Artist Interview: Julie Turner of Suburban Cowgirl Clay

One of the things I love the most about handmade objects and art is how they can make you feel. There’s a feeling of awe I get when I’m looking at something so beautiful, so intricate, or so powerful…and I marvel at the talent and skill that goes into it. But some of my favorite handmade pieces are things that make you smile…and yes sometimes makes you laugh.

Ceramic artist Julie Turner of Suburban Cowgirl Clay creates lots of smiles with her colorful and often whimsical work. From colorful ceramic bowls, plates, magnets and other objects, she injects humor and her own childhood memories into the pieces she creates. I caught up with her to learn more about her artistic journey.

1. How did you get started with your art?

Well, according to my mama, I was born with a paintbrush in my hand đŸ˜‰ — but seriously, I can’t remember a time when I didn’t craft. I have tried many different mediums but fell in love with clay many years ago. I live in a part of the country where there is a lot of pottery – mostly wheel thrown work & while I like that, when I decided to start selling my work I wanted to do something different. Something I didn’t see over & over in dozens of booths at every art/craft fair I attended. My love of words combined with a southwestern vibe is where the clay took me. Many of my pieces are stamped with words that I heard many times in my childhood & that I hope resonate with others.

2. Tell us about a typical day in your studio.

My studio is in my home so the commute is pretty easy! I really don’t have a set schedule as to which days are the clay side or the glaze side & some days are both depending on what I am working on. Today, for instance, I loaded a bisque kiln & then finished up the next batch that will be bisque fired in a day or so. Now I am getting ready to start the decoration/glaze part of the pieces I bisque fired last week. I have a fairly large wholesale order in the works so it’s a pretty quick pace this week.

3. What most inspires your work?

Humor. Colorful surroundings. Family. Love of words. Black & white motifs. I love listening to the hum of conversation – you never know what little gem you might pick up. The speech patterns in the south always inspire & amuse me. I find myself saying all the same things my mama said that I swore would never come out of my mouth!

4. You’ve posted quite a few custom orders on your Instagram profile. Which custom job have been the most memorable?

I am always happy to put whatever words someone wants on a piece; sometimes it’s funny, sometimes sentimental, sometimes naughty! But I have been honored to be a part of many birthdays, weddings, new homes, Christmases, anything celebrated. There are so many but one sticks with me: I had a young woman who contacted me wanting something special for her Grandmother. It was going to be the first Christmas since her Grandfather had passed & she wanted a bowl that said ‘pennies from heaven’ because each time her Grandma found a penny she was convinced it was her late husband sending her a little love. When she left feedback she said her Grandma ‘already had a bowl full of love’. :’)

5. One of the most interesting things on your Instagram feed are photos of your works in progress. What’s your favorite aspect of your creative process?

I have found that showing a work in progress gives the non-crafter an idea of how it comes to be. Because there’s someone asking if I can make this or that & oh by the way can I have it tomorrow? It’s a process that not everyone understands & there is a lot of time involved in making each piece. I love the rolling out of the slab of clay…it just holds so much promise. Bowl? Plate? Special Order on my ‘cut list’ or replenishing my etsy shop? I love when the piece is dry enough to go after it with the letter stamps. And, of course, opening the kiln after a glaze fire – it’s like Christmas morning every time.

6. What do you love the most about your creative business?

Exactly that: the creative process. There is nothing better than seeing what was in my head is now something I am holding in my hand.

7. Are there any difficulties that you have to overcome to make your business work?

My lack of computer skills. My least fav thing is doing listings online. It just feels like time away from the clay! But it’s a necessary evil, I guess!

The only other issue was kiln related – I was working in a studio where I could use the equipment for firings. It became a huge headache so I decided to bet on myself & invested in a kiln. Happily, business has been successful enough that a second kiln has joined the family.


8. Where do you see yourself going with your business in the future?

I’d like to start doing art/craft fairs. I have been in production with some new ideas & getting to the point where I feel I have enough work to fill a booth. It’s a little scary but I love people & their stories & to put a face with someone purchasing my work would be icing on the cake!

You can check out more of Julies’s work at her Etsy store and her Instagram feed.

Remember that May’s giveaway item is one of Suburban Cowgirl Clay’s handmade “Be Happy” ceramic bowl. Here’s how you can enter the drawing:

1. Join my email list by filling out the form below. Members of my email list are automatically entered into each month’s giveaway. You’ll also receive a free goodie as a thank you gift as soon as you sign up!

2. The drawing for this month’s winner will take place on May 26th at 6pm (EST), so keep an eye on your email inbox. The lucky winner will receive an email after 6pm (EST). Good luck!

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Monthly Giveaway- May

It’s May 1st…which means that it’s May Day!

