A Note From Deb:
2016 was a turn around year. In looking back, I am in awe of the transformation both in myself as an individual and in the studio inter-workings. Everyone involved with the studio is on board, and it makes such a difference!
I’m excited to be writing my first year end report. It speaks to the sense of clarity and overall organization, which has grown as I way-make for my dreams. Seattle and its community have risen in support of my endeavors here, especially in the educational components of my outreach. Sales still remain spread across the country, as do workshop-teaching appointments. I enjoy the patchwork quilt of experiences that face me each year.
I am aiming at working on projects, big and small, in a more through, intentional way to improve connection with the community and use of my time. I am thrilled for what comes!
Rat City Studios: Mission Statement
Rat City Studios is the workspace of Deborah Schwartzkopf, Seattle based studio potter and instructor. Her mission is to engage and build community through clay – one person, one neighborhood, and one experience at a time. In service to this pursuit, she offers studio assistant positions for emerging artists, connects people through social events, instructs classes and workshops, and maintains a lively career in the ceramic arts!
Rat City Studios is a residential home property. The daylight basement of her home hold her workspace, two rental studios, kitchenette, packing-and-shipping room and a shop bathroom. A covered kiln and outdoor project area separates these two buildings. Surrounding them all are green spaces holding raised beds, beehives, chickens, pizza oven, fire-ring, and perennial gardens.
Emerging artists join in a yearlong studio assistant position, trading their time for studio space where art making, daily living and experiential learning fuse. Adult 10-week clay classes and occasional workshops bring together people to learn to work with clay and professional development. Rat City Studios participates in open studio and urban farm tours. Through all of these endeavors people are brought together to connect with each other and feed their creativity.
In 2013 Deb Schwartzkopf purchased a home and studio at 2410 SW 106th Street, Seattle, WA 98146 with the financial support and co-signing of her mother, Sandra Graf, as well as help with the down payment in the form of a personal loan from her pottery mentor, Peter Brondz, and friend, Lisa Taylor.
It was a huge endeavor to develop a studio flow and turn a raw space into a functioning studio. A crowd-funded kickstarter raising $21,000 was a good starting place. The studio went through several iterations being identified as DebsPottery, then Ceramistas Seattle, and then in 2016 as Rat City Studios. It is a tremendous understatement to say that numerous projects were completed during the first few years; it was quite simply non-stop.
The studio has developed quite a lot in 2016. Adult clay classes are adding a missing piece to the community and their tuition is making improving the studio and paying the mortgage much more possible. The assistant work-trade is coming into maturity. Relationships being built are thriving and continuing on past the terms of engagement. The energy is spreading and skills are being learned. Adult community clay classes were added in 2015 and now two classes of 20 fill every ten week session. Other endeavors to widen the circle are participating in the Seattle Farm School's Urban Farm Tour, Build or BUST, Workshops in clay, and more.
Philosophy and Beliefs
I believe in developing intention
I believe in alternative ways of learning
- through being present, hands-on information gathering & demonstrating through example.
“All that I have to show you, you cannot see.”
I believe in changing my community through clay
I believe in spaces/ experiences that bring together various age groups, ethnicities, backgrounds, belief systems, modes of identifying the self, and different priorities. They have a important role in teaching us to understand each other and grow into our better selves.
Statistics and profiles of people you serve
Studio Assistants: Tend to be in the 20-35 age range, leaning towards the younger group. Most often they have an undergraduate degree. About 10-15 applicants apply each year. The applicant pool varies greatly. Most have a day job in order to meet their financial needs during their time at RCS.
Adult Class Participants: The mix of students varies greatly. I have had quite a few architects. Many students live close by, but some insist on driving all the way across town. Class began as beginning levels only and now I am moving toward themed classes. One being more beginning and one stepping toward intermediate.
Online sales are proving successful. I got an award at BAM in 2016 and invited to Demarest for the 4th time. The studio had about 75 visitors during our one-day open studio in December. I am working on a plate of the month club inspired by Carol Gouthro.
Jake Corboy, Eliane Medina, and Jon Johnson are this years studio assistants. Each has their own studio space and works every Tuesday. They alternate Thursdays, help with events, and do some projects on their own time for the studio.
Isaac Howard and Eric Preece are renting studio space. Each has an individual contract and decides how much they want to use the studio. They are low impact, in terms of their needs and I appreciate their presence in the space. I have found that if I just save all the money from studio rentals, it pretty much covers my taxes!
Canne is a work-study at the Philly Clay Studio & currently applying for grad-school
Rickie is working for Christina Cordova near Penland
Vanessa setting up a studio in Boston through crowdfunding with her partner Gustavo
Writing Contributions and Inclusions
Ceramics Monthly, Build or BUST!, January 2018 pages 38-44
Pottery Making Illustrated, The Cat's Meow, Sept/Oct, 2017
Professional Artist Magazine, Use Social Media to Inspire Your Art, June/ July
Ceramics Monthly, The Object of Objective Clay, February, by Joe Molinaro
Red Clay Rambler Podcast, 167: Oesterritter, Peltzman, Allen, and Schwartzkopf on Objective Clay, January
Arrowmont School of Art and Craft, Gatlinburg, TN
Louisville Clay, Louisville, KY
Archie Bray Foundation, With Objective Clay Residency, Helena, MT
Mt Hood Comm. College, NCECA Pre Conference w/ Randy Johnston, Portland, OR
Idyllwild: Hot Clay, Idyllwild, CA
Events Held at the Studio.
3rd Annual Build or BUST: Elemental
Seattle Farm School Coop and Urban Farm Tour Participant
West Side Artists Studio Tour
Winter One Day Open studio
Two weekly adult clay classes- Full with a waiting list
Visiting Artist: Angie Cunningham came for two months and made amazing work!
Visiting Artist: Jordan Jones can for four days and helped make paver stone molds and gave a public talk about her soda-fired pottery.
I was invited to Demarest time and had a wonderful time with friends old & new.
Our paver brick molds are really coming along & solving the waste clay / glaze problem.
I bought a new tiny Skutt kiln that I hope the assistants will be supported with.
I have TEN working pottery wheels for the classroom & have learned a lot about fixing them in the process.
I have four healthy bee hives.
I helped with the Pottery Northwest Fundraiser as a board member
I have a bookkeeper /accountant that work together and are helping me with my financials. And I am learning accounting software and entering most of the info myself!
I took an amazing class on Advanced Board Training through Arts Fund.
This is how the breakdown of income and expenses looks for Rat City Studios...