Monday, September 1, 2008

welcome to the machine

or, should i call it meditations at the drill press? either way i am a makin' fool right about now. which is why i have neglected the ole bloggy blog for the past month.
so, the show was a success for me! after all my frettin' and a-worrying everything turned out well. i got a lot of orders, for me, more than i was expecting, and now i am super busy at the studio and hoping i can fulfill all the promises i have made.
lots of things have had to shift as a result of this: i can no longer participate in the farmer's market as i have no time to make anything else than what was ordered; i had to get rid of the gallery space in my studio to make room for shelving and work space for my assistant. yep, that's right. assistant. there is no way i can make all this without some help. (she leaves this week for 2 weeks on vaca! i'm freaking out!!) and i had to expand a little into sylvia's space for my shipping. i am sadly close to outgrowing my beautiful studio space, but hesitate to change right now or even in the near future, as who knows how long this little rush of busy-ness will go on for. and, the biggest change is that i have no time to design new things right now...adapting to all of this has been epic, and i hope that one day i'll get it figured out so that i can not only be a machine, but so i can have some free time in the studio to play again. i miss it!
sorry no picture today...don't have anything new to show...wait...maybe i can find something about my cute dog curled up sleeping?

not at all ceramic related...well, she is the best studio dog ever, so i guess it kind of is.


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

manifesting my destiny

so, tomorrow morning i am off to the buyer's market of american craft in philly. i have prepared as much as possible, save for mental prep, and i think i am ready.
actually, as i just wrote that, i wondered "am i really ready?" i have all the stuff i need for the actual show: booth, samples, catalog etc, but i have never experienced a wholesale show before, and so i can't really say i am fully prepared. even if i could, i know the first person to come into my booth would throw me a question that i would have to make the answer up to, thereby squishing my idea of being ready, so suffice it to say i am ready for anything to happen.
also, i let some negative thoughts creep in yesterday, and it is amazing how they can really nag at you, and change your whole outlook. i was thinking that what if, after all the effort, time, money, stress, and general upheaval of my whole way of thinking about making, what if no one orders anything? really. what if? i found myself thinking of back up plans and regular jobs and really was quite sad. it is a possibility i guess, and if it happens then it happens, and i will cross that bridge when i come to it. i am not going to dwell on this thought, but it is out there. i will just have to imagine my success. plan for my success. manifest my destiny. which is to be making a living doing what i love and sharing the work i make with others.
allrighty, then. let's do it! wish me luck. i'll report back next week.

Monday, July 14, 2008

market of artists

howdy y'all. here is a picture of my little booth at the farmer's market. most every saturday until the end of october i will be at the artist market which is part of the farmer's market in burlington in city hall park.
i took the photo with my phone, but you get the idea, no? i look at this picture i think i really have some work to do on my booth. i did end up getting an old wooden plant shelf with wheels at a tag sale a while back with intentions to use it for the market. however, it is a bit shaky structurally and i have yet to bring it for some reason...i guess i leave it because of its rickety-ness, and mostly because it takes up a good chunk of the truck. as i look at this picture i think i should probably bring it next time.
i will say though that the market has yet to be financially viable. while i do make the money back that it costs me to participate, it doesn't really pay me for my time yet. i had a couple of good days in the beginning, but the past few weeks have come up quite short. i continue to go because it is good exposure, and keeps me in touch with my friends and contacts in burlington, and i think that the more people who see my work the better. but, i have to say it is a bit discouraging to only come away with a few bucks for all my time and effort. i hold out hope that it will turn around someday soon!
that's it for now...

