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Thursday, January 31, 2013

A Little Bit Of Everything

 Mother Nature can't seem to make up her mind here in North Carolina. We get a day that's warm and sunny like Spring, then we get ice and snow, then we get another spring tease, then we get hurricane force winds and tornado warnings. It's been crazy weather and it seems to be having the same effect on me, can't make up my mind what I want to do. I know I don't want to be outside right now. I've done some weaving, some reading, some painting, photographed some work, visited with friends, spent time with my family. But no clay work to show you. My studio is just too cold. I went out the other day thinking I would just cut off a chunk of clay and bring it in the house, but it was frozen solid. Yesterday was warm and wet, and I did manage to put my studio back in some sort of order after the studio tour in December. It's nice and clean now, found all the things I had stored away, and I'm ready to go when we get another wishy washy day. Gerry and I went over to UNC's campus on Tuesday for breakfast and walked around in the brief warm weather. The campus is so beautiful and historic and it's a great place to go for a walk after breakfast on Franklin St. It was such a short window of warmth but very welcome just the same.

 I have been trying to capture the view from my kitchen table with watercolors. I'm not that good and I don't know when to stop, so it ends up being muddy, but I seem to be learning from that and going more slowly, less water, less clutter. I haven't managed to use the brush Brandon Phillips sent me awhile back for any clay deco, but it makes really great tree branches.
 It's so bleak out there.......
Yesterday I walked around on the paths in our woods and my cat followed me every step of the way, like a dog and she kept rubbing up next to me to get warm, I suppose. She's ready for spring too.
I can feel it coming just around the bend, can't you?

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Lark Books call for entries

Hey Beaders, this one's for you!

Lark Jewelry & Beading (http://www.facebook.com/LarkJewelryBeading) seeks
excellent photographs of original, contemporary beads in all materials to
publish in a new juried, international collection in our 500 Series of
books: Showcase 1000 Beads. This book is scheduled to be published in
January 2014. The book will be juried by glass beadmaker Kristina Logan.

We welcome and encourage submission of photographs of your handmade beads in
all materials, including glass, metal, polymer clay, metal clay, ceramics,
paper, fiber, plastic, wood, stone, etc., and in all design styles. All work
must be made no earlier than 2010, and the more recent the work the better;
we would prefer to see your 2012 work over your 2011 work, and your 2011
work over your 2010 work.

We strongly prefer images of beads that have not been published previously,
and please do NOT submit images of pieces that have been published in any
Lark book. We can accept only high-quality digital images. Artists will
receive full acknowledgment within the book and a complimentary copy.
Artists retain copyright of their work. There is no entry fee.

All submissions must be submitted electronically through Juried Art
Services. Note that there is no fee for using Juried Art Services. The entry
page can be found at the following link: http://bit.ly/VTfT6E or, the full
URL:
http://www.juriedartservices.com/index.php?content=event_info&event_id=614.

Entries must be submitted by February 14, 2013.

Friday, January 25, 2013

It's the Little Things

 When a bunch of the bloggers that I used to read stopped blogging and went to Facebook, I had to find some more reading material, because I like reading interesting blogs, I don't like reading facebook stuff, as you know. Somehow I stumbled on to Cindy's blog, Handstories and found it really interesting to read. She recently posted about some yarn she had spun and it was so beautiful I wanted some. The blogging world is so great. She sent it to me so I could check it out and if I liked it, I could pay her for it. It's beyond beautiful, I can't even explain how it feels it's so soft. The check is in the mail today Cindy, thanks!!
I have found that ordering hand made objects is not just getting a package in the mail. It can sometimes be an experience. Not only did Cindy send me some amazing yarn that she spun herself, she sent me
"a bit of the Northwest". These little shells and seaglass were tucked in a sweet little package with a note and it made getting this package in the mail all the more special. And her hangtag was handmade and lovely, and the whole thing just brightened my morning. I think it's the extra step, the little things that make getting something so special. I want to remember this gesture and take that extra step when I send out work that people order from me. If people are going to take the time to support handmade craft the least they deserve is a special treat!

