Thursday, August 27, 2020
Thursday, August 20, 2020
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? |
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.
Monday, August 17, 2020
Pretty much a drive-by post, but I wanted to share this:
Saturday, August 15, 2020
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|
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
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 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
|6 feet between wheels!|
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.
|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
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
Wednesday, June 3, 2020
Saturday, May 16, 2020
|Black Satin Matte||BATCH SIZE||5000|
|Soda spar (minspar)||20%||1000|
|Chrome Oxide Green||1%||50|
|Red Iron Oxide (domestic)||3%||150|
Wednesday, May 6, 2020
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
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.
Wednesday, April 22, 2020
All that went out the window.
This fucking virus. I am 100% on board with the stay-home approach, but that doesn't mean I am not vastly disappointed. It doesn't make sense to be angry at a microbe - it's just doing what it does. It's like being angry at the weather. But emotions don't always make sense, so yes, I am angry at corona. Angry, and worried, and downright scared.
I got my jury results from the Saint Louis Art Fair - I was actually kind of relieved to get a rejection, as I feel like an acceptance into such a great show might have jinxed the nation, causing the pandemic to extend all the way to September. But I was rejected, so HEY UNIVERSE, YOU CAN QUIT WITH THE COVID-19 NOW.
Anyway. I hope all of you are staying home & staying safe.
Tuesday, March 17, 2020
I may be gilding this a bit, in memory - but it was a hell of a winning streak. Then my life fell apart, from the marriage outward. The marriage was probably dead in 1997, but it took 3 years to fall down (and another for us to bury it.) During those 3 years I had far less time and energy to devote to business, and while I kept making and selling pots, and I kept teaching classes, I really wasn't able to build on the successes I had in golden 1996. The culmination of the collapse was when I gave up, ended the marriage, sold the house, and moved back to Maine, where I essentially had to start over again. In spite of that gloomy sentence, this was a good thing! I established my studio, got a teaching gig or two, met Doug, bought my house...put my life back together, remembering to build in a lot more laughter and joy, this time.
But, professionally, I never had another year like 1996, when I just couldn't lose.
Who knows why? (Random, I guess? But I am tempted to credit my 19 for 2019 goal list.) For whatever reason, 2020 was shaping up to be another Year of Yes. All the doors were opening, all the lights were turning green. Remembering 1996 I had a bit of superstitious dread: what shit would the universe throw at me this time?
Although I admit I did not have "global pandemic" on my bingo card.
So, the Year of Yes has morphed into the year of hold on, just hold on. My classes have been suspended, some sales events cancelled, stores are OBVIOUSLY not selling as much. I have postponed the pottery tour, and I am still in hopes that by June we will be returning to normalcy...we'll see how that works out. Doug & I are hunkered down for a long spell of isolation. It's not so bad together, but of course we are worried about money - us and everyone. In Maine the governor & legislature are working on unemployment packages for people like us - if this had to happen, thank God it happened under Governor Mills, and not her predecessor. We aren't getting any leadership from the federal government, so the cities and states have to step up.
Anyway. At least I can make pots, mix glazes, and do kiln maintenance. I've also been journaling this experience - if you're bored, you can read about it here.
Be well. Stay home.
Sunday, March 15, 2020
I'm getting my mind around it, though. I am lucky, in one way: even if I can't work my teaching jobs, I can still work in my studio. My to do list for the next 2 weeks:
- Replenish glazes
- Rebuild bag wall
- Grind kiln shelves
- Finish orders
- Make fun pots
- Reclaim clay
- Make soap
Here is how I am thinking of it: in wartime, soldiers risk life & limb, and they do it far away from their homes & families. All we have to do is stay home and chill. Yes, the money part sucks, but we can make that up later. For now, staying out of public spaces is the best way to keep ourselves & our more vulnerable neighbors, friends, and loved ones safe.
Be well, clay friends, & keep washing your hands. We'll get through this.
Saturday, March 14, 2020
Due to concerns about the spread of coronavirus, and following guidance from the Maine CDC to socially isolate for a period, we have decided to postpone the Maine Pottery Tour until June 6 & 7. This was not an easy decision but we are prioritizing health & safety.Eternal optimist that I am (when I am not in the grip of grindylows and dementors) I immediately jumped to the silver lining: my garden will be so much more beautiful for my guests! And now I have 5 extra weeks to get the word out.
I am optimistic, but not stupid - I know that epidemiologists' projections may be wrong, and the outbreak may drag on longer than expected. I will review this decision in May; if things still seem too risky, I will cancel the event. But we'll cross that bridge if we come to it.
