Thursday, August 27, 2020

Kitty Update: Oreo & Fiona

ETA: Oreo has been adopted! Fiona is still waiting for her forever home. 

Our cat dish fundraiser was successful! I tried to go in on Tuesday to sponsor a cat, but I forgot about the Covid restrictions, and failed to make an appointment. The shelter is closed on Wednesdays, so today was the big day! I had intended to sponsor a cat named Oreo, who has been at the shelter for 5 long months. 
Let me tell you a little bit about Oreo: she is a 3 year old tuxedo cat. Staff describe her as a silly girl, who is playful and curious, and loves attention from her people. She needs a prescription diet to prevent urinary tract infections, but the diet works well for her & she has not had any problems since starting it. She also needs to be the only pet in the home. But, good news! Between last week & today, someone else had already sponsored her!


So I asked the staff to suggest a cat, and here she is: Fiona!

 Fiona came in as a stray, and staff described her as having "lots of personality. She is 2 1/2 years old, and when I met her, she tried to play through the plexiglass of her cage. (She actually looks a lot like my cat, who - weird coincidence - was originally named Fiona, though we call her Noodle now.)With the proceeds of the fundraiser I was able to sponsor Fiona, plus a little extra to support the shelter. So now there are two kitties at the Kennebec Valley Humane Society whose adoption fees are covered! I want to thank everyone who purchased a dish or shared the post - we did it together! 

The dishes are all on their way to you now. 😊
 

Thursday, August 20, 2020

It's that time again: Help a cat find a home

You may know that I am something of a cat lady; not entirely on purpose, I have six feline friends who share my home. My capacity to care for cats is maxed out! But I still want to help. Every year for the past couple of years I have done a fundraiser to allow me to sponsor a cat at Kennebec Valley Humane Society. I try to choose a cat whose stay in the shelter has been long, to help them get out of the cage & find a family. 
I got  lots of great cat dishes out of the firing I unloaded last week, so it is time once again for a Cat Dish Fundraiser! 

If  Oreo is still available

Oreo! Isn't she adorable? 
when the fundraiser is over, I think she will be the one. He has been at the shelter since April! If she finds her home before that, well, there are lots of lovely cats waiting. No matter what we will help someone! 
The dishes are $15 each. If I can sell 10, that will cover Oreo's adoption fee (or whichever cat it ends up being) as well as shipping & packaging materials. Check out the dishes here! 

Thanks for looking! If you can buy a dish this time, great! If not, maybe you could share to your social media? The more eyes this reaches, the better. 

Thanks! I will keep you posted. 

We did it! On Tuesday I will pop in to KVHS to sponsor Oreo, or, if she's been adopted, whichever cat has been there the longest. Thank you thank you thank you!!

Monday, August 17, 2020

My Fave from the Firing

 Pretty much a drive-by post, but I wanted to share this: 


It's porcelain with slip trailing. It got only the barest blush of soda, and I just love the delicacy of the color. Being porcelain it has a bit of sheen even without glaze or soda glass. 

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Not Another Learning Experience! The Pop Up Photo Booth Edition

 I unloaded a firing on Friday. It was supposed to be Wednesday, but my laptop was stolen Tuesday night, so Wednesday & Thursday were burnt up in all the process involved in that - police report, contacting my banks & credit card companies, all that stuff. Boy do I have a lot to say about that experience, but I'm gonna save it for later, because, new pots! It was kind of a shitty week, but at least the kiln didn't let me down.

I spent today photographing pots, some new out of this kiln, some that I've been planning to shoot for a while. I tried a different photo set up: one of those nylon pop up tents. A friend - Libbey Seigars of Whitefield Pottery - gave me one of those pop-up photo tents last year. She wasn't happy with the results she was getting, so didn't want it anymore. It takes me a while to get around to things, but today I finally gave the it a shot. The advantage, I hoped, was that I could just pop the tent up & start shooting, as opposed to my indoor setup which requires me to re-arrange my living room, pin up a backdrop, and set up three lights. I usually don't want to do all that for just a few pots, so I wait until I have a bunch, and then shooting & processing the images - never mind listing the items for sale - becomes an all-day deal.

