Tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Audra Rasa Loyal. I live in Missoula, Montana, but am originally a California girl. I came here on a residency with the Clay Studio of Missoula after finishing a 2-year stint in Japan teaching English with the JET Programme (while doing pottery on the side with Tabei Kenji, a 70-year old master).
What is the first thing you can remember making by hand? How and why did you make it?
I was drawing as soon as I could hold a pencil. I loved the Ed Emberley books, but I also would draw in response to music (remember that song “Maneater” by Hall & Oates? I thought it was a real monster and drew a picture of it). I still am deeply affected by music and know that it can really change the feel of my work. My mom and I did lots of crafts together when I was young, but in my pre-teens I really rejected any kind of “girly” craft, like sewing or knitting. I’ve since gotten over that.
What inspires you? Where do your ideas come from?
As I said before, music is huge. I’m also a bibliophile, so really random information inspires me. The more intellectual or esoteric it feels, the more I like it. In Japan, I was really influenced by the idea of alchemy as a spiritual path, and I feel like the process in ceramics mirrors a lot of those steps (both physically and spiritually). I think that my current work using polysyllabic words stems from how stripped down my vocabulary became while I was living abroad. When I came back to the States, I fell in love with the incredible diversity of English all over again. I got into ceramics because of the incredible sense of satisfaction and joy I get from using something made by hand. Food and drink takes on a whole new flavor if you receive it from something organic, not something machine made. It becomes an experience or even a sacrament. My drawing and more sculptural work is my attempt to express visually things that I have a hard time saying, or that are taboo in the culture I’m living in.
What are your favorite materials?
Of course, I’m really fond of clay – it has such a sensual feel to it, and I love that the texture changes as it’s drying and after it’s fired. I also love paper, especially hand-made Japanese washi, and Italian watercolor paper. There’s something really luxurious about quality paper. I love the smell of an old book.
Any tips for selling handmade stuff?
You have GOT to sell yourself. Show enthusiasm in your own work. I think that when people buy handmade things, a significant percentage of what they are buying is the artist herself. If they see that the artist is passionate about her work, they will want to own a bit of that passion.
Apart from creating things, what do you do?
I teach pottery classes at the Clay Studio of Missoula.
I am a book conservator at the University of Montana.
I am a DJ on KBGA, College Radio 89.9 FM in Missoula.
I road bike.
I eat pickled plums late night with friends while watching old Marlene Dietrich movies.
I read poetry, write in my journal and think about being a romantic.
I drink a lot of coffee.
How can Etsy be improved? Any feature requests?
I would love to be able to link my store to other stores I think are great. Also, the ability to write in html code would be nice.
What is your favorite color?
I’ve almost been thru the whole spectrum over the course of my life, but right now I’m in the red section – especially rusts and pinks.