Thursday, December 9, 2010

New fine art show to put on your calendar...

I can't share all the details yet but a group of us are working to put together a juried fine arts and craft show on Feb. 5th in Fayetteville. I wanted to mention it so you could put it on your calendar and start thinking about a Valentine art festival!

I'm excited about the show. It'll be indoors in a nice location and we'll have plenty of parking.

Watch here and on the Fayette Front Page and Arts Across Georgia for more information soon!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Time for a website update

I was just looking at my website and realized I really needed to devote some time to updating it on a regular basis. I thought I'd spend a bit of time looking at some other artist's sites to see what I liked, maybe give mine a complete overhaul. I like parts of it, but think that my art should really 'pop', be the main focus.

I am kind of a laid back triple type A person... you'd have to get to know me to understand how those two contrasts work together in one body! I wanted my website to reflect some parts of my personality so I didn't want the flash-y type things that a lot of people use on their sites. I know it's a great thing to see a big flash show of an artist's work, one that's clickable so you can go look at different shots, enlarged shots, of the work that interests you. I would bet that sells too. I want to sell my work.

So, I need some sort of compromise. I need to have my art be what catches attention, not all the words. What can I say? In addition to my pottery I manage and write for a bunch of websites and blogs, kind of makes one 'wordy'.

I have a theory that what sells a person's art is often the person as much as the look of the art. Get a warm and fuzzy about the artist and you're more inclined to like the art. Of course, many times the artist's personality and connections has nothing to do with whether their art sells or not. If you have it in a store or gallery the pottery or art is standing alone, no artist standing their smiling next to it! However, I'd bet that getting the work IN the gallery or store probably had something to do with whether the owner "clicked" with the artist. That's not always true either, and is probably more important with new artists.

Gee, typical me, start out talking about re-doing a website and I'm off on some philosophical track on what sells work. I know it's related, but if I kept going I'd sooner or later be writing about going to Jupiter or all those hummingbirds whizzing around outside my windows...

I could easily write about the hummingbirds!

I'm an eclectic mixed bag. I sometimes tell people that my multiple Gemini personalities have multiples. My work kind of reflects that mix --- I never settle in on a color scheme, a style, a look. I hope that on my last day on earth I'm wondering what new thing I can explore. Are you like me? You get your Ceramics Monthly, Clay Times, etc. and want to explore every styles, try them all, incorporate some aspect of half the stuff you see in your next project?

I kind of think my website shows a tiny bit of that part of me. But I still think it needs an update, a more current look maybe. I do think I need to make my pottery the focus of the site, or maybe it is and I just need to update the site a bit more often, change out the pieces of pottery. I know one thing I'm going to definitely do --- make all the photos the same size and make them clickable.

OK, off to do some website wandering to look at your websites. I'd be curious to know if you've found things that seem to work for you on the Internet in regards to your websites. Do you sell on your site or just use it to showcase your work? Any luck selling from your website? Do you think you should put prices? Do you like or dislike the floating slide-shows that many are using?

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Where've you been?

I've heard that from a number of friends lately! I had a couple of people wonder about this blog, ask questions about my garden and so on.

I wish I could say I'd been in the studio but that's been hit or miss. Yes, I have managed to squeeze in some time and even fired a full glaze load recently... However, I could live in the studio and be content so "squeezing" in a bit of time doesn't get it.

I've been updating and revamping websites this past week. In addition to keeping up with quite a few blogs with some help from great friends and volunteers, I design and maintain websites for various companies. If you read our news blogs you'll see some of them linked at the bottom of some posts. I'm not taking on any new ones though, mostly helping out some friends and family with the ones that I'm doing now. I also maintain some for a few of the volunteer organizations I support (go check out

Oh, let's see, what else have I been doing? Fighting the pests in my garden in hopes of salvaging at least one or two cantaloupes, tomatoes or beans. I am about ready to chuck it though as it seems a new pest appears every morning. To keep up with my woes regarding gardening, visit The Glib Gardener.

I volunteer at the Clothes Less Traveled Thrift Store in Peachtree City and serve on the Board. It's a great organization that raises a lot of money to support local charitable organizations. It's a great place to shop and they're always looking for good quality donations.

My family is extremely important to me and I'll drop any and everything to spend time with them. I've had little ones spending time here in recent weeks. Some of them are old enough to play in the clay with me, others prefer to go feed the ducks or play games.

The websites I've been updating will hopefully one day support me in the style I really, really would like to become accustomed to . I very much appreciate all the great help I get in maintaining them! Go check out Arts Across Georgia, Fayette Front Page and Georgia Front Page. We have about 200 blogs that are associated with our various websites, too. I'll post a list of some of them at the end of this post.

What else? I'm painting a chair for the Chair-ity-Event, finishing up a piece I'm donating to the Southern Conservation Trust, and working on some ornaments for a Christmas Tree a group of us are putting together for Noel November. Noel November is a charity event put on by the local realtors each year. They auction Christmas trees, wreaths and other items then donate all the money to one or two local charities.

OK, I quit. I didn't even begin to touch on all that has kept me away from writing in this blog! I see it every day and I promise it's on my list of things to do. Now if I could just find that darned list. Oh, wow, the hummingbirds are going nuts outside my window, need to fill up the feeders. Shoot, I need to go fertilize the tomato plants. Heck, I forgot to throw the load of clothes in the dryer. Yow, I didn't drop that stack of library books off yesterday, wonder if they're overdue yet... Flip, I need to get some milk tonight or I won't have any for my tea in the morning again... Uh oh, something just flashed across one of my Twitter accounts that I need to RT. Which reminds me, I haven't checked my Facebook accounts today...

Twitter: @artsacrossga
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Monday, July 12, 2010

My Pottery Garden

All potters have pieces of pottery that they don't like, that have flaws or that have broken.

I have always had a strong aversion to trashing pieces, even if they were never going to sit on someone's shelf... or on any of my shelves in view of my students or visitors! Well, that's not quite true, I have a few pieces that I saved to show students... one where the glaze didn't settle and you can slice your hand if you pick it up... another teapot where there spout fell...

Anyway, aside from those that I use to show what not to do, I had a growing stack of pieces that I liked but only if you looked at one side, or if you could ignore the crack, or if you were color blind in one eye.

I also have a studio that sits in a "hollow" of sorts. The water from the yard keeps plants or grass from taking purchase on a large chunk around the studio. Plus, there's a cool tree that I love, but the shade under it combined with water run-off has made it impossible to make the area around it look "pretty".

The yard is chocked full of large rocks, some of them very beautiful. I had been picking them up and tossing them in the woods as I tried to beat back the edges of brambles and wild privet hedges.

Finally, a little light went off in my head --- I could use the rocks, use my pottery and make the area under the tree look a little better. Maybe a little funkier is a more apt description!

I haven't quite decided what to call the garden yet. Mainly because in addition to planting my pottery, I'm sticking found items from the yard. Every time it rains I find something new. I have an old, old shaving can that's half rusted out. I found a metal bucket with a slice out of the bottom. Someone must have dumped a bunch of sea shells after a trip to the beach because they pop up faster than all my plants combined. Off and on I come across some weird shaped metal strips. I'm adding them all to the garden.

Maybe I should call it a Found Item Pottery Garden. Ha ha. Hmmm, wonder if I could use those words plus another to make a good name. FIPG doesn't work for sure. Pottery Item Garden would be PIG. I'll keep working on it.

It took forever to get the bare beginnings of a rock outline around the tree. I started with a rough square rather than  the typical round shape. I intend to add triangle spokes over time to expand outward. I also want different heights in the garden, some rock areas to be higher than others. I'm picturing rock lines walkways, an English style hodge-podge of flowers and creeping plants and, and... yes, my imagination is very ambitious.

