THe most depressing future.

November 18, 2011 at 3:08 pm (inspiration) (, , , , , , , )

My husband, Justin, is an anaylist. Its just something that he is, not the job he has, unfortunatly. That’s actually the problem, but we’ll get there later. He is very, painfully, rediculously good at reading trends and figuring out what groups of people are going to do, how politicians are going to act. It bores him to death, but he’s also really good at manipulating resources.

The problem is that he doesn’t want to work for Republicans. As everyone is finding out now (thanks to the Occupy Movement) and what I’ve been hearing about for years (thanks to my Husband) the Republicans have been gaming the system for the rich and coating it with the Classic American Myth to get everyone else to protect them. The idea that you get what you earn, that if you’re poor its your own fault, if you just wanted it you’d work harder and get more.

This ideal is fine, except that its a lie. No one works harder than farmers, and they only get around $28,000 a year, unless they own a mega farm.

He’s seen his opportunities dry up from the day he graduated college. People act as though this recession started in ’08, but really, my generation has been struggling since ’01. My friends from college all have low paying jobs, high debt, and cannot advance. Our wages are stagnate, and have been for a while.

All this because the system has been gamed to protect the rich. The minimum wage hadn’t been increased in ages, and then when it was, it was a desperate joke. (Seriously, no one can live off of $7.25 an hour.) Taxes on the rich have been lowered, regulations have been loosened, and regulating bodies have had their budgets slashed so that they don’t have the personnel nor man hours to do their jobs. The income gap at the top is ridiculous, a new aristocracy has emerged, all under Republican lead initiatives and ideas.

So my brilliant (and he is) analyst husband can’t stomach the thought of working for them, while he and his friends and his family are shaken down and hung out to dry by these Robbers in Politicians robes. He gave up on the idea of working directly for the government.

By the time that happened, and by the time he decided to go for his masters, he’s been out of school for so long that he can’t get in to the programs that would actually get him a job. THey have literally told him not to apply. They don’t have the money (budgets being slashed because there aren’t the tax dollars) and you have to be in the educational system to get further in the educational system.

So now he’s looking at just trying to get a job and excelling in that, but there are no jobs, and every time he goes looking for a new one he keeps getting pushed back down the ladder.

This makes me angry. As an artist, I by the very nature of the deal, have to slip in and out of systems. I feel fluidity in my movement, and though I’m struggling with my own self-promotional issues I do not feel as though I have lost every opportunity. (Far from it.) To see someone so cut off and crushed by a rich-serving system, and to have that be someone I love? I am angry.

The one reason I do not march with Occupy Portland is because they refuse to solidify behind any real goals or ideas. They just scream about this inequality and expect someone else to do it. Not me. Here is what I’d like to see:

Tax rates on CEO’s tied to the lowest paid worker in their company.
Taxes raised on people making over $250,000; and even more on those making over $500,000.
Funding for Regulation– I’m sick of poisoned food and products making it over from China.
Funding for Transportation, including High Speed Rail and Light Rail in American Cities.
Funding for Schools from the bottom to the top– Throwing money at the problems doesn’t’ work, but not having enough money to pay for educations doesn’t work either.


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Let there be light and lots of it.

November 16, 2011 at 3:12 pm (Uncategorized)

Seasonal depression has always been a bane of mine. I didn’t know why I burst out crying when Mrs. Mugg told me I couldn’t go outside for recesses in the 4th grade, but I did. Not all at once mind you. I don’t remember what my infraction was, but the sentence to the indoors was handed down, and then we went to lunch. I sat alone, away from everyone else (not too uncommon) faced the window and staaaared at the sunlight. Wasn’t too long before the waterworks began.

Yep, I’ve had this for as long as I remember. You’d think then, that I’d have tried the light box long before now.

I hate light in the morning. I mean, I really hate unnatural, ugly, flat light. I don’t notice it at night because you’re eased into it by the setting of the sun, but in the morning, you wake up to glorious, beautiful, soft darkness. I can see fine, I can remember where everything is in physical space, so I just don’t turn on lights.

Exept I could barely get out of bed on Saturday, and Sunday I was inches from a fight with my husband all day. Monday started out with a random crying fit in the grocerey and a terrible day of work full of my inability to focus and lots of repetative, detail oriented tasks.

