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Friday, February 26, 2010

Just Jugs

The Brits call these jugs, we in the US call them pitchers, either way they're looking good! We jut listed a new one on Etsy and Ro is in process of posting more.

I love the way these pictures of the pitchers (had to say it) are turning out. The new backdrop combined with Rowan's sharp eye have made these listings on Etsy come alive. To see more, visit our Etsy sales site

Sunday, February 21, 2010


Long day here in the Hughes-Rose household. We've been working our tails off all day. I was mostly downstairs in the studio and Ro was mostly upstairs, though she also came down to load the glaze kiln late this evening.

I work hard, but this wonderful woman I married is tougher and has far more stamina than I do. She works all day long, she starts in the morning WITHOUT COFFEE and continues to work all day until late at night. She shames me.

She spent the day making our bedroom a beautiful place again, it was getting so cluttered with clean laundry not put away. Not too bad on the dirty stuff, but baskets of clean. Don't know how that works. She also made bread, dinner and somewhere in the middle of all that found the time to take nice pictures of her tiles and post them.

All I did was make a giant platter, a square plate, trim the tankards (no handles yet) and glaze a kiln load of biscware.

I had so much fun with the giant platter I also did a square plate, which I might actually make more of, it's pretty cool.

So tomorrow is going to be a day of pulling handles on tankards and then I think I'll make some things that don't require handles. Maybe some rice bowls, some tumblers, perhaps more goblets. While I am proud of my handles, pleased with the way they look, I get tired of pulling so many handles. I actually know two potters who gave up mugs so they wouldn't have to pull handles anymore.

Friday, February 19, 2010

bone dry nightmares and moist salvation

A pretty good day today despite how I was thrown into the day.

I went down to the studio this morning to check on Rowan's tiles in the kiln and found the door to the studio cracked open. It means a cat had broken in. Usually when a cat breaks in I find someone has jumped up and walked across my latest work, or someone has decided the corner by my wheel is the cleanest neatest and biggest litterbox they have ever seen. This time I got lucky. They just walked in and walked out. BUT while looking for damages I found the door being open had changed the drafts in the room enough to completely dry out the tops of the round mugs I had made the night before.

Normally They are not completely dry on top by noon, but these were bone dry on the top. I was unbelievably upset. I can always just trim them and leave them without handles, but then I am short on mugs.

For those who are not familiar with claywork, the pots have to be in the stage called leather hard to attach a handle. If they are completely dried out like mine were the handles simply won't stay on. They crack and fall off. This has to do with the moisture of the still wet handle clay rushing into the bone dry clay, drying out the joint and then simply falling off because there wasn't enough moisture to act as a binding agent.

The trouble with stoneware clays is once all the moisture has gone out of them, they don't reconstitute very nicely. Porcelain's kind of cool, you take a bone dry vase, soak one section with a wash cloth and within about 15 minutes the section you soaked is easily manipulated again. But stoneware just breaks down unless the moisture is reintroduced very carefully. Even then it gets kind of ugly.

I decided to try to save them and dipped them all in water, and covered them in plastic for 15 minutes, then dipped and covered them again. In about 1/2 hour I sprayed them all down again and in another half hour they were holding moisture with minimum breakdown of the clay. I got really lucky. I trimmed them all and covered them again and got to work on the handles, keeping them covered as I went. I got lucky and everything worked out really nicely. I have all of those pieces drying slowly under plastic so the clay doesn't get stressed out by one part drying faster than another.

I took a break and mailed out some more orders from Etsy, dropped Ro at the Oasis, did a little shopping then came home and got started again. I finished up the handles from earlier, I was even able to add some medallions and make some more really nice Oak and Acorn mugs.Then I started throwing again. 40 more mugs thrown tonight, 20 round, 20 travel. Tomorrow I'll trim handle and throw more tankards and xl round mugs. Then I think I'll be doing some glazing.