Once I finally built the rocks up to the height I wanted to start with, I began buying dirt to fill the center. I'm still buying dirt to fill the center! The water fairies take my dirt every chance they get, despite my best efforts to block it all inside the rock confines. It's getting better now that some of the plants are taking root and I've thickened the depth of the rock confines. Plus the plants are starting to travel into the crevices, which is what I envisioned.

Finding plants that will survive winters, like the shade and won't mind whatever is in the leaves of the tree has been an interesting challenge.

My mom gave me some wild blackberry bushes that she said would take over... they haven't. I planted some things from other areas of the garden that I pull up like weeds, like mint and other herbs, but they obviously prefer more sunlight than the area provides as they're wimping along.

I didn't want to spend any money other than for the dirt, but I ultimately stopped at the local nursery and went shade-plant hunting. Now I have a few things that are thriving --- so far at least!

I find that planting my sub-par pottery isn't going to be enough. I am now going to be making some things to go in the plot. I need some TALL pieces and I can't wait to goof on something ;-)

I'm finding some cool pieces of wood to add to the plot as I work on other areas of the yard. We have five acres with the majority being woods. I love the property, but it is a constant battle to keep the woods from overtaking the grass. Thank goodness I love playing in the dirt almost as much as I love playing in the clay.

My son gave me a cool glow-in-the-dark frog on a lily pad that has a place of honor, too. One of my students brought me a broken piece of pottery to go in the garden.  The pieces of pottery in the bottom photo broke off one of my friend's creations. She tossed 'em. I pulled 'em out of the trash and glazed them. They're stuck all over the garden, mostly in between the rocks to catch attention. All those things are special and it makes me think of the people they're attached to every time I see them.

I noted that my cute little chipmunks have found the rock garden. During dry times they scrabble under the plants to get at the water. I understand they won't eat the roots or hurt the plants so I'm letting them roam free right now. If I find out that they think the plants are my offering to them, then I'll have to decide what to do about them. It's their woods so I have a feeling I'll just learn to work around them. I do love watching them scamper all over the place as I work in the studio!

I thought I'd share a few photos of where the pottery garden is right now, then let you see some off and on over time so we can share the growth. It looks pretty pathetic right now, although please don't repeat that in front of the plants. They're working hard and need all the encouragement they can get!

I have two more flowering plants sitting on the driveway ready to go into the plot. Plus I'm going to plant some of my lambs ear in there. I can't stop it from growing anywhere else so hopefully it'll like it under the tree.

Oh, and I made a stop at Lowes tonight to pick up some more dirt...

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Zipping all over the place...

I've been working with some new clay... I usually like working with red clays, majolica being a favorite given the type work I do. However, I break out sometimes and use whites, blacks, tans, whatever.

The clay I'm using right now is a Mocha earthenware clay with a "Café au lait" color. It's stretching me a bit because it's a very wet clay. I think it would be great for throwing, but I am using it for slab which requires PATIENCE as I have to slab it then let it dry for a bit.

With my other clays I go right at it. In fact, I have to keep the slabs covered while I work, and oftentimes I have to keep the piece I'm working on partially covered or spray it lightly to keep it wet enough to flex like I want it to.

Oh, my grammar teacher would be reaching for her red pencil the way I put my sentences together these days!!! Ah well, this is pottery art, not grammar art ;-)

I am waiting on a kiln load that's about half mocha and half red to cool right now. I can't wait to see the new pieces. I should have taken some photos of the 'before' to include in here. I'll take some shots as I unload the kiln.

I also picked up some new glazes by Western, some greens. I've never tried their glazes before so it should be interesting to see how they work on both my usual red and the new mocha clay. I use a lot of commercial glazes, but I mix the colors to create my own. I flat out don't have time to work on creating my own glazes, although maybe someday I'll get back into that area. Given the wide range of colors I use it's almost counter productive to make up the small batches I'd need.

Regarding my choice of clays --- white clay is my least favorite. There's a lot you can do with it as a palette for true color in glazes, but I've never found a white clay that does what I want it to do. They all crack easier, don't flex, dry out too fast, and they just don't 'feel' right.

I've been working in the low fire range for many years. I'm getting ready to move back into mid-fire just to change things up a bit. Not that I'm bored at all with low fire, it's just that I will never be a niche artist, have discovered that my nature requires that I change things up fairly often.

I see many artists finding their slot and staying in that groove. They sell well, love what they're doing and can still experiment within the range they've chosen. They get a following of folks who like their style. I drool over some of their work, and sometimes push myself to stick with something long enough to be a master of some difficult technique after seeing their work. It's on my list of "somedays".

I have a style, too, one that many who buy my work recognize. It is one that I am still perfecting and I think I learn something new almost every time I form a piece.

However, I have a tendency to go flying way outside that range. I used to joke that when I felt like someone was getting to feel like they knew me, it was time to change... that seems to be the theme of my pottery life, too. Guess it's my wacko eclectic nature.

The list of things I want to try is way, way longer than the list of things I've already tried! Maybe the flexibility of the art of clay is one of the reasons I fell into immediate love when I first touched a ball of clay. We fit.

I was just reading back over this rambling blog. I zip from one topic to another don't I? Kind of like my ping pong mind... zip here, zip there... I work in the studio the same way sometimes. I start of a piece, stop and go water the plants, come back and work on the piece for a while, go up to the house and check my emails, grab something to drink, go back to the studio... you get the picture. Of course, more often I am very focused. I'll start working on a piece and the next thing you know it's dark, I've missed dinner or lunch and I'm wondering if I'll be able to make it to the bathroom . So, maybe that's another reason I'm attracted to clay --- it keeps me focused. Ha ha, a focused zipper...

Ah well, guess on that note, I'll say goodbye for now. I'm off to the studio to check the kiln.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Filling up the kiln... firing up the kids

I can't think of many things that I wouldn't put in the "favorite" category when it comes to my art. Filling up the kiln is one of my many favorites.

I usually start out just making things with no thought to what will fit in the kiln. When I've filled up a few of my "to be fired" shelves, my mind starts clicking into "what will fit" mode IF I'm working toward a show. The "if" is important 'cause when I'm in pure creative, no deadline mode, who gives a rip what will fit in the kiln? I just go and go until I can't put anything else on the to be fired shelves and then start trying to figure out how to get stuff in the kiln.

Either mode, I love filling up the kiln for the initial bisque fire. It's like sending kids off to high school. You've raised them, sweated with them, put all your creative energy into getting them ready for the big move and now it's time to see what happens when they're tested.

The glaze firing is college. You've put your final touches, done the best you can do and now they're off, ready for the final test. Hopefully they're ready for the big world, all on their own.

Just like some of our best efforts in raising children, sometimes what comes out of the kiln isn't exactly what you'd hoped to get given all your best efforts. Luckily in many cases you can re-glaze and re-fire the pieces. Not necessarily so with many children as they're truly on their own when they leave college and resist any tampering from their parents. However, as I'm one of those who didn't come out of college quite perfect, there is hope for many of the children who don't initially live up to YOUR expectations ;-)

Hah, another analogy --- some of the pieces that I haven't particularly been pleased with after they come out of the kiln have been grabbed as favorites by others. Just because I didn't think they met my standards or expectations didn't mean there wasn't value and they weren't just what they were meant to be. Ditto with our kids. It's a great big beautiful world and everyone isn't going to walk the walk we might choose for them. Yep, you can take that one and twirl it around in your mind for a bit to come up with better ways to tie pottery and clay to raising kids. I'm done with that thread!

