Thursday, August 27, 2009

I'm Just Not Ready

Last fall, before I had even really started working in my new studio (heck, I hadn't even finished unpacking), I eagerly joined TRAC, signed up for the December Studio Tour and dropped off pieces for jurying for their galleries. I didn't expect to have the work accepted and indeed it wasn't. No big deal. I knew I had better work inside of me.

Now a year later, my work has improved, I am learning the best way to fire my Bailey and am entertaining the idea of galleries. I was accepted as a member of Toe River Crafts and my wine bottle coasters are for sale at Mountainside Wine in Spruce Pine. My home gallery is open most days, and I get visitors several times a week. I have an America Creates online gallery as well as an Etsy shop (currently empty though). Now, TRAC's jurying deadline is fast approaching.

I'm just not ready to spread myself that thin. At a recent Clay Club meeting Cynthia Bringle said that most new potters tend to try to do too much too soon. Since I've been making pots for 15 years, I'm not exactly "new", however, I am definitely inexperienced at marketing, managing my work and my time. Unfortunately I missed the deadline for a Professional Development retreat at Penland. I've got to start using that planning calendar. I think my inability to get new pots posted on Etsy is also telling of my overextending myself.

So for the remainder of this year, I will continue to make work and improve on what I currently have taken on. I've got up and running. I might enter a juried show or two, but I think galleries will have to wait until next year.

Whew! Glad I don't have to stress about that anymore.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Goings On

Not much pottery since the Mt. Mitchell Crafts Fair a couple of weeks ago. The kids started school the following week. Should I be freaking out that my daughter is in middle school? I'm not. I spent the next weekend in Maine with my sisters. We had a ball! Canoeing, swimming, laughing, laughing and laughing!

I expected to return home and get right to work. However, life often throws you a curve. Ben wrecked his electric scooter the day after I got home, hurting his right knee, elbow and hand. Fortunately the hand was just sprained and not broken, but he was home from school for 2 days while we waited for X-ray results. He is right-handed so had the perfect excuse not to do his homework. He has spent the weekend making up assignments.

News from the home improvement desk: The window-well is complete! Hooray! A finished project! They don't happen often around here so there is definitely cause to celebrate. Now that we can uncover the hole, the basement is flooded with light. It will make our eventual family room so much nicer. I don't see checking off that particular project for some time.

I decided to cripple myself weeding the garden today. I try to limit myself to only one or two of the beds or tell myself I'll stop after a few wheel barrow loads, but I got a little obsessed. Most everything is done blooming, but the sedum is starting to get some color. The bees are already loving it. Blackberry bushes have invaded one end of the garden, and poison ivy has the other end covered, but the middle looks divine. I ran across this praying mantis while working.

I'll be back in the studio this week. I haven't got any shows lined up for this fall except the TRAC Tour in December. Initially I was regretting this, but I think it will give me a chance to build up my stock and investigate some new ideas rather than working under deadline pressure. I've got several shelves of cone 6 work ready, so I expect to glaze fire by mid-September. Then hopefully another cone 10 firing by the beginning of October.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Liz Summerfield Benefit

From Lindsay Rogers website:

I am writing to announce a benefit auction to assist my friend, and fellow ceramic artist, Liz Zlot Summerfield. In April of this year Liz was diagnosed with a type of cancer called non-hodgkins Lymphoma. When she got the news of her cancer all studio work for Liz and her husband, glass blower Scott Summerfield, stopped. For most artists a halt to work, combined with illness and bills, is a hardship too large to manage alone. Like most plans, our ideas for this benefit started out small and have since bloomed in to something that I believe will be a wonderful, fun and supportive event. With all that said, there are several ways that you can participate!

1) Attend the live auction at Penland or visit the online sale as a buyer!

The live auction is August 16th in the Northlight Building at Penland School of Crafts. Doors will open at 1:00pm at which point there will be light refreshments, Bandana Klezmer will provide fabulous entertainment and visitors will have a chance to take a good look at the work available in the live and silent auctions. The live auction of work will begin at 2:00pm and is expected to last around an hour or so. At the end of the auction visitors can pick up and pay for their pieces knowing that 100% of the proceeds will go to helping Liz, Scott and their young daughter, Roby, get through this really hard time.