Thursday, March 5, 2020
In fact there are only 8 weeks left before the Maine Pottery Tour! I organize the tour every year (well, mostly) so I know: that is a very short amount of time for all the stuff that needs to be done! We have 50 studios on the tour this year - more than ever! - and there are postcards to order, maps to create, and signs to distribute. That's in addtion to my own studio event to plan - I'll be doing a kiln opening Saturday morning May 2, have plates available for people to paint, and a tabletop potter's wheel if anyone wants to give it a whirl, so to speak - not to mention making pots for the sale part of the event.
I don't have full maps ready yet, but if you are looking to plan your pottery road trip, we do have several new studios on the tour this year. Here's a list, with web links, if you want to check them out:
Common Street Arts - Waterville
Top of the Hill Pottery- Augusta
Jeffrey Lipton Pottery - Litchfield
Dragon's Breath Pottery - Warren
Maine-ly Pottery - Belfast
Watershed Center for the Ceramic Arts - Newcastle
EC Ceramics - Blue Hill
Tim Christensen Porcelain - Portland
Adrian King Pottery - Portland
Bentley Pottery - Portland
Heather Abt - Portland
Muddy Toes Pottery- New Gloucester
MEC Pottery - Cape Neddick
Thursday, February 27, 2020
Whenever there's a long pause between posts, I get emails asking after my well-being. I suppose this is because I have been open about my struggles with depression. I love you guys for being such kind & caring people, to someone you've never met! But, not to worry! - in this case I have simply been busy in the studio. I have three new stores carrying Fine Mess Pottery! Remember Dotopia? Buyers seem to like it. I have three new accounts! I've delivered to Lisa-Marie's Made in Maine,
New classes begin next week! I have four at Portland Pottery - I think all of those are full - and two at Hallowell Clay Works, where I think I have room in my Monday night beginner's class.
Other new stuff: I made myself a couple of rollers!
While I do enjoy manufactured rollers - MKM wooden rollers are such beautiful little objects! - the resulting pattern, with its perfect regularity shouts "machine made" from across the room. This isn't always bad! The wheel is a machine, and leaves a similar unmistakable quality. I often enjoy the tension of crisp precision vibrating against the squishy, human qualities of handbuilt work. Sometimes, though, I want a pattern that millions of other potters don't also have, or a pattern with a softer quality more harmonious with the handmade vibe.
I demonstrated making rollers for my handbuilding class last week. This week they came out of the kiln, and we got to see what patterns they make! It's funny but you can't always envision what the roller will do, so even though I made these myself, they are still a surprise to me. I was pleased with my results.
Looky looky! 👀
Anyway! Thanks to all for asking about me, I am doing so well it scares me! (Moron that later.) Now I've gotta get dressed & head to class. XO L
Saturday, January 11, 2020
Here's an easy one: I can remember to bring a ceramic cup with me when I get coffee out! Coffee is one of my small indulgences. Every day at home, naturally! If you are like me, several times a week you also find yourself with a disposable cup in hand, enjoying a java out in the world. Take a second to picture the pile those cups would make at the end of the year! Disposable coffee cups aren’t good candidates for recycling, because they are either Styrofoam or lined with a thin layer of plastic.
Think about it: after only 18 uses, a ceramic mug is gentler on the environment than paper, in terms of energy consumption, water, and waste. Everything after that is basically an environmental freebie! Plastic breaks even with paper after only 8 uses, but plastic will get brittle &; crack much, MUCH sooner than stoneware - a stoneware mug's useful life is basically forever. All the forever we have, anyway.
You probably already have a stoneware mug - I know my readers are mostly potters! - but just in case, here's a link to my new ones online.
Friday, January 10, 2020
Of course, I might not get in! I have a better chance than with the Smithsonian, but any good fair, you have to assume you might get juried out. I probably could get into the Uptown, but the last time I was
Just kidding, we all know I never had much choice in the matter. Clay chose me, and I'm lucky it did.
Sunday, January 5, 2020
|Last year's images|
|This year's images|
|This year's images|
Last year I got a rude surprise when I didn't get into two big events I was counting on. (See, this is why I am terrible at business and possibly also life; I know I am supposed to pretend to be amazing and always successful; just openly failing like a common person, that is not good branding! But it's just you & me here...well, us & the whole damn internet...)
I got a surprise, not the good kind, when I got juried out (well: wait-listed, which in the end is the same thing) of two good shows. I made the best of it & actually had a great summer with no pressure of upcoming events, but I would not like a repeat for next summer! Getting juried out is not the end of the world, it happens to most of us at times, but it shook my confidence a little to get the boot twice the same year. Maybe my slides sucked? Maybe the pots suck?!? MAYBE I SUCK?!?!?!
So I am having to do a little work here to push those doubts aside. There's an element of the random; this was probably just that...but it couldn't hurt to be extra deliberative when choosing my images this year.