That was a learning experience, and what I learned was, those pop up photo tents suck! I eventually gave up & just set up my backdrop & lights as usual. The point of the pop up booth was supposed to be that it was easier - just pop it up on a sunny day & start shooting. Well, the pop up part is easy, that much is true. Getting the wrinkles out of the backdrop - even though it was stored carefully - was not. What eventually worked (kind of) was putting it in the dryer on high heat for about 10 minutes. 

Once the only-a-little-wrinkly (me: I'll fix it in post!) backdrop was in place, I had to find a block or something to place the pots on, because the opening for the camera was a lot higher than the floor of the ten, so the camera was looking sharply down on everything. (I put bricks under the backdrop, but the angle was still not great. All of that would have been tolerable if the photos had been good but - guess what? - they weren't! 

Here are two photos of the same pot, one taken in the pop up tent, one taken with my usual photo set up: 

Taken in the pop up photo tent

Take with backdrop & lights

To my eye the second is just infinitely better. I did my best with editing but the pop up photos all had a bluish quality, and correcting it made the color of the pots wrong.

Anyway, I gave up on it. I like to learn new things but I just had too many pots to shoot to mess around much with it, and anyway I already have a system that works. 

Anybody want a free pop up photo tent? 

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Facemask Fun

Part of our new normal in these pandemic days is the wearing of facemasks to prevent the spread of Covid-19. We all want to get back to our jobs or schools, our sports and concerts, church services and idk, dart leagues. Trivia nights! Car pools! Movie theatres! All that stuff.

One of the easiest and most important things we can be doing is wearing face covering every time we are in public. Do I love wearing a mask? Why no! No I do not. Do I do it anyway? I do indeed. Because masks work!

If we want our economy back, and to resume our normal activities, we gotta wear the masks. So we might as well have some fun with it! I even have a favorite Etsy seller of masks - I've bought two from her so far.
My current fave mask
I decided to get in on the designing fun with Teespring. I've used teespring in the past to design t-shirts; I enjoy playing around with ideas, then I post them and every few weeks somebody buys one & I get ten bucks. It's like money for nothing, because creating the design was just playing anyway.

I designed a few masks! One is a plaid I made using an online tool, the others are images I had stored on my laptop from other, long-ago project. Check em out! Or, even better, design your own. We're potters (most of us here, anyway) but our creativity squirts out in all kinds of ways.

Have fun, and wear your masks! XO

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Social Distance in the Studio

6 feet between wheels! 
Monday was our first day of classes at Portland Pottery after our long break due to the pandemic. Classes are smaller, only 9 students, and everything is rearranged to allow 6 ft of distance, and - of course! - masks are required in the studio. Bottles of sanitizer and liquid soap are everywhere, and the garage door and windows are thrown open. Maine. like several other New England states, is going in the right direction on Covid-19 infections; the number of new cases has been falling for some time now. That said, within Maine, Cumberland County (where Portland Pottery is located) is still the hottest spot for contagion - unlike Kennebec where I live, which has few cases and no know community transmission. The students, bless them, were all co-operative in wearing masks and other precautions.

Am I a little anxious about being in close-ish quarters with groups of people I don't really know? Yeah, a little bit. Masks are imperfect, aerosol contagion, blah-blah-blah. I don't know if there are enough precautions in the world to make me feel 100% safe, but rationally we are about as safe here in Maine as it is possible to get, in the US anyway, and we can't stay in forever. Portland Pottery closed even before Governor Mills order to do so, and I trust if things go south they will do so again.

Aside from that, Mrs. Lincoln, how do you feel about being back in class? Gotta say, I LOVE being back. I didn't know how much I missed my community until I was back in it. A beginning student made a breakthru in class yesterday (small, hard to describe - had to do with centering hand position) and I had forgotten how much I LOVE being a part of moments like that. So, yeah: happy and excited, in addition to anxious.

