup bowl and mugs. Oh my! I mixed my own glazes, but she wanted a combo that I was not as familiar with. Whether it was because I thought I could figure it out or because I was afraid to say no, I took on the task.

(Should have stuck with my beloved Celedon)

tea cup detail copy

Hindsight is 20-20. I hated the color combo myself. I knew my clay, I knew my colors and I also knew somewhere in my brain all to eager to please that it was not going to look great. The part of the lesson that still stings is when I sent it up to her home and she sent it back. Ouch. But, where was the error? Her not liking it? Her asking for the product and color combo? Ah, no. It was me accepting and saying “yes”. After many years of therapy I’m learning that adults have the ability to say “Let me think about it.” I love that! What freedom! And even better than that, we can say “NO!” And we can say no and not be bad people! Revelation!


So, when considering a project. Take a pause. Take a breath. Then give an answer that honors your product, your time, your taste and your interest.


  1. This is such great advice and thank you for sharing from your own experiences. I’ve found it very hard to say ‘no’ but it is something I am working on! It’s so flattering when others want to hire you, but I’ve had a couple outrageous requests that definitely do not ‘honor my taste’, as you put it so well. It’s made me think hard about what jobs I want to take on…which is not a bad thing at all! Anyway, I found this post very encouraging. Thank you!

  2. I think EVERYone who has every done custom work can relate to that story. But my question is Did you sell it to somebody else? What’s the rest of the story?

  3. You are so right. I have been making custom window treatments for 6 years and I have learned the hard way to trust my gut instinct. When someone is trying to make window treatments out of store bought panels I now run.
    I have been painting furniture for a long time too! I love your blog!

  4. I love the “let me think about it” answer. It gives you a little more time to think things all the way through. And doesn’t have them thinking you will do it.

    And why am I not surprised that celedon is your favorite glaze?

  5. good advise, took me a few years to figure this out!

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