I do have a tendency to meander from one topic to the next, don't I? Here I am thinking about that full kiln load out in my studio, wanting to share my enthusiasm about closing the lid and firing it up, and somehow I'm off on raising kids. They can both be fun, rewarding and trying at times.

Of course, when the kids drive you nuts, you can always find an excuse to head to the studio and pound some clay!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Don't you just love it when you get a new issue of a ceramic / pottery magazine?

Every day I get bills, junk, and the occasional letter in the mail... It's yawn, oh no, and hmmm type mail most days. However, when I open the mailbox and see one of my pottery magazines it's like a mini-Christmas. Ideas, tips, cool pottery and even some great ads with new glazes, equipment and tools, oh boy!

If I tried everything I wanted to try from Pottery Making, Ceramics Monthly, Clay Times, etc. I'd have to plan on living for a few thousand years. I have forgotten more things that I want to experiment with than I've created over the years I've been working my craft. It's a wonder I ever manage to create anything with all those ideas rolling around in my head... not to mention the time involved with devouring the magazines!

It's not enough that I take every magazine that has the word "ceramic" or "pottery" in the title, but I also have a tendency to subscribe to any freebie how-to that flies across my computer screen or pops into my in-box.

One of my favorites is from Ceramics Art Daily. They send some of the coolest tips and instructional stuff right into my inbox. With a quick click of a link I get video demos, written instructions and, of course, solicitations to buy books which explain more.

Since I work with slab, coil and hand building more often than wheel I'm very happy that they have a nice balance.

Today's email really caught my attention. I enjoy coiling but don't do a lot of it these days as I usually cut slabs and build in a coil type method for ease and speed.

However, I'm going to have to try the method outlined in today's Ceramic Arts video / demo. At some point I'm sure I'll be sharing a piece or two or ten on here made using this coil method... And I thought I knew it all when it came to coiling. Ha.

Here's a teaser from the page you'll get to if you click the link below:

Hand Thrown: East Asian Wedged Coil Technique
A Master Potters’ Approach to the Coiled Form

Coiling is one of the first things we learn when we begin pottery. It’s a simple and basic technique we all know. But are we making the best coil pots we can? Ones that don’t crack and are not limited by size or scale? Joyce Michaud came across a coiling technique used for centuries in the Far East...

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Jury Fees

I seem to have plenty of company when it comes to disliking "jury fees". Since setting up the Southeast U.S. Call for Entries group on Facebook, and in many discussions with fellow artists over the past month regarding which shows, the topic of jury fees has come up frequently. Some are insulted by the fees, others are angry, but no one likes them on the artist end of the process. I'd bet show and festival organizers like 'em though!

Shows have always had entry fees, which seem to range anywhere from $35 to over $500 depending on the quality, age, reputation and traffic of the show / festival. No problem on those at all... after all, the organizers have costs, many give out cash prizes to top artists and even more use any money above and beyond the cost of the show for scholarships for budding artists, to support local arts or to help local charities.

However, many are now tacking on a non-refundable jury fee. If you get accepted, they keep the $25 - $50 jury fee and you then pay the regular show entry fee. If you don't make the cut, they still keep the jury fee. You really, really have to think you're going to get into the show if you're willing to fork over the non-refundable jury fee!

I haven't talked to any of the show organizers, but I would bet there is a two-fold reason for the fee:

1. It cuts back on frivolous entries by those who would never make the cut, or the hobbyist, those hoping to sneak by with buy-sell, etc. work.
2. It's another way of making money.

Given the fact that I have just started applying for more shows in the fine art festival market I am experiencing the fees for the first time. In the past all the shows I've done have been repeats and I've been invited back, haven't experienced the additional "jury fee" until now. I am guessing, but don't know, that after the first year you make it onto the "invite" list and you're not subjected to the jury fee. I could easily be wrong.

I'm curious to find out what your thoughts are on the jury fee. Do you feel insulted? Do you have ways of bypassing the fee? (note: some of my friends have said they get out of it if they know the show organizer (s) and / or make a phone call)

If you're on the other end, an organizer who gets inundated with applications, etc. I'd love to find out if I'm correct in my assumptions.

I added my info to ZAPP and am now getting a great email update with upcoming shows. All of them have jury fees and I'm "assuming" that all or a portion of the money goes to ZAPP.

I've applied to one show via ZAPP thus far. It was an interesting process. You can upload up to 40 photos of your work to use for entering, one being a booth shot.

I was stymied by that one as I've taken plenty of photos of portions of my booth at shows, but never a "whole" shot. There's a whole new world out there when it comes to applying for shows. I think it's great that booth shots are required --- it cuts back on those who enter with one piece of original work and then fill their booth with junk. However, I do a lot of indoor shows, gallery events, private showings, etc. and only a few festivals (until recently). Hopefully the shot I showed was sufficient for the powers-that-be at the show I entered or I just wasted $30. Bummer to the nth degree!!!

Another interesting part of the process was the category that wanted me to list the pieces I'd be showing. The show is in September, Labor Day weekend. I have shows and some events between now and then. The art that I might enter now may not exist in my inventory in September and I'm not willing to bypass a sale to hang onto work. I just put that I'd have all new original signed art for the show... hopefully that passed the muster, also.

Which reminds me --- more and more shows are requiring that your work be signed. That, I assume, is to stop someone from showing the work of their best friend or fellow artist... or to stop distributors or whatever they're called from setting up a shop with multiple artists... and possibly to stop reproductions, copies, store-bought, mass produced work. Good idea. And a good reminder for me to remember to sign every single piece I make!!! I get so involved in the process of creating sometimes that I only realize I missed signing it when I pull it out of the kiln. I think it looks chintzy to have an added after-the-firing signature, but it's important to have your mark and / or signature on each and every piece.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Buzzy bee...

Do you know how hard it is to try and come up with catchy titles for blogs? Well, do ya? OK, so I quite possibly fell short of the mark this time...

I've been a busy bee lately as I've shared in previous blogs. Somewhere in the midst of my non-stop show schedule last month I set up a new group on Facebook titled "Southeast U.S. Calls for Entries & Galleries".

The purpose of the group is to have a central place (or maybe another place, cause I'm sure I'm not the first to come up with this idea) for gallery owners and show organizers to share art competitions, calls for artists, etc.

I'd also like to have individuals join who want to find shows, competitions, etc.

So far we have 32 members, which is pretty good for a new group I'd guess. Of course, I don't have much to measure against so who knows, maybe it's lousy ;-)

I can't quite figure out a way to get a clean link for you to click from here as I'm logged into Facebook and every time I go there the link shows where I came from in the URL... If you'd like to join or see what everyone is posting, do a search on the title and it'll come up quickly enough. I included the logo so you'll know you're in the right place --- given we're the only one with that title on Facebook if you need the logo to figure it out you've been inhaling way too much clay dust ;-)

Hope you'll join and share your info if you're from Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, North or South Carolina, Tennessee, etc.

Inside and Out

The inside of my pieces has always been just as important to me as the outside. I want to make sure that anyone looking into the interior sees "art", not just smooth boring sides.

Of course, some of my pieces are functional so having nooks and crannies or strands of clay winding throughout doesn't work. But still, I try to make it a piece that can stand alone without veggies or fruit or flowers!

The piece to the left (Recycle Rewind) is an example of how important I view the inside of my art. The view you're looking at is from the side. Below, right, is a shot of the piece looking down at the inside. I have flutes, the strands drape over the outside over the edge into the interior to carry the eyes on a journey.

