Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Mugs and Minis to the Rescue

I got chatting with a far-off potter online yesterday, while I was waiting for my kiln to cool. Foolishly, I said it had been years since I needed a trash can nearby while I unloaded. I forgot about the demons! The five demons devoted to the tormenting of potters. One of them must have heard me, because this was a moderately crappy firing, and some pots were fit for nothing but the bin.
There's no saving these losers. 

Eh. It happens. But the kiln gods also giveth, even as they taketh away: the items I really needed - mugs for the upcoming Mug Season event - those were fine. More than fine, those were beautiful!
For now these are only available at Mug Season coffee shops. :)
Here are a few of them . Another blessing? I had enough good mini vases alone to pay for the propane. A third: most of the unhappy pots can be refired. It was a pretty windy day, the day I fired the kiln, and I think the wind sucked the soda vapor out of the kiln too quickly for it to really circulate around well. As a result, some of the pots had one juicy side, and one quite dry.

I spent the afternoon photographing the pots that were not immediately needed elsewhere, and posting them to the shop. Got a couple new bargain  demo pots, too. Check it out here! Remember to scroll down for the 2nds & Demos section.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Waiting Almost Patiently

Tomorrow is unloading day, always my favorite day! The kiln is probably cool enough to unload now, but I don't want to rush it - I've got classes to teach in Portland this afternoon - and the upper shelves may still be a bit too hot. I couldn't refrain, however, from reaching my arm thru the spy & pulling out this mini vase! I'm even more eager to see the rests of the load now.

Monday, March 18, 2019

FINALLY: Mug Rounders 4U!

Remember, like, a year ago (no, it was more than that...) when I told you I'd made myself a new tool? The Mug Rounder works like this:
This looks like a job for...The MUG ROUNDER!!
Oooo, look it's round again!
Press it in, lightly collar the rim inward towards the rounder, give it a little spank & a twist, and presto! Your inadvertent wonk has been corrected. (Also a good option: Embrace the Wonk!)

If you throw, you could easily make one, of course, but if you don't, or just don't feel like making your own, waiting through a bisque cycle, could always buy one of mine! I finally got around to listing them in my online shop. To be fair to myself, the main reason I didn't was because I was selling them to friends & students. I've caught up with the lucrative people-I-know market, so now I can offer them to the world at large. 😊

Sunday, March 17, 2019

First Firing 2019

I always think I am going to get tons done during a firing. I have all day, and I have to be home for the kiln! In practice I'm lucky if I get a couple of loads of laundry done, and maybe scoop the litterboxes. The flame is so pretty! and I am so tired form the couple of day so intense work that precede the firing.
Here's the back pressure shortly after adding the last soda load for this firing. Just waiting for that last cone to fall now.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Checking in: 19 for '19

Back in January, following a suggestion I heard on a podcast, I made myself a list of 19 things I want to do in 2019. Some are one-time experiences ("NCECA") and others are habits I want to acquire or maintain. Mid-March seems like a good time to check in with myself and see how well I am progressing with these goals. Some, of course, I can't tell how I'm doing; how do I know if I am doing well or poorly on #2, for example. "At least one canoe trip?" It's still winter. Some others, tho, I can judge:

Pedal 100 miles a week - this is probably my most successful resolution, made possible by the Fitdesk, which I am pedaling right now! Usually I do about 120 miles a week, and I really hate to break my streak, so I'll make an extra push if it looks like I am going to fail. 

Finish the kitchen counter - Working on it. 

Learn how to felt soap - Haven't gotten to this yet, but I'm optimistic

Get credit card down to 7K - Making enough progress that it looks like this will happen, barring some disaster. 

One social thing per month - This is actually the hardest one for me! I failed at this in February, unless a funeral counts as a "social thing." I have plans for 2 in March (counting seeing friends at NCECA) to make up it. 
Studio work & firings on schedule - I need to actually write the schedule to know if I am sticking to it! So, yeah, can't count this as a success, not yet. 
Declutter hallway desk - Haven't gone anywhere near it. ☹️

20 hrs per week in the studio - This I have been doing pretty well, although I did amend it to include photographing & delivering work. 