I am happy to report people still seem to be loving the items on Etsy, It's so nice to know people are loving the things I make and even nicer that I am able to buy the groceries.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Amazing Etsy

We've been on Etsy for a little over a year now. It performed OK for us but then we took it offline for a while and when we put it back up we had customers browsing and buying like never before. It's slowed down a little bit. 2 whole days without orders over the last week. I am not sure why we had a surge, we have some theories but I have been very pleased. I'm pretty certain it will keep perking along nicely now.

For those of you who have never clicked the Etsy links I keep providing here are some screen shots of the online store.

Sorry about the repeated sections in the middle. I failed to edit it properly..shoddy work at 1:30AM.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Finishing what I start

Between doing a lot of social networking about my son's demolished sculpture and other distractions like packing up orders to ship out. I managed to finish up a lot of work from yesterday.

Things are looking good. I am pleased.

Harsh but exciting day

My son came home from school today VERY upset. The administration at the school knocked down his sculpture.

He didn't know about it until after it was all over and he was staring at snow rubble. A student told him the janitors had knocked it down and said they were looking for the person who made it because they were going to charge him with trespassing and vandalism.

He was angry and heartbroken when he came home today. We talked it out and I got on Facebook and posted inquiries. Some friends who are teachers contacted the administration who said they had to take it down because they were worried about it collapsing and hurting someone if they were in the secret compartment behind the eye patch.Apparently the part about charges were just rumor. I hope, I guess we'll find out tomorrow.

Two Facebook groups have formed, one by a teacher Glortok the glorious Pirate and and one by a student They Killed the Pirate along with my hopes and dreams. The one started by a student has a great description that was very touching. I hope these groups go FB viral and a lot of people get to see the sculpture.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Morgan's work, my work, sleep.

Interesting day today. I didn't get much sleep last night because I was worried about Morgan. He didn't call and he didn't come home and despite text messages and phone calls he never got in touch. I figured he had passed out at his girlfriends house and I'd see him in the afternoon.So I finally gave up worrying at 2AM and went to bed. At 6AM sharp my phone rings, wakes me out of deep deep slumber and it's Morgan. He's babbling about a sculpture in front of the school and would we take pictures. I moan, groan, whine and complain about his lack of communication, but he seemed so excited we got up and went out. We got there about 7 to find this giant punk head with an eye patch and ear and eyebrow piercings. Apparently there is a secret chamber behind the eye patch where you can crawl inside and watch people and their reaction to it, or just hang out. Despite the inappropriate way he stayed out all night to do this, it is pretty damn cool, everyone at the school seems to like it, it was even given a mention in the schools morning announcements. At that point it was still unknown who had done it so all they said was "to whoever made the giant sculpture outside the school, Thanks!" or something like that..I wasn't there, it's just rumor.

So when I got home I got to work, packing more Etsy orders, then trimming and adding handles to the mugs, then working on a special order for more Oak leaf and Acorn pieces. I just finished up a few minutes ago. Time for bed, we have a summer youth fair expo to present at in the morning.

BTW the picture of Morgan's sculpture was taken by Ro. Mine all came out so dark I had to steal hers..and hers are better anyway.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Mugs, Mugs and More Mugs

Mugs are the number one selling item I make. I guess it's because people can always find a use for a pretty vessel to drink out of. I've tried hard to make my mugs functional and beautiful and I have had many people tell me it's the most comfortable mug they've ever used.
I have 29 in process now, not 30 because for whatever reason I misaligned them on the board and I could only fit 19 on the board and I had 10 from the day before when I wasn't feeling much like making mugs so I stopped.

Sometimes a bucket of wedged clay for mugs can be very intimidating and I just can't face them. Other times I sail through with a tailwind. Tonight's work was somewhere in the middle and I am pleased. Tomorrow they will get handles.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Snow day, studio day

Ahh today was really pleasant. Ro and I woke up early to the automated call from the school district telling us the kids had off from school. It was somewhere around 6AM and we decided to stay up and for whatever reason it was unusually easy to do that. So we had an early breakfast, I made coffee and screwed around on the internet and I was still working by 9, which is when I tend to wake up. So strange.