It's kind of hard to tell much from my photos, but it really is a pretty creation. It's one of my favorites... but it now resides in someone's home other than mine! The new owner was very enamored of the piece and I know it's sitting somewhere in a place of honor. I share the story of Recycle Rewind on my website if you're interested in learning more about it.

I've been in the studio for the first time in about a week and oh is it wonderful to have my fingernails all clayed up again! I keep them short, but still the clay slips under the edges. In fact, that's one of the first things I look at when a female tells me she wants to take classes -- her fingernails. It's difficult to work with clay if you have long fingernails. Not impossible, but certainly most will be smoothing those crescent impressions off the clay frequently.

But I digress... this isn't about fingernails... Well, it wasn't my intention to write about fingernails!

I just created two new pieces and while I was shaping I started musing about my penchant for spoofing up the insides of my pieces. Some of them have flutes that hold water and cut flowers or plants if desired. Some are designed around the interior --- I start with an idea for the inside and the outside just happens.

I think of my work as clay art or ceramic art more so than pottery given that much of it really is a cross between sculpture and pottery. I still remember the first piece I ever made back in high school. It was a tower with hands reaching out of crevices.

I wish I still had it, not sure where it ended up. I do have one piece I made in Governor's Honors (art of course). We were tasked with creating something from a wet three-holed brick. I made a dragon. Hmmm... I need to take a photo of that and share, don't I?

Sometimes when I share on here I manage to travel all over the place, don't I? Ah well, hopefully you're able to follow my mind as it flips from subject to subject. I've seen people shake their head as I talk sometimes, trying to figure out how I jumped from one topic to the next... and I've had to explain the logic of my jumps! See, I jumped again ;-)

OK, time to get back to the studio. I just came up to grab something to drink and check the weather. It's pretty bad on the north end of Atlanta and I wanted to see how much time I had before I had to close up shop. The studio sits in the midst of a lot of trees and I don't like being out there in a lightening storm. I much prefer my nice sturdy brick home!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Good news on Powers Crossroads Festival...

On one of my other blogs I had lamented about the decline of the Powers Crossroads Festival. They started taking in buy-sell, they alienated a lot of their artist regulars and generally it turned into a disappointing shadow of past days of glory.

I was just scanning down the column of blogs and saw that old blog had a comment pending approval. Someone left a comment saying Powers Crossroads had a new director and they were working hard to try and get it back up to snuff. They're reaching out to old art vendors trying to entice them back to the show.

Realistically once a show has a bad rep it takes a lot to get the vendors back to try it again. It costs a lot to travel to a multiple day show and pay hotel costs, gas, food, etc. You have to be pretty sure you'll be able to sell enough to do more than cover costs. It's a double whammy these days given the tough economy.

A lot of people, like me, have stopped going. I wanted art, and lots of it, and so after trying it twice and not buying anything I didn't go back this year. Not only do they have to reach out to the artists, they have to reach out to the buyers who expected quality and got a mish mash.

Don't get me wrong, there were some good artists at the show when I went! The really good artists just kind of got lost... There weren't as many vendors as usual the last time I went either.

The Powers Crossroads show and the Cotton Pickin' Fair were two that were always on my "must go to" list and I hate to see them struggling.

A number of artists from the Cotton Pickin' Fair were are my last two shows. They said they did horribly and wouldn't be going back to that one either. I think some of the problem is the economic times we're suffering through right now. But then again, those same artists did fabulously at the subsequent shows we participated in together.

I guess next year I'll go check out both of them and see if the quality has improved and if the artists are happy. If the artists are happy, I may give Powers a shot the following year.

I want both of these shows to succeed! This year Powers celebrated their 40th year. That's a lot of history and it was always a well-respected, very cool show.

Seeing red

Yep, I'm seeing red... and I'm becoming addicted! I've always gravitated to earth tones and ocean colors. However, in recent days I've been experimenting with reds.

I started back at Christmas, making a few pieces to give and sell during the holiday season. Then I started playing.

Next thing I knew I had a nice grouping of red pieces with purple and green highlights.

I use red clay as a rule, usually majolica because of the feel and the way it moves. A lot of my pieces are created while the clay is nice and wet allowing me to shape it in ways you just can't do when it's firm.

I made some bowls, a pitcher and a few smaller pieces. After the bisque firing I covered the entire piece with a black that has some hints of color. I let it dry, then sponged off the surface leaving the color in the grooves of the texture and on select parts of the smooth areas.

Then I brushed two different reds onto the raised surfaces, two coats, leaving some minimal areas without any color at all.

Next I lightly brushed two purples and a couple of greens across portions. On a few I fired, I didn't think I had enough of the color that I wanted so I added more red, green or purple.

One piece is simply red and black. The red has white specks in it giving it an interesting look, especially since the black was added on top of the red instead of underneath.

Then I got in one of these whimsical moods that strike me on rare occasions (the rest of the time I'm just nuts ;-). I had picked up some glass at Davens in north Atlanta to experiment with so I combined my red mood with my desire to experiment and made a series of brightly colored hearts.

I used reds, blues, greens, yellows, and other bright colors. They were a pain in the tush as I made them without thinking about how difficult they'd be to glaze!

If you wander through the slide show you'll see what I'm talking about with the bright heart series.

I put little hand-formed balls on them, took thin strings of clay to define squares then glazed inside... Yuk. I also added glass inside some of the squares and other places I'd left hollowed out for the glass. I had to fire some of them twice to get enough glass in the areas to tell I'd used it. Then I lost a few pieces as I gather glass doesn't quite like the temperature I fired to in one load. It bubbled the first time around.

Next time I'm in the mood to make these things I'm definitely going to think the design through a little better!

The idea was to make some pieces that were quick and easy, those impulse buy type items that are always good to have around. Unfortunately the glazing took so long it was not exactly cost effective.

I liked them though. I do want to try some more of them at some point. During the summer I'll be gearing up for my winter shows and plan to figure out an easier way to glaze that type piece.

I've included a few of the pieces in the following slide show. Believe me, I have more ;-)

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Musings on selling art

In the scheme of venturing into actively selling, I'm a newbie. I've been involved in the Arts since I could pick up a piece of chalk, a pencil or a paint brush. I'd create, someone would see, someone would buy...

About seven years ago I was lucky enough to be able to set up a full-blown studio and have slowly ratcheted up my production and thus the need to find homes for my ceramic art. Again, I have been lucky in having a few galleries and high-end stores who "found" my work and wanted to sell it. But I am creating faster than they can sell it, and I'm a social creature, so I decided to start dipping my toes into the festival market.

I'm having a lot of fun meeting, talking, selling my work. It's interesting trying to find that "niche" though. I'm not what most think of when they hear the word "potter". I never do anything twice and I hand-build the majority of my pieces, although I will sit at a wheel at times.

I'm a bad marketer when it comes to my own things. I want, like most of my fellow artists, to do nothing but create. I don't like the idea of putting together a portfolio, trying to sell myself and my art to gallery owners (any more than they probably like being bombarded with artists!). I don't like balancing a check-book, doing taxes, all the yucky business stuff that goes hand-in-hand with making money.

I just want "it" to happen ;-)

But that's not the way it works. Sure there's a measure of luck and being in the right place at the right time in making it in the art world, just like any business. If you're an artsy type though, for most of us, it's like that nitty gritty side is stunted.

I do love sitting at the shows and talking with people. I love seeing my work in galleries, openings and events are fun, but being able to sit and listen in the background while people oooh and ahhh over my work feeds the soul. Getting to know fellow artists, picking their brains (and vice versa), hearing about their struggles and successes, is good, enjoyable and I love the connectivity.

