Saturday, December 7, 2019

It's Time Again! The Holiday Show

Portland Pottery's annual Holiday Show & Sale is next weekend! I am a glazing fool today, trying to squeeze out one more firing before the show opens Thursday night. 

As usual, I will be tending bar at this event; also as usual, I will overdress for the occasion. I take advantage of the rare opportunity to wear my party dresses, boas, and fancy hats. Life is short!

In other news, the Ugly Christmas Sweater Ornament party was lightly attended but we made some adorable things! Here are just a few: 

It was a ton of fun. Next year I will get out a December email about upcoming events; I think I am falling down on the promotion job. If you want in on the mailing list that I am totally going to do better at keeping up with, give me a shout here & put "Mailing list" in the subject line.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

The Moment of Inertia

Found this great video explaining what the moment of inertia means, a helpful concept to keep in mind when deciding what shape handle to attach to a mug. The upshot for me & the way I explain it to my students is that, the further the handle is out from the body of the mug, the heavier the mug will feel. It's part of why 4-finger handles, though intuitively it seems they would feel more secure, often feel like you have to grip the handle more tightly - so they are less comfortable, mentally & physically. (The other reason is there's no finger left over to go under the handle for balance.)

Yes, I know I am a snore. That's why I have a blog, so I don't accidentally bore my friends right to death.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Christmas Sweater Ornament Party!

Friday, December 6
6 - 7:30 pm
Drop-in event at Hallowell Clay Works
157 Water St, Hallowell

It's fun cooking up ideas with my clay buddy Malley Webber, of Hallowell Clay Works fame. Mostly because I happen to have the appropriate cookie cutter, I suggested we do an Ugly Christmas Sweater Ornament party!

Like everything I do, it's more work that I thought it would be...rolling & cutting the clay is only the beginning. I realized once I started that people are going to need images & help getting started - most people need a little priming to get their creative juices flowing. To help out, I've been doing web searches for "ugly christmas sweater" images.

That phrase has changed with the popularity of Ugly Christmas Sweater parties, as now there is a whole genre of "utterly repulsive Christmas sweaters," including Santa's-ass, reindeer-face-as-boob, humping-reindeer, elves-on-the-toilet, and profanity-laced-holiday greeting. These are pretty far from the original idea of ugly christmas sweaters, which were originally just sort of tacky & over-decorated. I'm sure such low comedy has its place at parties, but they aren't quite what I am looking for.
I had better luck searching for "Ugly Christmas Sweater Cookies," the designs for which are largely based on the classic ugly Christmas sweaters. Downside: now I want a cookie! I found lots of good designs, though:

In addition to not being repulsive, the cookie designs have the advantage of being already simplified. 

I will be printing out some sweater outlines for people to draw out their designs first - so many people who are not artists forget this step! You get a better result if you plan what you are doing before you begin. 
This is gonna be so much fun! I hope you can join us. 

Friday, November 15, 2019

The Ghost of a Snail

Demonstrating plates, and a slip decorating technique last night! After I ribbed out the chrysanthemum pattern I had made, I was left with a spiral and the faint impression of the pattern. Decided to keep it - the gods of chance aren't always buttholes!

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Star(fish) of wonder

Oh, holiday season! What a blessing you are Blessing, of course, for anyone who sells things, because that's a time when lots of people buy things! Like the Grinch, I know, of course, that Christmas means "a little bit more;" but anyone who sells things for a living can't pretend the shopping aspect of the holiday season is unimportant.

One of the things people like to buy in the lead-up to Christmas is tree ornaments. These can veer into the hokey; indeed the hokeyness can be part of the charm, connecting us with generations of traditional imagery. As an artist, though, I am always looking to put a fresh creative spin on things. Stars are part of Christmas imagery? Cool, let's run with that, see where we get.

I live in Maine, which informs some of my creatives choices, so where I got with that was starfish! I took a clay cast of a dried starfish I stole from my sister's house, then used that to make multiples. They are soda-fired porcelain so the colors range from dry or glossy white to salmon to toasty brown. They resemble real starfish, actually.

They are a little fragile, but no more so than the delicate glass bulbs adorning Christmas trees everywhere. The making is pretty easy - squash some clay in the mold, pop it out, fettle & sponge the edges; drill a tiny hole. They do have a high-ish breakage rate, but they take up virtually no space in the kiln, my major expense. With all that in mind, I think I can keep the price pretty low - I'm thinking $12 retail

I'll have these for sale at the Portland Pottery Holiday Sale, December 13-15th, and hopefully some at Hallowell Clayworks.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Hot Stuff

Lookin' for some hot stuff, baby this evenin'
I need some hot stuff, baby tonight
I want some hot stuff, baby this evenin'
Gotta have some hot stuff
Gotta have some love tonight...

