Tuesday, March 17, 2020

The Year of Yes OH WAIT

True Story: In 1996 I had a spectacular year. I won a big grant, I published an article in Ceramics Monthly, and I got into every show I applied for. I bought a house, I was hired to teach at the Northern Clay Center, I had two solo shows and took on 10 new wholesale accounts. Everything was coming up roses and daffodils, everything I touched turned to gold; I couldn't lose.

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.

Until now.

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

Things to do while Social Distancing

Though I remain moderately freaked out by the speed of current events, like everyone else, I am muddling through. Both my teaching gigs, Portland Pottery and Hallowell Clay Works, have put classes on hold. I fully support those decisions; which is not to say it doesn't suck, because it does!

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:

  1. Replenish glazes
  2. Rebuild bag wall
  3. Grind kiln shelves
  4. Finish orders
  5. Make fun pots
  6. Reclaim clay
  7. Make soap
 I have lots of projects around the house I can work on also - notably it's getting warm enough to start spiffying up the deck & the yard. Maybe finish painting the bathroom!

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

Pottery Tour Postponed

I want to post this everywhere I can, to get the word out:
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

8 Weeks Out

On Leap Day I saw a crocus. Not blooming, yet; just the pale tip of growth poking through the frozen earth. A sign of spring! It seems far off, still, but in truth it will be here before we know it.

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