It's funny watching the reactions of people. I like to sit across from my booth or far enough away that I don't intrude. It gives people the ability to talk freely without feeling like they'll hurt my feelings. Luckily I have yet to overhear anything that would, knock on wood!

At my last show I had someone pick up a piece they were eying, turning around, obviously loving. When they saw the price they quickly put it down, with regret, and told their friend that there was no way they could afford it, priced too high. A bit later another couple came in and obviously loved my work. They gravitated to the same piece, picked it up and I heard them say "sign of the times, a starving artist". They thought it was way under-priced. They bought another piece they liked better, so I was happy.

Finding shows that attracts more of the real art appreciators and those who understand all that goes into making a piece of fine art is part of learning to sell.

Pricing correctly is another part of learning to sell. Starting out it's hard to determine the correct pricing for your art. There's no way most starting artists get compensated for the time involved in the creation of their art! With pottery it's even more difficult I think... although in recent days I've checked out the price of canvas, oils, paint brushes, etc. and whoa have the prices sky-rocketed! Nothing cheap about being an artist, is there?

OK, I could muse on, but I'm ready for breakfast and I have to get ready to go to the Metro Market for another day of selling my work... and feeding my soul, 'cause I am eating up the compliments... yum.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

One more day at the Metro Market in Buckhead...

The Metro Market will continue on without me until July after tomorrow... I am having a great time meeting new people, selling my work, getting to know a lot of new artists and others. Hopefully when I'm next able to join the merry crew some of the same artists will be there so we can catch up!

June is another busy month for me and I don't think I can slide in a weekend that month, although I'd like to do so. I talked with them about coming back in July, which will work great for me as that's a downtime month. I'll keep you posted.

They'll be continuing the Mart at least through August!!! Yeah!

It's a great venue for artists --- indoors, air conditioned, easy in and out for loading, and they're doing more and more advertising to bring in buyers. They are looking for higher end art, no buy-sell. They also would like to have more food vendors so it will include a "farmer's market".

I'm really hoping the community will come out to support the new market. If you've been reading my blogs you already know it's styled on a European market theme with art, fresh produce, cheeses, hand-crafted jewelry, original design clothing, and more. Today some new artists came in giving me a whole new group to discover.

Artists can choose to be there for one weekend, multiple weekends or by the month. They're also considering a co-op type arrangement if there's sufficient interest and they can work out the details. Dori, Candace and their supportive families are all working together to build this into a successful venture.

I think the Market is going to catch on and pretty soon they'll have crowds floating through. I'll be stopping by to pick up some cheese and to grab a spinach calzone when I'm in the area!

They'll be open Saturdays and Sundays through August and hopefully longer. If you're out and about tomorrow, stop by to see me! They're located just off I-85 on Piedmont Road.

BTW... Next month some of my work will be on display at the bustling Fayette County Library. I'll tell you more about that in another blog sometime soon. This next weekend I'll be at a festival in Hendersonville, North Carolina. Beautiful area, expect I'll have fun.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

I'll be at the Old Buckhead Design Center this weekend...

I'll be at the Old Buckhead Design Center Friday - Sunday, May 21 - 23. I hope you'll stop by and visit with me, some see some of my work in "real life" instead of just via photos!

It's a pretty cool venue, something different for me, but hey, I'll try almost anything once or twice. I love meeting new people, enjoy talking to new friends about my work! I have my work in stores, galleries, etc., but I really get a lot out of the one-on-one interaction shows afford. Plus, since I teach it's a good way to talk to potential students.

Even if you're not interested in MY pottery (how could you not be????), there's plenty to do at the Metro Market. If you're into organic food or grown enough to sell, they're looking for produce vendors. Come out and support the folks who're putting this together. They're working hard to make it a success!

Here's more info:

May 7th - 30th 2010
Yes the whole month of May!!!
Friday - Sunday Only
2133 Piedmont Rd
Atlanta, GA 30324
(The Old Buckhead Design Building)

Presenting another fun and exciting show.
Now you can enjoy the flavor of a European Style Market right here in Atlanta
Time :
FRIDAY 12pm -6pm,
SATURDAY 10am-5pm,
SUNDAY 12pm-5pm

Metro Market Atlanta is proud to present its Spring 2010 show. We open just in time for Mother's Day. It's true Atlantans love to Shop, so the Metro Market has put together the finest group of Local talented artists and a few artists from out of state. which includes unique handmade gifts, gourmet foods, children's clothing, jewelry, metal and fine art. Each Market has its own distinctive feel of a European indoor street fair. Come out and be apart of the experience. Check the website for the dates and times of our Buckhead Farmers Market......coming soon!



Looking for artists with a big heart...

If you are in the south metro Atlanta area, or beyond for that matter, and would like to use your art to help support some local charities do I have a great proposition for you ....

The local Realtors in my county (Fayette) have been getting together annually for umpteen years for an event called "Noel November". They ask local businesses and groups to decorate and donate a Christmas tree or wreath which they then auction off in November. They choose two or three charities to be the beneficiaries and give all the proceeds to them. Typically that's pretty close to 100% of the dollars raised, if not the entire amount.

It's a really nice event. They have music, food, a silent auction and usually have a great turn out. To raise money to cover expenses the realtors donate their time at local charities or just donate dollars. I was involved in it back when it first got started through a charity I was supporting. I designed their original logo and helped to put together the first two or three events. I bought a tree and donated a tree...

This year I thought it would be fun to ask my fellow artists to help decorate a tree. I have the tree already, it's 6ft and nice and full (picked it up from a decorator, very pretty). I'll do the decorating if I can get some of you to share your talents by making 6 - 12 ornaments to place on the tree, make a garland, a tree skirt for the bottom, etc.

I'm thinking about a rainbow color scheme but I'm open to suggestions as long as you suggest soon... We need some sort of color coordination as I want it to be the most stunning tree they've ever had!!!

I think silver would look good with rainbow colors, so if you're a metal artist or will be adding findings to your ornament try to stay with silver tones if you could. I was going to say gold, but that could get expensive...

If you're a fabric artist and would like to donate a rainbow garland (will have to be a couple of inches wide but long enough to wrap around the entire 8 ft tree) that would be spectacular. Also it'd be cool to have a tree skirt to go on the bottom.

We'll need a tree topper too if someone is so inclined, but let me know so I can let others know not to duplicate efforts.

What else do we need for a tree? I have the lights (clear so they won't clash).

The ornaments don't need to be large and shouldn't be too heavy. Love to have some stained glass and glass artists participate! Doesn't matter what kind of artist you are, there's a spot on the tree for your decorations!

I'll share ideas and photos on here as we're receiving things on here to spark ideas & help keep a somewhat similar color scheme. That is, assuming and hoping some of your participate!

I'm going to put together a small booklet to go with the tree with a one paragraph bio for each artist who donates. If you send me a jpg of one of your ornaments I'll also do a slide show and include your contact info, which I'll share on the Georgia Front Page and in as many other places as I can find to pop it. I'll also make sure we get some press coverage, do a press release, etc.

If you'd like to contribute, email me at (boy am I going to get bombarded with spam for adding that in here ;-) or comment on here and I'll follow up. I can pick up local ornaments or will share my shipping address if you'd like to send via mail.