At the top of this post are the 4 images I used to apply last year; below them are the 4 I used on some applications this year, and 4 more I used for other shows. I was trying for a greater unity among the images this year. There are still lots of shows to apply to, so if you have some insight on which set of images might work better, I am all ears!
So far I have applied to the Common Ground Country Fair, The Portland Fine Craft Show, and started the complicated application for Belfast Arts in the Park, which requires filling out an in-site form, emailing images separately, and sending a 2 checks by snail mail. I'm also considering Art Providence - would love to hear from anyone who has done that show if it was worth it.
There are some smaller events, like the Winthrop Sidewalk Art Festival, whose applications are not yet open. I'm considering giving that one a try - it's only a few miles from my house, the booth fee is tiny, and I have heard good things about it.
ETA: A reader commented that there is a Facebook group, Art Fair Reviews, that might be helpful. (Thanks, Susan!) Boy was she right! I joined the group and immediately got the information I needed specifically about Art Providence, which was , don't. Or that was my take. I saw comments like, "We almost made our expenses" and "we made our expenses, but only because we didn't need to get a hotel" and "It was our worst show of the year." Everyone says it's well organized, with excellent quality vendors; nobody says they sold well. So, I am crossing them off my list.
Friday, January 3, 2020
The 2020 Maine Pottery Tour is off to a very promising start - this is maybe the earliest I've received inquiries, and I have received a lot of them. It won't work out for everyone, of course - timing or conflicts or production or costs, there are always things that can stand in the way. Probably some will be joining the 40 or so studios that are already a part of the Maine Pottery Tour, so yay! I already have confirmation that the Watershed center for Ceramic Arts will be on the tour this year, a nice boost because that organization has a huge reach among people who are interested in clay, in Maine and elsewhere.
So! It seems an excellent time to mention it here, to my mostly-potter readership: Do you have a pottery studio in Maine? Would you like to be a part of the Maine Pottery Tour? The tour happens May 2nd & 3rd this year...I've never been completely happy with the dates, as they land just before our yards & gardens begin to look nice - but the following weekend is Mother's Day, and lots of potters are mothers. Or have mothers. Or their children have mothers. So, lots of conflicts there. I might consider a later weekend some year, depending on input from studios. But for now, the first weekend in May is it.
But I digress. Are you a Maine potter? Wanna be on the tour? Give me a shout at email@example.com and let me know. (Ditto if you are a Maine business (or any business, really) who would like to sponsor the the tour.) The cost for studios to be on the map is $25, and includes a link on the website, a place on the online map and on the thousands of flyers we print & distribute, 50 postccards to send to your mailing list, and, if you get me images, a mention on our facebook page. There's also the opportunity to buy-in with us on a Maine Public Radio sponsorship - I think the interest this year is so much higher because we started that program last year.
If you are just a pottery aficianado, help spread the word to your favorite Maine potters & ceramics sculptors.
Yes, I'm gonna say it already: Can't wait 'til spring.
Back to the Metal Rat. We have some pretty negative associations with rats - filth, disease, poverty - but that is not the case in the symbolism of the Chinese calendar. The Rat is a symbol of strong vitality, intelligence, cuteness (!), success, leadership, and prosperity.
I was born in a Year of the Dragon, so:
In 2020 the Rat will bring luck and money for those born in the year of the Dragon....The Dragon horoscope 2020 predicts that this year, you will become more sure of yourself and assert your originality, especially in your career, where your qualities will be acknowledged by your superiors and colleagues.Assert my originality! That sounds good, right? There's some other, less awesome stuff there as well, but let's accentuate the positive.
Here I am, ready to roar like a rat!
Wednesday, January 1, 2020
I was pretty resistant to this idea! I didn't want to try & learn a bunch of new stuff in the middle of the holiday season, and I am enough of a crotchety boomer to be irritated when things change that were working just fine before.
Even a crotchety boomer can learn! I made the switch today, and so glad I did. First, there really wasn't a whole lot to learn - if I had wanted to, I could have just clicked the button & the site would migrate, and I could just toddle off, never having to change a thing. I was tempted to do exactly that, but I'm glad I didn't. The new site looks the same as the old site, but has some cool new features. I've just started exploring, but so far I have discovered:
- I can share specific sections of the site now! So when I do the cat-dish fundraiser, or want to talk about handmade tools, or the Fine Mess Glazebook, I no longer have to say, "Click the link & then scroll down to..." I can share a link to the exact section I am talking about.
- I can now offer gift cards! I don't know why this pleases me so much; it makes me feel...I don't know, real. To celebrate my realness, I'm going to offer blog readers a promo code for 10% off. Enter this code: BLOGREADER to get 10% off. Code good until the end of January; the gift card never expires. Well, until I do, I guess.