Sarah Caruso always had a talent for ceramics and metalsmithing, but thought she'd make her living teaching her skills to others, rather than making art herself.
“My plan was to teach art,” Caruso, who lives in East Falmouth, said. “I have my MS in art ed, but while not finding a teaching job I started making again for myself, then began to sell. Each year it grew, til now it is a small business.”
The scarcity of teaching jobs may have been a blessing in disguise for Caruso, but her fallback plan, Sarah Caruso Ceramics, though allowing her to pursue her passion, also involves its fair share of hard work.
“I had never owned a business before, and it seems weird to think I own one now,” Caruso said. “It has been more of a learning curve figuring out how to run a business than it was making the work. I would say 40 percent of my work time is devoted to marketing, selling, and book keeping, with the balance actually making new work.”
Making each of her distinctive stoneware pieces—including cups, bowls, platters, vases, and jars—takes time, effort, and of course skill.
“Creating pottery is a learned craft,” Caruso said. “It takes years to develop the skills, but at this point, while the drawing and carving is time-consuming, and there is a many-stepped process to the creation of work, I wouldn't say it is difficult. It's like learning a musical instrument. Playing a piece by Chopin may take four or five minutes, but it took 10 years of diligence to be able to play it, and another 10 to be able to play it masterfully.”
Caruso makes an effort to create designs which are undeniably local, yet distinctive.
“Most of my inspiration comes from this area,” she said. “My garden, the ocean, whether I draw animals that specifically live in this area, or ones that spark my interest, or I think will fit a particular form. I don't want my work to read as 'Cape-y,' not that there is anything wrong with work fitting the Cape Cod aesthetic, which I admire, just that there are already people doing that well. I hope my work shows that it is inspired by the Cape, but has its own aesthetic.”
And, as Caruso points out, the Cape is important for reasons beyond artistic inspiration.
“In this economy, I feel it is vital to support small entrepreneurs and keep your money in the community you live in,” she say. “Shop local this holiday season!”