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Daily Inspiration: Meet Kate Hammer

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kate Hammer.

Hi Kate, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
Upon graduation from college(2003), I came across a free wheel, and the story goes you give a creative a wheel, they have to buy a kiln. I started building the studio, learning how to fire, and experimenting with glazes, underglazes, and slips. I started to build inventory, sell work, and by the following summer, I opened a seasonal business to make pottery a full-time career. Life interrupted.

Fast forward to 2018. After a long hiatus in the creative world and life spinning out of control, I decided to be I needed to make some changes and find my identity as a maker and individual. After years of longing, reading, researching, and living vicariously through other potters, I became brave enough to give myself a second chance at making a business as a professional potter. I have not regretted this decision or looked back; rather, I kept working daily to move forward.

2018- 2021 I had a studio set-up in my garage and was only working seasonally due to weather restrictions. The garage is detached with 3 light bulbs, no water, and is poorly heated. With grant funding, I was able to rent a ceramic studio for 4 winter months and use this as a feasibility study to see if offering small pottery workshops would be something. I want to add to my small business during the long northern MN winters. I found I loved teaching pottery to kids and adults and decided to keep moving forward.

January of 2022, I moved my studio into a renovated space within my home. I designed this space for small batch production work and to teach small pottery workshops. The space, having its entrance and separate from my residential space, has been ideal. I have seen leaps and bounds of growth as a ceramic artist and small business simply by being able to work year-round.

Currently, I am making only in-person sales, teaching seasonal pottery workshops, and offering public demonstration programming. I will be teaching an extended artist workshop, being a featured artist in a gallery show this coming spring, and traveling to many Art festivals throughout Minnesota. I have created a seasonal retail space in a small barn I moved onto my property. After experimenting with online sales and dreading shipping, I decided to limit my business to what I feel serves me best at this time of growth.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I am always working to solve all the challenges of running a small creative business. As my confidence as pottery grew and imposter syndrome wained, my biggest obstacle was setting boundaries and keeping frim with them. Often, people want what they want NOW! I started saying no, not because I didn’t want people to have my work, but because I did not have a location to sell. This meant unpacking all my pottery from my totes and trailers to find the perfect piece. I found this frustrating and exhausting and felt like I was back peddling after working hard to set up for shows or events often days prior. My solution was to move and renovate a small barn into a retail space and make it available by appointment or for pop-up sales. Shipping is a huge barrier for me. The skyrocketing shipping prices, the time and material to ship, and all worries of shipping pottery exhaust me. So, for now, I am not shipping for individual sales, but I see it as essential for future growth.

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
My work consists heavily of bold patterns, bright colors, and playful imagery. I use a monoprint technique on clay for my tableware. Lots of textures created with handmade stamps are used in my sculpture. I love celebrating my heritage in my work using Scandinavian imagery and celebrating my MN roots with images of mosquitos, Walleye, and flowers and fields. I am working on my 56751 collections celebrating the community I lived and grew up in by creating drawings reproduced and mono printed onto clay and sharing my story or memory of this northern MN small town existence.

In terms of your work and the industry. What are some changes you expect to see over the next five to ten years?
I take life one day at a time and try to stay in the present moment.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Laura Mast

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