My art fairs are of course all still cancelled, and the stores that carry me are not, by & large, having a great season, so I am still not sure how this winter is going to work out, but for now we are ok; more than OK, moving forward. I did get tired of reminding people in public spaces to distance, so I designed a t-shirt:
6 feet distance please and thank you

I have an order to deliver (YAY) and a firing scheduled next week. I continue to keep the rest of the country in my thoughts as we all struggle towards the light at the end of the tunnel.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Blood for Luck!

I've always heard that if you cut yourself loading, it's a blessing on the firing. Does that work for kiln maintenance, too? This was actually a very tiny cut, maybe an inch long, but I am offering this blood to the kiln gods in hopes of gaining their favor.

The other way to gain favor - or so they say - is to break something while firing. (A pot, you goofus! not a bone.) I'd rather have a little scratch! But chances are I'll also break a piece while loading.

I'm not actually loading today - I am cleaning the burner channels of accumulated soda glass. It's hard, gritty work on a hot day. I am thinking that when I rebuild my kiln - maybe next year (LOL I say that every year) I may place the soda ports higher. That would work better for spraying soda, instead of using the Gail Nichols soda salad method. This would be a big change, as the spray method results in a more even coating of soda - which is both the benefit and the drawback. (The other benefit is not having to chisel out built up soda glass from the burner channel! So I may be the tiniest bit biased right this second.)

Anyway! Just wanted to let you all know I am still here! Classes are expected to re-start at Portland Pottery the first week of July, about which I am both very excited and a little nervous. Masks required, of course; the way I see it masks are the difference between returning to some normalcy, and going right back to where we were in March. I am thinking of face masks as an accessory now. Let me recommend Etsy! (Here are some nice ones.) I didn't love Etsy as a seller but as a buyer it's great.

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Hi Kellie, Here's a Big Bowl!

It's 12" in diameter - through it is slightly oval - and about 4" high. The egg is for scale, but I will include the egg if you want it!! 😄

The price is $60. Let me know if it will work for you, and thanks for asking. 🌝








Wednesday, June 3, 2020

You did it - Thank you!

Edited to add: Thank you all so much! I woke up to enough money for groceries! We're being told that Maine DOL should have our cases resolved within a week, so I have all I need. I really, really appreciate your help. 


...but I need help.

It feels wrong to even be thinking about myself & my family during this time when there are people who can't even safely jog or eat ice cream or sleep in their own beds. I know the world is full of much bigger problems than mine, and I wouldn't be asking if I could think of a better solution.

Here's my trouble: as is probably true in your area also, all my art fairs & sales events for the 2020 summer season are canceled. The stores that carry my work, if they are open, obviously don't have much in the way of customers. Even given all that, I was lucky. A few years ago, Portland Pottery asked if I would like to change from being a contractor to a regular employee. I did, and it has protected me during this time because I've been able to collect unemployment. (What normally happens is, the money I make from summer sales covers the winter months, too, in addition to my teaching income. One of the studios I teach at has gone under, so that income stream is gone for good...I don't know what is going to happen this winter. But I digress: my problem is much shorter term than that.)

So, anyway: we've been living on unemployment, and staying in communication with Portland Pottery about when it will be safe to re-open. Like everyone, I want to get back to work! But I don't want to put my student, myself, or my family at risk to do it.

Oops, digressed again. This is really about unemployment, and the Maine Department of Labor. Recently the MDOL discovered there were scammers amid the 100,000 unemployment claims they have processed since March. They froze everyone's payments while they search for the scammers. (I could make an argument that by doing so, they gave the scammers the heads' up to close their accounts & disappear, making it harder to find them, but I'm sure they had their reasons.) They told us it would be 48 hours, then 72; now they just say ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. I know with 100% certainty that my claim will be okayed, once they get to it, because it is as straightforward as they come, but while we are waiting for that we still need to eat. 

