Tuesday 5 July 2011

Vendor Spotlight: Bread and Butter Pottery

Bethany Butterworth, of Bread and Butter Pottery, is one of our vendors traveling the farthest just to take part in our lil’ fair. (All the way from Halifax, Nova Scotia, guys!) Her sweet, light-hearted pottery has been delighting east-coasters for the past few years since she graduated from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design and we are more than a little excited to share her work with you all! I caught up with her over email to ask her a few questions about her work and inspiration.

Anna Taylor: How did you first get acquainted with your craft?

Bethany Butterworth: I studied at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design from 2003-2007. Somehow I knew where I wanted to be, so by the second semester I had made my way into the ceramics department, where I stayed.  

A.T.: Pottery is the kind of art/craft practice that is difficult to do in your own space and I know that you are the executive director of a co-operative pottery studio called Turnstile Pottery. How have you found working in that kind of shared environment?

B.B.: Turnstile is a co-op studio, currently there are 8 of us. We share costs and responsibilities, so what would be an overwhelming amount of things for one person to run is divided among the group. We keep a small storefront and have a working studio, and we also run workshops and classes. Working in a shared space was challenging at first, but once you get used to it, sharing studio space is a wonderful thing. The group right now is darling. I honestly don’t know what I’d do without it. Having others around to generate ideas and share experiences is a treat.

A.T.: Besides selling through Turnstile’s shop front what other ways have you gotten your work out in the world?

B.B.: I have work at a few stores in Nova Scotia  including Love, Me Boutique in Halifax, Salty Rose’s Local Craft and Trinket  in Cape Breton and the Flying Cloud Boutique which is an airstream trailer that travels across the province. I also sell at a number of craft markets including the Halifax Crafters and [now] Beehive. I’m still working out other places to sell, like the Halifax farmers market and online...

A.t.: I’m totally in love with the “North End” line your posted on your website! Can you tell us a bit about how your community in Halifax Nova Scotia informs your practice?

B.B.: Yes! The North end of Halifax is an excellent place. You always hear about how things move more slowly out here, and that is true in this neighbourhood for certain. The streets are lined with trees, neighbours talk to one another, cats prowl, things happen in backyards and spill out into the street. I’m lucky enough to live in the thick of all this, and my house and studio are less than a block apart. I’ve been inspired by the funny sass of the neighbourhood, so I’ve been trying to get that feeling into my work! I’m totally fascinated by the cats. They are so funny and weird, there are tons of them around, and they each have ‘people’ names, like Benny or Jack or Tina or Harrison. Conversations can get confusing pretty quickly.

A.T.: You did an interesting collaborative project with tumblers a couple of times in the last few years, can you tell us a bit about the project?

B.B.: The project is called Secret Tumblers, I start in November and have a release in mid-December (strategically just before Christmas, so people want to buy these tumblers!).  I ask 5 artists to collaborate with me, generally they are local artists/illustrators. I make a set number of tumblers and each of the 5 artists decorate them, usually each artist chooses a consistent idea, so last year one person drew fences, another did really lovely abstract drawings. Each artist decorates these  tumblers and at the end they each get to keep an entire set (one of theirs, one by the other 4 artists) and I sell the rest at a release party. The artists get to learn a new skill and I get to spend time with them while being inspired by new ideas. Then we all have a party to celebrate, which is always fun. This project always destroys me but it is incredibly rewarding.

A.T.: I’ve been familiar with your pottery work for some time but recently I was happy to hear you talk about taking on a more official business model for your craft. What services did you take advantage of to help you in this process?

B.B.: I have been lucky enough to participate in the government’s Self Employment Benefits program. This program is national, but each province organizes it differently. Basically if you are in this program you receive financial support and access to workshops to assist you in starting a business. It is an excellent resource and I wish everyone I know could participate in it.

A.T.: Have you found them to be helpful?

B.B.: Yes for the most part they are very helpful. Honestly the biggest help is the time.

A.T.: What advice would you have for other crafters just starting out in building a business?

Find the time to do it. It can be scary but keep your chin up and you will persevere.

Photos courtesy of Bethany Buttersworth 

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