Merle Lambeth | Episode 285
San Diego potter, Merle Lambeth, is known for her delicately folded thin slabs of clay,use of textures and green glazes. Each piece shows her attention to detail and finishing. Merle’s training is mainly through attending workshops. She splits her time between creating new work and managing Clay Artists of San Diego, a non-profit clay organization.
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Where do you find your energy to be so active in growing the community?
A lot of it is from social media. When I get on Instagram or Pinterest or Facebook or some of the other potters I follow I just get so excited when I see what they are doing. I feel like I’ve got to share this, I’ve got to tell somebody about this. If someone has a technique that is similar, I try to direct them that way. Most of it is social energy, some of it is meeting other potters when I went to Utilitarian Clay, that was a huge burst of energy.
From your perspective what is the biggest need that the clay community has?
Some of it I think is exposure and some of it is, everyone is doing a great job raising the bar, but I still always feel like clay artists are the lowly artists and no one wants to spend a lot for clay pieces. We all need to make a living and I think people forget that they use their favorite mug every day or their favorite teapot or their favorite bowl and they kind of take that for granted as opposed to the picture on the wall that they might have paid five times as much for.
What do you feel is the value of volunteering?
I think it is paying it forward. I just think it is really important to volunteer and to be helpful and to be generous. I get a lot out of it. I get more out of volunteering and connecting people than I do out of selling my pottery.
How do you inspire others to give, both of their time and their resources?
I don’t know. I am hoping that I lead by example. I hope people see what I am dong. I know they appreciate what I am doing because I get a lot of thank you notes and a lot of pats on the back. Again, I hope they pay it forward.
How do you get past the fear of asking?
I think it just comes with experience. It’s kind of shameless now. I don’t mind asking people for donations or for money or for help now. It used to be I felt bad, but people want to help. They really do just need to be asked.
When you have an unexpected day off and your agenda has been completely cleared, what’s your favorite thing to do?
If it’s a nice day I will go to the beach. No matter what the temperature is I will go to the ocean because I love walking on the sand and listening to the ocean. If it’s not such a great day I will go to Balboa Park and go to one of the museums.