Ross Estep | Episode 373
Ross Estep is 22 years old. Ross was born without his left arm from the elbow down, but that has never stopped Ross from chasing down his dreams. Ross has always been determined to try everything, including pottery! Now Ross is hooked on clay and there’s no looking back.
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How do you know when your work is good work?
I think that I am always comparing it to everything that I am seeing on the internet and Instagram, so I have seen a lot of what I would call good work, so I am working towards that constantly. I think it is an ever-raising bar, you know. Good work last semester meant something different than good work today.
So you say you are watching a lot of other people’s work and one of the challenges we face is that people steal ideas and then present them as their own. How do you learn from the internet without plagiarizing?
I think it has been always putting your own twist on whatever you are seeing. It is like citing a source, I guess. You see the shape or something,because that’s what I am looking at. I don’t like making the same shape over and over again. I may look at ancient pottery and be inspired by that for a while and try to add a newer element to it. I may change up the neck on a vase or make it rounder. Lately I have been making all these different shaped mugs and cutting out the shape of West Virginia and Ohio and pasting them on the mugs and people are crazy about those things.
How much does the response of your family, friends, and the market dictate what you will be making?
I think right now that is what a lot of people are looking for. I did a couple of those state mugs last year and people started going crazy for them. Nobody is doing this, at least what I can find. So this might be my niche for a little while.
How do you set your pricing?
That is difficult. I know how long it takes me to make a mug. A couple of hours probably after you go through the whole process and glazing it and everything. So I am trying to be fair to people but also be fair to myself. I don’t want to sell mugs for 5 dollars because I don’t think it would be beneficial to me.
How important is repetition to be able to determine your skill level?
Exact repetition is something that I struggle with. I am getting better at it and I am trying to get better at it and that’s what I am working on, making sense of things. I think when you can do that obviously your skill level is more. I would like to be able to make a set of four bowls that all have the same shape and hold the same amount and look the same way, but I also realize that this is a hand made product and they are not going to be exactly the same.
Do you use a throwing gauge?
No, the closest I come to that is I measure out my clay. My pieces don’t come out the same so maybe I should start using one.
What is the one of the benefits of being one handed that would surprise me?
Your gloves last twice as long. (laughter)
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