The online sale will be held on and will begin September 1st. I will post more information about the online auction (including the web address) as we get closer to the date.

2) Help us find more buyers by sending out an email of the postcard.You can access an image of the postcard in jpeg or pdf format by clicking the following links to the right.

3) You can make a monetary donation to a PayPal account created for Liz's benefit.By clicking on the donate button to the right/above, or using this link below, you can be assured that all donations will go quickly, safely and directly to Liz.

Thank you so much for your generosity!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Mt. Mitchell Crafts Fair starts with a Bang!

For as Type A as I can appear to be at times, I can screw things up royally if given the chance. Thursday, I was all set to deliver a piece to Crimson Laurel for the Liz Zlot Summerfield Auction, and then load the van for Craft Fair. I had a dream Wednesday night that I was at the Fair with my best friend but my work was nowhere to be found. So Thursday morning, I decided to reread the letter from the Fair and discovered that I was to set up at 2:00 Thursday afternoon. I was saved from a big "Oops" but unable to make it to Crimson Laurel. Perhaps I can bid on something online in September to help the cause.

Friday morning started out just fine. Jay was in Wisconsin on business so both kids were there to *help* me. My booth was on North Main, and the church provided some much needed shade as well as a great climbing tree. Sarah House stopped by early to say "hi", and Michael Rutkowsky came by to encourage me to do a demonstration. I walked over to see Lynda Banner who had a terrific location in front of the library book sale and next to the food court. Sales were pretty robust. My new Ikebana dish was by far my biggest seller. I was exhausted from the afternoon sun and decided to decline the demonstration. I was asleep before 8:00 Friday night.

Upon waking Saturday morning at 5 am completely refreshed, I decided that I could indeed demonstrate that day. I went into the studio and threw a couple of cylinders, then went to the computer to put together a brochure. By 7:30 I was ready to go, but the brochures were slow printing. I left that task to Jay. Of course, we ran out of color ink, so he had to get another cartridge. Last minute printing is generally my weakness.

Saturday started off nice and cool and by 10:00, there were lots of folks on the Square. Allison went to watch Pete McWhirter throwing. Then I demonstrated my cutting and piecing. A few people stopped by but watching me cut and piece is not nearly as entertaining as watching someone throw.

Sales for Saturday were about a quarter of Friday's. Most of the other artists I spoke with experienced the same thing. I did have the opportunity to talk to some of the other potters. There were a few there from Seagrove. Without naming names, one potter was telling me how she had sold out of soup mugs and a couple of other items Friday. Then again, her soup mugs were less than $20 and her coffee mugs were a mere $7.

I don't make that kind of functional work, but it got me thinking about the Clay Club meeting last month about pricing. I think it was David Trophia who talked about our reponsibility of educating the customers as to what they are buying. I hope my demonstration was educational as far as the amount of work that goes into a single one of my pieces. We also talked about undercutting other potters by selling too cheap. The $7 mug was worth all of $7. My cheapest item is a $14 heart bowl. I think the price is fair and wouldn't try to sell them any cheaper just in order to sell more.

Although Saturday's sales were slow, I talked to lots of folks who live nearby and want to come by my studio, so I wasn't too disappointed. I expect to see at least a few of those folks in the coming weeks.

The kids started back to school today so I'm cleaning house and sprucing up the gallery before I unload the work. I'm also restocking my work at the Toe River Craft Shop and will be taking some wine bottle coasters to Mountainside Wine in Spruce Pine.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

I think I'm Getting the Hang of This

Here is the after picture of my second cone 10 firing. Many of the baskets on top are glazed with Lansmen Fake Ash and a blue variation there of. I also used Rob's Green which looks pretty nice on my baskets. I had a bit undesirable running on the Fake Ash as well as a few blisters here and there. Nothing too terrible though.
I am especially excited about the Lustre Shino I used on several pieces. Last time, it was dull and so uninteresting that I could have cried. I do love Shinos. This time, the pots are lustre-y and yummy, and I am so pleased. The downside is that I only glazed a few pots with it since it was such a let-down last fall. There's always next time!
I'm taking photos today and will try to work on my website more.