Use Instagram better for business - I've been using it more; i don't know if I've been using it better

5 postcards to voters per month - I am 3 for 3 on this! Win!

Almost-daily 2 minutes of yoga - C+...but that reminds me [unfurls mat...]

1 blog post /wk - Pretty close!

Drink more water - I'd say I'm drinking the same amount of water, but spending less on it, as I am now in the habit of keeping a jug in the refrigerator. Half credit? 

Increase online sales - This has been a successful effort! I could still get better, but it helps to list more stuff & share the links to the listed stuff. That should be obvious, I guess, but I tool the resolution to make me do it regularly. 

NCECA - Got everything lined up to go! 

Brush + floss teeth 2ce daily - I'm embarrassed that this even has to be on the list, but I noticed that when I get really busy, sometimes I forget, especially the flossing. Having it on the list has been a huge improvement. I know I should do it 3 times a day, and sometimes I do, but twice seemed like a more manageable goal, again especially the flossing.  

All in all I am pretty pleased with myself. 

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Trying Something New: Nichrome Wire

Nichrome is a non-magnetic alloy of nickel and chromium. The wire made from it is commonly used by potters for kiln repair, such as the little pins that hold elements in place in an electric kiln. It may also be the material of the elements themselves...I didn't dive that deep. I have used it to hold kiln wool (ins wool or kao wool) in place by making flat stoneware disks with holes in them, then pushing the wire through both the wool & the button, and twisting it in place. 

Recently I have been playing around with a different use for it - as handles or decorative elements on pottery. Nichrome wire will easily withstand ^10 (okay, maybe not "easily!" It will bend if you make big loops or place weight on it, as with bead stands.) I just push the wire into the clay at early leatherhard, then smooth a little clay over the holes. 

Using needle nose pliers, I bend the wire like this:
The little hook-shapes on the ends insure that the wire will not pop out after the piece is fired.

I can see that there are some trade offs in utility - it would be a bad idea to put this piece in the microwave, for instance - I love the tension of the delicate (and yet sort of industrial!) linear element of the wire versus the mass and solidity of the clay.

I have ideas about this - like, could I make a loop handle on a lid & maybe thread a clay bead on it? Would that stand up? - and will be playing around with it more eventually. I have to put it on hold for a few weeks, though - got a firing this weekend, then next week is all grinding, sorting, pricing, packing, & delivering, then after that NCECA! - but I wanted to record it here so I remember to come back to this idea.

This butter dish is available in the 2nds & Demos section of my online store

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Sunday, March 10, 2019

Demos & Seconds & One-offs, Oh My!

Every pottery teacher amasses demos. I teach 5 classes, all mixed skill levels, so I make a lot of demo pots. I don't fire all of them, but I do a lot of glazing demos, also, so many of them do eventually emerge a a finished product. It's the nature of teaching that I teach many techniques and forms that are not in my usually body of work, and also, I don't do the types of detail work - sanding the bottoms, for example - that I do on what I think of as my "real" work.

In addition, my firing method - soda-firing - generates a fair amount of seconds. Pasty, not-enough-glaze pots, big blobs of soda in unfortunate places, warps, minor cracks...all of those fall in the category of aesthetic seconds: flaws that don't compromise the function of the piece.

What to do with all these oddballs? In the summer I sell many of them from my front yard "pottery stairs," but in the winter they just pile up. Since one of my 19 for 2019 was to increase online sales, I decided to offer these imperfect-but-fine pieces a place in my online store. Upside: maybe sell some pots! Downside: photographing & listing takes time - way more time than just sticking them on shelves in the yard & letting them sell themselves. It may turn out to be not worth it. Also, the flaws do not decrease the cost of shipping, so they are not as much of a bargain for online shoppers as they are for drive-bys. In spite of these, I decided to give it a try. Here are the pots I've listed so far:

Serving Bowl w Green Dots, $30
(Some of the dots are smudged)

The flaw is the blotch, obviously! But this one is nevertheless my favorite. 