So I trimmed bowls and butter keepers and goblets this morning then Ro and I unloaded the glaze kiln together. I was very pleased. After unloading the kiln we packed up the Etsy orders and Ro went to take more pictures. I would have sent them today but we're dealing with a medium case of Snowmageddon so I didn't really want to venture out. I am very pleased with Etsy, as a sales site it is working out very well. Better than I anticipated last year when we started it. I think it's working out because of several factors.

We have been posting new work every couple days, that makes the Etsy search engines notice you more. I have been doing some outside advertising via Facebook Ads, and I also have people out in the world handing out business cards to every customer we have who can then find me on the web and order more. I also have some great friends on Facebook who "like" my things which leads to all of their friends seeing it and liking it too, soon it's viral :) and then it gets seen by more people that I can count. Google Analytics says the Etsy site traffic is up 1700% That's pretty cool :)

I just signed up for a $100 free trial with Google advertising too, so maybe that will pay off. It would be nice to have steady web business all year.

So tomorrow is the Homeschool Association class then I plan on coming home and busting out a bunch of round mugs and maybe some large bowls. I'm feeling bowlish right now though it could turn to pitchers at anytime :) I might get some done in the morning too, depends on how early I get up and functional.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Done early tonight

I had a pretty good day. I made butter keeper tops and a few bowls this morning and early afternoon, wedged clay for mugs, then headed in to TCO for a 3-7 volunteer shift which was very quiet. I spent some time calling our students and canceling classes for tonight and Wednesday. At home I made a quick mac n cheese dinner then headed back to the studio to make the rest of the butter keepers and parts for goblets. All finished by about 10:15 tonight not too bad.

I'm a little sad that our 11 day sales streak on Etsy was broken least 22.5 hours into today there is no order..I guess it could still happen. Thing have been going well enough I actually had to buy more bubble wrap. It's kind of weird to get bubble wrap in the mail without a box, or something delicate and fragile at the center.

Tomorrow is a snow day, we're staying in and making pots and laying around, there will probably be some baking at some point. I'm looking forward to it.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Midnight again

And we're just finishing up. Ro just finished loading the glaze kiln and got it started. It was quite a day. We started with packing 4 boxes to ship out, then went to the bank to deal with my phished account, then to the USPS.

BTW things are looking good with the accounts, only problem is they say it can take up to 10 days for the money to be returned to me. 10 DAYS WTF that's a serious amount of time to be without access to your bank account.

Home to finish the trimming and handles. Mixed a glaze. Took a break for a dinner, a beer and a board meeting for TCO then back home to glaze and load. Phew.

I had planned to also start wedging for more round mugs and then start throwing the butter keepers and goblets I already had prepared but I guess that will have to wait till tomorrow morning. Sometimes there is just too much stuff to fit into a day.

I have to admit though that I won't mind putting off the throwing for another day if I have a pile of Etsy orders to pack in the morning. That would be OK with me :)

Sunday, February 7, 2010


I don't know why I have the urge to try to clarify my thoughts after a long day, but I do. It doesn't make any sense as I am usually so tired I can't put thoughts together in an orderly way. I suppose it might have something to do with feeling as if I have left things unfinished, which is almost always the case for potters. There's always something left to do unless you work in a stop date or a stop time and just be done.

