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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Eating a big bowl of Fail

Today was a difficult day. I spent the afternoon with Ro and some friends cleaning out the Art studio I was a part of and help to run for many years. Years of accumulated projects, examples, clutter as well as members discarded projects they didn't care to throw out themselves. All of it reminding me of the many good times and the slow failure of the studio.

It was heartwrenching . I was sad, angry, frustrated and ultimately numb as I sorted through trash, treasure, useful items and things that aren't worth keeping for anyone. It was a great resource for the community, but except for summer campers it was underutilized. The only reason it was open for so long was the blood and tears of our volunteers, including myself and my family. Most recently Rowan tried to revitalize it, but it was just too far gone.

Years of working 40 hours for me and 20-40 for the studio has taken a toll on me and mine. One one hand I am so sorry to see it fail, on the other I am looking forward to have time, time I never had before. Family time and my own business time. My child came to the studio after school and we went home after I taught classes from 7-9. He's an adult now and when he heard we were closing he was visibly upset. He said it was the only stable part of his life. His Mom and I had split, she moved a lot, and later I moved a lot, but the studio remained constant. It never dawned on me how he would be affected by it's closure.

I am sure there are a lot of kids out there who feel the same to a lesser degree. Some of my little art campers from years ago are now Art teachers or Artists in their own right. I'm proud of that, it's one of the things that makes me feel good about dedicating so much of my life to it. I know we touched lives in a good way and that has always been one of my personal motivations. So in a few days the lease will be turned over to someone else and we can begin the paperwork to put it to rest. Most of that will be for lawyers and accountants.

Earlier in the day I said I regretted being involved at all because of how I felt today, but that's not true. It was worth it. I just wish I had had the foresight to know we should have closed the doors a few years ago. A business is a business and while blood and sweat might be part of the equation for success, it can't be a substitute for for the cash customers bring. When the students don't sign up, no amount of volunteering will pay the electric bill.

So is it a big bowl of fail, or just something that didn't work out?I think I am going to withhold judgment, move on, and try not to have regrets.

Monday, October 25, 2010

More than Clay

We had some additional art forms being practiced in the studio for the last couple days. There has been a special glass project happening. I'm all for it. I even contributed clay tools for a special sized mandrel.

What's so cool about this picture?

At first glance you might miss it, but I have a little visitor in the window. Toad has made an appearance several times over the last month or so. He checks the glass out from end to end then disappears again. Cute little dude, and his appearance lightened my spirits a little while I was working.


I've gone and done it. I've added Twitter to the social media I use.

You should follow me HERE

Friday, October 22, 2010


We just got back from the Renaissance Faire, the booth is full and happy again. Tomorrow looks like a beautiful day so I hope there are thousands of Faire-goers who like what we brought.

I am very pleased with the display right now, we have a lot of the Oak and Acorn stuff which seems to be the overwhelming favorite right now. Here are a few shots of the booth after stocking. I tried to do a panorama shot or 3, but couldn't get it to line up right. It looked like some kind of space/time disturbance had settled into the booth. There are two of things there shouldn't be and everything is wavy.

Between these few shots you can see most of what we have out.

We also stopped to pick up a ton of 1/2 a ton instead, the rest will be in next week.

After I relax for a bit I'm going to head down to the studio and trim and handle some mugs, then possibly throw some pie bakers. I have all the clay wedged and ready to go.
Ro picked up some baby oak leaves to use in smaller spaces this week, so some of these pie bakers may end up with some decoration on the outside. We'll see how it goes.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Clean up and Changes

We made a few studio modifications today, they seemed to fit right in with all the other changes happening in our lives. There has been a lot of sorting and putting things away or throwing things away for us lately. Rowan has been the powerhouse behind this..of course :) I'm a body at rest, tending to remain at rest, but she prods me to action. So here are the accomplishments today.

- Haircut for me, which included an eyebrow trim that might have saved my marriage. When the eyebrows become to much like Cthulu, Ro points a finger at them and says "Divorce"

- Hanging more of the talented and lovely Eden Carnes work at Webster's on Aaron. This was all Rowan again..I was just the driver and hander up of frames.

- Dropping off more stuff at Goodwill. Ro has totally finished sorting the stuff from the storage unit that was piled up outside, the patio is clear again, now there is some more repacking and sorting to do inside and then I think we will have much of the house in order again. There are a couple of more major projects remaining..our bedroom is all full of laundry..clean but not yet put away.. between sheets, regular clothing and garb for the faires, we don't have nearly enough closet space, we've resorted to vacuum bag storage for the garb and are about to reclaim the small closets upstairs from the kids who hide dirty clothes in them and leave the doors open so cats crawl in and get the clean stuff all furry.It's no good...

