Posts made in August, 2012

Inventory Maintenance

Posted by on Aug 22, 2012 in Craft Show, Maintenance, Philosophy | 0 comments

“I would rather be prolific than perferct.” – Abel James Since the Bele Chere show, Julie and I have been throwing together when our schedules allign and independently at other times.    This is our show season so we have pots to make.  This is also the time of year we look at our stores and begin rotating pots and increasing inventory in anticipation of the holidays.  (Holidays!?  It is still the sweltery summer – it has taken a few years but we realize that the holidays come so quickly that they might as well be next week). How does this work?  I look over the sales and evaluate what sold – largest number sold, highest grossing, average price point, etc.  Then we consider the customer comments and our inventory.  As a consummate list maker, I make a list of what we need.  Then we divy up the list.  Although we throw together and independently, we glaze together.   After a few years of doing shows and knowing what we like to make, we had a good idea of what we needed to work on this past winter.   At this point, in order to get ready for the next show, we make pots to replace the pots we sold at last show.  The fall is a very busy time for both of us (we average a show per month), so it is much easier if we can work this way. I talk to a lot of developing potters who often say to me that they don’t want sell because they don’t want to have to make particular items.  Actually, I hear this from a lot of hobbiest in various media.  And, I understand it.  If it doesn’t bring you joy, than don’t do it.  But for me, the shows drive me to make pots and the result is I make more pots of better quality.    For some potters, Christmas functions as a driving force for them to get into the studio and work.  I have seen Christmas lists that would overwhelm a crew of elves.  But, the list keeps the potters focused and throwing.  Shows do this for me and they give me the opportunity to make more pots than I could otherwise...

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I tumble for you, I tumble for you!

Posted by on Aug 18, 2012 in Philosophy, Tumbler | 2 comments

Confession – I love 80s music –  and what potter couldn’t love Boy George’s anthem to tumbler? I love making mugs (as I have stated many times).  But, sometimes I don’t get the handles on  before they dry and I am left with a tumbler.  Every time this happens, I promise to never let it happen again; but you know what they say about good intentions.  Some days life interferes and I just don’t make it back into the studio which is how mugs become tumblers. I have several of these ‘not-quite-mugs’ in my home and I use them daily.  At first, they ended up in my cupboard because tumblers are very difficult to sell or give away.  But now, we prefer to use them instead of the glassware; consequently, they spend more time in the dishwasher than they do in the cabinet.  In fact, I am planning to replace our glasses with tumblers (eventually, you know…shoemaker’s kids and all that). There seems to be a lot of confusion about ceramic tumblers.  People (Americans) don’t know what to do with a pottery tumbler.  Although ceramic tumblers (like Japanese tea bowls) are revered in other cultures, in the US, there is a discrimitory attitude toward them.  I am not sure why there is such a predjudice towards tumblers (aka ceramic handless mugs); but, apparently, there are rules for beverage consumption and ceramic tumblers are shunned.  For example: Cold drinks are drunk from tumblers made of glass, plastic, or paper. (Why such random discrimination towards pottery?  Ceramic tumblers are perfect for keeping refreshing beverages colder longer.)  Hot beverages are consumed from mugs with handles.  Exception #1:  Over-priced hot beverages can be drunk from paper tumblers with supplemental cardboard sleeves.  Exception #2:  Hot beverages prepared at home for consumption outside of the home may be drunk from plastic or stainless steel tumblers if they have a lid (If we can drink coffee out of disposable and lidded tumblers, why not from a ceramic tumbler?) Wine must be sipped from glass-stemware.  Exception: Wine can be drunk from a tumbler if it is called a stemless wine glass (Really?! A glass tumbler should not be more permissible than a ceramic tumbler.) I am attempting to help people overcome their pottery prejudices by forcibly serving our guests iced-tea in tumblers.  I want them to realize the benefits to drinking from a ceramic tumbler – pottery tumblers keep the beverage colder for longer time, handmade is more enjoyable, and pottery tumblers are more attractive than glasses from IKEA.  As a consequence of my crusade, a few guests have even become tumbler converts!  Tumblers are more than un-evolved mugs and if we set aside these arbitray rules, we can enjoy handmade pottery in a broader context.   (I wanted to have the song playing as you opened the post; but I read somewhere that viewers immediately leave a site that has automatic music.  So for all you Culture Club fans or potters who want to celebrate the tumbler with this timeless song, click here and...

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Keeping Pots Moist

Posted by on Aug 15, 2012 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

I worked at a community art center for several years and I know how frustrating it can be to have a pot become too dry to finish.  It is such a waste of effort.  I encourage anyone whose studio is remote to transport pots in order to monitor drying time.  You will never make the best pot you can if you always have to accomodate for a dry pot. Drying time is difficult to quantify.  There are so many variables that will affect how quickly a pot will dry: weather, humidity, A/C, drafts, pot shape, type of clay, etc. I contend it is better to have a pot be too wet to work on than too dry to save.  So here are a few tips to keeping a pot moist. Wrap in good plastic – dry cleaner bags are great; grocery store bags are not.  In general, the more noise a bag makes, the less desirable it is for wrapping pots. Once the pot is dry enough to avoid having the plastic stick to it, wrap the plastic around it so that the plastic is in contact with pot. Tuck the plastic underneath the batt; do not drape if you want to delay drying. Use multiple layers of plastic. Undercut the pot, but leave it on the batt.  It will stay moist longer. If you move the pot to a wareboard, lay plastic on a wareboard and then wrap up the pot. Do not wrap multiple pots in plastic if they are different heights because the shorter pots will dry...

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Mug Mania

Posted by on Aug 11, 2012 in Mugs, Multiples, studio work | 0 comments

I make a lot of pots because I enjoy making pots.  As a consequence, I sell those pots.  A lot of potters don’t sell because they don’t want to feel pressured to make a certain number of a particular pot.  But, I don’t feel that way.  In fact, I was quite excited after Bele Chere because we sold a lot of mugs.  Now I get to make more mugs! Last autumn, I made a lot of mugs which have provided an inventory for our recent shows.  But with the shows we have scheduled, we need to add to the  collection.  So I am in production mode. This means I am making 5 mugs every other day.  Five is my number for mugs.  I can make 5 bodies,  pull 5 handles, trim 5 forms, and attach 5 handles without feeling like it is tedious.  Knowing my number (5 mugs) helps me keep from succumbing to the temptation to over-produce.  Over-production is bad when I am putting handles on mugs because too many mugs results in too little...

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If not now, when?

Posted by on Aug 8, 2012 in Travel | 0 comments

I have a scarf that I started knitting several months ago – and I am still working on it.  This is the great and evil thing about knitting, I can start a project and it will wait forever until I return.  Of course, with no consequences to allowing a project to age (except for apathy), there is no inducement to quickly resume work. This is not the case with pottery.  In pottery, I must find time to make the pots and then commit time to finish the pots.  The window of opportunity is short before pots are unsalvageable.  There is no need to spend a few hours making pots if I can’t find time to finish them before they become too dry. Last night, I had time to throw but I am leaving town for a conference (day job obligation) so I knew that anything I made would dry out before I return.   Normally, in such situations,  I would glaze or do some studio maintenance.  But, believe it or not, I am caught up so I really didn’t have anything that I could work on. Unfortunately, Julie didn’t finish her pots before she left on her trip.  So I  went by the studio and wrapped them up really well (multiple layers of plastic); I plan to finish them when I return which is the best option for such...

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