As I am typing this, the snow has started to fall, Wesley is home from school, Gerry home with a cold. So it will be a day of hot soups and warm tea and maybe some weaving with my new yarn. Yesterday was a mental health day with my pal Susan. We went to see an art exhibit at the Horace Williams House that was interesting and thought provoking and then we had coffee at Cafe Driade. It was like a business meeting for artists. Lots of talk of what we have going on, what our future plans are, what has worked, what sucks. I am so lucky to have some really wonderful women artists in my life that support me, inspire me and give me great advise and I try to do the same with them. It's important to have these people in your life to walk with you through all the good and the bad and know they all have my back.
I haven't had the most productive week, but it was a good week of contemplation and planning. All necessary. And a bit of trying to heal this neck/arm thing.....
Hibernation comes to mind, I'm just a mama bear right now, ha!


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Sloth


sloth  

/slĂ´TH/
Noun
  1. Reluctance to work or make an effort; laziness.
  2. A slow-moving tropical American mammal (genera Bradypus (three-toed sloths) and Choloepus (two-toed sloths)) that hangs upside down...

That's me right now, except for the hanging upside down part!
Monday was a holiday for Gerry and Wesley had no classes so we drove to UNCSA, lucky for us it's only a little over an hour away. We picked up Wes and went up to Pilot Mt. for a bit of hiking and climbing, (them, not me). I took a book and a thermos of hot tea and sat at the top of the trail in the sun at the ledge leading to Three Bears Gully and I read and I might have closed my eyes and drifted on the wind a bit. What an absolutely beautiful day considering it had snowed just two days earlier. The sun was warm, but the wind got fierce and finally I had to leave my lofty perch and go for some shelter from the wind. We had a great day,but sadly one 17 year old girl did not. When we arrived, there were rescue and emergency medical crews at the trail head, and with rocky cliffs all around, that is not a good sign. Usually means someone has pitched off. And she did, fell 40 feet. We later read online that she survived but had a broken back, broken leg, arm, wrist, ribs, head injury, punctured lung. She is a very lucky girl. A couple of months ago a climber fell 50 feet very close to where she fell and he died. We have had three deaths this year in the places we have rock climbed for years. So sad, be careful!

 Anyway, I have been doing next to nothing. I spent three hours unraveling my yarn knot, that's finished, what a waste of time that was, but I have yarn now. I shopped at Whole Foods today and bought lots of healthy food. Spent less money than I usually do at one of the more well known chains that is supposed to be less expensive. I think people have that wrong, this is the second time I have shopped at Whole Foods and spent less, but came home with more food.
Anyway, tonight I made a really great salad with pears,strawberries, blueberries, radishes, arugula and spinach and then topped it with some sunflower seeds, almonds, asparagus and fingerling potatoes that I tossed in some olive oil and garlic. Added a touch of balsamic vinegar and some crostini with some olive tapenade. Heaven.
And beautiful in my Jugtown plate that I eat out of all the time now.
Slowly finishing this up. It now has a turquoise stripe too. It's sort of a sampler, I'm just trying random patterns and threads to see what I like. It will be pretty, but I don't know what it will be for.
I also started doing yoga again today and listened to a lot of cracks and crunchy stuff going on in my neck and back. There's a big surprise. Holiday stress, pottery work, weaving, show stress, of course my neck is going to hurt. But it's a problem. I have really bad pain between my left elbow and my shoulder and sometimes my fingers are numb. Like, I can't brush my hair right now or stir things, or lift my arm very high and I am left handed so this is no good. There is also a specific spot between my neck and shoulder that hurts. All signs lead to a pinched nerve. I'm going to try and remedy this myself. I have a very strong aversion to doctors. I found some great exercsies online and in my yoga books and already I can feel some of the tension easing up. Also pineapple juice is very good for inflammation, so I am juicing it up right now. Hopefully I can avoid a doc visit and get rid of this pain with doing things that are good for me. Like mental health days in the mountains and visits with friends........
Turning 50 has not been my favorite thing. I feel like my body went into instant decay and now I am having to work twice as hard to reverse the process. At least in that area I am not being a sloth. I'm trying to take care of this one and only body I have, I got a long way to go and I want to feel good getting there!
Another reason I don't want to do anything..... it's so cold. I know 35 sounds tropical to you up north and over there in Alaska, but for a girl that grew up on the South Carolina coast, if it's below 70f, it's cold to me. I know I don't want to do anything in August either, haha! Apparently I'm turning into Goldilocks and conditions have to be just right. My husband is a saint for putting up with this bullshit, he really is. Thanks, Ger for letting me be me, xoxo!!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

