About me for now
Passionate about clay and glazes and passionate about passing on the passion in teaching and allowing students to find their own creativity
For now I am Simply D the school of clay & creativity
Later I will start to share my journey, although perhaps it will end up being my blog....
In the meantime come and play with the clay.
13th April 2019
Well it's official, I am now
SIMPLY D SCHOOL OF CLAY & CREATIVITY PTY LTD
Found a fantastic space in a fantastic location to open my new school. This has been my dream, my driving force (other than my son of course) for the last 10 years. Can't think of how many times I would say to students "when I win lotto and open my own school..............". I don't know what happened at the beginning of this year, all I know is I couldn't wait to win lotto to follow my dream, time to take a risk, So before I start to fill you in on the progress of building my school, I might start at the beginning, and not my beginning, but the beginning of my love for clay and teaching.
I was born in ......... no not going that far back, hehehe
When I was 12 we moved to a small town on the north coast of NSW called Broomshead. Beautifull beaches and we lived in a caravan park (yes I'm trailer trash), felt like we were living a holiday everyday. Where I spent most of my time was at the beach, in particular Broomshead backbeach. Once you walked through the bush land track, and reached the beach, there is a spring, in which the water trickled down the cliff face, and it was full of clay. I used to sit in it and play with it, paint my face with it (I used to dream I was an american Indian).
When i started high school in Maclean, my first Art teacher, Mrs Robyn Gibson ( funny i still remember her name after all these years) taught me the wheel. That"s where it started. Spent a lot of my lunch breaks on the wheel (especially if suffering teenage heartbreak and little did I know just how much heartache was coming my way). Once I finish my story, you will understand how much pottery became my safe place and sanity during very dark times. Honestly the best therapy I have ever had.
Back to the pottery, funny how all the things I loved doing in Art is now how I will make a living full time (and Barry O'Farrell cut funding because he said there is no money in the Arts). Even the government is recognizing the importance of creativity and the arts for children in this fast growing technological world we find ourselves living in by granting funding for all school aged children to pursue outside creative art activities. Pottery, Macrame, weaving, screen printing, painting, tye dying, candle making, resin art, flower arranging, knitting, crocheting. Loved doing all these things, and will be offering these creative art workshops, but clay was always the one for me.
So for my major works in year 12 did 4 Tea Pots, and promised my self I would never make them again (thankfully didn't keep that promise). While I was in high school, I started doing a pottery class in Grafton at the local community college, that's where it really started, and it's been the 17 years I have spent working for local community colleges where I have lived that has helped get me where I am today. So interesting for me to be writing this and looking back, seeing the seeds that were planted without me knowing how it was going to not only define my future, but be the foundation from which my dream has been built from. And i didn't even know it.
Gosh I'm not a fan of this saying, however, I am going to say it, knowing what I know now what would I say to my younger self when going through really dark challenging times, feeling like I had no hope, It would be "you'r stronger than you think you are and have faith in yourself and the universe" (no not the hippie thing again) and I remember my beautiful wise older sister Laura saying to me about 19 years ago "you know what your problem is Donna, you don't have enough faith in yourself (it was Laura who suggested I do pottery in Grafton as she and her husband Allan were good friends with the pottery teacher Tim), During this time I bought my first pottery wheel for $100, and when you think that was over 30 years ago, it was pretty expensive, I cashed in my Christmas savings so I could by it. I sold it 2 years ago for $50, but at the time still had 3 wheels. So I guess that covers the beginning.
Monday 3rd April, 2023
Wow, can't believe it's been almost 4 years since I not only opened the school but actually followed through with my story. What a roller coaster it has been. And here I was thinking all I was going to be doing was teaching people who want to learn pottery. Oh no soooooo much more than that.
So where do I start. Firstly, let me just say this, Don't open a pottery school when you are going through menopause and needing hip replacement surgery (was on the waiting list for 3 years). One of the reasons I wanted my own space to teach was so that I could make up the rules, be there when I want to be there as well as allowing students the same flexibility and not have anyone take it away from me. Yes the first year was fantastic but full on. Setting up the studio, setting up the webpage, teaching the classes (not recycling clay, when I should have been) Literally the business was in my head 24/7 unless I was asleep. I never realised just how much time would be taken up with the computer and social media, while trying to do all that needed to be done at the studio. Not complaining, It's funny how my son moved out just after I opened the school, so I lost my baby, but gained a new all consuming one and loved every minute off it. Thank god I wasn't in a relationship, as it took over my whole life. It still does and still loving every minute off it.
So talk about no one taking it away from me along came covid. All I can say is it gave me time, which i needed. Time to finish setting it up and to clean up the mess I was left with when my business partner did a runner on me. I was so fortunate my best friend's husband who is an amazing top notch accountant helped me clean it up and was a godsend during covid negotiating home and business rents. I could not have survived without him.
(NB: There are lots of stories to come, good and bad therefore no names will be mentioned for legal reasons. I have learnt sooooo much while running my business. Not evryone is always happy for you). Any way as I am known to do I digress so back on track.
