2020 PV graduate Abby Olderog delicately tints her final mug in a hazel coat of glaze, almost completing her new commissioned collection. She still must place it in her kiln for hours, in hopes that it will match her vision once it comes out.
Over the past year, she has been working tirelessly on her small art business, called Ahbi Artwork. She is currently featuring her nature-inspired collections of handmade earrings, tote bags, commissioned photography sessions, mugs and more. Her products have been sold at the local Freight House Farmers Market in Davenport and on her website.
During her senior year, Olderog had constantly indulged herself in the art program. “Throughout most of my senior year, I spent almost all of my time in both art rooms working on my AP portfolios” Olderog stated. “My love for art has always been there, and has never left, even despite the challenges COVID presented.”
Being in both the 3-D and 2-D AP art classes offered by the school, Olderog was finally able to explore her passions that could diverge into a true career beyond her graduation. Looking back from where she is now, Olderog gives major thanks to the PV Art Department. It was during this school year that she began to design and create jewelry.
Although she loves creating jewelry, the sales from the jewelry her senior year began to act as a pathway to her true passion: pottery and ceramics. She used this money to purchase her own wheel, kiln, clay and glazes past her graduation.
Olderog attests much of her experience to PV art teacher, Alexandria Medenciy, who looks back fondly on her opportunity to teach Olderog. Medenciy is proud to have led her towards her passions. “She has found a calling with clay and art making that has driven her to find a way to succeed.” she stated.
Feeling unmotivated with just hand building clay, Olderog wanted to venture into throwing clay on a wheel instead. However, she feared that throwing would lead to more uniform pieces when compared to hand-sculpted pieces. It was Medenciy that finally gave her the chance to learn how to throw artfully and originally.
“Medenciy saw my struggle and asked me if I could do anything, forgetting the portfolio, what would I be doing. To which I began throwing on the wheel. It really opened my eyes to see what I really loved to do. I haven’t stopped throwing since.”
Past this learning experience, the most important thing that Olderog attested to learning in PV’s art program is persistence. “Growth doesn’t come from practicing every once in a while.” Olderog stated. “Practicing constantly allowed me to find and develop my own style, something I never thought I’d be able to find.”
Nowadays, Olderog’s business is blooming quickly in the Quad Cities. “It’s so crazy to me to see people walking around wearing my earrings or tote bag, knowing that I made it. My mind still can’t wrap around that people buy things I make!” she exclaimed.
Along with this success, however, comes the constant difficulty of running a small business: the abiding need to know if everything is running smoothly, keeping up with high demand and making a living off of inconsistent hours and income. Olderog describes this as one of her biggest struggles, as one slow day at the farmer’s market could mean less money for bills.
This unpredictability is something Olderog has had to get used to in her daily life, though. “This past weekend I worked two 16-hour work days in a row, but usually I work off and on throughout the day,” Olderog said, explaining the irregularity of her schedule. “Because I don’t specialize in just one area, I have days where I’ll do jewelry, days where I do pottery, days where I do all of the above.”
Despite the long hours and hard work Olderog has had to endure in the year and a half since she began, it’s all worth it to her. This becomes clear in the unique personality of each of her art pieces, whether it be silver or gold jewelry, vases, pots, or mugs. Hopefully Olderog’s story of following her aspirations and creating Ahbi Artwork can lead future PV art students to do the same.