I Just Like the Learning

 I think my favorite thing about clay has been the learning. I enjoy that so much more than the making or the selling. I like pushing the clay to see what happens, doing things with firings and glazes that you aren't supposed to do and see what the results are. I have enjoyed learning different surface processes and learning about wood, gas, raku and electric kilns, learning what different clays will do. It's all interesting and it's endless.
Now I am finding myself as a beginner again, except with yarn. I seriously don't know what I'm doing! But I'm having a great time learning. I'm approaching this much like I did with clay. With clay, I took a class, then got some books and did a lot of reading, then just jumped in and started trying things. Now I'm doing that with weaving. Reading A LOT, trying a lot of things to see what works, what I like, what I don't like. I spent the weekend weaving quite a bit and trying different yarns and patterns.
 One thing I REALLY don't know is yarn management. Someone please tell me why this happens every time I unravel a rope of yarn!?!?! I spent several hours this weekend sorting out yarn knots, this is not a fun thing to learn about and it is seriously wasting my time! I just bought this yarn a few hours ago at a yarn shop in Hillsborough with my pal Laura, and look what I did in about a half a minute!
I know, weavers, stop laughing at me now!
Gerry gave me this great pattern book for Christmas. Rather than do plain weave until I know what I'm doing, I went straight to the back of the book and found a "point threading over 8, 10 and 12; 2/2 twill" that looked pretty cool. This could be written in Russian as well and I would understand what it means about as much as I understand it in English, which is not at all. But I got my other book, Learning to Weave and at least figured out the pattern draft and the treadle tie up and what I was supposed to do, sort of. Anyway, it worked, I got a nice table runner out of it!


 This is the twill, nice.
One of the other things I'm doing is experimenting with yarns to see what I like. I know I don't care so much for the $7.99 wool at Micheals. I know I DO like the more expensive hemp that I got today..... yum! It feels sooooo nice.

 It is, however, not the best yarn for a beginner, the warp threads that snapped because I forgot to release my brake, show up way more with the hemp than they did with the cheap wool, dang! Oh well, it's handmade, there should be some flaws somewhere.
I also bought some multi colored homespun that I thought I would like, but this one is too pale and boring and the other one that I ripped back out of the loom, (that also wasted way more time than I care to deal with again) was very bright and stripey and I didn't like it. This is my new bobbin winder, also a gift from Gerry, believe it or not I was hand winding my bobbins until Christmas. Not fun.....
So far, I like hemp (big surprise, right?). I would like to grow hemp and spin it and weave it. Also, Cindy at Handstories blog sent me some photos of some very pretty yarn she is spinning and I want to try that as well. Lots of testing right now to se what fits. I put on a very long warp so I am just weaving whatever I have, making samplers. So much fun! I like the learning!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Galleries vs. Outdoor Shows

