Saturday, October 28, 2023

Safe, but Sad

You may have read about my home state lately; we were the latest site of that very American phenomenon, the mass shooting. In Maine's case, the situation was dragged out by a 2-day search for the gunman. The attack left 18 dead & 13 wounded. I didn't know any of the victims, but Maine is a small town; nobody is more than 2 degrees removed from anybody else. I'm certain I know someone who is directly affected. We're all grieving the loss of a sense of safety in our communities. 

Lewiston is about 30 miles from Augusta, where I live; a straight drive up Route 202. During the long, frightening stretch between the murders & finding the gunman's body, we all feared he might be out there, planning to strike again. Schools & businesses closed and people stayed in their homes with the doors locked. Like many people, I thought he was probably already dead - the dude wasn't John Rambo or some kind of movie villain, and it seemed unlikely to me that he could evade law enforcement for so long. We couldn't assume, though, so we stayed home & stayed safe. 

Much has been made of his mental health struggles. He was held in a psychiatric facility for a couple of weeks in July, as a result of having threatened the military training center where he served in Saco with violence. His family state he was hearing voices. 
In part of my mind I wonder if they were playing up that part, because it's so painful to believe someone you love could choose to do such a thing. I think that because we've since learned that he'd recently broken up with a longterm girlfriend & recently been fired from his job. The places he shot up were places he might expect to find his ex - she was registered to play in a cornhole tournament at the bar where he killed people, and the bowling alley was a place they had gone together. He killed himself just outside his former place of employment. All this sounds to me like just another angry guy with an assault rifle. 
Anyway - thank all of you for reaching out. I'm safe, my family is safe, but in a way none of us are safe until the scourge of gun violence is addressed. It's time to comfort the grieving, hold your loved ones close, and work together to find a solution. 

Monday, October 9, 2023

Everything Matters

My October firing is in the books! 

After the last firing, during which my sprayer failed, necessitating a frantic drive around town to find a barely-adequate replacement, I ordered two good sprayers with metal wands online.(I actually wanted this one, because it looks so sci-fi; but it's more than twice as much as the ones I got.)  Always good to have back up! The new device performed admirably - better, I'd say, than the original. It sprays in a finer mist than the first, which allows more of the soda to volatize before falling to the burner-channel floor. As a result, the coating of soda glaze was thicker, for the same amount of soda. 

This is no bad thing, but it does mean I'll have to make some adjustments to get the coat of soda just how I like it. There was more grey than I am usually aiming for in this load. It's a pretty grey - light & pearly, flashed with honey-brown - I just want to adjust the ratio a bit, so the next pots will be honey with some grey, rather than grey with some honey. Still, overall very happy with the results. 

I am lately aiming to fire once a month, because my accounts have been doing really well, & I want to keep them stocked up, and have enough to add some new stores this winter. Also, twenty years after Doug built my first website, online orders have become a significant stream of income for me! If I knew how, I would tell you - I'm all about lifting other potters up - but honestly ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. Here's what I do know: 

  • Facebook has always been a good way to generate a sale or two, when I post updates to the online shop. I know everyone hates Meta, & not without reason, but for artists, nobody has yet created a tool to so effectively reach customers.
  • I've been posting to Insta, & cross-posting to the Fine Mess business page, a lot more since my friend gave me her old iphone. I don't post literally every day but maybe 10 times a week? Much of it is pottery process, interspersed with some cats, hiking, & gardening. 
  • I had a post go semi-viral last summer, seen by about a million people. There was nothing unusual or amazing about the post, so I don't know why, but I did gain hundreds of new followers as a result; and as a result of that I get more interaction per post, which in turn make the FB algorithm show posts to more people. 
  • Interactions seem key, so sometimes I will ask for feedback about a new technique or a piece I am working one. 
The takeaway, if I had to guess, is just more posting. I post pots in progress, & I think the audience gets interested & invested in the work. I dunno; what do I know? I'm just guessing. 

Anyway the shop update is live! Check it out here
Actually there's only one pot left for sale - & I just updated last night! I better go make stuff. 
Aiming for October 29th for the next firing.