♫ Two of these things
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.
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!
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?
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?
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.
My friend Carolyn was diagnosed with inoperable cancer last year. She has been unable to work due to her illness - she owns her own hair salon. If you can help - any amount helps! - I hope you'll consider it. Click the photo to get to her GoFundMe page. Thanks.