This year I was invited to be in a show at Lark and Key, the show was beautiful, work sold, and I am very happy to be in this gallery. Such a wonderful space, lots of good energy. I was also invited to be in a show at Mudfire down in Decatur. I couldn't get to that show and I haven't seen the gallery, so I can't speak to the gallery itself, but the folks there have been very nice. They did a tremendous job giving me some press, but my pieces, alas, are still there. It's been a year now, so I suppose I need to get them back. I know that I can sell them, my work seems to sell better for some reason when it's attached to me....
 I was also invited to be in a show at Cedar Creek Gallery. Same thing, really nice people, work didn't sell. Got it back, sold it myself.
I get a check every month from The Bascom in Highlands, so I am very happy with that relationship, and Sarah at NC Crafts just supports me no matter what and most months I get a check from her. I was in The Collectors Gallery in Raleigh, but sadly they closed. I am also now in Saxapahaw Artists Gallery but too soon to tell how that is going.
All in all, I am happy with the galleries I am working with and hope to continue those relationships. Every gallery that I have had any dealings with has been really great.
I was invited to be in The Winter Show at the Greenhill Center in Greensboro this year and I was honored to have been asked. I got a call last week from them saying I could pick up my work from the show. What? My pieces didn't sell? They were two of the nicest pieces I made this year, ugh.... I got a little teary, seriously bummed out, and on the hour drive to Greensboro, I considered everything from quitting clay altogether to running my car of the road (not really, but don't you want to do that some days with this clay business?!) so I'm driving to Greensboro in the fog and the rain, getting more and more depressed, but then remembering all the pieces I DID sell this year, mostly of my own doing from a show I did or an order from my studio, and things started looking a little better. Then when I got to Greenhill, most of the show was still up, and there were many many pieces that had not sold. Not just mine, I wasn't alone, heart is feeling better. And then I looked at the artists that were in this show. Was I really in a show with these people. Seriously? I'm feeling a little impressed with myself. I saw a documentary recently on Sylvia Heyden, the 86 year old weaver. There were two of her pieces on the wall, $4500 each, not sold. By the time I left with my box and my barns, I wasn't bummed anymore and had an hours drive back home to think about this emotional roller coaster business I have gotten myself into.
Last year, I had terrible luck with outdoor shows. It wasn't the sales exactly, it was the weather. Every show I signed up for got rained out and I lost my entry fee. So much wasted time and money. The one indoor show, the CDCG was a complete waste of time. My studio tour was great, less than last year, but still good.
So here's what I'm thinking. In order to make this work, it seems that I need a little bit of everything and I need to sell in various venues. Barns for nice galleries and shows, jewelry and small items for Etsy,  less expensive items for outdoor shows. Last year I was single minded, making barns, that was about it. I was focused on work for galleries and my big indoor show. Sales were fine but there was a huge group I was missing, the $50 and under customers, like me. I waited until late in the year to start making smaller items and they all sold quickly, In looking back over receipts and photos from 2011 and 2010, I was reminded that I did pretty well at Shakori and a couple of the other outdoor shows I did. I know I said I wasn't going to do it, but I sent in my application for Shakori and for one other outdoor show for spring. Lesson learned in never saying never! Shakori is just four days of fun, no matter what so there is no harm there. I will have a good time if I sell work or not, and the other outdoor show fee is reasonable and if it rains I won't lose a lot. And it is an art show, not food, music, and kitch.
I also resigned from the CDCG board that I just got voted on to and have decided to sit that one out this year. I love the artists and the people that run that show, I don't particularly care for the attendees so much. They come to look at beautiful art, but they sure weren't buying a lot of it. I also don't care for the booth fee and barely breaking even.
I will do the studio tour again, it's fun, it's successful and it is a great way to end the year.
So, as I review the past three years as I have seriously set out to sell my work, I think for the most part it has been a success. It's been bumpy at times, I have been elated, depressed, touched by some of my customers commissions, I have met some very wonderful people, and I have learned a lot about myself and my work. I'm looking forward to moving ahead with this knowledge and growing my business and my art even more. The most important thing I have learned is you just have to show up. And you have to offer something that you love and you are proud to put out there. To me, craftsmanship has become very important and my quality control hammer gets a lot of use!
I also realize that if I am going to sell work, I can't just rely on galleries. I am going to have to suck it up and do some shows. I don't really want to, but that is the reality of not having a retail shop here. I gotta go where there are customers, at least for awhile. I will not, however, be entering shows that you have to pay a jury fee for, or pay to enter (except for a reasonable booth fee that I tend to myself).
One last thing. I am starting off the new year with a commitment to do props for a spring play at the ArtsCenter. I really miss the theater, I had some time available and the show is a musical about Walt Whitman, so I said yes. I love that they still call me to do shows and I am happy I have some time to go back to what I really love doing. I also dressed my loom yesterday, we have snow on the ground and it is really cold, so 'm staying in and doing some weaving today.
It looks like this will be a year of variety. A little clay work, different shows, different work, some weaving, and some prop design sprinkled in to keep things interesting. Last year I was focused, single minded and worked really hard. This year it looks like I might be all over the place, but who cares? I'm going to have some fun!

