Laconic Story's Creative Journey

For the first post, I would like to talk about my personal journal in creating Laconic Story.

It started in 2017 when I want to quit my interior design career and went back to school. The interior design industry had aspects of what I like doing – choosing colours and materials, and designing spaces. But other things like client and project management, contacting sales rep, pestering people for quotes, driving to site measures and visits, are all but a nightmare.

So, I went back to OCAD University, the school I graduated from, for a ceramics minor. I thought that, now I could create with freedom and no sets of rules and boundaries! – but boy, was I wrong. Clay is a material that requires a lot of attention and care in order for pieces to turn out successful. One small mistake, like the clay was not dry enough before firing, or you glazed the bottom of your cup and forgot to wipe it off, and your piece will likely become unsalvageable.

Underglaze cat canopic jar made with ceramic

For everyone who starts a craft, everything seems to be like magic. It goes into the kiln and voila, it’s a useable mug! This was the same for me. At that time the instructors taught you the basics, but when I ask more in depth, they would not share any further. Why is that, you ask? I found out later that it’s because the ceramic artist community tend to not share their “secret recipes” or techniques, as their pieces could be subjected to copying and knockoffs, which is an ongoing problem in the ceramic’s world.

During this time, I was taught how to throw on the pottery wheel, slip cast, and hand build sculptures. I have tried all three things in my practice and was making these cute little jars once I got a hang of it.

Panda Ceramic Canopic Jar

It soon evolved to more elaborate designs, and I started to dabble in sculptures like these.

Ceramic animal bat sculpture with wood and brass

While on this creative journey, I often receive good feedbacks from other artists, my instructors from the past, and even potential customers. It was very satisfying, aside from the financial aspect, which we will not touch base on this post.

Then in 2018/2019, I came across an opportunity to apply for residency, but require recommendations from my ceramic instructors. I was very excited, and I really thought I had a chance. I asked for a recommendation from my instructors and was turned down. This was a pivotal point – as I started to question why I continue to make ceramics if I couldn’t make residency. Residencies provide exhibition opportunities, mentoring, and can further your skills as a ceramic artist. I kept making jars to sell at shows at this time, but lost a lot of motivation in making new ceramic pieces without further mentorship.

By the end of 2019, I decided to jump out of the ceramics boundary and apply cold finishes to my pieces, which means putting any medium on ceramics other than underglaze or glaze. This includes paint and wax, and this opened up a world of possibilities for me. I simply change my mindset that clay is merely a medium to realize my creation, but not its entirety, I have limitless ideas and concepts to explore. For 2020, I am focusing on what I like to do best, the colour scheme that I am most attracted to. My sculptures are now considered as “Mixed media” instead of “Ceramic Sculpture”, and that, is perfectly fine with me.

Ceramic mixed media rhino wall sculpture with gouache

Next post I will talk about how Laconic Story got its name, and how it connects with the work I have done!