Green quilted mug, $22
I got distracted while doing this demo for my class, and mis-spaced one of the quilting lines.
See that funky diagonal? That's what I get for trying to do too many things at once. 

We'll see how it goes. Worst case, they don't sell, and will find homes when summer comes.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Wax Erosion

I've been demonstrating this technique in my classes this week: wax erosion. The short of it is, you apply wax in an image or pattern to bone-dry ware, then wipe with a sponge. Wherever the wax is will not erode, wherever the wax is not will. This creates a low-relief surface. You can do several layers - foreground, middle ground, background - for an illusion of depth.
Starts with a porcelain greenware cup
First layer of wax
I want to say a word about wax, here. I've used paraffin in the above picture, but the cup at the top of the post was made using water-based wax. The paraffin is harder and doesn't rub off as easily, but it has drawbacks too (besides fire danger) which we will see in a minute.
After rubbing with wet sponge
I wipe the surface of the pot with a wet sponge. The wax resists the eroding action of the water, while the clay around it gets worn away, leaving a raised pattern. Careful not to use too much water! If your greenware absorbs water too quickly it will crack.
More wax, on top of or around the first wax
More wiping...
Now, waaay over do it & wipe right through the wall of the pot!
You can skip that step if you don't feel like being a giant fuck-up. This, though, was the disadvantage of the paraffin wax; because you can wipe away a lot of clay before it starts to remove the paraffin, wiping all the way through the porcelain is possible. That would be a lot harder to do using water-based wax, because you either have to create a much shallower relief, or stop every minute or so, examine the pot, and re-apply wax where it has begun to erode.
Here are the two side by side! Water-based wax on the left, paraffin wax on the right.
 The wax - either kind - will of course just burn away in the bisque. I'm thinking celadon or clear glaze, or maybe just let the soda vapor do its thing.

Friday, March 1, 2019

Spring 2019, Coming Up Sooner Than You Think!

A few of the Central Maine Clay Artist, the group responsible for Mug Season!
In one of my favorite signs of spring, the Central Maine Clay Artists have begun preparation for Mug Season, during which we partner with local coffee shops to raise money for school arts programs. Customers buy a mug at a crazy-good price ($20 for mugs that usually sell for $36) and get their coffee free. Mug Season runs for the month of April. (That reminds me! Updating that website is on my rather long to-do list for today.)

But before we get to that, I've got NCECA to think about! Super excited to be heading back to my old stomping grounds in Minneapolis (well...close to my grounds. I actually lived in St. Paul.) In addition to seeing the folks I only see at NCECA, I hope to see friends whose smiles I have been missing since September 2000, when I drove that U-Haul outta town, dragging the Dauntless, my old Dodge Caravan, behind it.

And after Mug Season, there's the Maine Pottery Tour!  I'm already working to get that organized. The weekend is May 4th & 5th this year. I organize the tour every year, so lots to do for that! If you are a Maine potter who would like to be a part, give me a shout at Do it quick, tho - the deadline is any minute now.

It was a hard winter in many ways; it's not over, not really. But we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. It'll be busy in the studio, for the next few weeks.

Busy is good.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

The Wheels Turn Slowly

Not that wheel! I mean, sometimes that one turns slowly, and sometimes quickly. Lately it's been turning very noisily, which I need to address but haven't yet.  No, I mena the gears in my brain. I've been working on a couple of ideas for sideline products - and by "working on," I mean briefly remembering that they exist - for maybe two years now. One of those is handmade address numbers for homes. It's been rattling around in my brain since I made a set for my own house. I made a couple of sets for relatives for Christmas, and they came out well - now it's time to make the prototypes and templates.

I did some quick math, first: if I want the numbers to be 4" high after firing, I have to make them...let's see...4.6. So, 4 5/8, if I don't feel like switching to metric. I would, if I had a need to be precise, but a finished size of 4-ish inches works here. I'm feeling good about all the letters except maybe the 8...the 0 also maybe needs the hole a little bigger. I want them to look like they belong together, a sorta-casual, funky, handmade font...the 8 is a little bit formal, the 0 a little bit cartoonish.

