Christy Culp | Episode 911

Christy Culp lives in western Pennsylvania and began her work with clay at Indiana University of Pennsylvania where she earned her art teacher certification in 1991. Since 1997, Christy has been teaching ceramics and art classes at Deer Lakes High School. Through her teaching Christy hopes to pass her passion for clay and creating to her students. When not teaching, Christy can be found in her renovated barn studio on the small berry farm she and her husband share. Her work is directly influenced by life on a farm and her love of cooking. Christy’s goal is “to bring beauty and joy to the everyday ritual of eating and drinking.”


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Define what it means to work backwards.

Working backwards is understanding what the final end point is. And then working in to see what the steps are and what time it takes to get to that point and how much time do I really have

Does that mean you know how much you are supposed to make, what you are supposed to make, not just a time frame?

It’s both. I have to have that time frame to kind of guess how much I can make and then life happens and I adjust.

So your time frame defines what your making schedule is going to be, not the other way around?

Correct, yes.

Does that then get translated onto a calendar?

It does and several sheets of paper that float around the studio. (laughter)

So you have flexibility. You use a calendar and sticky notes. 

I use a calendar and just pieces of paper. Not even sticky notes. (laughter)

Do you have any accountability or is it a developed habit?

It’s a habit that works for me and usually when I do that backwards planning I try to do the difficult projects first so that when I am starting to run out of time I am doing simpler things, things that can be rushed. Like cups can be rushed but a tea pot can’t be.

Does that relieve the pressure of the calendar to do the difficult things first?

Yes, it is because I really like to have the complicated things off the plate because they loom large.

Does it ever get to a point where you run out of time and the work still isn’t done?

Yes, there’s always something left over.

What do you do about that?

They go in the next load.

So it’s not a huge burden for you then.

Right and I talk to my potter friends because we all need emotional support and there will be times when I call them and I will say, I didn’t get them done. And they will all say to me, You made enough work. You know you made enough work.  And I just need somebody to say that to me so I can just back away off the edge of the porch. (laughter)  Go back in the studio, sit down and make.

How do you reward yourself when you complete your tasks, when you have hit the goal?

I am always happy to hit the goal. I mean the goal in itself is the reward. It really is, but I also give myself a day off and that might be just sitting on my couch and reading or connecting with those friends that I need to have. But I also usually go and buy some pottery. (laughter)


Sadle Creek by Jolene McIlwain


Instagram: @christylculp

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