First opening after covid I got slammed, had to increase all classes to 12 students instead of 10 while maintaining social distancing rules, in which I had the space and decided I will never do that again. Luckily it was only a 4 week course, but it was the beginning of me learning a lot about people. Never in all my years of teaching have I had happen what I am about to share. Before Covid, at the end of each term the students have an Exhibition of what they have made and also take home their work. This would happen 1 to 2 weeks after classes finished. When we reopened at the end of the class the students were told which days they could pick up their work and also emailed the dates. There were some students from before we closed down who kept asking if they could just pop in and did not take to kindly to me telling them that due to the new rules and classes being to full capacity that was not an option anymore, you need to be booked into a class. Well I got a bused for that. No matter how I tried to explain. They didn't want to here it. I am not one for pills and injections, how ever during those challenging times I felt politically bullied to have the injections in order to open my business. And I had to follow all the rules. This was the biggining of the abuse and bullying and of course not to me but on social media. Nasty. Next I got the most abusive posts all over my account claiming I smash up students work, that I have no idea what im doing I'm not an artist all because one student, 10 weeks after a class had finished didn't bother to come and pick up her work at the times given no message asking if there was anothe time to pick it up and just rocked up one Friday afternoon demanding to pick up her work. I explained to her as the classes were completely full once again in order to make space for new work coming through I had to get rid of work that had been sitting on the shelves for too long and if I hadn't heard from the student to organise time to pick it up it had to go. I got screamed and yelled at abused every time I tried to explain more yelling. Some who couldn't make the dates had sent me a message so I kept their work. They happened to be friends with this girl and before you know it they are all writing bad reviews even though the 2 that I had kept the work for and when they picked it up seemed to be very happy with the results, so to get a bad review from them was really uncool, and even someone who wasn't even in the class, just happened to be her friend also wrote a bad review. Bloody hell. So slammed on Instagram, but we are able to take down these nasty vindictive threats and block them and at the same time slammed on google reviews but there is nothing you can do about them unless you want to pay a lot of money to have them removed. Really Really uncool.
I went through years of being bullied and abused by my son's father and the man that followed him and one thing I learnt is to not engage with bullies and I would rather be victorious than be a victim. I decided to not respond to any of the reviews and purely focus on my students. I was also told that if I am pleasing at least 80% of your clients then you are doing very well can't please everyone, even though I do try being a tad ocd. I always knew I had to address them one day and this is my way. Telling my side of the story, because there is alway s 2 sides. It's interesting how people will always tell without including all the information. And to think I did this girl a favour as she had missed out on getting into the class that her friends were in so I was able to get someone to swap. They all had a great time. She fucked up and I get abused. Well that was just the beginning. Bad reviews from people who missed classes then complained because they couldn't come back when ever they wanted to make up the classes no matter how much I explained about classes being full and new covid rules. I have bad reviews from anonymous accounts with no posts or followers. One classic review is from a lady who was having trouble gettin gher work fired just before christmas, she came to me complaining about the company in the next block that does firing saying they were rude and not very helpful, little did she know that I am friends with them and they are my suppliers, so I explained that 2 weeks before christmas they are extremely busy with firing of work of people who have been going there for years, so you can't expect to just rock up and get it done in a week. So as I do I decided to help her out. I wasn't happy with the frings I did for her, although she said she loved it I thought it was a little bit overfired so didn't charge her (and she accuses me of being too expensive) and I let here know that I was doing a 2 day workshop of large throwing and mold with my experienced class if she would like to join us as she was pretty good thrower. My group had been coming to me for about a year so she was lucky to be allowed to join us. Well the first day was great. We had 8 students, so there was plenty of space to follow the covid rules, everyone had masks and there was disinfectant. The first day was brilliant. On the second day got in an hour early to set up and was still buzzing from the day before especially looking at everyones work. Well this lady decided to come in 45 minutes early and started to abuse me for not following covid rules. No mater what I said about yes I am once again, didn't want to listen so I said I'm still feeling really good about yesterday and I busy setting how about you go for a walk and get a coffee and let me finish. She said no I don't want coffee, so I just kept setting up. Getting all the plaster stuff ready and then when it cam eto weighing up water and plaster frim the formula that we used at Tefe this woman decide to argue with me that it was wrong, once angon no matter what i said not listening, so I told her to go and argue it with tafe I want to get on with the class. She wa not happy, but everyone else was. Comes the end of the day and she comes up to pay an proceeds to abuse me some more after she tells me she is going to take her work hme today and I told her I think that's a good idea as I don't want to fire your work. So then she starts on me some more about how she thinks it's disgusting how I am speaking to her. So I said I think your behaviour to me and in the class has been disgusting. So then she starts on the students saying Im disgusting how I speak to them, so I said lets ask the students who have been coming for over a year what they think of me and she went off in a huff complaining about not being able to find her stamp. A week later, slammed on social media, only this time this lady tag friends and family of mine accusing me of horrible things. Being unreliable expensive careless unprofessional accused of in her words "Donna would promise to fire work, then not deliver on time time after time (I did 2 firings for her that she got a week after giving to me) lose or destroy artwork, I couldn't find the stamp that was about 1x2cm in size throwing out peoples work. At the time I didn't know it was her and I had found the stamp and had sent her a txt letting her know and time available to pick it up along with some other work she had forgotten. So sick and tired of being accused of things I haven't done. Funny thing was when she came in to pick it up still didn't realise it was her that had written the nasty crap I was being all nice and yes professional and she came and left so fast that she was shooing her husband out thought that was strange until the next day found out it was her that wrote the post and she must have thought I was going to have a go at her which was why whe as bring her husband in. What a nasty lady all I di was try to help her and should have realised when she was complaining about other people the first day we met. So even though none of those things happened can't take the review down and the coward that she is of course would not own up to the truth. She got all her work back nothing damaged. Gosh I miss the old days when if you had a problem with someone you used to go and talk to them, no hiding behind social media.
Well that was a lot and so much more to tell but I gotto go get my hands on the clay and forget all this horrible stuff that happened so long ago and I'm still here as
Simply D Ceramics