As an artisan and new resident to the area, I’m always looking for ways to get involved in the artist community of SLO. When I look into organizations, venues, and the like – there is always a business I see, Back Bay Pottery. Having seen this business all over, I looked into who they were and I was blown away. Christine Silbaugh aka Back Bay Pottery is absolutely incredible in talent and community involvement. She instantly became someone I wanted to meet.
Christine is one of the Captains of our SLO County Sellers Etsy Team and I’m so happy that I finally met her, in person, a month ago. Of course I wanted to do a Made in SLO feature on her and now I had my chance! So, I hope that all of you enjoy this as much as I have. Christine is so sweet and supportive and it shines through her interview.
Where in SLO is home and for how long?
I live in Los Osos and have grown up here. I was born in General Hospital in SLO and have lived in SLO, Cayucos, Morro Bay but mostly in Los Osos.
What do you love most about SLO?
I have always loved it here and have never wanted to move away. I have visited many places around the country but nothing feels like home like SLO does. Its different from any other place I have seen.
There are so many things to do here…we have the best of everything from nature to shopping!
My family and I love to visit the tide pools at spooners cove and hike along the trails at Montaña De Oro. It’s one of the first things we do when friends or family visits from out of town. I also love all the farmers markets!
How is SLO different from any other place?
I feel like SLO is very family oriented and a happy place to live. We have such a great population of people that are very supportive of our large artist community.
Like Bello Mundo Cafe in SLO (by the courthouse). I have had my work in there for a couple of years now and they keep on asking for more. They love supporting local artists.
How/why did you start creating?
I have always been a maker and was raised by artists and crafters. I grew up painting and drawing and sculpting things from polymer clay. When I started making ceramics (about 4 years ago) it fit so perfectly. It is such a versatile medium that I am able to use all of my artistic skills.
What do you create?
I create one of a kind pottery for the home, office and garden. My style is organic yet vibrant and full of color. I have so many ideas of things to make that I just don’t have enough time in the day to make it all. But I keep a list of things to make. It’s a long list!
Your pieces are so gorgeous. Where do you get your inspiration?
I get my inspiration from so many places! Of course the beautiful area we live in like the birds, beaches, flowers and my husbands succulent garden. I love to look at textures and patterns that can be found everywhere like the amazing architecture of old buildings, the vintage bamboo textured wall paper in my dining room, and the intricate carvings of my antique wooden batik blocks from india. I also look at the trending styles and colors found on Pinterest, Etsy of course and stores like Anthropology and Pottery Barn.
What is your workshop like?
I use to have a crazy mess in the living room (that was my office) but now I have taken over the garage…well not completely.
My husband has the other half but I keep on inching my way over. We have a detached four car garage behind our house so it makes a perfect studio/workshop. I change things all the time because my business and life keeps changing. I have remolded my studio at least 6 times in the last three years. I do spend an awful lot of time in my studio so I have to make it pleasant to work and move around in.
I love decorating it with art from other artist! Especially local and Etsy artists!
We love your workshop! Visiting your workshop to have our team meeting was awesome. I loved seeing all of the art on the walls and creativity just seemed to buzz in there!
You are so involved in the local maker community! Can you share some more of that with us?
Our local maker community is great and I definitely believe in buying local like at our farmers markets and art/craft fairs. I am a member of Arts Obispo and like to participate in Art After Dark, the first friday of every month form 6-9pm, where local artists feature their work at shops, cafes, and galleries in downtown SLO.
I am also one of the leaders on the local etsy team SLO County Sellers. We are a great group of people who sell their work, antiques or supplies on Etsy.
Being a small business owner and selling your work can be hard and overwhelming, not to mention scary. We reach out and offer free help and support to anyone who is currently selling on Etsy or wants to in the future. Our team supports and encourages one another by sharing our tips and tricks and our stories of why we do what we do. We try to meet up once a month and are working on creating some workshops. I really think anyone can make a business that will work for them.
What lessons have you learned from having your own small business?
I have learned to many lessons to list. One of my biggest ones is valuing my work and working slower. I am not a factory and I make everything myself so I need to enjoy the process. I have the ability to work fast and to make a lot of things at a time but it just isn’t enjoyable and my quality goes down. I let my true inner artist come out when I take my time and pay attention to every detail.
What do you struggle with or still have yet to master by having your own business?
I have always struggled with taking on to much. I usually don’t realize that I took on to much work until its to late and I start to burn out. I have learned that a work life balance is a must and it’s something I think I will always struggle with. I have to be strict with myself and make rules like no working on the weekends but even if my orders are late it’s worth it. When it comes down to it my family needs to come first.
What goals do you have for your business?
I really want to be an artist and not so much in production so I want to keep my business at a manageable size yet still continue to support my family.
My work will always change and I think that works for me. I love to try new techniques and colors.
Thank you so much for taking time for us, Christine! We look forward to what you have up that talented sleeve. Make sure to visit Back Bay Pottery!