photo: Lark and Key Gallery Charlotte NC

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Fancy Photography

 I have been reading a lot of blog posts lately about setting up shop for product photos. I have done it lots of ways. I live with a professional photographer and while he would be more than happy to help me, the last thing he wants to do on his day off is pick up a camera. So, I usually do it myself, having had lots of advise from him. I have also paid a professional to do it, and those were really great images, but for my purpose, I think I get decent enough results. I am by no means a pro, and there are much better photos out there than mine, but I'm fine with my pictures most days. My best results come from setting up on my kitchen table around 11am when the light is not too harsh. I don't use fancy lights, umbrellas, or much of anything else. I have a Nikon Coolpix that has seen better days and sometimes doesn't want to focus, but it's ok. If I had a better camera, the shots would be sharper I suppose.
 I use this cube Gerry got me to soften the light if it is too harsh, but mostly I just use a cheap piece of poster board that has a flat surface, no texture. I prop it up using my cube and place the cube by the window in my kitchen. I have neither the room nor the patience to set up an elaborate bunch of lights and stands, and this gives me perfectly nice photos for my blog, Etsy or show submissions. Now if this were going in a magazine, that would be different. But there aren't a lot of magazines calling me for submissions, so I'm good.

 I have a studio space upstairs where I make my necklaces and in a pinch I will set something up by the window up there. All of the jewelry shots in my Etsy shop were made on this table by the window with a few interesting props.

I think natural light is the most beautiful way to
photograph anything. I especially like it when a part of the photo has been over exposed giving that very white light. Proper lighting for me is the key to making work look great. Studio shots can make pottery looks soooo beautiful, but if you don't have the means for a professional set up, a south facing window and a gray paper can be just as good, just get the shot in focus haha! That seems to be my biggest challenge!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Juice

I have really been enjoying my juicer since I got it. I found a lot of good recipes here:
http://blog.williams-sonoma.com/30-days-of-juicing/
Jody asked for the recipe from yesterday. I usually just grab whatever is in the frig that looks like a good combination and toss it in. I saw someone on the food network make this green one and it looked so good, thought I would give it a try. It was really good, here's what I did:
1 cup green grapes
1 cup kale, chopped
1 cucumber'
handful of parsley (to taste, it's strong)
1 orange
1 green apple
1 stalk of celery
squeeze of 1/2 lemon
after juicing all of this I pour  8oz of cold water through the juicer, add ice to the pitcher and drink up
springtime in a glass!

you can add more of any of these ingredients or add things like pineapple, spinach or a pear might be nice. I just use what I have that looks like it would have juice and vitamins. I have not tried carrots because I don't want to deal with the orange stain

thanks again to Tig at FuturePrimitive blog for talking about juicing, I probably would have never bought my juicer otherwise!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Perfect ending, Perfect beginning

Sunday was a perfect ending to a really great week, and a perfect start to what promises to be another great week.
Thanks to all of you for the pendant purchases, I have some new ones to list sometime this week when I get a round Tuit.
Wesley came home on Saturday and on Sunday we rode down to Seagrove to sample a new batch of beer at Whynot Pottery that Mark Heywood made.
Mark and Meredith have become such great friends through this blog and it's always so much fun to hang out with them and swap stories. If Mark gets tired of throwing pots, he could start a brewery, I would be a regular there! What could be better than hanging out with some friends on a Sunday afternoon, taking a walk down to their pond, eating yummy snacks and drinking a great beer? we even got a sample of some local, fresh goat cheese, sooooo good!




 I woke up to a Monday morning with my child sleeping in her bed, the rooster crowing next door, and clouds in the sky that are bringing rain later today. I have nothing on my calendar for this week except my loom and my studio (so far). Started the day with my new favorite juice to get the week off to a good start: green apple, kale, parsley, orange, lemon, celery and green grapes. Soooo good, tastes like springtime in a glass! Today is the first day since October 14 I have gotten up and not had chest and head congestion. I finally feel like I'm getting back to normal after two back to back cold episodes. Looks like we are in for a rainy week here after being blessed with a weekend in the high 70's and sunshine. It can't be perfect all the time, now can it!?
I'll post some more pendants soon and show you my new clay.....
happy week everyone!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

A Good Week



Isn't this pretty? I hope 2013 continues to be as nice as this past week. I spent the week making and shipping out raku pendants, which was fun. I forgot how much I like sitting at my work table putting necklaces together, very restful and it gives my mind time to roam around and think about other clay things. Tiles and bowls are on my mind these days. Barns are not..... sigh.
There was only one minor blip in my bliss. Mid week, I got an email from a gallery that a commission they had requested for a customer did not get purchased after all. Shame on you lady! I put a lot of work and love into that piece, but I also understand when financial woes come up, for example a $2300 well pump the day after Christmas! So, whatever, it will sell to someone else that will love it. The gallery very kindly offered to pay for it, but they shouldn't have to cover up someone else's problem. Lesson learned, get a deposit.
No worries, I was depressed for about a minute, and then got two Etsy orders, which is always fun. Of course $10 pendant sales are not $300 barn sales, but who cares. Someone likes my work, wanted to buy it, and I am just as happy to sell something for $10 as I am $300. See why I'm not a good business person:)