-Unloading and cleaning the biscware, signing and waxing

- Trimming and handling of 18 round mugs

-Ro mixed 2 glazes and took inventory of the materials so I could place an order

- I placed an order for 2000 lbs of clay plus some small bags of oxides and glaze materials

in the middle of this she decides to tear apart the glaze area, clean the tables, empty the space, throw down water and shopvac it all back up. It sure looks nice! I kind of regret not wiping down the walls too, but I can get those soon. Of course by the time I took the After picture I had already slopped it up a bit, but it's still better, MUCH better.

-Ro cut new plywood lids for some of our rectangular glaze bins (see the picture!)

-we installed a wooden platform under my wheel to keep the trimmings up off the floor. I figure it would keep the animal hair out of the reclaim and be much easier to clean up. I also took the time to re-level the makes the pots come out better :)

- finally we got onto glazing and loading..just finished up at 10:30, 2 kilns firing. I think I may have made some unusual glaze combinations..we'll see. I hope they're nice.

Hell of a day..and now we're watching the conclusion of Ju-on, it's creepy!

Goodnight :)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

A mad rush

I know I said earlier this year that I was going to be prepared and not do a lot of last minute work, but a production emergency happened this weekend. Apparently my work was in extra high demand at the Renaissance Faire and the shop was practically stripped bare. YAY us!

But we were not prepared for success.

So I revved myself up and started throwing yesterday knowing that in order to restock the faire even a little bit for next weekend I had to have it all in the bisc kiln by Monday night. That means it fires off Tuesday night and can be unloaded Wednesday morning. Glazed and reloaded Wednesday, fired off by Thursday morning, cooled by Friday morning, packed and driven to the Faire on Friday afternoon.

I did it, and with Rowan's help tonight we made a lot of the Tankards into Oak and Acorn Tankards.

I hope I can leave early enough in the day to get another ton of clay because I am practically out. I have a little reclaim and a couple boxes of a darker clay I like to use when I do carved pieces.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

What is selling on Etsy Like?

Not too many words in this posting. I can say it's fantastic if you pay attention to it. I used to say it's given us national exposure from our little town, but truthfully it has given us international exposure.

I find this kind of information really cool. This picture represents visits from Jan 1 until today. Since we started on Etsy we've shipped to Canada, England and Australia. Once to Guam.

It's really cool to have so many people visiting the site, buying from us and appreciating what we do. I really wish I had a program that could automatically place sales on a map so we could graphically see where the pottery has ended up. I can say there's a heavy concentration in California. We ship more pottery to California than anywhere else. I wonder what's up with that?

Fall Studio Sale

Feel free to repost if you think you have friends who might want to attend. We're only doing this one at the house this year. Sales closer to the holidays can be by appointment or through our online store.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Slow Down

Interesting day today, it was at a slower pace than most days. I think part of it was that it was a holiday. No banking, no Post Office, but it also had to do with where I am in the middle of production and the state of our house.

No packages went out...I have some to go tomorrow. It's become almost a daily ritual and I skipped it. We did ride down to check on the stock at Way's because they had the first of two weekends of their annual fall festival. We opted not to participate this year for a couple of reasons. Most importantly we have a permanent display in a prominent place in their Cafe. Lots of people saw our pots and we didn't even have to go :) That's nice. It left me the time to go back into the studio and make more.

Part of today was spent helping Rowan sort through the boxes we liberated from the storage unit we've had for the last three years. When we got all the stuff we put it on the patio in order to sort through it and then restore the "keepers" in the attic and take the rest to Goodwill, or to the curb. We have a huge pile of stuff for the curb and Goodwill. Not so much coming to the attic. I guess 3 years of not having something available means that it wasn't as important as it once was.

So several weeks ago as we unloaded the storage unit we saw the clouds roll in..and we barely got it tarped before the rain came down in buckets. Today was much the same way. We sorted, noticed the weather, began to cover it with tarps and just as we finished the sky opened. Luckily after sorting through a few boxes there needs to be some repacking and then shuttling to the attic so there was still work to be done after we came inside.

I abandoned Ro to the repacking and shuttling to the attic to head down to the studio to carve and trim plates for an order I have been putting off for 3 years. Normally I try to get stuff done right away, but this one intimidates me. Ro has finally convinced me to get the monkey off my back and get it done and not worry about it too much. After all I wouldn't have been chosen for this job if my work hadn't been a good fit. So I hope to have pictures for you in about a week of what I hope will be a finished product. So far so good. I've thrown 12, ruined 2 and might need a few extras just in the end I will need 10.