Here's specifics:

~ 6 - 12 ornaments per artist
~ 3-4 inch ornaments (unless you're doing long & thin, then maybe 5 inches would be fine)
~ rainbow and silver color scheme
~ deadline: Halloween (Oct 31st...I have to have time to pull it all together & do some photos for press releases)
~ send 1 or 2 jpg photos to with your info
~ need ONE artist to make:
   - tree skirt
   - tree topper
~ need ONE OR TWO artists to make:
   - garland to wrap around fat 6 ft tree

I'll keep you posted on when the event will be, which charities they choose (usually something to do with children), and how the tree is coming along. Maybe if we get enough local artists to participate we can have a decorating party! That'd make a great photo op... and be a lot of fun, too.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Time for a break? Nope...

Just settled in at home after the Fayette Fine Art Show... and decided to blog about it while all was fresh in my mind.

I had a great time! It's a spectacularly well-run show with some of the best people around working together to make it all happen. Last night a bunch of the artists went to one of the show organizer's home for a lasagna pot-luck dinner. Homemade pumpkin bread, brownies, cake... oh, almost forgot, yep, there were a few things on the non-sweet menu, too! Watermelon, veggie and meat lasagnas, bread, salad... and more importantly, lots of good company.

It was fun sharing experiences with other vendors while we munched. Pretty much everyone lamented the downturn in the economy and the affect on sales.

Today was a much better day traffic-wise and sales-wise. However, it certainly didn't come close to what I experienced the other times I participated in the show. According to the other vendors that's pretty much par for the course in most shows.

I know I had considered doing the Powers Crossroads show and the Cotton Pickin' Fair in the past. Both used to be excellent shows. However they've let in a ton of buy and sell types and the quality has gone waaaayyy down hill. How do you sell a nice piece of fine ceramic art for $300 plus while in a booth next to crocheted toilet roll covers or mass-produced puppets?

There was a lot of discussion about which shows were doing well, which ones worked for various types of art, etc. I picked a lot of brains this weekend and now have a list of shows that may work better with my kind of art.

I'm too late for some of the shows as the deadlines have passed, but I'm putting them on the list for next year.

No rest for the weary though... and no time to really think much about future shows. Next weekend I'll be at the Buckhead Design Center in Atlanta Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I understand the traffic is up and they're doing extensive marketing to try and keep the crowds coming.

The following weekend I'll be in Hendersonville, North Carolina. I think I may have mentioned both of those shows in here already.

Back to this weekend's show in Fayetteville. I did OK. Not jump up and down great, but good. I learned a lot from artists who've been doing this for many, many years. I really appreciate everyone's openness and willingness to share! Aren't artists a fabulous group???

I got to see a lot of old friends, too. It was fun chatting and catching up with folks I haven't seen in a while. I made a few new friends also.

Overall, it was a good show. I'm hoping that we see an uptick in the economy that makes it a little easier for people to feel comfortable buying some non-essentials... well, in truth, I think art is an essential but that doesn't mean everyone else thinks the same way ;-) However, essential or not, I'm keeping my pocket book snapped a lot tighter, too. I understand perfectly well how hard it is to justify spending money on art when you're concerned about losing your job or have a pay cut looming on the horizon.

Anyone read this far? I'd have probably quit reading about half way through this long blog... or maybe I'd have slogged through hoping that the writer would come to some insightful point sooner or later... sorry, I'm tired and am just rambling. No profound insights, just a lot of disconnected thoughts tonight. Let me stop now before I start talking politics or cooking or something!!! Night all.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Fayette Fine Art Show this weekend...

I'll be at the Fayette Fine Art Show (also known as the Old Courthouse Fine Art Show) this weekend, Saturday and Sunday. We set up around the old Fayette Courthouse, which I understand is the oldest courthouse in Georgia. It's a beautiful setting and a very well-attended, well-known, well-respected show (enough well's for you? ).

This will be the 42nd year for the show and will be my third or fourth time at the show.

I won an award my first year at the show... am hoping maybe I'll pick up another but it really is dependent on the taste of the judges.

All the money raised from the show goes to support art scholarships for students which makes the show even better in my opinion! Patsy Gullet, an excellent artist who has a large following, and Debi Lenox, another artist and lover of arts, do a spectacular job of running the show. I'm sure there are others who help, I just happen to know those two.

Saturday night all the artists are invited to Patsy's for a pot-luck dinner. They provide the main food, the artists bring snacks and whatever they want to drink. I've had a conflict every year and have missed the fun.

This year I'm debating... There's an opening at The Seen Gallery in Decatur which I'd really, really like to go to... but it'll mean running home, showering and changing then getting over to Decatur. Chances are I'm going to be tired after a long day of selling, selling, selling (yes, I'm optimistic!).

I hope the weather holds out. There are other events --- Fayetteville Main Street's Taste of Fayette and the kids bouncy things and stuff, plus plenty of music and other talent.

OK, nuff. I'm running on and on, aren't I? Hope you'll MapQuest Fayetteville in Georgia and then stop by to see the show... and see me, too!

Fayetteville GA - Old Courthouse Fine Arts and Fine Crafts Show
May 15-16, 2010: Fayette Fine Art Show (a.k.a.Old Courthouse Fine Arts & Fine Crafts Show), courthouse square. 10am-6pm Sat; 11am-5pm Sun. Hosted by the Fayette County Art Assoc. Juried by slides. Only fine art show in affluent southside of Atlanta. Fine art, pottery, jewelry, sculpture. Awards: 1st, 2nd, 3rd places + 4 merits. Promotes the arts in Fayette County. All profits from artist booth fees is allocated to HS seniors who will study art in college.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Winning 1st Place is sweeeet....

What a great weekend! I signed up a while back to do a brand new show in Thomson, Georgia, "Arts in the Alley" on May 8th. I really didn't know much about it, but my parents lived right down the road (OK, 45 minutes away ;-) and it was being held in the home of blues great Blind Willie McTell. A strong arts community, a cool show name, blues in the neighborhood and an excuse to spend time with my Mom (and Dad) on Mother's Day weekend... what could be better?

It's a fairly new show, this is its second year. I can tell that it's going to grow and there will come a time when people are fighting to get in. Marion Ivey did a phenomenal job with every aspect of the show. It was well organized, the entertainment was great and I had a lot of fun talking with he and his cohorts. What a nice community! I had a lot of fun and very much enjoyed the experience... plus some of my work found some new homes with people who really seemed to love my art. Although selling my art is special, I think some days that I enjoy soaking up compliments just as much if not more .

To give the show a permanent place in my "fond memory" category, I won 1st place for a piece of my pottery! It's always nice to win, and even better, it's nice to be appreciated.

You can't tell much from the photo to the left but I don't have time at the moment to take a better photo. This photo is one I took a month or so ago while experimenting with ways to photograph my work. It's looking down into the piece. It's titled "Treading Water". It's one of my absolute favorites. I fired it five times to get the glaze affects I wanted. 

The "bubbles" cascade inside and outside. It's "wavy" to emulate the ocean, and has "coral" type flutes. Ocean colors of course. You can't see the variations of the blues and aquas in my poor photo, nor can you see the lines of the piece... Ah well, one more thing I need is a good photographer who's willing to trade with luck.

I came home from the show with a nice 1st place plaque, a stunning basket by Delores von Rosen from Chappells, South Carolina and a few nice pieces from another potter at the show. I haven't unpacked yet so I can't give you her name. I will once I unpack and find her card. Delores teaches basket weaving and if she were closer I'd be heading over to take some lessons. She had some very well made basket ART, true art... unusual shapes, beautiful colors and excellent color combos.

I'm already gearing up for my next two shows... I'm still learning about which shows will work best for my kind of art. My work is what I'd describe as art sculpture. It's definitely not what most think of when they hear the word "pottery".