I finished up a very good week with a trip to Starworks with my pal/mentor Barbara McKenzie to get clay, chemicals and a new present for myself.  I suppose I could say that those of you that purchased pendants this week gave me this, so thank you! :)  Barbara pointed out these bats with inserts while we were waiting on our chemical and clay orders to get filled and she convinced me that we both needed one. I can't wait to get some bowls started and use my new bat system. My old bats are pathetic to the point that I just don't use them. I inherited them from Leonora Coleman, previous owner of Claymakers. When she passed away, I helped her daughter clean out the basement and she gave me boxes of Leonora's clay tools. The bats were well used when I got them, and they sort of piss me off when I use them.
I also got 50 pounds of dark clay and bunches of chemicals to mix some cone 6 test batches. Laura, there are your two bags of star white, I remembered! Has anyone purchased tin oxide lately? Holy crap! $40 for a pound! YOu will notice my tiny !/4 pound bag there. And people dare question the price of a piece of pottery. I was thinking I should put that bag in my booth at shows with the price on it for an example of why I'm charging what I am. People just don't understand what goes into the cost of making a piece of pottery. Clay prices have gone up, cobalt is very expensive, but tin for $40!!! Dang!

Today promises to be warm and I don't have a lot going on. Gerry is shooting the Governor's Inauguration in Raleigh, so I am here alone. Good time to get my studio back to working order and start planning some glaze mixing and clay making. I have my warp ready to dress my loom, but these warm days are pulling me outside. The loom can wait for those cold days of February.
No hurry.....no worry. Haha, my new mantra!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

New Etsy Listings

 Thanks Etsy shoppers! I added a few new pendants to my shop today. If you keep buying them, I'll keep making them :)
 They are only $10, quite a bargain considering the time it took me to make them last night! Still, I'm not a professional jeweler and I use nice but not terribly expensive materials to make them. The best thing is the raku pendant, these are some really pretty ones.
Who wants one!?

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Raku

 Raku is my first love. I don't give a damn what all the pottery snobs out there say about it. The raku I do is pretty and it sells well. I pulled out an old hard drive to see what was on it, and it was full of images of work that has sold over the past three years. I have also been reviewing sales receipts from the past few years, raku was the top selling item. Wall tiles, beads, vases. Way more than my barns.
 This is bending my mind a bit. The barns got me noticed, galleries started asking for my work, I got in really good shows, and I sold a fair amount. But my raku tiles and pendants have way outsold them. Galleries paid me no attention when I was selling raku except Sarah at the NC Crafts Gallery, and she sold a shit load of it. Neither did anyone else, except the people that were spending their money. They like my raku work just fine.

I love my raku pieces. Looking back at all these photos makes me want to go back to it. I don't really care if galleries are paying attention to me or not. I thought I cared, but it's not that important to me right now. I am in some very nice galleries that I like working with and maybe they will like some raku, who knows....funny, as I was writing this post, Gerry walked in from the mail box with a check from NC Crafts. Guess what I sold? Raku stars and raku dishes, one wall tile. Go figure.....
I did a trunk show last January about this time, only selling beads like the ones above, and I made $700, just beads..... makes me wonder why I rolled out all those slabs this year!
Doing a lot of reviewing right now, looking at where I want to sell work, what I want to make. I actually looked to see when applications are due for Shakori Hills Festival. I know, I know, I bitched about outdoor shows and vowed to never do them again, but Shakori is different. It's at least fun, even if I don't sell anything.
Right now I just want to fire up my raku kiln! and also make some bowls....... I am very done with the barns, for awhile at least.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