Back in the day, May 1st marked the first day of summer and was a cause of celebration, like feasting, maypole dancing, crowning a Queen of May, or leaving baskets of flowers and candy on your neighbor’s doorstep (kinda like Halloween in reverse). I admit that I’ve never actually seen that particular custom before…I wonder what my neighbors would think about a surprise May basket of flowers and candy. đŸ¤”

Speaking of gifts, it’s giveaway time again! This month’s giveaway item is Suburban Cowgirl Clay’s handmade “Be Happy” ceramic bowl. Cheerfully decorated with multicolored polka dots and hand stamped with the phrase, “Be Happy”, just looking at this bowl is enough to make you smile. It’s a great storage and display piece for jewelry, keys, change, or any other small item that needs a happy place.

Want a chance to win the “Be Happy” bowl? Here’s how:

1. Join my email list by filling out the form below. In addition to getting the chance to win this month’s item, you also will immediately receive a free gift as a thank you!

2. The drawing takes place on May 26th at 6pm (EST), so keep an eye on your email inbox. The lucky winner will receive an email after 6pm.

Already a member of the list? Great! Just check your email inbox on May 26th!

Good luck!

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Artist Interview: Heather Windish of moreygirl

I’m kind of a tomboyish nerd when it comes to things like shoes and purses. Instead of the cute purse I prefer things like backpacks and laptop bags. And the thought of having more than one purse sort of mystifies me. Paradoxically, I really love tiny things like wristlets and zippered pouches…because that makes total sense.

So of course the cute little zippy pouches from moreygirl caught my eye because they’re so small and adorable and come in some of the sweetest patterns. But those pouches are just a fraction of what Heather Windish, one of the artists behind moreygirl offers. In spite of a busy spring craft show schedule, Heather graciously took some time to share a bit of her story with me.

1. Tell us a bit about your business.

moreygirl has always been evolving! I started out making candles, then sewing baby blankets, then photography. The bags came in about 4 or 5 years ago when I needed a tote for myself. This year I decided it was time to focus on what I do best, the bags, totes, and zippies will be my primary products this year.

2. On your website, you mention that your sister and your mother also works with you on moreygirl. What’s it like running your business with your family?

Yes! Charity, my younger sister, has always been my biggest cheerleader. She started knitting baby booties and they are the perfect compliment to my baby blankets. Mom usually ends up with the boring job of cutting fabric. I seriously couldn’t do it without her though! Even if it’s boring, it’s important. There are definitely ups and downs working with family, but having people who believe in you and what you do is the most important thing.

3. Describe a typical day in your studio.

Well, I have three kids, 12, 10, and a two year old. So I usually don’t have a typical day! Sewing includes so much more than just sitting at the sewing machine. There is a lot of cutting and ironing going on. I make things in assembly line style, that way I only have to think about a step once and repeat it 10 or so times. I then try to work through a step at a time. We watch a lot of princess movies too:)

4. In addition to sewing, photography also appears to be a passion of yours. How do you balance these different creative pursuits?

Photography seemed to take a back seat after I finished out 2014. I was about 5 months pregnant when I shot my last wedding that year. With a newborn, I didn’t focus on doing more weddings that year. I do a few shoots/weddings here and there. But I will admit, it’s hard to do both. I love photography though. I don’t advertise it right now, but if someone asks I don’t say no to a shoot/wedding.

5. What inspires your work?

Color, I would say, is the biggest inspiration for me. I love different color combos working together. Also, a fabric can speak to me too. It probably has a lot to do with color though too!

6. Are there any new projects that you’re working on now that you’re really excited about?

I am working out the details on hosting sewing lessons/classes this summer. I get really excited about sharing the know how on lots of things I do. I have had a bunch of interest in learning how so it seemed like the next best step.

7. What do you love the most about your creative business?

I love being able to just create. It is a great feeling to be able to sell my goods too and being able to contribute to our family. I really love how there is always something new to learn.

8. Are there any difficulties that you have to overcome to make your business work?

Honestly, getting know more people is a really fun part of it. I’m kind of an introvert, a high functioning one. I don’t mind working at home and being by myself. It takes me a little bit to push myself to talk to people. But once I’m in the element of a show, I’ll talk your ear off! Craft shows are definitely a fun and nerve-wracking part of it!

9. Where do you see yourself going with your business in the future?

This year I’m focusing on doing a lot of shows and markets. It’s been figuring out good price points and marketing. I would love to be able to teach a lot a classes in the future too.

You can check out more of Heather’s work at her website and her Instagram feed. You can also see some of her photography at https://moreygirl.shootproof.com/

Remember that April’s giveaway item is an adorable Pink Rose Mini Zippy pouch by moreygirl. Here’s how you can enter the drawing:

1. Join my email list by filling out the form below. Members of my email list are automatically entered into each month’s giveaway. You’ll also receive a free goodie as a thank you gift as soon as you sign up!

2. The drawing for this month’s winner will take place on April 28th at 6pm (EST), so keep an eye on your email inbox. The lucky winner will receive an email after 6pm (EST). Good luck!

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