Thursday Inspiration: Noelle Hoover


I haven't done a Thursday Inspiration for a while, on the advice of Mr. Business Guy, who pointed out how much time I was spending on business activities that do not, in fact, generate any income, while neglecting others that would. I couldn't resist this one, though - Noelle Hoover, a potter I discovered via Pinterest in a show at AKAR that is all handmade butter dishes.
 I gotta say, these butter dishes are WAY underpriced, IMHO. $60! And the gallery takes half, so $30 for all that work. Now, they are slip cast, so the cost on labor is amortized over many pieces - but she still had to do the finish work on the castings, assemble, glaze, and fire these pieces.
Unsurprisingly, they all sold out of that show.
Here are a few more works:
Check out more of Nicole's amazing work at her website.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Balloon Rounder

I can't take credit for this one - learned this from my students (who maybe got it off Pinterest? don't know.) It's genius, though - the balloon is squishy enough that as the pot shrinks it compresses, so you can just leave it in, keeping the pot round as it dries.

To be fair I have not tried this myself - as I was typing the last paragraph, it occurred to me that the balloon *might* be squishy enough to distort right along with the pot, if say, the pot dried to fast or something like that. 

Anyway, it's any idea. I will let you know how this student pot turns out.

Saturday, November 2, 2019

This Part

My dining room has looked like this for a week!
My making cycle is about 5 weeks long; one of those weeks is devoted to distribution. That's what this week has been: finding homes for the pots from the last firing, and, in this case, the ware from seasonal stores (common in Maine) that are closing until spring.
I should finally get my dining room back today (not that we ever dine in it, except at Thanksgiving.) Today we the last step in the distribution process - photographing the pots I've chosen for the online shop, and creating their listings. Should have those links for you later!

Saturday, October 19, 2019


Last week I was soliciting names for my new wholesale line. This week I have one! I got lots of good suggestions, but nothing that rang the bell until one of my students came up with "Dotopia." SO, Dotopia it is!
I had my first sales meeting for this line yesterday. It went - well, not swimmingly, as I didn't come away with any order, but the buyer was very excited about the work, just not in a time frame to order right now. Was also a little hesitant about the $400 minimum order. I thought that was standard? But it's been several years since I have pursued wholesale in a formal way, as opposed to here-are-some-pots, do-you-want-them? I don't have a minimum in that case, because these are established accounts, and the pots are already made.

Potters out there who wholesale: you have a minimum order, right? How much do you ask?

If you own or buy for a store, and you think you might like to carry this work, here's the spec (HAHA get it spec/speck? as in dots!! I slay me 😂)...anyway the spec sheet for Dotopia! 

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Dot Cottage or Something

I told you I had a good firing, right? But I don't think I mentioned that in that good firing were the first pots of my new line!
UGH A LINE, right? Sounds so...production-y. I'm a studio potter! But I do produce things. I've got this idea that I can straddle the, er, line, and using a simplified design scheme, create a body of work in which the items are more or less reproduceable. Soda firing guarantees that each pot will be one of a kind, anyway. 

I haven't settled on a name for my new line...I'm thinking Dot Cottage, for the pattern & the color scheme, but am open to suggestions!

Saturday, October 12, 2019

3 Days in the Studio

Way back when this blog was new, I used to post almost every day, although the posts were not all particularly useful or profound. Sometimes I just typed out my to-do list.

This was before I knew anyone was reading - the internet can feel like shouting into a void, and that's not always bad! Like singing in the shower, writing without an audience is freeing in that it doesn't matter if your posts are good or not! To push through this inertia (which I am hoping is not the leading edge of depression!) I am going to post my to-do lists again for a while.

So, 3 days in the studio: yesterday, today, & tomorrow:

  • Yesterday: I had some deck clean-up to do before I could even get started. Half-full, rained-in plastic bins with sodden packing materials, pots that have been sitting out for weeks gathering just general outdoor dirt - it doesn't seem like that should have taken hours, but it did. I also selected some pots for the Portland Pottery Café, priced & packed those & typed up an invoice. 
  • Today: I have even more grinding, sorting, pricing & packing to do. I have a few pots to bring to Monkitree - got some really great butter dishes out of this kiln. After that (if it doesn't take all day, which it probably will) I need to clean up the winter studio - during the months of disuse, somehow it becomes even less tidy than when I am in there working? Stuff kind of piles up in there. It's time to bring the wheel back inside & start the next making cycle, so I need to clear myself some space. 
  • Tomorrow: Assuming I get all that stuff done (HAHAHAHAHAHAHA as if) and further assuming the weather is decent as predicted, I might just go for a hike! I've actually never been to Cadillac Mountain, and October is a fine time to hike - not too hot & the crowds have gone home. 
There's lots more I could be doing - photographing pots! posting items to the online shop! replenishing low glazes! - but overwhelming myself with tasks seems, lately at least, to be a recipe for none of them getting done. I've got some household stuff to do, too, so if I can complete this list + that one, I will pat myself on the back and allow myself to be happy.