Bisquing today. It's nice to hear the hiss of the burners again. Usually I don't fire in January, but this year I have an order waiting - nice - and it's not nearly so cold, also nice. While the kiln is firing, clay work is on hold, so now is a good time to clean, and to do a little goal setting.
2014 was the Year of Always Working. I can't say I loved the Year of Always Working, so 2015 was the year of rebalanced working, to concentrate on efforts that result in income. I am leery to change anything, since this approach has been effective, but I miss some of my old pursuits. I hardly blogged at all last year, for example. That is only partly a result of the rebalance; the other part is that I started to become aware that people read this blog - kind of a lot of people! And it made me self-conscious if I didn't have something new and fabulous to post. I didn't want to disappoint people with a lot blah-blah posts (like this one! :) ) but the tutorials are much more time consuming, so...anyway, short story long, I was overthinking it. Just going back to posting whatever I feel like, hopefully at least every week.
January is also when I assess accounts. I used to think any account is a good account, but that is sadly not true. A consignment account that does not send regular checks is not a good account, no matter how much I like the people, or the aesthetic of the store. That doesn't mean they can't become a good account, maybe with a different mix of work. Stores more than an hour or so away from me are tough to refresh, though, and there's no guarantee that the new work will do any better. In general it's better (for me) to do wholesale if the location is more than an hour away. I do make exceptions to this; sometimes I come to regret them.
It looks like one nearby consignment account will be converting to wholesale (yay) and I am asking another, far away, if they will go that route. I have a line on a consignment gallery only about a half hour from home, though they don't have a website or, apparently, email (whyyyyyyy?) and the number I have for them just rings and rings. I'd like to add one more wholesale account, perhaps out of state, for the spring season.
As I can never have too much inventory, one area I can improve on is winter production. It's easy to dial back in the winter months, because there's no pressure, but before I know it spring is here, and I am scrambling to get work fired for stores. This winter I will complete one firing cycle every...six weeks? That seems reasonable, one in about a week and then next in March, then at the beginning of May. That will have me going into summer with plenty of work for my established accounts, and for responding to opportunities as they arise.
Now: art fairs. Should I do one? Should I do more than one? I need to decide this week if I am applying for the Portland Fine Craft Show in August. This will be the second year of this show, and while I heard mixed things from artists last year, I think it has the potential to be great. But then I remember I don't have a truck, and Portland is an hour away...it would be a pretty big headache to do it, involving bringing the display and bins of pots down in multiple trips over the course of a week when I go down to teach my classes. When I was younger I would have said Hang the hassle! Full speed ahead! But I did lots of dumb things when I was young, so maybe that shouldn't be my standard.
Probably I should just apply, and then decide, if accepted.