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

busy like a beaver

hello all! so sorry to have been away for so long. i have been insanely making prototypes for the wholesale show, along with other show related business...booth set-up, catalog, order forms and so on...who knew there was so much involved? not me...well, that's not totally true...people have told me what to do and what i will need, but until you actually do it you really have no idea what it all entails! i keep telling myself that it is just this way the first time, and that next time i will not be so crazed because i will know what to expect. i think for the most part this is true and it keeps me going, through all the last minute-ness and "what? i need postcards by tomorrow?"
honestly, when i get overwhelmed and stressed for something like this, i think back to my thesis show in grad school. it was an insane, and i mean insane, crazy frantic time. i had a complete melt down in the kiln, and had to scramble to make new work to replace it, (the only time, mind you, that a kiln sitter has ever not worked for me. lesson learned.) but, just the business of getting the show together, hanging it, and dealing with 30 other people also trying to fire their final work and the overall craziness of a busy full studio. it was the first time in many years i had pulled all-nighters to get work done. when it was over i slept for about three days, no joke. BUT, whenever i get in a situation like this, where i have a deadline and i am nervous and overwhelmed and have a never ending list of things to do, i find solace in the fact that i pulled off that show, and it was good. the work looked great, and i managed to speak eloquently about it (most of the time). so, thanks RIT, for helping me deal.
pictured are a set of the luminaries i will be making for the show (shot at my friends mandy and george's sweet photo set-up in their basement.) i just brought them all to my awesome photographer dok wright who does a fabulous job and is fun to work with. figured i need some professionally shot images for catalogs, postcards, and so on. i can do it, usually, but for something like this i didn't want to cut any corners.
on the homefront, i am still sleeping in the kitchen...the floors are finished, but the yukky panelling needs painting, and though i started it myself i could not finish as the show has taken over my life. i have hired a friend to do it and though it is going, it is going slow, so i wait and try not to think about it!

Monday, June 9, 2008

something new everyday

so, yesterday i learned how to wallpaper a room. not too tough, especially since i had some help. many many thanks to sylvia and dana, who is a pro at it, and tall, so he doesn't even need a ladder.
it looks much better, and though the wallpaper is not exactly what i would love to have in there, it is waaaay better than what was there to begin with. sorry i don't have a before pic, but here are a couple of after pics. i took 'em from my phone, so the quality is poor, but you get the idea. don't worry...the curtains are going!
i am procrastinating right now. the movers are coming tomorrow and i have so much to do i bid you farewell until i am settled in a bit...adios!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

new house business...

so, if you're wondering where i've been this past month or so, i am finally back to tell you all that i have been busy wrapping my head around buying a house!!! yippee!!
it is a cute litte 1100 square footer here in town, with a garage and a little yard for me to mow and grow things in, and for my dog chicken to poop in!
it doesn't really need any work, except cosmetically, and that mainly consists of some old peely wallpaper and an icky rug that needed to go. all the other stuff, like the old cabinetry and countertops, can definitely wait for a while. i need to live in the place and figure out what i want for it before i start ripping it apart.
above is a picture of my new floor, sans yukky mauve/brown carpet. i ripped it up to find that, luckily, there was this lovely wood floor just waiting to be discovered by me. it needs refinishing, but i'll do that at a later date. now that all the staples and tacks are gone, it looks like a real room!
i will for sure be posting some more pictures very soon, i just have to remember to bring my camera to the house...the phone cam isn't bad, but it doesn't do the place justice.
next mini project will be to paint that panelling. hopefully i'll get to it before i move in, which is scheduled for the 5th of june, but if not i'll just wing it.
i love my new house!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

indie fixxed

one of my favorite weekly blog reads, indie fixx, posted an image of my work last week! it was a wonderful surprise and i was happy to be featured with other makers of porcelain jewelry. have a look here. thanks jen!
i have been madly firing away and lustering my new pendant designs to have pictures taken and get my various applications out to shows. i have been anxiously awaiting a shipment of clay, that unfortunately is taking its own sweet time. i am a bit frustrated, but can do nothing, so i wait. there is plenty of other stuff to do, though, so at least i'm not sitting on my bum eating bon-bons.
wait a minute...that sounds kind of nice right now...

new pendant. porcelain, glaze.