The Begging Bowl

The begging bowl is used by Buddhist monks to go out into the world and receive alms or food donations. They take their empty bowl out into the world and are grateful for whatever they receive, they have no expectations, they eat what is given until they are nourished and then the bowl is put away. It is also a symbolic teaching of non attachment.
I love the idea of getting up each day with an empty bowl and carrying it with me throughout my day and accepting with gratitude whatever I receive from those I meet and from the day itself. Imagine being grateful for whatever is placed in your bowl and being nourished by it.
I have had bowls on my mind for sometime now. When I make the effort, I make a very nice bowl, I have had some very good bowl making teachers. For me, a bowl is one of the most important objects I have in my house. They are everywhere and they hold everything. I am always reaching for a bowl to put something in. I also think, metaphorically, it has great significance for all of us. An empty bowl, a bowl full of nourishing food, a bowl handed down from a grandmother, a bowl made by a friend. It's an important object. The bowl in this photo is a slab bowl I made several years ago and raku fired. It has held shells from Maine, Hershey's dark chocolate kisses, raku beads, all sorts of treasures. Last year it held the wool Anna Branner sent me and sat in my studio nudging me to try weaving. And now look where that led me!
My hesitation with functional pottery is the decoration. I can make a great bowl, I can't find a surface decoration to suit me to save my life with my limitations of a gas kiln that I don't trust to go more than to ^6. And what clay to use..... I love using white clay in my studio, but for a bowl, dark clay rocks my world. Also functional glazes for ^6 that I like seem to enjoy a dark clay body. I have a couple of ^6 glazes that I like a lot, they are pretty reliable, also very plain. My thinking is that when the weather gets more agreeable to be out in my studio, I may do some bowl tests.
My other hesitation with this bowl plan is that there are a hundred million potters in NC and they all make nice bowls. What will I do with these bowls? Do I really want to put myself into the fray? I don't think I want to highly decorate and draw and decal and all that. I want a simple form, a good form, and a pretty glaze. But that, my people, is not going to set me apart and get me noticed. But do I really care about that. I got noticed, it did nothing for me. So maybe these bowls will be just for me, an exercise. Maybe I should approach this as a learning experience and not worry about the selling part. But I really would like to be able to make a living at a craft. It's all so irksome, this selling (as I keep repeating!)
 Here is a plan that is roaming around in my head:
For the cold months of January and February I plan to catch up with much neglected friends, my calendar for January is almost full already. I am going to stay inside and get to know my loom. I have lots of yarns and a gift card from my pal Laura for even more yarn, thanks, Laura!  I have an idea to make little cloths to go with my bowls. I got this cloth in the photo and I carry it around everywhere for my mug or my bowl of soup or my teapot. It's like a miniature placemat and I like the way it completes the bowl or the mug while it is sitting on a table.
When March gets here, we will have some warm days and I can get my wheel out and re introduce  myself. I have an idea to make 100 bowls. I have no plan for what to do with them. That can come later. If I make them, they will find a place, I'm sure. I have not made 100 of anything at one time, ever. My attention span will last to only 12, then I can't stay on task. (I know... you production potters are laughing at this, but I have been distracted, ok?) So this will be a good discipline for me, and I have the head space for it right now. I am not distracted with too many ideas for new barns with found objects. I have "no mind" as the saying goes. For some reason, I feel like I need to get this out of my system before I can move forward. No idea why, but it's there, and I know how I am. Once a spark is there I have to deal with it or I can't get on with things.
I still have no idea how I want to sell my work this coming year. I have tried many venues, some have worked, some have not, some I have enjoyed, some I have hated. I do know what I don't want to be doing again and that's spending a lot of money on show fees. It's like putting stacks of money in my kiln and firing away.
Now that I have said it, I can move forward and do it. And, the best part is that YOU, my blogger friends will be there supporting my efforts and giving advise and consolation and support as always.
So thanks for that, thanks for reading for the past 1560 posts and stick around, I can use your objectivity!!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Today.....


I read


Baked Molasses Cookies

 Did some Yoga


Made granola and fresh pineapple,pear,apple, grape juice for breakfast, Veggie Panini's for lunch, Mahi Mahi Tacos for supper

and sighed at the sunset in our backyard......
All is well with the world. there's a Libra in the house finding her balance :)
no wonder I never have any money, I never work..... but my family is well cared for, ha!
xo

Thursday, January 3, 2013

What Now........

