When she was 16 years old, Revelstoke-based potter Kaitlin Murphy came across the book Handmade Tiles by Frank Giorgini. She immediately fell in love. “I just wanted to be a tile maker,” said Murphy, who grew up in New Denver.
At 19,Murphy took a night class in pottery and soon after started a tile making business. She supplemented her income by landscaping for some homeowners in Victoria, where she was living at the time. By coincidence, she happened to be landscaping for a group of retired professors who were well known within the ceramics and pottery circuits, among them Robin Hopper.
“They told me, you’re too smart to be cutting people’s lawns,” said Murphy. “I realized that to get good at something it’s so much better to have formal training.”
That inspired her to attend the Kootenay School of Arts where she received a diploma in Art, Craft & Design, specializing in ceramics.
Photo by Agathe Bernard Photography
Fast forward to today, and it’s likely you’ve seen Murphy’s latest venture, the mobile business Jumping Creek Pottery, rolling around Revelstoke at some point.
“It’s (the trailer) selling them a little bit of me. I made it thinking, ‘What’s my demographic?’ I learned from Robin that the most important aspect of having a business is selling an experience,” said Murphy, who built the trailer along with another female carpenter.
Currently, Murphy supplements what she makes from her pottery by working as a carpenter during the winter months. She was inspired to begin working on her carpentry ticket in the summer of 2006.
“There were crazy forest fires,” said Murphy, who was living in Silverton and selling pottery at the time. “It killed tourism. I made money the last two weeks of July and the first two weeks of August, and that is what I lived off of all year. I made no money that year.”
Photo by Melissa Jameson
At 27, Murphy closed down her pottery business and began labouring on a crew. It was a harsh reality for her to go from being in a place where she was seen as a cool and funky potter, to being just another labourer in a mainly male-dominated environment. And while it’s obvious she has a keen sense of enthusiasm about carpentry, pottery remains her first love.
“I’d say it’s 80 (per cent pottery)/20 (per cent carpentry),” said Murphy. “I know carpentry will never leave my life. I’ve always been inspired by it. I like the structural mechanics of it.”
Photo by Keri Knapp.
As for pottery, Murphy’s current attempts to create a mobile business in Revelstoke has meant many hours spent filling out application forms, and with a limited budget, creating a publicity campaign has been challenging. This is part of the reason she ran a Kickstarter campaign this past winter. She was inspired after seeing what a similar campaign had done for her friend Doug Sproule’s Rogers Pass guidebook.
“It was awesome. It was a successful campaign. I got a lot of good publicity out of it. I could never pay for that kind of publicity,” she said.
Murphy is applying for a city mobile vending license. She has put in nearly 100 hours trying to find a place to set up.
While her goal is to set up as a mobile business in Revelstoke this summer, she says if this doesn’t happen she’ll go back to the Sicamous location she was at last summer.
“I’m going with optimism that I am going to set up in Revelstoke.”
Stay tuned and look for the tiny house with the Jumping Creek logo.