This weekend I'll be at the 42nd Annual Fayette Fine Art Show in beautiful downtown Fayetteville on the courthouse square (May 15 & 16). I'm not thrilled about the weather... it's supposed to be around 90 degrees! I'm in booth 36 if any of you would like to wander by and see me. It's a fantastic show, the first I ever did and one I'll always do as long as I live close enough. I won an award there my first year, too.

The Fayette show teams up with the Fayetteville Main Street organization and holds a number of different events throughout the weekend. They have the "Taste of Fayette" which showcases lots of local restaurants, caterers and chefs, plus a kids area with those big bouncy slide things and other fun activities for the kids. The Friends of the Library holds a HUGE book sale on Saturday, too. I'm a read-aholic so I'm a member and get to hit the show the day before the public. I'll cart away bags and bags and boxes of books.

The following weekend, the 22nd, I'll be in Buckhead (Atlanta) at another new show being held inside (yeah!) at the Old Buckhead Design Center. It's styled on a European market theme and will have arts, organic foods, events for the kids and other products. It's a last minute addition to my schedule. My son told me about it. He'll have a booth there so I thought it'd be fun to set up near him and if nothing else, bond. I'm trying to finish up a lot of smaller pieces as I think it's probably going to be more of that kind of show.

I don't do small pieces as a rule. Most of my work takes hours to make, not including the firing time. I need to get my butt in gear and get a nice portfolio and get my work in more galleries. My biggest problem in life is that I have way too many interests and don't focus on one well enough to do it right. I need a handler.

On another note, couldn't end without mentioned that they're having a blues festival next weekend in Thomson, GA. Go look up the McDuffie Arts Council or Thomson and Blind Wille McTell if you'd like to find out more... which reminds me!!! There was a very, very cool display by a wood worker at the Arts in the Alley show. Again, the card is packed or I'd tell you the name darn it. Anyway, he tracked down living relatives of Blind Willie McTell and received permission to use wood from McTell's old home. He makes gorgeous wooden knives and other items from the wood. He has prints of McTell playing framed in wood from the home. If you're a blues fan, you'll want to look this guy up and snatch up one of his pieces. Again, I'll share the name and info when I unpack.

Right now I'm heading to the studio to finish glazing some pieces I hope to have for this weekend's show...

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Busy, busy bee...

I know you think I've dropped off the face of the earth, and maybe I have at times this past month or so! First I got sick, way back in February. I'm just now starting to feel about 98% and that's just cause I have found drugs that work...  

It's some sort of creeping crud that hit that went into something else that lingered and and and... who cares, I'm not one to whine about things like that. It didn't put me in the bed after the first week, just kept me working slower and not at full speed. Grrrrr...

This month is going to be a very busy one for me as I have a show every single weekend starting this Saturday. I'm excited cause three of them are new shows for me so I'll get to meet a whole lot of new people.

Here's the schedule:

2nd Annual Arts in the Alley
Saturday, May 8
Journal Street
Thomson, Georgia
Click here to visit web for more info & driving directions

42nd Fayette Fine Art Show
May 15 & 16
Downtown Fayetteville on the Square at the Old Courthouse
Metro Atlanta Artists Market
May 21-23
2133 Piedmont Rd
Atlanta, GA 30324
(The Old Buckhead Design Building)
Click to visit web for more information, driving directions

I don't have the details on the last show yet but it will be in Henderson, North Carolina on Memorial Day weekend. I'm going to be going up with my son which is really cool and something I'm excited about! I'll be helping him with his stuff and will just have a small bit of my pottery for sale. Next year if he goes again and it looks like a good show I'll spring for the big bucks to get my own booth maybe. He's also going to be at the Metro Atlanta Market for the month of May. I'm only doing one weekend, he has a booth for the entire month.

I'm going to write a separate blog about the Metro Atlanta Market later, it deserves its own spotlight! If you're an artist in the Atlanta area, or if you know of some organic farmers or similar, you may want to check into getting a booth for one or more weekends. Great concept, looking forward to working with the ladies who came up with the idea and put all the hard work into getting it going. I know it will be a huge success!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Is Pottery "Fine Art" or... something else?

Well, I've been busy... yep, that's my excuse for not writing. So there.

Seriously, no excuses. While I have been busy, it just doesn't take that much time to pop on here and say hello to everyone!

That said, I have had this burning desire to write about something that happened recently.

Last November I joined a local fine arts group while at one of their shows. I had been invited numerous times to join, but just never quite got around to it. I was warmly welcomed as I wrote my check, viewed their art and talked about mine.

I missed the first meeting as it was the Christmas season but managed to get to the first meeting in January. Very nice group of folks.

They have a few annual shows and the first one came up right after the January meeting. I reviewed the sign up form and noted that it said sculpture and paintings, but didn't mention pottery.

I assumed it was an oversight so I sent a query.

Nope, they don't consider pottery a fine art. They didn't say so in so many words, but my question was taken to the Board of the group and they politely said nope, no pottery.

I just as politely resigned from the group.

If they'd come back and said only one-of-a-kind pieces, no problem. Anyone who's looked at my stuff knows it's all one-of-a-kind. It's kind of a cross between pottery, painting and sculpture.

I was just curious and thought I'd ask all of you what you thought about the distinctions. Where's the line for you when it comes to fine art and whatever other category you want to put stuff. Do you think some pottery is "craft" and some is "fine art"? What do you think about your own work?

I've done many shows and many are fine art only shows, no crafts. They jury the work, so far I haven't been turned down (knock on wood, pound some clay).

Sunday, January 17, 2010

They say patience is a virtue...

I say patience is a pain if it's forced upon you.

I have none when I've made a piece of pottery and I want it to be finished. I chafe at having to wait for a piece to dry so I can fire it. I sometimes rush a bit to finish up a few pieces just so I can fill the kiln.

Then comes the wait for the kiln to complete its cycle and cool down. Tick, tock, tick, tock... watch the clock... Well, not exactly as I took the clock out of the studio. I watch the kiln.

After it's finished and reaches a certain temperature, I find myself walking by the kiln to touch the top and gauge coolness. Or, if I'm working across the room I can't help but glance at the temp every so often hoping it's dropped low enough to open... (yes, it's well vented)

It's worse when I've made something new, something that I really love, or something that stretched my abilities.

The joy of opening a kiln is usually worth the wait though. I've said it before: it's like Christmas, only better 'cause it's stuff I made. It's a big hot container of presents, waiting to cool...

After I finally get to open the kiln (yes, sometimes a little before you're really supposed to open it), I then have to wait until I've glazed enough pieces to fill it again.

Impatient soul that I am, sometimes I can't wait and I'll use my baby kiln to fire a piece if it'll fit.

Experimenting with glazes makes the second round of firing even more tortuous at times. I can't wait to see if the new glazes or combination of glazes will turn out like I wanted.

I bet most of you who use an electric kiln are familiar with the extremely looooonnnnngggg wait for the last 20 - 50 degree drop? It'll go from whatever astronomical temp you reach down to "almost there" while you sleep... but those last few degrees from "almost there" to "OK, time to open the kiln" take forever!

Tell the truth... how many of you have cheated and opened the kiln, let in a little air, then closed it again hoping to rush that last little bit of time? How many of you have done it more than once because it didn't work the first time? I've never done anything like that, oh no. I know better. I really, really do, I promise. (Want to know how long my nose grew as I typed??? can't type ayn morrae, it's droopnng onaato th key bard...)

Yeah, yeah, I'm guilty. Often guilty. Knock on wood I haven't lost a piece yet due to my inability to wait, but I know it's just a matter of time so I've been working on it for, ummm, how many years? hmmm... impatient potters anonymous anyone?)

Seriously, over the years I've gotten better at being patient.

