How I ended up happily stuck in the mud...
Even though I only started dabbling in pottery since 2014, working as a potter feels so natural to me, and I feel very lucky to have this opportunity now because working as a serious artist was never my goal.
Growing up, I always took my academics very seriously. Yet, aside from taking all the necessary college-bound courses, I also took lots of art classes (fine art, commercial art, even a semester of drafting) not only because I enjoyed being creative, but because my brain needed the breaks from all the math and sciences. Taking art classes was more therapeutic, more for my sanity, really. But never did I even consider art as a course of study or career.
In fact I ended up with a B.A. in Chemistry from the University of California, Davis, and went to work as a scientist in a laboratory at Clorox Company in Pleasanton, California, straight out of college. In my bleached white lab coat, I spent my days meticulously weighing out powders and measuring viscous liquids into racks and racks of test tubes, then dissolving, mixing, and maintaining these samples at set temperatures. I laboriously filled notebooks with my observations of each samples' color, clarity, consistency, homogeneity. These notes then were painstakingly, yet lovingly, translated into colorful diagrams--on paper since we didn't have laptops back then!--illustrating the organically shaped regions of stability, or phases, that exist when the ingredients were mixed in precise ratios at the set temperature.
In future years--aside from getting married and having 3 beautiful daughters--I became obsessed with garden design, completing quite a few courses towards a Garden Design certificate, even starting my first company, LANDesigns. My garden designs incorporate lots of organic curves, flowing lawns, against hard edges and geometric shapes in the form of flagstone covered patios and strategically placed fences, gates, arbors and pergolas. Finally the living accents (trees, shrubs, vines and flowers) were carefully selected by color, shape, fragrance and/or texture, and meticulously placed to set off the overall design. I wanted to create surprising spaces that would entertain your eye and be fun to meander through.
I've also kept myself busy experimenting with designs in knitting--colorful afghans, hot pads, hats and scarves. I also love macro photography, focusing on the intricate designs, patterns, and colors found in nature. I am always amazed!
In 2014, looking for yet another creative outlet, I signed up for a community ceramics class with a wonderful teacher, Debra Gardner-Abarca, and quickly became obsessed with "playing in the mud." I discovered how working in clay seems to bring all my creative experiences together in one messy, joyful, and often unpredictable endeavor. I labor with clay and water, underglazes and glazes, and tools galore! But no matter how careful or precise I try to be, the incredible temperatures each piece is exposed to in the kiln, will decide what works and what disappoints. So just like when I was a chemist, I fill my notebook full of my observations and try to keep a handle on this beast!
As much as I love throwing pots on the wheel and work hard to get those perfect circular lines and smooth even sides, I also have an urge to mess with that final perfect pot, assaulting it with exacto knives, moistened palms and fingertips, and perhaps most of all...Muddy Brushes loaded with colored underglazes, slips, and glazes. It is fulfilling for me to enhance my pieces with those same organic, flowing curves and shapes I enjoy in my garden designs and in my photography. I like to surprise with color and pattern, even laying miniature stone paths on some of my pots. I like to try to tempt the eye to travel around a single coffee cup as if meandering through a lush garden with exotic or fun surprises around every curve. My Muddy Brushes help me pull all my experiences together on a single piece of clay.
Now I'm starting up my first online shop because I've got to do something with all these pots, plates, mugs and bowls! So come on in and browse my shop! I hope you enjoy!
Janice Briones Weers
On the beach and loving it at Half Moon Bay, California
Feel free to drop me a line at: firstname.lastname@example.org