Material Culture + CALU

Hooooooooly smokes, the Bison is so close, and we’re super excited to launch our vendor profiles for the Spring 2019 fair! So many exciting artists/designers/makers/weirdos to share with you, our fantastic fans. So, let’s get started, shall we?

Introducing designers/ceramicists Genevieve Ongaro and Cayley Lux of Material Culture and CALU! “As working creative professionals, we each like to spend some of our free time making new things and sharing our creations with the local community. Our work showcases marks made by fingertips, forms created by the palms of our hands, and colours that have a natural feel to them.”

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What was the first thing you ever made (no matter how gnarly it was)?

G: In terms of ceramics, it wasn’t very long ago…I took my first pottery class just over a year ago, and my first project was a wonky little bowl with 3 legs. I had wanted to make a legged bowl since forever. Mission accomplished.

C: Within the context of ceramics – When I was about 7 or 8 years old there was a field across the street from my house that was under construction. The excavation revealed these great pockets of dirt that were full of clay that I collected to make little figurines. I would mix the clay with water until it was a workable consistency, and paint my air-dried creations with gold glitter paint. I was so proud of my sparkly dirt-wads. The production grew, too! My friends and I got pretty into it and started a treehouse “drive-through” where we would sell our
products to each other for quarters.

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What is the hardest / most challenging part of being a maker?

G: I find it difficult to predict what people are going to like…and therefore buy. It can be a bit of a fun yet frustrating puzzle to work out what is going to be a successful item, but I’ve also started focusing less on producing what I think will sell, and more on making what I want to make, and refining my work. It can be
tough justifying making just for the sake of making, without the promise of financial return.

C: I’ve had similar challenges. I used to think that I needed to be driven to run a full time business, but I’ve found that I’m much happier working at a small scale. Sometimes without that entrepreneurial element, I struggle to justify spending time, materials, and money on projects that aren’t necessarily going to produce a
return. The creative experience I get out of making things and sharing them always ends up being worth it in the end – but this is the barrier I’m currently grappling with the most.

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How do you stay motivated when you face these types of challenges?

G: Having an encouraging creative partner is always super helpful for me! Getting together with Cayley to work on our respective projects is always so productive, and it’s nice to come up with new ideas together and hear constructive criticism. It’s also great to have someone to be accountable to.

C: Yeah, I second that for sure. It’s great being able to talk about what I’m working on with someone – we can always count on each other to listen to frustrations, give honest feedback, and of course celebrate successful moments, big and small! Genevieve is consistently has something new going, and that also motivates me to continue pushing myself in new directions.

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Describe your current creative process in 3 words.

G: Think, draw, squish! (clay)

C: Make, think, repeat!

\ \ \ BONUS QUESTION / / /

If you have a studio pet(s), what kind of companion animal are they? Any distinct personality trait of theirs?

C: We both own cats with very different personalities. Gizmo is a real chubby Siamese with no hunting instincts as far as I can tell.

G: Beast is a large Maine Coon, and contrary to the breed, he is aggressive and likes to hunt humans. But he is also very fluffy and cuddly at times.

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