Friday, April 18, 2008


i finally sold something on!! this is a picture of the necklace. it is made of hand colored and formed porcelain beads with laser-etched sterling beads. i'm so excited to be sending it out to its new owner, and i only hope she enjoys wearing it as much as i enjoyed making it.
on another note, i finally made my third mold, with the help of my trusty assistant cory. only minor issues arose and they did not hinder the outcome of the final product. what a relief. i really hate making molds as it can be such an intense process, but i am realizing that if i take it slow it will all work out.
also interesting is the newness of actually having someone there to help me out. i have always, or mostly, been just alone in the studio and am used to getting things done that way, but now that i have some help i am realizing how great it is, and wonder how i ever managed to make it through before! thanks, cory!
only one more mold to make in this series, but others are pending, so stay tuned...i'm sure there will be more drama around it to report on.

Saturday, April 12, 2008


finally, some progress! here is an image of the small luminary....

so far i have two sizes, and have yet to make the third mold...i have been scarred by my last attempt, but will have to jump back in this week sometime.

i am happy with the way they are turning out, and should hopefully be making them all for real in the next couple of feels good to finally see the results of all this plotting and planning and test-making.
on another, different, note i have been taking a business class through the women's small business program in burlington, and will be spending the next couple of days finalizing my business plan. even though i have been "in business" for a couple of years now, i still felt like i needed some help getting it all together, so i decided to take this has been very intense and really made me take a good hard look at the way i have been operating (not so well, it turns out!) and helped me get back on track. i'd much rather spend the time in the studio, but alas, this needs to be done as well...
i am terrible at the business side of things. disorganized and flighty about keeping records of sales and inventory, not to mention supply purchasing etc., and as i go forward and entertain the possibility of wholesaling, it seems like a good time to get my act together. hopefully i'll be able to put all i've learned in to practice. wish me luck!

Saturday, April 5, 2008

plaster disaster

i got plastered! while making my third luminary mold today, i got completly messy when my plaster started pouring out of the bottom, from underneath the slab that the mold was resting in, if that makes sense. everywhere. stop. must clean immediately. you can save nothing. it is now about damage control.

oh well, it happens. i cleaned up and thought originally that i might just get back on that horse, but i was exausted. definitely not ready for it to potentially happen again, although i think i know how to stop it now. nope. went home and took a shower, got in my pajamas and did some yoga. i was sore. then some friends called and i met them out for dinner and had a margarita and now i feel much better. not that i was all that bummed, but it took a lot out of me for some reason today.

i did manage to take a picture of my feet and floor all messy. i do like getting messy. wish i could have grabbed the camera while it was all happening...doesn't really look all that bad here...

i also am adding a picture of some of the luminaries i have been making...

and another.....

these are handbuilt from slabs and textured...the one here is slightly translucent and glows when lit. it was a mold for these babies that i attempted to make when the previously mentioned disaster occurred. not to fear, i'll be back and ready to tackle it on monday.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Saturday, March 29, 2008

wholesale, production and romance, oh my.

hi all...don't know if you read whitney smith's blog, this artist's life, but she has been discussing the issue of wholesaling work and how to best make it work for you. she brings up some interesting points about speed and consistency that i have been also wrestling with in my own quest to achieve a wholesale line.
so, i started with candle holders that i make by hand (see above). though they don't look it in the picture, they are quite labor intensive and, honestly, quite slow. the idea of possibly getting an order for even 100 is exciting, but i realized there would be no way i could hope to make them consistently and in a timely fashion. so, i have decided to slipcast them. i went back and forth with this for a while, but i have decided this is the best way, if i am to truly try wholesaling, and to not make myself a crazy candle holder maker.
now, i know slipcasting still has a stigma attached to it, and that a lot of people frown upon it as a way of making, but i have thought a lot about this over the years and here is a little of what i have come up with to justify it for myself: moldmaking is just another tool, like the wheel, or a slabroller, or a rasp, or a paintbrush. i do not see much of a difference between someone who sits at the wheel for 8 hours throwing the same form over and over again, and someone who spends 8 hours making a beautiful, well crafted mold (it is an art in itself, really...if you have ever tried to make a mold this is painfully clear!) and then using it to make the same thing over and over again.
i can slipcast the forms above from a mold i make myself and then add the decorative elements to them. not much in the way of "handmade" is lost, and it will enable me to actually sell them and reach more people than those who go to my local craft fairs and farmer's markets.