A little.

OK, not really. I've just learned to schedule the kiln firing, whenever possible, for the times when I know I can't get out to the studio for a couple of days.

As I type I'm looking out my window toward the studio wondering if that last piece is bone dry yet so I can fire up the kiln. Tomorrow morning I guarantee I'll be out the door first thing to check.

Patience is something I doubt I'll ever have in the realm of my clay world. Impatient Potters Anonymous indeed! Where do I sign up?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Recycled bowl...

Have you ever had an idea, followed it through, then been unhappy with the results? I had that one happen today.

I spent half the afternoon working on this really cool square bottom, round top with two necks. It was OK. It wasn't quite right so I started working with it. I added this and that, then took off that...

Still not right.

Kept at it until I finished, but I really, really just didn't like the finished piece.

Not only did it not look like I'd envisioned, it was just... I don't know... just not right.

I put it on a turn-table and spun it around. I looked at it from a variety of angles. I stepped back and again looked at it from different angles. I got close, eye-level, and turned it around.

I couldn't quite put my finger on it, but it felt confused, junky... not right.

So, I grabbed a huge bowl, sprayed it so the clay wouldn't stick and I tore that sucker up.

It was so much fun! I made a bowl that grew out of the bowl shape I'd chosen.

It's not the first time I've recycled a piece I've made, but in the past it has generally been because the first piece fell apart or flopped.

I guess in a way this one flopped... at least for me. Then it flopped for real when I lit into it to tear it up.

Guess when I write about these things I should take some photos so you'll have an idea of the before and after. Of course, you're all artists so I'm sure you're good at picturing something in your mind.

I will take a photo of the bowl tomorrow and add it to this post, then you can see how close your imagination came to at least part two, the recycled bowl.

p.s. "junky" (used above) is not in the spell check dictionary on here. Hmph.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Waking the brain matter up, thinking about selling pottery...

Last night I wrote a blog that dithered around a number of subjects, one being having a "staple" piece of art to sell. I've always just blindly accepted the philosophy, or maybe it's more of an accepted business model, that you need to have low end priced items at shows. The thought process being that those are the ones that most will buy and those are the ones that will be your bread and butter.

It makes some sense for the standard show, although I think you do need to know the type buyers that come through a show also. If you're at a high end show and you have under $50 pieces you may find that you sell nothing...

However, for most artists who're doing an arts/craft type shows a large portion of those attending do so to hear the music, to have a family day out, to check out the taste of whatever city you're in, to hook up with friends, etc. They buy on impulse and aren't necessarily looking for a nice piece to take home.

I do a number of those crafty type shows. I enjoy getting out and meeting new people, hearing comments, talking with other artists, etc.

But in a blind flash of the obvious, it struck me this morning as I walked though my home, that I had quite a few pieces of pottery and art that I'd bought at shows from other artists. I usually bought the pieces because I craved one of their nicer pieces and couldn't afford to bring it to my home (where it obviously belonged). So, I bought a smaller pieces.

The sad thing is that I have a lot of those smaller pieces and I couldn't tell you the name of most of the artists. I can't attach the small "production" type piece I bought to a picture in my mind of their nicer work. I know the names of the artists whose work I still crave, or those I saved to buy...

As I reflected on that, I started thinking about how I view my own work. I started thinking about what a chore it is to me to do something over and over. I never, ever like to make two of a kind of anything and when I make myself do it just to make a dollar or two, then it's almost like I'm selling myself out.

I'm being someone that isn't me.

I'm compromising just to make a few dollars.

Money is nice, but it's never been my motivator. I could easily be one of those stereotypical starving artists (but am very happy I'm not ;-).

Continuing to think more about it as I sipped (OK, guzzled) my second cup of hot tea, it struck me that I usually don't sell the smaller pieces anyway. I may see a number of people walk into my booth and pick up a piece to see the price before someone buys, but I sell enough to be happy when I pack up most shows.

So, I've decided to say to heck with the business model. It's always been one of those little guilty twinge-types that stayed with me as I prepared for a show... knowing I need to stop doing what I really want to do so I can make some smaller stuff.

Picture me going to the studio and in my mind I'm stomping my feet throwing a tantrum because I have an idea or muse I want to follow but I hafta be good, I hafta do those stupid money-making-fillers.

Making pottery is a joyful experience most days. It's the high that runners talk about (and I used to have when I ran regularly). It clears the mind of clutter. It's better than yoga.

I needed to write that blog yesterday and I needed to clear my mind of the "hafta" clutter.

Refreshing. Freeing. Seriously. It is.

Sunday, January 10, 2010


New word for the dictionary . I have been flitting from one thing to the next this week in the studio.

I was on hearts for a bit, then made some vase type pots, then saw a magazine at my Mom's house with a cool quilt ad which inspired a whole other day of heart making... then had a midnight wakeful moment that sparked a wall hanging... then saw one of my old pots that I really liked which had me remembering the pitchers I made a while back and I made this nice large pitcher... then another heart or two just to balance my pot karma.

Potzophrenic for sure.

I'm excited about the pitcher. I think I'm going to spend a week doing some more. Then I have to get serious and do some glazing.

I have a few shows on the horizon so need to settle in and think "sales" for a few days a week if I can. I'm finding that my higher end pieces aren't selling as quickly as they have in the past at shows, but as always, people will buy the lower end just to satisfy that "hafta have my art" fix... so I must, I must, try to focus on paying the electric bills.

Most in the art business have their quickly made staple that gets them through most shows. The $10 - $40 piece that they pop out without breaking a sweat. It's uniquely theirs, but it's easy to make, easy to glaze and easy to sell.

Being the kind of person who can't stay on any one thing for long I haven't found the discipline to make those little pieces that fill in the gaps between the big sales. Even when I find something that's fairly quick & easy it has to be perfect... and so sometimes I'll fire a $15 item 2 or 3 times just to get the glaze right. Of course, then the $15 item becomes worth three times the cost and I'm losing money when I sell it, defeating the purpose.

Or I am so entranced with making something new, following an idea, that I never quite get around to making those business card holders or the thing-a-majig to hand on the wall. Boring. Work. Yuk. No fun when ideas are bubbling.

So, I make my hearts, then my vases, then my wall hanging... A

h well, someday some huge famous gallery is going to just hafta carry my art and Ceramics mag will feature me on the front page and my work will be in huge demand throughout the world and... and... Ya know, that'd all be nice, but I don't spend my time dreaming about things like that, I spend my dreaming moments thinking about what I'm going to do with that pile of clay waiting for me in the studio.

I think any artist will tell you creating is all that really matters. Appreciation is wonderful. Recognition feels very, very good. But taking your ideas and turning it into something concrete is an addiction, a compulsion and all the rest of it is just super nice icing on our home-made cake.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Question re: Cobalt Carbonate in glaze

I have a bowl that I brushed with cobalt carbonate (or is it carbonate cobalt... time for my 'up too late on New Years Eve nap ;-) that I'd mixed with some water. I wiped it off, leaving a decent amount in crevices. I'm going to put a clear glaze, or maybe a white or light blue glaze over it and fire. At least that's the plan. However, it seems that I read somewhere that the cobalt would run easily? I don't want a mess, don't want to ruin the bowl either.

Anyone familiar with the properties? Should I wipe a LOT of it off? Should I wash it all off? What's gonna happen you think if I do what I said? Need a photo to see how much I have on there?

I did an Internet search, no luck. I'll probably take a look through some of my pottery books.

Heading back out to the studio, it's New Years Day and I can't start the year without clay under my fingernails .

Hope you're all having the best ever beginning to a new year!