Katie Bosley Sabin, Brookline, Massachusetts

Ceramics Monthly: What role do you think makers play within our current culture? How do you think you contribute to it?

Katie Bosley Sabin: I think makers play an important role in our current culture as preservers of the handmade tradition. They work hard to create objects that celebrate material, process,
and craftsmanship. 

Approaching making differently than the mass-produced objects that saturate our everyday life, makers are committed to how they make something as much as they are to what they make. They breathe life into objects by making carefully considered decisions about design, aesthetics, and function throughout every step of the making process. Handmade objects can be engaging and encourage focused presence. Makers play a role within our current culture by creating and sharing these special objects with others. 

1 Pierced Supports, 10 in. (25 cm) in height, high-fire porcelain, 2021.

I contribute to this as a maker and as an educator. I’ve spent the last nine years teaching ceramics at various art centers and institutions and value education as a powerful tool to shape our culture. One of my goals when teaching is to provide an understanding of the time and skill that goes into creating handmade objects, working to build a greater appreciation for the value of these objects among the broader community. 

CM: What is the most challenging aspect of working in clay in terms of building a career? 

KBS: I feel the most challenging aspect of building a career in the ceramic field is the endurance and patience required. The work can be exhausting and progress is often slow. 

Building a career in the ceramics field requires a diverse skill set beyond just working in clay. It takes time to gain crucial experience in all the necessary areas, and as creative and career goals shift, there are always new skills to learn. Both in and out of the studio, a career in ceramics is time intensive, and while some aspects can be streamlined, other parts don’t necessarily become easier or more efficient. 

Failure is a regular part of working in clay and having your livelihood dependent on a material that can be so fickle can be stressful. After a catastrophic firing or a rejected application, a ceramic artist must be resilient and actively choose to return to the studio.

2 Draped Line, 8 in. (20 cm) in height, high-fire porcelain, 2021.

As a career, it doesn’t come with a structured set of steps and therefore requires the juggling act of accomplishing one goal while simultaneously figuring out what the next one should be. It’s natural for creative and career growth to fluctuate, meaning sometimes progress is frustratingly slow and other times it’s almost too much to keep up with. It can be challenging to pace yourself and set healthy boundaries to avoid burnout. 

While these things make working in clay exhausting at times, the challenges are a significant reason that clay appeals to me, and I truly enjoy spending time getting lost in my work. I’m grateful to pursue a career with the flexibility to choose my own path, and it’s taken me to incredible places where I’ve met wonderful people. It’s because of the challenges that the work is so rewarding. I just have to remind myself sometimes that building a career in clay is a marathon, not a sprint. 

Learn more at www.katiebosleysabin.com.