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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

A Love Story

This is not a Valentines story.

Making pottery for us is more than a living. It's a living doing something we love. Sharing that love with others. I actually tear up sometimes when I think about the thousands of people who eat and drink from the pottery I have put out into the world. It's like helping to feed all of them and providing useful service and something beautiful.

Sometimes opportunities arise to make something really special, something that will touch lives in a deep and significant way. Like Wedding Goblets. What could be better than making something to mark that special day?

So last year we accepted an order to make a Goblet and a Tankard with the wedding date inscribed around the base.

Now, here's the part non-potters may not know. There is always a chance the one special piece will not work out. It's a sick infiltration of Murphy, so we usually make 2. Especially if there is a a wedding.

Let me repeat, we make 2 pieces for the quoted price. So really it's about love. Instantly we're not making money. Not only is it not like our normal stuff. It's customized in a way we can't sell the extra..if there is an extra.

So the goblet and tankard came out well. We were all pleased. Both of them came out well. We sent it off to the happy couple they were pleased. The wedding went as planned and there was bliss.

We went about our business and during one of our many studio cleanout sessions, we came across the extra set and threw them out because they are meaningless to anyone but the special couple.

2 weeks later.. we got this message:

So we did it.. we made set at a time because the first two turned out well.
but the next set did not, nor the next or the next.

finally we resorted to 2 sets at a time. This picture is of the survivors of our various attempts. Several were chipped off the shelves because of glaze simply falling off the pieces.

Sometimes these were the only messed up pieces in the whole kiln.

And so despite getting paid twice... we ultimately lost money. Hours. Glaze. Electricity.

So if you come to us and say I want this special personalized piece and we accept, know it's either because we love you, or believe strongly in your cause. Every personalization on a single piece means we probably will spend more than we will make, but we keep accepting them. Silly us. Isn't it amazing what people do for love?

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Summertime and my long term love affair

I miss summertime...the classic summertime of my youth, and I miss water, my first summer love.

When I was a younger teen, I spent most of my summers in the water, either at Whipple Dam, or simply in the stream behind my house. There were neighborhood kids coming and going and we spent hours each day splashing, creating engineering projects to divert or dam the water for swimming, or fish corrals, or even making our own waterfalls. I had a lot of good stuff going on!

The last summer I remember having any leisure was the summer before I entered college. I was working overnights from 11-7 at a convenience store usually 6-7 days a week, but I could make bedtime at 7:30 AM or 3:PM so I spent my mornings and afternoons at a local state park with a sandy beach area and started doing sand sculpture before the beach goers would arrive. My favorite was to do reclining sunbathers and watch all the little kids get excited about the people buried in the sand. It was only a little traumatic for them to reach out and touch a part and have it slide off.

After entering college I took summer sessions and continued to work 20-30 hours a week while in school.

After school, I go involved with selling my pottery and teaching classes and I started to realize that for me, summer vacations were a myth. Hell, weekends were a myth.

25 years later I still have no summers. Pottery has turned out to be a more than full time occupation. I look forward to warm weather and summer primarily because it is when folks in the NE go out to fairs and festivals and buy our things.

Pottery was such an obsession when I started..more of a calling than a job. I was happy to do it 15 hours a day 7 days a week, but now it's slowed to an intense love affair..I want 8 hours a day maybe 6 days a week with actual meal breaks.

 I used to think about what it would be like attending some of these events as a patron, but after a couple of attempts I realized I would have to do it at a show I have never attended as an artist merchant, because I know I would head for the folks I know and hang out in the back like the displaced merchant I am.

So I think this summer despite it being a crazy busy time for us, we're going to have to remember to take a couple days and enjoy the beauty around us. Life is short and I'm tired of forgoing the pleasures. There is always more work. I think it's time to forgo some of it and revisit my summer lover. She's waiting nearby... Tionesta Lake is only 1/4 mile up the street has pontoon boats to rent. There are two places within 1/2 mile of our house that offer canoe and kayak rental for the river that is practically in our backyard.

When I need a break from all that shimmering liquid beauty, I know just where to go! Into the woods! I just saw a mushroom walk is being offered on June 20 in Cook Forest. I want to do that!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Frenetic, Frantic and other big F words

2014 Version 1: Panoramic photo. Fabric covering the studs on the walls, raw plywood floor and draped tables

2015 Version 2: Insulated and finished!
You know, some days I wonder how we keep up with it all. There has been so much going on in the last couple weeks, all of it on a deadline and much of it seemingly out of our direct control.

The major things have been about getting our little Tionesta Market Village store ready to open for the season. Doing some final repairs on the house we have for sale in State College and making a lot of work to stock the store and also make work for our wholesale clients.

We've been back and forth to the old house a lot! Somehow we got all the construction and studio work done between trips. I think it has all started to come together.

The store is now much brighter and we got the tables off the floor and added many shelves. We actually have more work in it and it also appears to be more spacious. I had 3 people shopping comfortably at the same time on Sunday. 

 I'm looking forward to really focusing on the studio work! I've always tried to plan my life so only one major thing happens at a time and the last few years I've failed miserably. That's where that last F word shows up. Wow. Overwhelmed!