I REMEMBER GOING TO "KILN Doctor" FOR THE FIRST TIME TO FIRE MY POTTERY. I WAS SIXTEEN YEARS OLD AS I DROpPED OFF MY MUGS. I SAT DOWN IN THE RECEPTION THINKING I WOULD WAIT AN HOUR OR TWO AND PICK UP MY FINISHED MUGS. THE SWEET LADY AT THE FRONT SAID, "YOU KNOW YOU'RE GOING TO HAVE TO COME BACK LATER FOR THESE?" SHE EXPLAINED. IT WOULD TAKE TWO WEEKS FOR JUST THE FIRST FIRING AND THEN ANOTHER WEEK FOR THE SECOND FIRING OF MY MUGS. 

AT THE KILN STORE, I RECALLED WATCHING MR. BJORNSON AS AN EIGHT YEAR OLD IN WISCONSIN. IT SEEMED SIMPLE. YOU THROW POTTERY, PUT IN A FIRE, AND BOOM! IT'S DONE. IT SOUNDED NICE, BUT I QUICKLY LEARNED THIS WASN'T THE CASE. 

AFTER WISCONSIN, MY FAMILY OF SIXTEEN MOVED TO THE EAST COAST. THE SHAME THAT CAME FROM TRIPPING AND BREAKING TWELVE OF MY FAMILIES DINNER PLATES WAS HEAVY. IN ORDER TO REPLACE THEM, AS I HAD NO JOB AS A YOUNG TEEN, I THOUGHT I WOULD MAKE MY OWN TO EASE THE WEIGHT OF GUILT IN MY HEART. I PUT DIRT FROM MY VIRGINIA BACKYARD INTO A WATER BUCKET TO SEPARATE THE CLAY. I STARTED A HUGE FIRE AROUND BRICKS. I SHAPED MY PIECE FROM THE CLAY AND PUT IT INTO THE FIRE. WHEN THE FIRE DIED DOWN, I LOOKED BELOW THE BRICKS.

ASHES. 

THE SHAME NOW HAD LAYERS TO IT. I NOW DECIDED TO RESEARCH FROM THE LIBARY AND YOUTUBE AND REALLY ANY PLACE I COULD LEARN FROM. 

MOMENTUM STARTED WITH BEING GIFTED A TABLETOP WHEEL AND FUNDING A KICKSTARTER. STRANGERS STARTED TO ASK FOR CUSTOM ORDERS AND STOCK ITEMS WERE HARD TO KEEP ON THE SHELVES. I KEPT LEARNING THE PROCESS OF POTTERY CAN'T BE RUSHED AS I SAW EIGHTY DINNER PLATES GLAZED IN 22K GOLD COME OUT OF MY KILN IN HUNDREDS OF BROKEN SHARDS. 

I FELT I HAD A GIFT FOR BREAKING DINNER PLATES. THE LAYERS OF SHAME WERE LIKE A NOT SO SWEET PARFAIT. 

"JUST WORK HARDER!" I'D SAY TO MYSELF IN THE DECEMBER RUSH AS I WORKED THROUGH THE NIGHT. "GET A BIGGER SPACE!" THE VOICE IN MY HEAD YELLED AS I FELT THE WEIGHT OF DEADLINES ON MY SHOULDERS. "MAKE FASTER PROCESSES!" I IMAGINED MY AUSTRALIAN SHEPHERD BARKING AT ME WHILE WAITING TO PLAY FETCH.

THE SPEED I WORKED AT DIDN'T ALLOW TIME FOR FRIENDS, REST, OR EVEN A HEALTHY MENSTRUAL CYCLE. IT WAS SO FAST THAT I COULDN'T SEE DEBT BUILDING TO THE TENS OF THOUSANDS. EVERYTHING I WORKED AT THAT WENT WELL ONLY SEEMED TO COVER THE INTEREST PAYMENTS. SO LIKE A TRAIN HITTING A TIGHT TURN AT A HUNDRED MILES AN HOUR, I LOST IT. NO ONE ON INSTAGRAM SAW IT, BUT I DID. I FELT ALONE AND DIDN'T KNOW WHAT TO DO.