That night i got the light box. Sadly, I can’t mock it by calling it the happy light because that is the model name.

The next day was drastically different. I still wasn’t perfect, but Hell, I’ll take not about to burst into tears and able to focus.

I’m just sorry it took me this long to do it.

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Work is a Vampire

October 29, 2011 at 5:25 pm (Uncategorized)

Seriously. Ergh. I’ve been working part time jobs up till now, but that doesn’t really pay enough bills just now. So now I have a full time job and no energy or life force left to really do the things I want. Ugh. Thus my disappearance.

Not that I’ve stopped doing ceramics. I’d have a melt-down of epic proportions if THAT happened, but things like writing on my blog has definitely fallen to the wayside, and I only get 6 hours a week in the studio, as compared to the 40 I was getting before. 😦 So sad.

Still, I find ways to cope. Now I bring work home to go all texture on. ^_^ Sitting in front of the TV, watching DR Who or whatever I feel like at the moment and poking intricate texture into the pieces. Very relaxing. I will be ready for my show in January!

As for Christmas, I’m going to be in a Pop-up-store in Portland this year. 🙂 It opens on the 17th, I believe, and its on the intersection of SW Morrison, 10th, and the Max line. Eeee!

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Book reading

September 24, 2011 at 5:13 am (inspiration, Studio and Environment) (, , , , , , , , )

Last night my favorite Author, Neal Stephenson was in town. I went to go see him, it was your usual sort of book event. Go to the Bagdad Theater (manage to get front row seats), Participate in the t-shirt “egg hunt” (found three, gave away two) listen to the Author read from his new book (Reamde) and listen to the Author answer questions from the audience (deeply nerdy, largely socially awkward, mostly intelligent) .

My political science husband got up and flustered Mr. Stephenson by asking him about libertarianism (my understanding of what he said was that he likes libertarians but the practice of libertarianism doesn’t seem to bring people more freedom, besides if he wrote his books to express his politics they would suck.) There were of course the aspiring writers looking for some amazing bit of wisdom that would make their writing career launch and the writing easier. I loved his response. “Writing is like cabinet making, its not an art, it’s a craft.” He went on to talk about how you have to write 10,000 pages before you become good at it, and that if you want to become a great writer you have to literally keep writing and writing. Sounded familiar to me as a potter.

I’ve done my 10,000 hours of pottery, I’ve estimated. I crossed that threshold somewhere in the past year. Over the past year I’ve recognized that my work has improved dramatically from where it was even three years ago, when I moved to Portland, much less to where I was when I got out of college. Writing is also something that I enjoy doing, so to be told that I’m going to have to put my hours in working on writing makes a deep sort of sense to me. I find it much more comforting than the strange idea I got as a kid that people are just good at something’s, and they get that way only because God or genetics. Basically, you had to be special at it.

I think I missed out a lot because I didn’t think I was any good at it. It has been very liberating to me as an adult to realize that I can become good at something if I really want to. That id its something I care about and or enjoy, I’m not stuck at the same level for the rest of my life.

To hear that idea repeated by one of the people I most respect in the world was really nice, and gives me hope for my writing skills. I haven’t spent nearly as much time writing as I have throwing in the last few years, but then having a best friend whom I had to write to in order to converse has given me a good start. Being back at a full time job sitting in front of a computer is probably going to give me a push, during my sacred 15 min breaks.

On the other hand, I do miss my time in the studio. 😦 But then things have been too insane for me to fall into a healthy after work schedule yet.

P.S. Reamde is pronounced by the author as “reem-dee.”

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More sea slug awesomeness.

September 13, 2011 at 5:49 am (inspiration) (, , , , )

So I’ve been digging into the sea slugs. Found some awesome ones, and a interesting divers blog who takes a lot of undersea photographs. 🙂 Of course, I’m more often looking at the background rather than the fish, but hey, lots of photographs!

There are some strange things under the ocean, but thats why I love it so much. 🙂
<a href="” target=”_blank”>Sea slug, brittle star, and oceanic dildo creatures

OMG spots!

This one creeps me out a little.

In studio news, the Dragon Matt green shifted again, and I got some OMG AWESOME results. I’ll have photographs next week sometime, when my life has (hopefully) calmed down a little.

