We had the good fortune of connecting with Joanie Wolter and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Joanie, can you tell us more about your background and the role it’s played in shaping who you are today?
I was born and raised in southern California, a baby boomer! I have no background in art, but always loved to do crafts and try new things. My goal in life from the time I was a child was to be a teacher, and for 37 years, I taught public school. I started in 4th grade, then went back to school to earn a degree in math. Afterwards, I taught middle school and high school algebra where I worked with “at-risk” students. When I retired, my husband and I moved to Sedona, Az., found the Sedona Arts Center, and the rest is history. I had the opportunity to take classes from experienced artists in several different mediums and found my favorite was clay. Hand building was my forte, and I also learned to work with paper and fiber clays. My paper clay flowers embellished my handmade bowls, and my fiber clay sculptures became my passion. Because of my teaching experience, it was a natural progression to also share what I knew with others and that is when I started my own business to create and teach sculpting with Fiber Clay.
I really feel I got my creativity from my Dad who became a fine water color artist after he retired. I got my drive from my Mom who was a go getter from day 1. She couldn’t sit still, and neither can I! I was also lucky to find my voice as an artist very early on! All my sculptures are a blend of imagination, humor, and creativity, thus the name of my business, Cuvee Art. Cuvee is a wine term meaning blend. If you look at my pieces and they make your smile, then I’ve done my job.
My favorite activity is teaching and I’ve taught hundreds of people how to sculpt using fiber clay. Many of these folks found their own voices and became artists themselves, and that makes me very proud.
After several years of creating and teaching, I realize how blessed I am to have been gifted with the ability to be who I am today. I am content with what I create and am always trying to push a bit harder to create new sculptures. I have also had the trust of so many people who come to take my class and walk away with a nice sculpture they are proud of. My classes fill up through word of mouth. Students share with friends and even take the class over again because of the fun they have. From the perspective of a teacher, that’s success.
I have no idea how much longer I will want to stay busy with my business. One day at a time I continue to have fun, meet new people, make awesome friends, and enjoy life. Life is good!!!
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I think the thing that I’m most excited about and what sets me apart from others is my success as a teacher. Having taught “at risk” students for so many years, I had to learn to use all kinds of teaching/learning techniques so I could reach as many students as I possibly could in the shortest amount of time. I had a love of math, and wanted to pass my enthusiasm on to my students. . What I tried to capture and pass on was the willingness to try again and this time succeed. That is the same thing I do in my Fiber Clay Sculpting classes. Most people come in scared and reluctant to try something new, so my first task is to create a fun, relaxed environment. I want it to be a safe place where they can ask questions and try new methods and skills they’ve not tried before without the fear of failing. They learn they can make mistakes because we can fix anything. I want them to walk of my class with a piece they are proud of and amazed they could create. That’s my goal each time I teach, and that’s why I think my classes are successful.
My work has been successful because it’s different; it’s fun. The world we live in today is scary. If someone can look at one of my pieces of art and smile each time they pass, I’ve done my job. I’ve had people belly laughing when looking at my creations. That’s thrilling!! That’s my goal each time I sculpt. So far, so good!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I think my shoutout would go to my husband, Charlie, who is so supportive of what I do. He is my bookkeeper, webmaster, shipper, mechanic, engineer, gofer, and personal Sherpa. He is always there to help, give me ideas, and even slows me down when necessary. He drills wholes in wood so I can stand my sculptures in certain positions; he welds armatures for some of the bigger pieces I create; the list goes on. Because he’s a Renaissance Man, he can do it all! We are a team, and I definitely couldn’t do what I do without him!
Facebook: Joanie Wolter
Other: I have 2 videos I’ve created to teach Sculpting with Fiber Clay. One teaches how to make a Bird, the other a figurative piece. I also have an online class through Curious Mondo. It’s a site that offers an array of different classes you can take in the comfort of your home. You can find these offerings on my website, www.cuveeart.com.
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