Ceramics Showcase!

February 5, 2012 at 6:19 pm (Sales and events) (, , , , )

Its comming and I have a booth. 🙂 This year Its going to be all mine, which is daunting in the face of having a full time job. I have plans for my booth though… Sandy plans.

I want to make my booth reminiscent of the Oregon coast. Sea oats, sand, sea tossed wood. The sand is making me a little worried. I mean, I’ll need trays for it, but I don’t know if I have the time to make the trays I’d need. Then there’s the part where I’ll need walls. Clearly I’ll be putting door frames together, but then what color to paint them?

This is going to be interesting. Fortunately, I already have a number of pieces to sell. I only hope I will have enough for the show. Actually, I’m kinda hoping I’ll be able to get into the group booth instead. *sighs* Less work.

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Tiki Time!

January 22, 2012 at 8:18 pm (inspiration) (, , )

So I have a commission for a Tiki. ^_^ I’ll need to keep preparing for the Ceramics SHowcase, but Tiki carving is such fun. Its so silly and campy. You don’t have to take anything about it seriously.

In the mean time I made it down to the Bullseye Glass Gallery. Every time I try to go there they are closed. This is usually because I foget about it until I’m in the neighborhood and I’m never in the neighborhood when they are open. Except I finally was. There was a nice exhibition on painterly glass. I really liked the works of Abi Spring and Ted Sawyer

I also saw this ginormous tile work at restaurant that is making me think about glazes and color. The tiles were flat boring tiles, but the glaze was used in a very painterly way. Makes me want to try that some. Maybe combined with portraiture? I must contemplate this further.

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Work as a distraction

December 28, 2011 at 6:06 pm (About my process) (, , , , , , , )

I need to get blogging again, I think it keeps me honest.

I’ve been working in the studio, but work-that-pays is stressing me out. I feel they have unreasonable expectations of just how much I can do in a day, but then what if they don’t and I’m just not very good at office work. I take the time to do a good job, and to be honest when I see the person who was before me’s work (who did everything they wanted to have done) it was slipshod and poorly done. So I do think they have unreasonable expectations. ON the other hand, I’m having to fight that awful voice inside me that tells me that I’m worthless and I’m always always always going to fail.

I hate that voice. That voice is a piece of shit, but I can’t get it to shut up and go the hell away. Of course I’m going to fail at times, but I also succeed. So why in hell can’t I remember my successes, only and always my failures?

So I feel stressed out at work, and its the time around winter solstice which means I get to struggle with SADs. So working in the studio has been hard. I just want to hibernate, really. Sleep, read, occasionally eat. Write a little.

Still I must persevere. Today I’m going to go to the studio and glaze my work for the show that’s going up next week. (EEP!) I don’t think its going to turn out how I wanted it to, but I hope it will turn out well.

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Show Prep

December 1, 2011 at 3:02 pm (About my process) (, , , , , , )

I have a show coming up. I’m pretty darn nervous about it, I don’t feel like I’m going to be ready. The things I wanted to do… I don’t know that I can get them done. I kept putting off making sculptures because I was focused on more immediate and financial concerns. I thought I’d still be jobless at this point and have plenty of time to focus on my sculptures.

Ha. What an idiot.

Now I spend every night watching tv and texturing little forms. Not that I’m complaining about being able to do work at home, but this is not exactly how I planned on doing things. I’m also afraid that its not going to look good when its done. ergh.

and I need to make so many more slugs its not even funny. Every time I think I’ve learned my lesson…

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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 (www.insomniapottery.com) 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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Good Morning!

August 16, 2011 at 3:53 pm (Business story) (, , , , , , )

Yesterday I got some work on the pasta jars done. I have to tell you, its a pretty awesome feeling holding a jar that you made that’s a foot tall (30.5 cm tall). I’m going to be giving some ammonites homes today and then its finally to those darn mermaid purses that I’ve been trying to get to.

Yesterday was the second day of the Mercy Corps NW class on Business Fundamentals. It was largely on finances and while a lot of it was stuff I already knew, it was illuminating to me to have it set out in that structure. I know the cultural myth is that “creatives” are supposed to be good with free form and better with no limitations or boundaries, but I find that structure really helps me. Structure and group support, which is what a class provides. Even in the studio I find structure useful. I don’t need to be so tightly bound to structure that it limits my movements, but … well, I see it like a vast jungle gym that I can move across however I want, and in the studio I get to try to use it to see what I can make.

So the class is good for me. The homework is a bit intimidating, but its good practice. I’m just not looking forward to checking out my credit report. o.O

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And Crunch time is over

August 6, 2011 at 1:48 am (About my process) (, , , , )

Thankfully. I think I can take the stress of about two weeks of crunch time, which is good to know. Well, crunch time plus a bored husband. If he had more to occupy him, I’d probably be ok for 3 weeks, since I wouldn’t have to be so active in the evenings after work.

Still, thats good to know for future reference. That means that I can probably crunch my way through a single load, probably medium kiln, of work. So long as the work is simple, like this bottle. Or maybe if I did a about 5 large sculptures, or a handful of tiny smooth ones (like this one)

Knowing one’s boundries when working allows one (me) to avoid promising too much, or taking on to much. Alternativly, it keeps me honest too, knowing how far I can go keeps me from being too lazy. I was raised with a lot of anti-boundary propaganda, but I’m finding that boundaries are actually darn useful tools.

Anyhow, I should be back to regular posting next week, now that I’m not so rushed. 🙂

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High Production Time

July 27, 2011 at 2:52 pm (inspiration) (, , , )

For the next week and a half I’ll be in high production. I have been for the last week and a half, and it’s really effected my writing. Blergh.

Anyhow, while I’m producing I’ve figured out some theories on how to produce mermaids purses out of ceramics. It should be fun, especially if I chain them all together. ^_^

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Magic word for the day: Nudibranch!

July 21, 2011 at 6:02 am (inspiration) (, , , , , )

No seriuosly, what could be more magical than sea slugs? I mean, you think slug and you get this image of a slimy, long, blob-shaped thing, right? But then add the word “Sea” to “Slug” and something amazingly magical happens to that homely slug and *poof* you’ve got Nudibranches! Beautiful, colorful, deleicate! The exact opposite of the terrestrial slug.

Alas, I have no pictures of my own to share so here’s a listing of some awesome galleries.

OMG, so beautiful!

National Geographic always does a stunning job.

More!

Though, as beautiful as they are… I still don’t want to touch slugs. Ew.

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Day by Day

July 18, 2011 at 4:05 pm (About my process) (, , , , , , )

Right now its high production season in the studio. I’ve got orders to fill, and so I don’t get much time with my creative endeavors. I suppose thats ok because as I research the show I’m putting together, I’m feeling overwhelmed. The water takes up 70% of the planets surface and most of that is ocean. The abundance of life in the ocean almost guarantees that life will survive in the oceans no matter what we throw at it, but knowing what will survive and in what form depending on where it is in conjunction to what human disasters… blergh.

So I’m trying to decide between two approaches right now. The first is a sampling approach: I’m presenting samples of weird specimens from around the world that have adapted after the long running disaster that has been human intervention on the oceans. Some successes in conservation, but a lot of failures.

The second would be to focus on one particular part of the ocean. A specific area in the world. The Gulf of Mexico for instance, or the coast of Japan. (That one would be easier, it’s already a dead-zone. Anything that could survive there can’t be consumed by humans.)

I dunno. still trying to figure it out.

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