So the unfinished things rattling around in my head: I have to pack 2 orders to ship out in the morning, then ship them out. While I am out I should go to the bank and make sure the issues with my phished account are being promptly dealt with. Then in the basement studio I have 10 more tankards to add handles to. I have a bucket full of 1 1/4lb balls of clay to make butter keepers and goblets out of. I also need to wedge up a box of clay to do more round mugs. I always need round mugs. In general there has been a run on mugs lately. The online sales of all things muggy has been excellent. I also have to mix a glaze, glaze some pots and load a kiln tomorrow. In the evening there's a board meeting for the Oasis, then I suspect we'll come home to finish up whatever I didn't do earlier.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Quite a Weekend Following Quite a Week

This has been quite a week and I had a lot of thoughts floating around inside my head, I tried to make sense of them here. Hopefully you won't find them too boring.

  • Snow:We got a lot more than we were supposed to here in central PA, about 14". I haven't been out in it yet, but I understand my son came home from his pizza making and delivery job at 5AM, got stuck in the snow so badly our neighbor had to to tow him out. I'm glad he was awake to help! Morgan spent most of the afternoon shoveling. He said Catherine was probably going to get stuck coming home because it wasn't a wide opening and moments ago his prediction came true. She did get in, but apparently there were a couple attempts and some pushing before she made it.
  • Gainesville: We're set up at The Hoggetowne Medieval Faire, There was a huge thunderstorm and our tent roof was damaged. Fortunately Jessa and Elliot found a solution and after the faire ends it will be replaced for next weeks opening at The Bay Area Renaissance Fair.
  • Etsy: I have been amazed at the sudden activity on Etsy, It started while we were in New Hampshire for Birka, we came home to 2 orders and since then there has been at least one a day. I thought the streak was ending today, but someone just ordered 2 mugs. I wonder if this will continue. I hope so because it's been tough to get along without the money from my phished bank account.
  • Phished Accounts: I found out on Wednesday that my ATM card number has been compromised and that someone in India purchased two plane tickets and a rail ticket with the money I don't have to spare. I have filed the paperwork and the bank says I'll get it all back and I won't have any overdraft charges because of it, but it may take a few days. The charges finally cleared today. Almost $600 wrapped up in this. Glad we had a snowstorm since I couldn't afford to go out :)
  • Pizza: Ro and I just shared a marvelous homemade pizza, we had a lot of toppings so we split it up into sections. Plain Cheese, Fresh and frozen spinach, green, yellow and red peppers and onions and a garlic crust. I wish I had taken a picture, it was beautiful and delicious!
  • Production: Today was a great day for production, so far I have made Tankards, soup mugs, medallions for magnets and I have wedged the clay for more butter keepers..feeling pretty good about it.
  • Our beloved Zoo: We played with Marley today, he's Catherine's Hampster..a cute little rodent who is apparently frightening to the cats and dog..only one who seemed interested in him at all was can see her intently staring in the photo :) Pitty on the other hand didn't really care except she seemed to want to get him off of her. No picture of Pepper the dog checking him out, but Pepper seemed almost afraid of him.
OK.. I think I got it all out..I think I'll go turn that bucket of clay balls into butter keepers.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Back in the studio again

It was a fun weekend, getting out of town and selling at a convention center in Manchester, NH was a much needed break in our routine. The show even went passably well. Not what we hoped for, but not what we feared either.


What's the difference between a crafts fair artist and a dog?

Answer: The dog will eventually stop whining!

So anyway, the show went passably well and we got all jazzed up from the people loving our stuff and now that we're home and recovered we're getting back into the swing of production. I threw 40 mug bodies, 1/2 round and 1/2 the travel style that fit into car cup holders. Then I paused to wedge some 2lb balls of clay to make soup mugs and cereal bowls. I made about 8 of them but then decided the rest would wait until tomorrow.

I decided at the beginning of the year that this was going to be the year I got ahead on production so I didn't ever have to rush to go to a show. So far so good. Everything has been getting done in a timely manner and at the time of this writing I would say I am on schedule and about to step into the well-prepared zone. I have a couple special orders to finish up, and I have a gallery to fill and Etsy to keep stocked, but in general I can safely say am ready for the next show, but not the one after that. That should change by the end of next week.

Now it's bedtime..we have a busy day tomorrow!