As the learners stepped foot back into their studio after our two-week break, they noticed the space looked different… including the addition of the Artisan Warehouse, as we are exploring what it is like to be an artisan this session! The Artisan Wearhouse (aka “Ritisana Wearhouse” as nicknamed by some learners) is a place where artisans can purchase or rent the supplies they need to complete their projects. We are using a special, online, learner-driven program called “Artisan”, where the learners watch videos to learn how to do different techniques and then use them as inspiration to create their own art! This week we explored Ceramics. Needless to say, it’s been a hit! (Fun fact – the founder of Artisan used to be an Acton guide at a number of campuses in Austin!)

On Wednesday, one learner was very excited to show us his creations. This was a big deal, because just one day before, he felt overwhelmed and stuck, believing that he wasn’t executing the vision of the video to make a “pinch pot” good enough. Time after time he would squish his clay back together, then finally put his head in his hands with tears in his eyes. I approached him with words of empathy – any time we do something new, we will fail in something – and those feelings of failure can threaten to overcome us. I shared how I’ve been there too. We also chatted about different tools and approaches artisans can use when mistakes happen – after all, for inventors, artists (even all of us!) mistakes are often the seed of something brand new, beautiful and surprising, if we stay kind to ourselves, re-work it and don’t give up. As he shared later, that night he also chatted with his mom and came away realizing that he actually is really strong in building structures.

That was the realization he needed.

As he finished the pinch pot video again the next day, he had something new in his hands. Something he was proud of. Yet something that was a NEW kind of pot. This pot laid more open than the video had shown, and had a special texture added. It was beautiful. He commented, “I am very satisfied with my pot.” He went on saying, “I couldn’t make the pot in the video, so I decided to make it my own way – and I’m really proud of what I did!”

What happened after that was nothing short of amazing. This learner, who usually would rather read than do art, created so many new things! A “cobra pot” (first he made a cobra then turned it into a pot) and other designs! His energy was strong, confident – liberated. When he saw another learner feeling down with her work, right away he went over to her and said, “I think you should make your own thing instead of just trying to do what the video said. That’s what I did!”

He not only discovered his love of art that day – he found himself. 

That is what being an artisan is all about.