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My 9/11 remembrances

September 11, 2011 at 5:05 pm (Uncategorized)

The news is alive with 9/11 stories. People are posting about it, talking about it, about the towers and grief. But when I think about 9/11 I get angry. I think about how I had to wait a full day to hear from the president as he flew from safe location to safe location and the betrayals that followed. I think of anger at my own government for the way they responded, with knee jerk anger, patriotism and opportunism, not with thoughtfulness and an eye on what was best for us, the citizens, for the country. Osama Bin Ladin is dead, and if it hadn’t been for the incompetence of the White House and Congress, all his legacy would be is burning towers, a successful proof of a safety design at the pentagon and a failure (our success) in a Pennsylvania field.

If you really want to remember 9/11 remember the people who took advantage of our grief to get what they wanted, to send us to war in not only the place where Osama Bin Ladin was hiding, but in an unrelated country that had no connections. The people who took away our freedom in the name of safety, who trampled over the constitution and treated it like a rag.

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New apartment; new Job

September 2, 2011 at 6:13 am (Uncategorized)

So in the midst of moving I get a call for an interview, and then another and before we’re done moving, I have a job. I start next week, and its full time. This is really going to take a lot of time out of my studio, ya’ know. Still, its looking like an interesting job that will actually use my artistic skills. That makes me happy.

On the other hand, I have my spaghetti jars, a mermaids purse, and some mugs and bowls in a kiln coming out on Saturday. I’m afraid I rushed the spaghetti jars, so I left one out to finish later when I wasn’t rushing, just so I could have a back up jar. I hope the others turn out, because they should be pretty darn awesome.

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August 26, 2011 at 3:27 pm (Studio and Environment) (, , , , , , , )

So I’m going to be moving in the next week or so. Blergh, its such a hassle. On the up side we’ll be moving into a nicer, quieter apartment where the staff is friendly and (so far) hasn’t lied to me. Also, I get to paint walls. I’m so sick of plain white walls. Also, no graffiti on the walls.

Best of all, I’ll be on a bike path that leads to my studio. No more having to wind through neighborhoods and high traffic areas. Sure there are bike lanes through the high traffic areas (mostly) and the neighborhood roads have little bike signs on them, but its still a hassle to have to deal with cars that may or may not respect your right to be on the road. (Likely hood of respect has an inverse correlation to vehicle size. People in SUV’s are the worst.Sometimes I susspect that person didn’t really mean to try and hit me, but then I wonder why they didn’t hit the breaks sooner. I’m wearing neon yellow.)

I’d be a real happy person if cities had dedicated bike corridors through them.

Anyhow, at the same time I’m going to be bisquing next week and firing the week after that. Pasta jars, naga mugs and bowls. Whee! -_-‘ when it rains…

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Talking with successful potters

August 23, 2011 at 4:08 pm (Business story) (, , , , , , , )

Success, of course, is often in the eye of the beholder. So for this experiment I’ve defined it as “people who have managed to make a living from pottery” as that is my end goal. Pottery all day, every day, except maybe Sunday and Saturday and then its pottery as needed on those days. Clay clay clay clay clay glaze clay glaze!

Why yes, I AM just a little nuts for my craft. Thanks for asking. *hugs a giant pile of nice squishy clay*

So, as part of this goal I am taking the Business Fundamentals class at Mercy Corp NW. Since business is my weakness the class has been great for me. One of my assignments was to e-stalk a “competitor.” Now, if you’ve ever interacted with potters, you’ll noticed that we aren’t very competition driven. Sure, we enjoy our juried shows, but when we get together its a community, not of rivals but of like-minded people; we all benefit from the support we give each other. It helps that we’re in a field that driven by individual creativeness. So instead of just e-stalking my competitors (which is fun) I’ve also decided to go and ask them about their business experience, and then (With their permission of course) share it with you!

So with out further exposition I present to you my first e-stalked ceramic artist: Charan Sachar!

Reason for stalking? I love his Bollywood inspired style.
Dancing Divas

The colors and the slip trailing get me all giddy inside, proffessionally speaking.
Butter dishes gallore!

Within the last year Charan has quit his day job and managed to get a lot of attention to his work, including a feature in NY times.

Q: You have 30 seconds to describe your business to a stranger in an elevator, what do you say?