Or perhaps I'm over-thinking again.
Anyway, got these cut out, and the edges for the slow work of preventing warping. The easiest way would be to dry between two pieces of drywall, but I only have one. So I put down some newsprint beneath the letters, covered them with plastic, and put a towel over that, and a bat on top of that. That's how I persuaded these soon-to-be Christmas ornaments to stay flat.

Yes, I made Christmas ornaments. In February. As I say, the wheels turn slowly! If I want to have them in December, I have to start now. I don't do much Christmas decorating myself - I'm a "quiet contemplation" kinda lady, myself - but when I saw this cookie cutter, it made immediately imagine the fun of decorating these. I'm not much for sweets (WHO AM I KIDDING?? I am TOO much for sweets, that's the problem) but as a tree ornament? Kinda clever, right?

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Beautiful Bottoms

At art fairs, I always know when another potter has entered the booth, even before they speak: potters always turn pots over to look at the bottom. Mostly, I suppose, because there's a lot of information there - if it's not obvious from looking at the surface, a glance at the bottom will tell you how the pot was fired. But often, on atmospherically-fired pots, the bottom is as beautiful as the body of the pot.

I've just listed some new items in the Pottery Shop (in keeping with #16 on my 19 for 2019 list! I am actually doing it.) When I photograph the pots, I'll usually take a shot of the most beautiful bottoms. Does that make me weird? Maybe...or maybe I'm just a potter, like you. Yeah, I see you, turning pots over. Can't fool me.
Here they are:
Click here to purchase this Sunburst Bowl
Click here to purchase this Ring of Pearls Bowl

Click here to purchase this Rustic Floral Bowl

Click here to purchase this So Comfy Mug

Click here to purchase this Monday Morning Mug
The kiln did all the work, in the case of these particular bottoms, but sometimes I'll put a little slip-trailed curlique within a foot ring, or stencil on an underglaze dragonfly...I like the idea of a little surprise, a tiny treat for the person who washes the pot & puts it away. It's like a wink, passed between me & them: "Thanks for taking care of my creation."

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Might Be a Good Week to do a Firing!

A question I am often asked, when people learn that my kiln is outside, is whether I am able to fire in the winter. The answer, of course, is that yes, I can...but I don't always want to.

I don't mind firing when it's super-cold, but I hate loading. Three hours (ish) in the gelid air, my hands necessarily bare to handle pots & wadding, the wads freezing to the shelf the second they touch...just, yuck. So I tend not to, unless I really need to, for an order or an event. That doesn't stop me making stuff, though, and after a while my studio starts to fill up. I have at least a kiln load glazed & waiting on the shelves in my studio. Waiting for what? Why, an above-freezing couple of days, of course.

We've had a few, but I need a pair together landing on days when I don't have class, ideally. If it's not too cold, I can load one day & fire the next, or even the day after that, as long as the temp doesn't drop too much overnight. If it gets too cold, the wax separates from the pots, taking with it some glaze and flashing slip, so I have to watch out for that.

Anyway! Since the ware is all glazed, I am ready to fire at the drop of a..well, a raindrop, it looks like. No problem, I am not made of sugar!

Pot Shots

In keeping with my 19 for 2019, one of which was "Increase online sales," I needed to do some product photography. I want to be creative with it - find tablecloths that complement but don't distract, choose fruits or veggies as accents to highlight functionality...but that was getting in the way of just getting it done, so I set all that aside for a bit to just take some basic shots. Even that is a several-hours-long-project, which involves rearranging my living room. I'm not sure I'm doing the lights right...should they be that close? idk.
Some are easier to shoot than others! Matte glazes or exteriors that are mostly flashing slip/soda glass present less of a challenge than, say, this super-glossy oribe vase! This looks moderately like crap, with all the reflections - can you see me? I should have waved - but the better ones are not all that much better.

