We had the good fortune of connecting with Gladys Smedley and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Gladys, how has your work-life balance changed over time?
Oh my! It has been quite a journey, and continues still. It all started when I decided to return to school to complete my education in Computer Sciences. I happen to take an elective course in Ceramic Art where we hand built all of the pottery and spent time burnishing for a silky smooth finish. Yes, that one class! Doesn’t that sound familiar? I continued with my studies in computer sciences, but I was hooked on clay. I loved the feel of the clay and the possibilities it provided for creating. I dabbled in it for many years while I worked full time as a software program developer to help support my young family. Once I became an empty nester with lots of ‘Me’ time, pottery became my passion. I worked to develop my skills further, taking a few classes here and there; and, watching plenty of videos which I considered virtual training. After a while I became comfortable enough with the pieces I was making to start showing and selling them in a local gallery. As I continued to work full time, I built a client base and created pottery on weekends, which at times was barely enough to keep up sufficient inventory. I was also beginning to outgrow my tiny pottery space and considering future plans for growing my business. Always a fan of the coastal waters, my husband and I took on a project to develop some acreage in Seadrift along the Texas Gulf coast. We were still several years out from an early retirement, but we had in mind that this might be a place to enjoy the country life, live closer to nature and foster our time on the salt water. Fast forward ten years. We now have a barn providing the extra space for my pottery studio and just moved into our small farmhouse last year. I am working full time in the pottery now, and loving every minute of it. My pottery continues to evolve as I explore new ideas, and challenges. I was recently presented with the opportunity to build a floor standing vase for a client. She saw one of my pieces in an art exhibit, and wanted a 30″ tall version of it. This has been the largest piece I have created so far, and I have learned so much along the way. I have discovered so many different techniques over the years of my journey with clay, and find that I have a hard time settling on one style. I love creating horse hair pottery, pit firing pots, carving and making pictures in the clay. I love making dinnerware out of micaceous clay, and tumblers out of porcelain. I have also learned that ceramic mosaics are a ton of fun as well, so stay tuned. My work continually evolves, and I hope to follow this exploration of ideas for as long as I am having fun doing with it.Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Although, clay has been my passion for many years, my professional career was spent developing computer software. It was a fitting profession as it gave me the opportunity to still be creative. The IT world which is ever changing, is not always an easy one to navigate. However, I loved the challenge it presented. It inspired me to continually explore possibilities for presenting exemplar business solutions for a client. I have learned, there are many ways to solve a problem, and finding that solution is a great motivator for moving toward the next step. For me, retiring from a professional career of problem solving and presenting IT business solutions was the perfect segue into becoming a full time ceramic artist where I could create pottery, stretch my skills and learn new techniques. I constantly explore the clay possibilities, trying to push it and myself to the limit and beyond. It was the opportunity I had been working towards all those years.If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Day 1: Head to Seadrift to visit the bays, enjoy the unique art at the Art Boat and have shrimp and boudin at Bubba’s Cajun Style Seafood. Day 2: Take a trip to the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge. On the way back stop in at the Rusty Hook in Long Mott for a glass of wine. Day 3: Spend the day in Port O’Connor exploring the kayak trails, fishing or hanging out at King Fisher Beach Day 4: Explore the beaches and shopping in Rockport. Day 5: Spend the day at Seadrift Gardens enjoying bird watching Day 6: Take a trip on the ferry over to Port Aransas. Explore Port A beaches and shopping. Stop in at Winton’s Candies for some saltwater taffy Day 7: Visit Indianola Ghost Town and the surrounding beaches where there is a lot of Texas historyThe Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I most definitely need to give the biggest Shoutout to my husband, Randy. He has been with me every step of the way, fixing my kiln when it was broke, making diy tools for smoothing out processes, and giving me encouragement even when I didn’t know I needed it. He is, and continues to be the brawn behind my pottery expansion, and is a great source of new ideas. I also need to recognize my daughter, who is one of my biggest fans and a great source for the driftwood I use on some of the pots! She has in fact dedicated a permanent exhibit of my pottery on one wall of her living room. So many other people have inspired and encouraged new ideas along the way including Kimi, owner of Framer’s Gallery in Georgetown, TX as well as many of the co-op members. My friends Jennifer, Susie, Judith, and Gary, as well as those who have requested special commissions.