31 March 2008

Getting Ready for Paradise City

I can't believe tomorrow is April already. It snowed this morning; so much for March going out like a lamb. The saying definitely does not apply in Vermont.
Paradise City Philadelphia is this coming weekend. I'll be in booth 139, should you find yourself at the show. This is the most selective of their shows, so I was pretty thrilled to get in. My sister lives in Philly, so I have a free place to stay there. That is why I applied to the show; I'm cheap, er, I mean frugal.

My booth will look something like this, though it will be a bit deeper, a full 10x10, and it will be a corner space.

I love my propanels. I bought them after I did a show across from painter Sean Huntington, incidentally a very talented and funny guy. He's from PA, but he won't be at this show. His booth looked great and mine looked blah. Rented pipe and drape is pretty lame; especially when the guy is setting it up for you and you're noticing all the stains. Um, do you have another panel on you? That one looks like it was used for a body dump.

I'm looking forward to seeing Kenny Delio again; we met a couple of months ago at BMAC. Natalie Blake will be at this show too. Only problem with shows: not enough time to socialize and see all the great work. I had an idea a few shows back, that it would be great to have all the booths on moving platforms, sort of like those spinning restaurants you can go to and have a $20.00 cocktail. Yes, it would make mapping the show problematic, but at least the exhibitors wouldn't have to see the exact same booth for 3 days straight.

Don't get me wrong- I'm always across the aisle from an amazing artist. But by the second day, I have their product line, booth set-up, and sales pitch memorized. On the plus side, I have had really good luck with my neighbors at these shows. At BMAC, I left my booth for a lady's break, and when I returned Adam Paulek was writing an order for me. Rock on, awesome neighbor!

This impending show is why I have been up late crafting all weekend. I'm about to crack the kiln, so I can glaze everything and reload to do the glaze firing overnight. Here I go.

Oh, one more thing. I made a potter's delight banner. It doesn't really go with my style, but I do crack myself up. Get it? It's embarrassing if I have to explain my lame jokes.

29 March 2008

Fresh from the kiln

Yesterday, I had a long list of things to accomplish. I got about half of everything done. That is about par for the course, as the saying goes, for me. I still overestimate what I can do in a day; does that make me a chronic optimist or an under-acheiver? I have a lot of decorating to do today; that means covering my work with 3-4 layers of slip, drawing the designs, and carving each one. The way I work, there are no shortcuts. Since I started decorating all of my work, I just don't get the same satisfaction from throwing a piece and dipping it in a glaze. I think I'll try to get some process photos taken today to add to my blog. I'll add it to the list!

Below is a new design I'm working on. I'm calling it "willow". I can't tell you how exciting it is to have a new idea, and be able to pull it off. Many ideas go up on my whiteboard; only a few make it to fruition. I'm saving some for a rainy day. I consider myself very lucky to have more ideas than time; as excruciating as that can be, it is far better than having it the other way around.

I like to try designs first on my small flared bowl. It's 10" in diameter, so it's the perfect size to show my carving. It's big enough to get the design flowing, and small enough that it is approachable for a first attempt. It's big enough to make a substantial housewarming or wedding gift, but small enough that I can keep the price relatively affordable. I basically price my work based on surface area of the carving, since that is the most labor intensive part of the process; everything else is worked in as overhead. I liken it to a painter doing a small sketch before they attack the 6'X4' canvas... or a sculptor making a maquette before the full size piece.

So, here it is, willow, in aqua, green, and chocolate:

I'm also working on making my lotus design more lotus-y. This is one of my favorite color combinations for spring: periwinkle and light green. I made the leaves on this one like the willow leaves, just to see what it would look like. Of course, they don't look like lotus leaves; my work is stylized, people.

I made quite a few little bird tumblers in this last round for my upcoming retail show, and for Etsy. I switched them up a little, and put them on a willow branch. I think I actually like them more this way than I do with the mod branch.

I'll be listing these items in my Etsy shop during the next couple of days. Right now, I'm heading to my little studio. If you see me in the Forums today, tell me to get back to work!

