#MadewithaBailey Interview with Tania Rustage
Tell us about yourself, how you got started working in clay?
I saw a piece of pottery (bowl) years ago while living in South Africa. It was gorgeous, but I thought it was too expensive. So I thought I should try my hand at clay and make my own bowl. I joined a studio, which was a weekly three-hour session, just feeling what clay was about while drinking a glass of wine and being social. So it was little pinch pots, and slabs, no real wheel work.
Then ten years ago my husband and I relocated from South Africa to Colorado USA. I gave up my job as a CAD Operator (draftsperson) after 20 years and thought after a few months, I will miss it and look for a job here. Well, 10 years later and I haven't missed it for a day.
We knew no one here in the US, so while my husband was off to work, I needed to get out of the house and meet people. Which led me to join a pottery center and guild. I slowly started building up a home studio as I was outgrowing the center. I wanted to fire my own work and not have to rely on others. I am very fortunate to now have a large fully equipped studio in our walkout basement.
Needless to say, I've come full circle. After doing pottery myself and seeing how much work and stages go into making a piece, I can truly appreciate the price of pottery. Yes, I can make my own bowls now, but I do like to support other artists and purchase their work. I don't see the expense now, as much as I see the quality.
You've posted some amazing glaze results on Instagram, can you tell us a little bit about what you are up to?
I only use commercial glazes, underglazes and stains, dipped, brushed or sprayed, depending on whether I have a bucket of it, or just a pint to experiment with. I like trying new glaze combos and having at least two to three glazes run and pool into each other, sometimes using multiple firings.
Not always easy, because I do like to control things, and that doesn't always happen in glazing, as many will know. There have been some flops with pieces glazed to the kiln shelf and also some wonderful ‘Happy Accidents' so I keep on playing and trying new things. It's all worth it in the end.
Which Bailey products do you use and how do they help you get the results you need?
First Bailey Product I brought was a Bailey Pro-50R Pottery Wheel, what I really like about it, besides the actual wheel itself, is the drain hole, so you can clean and let water drain without having to remove splash pans, plus the gate in the side wall to slide trimmings out and directly into a bucket. These are very convenient features.
I also use a Bailey 16" Mini Might ll Table Top Slab Roller. I never thought I needed one at the beginning. Now that I have it, I wonder how I ever managed without it. I use it all the time, probably even as much or more than my wheel.
What's a tool that you could not live without?
I bet I'm not the only one that has MANY tools! It's great to get new ones all the time, but when you think about it we could get by with a handful of tools and nothing else.
My little Yellow Synthetic Sponges are the things I use more than anything else. I use them for everything, to smooth the inside of piece while pulling, instead of grooves created by my fingers, for adding water, for cleaning and smoothing edges, or attachments. I have a bowl of old used ones that I use to support pieces during the process.
The second thing I use all the time is a small rounded (blunt) skewer stick broken into about a 3-inch length. I use it to define seams, to smooth attachments, and to create lines. A nothing little piece, but a very well used tool that works for me.
What are some of your favorite things about working in clay?
The freedom to create anything I want. There are no rules.
What inspires you?
I like my work to look like it has movement, or has a whimsical quality with attitude. So the pieces seem to have character. I am inspired by perfection, so I have great attention to detail and precision.
What do you love about the ceramic process?
The opening of a kiln load of glaze fired pieces. It's like Christmas every time and never gets old.
When you're not creating ceramics, what do you enjoy doing?
I've never been an outdoor sporty type. I'm always creating something in the Art World with wood, beads, stains, paint…. You name it, or online creating with Photoshop, on websites, scrapbooking, etc. I like being busy all the time, otherwise, I feel like I'm wasting time.
I was asked the other day ‘Do you ever sleep?'. Not having kids or grandkids probably makes it easier to be constantly busy. I have a 4-legged baby, but she doesn't mind – I hope!!!!!