Normally I would just put groceries on a credit card, because as I said I am positive they will restore my claim, but last week I lost my wallet...at the dump. By the time I realized it was missing & went back, it had (I assume) been bulldozed into the mountain of garbage. (Or possibly the mountain of rusted pointy things. There are several mountains at the landfill.) Still waiting for replacement cards to come, but the banks are busy fielding Covid-19 related calls, too.

Anyway.  I am so so sorry to even ask, but I need $100 for groceries. If you have money to spare, I would greatly appreciate any help. Even a couple dollars helps! If you don't - if your family is struggling, too - please don't even think about it! Once I have enough for groceries, I will delete this post.

You can contribute at this link: paypal.me/LoriKeenanWatts Again, that's if you can. Thank you all so much for an help you can give. 

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Satin Matte Black ^10 Reduction

Just storing this glaze recipe here so I can't lose it.

Black Satin Matte BATCH SIZE 5000
Percentages Grams
Custer Feld 20% 1000
Soda spar (minspar) 20% 1000
Whiting 2% 100
Dolomite 15% 750
Talc 13% 650
OM4 10% 500
Flint 325 20% 1000
Chrome Oxide Green 1% 50
Red Iron Oxide (domestic) 3% 150
Cobalt Oxide 3% 150
Manganese Dioxide 2% 100
   
   
   
   
Very reliable, forgiving, smooth, true black. Iron spotting will occur over brown claybodies. Can be runny in combination with other glazes.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

No Common Ground

This one hurts.

The Common Ground Country Fair has cancelled its live event, previously scheduled for September, and will hold a virtual fair instead. That's just the lectures & demos; there will be no craft sale.

While I am disappointed, even before this decision I was wondering if people would be willing to brave crowded public events as soon as September. The incompetence of the federal response to the pandemic - and it's so terrible I wonder if it is incompetence, because they couldn't have done any worse if they were trying - means we have not seen any real signs of slowing in the disease. Here in Maine things look better, because Covid-19 got here somewhat later than in other states, so our response was relatively earlier; and because the governor jumped right on it. But, as the meme goes, having some states on lockdown & not others is like having a peeing section in a pool.

The Common Ground has offered us the option of having our booth fees refunded or donating them to the organization; and while I would love to be that kind of generous, I don't feel I can be when I don't know when I will have work again. They also offered us the option of carrying over booth fees until next year, but didn't offer to waive jurying for 2020 acceptees. I think that would have been a nice gesture, since we already paid for jurying, and all of us out here are hurting, too - would have been nice to have one thing we could rely on, for when the world starts turning again.

Anyway. Hope your lockdown is going well. Stay safe, friends, and hang in there.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

A Casualty of the Pandemic

I just learned that Hallowell Clay Works, one of the studios I taught at pre-pandemic, is closing its doors. I imagine this is only one of many businesses that will shut down as a result of Covid-19, and I know people have lost far more precious things, but I am feeling it all the same.

Like all the best teaching studios, Hallowell Clay Works is a community. Clay has a really steep learning curve, and having supportive people around you to celebrate your successes - sometimes point out to you your successes! - and sympathize with the failures, helps you over that hump. I've never known anything that can knit a group of strangers into a group of friends faster than a pottery class.

Malley Weber, the proprietor, is a remarkable person: clever, creative, resourceful. This is not the first incarnation Hallowell Clay Works has had and I trust it will not be the last.

This is the first Covid-related change around me that isn't just hitting the pause button; this is the first thing that won't be the same as it was, whenever the crazy is over. Though it has been 5 weeks since we hit pause on our lives here, my head still swims with the speed of it: one day I was excited about all my new accounts & upcoming shows, delighted that I had the perfect number of classes - could basically write my own ticket on that score -and thinking about refinancing my house. The next day all that was over. Some of it didn't know it was over yet, but it was over - it just didn't have to good sense to fall down.

Ugh, this is a bummer of a post, when in fact I have a great deal to be thankful for: my own health, and my family's; I am stuck at home, true, but I have a studio to work in, and a garden, and all the books anyone could want. The money will start to get iffy eventually but we are ok for now.

I hope all of you are coping, staying well and staying safe. Just stay well. Just live. The rest we figure out later.