I have about 10 more pieces to photograph today. Then comes processing! Each photo will need to be cropped & renamed, and in some cases have the light rebalanced. After that, I'll need to take dimensions, write descriptions, and then post these online. This pottery gig is a lot of work!

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

The Pause

There are some things for which life stands still; death is chief among them.

We lost my mother-in-law yesterday. Karen had been ill with cancer for months. At Christmastime she was still fighting, hoping to come home & maybe live a year or even a few more months. She never got well enough to come home.

Doug & I drove down to Massachusetts on Friday, after his brother called to say she was failing. She was heavily medicated for pain but we were able to say "I love you" one more time. My nephew was briefly home from the Army base where he works; shortly after he said his goodbye, she passed, almost as though she had been waiting.

Her sons, my husband and my brother-in-law, were both very close to her. I loved Karen, too; she made me part of the family from the very start. Grief is a dreadful weight and yet as the price we pay for love, it's a bargain.

Some people process grief through making, but it doesn't work that way for me. All my impulses to create dry up, because everything seems so trivial. I know from experience that this feeling does not last forever, but while I am in it, it feels like it should; that the return to normalcy is the illusion, the drawing of the curtain over the reality of the insignificance of life. I want to draw the curtain, but I can't. Not yet.

Hug your loved ones, and I'll hug mine. Even knowing that one day we will feel the pain or losing them, or them us, still the love is worth the price.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Cryptid Crafts

I have a new favorite Etsy shop! Check out these fun embroidered cryptid critters, made by my beloved niece:

Cryptid Crafts Co. 

What's a cryptid, you ask? According to Wikipedia,

Entities that may be considered cryptids by cryptozoologists include Bigfoot, the chupacabra, or Mokele-mbembe. Related pseudosciences include Young Earth creationism, ghost hunting, and ufology. Some dictionaries and encyclopedias define the term "cryptid" as an animal whose existence is unsubstantiated.

 Nessie, Yeti, and Mothman are currently on offer at Cryptid Crafts.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Goal Setting: 19 for 2019

I've been listening to a podcast called Happier in the studio. It's all about small habits & practices that contribute to a happier life. Since I listen to several episodes at a time, so many ideas flying at me can get a little overwhelming, but there are valuable nuggets in there. One that came up a couple episodes ago was 19 in 2019, a list of 19 things you want to do in the new year. It was remarkably clarifying for me, as much for the things that didn't make the list as for the things that did. In considering the candidates, I had to weigh whether committing to doing this thing was realistic. and if not why not. Several of the things I'd like to do I left off the list - get the house painted, take a yoga class - after realizing that, though I might like to do those things, there are reasons why I haven't already. I haven't had the house painted because I don't have money for that. I haven't done it myself because there are more urgent/ important demands on my time. I don't take a yoga class because more committed blocks in my schedule make it harder to find days to fire. And so on. I had a feeling of releasing burdens by acknowledging that some things just are not going to happen, for legit reasons.

Here's my list, with the studio-related items highlighted. As you see, I was (so far!) only able to come up with 17. This is also a relief: there isn't really much about my life that I would like to change.

  1. Pedal 100 miles a week
  2. At least one canoe trip
  3. Finish the kitchen counter
  4. Learn how to felt soap
  5. Get credit card down 30%
  6. One social thing per month
  7. Studio work & firings on schedule
  8. Declutter hallway desk
  9. 20 hrs per week in the studio
  10. Use Instagram better for business
  11. Pour concrete front walkway
  12. 5 postcards to voters per month
  13. Almost-daily 2 minutes of yoga
  14. 1 blog post /wk
  15. Drink more water
  16. Increase online sales
    • Keep better track of inventory
  17. NCECA
  18. .

 A couple of these I feel funny, surely I shouldn't have to set a goal to get myself in the studio 20 hours a week! It's my vocation, and my calling, and more than that it's my freakin' job! Should that happen effortlessly? But when I looked at the other things in my schedule - teaching 6 classes, 6 hours of commuting a week, household stuff, helping out my elderly mom - I realized, no wonder I have a hard time finding enough time! Again, it was with a sense of laying a burden down: I'm not just lazy or disorganized or a fuck-up - I have a lot on my plate. So setting that goal no longer seems silly.

