MINI PROFILE: Artist Amanda Eccleston

NAME:Amanda Eccleston

CRAFT:ceramicist/artist

THE BEGINNINGS: I like to think I have always been a creative person. Throughout my childhood and high school I had a sketchbook on the go. I credit my mother and father for being creative people and hope it rubbed off on me.

I would probably be an illustrator by now if I had kept up the practice of drawing. When I entered university I stopped sketching because it became an assignment in a variety of my art classes. Once it became something I had to do, I lost interest. My artistic practice shifted from 2-dimensional to 3-dimensional, and I favoured my sculpture and ceramic classes while attending TRU's BFA program. I created a small organic sculpture in my 3rd year ceramic class and my instructor saw it's potential and said to me "you have something here, you need to grab this and run with it." I have since focused on a line of sculptures with a very organic and post-apocalyptic theme. My utilitarian pottery looks as if it growing out of lettuce leaves with rosebuds, barnacles, and seed pods bursting from the surface. Once glazed in a sky blue turquoise, it looks like a tea party set for mermaids.

I learned in university that I can make anything. The only limits are those you set yourself. I know it sounds clichÉ, but I can't describe it any other way. My experience at TRU led to some wonderful opportunities after I graduated. I was asked to have a solo exhibition at the Kamloops Arts Council and a display of my work in the Gallery Under Glass at the KAG. I was employed for summer work through the KAC again, and by TRU for filming and editing jobs supervised by faculty members.

After flailing about with a series odd jobs for 3 years I decided to be my own boss. I entered a Community Futures self-employment program and received a great crash course on preparing to run a business. I succeeded in my pitch of a pottery shop and workshop facilitator and hit the ground running last January. I haven't looked back since and continue to make my pottery, sell it in BC and Alberta at craft fairs, expos, galleries, and fill orders for shops in Canada and the US.

DAY SHIFTMy studio work is my day shift! I'm going to be honest and say I couldn't have pulled this off without the encouragement and support of my husband, Wesley. We set up a pottery studio in the basement and that is where I spend 4-6 hours a day, Monday to Sunday. Much of my other work time is taken up with general business tasks. I cannot allow myself days off as working with clay is tricky and I have to check on my pieces in progress all the time. For example, there's a small window for my pottery to be at 'leather hard' before I can add details, especially with limited control of the studio climate. When I'm not feeling inspired to work with clay I dabble in photography, costumery, digital photo manipulation, and modeling. I play disc golf with my husband, and enjoy riding my bike for exercise.

IN FIVE YEARS . . .I want to concentrate on sculpture and a little less on utilitarian pottery. I hope to narrow down my vendor events to my top 5 or 6 favourites per year. After 5 years I would also love to set up a larger studio where I can teach classes and hire skilled people to help with my production.

BRIGHT LIGHTS- My pottery can be found through me at www.claychimera.ca. Also at various art market locations, through my Etsy.com shop, the Kamloops Art Gallery, Crafthouse Gallery in Vancouver, Elysian Attitude in Los Angeles and YogaDive in Sylvan Lake, Alta.

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