A: I make handcrafted pottery inspired by Indian fabrics and embroidery. My love for color, pattern and Bollywood shows in my work. Side note: “The mention of Bollywood usually brings a laugh and is good ice breaker.” Then I always mention that I do local art shows and also sell online, giving them my business card.

Q: What type of business do you run? (Sole Proprietorship, Partnership, LLC, ect.) Why did you choose to structure your business that way?

A: Sole Proprietorship. When I started, like many other crafters, it was a hobby that was turning into a business. I didn’t have initial intentions that this would be my sole source of income, but would loved for that to happen. I am glad I am in that position now. Currently I am the sole person running the business, so sole propritorship seems like the right business structure for me.

Q: What is your typical daily schedule?

A: Wake up around 6:30am. Light exercise while I make my tea and oatmeal. Sit with my tea and oatmeal and sit in front of computer, checking emails, stats for shop visits, going over calendar for orders scheduled. This can go on till 10am.
I keep a daily and a weekly calender. This way I have goals to complete that day and goals that I need completed that week. This all feeds into completing goals of the big calendar of the year.
From 10-noon, I would work in the studio, then lunch.
Then 2-5pm back in the studio with email checking always in the background.
5-8pm watch TV, have dinner.
8-11pm– Back to the studio and then sleep.

Q: I read that you spend 70% of your time on business, and 30% in the studio. How does that 70% break down for you?

A: The 70% comprises of all the administrative work that does not involve my actually making my product. It is hard for me to break it down as to how much time I spend doing what because it changes significantly daily. Below is a list of things that I consider administrative work.
This includes email correspondance, creating promotional ads, checking stats on what ads work in getting traffic to my site, facebook correspondance.
I try to have at least one entry a month in my blog, sometimes that is more.
Contacting galleries for wholesale, payment, delivery schedule and getting traffic to my wholesale site also takes up a lot of time.
Packing and shipping orders really adds up when business is good.
Calendar updates, scheduling what to make and when to make it. This takes up time but I believe is very necessary to be efficient while working in the studio. With only 30% of time spent in the studio, I need to be effective to make full use of that time.

Q: What have you found to be the most successful way of promoting your work?

A: I believe any opportunity to tell my story proves to be the best way to promote my work. Blogs, facebook, showing progress in the studio of new work etc.. all have proved to be very effective. As artists we are selling our stories, so any channel that helps you tell your story, is great for promotion.
I do invest in Google and Facebook ads and they get me sales too, but all those ads come at a cost.

Q: Have you ever considered getting someone to do some of the business work? If so, in what field (book keeping, accounting, marketing)? And why that field? If not, why not?

A: I would have to say marketing. I do enjoy that part myself too, but it is time consuming. I can land up spending hours on the computer learning and trying new ways of marketing my work and getting new customers. It would be something I would like to work with someone to learn more and make it more efficient.

Q: Who are your best customers? (General , nonspecific)

A: 98% of my customers are women and the 2% are men who are buying for the women in their lives.
People who are fond of fabrics, color and pattern get immediately attracted to my work as well.

Q: Have you ever had an unhappy customer? How have you dealt with that?

A: Haven’t come across an unhappy customer yet, touch wood. Once there was a breakage in shipment and I gladly replaced the item at no additional charge. The customer was thrilled and has purchased more after that. Good customer service is always important.

Q: Who’s ceramic works do you like? Who’s business do you admire?

A: I am really fond of Ginger Steele’s ceramic work ( Her use of pattern and construction techniques really fascinate me. And then salt firing just enhance the look of her work even more.
It is really hard for me to pin point whose business I admire. It is hard to get insights into the actual workings of a small business owner to know how effective and profitable their business model is. Best is to keep your eyes open and see everything as an opportunity to learn.

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Pasta Jars and Mermaid purses

August 18, 2011 at 6:32 pm (Showing off results) (, , , , , , , , , )

As promised! Photos of my works in progress. 🙂

So It turnse out the mermaid purses needed to be worked on while still really wet. Or at least not as dry as the back yard made them in half an hour. -_-‘ summer drying is crazy fast. Useful in some ways, not in others.

And the pasta jars are awesome. I’m feeling pretty good about them, even if my height ceiling is around 13 inches right now. That’s still way better than before. Ah Progress.

Now, I need to go take care of my husband, who managed to break his toe while walking the dog.

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