A new year, a clean slate, a fresh start. Beginnings hold so many promises don't they? And yet I don't feel like I am beginning anything at all. I feel in limbo, like a piece of driftwood out on the water. For the past week I have been moving very slowly through everything I do. I listen slowly, I move from room to room slowly, I was even slicing toast yesterday one piece at a time instead of stacking it all up and ripping through it like I usually do. It was an odd Christmas for us, not having water, being sick with a chest cold, having my mental issues, having to travel. It was a good Christmas though, no bickering, lovely gifts, lots of down time. I have an amazing family.
I have been reading everyone's blogs this week, the new year's resolutions, the reflections on what 2012 was all about, the new goals, the past mistakes and successes. But I have no desire to visit any of this, I have no resolutions, I know what happened last year and don't care to dwell on it. But I should set some goals, get a path laid out before me and get on with it. But what........
I read on someone's blog yesterday these words: Some years are for questions some are for answers. Last year was a year for questions, this year may be more of the same, but I'm not sure. My last two shows have me puzzled and not really knowing how I want to move forward. Let's see:
Last year I made a shitload of houses/barns, sold a few, got a few commissions, got invited to be in some shows, that was all very nice. In 2011 I had set out to "brand" myself, get recognized, get in some galleries, get in some shows. Did that.... so what..... I still don't have the income I want and sales were sllllooooowwww at the end of the year. Except for the things I didn't spend too much time on. The under $50 items sold well, little houses sold well, tiles that were an after thought all sold, jewelry sold, stars sold. Raku sold and sold and sold. I have over $10,000 in inventory now out in galleries so why make more houses.
In fact, my desire to make houses with found objects has come to an unexplainable screeching halt. Raku is rattling around in my brain. Maybe smaller houses that are raku fired will get me moving. I do know one thing. I have painted myself into a corner with this pricing thing. Everyone kept telling me to raise my prices, my work was too cheap. And so I did, and now my sales are slowing down. Yes, everyone says "I love your work, wish I could own a piece, wish I could afford it". and I wish you could too. I wish I could afford to make it cheaply, but I can't. So maybe I can make some little things that are more affordable to balance it all out. And there, in fact, is the key to my stillness. I am out of balance, and I am a LIBRA for God's sake! I need me some balance.
So I sit here.....still.... waiting..... I will know when it's time. But for now I am trying to figure out:
how to sell my work, where do I want to sell it, who do I sell it to, what do I make, why do I make it, do I even want to do this (of course I do, but I should at least ask).
I love the making, I have no problem with that, it's this selling business that makes me crazy! Where do I sell, what is the price, will you like it, will you buy it, why won't you buy it, what's wrong with this, I love it! I'm sorry I charged so much for it, no it's not a bird house.
I put so much of myself into the work that went out of my studio in 2012 I suppose I am just all spent up and need to recharge. So January is all about my friends and family and recharging and staying the path.
Growth, change, understanding, questions and hopefully answers.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

2013.......day one

 My mom gave me this beautiful woven table scarf, my step father gave me two chipped beef jars, wrapped in Christmas paper that I turned into votive candle holders when I got home, trash to treasure. It was a joke but I thought they were charming, he is still getting to know me, haha! I loved both gifts and they were given with love and laughter.
  I miss this.........

yes we took the dog, we both behaved quite nicely, the year is off to a good start so far. 




New Jamie Fox crush. We went to see Django Unchained on New Year's Eve. Extremely violent and they use the "N" word more than I cared for  (it is about slavery, but still......)
however...... the movie is BRILLIANT! My new favorite movie, Quentin Tarentino may be my favorite director ever, he outdid himself with this one.
 It was interesting, the theater was not very crowded but the three of us were the only white folks except for one other couple. There was a group of African Americans behind us, two beautiful African American women in front of us, and even though this movie was about the south and slavery, all of us, both black and white had the same reactions to many of the scenes. There were times when I was very ashamed to be a white person in that theater, but those two beautiful women in front of us turned to us as we were leaving, smiled and wished us a Happy New Year, and it made me hopeful for how far we have come, but this film is also a reminder of how far so many in the south still need to go. I was raised to believe the color of our skin did not make a difference in how we treated one another and my daughter didn't even know that there was a difference in the color of people's skin for a long time. She sees a person for who they are on the inside and the color of their skin is just a part of their beauty.
May we all see each other this way and judge less, love more!
peace ya'll in 2013
xo