Artisan Name: Leslie Fruman
Products: Ceramic plates, platters and bowls
Price Range: $15-$65
How did this all begin?
A few years ago I was taking a break from a very busy career as a television producer, and decided to take a pottery course at the Gardiner museum. I was instantly hooked. Within a couple of months I’d bought a used kiln on Craigslist and cleared part of my basement to use as a studio. I opened an Etsy shop about 6 months later, and now do a selection of craft shows in Toronto, throughout the year.
When I first started making pottery, I was very inspired by organic shapes – I made a lot of pinch pots, and applied decorative techniques to them – carving designs on the side – and using glaze to create interesting patterns. I realized quickly that applying decorative patterns to the surface of the clay was the direction I wanted to pursue. Inspired by nature, I started using real leaves and flowers, impressed into soft clay to create a decorated surface…and most recently, after a trip to India, I’ve started using woodblock textile stamps to create decorative “stories” on my plates and platters. I was very inspired by the vivid colours in India as well – and right now, many of pieces are filled with vibrant color! This will change soon, I’m sure. I usually spend several months exploring a technique, and then something new inspires me, and I move on. That’s why my tables at craft shows are often pretty eclectic. Bits and pieces from various experiments in my studio!
What advice do you have for a first-time One of a Kind (OOAK) Show vendor?
Two things: use your regular smaller shows to gauge what is popular. Just because you love something you make, doesn’t mean everyone will. I’ve learned a lot doing small shows. Especially this: you never really know when or if “your people” will show up. You need a lot of eyeballs on your wares to make a sale. Be patient, have realistic expectations, and enjoy the ride.
Do you have a favourite OOAK show moment/memory to share?
I did the first etsy section at the spring OOAK show in 2013. Loads of fun. I was making very cheerful flower motif pieces then- and during the long days, I started tracking the looks on peoples faces as the approached my booth. I was very happy to see their faces light up instantly into a smile when the saw my work! Of course, they didn’t necessarily buy anything- but at least I got them to smile and chat. I really enjoyed the interaction.
Most of my work is available in my Etsy shop, and in my OOAK online shop. Although I am creating pieces for both DEAF and the Xmas OOAK show that will be exclusive to those shows. I post works in progress and new listings to my Facebook page regularly, and I sometimes muse about pottery making on Tumblr blog. On Twitter: @clayshapes.