I'M NOT SURE IF YOU GREW UP WITH BRIO TRAINS AS A KID, BUT IMAGINE A BRIO TRAIN SET BROKEN ACROSS THE FLOOR; AND YOUR FAMILY HELPING YOU PICK UP THE PIECES. I WANTED TO JUST LEAVE THE PIECES ON THE FLOOR AND WALK AWAY. IT WAS HARD TO EVEN LOOK AT IT. I HAVE THIRTEEN SIBLINGS. AND I THINK IT WAS JUST ENOUGH SIBLINGS TO PICK UP THE MESS I MADE OF MY BUSINESS, HEALTH, AND RELATIONSHIPS. THEY KNELT BESIDE ME ON THE FLOOR, AND PIECE BY PIECE WE PICKED UP THE TRAINS AND TRACK AND STARTED SOMETHING NEW. 

AS I WRITE THIS I TAKE A DEEP BREATH AND EXHALE. I'VE HEARD THAT THINKING ABOUT AND DWELLING ON FAILURE IS GOOD FOR ABOUT FIVE SECONDS. I'VE SURPASSED THAT BY A SECOND OR TWO. BUT I'VE LEARNED THAT DWELLING ON A FAILURE IS GOOD FOR SEEING WHY YOU'VE FAILED AND THEN LEAVING IT IN THE PAST. HOLDING ONTO IT DOESN'T DO ANY GOOD. 

MY NOW HUSBAND ASKED ME WHILE WE WERE DATING, "WHAT THREE THINGS DID YOU LEARN FROM THAT EXPERIENCE?" AFTER HIM ASKING A FEW MORE TIMES AS I TRIED TO LITERALLY WALK AWAY FROM HIM I REPLIED: "1) MY TIME AND ART HAVE VALUE. 2) REST CREATES THE BEST. 3) I CAN ONLY LOVE PEOPLE WITH WHAT I HAVE IN MY HANDS... AND YOU DIDN'T ASK FOR FOUR BUT 4) HONESTY WINS THE DAY NO MATTER HOW HARD IT IS."

IN SLOWING DOWN, I'VE STARTED TO LEAVE THE SHAME PARFAIT AT THE OUTSIDE THE DOORS OF MY BUSINESS. THIS ALLOWS ME TO SAY "NO" WHEN I NEED TO AND SAY "YES" TO WHAT I KNOW IS BEST. 

WHEN I DO THIS, I REMEMBER HOW MUCH I LOVE MAKING BEAUTIFUL THINGS FROM THE DUST OF THE GROUND. I LOVE HAVING THE SPACE AND TIME NECESSARY TO MAKE THIS TYPE OF BEAUTY HAPPEN. I SEE IT AS A METAPHOR OF THE HUMAN EXPERIENCE.

HUMANS ARE MESSY LIKE THE DIRT. BUT THROUGH MOLDING, SHAPING, AND EVEN SOME FIRE BECOME A BEAUTIFUL THING THAT RESEMBLES A FINISHED VESSEL. I LIKE CREATING ART THAT DISPLAYS THIS PROCESS IN A DELICATE AND SIMPLE WAY. EVERY PIECE WILL SHOW THE BEAUTY AND BROKENNESS IN THE PROCESS OF BECOMING WHAT WE WERE MEANT TO BE. 

simple and beautiful things have been a great tool for the moments I needed to grow. My hope is through the chaos of life, my pottery, my art, will add color and warmth to the moments you stop and savor the roses of life.

WITH LOVE,

TALIA TIGGES
OWNER // WHITE HEARTH POTTERY

talia olmstead, FOUNDER, DESIGNER, CERAMACIST

A CERAMIC STORY