28 March 2008

My First Semi-Successful Screen Shot

It is a rare joy to log in to Etsy, and see one's work on the front page. I watched the views on this Flared Bowl with Aqua Mod Flowers, go from 100 to 600 in an hour! I decided to get a screenshot of this treasury, curated by The Storque to promote the new Mother's Day Showcase. Spots went on sale yesterday, and will be up, with a link on the front page, starting April 1. When I realized I had no idea how to do a screen shot, I dashed over to the Forums. The new search feature, where you are now able to search Forum titles instead of only being able to search post content, worked like a charm. I found what I needed in seconds. I only managed to get half the screen, but it was the half I needed. Thanks, fellow Etsyans!

The forums are not only a great place to find whatever information you may need about the site, but also a fun place to check in throughout the day. When you work alone, a little bit of human interaction, even cyber-human, is therapeutic. The Etc. section is by far my favorite, with topics ranging from the poignant to the absurd.

Well, I have a lot of work to do today. This includes trimming, putting handles on mugs, unloading the kiln, photographing new work (if it is light enough to do so), posting on Etsy, and decorating an entire kilnload of work, so that I can have another bisque going tomorrow. This is, by far, the fastest kiln turnaround I have ever attempted; I'll let you know how it goes!

I anticipate being up into the wee hours of the morning. Thankfully, I have a headset for my phone, and a fabulous girlfriend in Minnesota who is always up late making her merch. Kristin and her husband, Andre, are Clear Mountain Craft. Kristin makes high fire white stoneware pottery, and can sew pretty much anything under the sun, and Andre makes lampworked glass pendants and earrings. They are an awesome pair, and have 2 super cute kids. They moved to Minnesota 6 months ago, but I forgive them.

27 March 2008

HGTV Dream Home 2008

Well, this is as good an occasion as any for me to actually blog about something. You'll notice that my first blog post was months ago, the night I set up my blog. After that, I wondered if anyone would ever read my blog anyway. Months went by without me even thinking about it. Then, a few weeks ago, I found myself reading a few blogs and checking in for new posts from these bloggers, namely Nancy and Andy of Circa Ceramics. So, now I'm figuring, if I, the consummate doubter of blogs, am getting into reading them, certainly someone somewhere will want to read my blog.

One of the first galleries outside of Vermont to carry my work was Gallery Morada, located in Isla Morada, Florida. The gallery is owned and managed by Laurie Wickham, incidentally one of the kindest, most knowledgeable, and generous people I have ever had the pleasure of dealing with. I had sent her a postcard before my first wholesale show (ACRE Las Vegas) last Spring. She called to place an order before the show, because she was certain that after the show I would be booked up for months! So I got an order, a great compliment to my work, and a much needed infusion of confidence for the upcoming show, all in one phone call. What a lady. Now, Laurie is pretty much my go-to gal when I have questions about the gallery owners' perspective. She is always open and honest, and her opinions have proved invaluable to me over the past year. Laurie is very active in CRAFT, the Craft Retailers Association For Tomorrow, an organization which seeks to bridge the gap between galleries and makers, and promote awareness of American made craft.

About 6 months ago, Laurie emailed me to let me know that HGTV was building their 2008 Dream Home on Isla Morada, and that the designers had come into her gallery to shop for some quality merch to put in the home. We both tried not to get too excited, but they did express an interest in some of my work. Here's where I start bragging. Laurie told me that I was the only artist from outside of Florida whose work they were interested in. Okay, done bragging. (Maybe it's not even a braggable statement; it could just be one more sign that I should be living somewhere of a more tropical persuasion than Vermont. Yes, that's right; I must relocate so that my work will match my surroundings, since I'm not planning on drawing a frozen lake or a snowmobile on my work anytime soon.) But, I digress.

Well, a couple of months went by, and I hadn't heard anything. That was alright; remember, I hadn't gotten excited or anything. These things happen. Around the same time, I had some interest from a magazine that wanted to feature my work in a holiday gift guide, and that fell through. So it goes.

I did eventually hear from Laurie, and HGTV did buy two of my little bird tumblers for the house. And there they are in the photo, in the Master Bedroom Suite. The people who won the house are probably using them as pen holders by now! But, that's okay. They are forever (or as long as the Internet lasts) immortalized on the HGTV website. A little bit of validation is a good thing.