Monday, November 28, 2011

Measuring Tips

Do you always find yourself looking for the right ruler, caliper or protractor to measure your pots? Do you end up with a meter stick when you wanted a yardstick? Do you forget how to convert inches, cm, feet, yards,and grams? Here comes the tip...ALWAYS USE YOUR OWN YARDSTICK!

All those terms are just ways of talking about and recording how far it is from point" a" to point   " b". European cabinetmakers lay out an entire set of cabinets on a couple of sticks by holding them together, sliding them  until one end is at" a" and one end is at" b" then making a mark.No words needed. No math, no conversions. Are you making lids for pots? Calipers can be awkward and are easy to bump.Clay covered rulers are hard to read. Decide how big you want the seat for your lid to be and cut a strip of wood to that length. That's what you measure with. End of stick to end of stick. Use again to measure the lid. Perfect fit. Write Med. Casserole on it with a marker and save it. Use it again next time. If someone breaks a lid, no problem you've got it covered. No scale to read, no numbers to remember. End of stick to end of stick.Making plates, flat bottomed bowls, or baking dishes? Make your own ribs from heavy plastic.They should be the radius of your pot.Slightly round the outside corner and rib that bottom.When the left end of the rib gets to the middle of your pot, quit.

One more example and I'll let you go. Last weekend I did a sale with friends from CORE CLAY.  I ended up selling a few pots but measured in strictly monetary terms I did not do well. I could have felt dejected, doubted my self, cried, consumed large quantities of alcohol and hidden under a rock until the feeling passed. What I did instead was make sure whose ruler I was using. I am fortunate that I don't have to sell pots to pay the bills. Don't get me wrong, I like cash but it is not the only reason I do this.I was warm and dry. I spent the weekend with people that I enjoy and do not get to see often enough. I ate tasty snacks off the treat table. People told me nice things about my pots. I've had worse weekends.

This business can be tough . When you have had a bad show,when you doubt yourself, when you want to chuck it all, make sure you are using your own yardstick. Don't let your Mom's view of success run your life. Make your own scale of what's important and set your own distance between point "a" and point "b" and keep it handy, you'll need it.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Holiday Sale #1

I had a nice time at Core Clay's Holiday Sale yesterday. I got to see many fellow potters that I don't get to see often enough. I got to share tasty treats that everyone brought to share. I got to stand around looking pretty all day. I did not get to sell any pottery. The crowd was light and mostly friends and family. They might walk past your stuff and say nice things but they know who they are going to buy from before they come in the door.

I think we were all a little surprised. There is a competing Christmas Fair that is in town this weekend that I blame for a lot of this.Two years ago I did a sale with friends on the first weekend of December. It was great. Last year we changed the date to Thanksgiving Saturday and it bombed. I don't mean to sound grumpy, I really did have a good time. I appreciate being invited and all it cost was my time. It does make me feel more deeply for the people who do this without a safety net and need to sell to feed the kids.The Clay Alliance's Holiday Fair is in two weeks and I can just leave it all in the truck until then.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Prepare to Meet Thy Maker

Every gift you give this holiday season will have a story that comes with it. That story might be"WalMart was having a sale", "somebody gave me this piece of crap and I'm passing it on to you", or it could go something like...." I met the neatest...  lives way out in...and takes this stuff he gets from,.. ..and this is how it becomes ...."

When you give handmade, homegrown gifts you are literally supporting your local artists. The money from your purchase stays in your community and is immediately(or sooner) put back into your neighborhood economy to support someone else.What goes around comes around  but it comes around a whole lot faster if it goesn't have to go to China first! It's like a good deed squared. Plus you get unique items that your loved ones will treasure much longer than that set of Chinese trinkets. .AND you will have great memories from your shopping experience instead of just the relief that the dreaded trips are over and you made it home alive. You might even make a new friend or two.

Celebrate Small Business Saturday with your local Artists, Craftsmen, and Farmers this year.You'll be glad you did. I'll be celebrating at Core Clay's Holiday Sale. I'm wrapping (not rapping, that ship has sailed) til noon but should be around all day and would love to see you. If you are in a different place on the planet, celebrate where you are. Have a great weekend

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

Hello everyone. Sorry about not posting. I've been off my feet for a few days but I am on the mend now and trying to get back to work. This is not really a pottery posting. This is just a thank you for reading this year and thanks so much for the comments and encouragement. If you disagreed with any of the opinion pieces, that's ok too. That's how discussions start. Those of you whom I have met this year have all been very nice people and it is gratifying that you tune in for more episodes .I'm all set up for the CORE CLAY Holiday Sale Saturday and Sunday.I will be around most of Saturday but maybe not all of Sunday. Stop in if you get a chance. I'll try to post pictures next week.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Timely Tip

This is the time of year when many Potter's get the idea that they can get rich making Christmas ornaments for the masses. Pop them out quick, sell 'em like hotcakes. When we come back to reality, we often spend too much time on these and have way too many warp in firing. We all know that to avoid warping, we must always keep the clay flat but even with cornstarch, WD40, or snake oil, the cutters always stick and it is difficult to remove the cut outs without bending them and inviting disaster. Here is the solution. Draw the outline of your cookie cutter on some plywood or even heavy cardboard. Cut it out being careful to stay inside your line. You want a slightly loose fit. Slip this "push block " inside your cookie cutter and use it to hold the clay in place while you lift off the cutter. Problem solved. For visual learners, pictures follow.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Weekend Ramble

I had a great trip to Tennessee and North Carolina this week. I loaded up the "short bus" as we old special ed teachers call the RV and headed south Thursday Morning. First stop was to see an old friends Sarah Culbreath and Jeff Enge at Tater Knob Pottery near Berea Ky. I had a very nice  visit but even though I was taking the weekend off, I ended up throwing long enough to get clay all over my traveling pants! Here is a picture of Jeff at work.

I traveled from Berea to Racoon Valley Campground north of Knoxville. The main attraction there is a country music jam on Thursday nights. These folks at campgrounds are so starved for entertainment that even a no talent picker like me gets a warm welcome and a lot of that oh so addictive applause. I did four songs that actually involved singing in front of other adults and lived to tell about it! The rest of the night I just tried to keep upwith everyone else on songs that I did not know. Somehow, I always managed to at least finish with the others. It was great fun but time marches on and Friday morning found me heading for the Western North Carolina Pottery Festival in Dillsboro.

WNCPF is a wonderful show. All the potters are very talented and thousands of people show up with pockets full of money and leave with big bags of pottery. The show is on Saturday but the fun starts Friday with throwing competitions for tallest 5lb cylinder,widest 5lb bowl, and tallest 2lb with a blindfold. Jim Reinert from Wisconsin was grand champion but our own Sam Hitchins from Core Clay in Cincinnati made a very good showing.

I spent my time volunteering to help with show chores and helping friends Mike and Karen Baum set up and knock down their booth. I had a wonderful time and got to know some very good potters who are also very nice people. Some captioned pictures should fill in the gaps in the story. I shot up my battery with the Friday Fun but for more booth pictures here is a link to last years show posting.Thanks for stopping by.;postID=7327191437904417043

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Kiln Load

Just a quick post for a couple of tips before heading to Dillsboro for the Western North Carolina Pottery Festival. First tip. A hair dryer, step ladder, stick, bungi cord and a clamp makes a handy way to stiffen a pot for further throwing while you do something else for a few minutes.

Tip two. If you tumble stack carefully, you can take advantage of the tapers of your pots to fit several  wide pots in a 24 inch wide space.