Sunday, November 26, 2017

The November Messy Minute is Out!

A bit close to the wire, I'll admit, but I sent out the November Issue of The Messy Minute, just messy minutes ago. It includes a new Pottery Puzzler, for those of you who like to play along at home.

You can see it online here, but because of a Publisher glitch (a real one, not operator error like my usual glitches!) I was unable to publish it as a .pdf, which would have preserved my links & been easier to read. So annoying! But it's late November, and that means, at this potter's house, there are more important things to do.

If you'd like to be on the mailing list for The Messy Minute, give me a shout at

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Hand & Wrist Stretches

I threw pots today like it's my job: big bowls, small bowls, mugs. So many! Awesome, right? Right! But now my hands and wrists are sore - not like carpal-tunnel-sore, more like worked-out-really-hard-at-the-gym sore. Luckily the intertubes have an answer for everything! I ran through this sequence of stretches on each hand, and it's like magic how much better I feel. Did you work those phalanges hard today? Try these exercises:

Welcome, 2018!....oh wait

I've been wanting for years to get back to doing art fairs. Now it's happening! Unfortunately the things I need to do to make it happen, need to happen NOW, right at the time that I am also preparing for this year's holiday events and orders. The future is now.

I like the art fair lifestyle, and the very direct relationship between how hard you work and how comfortably you live. It's been out of the question for a long time because I didn't have an appropriate vehicle, and because the margin is so thin: the added expense of renting a vehicle could push a marginal show into the not-worth-doing category...and you can't always know ahead of time which shows will be marginal! But you may recall that in the spring I bought a little truck. I'll still have to rent a trailer for out-of-town shows, but it opens up a world of possibilities for me. Almost too many - I am experiencing some option anxiety. All the shows I used to do are in the Mid-West, and driving changes that calculation. And who knows if the shows that were good in 1999 are still tops?

I am not new to all this - for several years art fairs were my primary sales vehicle. I am very rusty. I will need a new indoor booth, for example. Sort of having option anxiety about this too! It needs to look great, and also be lightweight and portable, and (relatively) easy to set up. How the hell did I do the lights??
This is where keeping a blog becomes a great resource! I have had many thoughts and written many posts about art fair displays over the years. I have those thoughts easily accessible now that the time has come to get building.

This was my old indoor booth.

Looking at it now, it's nicer than I remembered; I also remembered I did a longish post about 5 years ago (my wheels turn slowly) detailing its strengths and weaknesses. I could do worse than recreate this booth! But my February show is a wholesale event, and that seems to call for a different booth: fewer pots, just examples of pieces I am taking orders for, with more room to move around.

I drew a layout for a new booth around the same time, and I still would like to build this booth
- for my retail shows. It's probably too busy for this wholesale event. I think the wholesale booth should be walls with shelves, maybe three pedestal and a counter to sit behind. Eventually the walls might have patterns reminiscent of the patterns on my pots (yes, I know the conventional wisdom on this! Don't @ me. 😉) but for now, given time constraints I think I'll go with white or pearl gray.

Ugh, so much to do before February! And so much to do before December 1st, when my next event for this season happens - that's Art of the Hill, at the East End Community School in Portland. Come see me in booth 39! Maybe I will have wrought some of these changes to my booth (but I doubt it.)

As valuable as I find all this ruminating, I am getting a bit ahead of myself. The most fabulous booth in the world won't matter if without any pots in it! Today I am making bowls and mugs. Tomorrow will be trimming, decoration and handles.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

The Fattie of the Firing

It's fun to look through the pots after unloading and try to choose a favorite - what I call the "fattie." If I'm lucky, choosing the fattie will be a difficult task! This as such a firing. While photographing pots yesterday I had a chance to mull it over.
This Jaunty Jar is s strong contender! It almost appears to be inhaling.
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I love the luscious quality of the glaze, edged with the silver/charcoal of trapped carbon.
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This quiet little pot still managed to grab my attention.
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I have a weakness for butterdishes - making them and using them - and this one took the soda glass so perfectly.
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There were tons of great mugs in this load! 

Can a set collectively be The Fattie?
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Blue, and soda, and excessive slip trailing, and roses! This vases combines many of my favorite clay qualities.
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The Fattie is ultimately a subjective choice, and factors play in that don't come through in photos, like a silky surface or perfect weight: substantial but not clunky. In the end I settled on the butterdish: that is my Fattie of the Firing. All the factors came together, plus one: the lid fits so perfectly: it neither shifts not sticks, and it fits almost the same in either direction! (They almost always fit better one way than the other.)
All of these are currently available in my online store, but I will need inventory for my December shows, so they will probably only there until the beginning of December.

Do you choose a favorite? Do you keep it or sell it? (I always sell my favorites! Sometimes I charge a little more for them, though.)

Monday, November 6, 2017

A Peek Thru the Spyhole

Yesterday's firing was textbook; like ya see in the pictures, if anybody made movies about firing. Almost perfectly even, light to moderate reduction the whole way...I'm almost worried that it was too perfect, that the demons who torment potters will have a nasty surprise inside for me.

But that's silly...right?

I'll find out on Wednesday.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

It's a Fine Mess, Indeed

Most people think throwing is the messiest part of being a potter. Not so! I can throw all day, and, with the help of a towel across my lap, come away with only a few flecks & streak of clay. The same for my studio: as long as I am careful to empty my splash pan, the mess stays on the wheel.

Glazing is a whole 'nother story. My clothes, the floor, my face, even my hair: all typically gets splashed. It is the finest mess of all, however, because it means soon there will be new pots! I finished loading in the dark (so early, lately!) and bricked up; the kiln is candling now. Unloading hopefully on Wednesday!

oh - don't forget to turn your clock back tonight.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

ACA: CYA, and all the rest of you

I know many potters and artists read this blog, and many of you are self-employed. If that's you, you need to know: Affordable Care Act enrollment begins today! The enrollment period is only 45 days this year, half as long as in previous years, and for some reason they are shutting down the website for 12 hours every Sunday. (I know that sounds crazy, but I fact-checked it: the website is closed for maintenance for 12 hours every Sunday during the enrollment period. That's stupid, but whatever, we'll work around it!) Enrollment is not difficult but it's kind of long & tedious, and it's easier if you have last year's tax returns handy - it'll save you a little bit of figuring.

The budget is lower for getting the word out this year, so I wanted to use this vehicle to reach however many I can. I hope you will do the same! If there are potters or other artists, or other self-employed people on your Facebook friends list, or among your Twitter followers, make sure they know it's time to enroll!

Click here to begin your ACA enrollment.