Somewhere in all of this I managed to make arrangements for our septic inspection. 4+ weeks ago I had it opened up and Roto-rooted to fix a drainage problem. All seems well, but in the end it's going to be in the $700 range. * sigh * that's a lot of mugs to sell. The inspection and pumping will be on Friday.

After the inspection on Friday we'll be taking new stock to the PA Renaissance Faire and perhaps picking up some more clay. After these plates, I am out, completely out.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Beamer me up

Today hasn't quite turned out like I planned.

Before even leaving the house we got a delivery of packing peanuts from UPS and a deliver of 4 rolls of bubblewrap from the USPS. The USPS driver had an accident on our porch and knocked over one of my salt fired vases from a couple years ago. It was priced at $120 and he offered to pay for it, but I turned him down. I am sure he will be extra careful in the future.

We started the day with a trip to Webster's, the Post Office and then to Dogwood Studio, a dog grooming business with an Art Gallery attached. I hope to have pictures of the display next week after we add a few more things to the setup. It's a sweet space and apparently the place has a reputation for selling art as well as good dog grooming. Who would know?

As we got back into the truck to head home the phone was Catherine saying she thought she had broken her foot in a fall. We advised her to go to the hospital to get it checked out, but she ended up going to a new Med Express Urgent Care Center that opened up recently. We met her there and I was glad she had chosen to go there. I was impressed. They charge $115 for a visit, including X-rays and any lab work that they can do in house with a free followup within 10 days if the symptoms persist. I could even afford to go there if I needed to have something checked out since I have auxiliary insurance that will pay me back $65 per office visit. It's not like real health insurance, but it can help if I get hit with something major, or to bring down the cost of a visit or two.

So the next exciting thing happened as we were leaving, Cath in her car, a purple BMW 525i, us in the truck. We pull out first and as we are about to enter traffic Cath calls us shrieking and incoherent .

A scant minute before she was we turn around and find her car is straddling a median in the parking lot..she is stuck and can't more forward or backward..apparently she pulled forward and hopped it, not realizing it was even there. After going through the urgent care visit, I guess it was just too much for her. She was quite a sight standing in the parking lot with a Ugg boot, a flip flop, shorts and a tank top smoking a cigarette like her life depended on it.

Grateful for roadside service, we called a tow truck to lift her out of there. I tried not to mock her too much..apparently a lot of people do the same thing there, so it's not as ridiculous as it seemed.

Getting back to the studio I put together a giant goblet for one of my friends, trimmed apple bakers and soup mugs as well as a few XL mugs, and made an erotic piece for a special order. This is a mug with a special handle...all those handle pulling jokes became... VERY.. clear to me tonight..this mug makes me feel inadequate in a big way. I have a picture, but I don't want to share it on a family blog.

So in other studio news, we unloaded a glaze kiln this morning, it was's a picture of what's left and one of the special orders as well as some shots of the bisc that came out.

Tomorrow I need to add the handles to the mugs and soup mugs, then start again. The cycle must continue!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Master Blogger?

Masters Degree

What does this mean? I don't know..I s'pose it's cheap advertising for a website that helps you find online Masters Degree Programs. However I am in fine company on the end page..lots of blogs I follow.

Life, Studio, Faire and Shipping.

As usual, it's been extra busy around here. 4 weekends of the Pa Faire left. The buildup of stock for the holidays has begun. We made a delivery to the faire last weekend and found that we didn't bring nearly enough, especially in the Oak and Acorn section, so we came right home and blasted out another kilnload of work as well as a bunch of special orders. It has been busy, but busy is better than sitting around waiting for something to happen. I just have to remember that all the work now is supposed to bring us stability and peace later.

I haven't seen much of the kids lately. Catherine is attending classes at the business school and spends much of her time with one of her classmates. Morgan has been working and spending much of his down time with his girlfriend, not that he seems to have much. He works a lot.

I ordered in supplies I anticipate needing for the holidays, I had been buying "FRAGILE" and "DO NOT CRUSH" stickers in 100 piece packages for $6.00, but decided that I should go for more from a bigger supplier. I found a place on E Bay that gave me 2000 stickers for about $18 plus shipping. I ordered in some more packing peanuts from U-line. I was going to go for one of the really big 20 cubic foot bags for $28, but apparently the really big bags exceed the size limit for UPS and so would have cost $87 to ship by freight. I opted for the smaller bag.12 cubic feet for $18 and $13 shipping.

So this afternoon I got into the studio and made more soup mugs, more apple bakers and a few odd pieces for special orders. Then a few minutes ago we peeked into the glaze kiln. It is...stunning. I am so pleased with what I see. I can't wait to really open it up tomorrow.

I also put out 4 bags of reclaim to stiffen...I am almost out of clay again and I can make an awful lot more out of those messy lumps of mud when they stiffen.