HomeDesigningThe Clay Agenda Sheds Light on the Labia with Handmade Light Switch Plates – PRINT Magazine
The Clay Agenda Sheds Light on the Labia with Handmade Light Switch Plates – PRINT Magazine
September 12, 2022
It’s probably safe to say that, in the grand scheme of interior design items, light switch plates are low on the totem pole of importance for most people. But Hannah and Katie of The Clay Agenda aren’t most people.
At the beginning of the pandemic, the artsy sister duo teamed up and started making labia light switch plates out of polymer clay, just for fun. When their labia-inspired creations received more excitement from friends and family than they had anticipated, they decided to try selling them to the masses, and The Clay Agenda was born. Since then, Hannah and Katie have sold over 500 plates, cultivating a warm, inclusive community in the process.
Each light switch plate design feels special. Some are delicate, shrouded in intricately ornamental flowers or mushrooms; others are more overtly raunchy, like one that features a flaming heart where the clitoris would be. But no matter the individual design, the handmade feel of each plate brings a crafty levity and charm to subject matter that is all too often stigmatized and uncelebrated.
Below, Hannah and Katie reflect on their experience with The Clay Agenda and tell us why they’re so passionate about using their work to reframe the vulva.
Of all the things to make, why light switch plates? What drew you to this product in particular?
We’re drawn to functional art and turning a really boring part of your home into a piece of art or a conversation starter. It’s also a bonus that the content of our art is pushing people’s comfort levels to engage in a topic (genitalia— vulvas, specifically) that people tend to be ashamed of. We try to turn the conversation into something fun and playful, and not inherently sexual. We’re shedding light on a topic typically left in the dark— pun absolutely intended.
At what point did you start making labia light switches specifically? Where did that idea come from?
We immediately started making labia light switches and have only recently started doing non-labia switches. Katie has always collected nude, erotic, sapphic, and queer art, so adding her own piece to her space was the initial goal.
For Hannah, it was practically the first thing she had made with clay in decades, and started as just a fun weekend project that we did together at the beginning of the pandemic. We posted what we made to our Instagrams, and the response was not just complimentary, but also, “please make me one!”
Why do you think it’s so important to (literally) paint labias in this light? Why is making art of this subject matter the cornerstone of your business?
From such a young age, we’re taught to be ashamed and embarrassed of our bodies, especially our genitalia. The research on vulvas and female anatomy is all fairly recent, because science really didn’t care about it outside of its function related to childbirth. But vulvas are so much more than that! We see our light switches as a playful and interactive way to talk about our bodies, and become more comfortable with our genitalia.
Are you surprised by the success of The Clay Agenda? When did it click for you that you had created something special?
We were absolutely surprised. We knew we had a creative and cute idea for our business, but we never imagined that it would become such a big part of our lives. We very quickly created a global community of labia light switch lovers, and they truly understand what we are trying to convey.
It clicked that we’d started something special from our first launch. We sold out that weekend, and it was a total surprise! We went from months of preparation in order to have plenty of product to shipping it out, all within a week of the launch. From there, we realized all that we could possibly do with this format. It was incredibly exciting!
When did you first start writing “Clitch Bios” to go along with each labia light switch design? Where do the ideas for your Clitch Bios come from?
That’s something that came about organically when we were preparing for our first launch. We started naming the light switches for easy record keeping. Instead of saying, “white light switch,” “white light switch with pink flowers,” “brown light switch with piercing,” etc., we started naming them based off of the vibe they gave us. What type of person would buy this? Who do they remind us of? What would their job be? Their quirks? Their zodiac sign? Do they cut coupons out of the paper, or have they been possessed by a demon? The light switches would come alive as we wrote out these bios, and it was another way to bring humor into the business.
The Clitch Bios have become another way of expanding on the idea that every vulva is different, and every vulva owner is different! Our followers have related to the bios, finding little pieces of themselves in the stories.
As for where the bios come from? Just our imagination! We tend to base them off of movie or TV characters we are watching, music we are listening to, books we are reading, poetry, or our own experiences.
What is it like being both creative and business partners with your sibling? Have you two always been close and aligned creatively?
We haven’t always been close, but we’ve always been artistic people. We grew up in a chaotic, creative, and whimsical home with a mother who always encouraged us to explore art in any way we wanted to, whether it was quilting, painting, or sculpting. We had an entire closet filled to the ceiling with art supplies; being inspired to make something, and having the tools to make it right in our own home, led to a lot of creativity.
After Hannah graduated from high school, we became very close. We always wanted to start a business together, but it seemed more like a far-fetched dream than a potential reality. We always seemed to be in different places creatively, and just missing each other’s interests.
Hannah is very grounded and detail focused with our business, while Katie is more of the dreamer, big-picture person. Together, we balance each other out really well. We also have different artistic styles and strengths, and we allow each other the space to create and explore other art we align with.
Do you each have a favorite light switch that you’ve created?
For Hannah, her favorites are definitely the Birth of Venus recreation that she made, and Katie’s cherry pie design. But these favorites change all the time, because we keep improving and surprising ourselves!
Katie’s favorite is her interpretation of the Vagina Dentata (if you’ve seen the movie Teeth, you know what we’re talking about). It was such a cool light switch, and we love the idea that it’s now hanging in someone’s house somewhere.