Wednesday 29 July 2020

Life in the Studio

Finished July 23
Life in the Studio: Inspirations and Lessons on Creativity by Frances Palmer

This inspirational book features glimpses inside the studio, house, and gardens of successful potter Frances Palmer. The book is arranged into 3 parts and is full of photographs. There are also recipes in each section.
Part one is "Begin as You Mean to Go On" and talks about the importance of awareness. She covers centering, self-reliance, and inspiration. Palmer talks about the types of clay that she works with: white earthenware, terracotta, and porcelain. She goes on to discuss processes including glazes, throwing, handbuilding, and finishing (handles, pedestals, beading, holes, ruffles, fluting, sculptural gestures, drawing, and painting. She also discusses value here.
Part two is "Routine is Everything" and here she talks about where and how she works, showing her workspace setup, both now and earlier in her career. She shows the tools she uses and talks about how she uses them, and she talks about her agenda and how she plans her time. Also in this section is an extensive discussion about her garden. She is particularly interested in Dahlias, and shows a wide variety of types that she has growing. One thing in this section that I found enlightening was the idea of embracing the random. She shows how she creates and uses flower molds in her work. Along with her garden, she also talks about beekeeping as she has ventured into that area at her home. The final thing in this section is deadlines and how to use them.
Part three is "Looking Forward" and her she covers a number of things about her career. First is how she does open studios and why she's made the decisions she has around this. She discusses the various collaborations that she's engaged in, and how she approaches these. There is a great visual how-to on arranging a bouquet, along with how she documents her work. She moves on to how she expanded to encompass other things in her work and how she photographs her work, preferring to do it herself as others don't see her creations as she does. This leads naturally into listening to your inner voice. She ventures back into the garden again with a visual on forcing bulbs. She reminds us to be kind to ourselves and to keep learning and growing.
This was a great overview of her work, but also provided insight into how one might approach one's own creative ventures.


  1. This sounds like a wonderful intro to the creative life.

    1. It is. Especially if you are into pottery