any making on a large scale, especially for ceramics which is exquisitely time consuming and labor intensive, requires "mass production" methods. this can be whatever you need it to be: wheel-produced, or an assembly line and division of labor, slipcasting, or any other way you can think of to make your process faster and more efficient. they are all really just another tool in your tool box. any and all of them will be valid methods of making, and in my mind do not necessarily take away from the handmade, artistic value of the finished product. it is still not factory work, made by drones for pennies in china. (and, i might argue, that even those objects have their place in the world, but that post is for another time....)
it is difficult for any artist making things alone in their studio to make a living off of their work by producing small quantities or one of a kind pieces. sure, it can be done, but by and large it is difficult. believe me, i know this.

if you do not want to make a living from your work, then more power to you! make one of a kind things until your heart is satisfied, and then make more. i think the difference is in your intention. if making things is to be hobby, or to supplement income, then that is one thing, but if it is to be the source of your livlihood, then you must produce, market, and sell. this is just the way it is.
so, that said, i am attempting to do both the "mass produced" ware and the one of a kind, or limited edition pieces. making things for wholesale is making me think in completely different ways than i have before, and that is a good thing. it is my hope to make a living from my work, at some point, and that has forced me to rethink my antiquated, though beautiful and romantic idea of myself as the artist working away in her studio and selling her one of a kind work to the discerning customer with an open wallet. it is just too hard and quite frankly not realistic, especially in these troubled economic times.
ok..i will get off my soapbox now. not sure why, but i feel especially fired up about all of this...i have been thinking and reading a lot about it lately. i guess i am still processing the fact that my reality will be that i have to become a production artist (maybe a contradiction in terms??), which i always swore i would not do. i really don't want to go to work for someone else, however, and believe that i can make a living from my work, and that right there has forced me to start shedding my stubborn ideals. it has been slow in the coming, but i am trying to embrace it without sacrificing my artistic integrity. i used to think this would not be possible, but now i realize that is not so.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

back in the saddle

hello hello....sorry to have been absent for so long...i was sick for a while and then busy getting back to work and catching up...i have also been taking a business class, and now i'm very behind in the homework...partly due to illness, and partly due to the fact that we are working on financials, and this is the most dreadful part for me, so i have been putting it off, putting it off...must dive in, though...what is it they say? just do it. yeah, that's it....

on the bright side, my slabroller came!! yay! it has taken me a while to get the hang of the mechanism, as i am used to using a different brand, but now that i've got the hang of it it has made my life much easier, and opened up so much room in the studio. the scary part is, now i have to make things!! a lot of them!! it is scary, but in a good way, i promise.

so, don't know if any of you read american craft magazine, but you should. this month's articles are great, though they kind of beat the dead horse of art vs. craft and all of that, but they generally have very insightful articles, not to mention great pictures. ;) they always get me thinking in ways that i haven't since grad school, and i think that's a good thing. anyway, there is one particular article on ceramics and industry this month, and i highly suggest you read it. you'll find it here. there is actually another article by marek cecula on similar things, but i liked this other one better...check it out.

not to rant about it, but i think a lot about the craft v art v industry debate, and i really don't see the big deal. mostly what i come to, especially after reading these articles, is that industry is not a bad thing...after all, if you think about it, industry was born from craft, and crafters should be proud of that, and own it, rather than bitching about industry and what it does to ceramics (or any other media, for that matter). but really, everything is valid. i don't think one is better than the other, the cottage potter or the industrial designer. this world is big enough for all of it, and one would not exist without the other. we all have our place. i could go on here, but really am working on getting my thoughts down and then i'll post something a bit more articulate, but read the magazine and come to your own conclusions.

above is an image of a wall piece i made recently. black and white porcelain. here's one in white.

