Book

Behind the Scenes Part 2: Holman Pottery

I officially asked Greg Holmes to do the illustrations for my story book, “Hope’s Purpose,” so we spent a few weeks discussing what the human characters would look like, how he would draw a faceless inanimate object as a character with emotions, when and where this this story is set, and other details like that. One day he emailed me these fabulous pictures of the main character, a pot named Hope, in all different shapes and postures suggesting this may be a great way to bring her to life.

I literally started tearing up and was, like, “Yes!!!” I loved it. Finally, one Sunday morning we met in the lobby between services at church. Greg laid out the storyboards and talked through the ideas he had for the illustrations. Everything was, seriously, perfect. I know this is hard to believe, but each page and what he chose to highlight was exactly how I imagined it in my head.

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We agreed on the storyboards, and the next step was to set up a photo shoot so that Greg could take some good pictures to use as examples to draw from, the goal being consistency. And although we didn’t want the illustrations to be photo realistic, we didn’t want them to be cartoonish either. I reached out to Steve Sprinkle to see if we could go back to his studio, but he was extremely busy (which is a good problem to have) and his shop was pretty far away. Finding a time that worked with everyone’s schedule was proving to be impossible.

“That weekend Greg and I met at the studio, and as soon as we walked in the door, it was perfect!”

I got online and searched for “Potter studios in Collin County.” I found one in McKinney but could never get connected with the owner. After a little more searching, I found Holman Pottery on 18th Street near downtown Plano. It was in this great old house, and the pictures of things they had created were awesome. I sent them an email to explain what we were doing and asked if we could come check it out to possibly take some pictures. Within a day or two, I got a reply that we could definitely do that. Everything just fell into place. That weekend Greg and I met at the studio, and as soon as we walked in the door, it was perfect! We wanted to be able to set up some scenes from the story and needed a space that still had a rustic and homey feeling. The Holman’s studio definitely felt that way. Tony Holman was there to greet us, take us on a tour, and offered to help in any way they could.

One question we had was what it would take for him to commission our main character, Hope, so that Greg would be able to have her in his studio through the months it would take to create all of these illustrations. Greg and I had decided on a shape for her, but we were fruitless in our efforts to find one already made. Greg showed him a sketch of what we were looking for and he said “Oh, yeah, no problem.” We arranged to come back for our first of two photo shoots so that we could get an idea of lighting and angles. We also wanted to take photos of Tony creating our characters so Greg could use them as inspiration when drawing the Potter’s hands in the book.

We went back for our first photo shoot. My precious son, Johnny, was able to join us, and he got the royal treatment from Tony’s wife, Debbie. She showed him the turtle collection, and he even got to sit in the yellow throne while we watched Tony create my special pot. Greg was able to take lots of great pictures that really helped with the illustration process.

We still needed to get some scenes set up with the human characters. We needed to stage them in different scenes so, again, we could have consistency throughout the whole story. I called upon my dad, mom, and brother to model for these. It was so much fun to be able to do this with my family. It’s really neat for me to look at the illustrations now and see them in the pictures.

I could not be happier with our experience with Holman Pottery. Both Greg and I have purchased other pieces as gifts for loved ones from their shop located right there in the studio. If you are looking for a special gift for someone special or even just to spoil yourself, I would encourage you to check them out online at www.holmanpottery.com or in person at 914 18th St., Plano, TX 75074.

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Behind the Scenes Part 1: Conor Muldoon and Steve Sprinkle

The process of creating this book has been such a great experience. In the summer of 2016, I had just sent Greg Holmes the most current version of my story. Although he had experience with pottery from his years of art school, he recommended that I go to a pottery studio and meet with an actual potter. This way I could ask questions and get some feedback from a technical standpoint. He connected me with Conor Muldoon, a potter whom he had worked with on some other projects. I sent the story to Conor, and he was so kind to share some really great feedback. This was also the first time someone who didn’t know me or my personal life story had read it. That’s a little scary: to put yourself out there and ask for criticism on something so personal from someone who knows nothing about you. After reading that early version of “Hope’s Purpose,” he told me he even started to tear up a little bit.

“… I tried to let God gather the pieces of my own hope and put me back together.”

Conor was working closely with another potter here in the Dallas, Texas, area who had his own studio. His name was Steve Sprinkle. What a great name, right?! Conor thought it’d be great for me to come meet with Steve and let him show me around his studio and answer questions for me. We tried all summer to connect for a studio visit, but we just couldn’t get our schedules together. I had also been trying to find out what my next step was in sending this to a publisher. I had not yet asked Greg to be my illustrator and honestly thought my story was complete. I was wondering why doors weren’t opening, and it felt like I was running against the wind. Then, in late August of 2016, when my seemingly perfect little life turned upside down, the story got set aside while I tried to let God gather the pieces of my own hope and put me back together. 

Illustration from Hope's Purpose

A few months later, after God gave me the current ending to the story, I tried to get the story rewritten and started pursuing a forward motion with this book again. In January of 2017, I contacted Conor and Steve again, and we were able to quickly find a time for me to come visit the studio…

Conor was pretty busy that day, so we didn’t get to visit much in person; but being able to spend a couple hours with Steve was great. From the moment I met him, he was so kind. He gave me a tour of the studio and showed me a corporate order he was working on of what seemed like thousands of handmade coffee mugs. He was gracious enough to answer all my silly questions about everything from the process of creating a piece to what it would look like to try and repair. Surprise! There was a lot about time, patience, and not rushing things. This experience was so helpful in the continued shaping of my story. One thing I remember him saying to me is something to the effect of that I didn’t need to include a lot of technical details. Some things might not be reality from a technical standpoint, but also, in reality, pottery doesn’t talk. It’s a story, and you can leave plenty to the imagination. This was a great initial introduction to the world of pottery. 

I encourage you to check out Conor Muldoon’s creations at www.mudman-studios.com and take a look at more of Steve Sprinkle’s work by visiting Sprinkle Pottery Studio at www.stevesprinklepottery.com