Anyway, as Gretchen Rubin says at the end of every Happier podcast: Onward & upward! Next thing to do is make a list of what I need to get these things accomplished.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Trimming Hack: Throw a Wet Clay Chuck

I enjoy almost every aspect of ceramics. I love throwing, I love handbuilding. I love pulling handles and stamping and slip trailing. I love glazing, and loading the kiln, and firing. I can even enjoy the quiet focus - the zone - of mixing glazes.

What's missing from that list? I do not love trimming. I find it tedious, so anything that I can throw without a trimmed foot, I do. Bowls need to be trimmed, because the extra clay is holding up the curve of the bowl while it's still wet. Cylinders, on the other hand, I can get all the clay up into the wall, and pull the whole wall to the thickness that I want.

And that's a good thing, because cylinders are a bear to trim - anything that the rim is not the widest point is more difficult. Nevertheless I occasionally get a whim - or a compulsion, more like - to make mugs with foot rings. Cylinders, in other words, that need to be trimmed.

Like yesterday! So today I had the job of trimming these shapes which, when placed rim down on the wheel would have high centers of gravity & little stability. Here's how I deal with that:

First, I center a hump that is narrower that the mouth of the mugs at the top, and wider at the bottom. I's also taller than the interior shape of the mugs.
Next I place the mug upside down over the hump, adjusting it this way & that until the bottom is horizontal and the mug is centered. Then I give the bottom a little spank, to suction it onto the hump. 
Then I just trim as usual. This photo is deceptive - trimming is a 2-handed operation for me - but I needed one hand to hold the phone. 
And, boom, foot ring. 
If your mugs are not all the same height & width - I was playing around with different proportions yesterday - you can just recenter the same hump a little taller or wider or whatever is appropriate for the next pot on deck.  

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Two of These Things

♫ Two of these things
Belong together
Two of these things
Are kind of the same
But one of these things is not like the other ones
Tell me which one
And win the game! ♪

I used to make clay fruit - apples & pears, mostly -  not out of any great creative compulsion, but often just to amuse myself. I wasn't aiming for a trompe l'oeil effect; what I liked was getting the shape & surface right, then choosing a glaringly incorrect color. I'd forgotten that - even that I used to make them - until I was cleaning out some kitchen drawers & found this one. It happens to be a perfect albino twin to the two real apples I had on hand.

Hope your Wednesday has been great. 🌝🍎

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Committed: See You In MPLS!!

Just booked my flight for NCECA, which is in Minneapolis this year. I can't afford to go to NCECA every year, but since I lived in the Twin Cities for several years, and haven't been back in almost 20 years, I couldn't resist the opportunity.

Our first real snowstorm of the year is happening right now (18-24" predicted, although forecast have been a little less reliable since the federal government has been shut down - some of the folks who interpret the data are furloughed, I guess? IDK) This weather is making me remember that Minneapolis is not a garden spot, in March! It will still be deep winter, in fact; but it's not the weather I am travelling for.

Workshops, demos, discussions, exhibits, those are all marvelous reasons to attend the conference, but I am mostly excited to see old friends, and maybe make some new ones.

I've been listening to a new podcast in the studio - this one is called "Happier," and it's all about little actions and habits that make overall for a happier life. A theme the main presenter, Gretchen Rubin, keeps returning to is the idea that relationships are one of, if not the, key feature in happy lives. During the Week of Reflection, I arrived at the conclusion that I don't put enough effort into maintaining friendships, and resolved to do better. Here's me, keeping a promise!

Hope to see you there.

Thursday, January 17, 2019


My wheel has started to make a horrible grinding noise, like so:
The annoyingness ...that's a word, right? Hmm, maybe not. How about the "irritateousity?" Wait, no, "vexatiousness!" That is a word!...OK, the vexatiousness of this sound does not quite come through in the clip; it's so loud IRL that I can't hear my podcast while I am centering. I have a vague sense that it's something to do with bearings...anybody know how to fix this?