Monday, March 3, 2008


welllll....i finally did it! i ordered myself a slabroller! for years and years i have been rolling slabs by hand, with my trusty rolling pin and a few sticks, and it has served me well, but alas it is time to move on up! i finally decided on the northstar and bought it through my trusty equipment source sheffield pottery in sheffield, mass. i also bought my kiln from them and their service and support is great...not to mention they always seem to have the best prices around.
so, it should be here sometime this week or next, and i have been busy prepping the studio for its arrival...moving things, throwing things out, organizing. it has been a great opportunity for me to re-think the flow of my workspace and find a way to make it the most productive. my space is only about 530 square feet and is broken up strangely due to previous tenants, so its always interesting to try and get the most out of the space with all the stuff i seem to pack in there....i think i like it a lot better now, and i can move around nicely without it being too choppy...and i have a nice little space set aside for the slabby slab roller! i'll take some pics and post them once i get it all together....

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

when to stop?

this is my dilemma right now. i am trying to make work to apply to a wholesale show, and coming up with a line of work has been a difficult thing for me to do. usually i make what i want, when i want, without thinking too much about it. but now, i have to make things that match, that other people will like and want to buy. but i can't seem to settle on my designs...i can't stop thinking of better ways to decorate...testing, testing, with no end in sight! i know i am putting too much pressure on myself to make it perfect, and that i'll just have to pick a stopping point because i could go on like this forever!! but this is one of the hardest things as a maker not to. so, when do i stop? when is it done?
so far i am making luminaries with vases and small picture frames to match, and the images are of work in progress. the shapes are simple which is ok...a basic hurricane design. the good part about the shape is that they leave lots of room for decoration. maybe what is difficult here is that i feel like i am making for someone else, and that is hard to do. should i add some color? probably, people like color, but how can i do it without compromising the translucency? should i make them castable? will i kill myself if i get a lot of orders for them? so many questions, and i guess i won't know the answer until i go to the show and see what happens.

its hard to be working in a vaccuum sometimes, with little or no true feedback on my work. i am having a hard time coming to terms with making all this stuff and then hoping that people like it. kind of like working without a net.
ah well, guess i've no choice but to keep on keepin' on! i will have to pick a stopping point for these soon, because if i don't i'll never move forward. i'll just have to be where i am. could be worse....

Sunday, January 27, 2008

cups and kilns

new cups!! well, not completely new, but the image is new, and finally i have found a professional photographer to shoot my work. what a relief.

still trying to come up with a nice line of candle holders in preparation for some wholesale shows, and i'm making some progress, which is great. i'll post some images once i get them fired. or, should i say, once i fix my kiln so that i can fire them...had a little re-wiring mishap while putting things back together, so i'm waiting for some parts to show up from skutt so i can get the show on the road. soon.....very soon....

Sunday, January 20, 2008

planning for the future

i don't know about you all, but i have a hard time planning for the future. i am plotting for retail and wholesale shows that don't take place until the summer, fall, and even christmas time, and it just seems so daunting! until now i have just been making things i want to make, and hoping that they will appeal to people and sell, but now its time to notch it up. a lot. i have realized that if i am going to be successful at making a living from my work that i am going to have to be a little more aggressive about it.

this can be a difficult place for artists i think. most of us are makers, not marketers or sellers, but in order to make it work we must wear all these hats. i know i am not the only one who struggles with this, but that doesn't always make it easier to swallow!

i have recently hired some help for this, but in trying to give my assistant something to work on, it became clear that i have things to do before she can do her thing. while frustrating, it is also motivating, and seems to be helping me get my act together. a huge calendar went up on my wall last night that goes until september, with deadlines color-coded and underlined. i am visual, after all! hopefully this will help...if anyone has any other ideas on how to make it all work it would be great to hear them....i'm sure we could all use a little help!
ps. the picture above is of some snowfall on burrs in my backyard last winter.