Friday, January 4, 2019

The Notebook

Great movie, right? But that's not the one I'm talking about.

I keep a notebook with me at every art fair, to jot down ideas to improve the display, or note what's selling, or sketch pieces I want to make when I get back in the studio, or just keep my mind occupied during the slow times. I believe boredom has its own sinkhole energy that people can smell or feel, and that they will stay out of any booth exuding it. Yes, I know this is absurd! Sitting during a dead spell at an art fair does strange things to your mind. Also, it's true, absurd or not.

But I digress.

The point was, I was reading over these notes, and I see a pattern over the last year: at every event, I noted that people were buying small items - under $20 or $30. In some cases, like the Common Ground Fair, which is an enormous event involving a LOT of walking around, this seemed to explain itself. But the Portland Fine Craft Show? The Holiday Pottery Shop? That is new or far more pronounced this year than other years.

Although I am not an economist ( I don't even play one on TV!) I can think of some reasons for this, such as the shadow of an impending economic slump. For the purposes of this blog, the reasons for that don't matter (because I'm not an economist! I might have some ideas but seriously, wtf do I know?) What matters is my response. If I know smaller things have been selling, I should expand my offerings of smaller things.

So, my job for today: think of some items (that I will like making! that still matters) that I can make & sell for under $20. Buttons, Christmas ornaments, press-molded soap dishes...stuff like that. What are your small-ticket items?

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Be It Resolved 2019

New Year's Resolutions are awesome! Don't let anybody tell you different. They get a bad rap, because people make unrealistic resolutions, or focus on the end result rather than the behavioral changes or the necessary steps. I always make resolutions - some more successful than others, but choosing them is fun, and trying to keep them is also fun! It's kind of like gamifying my life. So, without further ado, my resolutions for 2019:


  • The first one's easy: pedal 100 miles per week on the FitDesk. It's easy because I am already doing that, without even thinking about it. It's good to have an easy one to set me up for success. 
  • The second is harder, but more fun: I didn't see nearly enough of friends last year. Social things tend to fall to the wayside without a concrete plan to make them happen. So, here's the plan: one social event per month. Movies with Cheryl & Sarah, drinks with Deb, something artsy or athletic with Helen, literally anything at all with MF...these are all things I want to do, and I mean to do, but without a plan they just don't happen. Now they will.
  • I used to have a tradition of learning one new specific skill every year. Nothing profound - one year I learned to make cheesecake, another year I learned to ski (not very well!!) The year I tried to learn to juggle blew a big hole in my streak, but I've decided to revive it: this year I am going to learn to felt soap. I'm told it's super easy, and there's nothing wrong with choosing something easy! We don't want another juggling debacle. 

  • More studio time! I sat down with my schedule this week, trying to plan out production & firing...and MAN! No wonder it feels like I never have enough studio time! I just...really don't have enough time for all the stuff I have to do. I am hoping the FitDesk will help - don't have to find time to work out any more - as will Mobot. But to get enough studio time, I'm still going to have to de-prioritize something else. I'm still cogitating on this one - what can go without making me some version of crazy? 
    • Contained in the above paragraph is part of the solution: make a schedule & stick to it. It's harder to go down a rabbit hole of household projects if it says right on the schedule that I am supposed to be in the studio right now. 
  • I need to get better at assessing opportunities - so many times I have a show or sale that I know would have gone better if I had brought the right inventory. Example: the Common Ground Fair. Now, I did well at that fair, but I would have done better if I'd had more small items, and looking back, that was entirely predictable - it's actually an agricultural fair (that doesn't do it justice, but the point is, it isn't primarily an art fair) and it's HUGE, and the parking is sometimes miles away - so unsurprisingly, people don't want to carry big serving bowls around. Often you can make a good guess as to what will sell; I just need to make a more deliberate effort to do that. 
Many of my resolutions seem to come down to "I will work harder!" like Boxer from Animal Farm. Story of a potter's life, right? Nevertheless, I wish you all the best in this year of 2019. 
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