Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Potter's Tip

Well read individuals will have noticed that the banding wheel plans featured in last week's post were also featured on page 14 of this month's CERAMICS MONTHLY as Tip of the Month. I had sent it in several months ago and heard nothing so it was quite a surprise to see it in the magazine. Now I can say my"work" has been featured in CM. ( I just don't have to add that it wasn't my pottery.)

Riding the crest of this success, I thought I would talk about bat making. It seems we never have enough bats, we never have one the right size or both. 1/2 inch Medium Density Fiberboard(Masonite)(MDF)
makes a pretty nice bat especially if you seal them with some clear lacquer or polyurethane. A 4x8 sheet is under $25 and the home center will cut it down to manageable pieces for you. One sheet will make 32 12 inch bats or 18 16 inch ones. That is a huge savings and not that much work. If you spray glue some scrap foam to one of them, you have a trimming bat that will hold most things on center without all those little balls of clay. Just press down with your left hand and trim with your right.

I am trying to show the process with captions on the pictures so you may need to click on them to enlarge them enough to read the notes.I hope I get them up in order but if not, its not rocket surgery.You are smart enough to figure it out.

There has been a discussion about shameless self promotion on the web this week.Please note that I have said nothing about the show in Bellevue on the 11th or the one in Loveland on the 12th. I have even resisted the urge to tell you that if you mention this posting, I will give you 10% off any purchase at these shows. Saying such things would be crass commercialism and clearly beneath me. I just wasn't raised that way. Also just a quick thanks to the folks who came out in Xenia last week. My work was well received and I sold enough to make it worth while. That's it for now. Just follow the pictures to
make your own bats.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Lately it seems, blogs I follow have been writing about gardens, recipes, and vacations.I have been writing about studio construction, machinery shows, Ohio Slip, and selling pots. I may even have slipped up and said a few nice things about other people.( Don't expect that to happen again anytime soon) It's time to get back to writing about pots. Since I have been doing those other things, I do not have a lot of new finished work to show you right now. I did a bisque load yesterday and that will have to do. I am still on my unending quest for the perfect mug so here are a bunch of variations, probably will finish out at 12 ounces. I love big 20 ounce mugs but some folks seem to want something a little smaller. I have also been testing a slip that looks like it gives good coverage. I think the sponge decoration will pop. Tea pots are very popular with potters but they take a while to make and can be a pain to transport to shows. I thought I would try some coffee servers. Opinions welcome. Finally bowls galore. serving bowls, soup/cereal bowls, small red clay baking bowls to match my larger baking dishes and a casserole that is way too big. Hope to let you see the outcome in a couple of weeks.

My twin brother turned 60 yesterday.( I'm still trying to decide if I will or not. ) Thanks to all who sent greetings.

Monday, August 9, 2010

I've been thinking

A couple of weeks ago,Tracey Broome tsbroome.blogspot.com questioned why people will go to a festival and spend $10.00 for a blooming onion and a soda and then say they love your pottery but can't afford anything. Both purchases will stay with you forever.One will eventually make you feel guilty, one will bring back memories of meeting an artist and learning how something beautiful is created from the most humble materials.

This post is not really about selling or not selling well but rambling is what bloggers do. What I really wanted to talk about is not how artists enrich our lives but courage. The courage it takes to make your way in the world by inspiration and perspiration without a safety net. My wife and I are blessed (well, blessed by 30 years of hard work) with a retirement income and access to affordable insurance. I can sell pots or break pots and still get by. I am awed by the determination of all the potters, painters ,and pickers out there that struggle year after year with their success or failure riding on their next show.Their talents are dependent on a market that can be crushed by something as common as traffic problems or bad weather.

I have had two potter friends beat colon cancer in the last year. Neither had insurance. They beat cancer but not the healthcare system. They will carry the debt forever. Another friend fell on the ice and knocked herself out last winter. No insurance, no doctor visit. Suck it up. Tough it out. It will probably stop hurting eventually. Yet they continue.Other friends make their sole living from shows and kiln openings. They have minimal insurance and pay $600 a month or so for coverage.That's out of their net, after the show fees, travel expenses, clay, and utility bills. That's a lot of pottery folks. Yet they continue. Most drive old cars or trucks that they cannot afford to repair and live where they struggle to keep the cold out in the winter and the heat out in the summer. Yet they continue. Some are trying to pay off $100,000 educations with $12,000 incomes. Yet they continue. With all the risk and all the uncertainty, they all continue. They continue to enrich our lives and enhance our happiness.

One of my friends has been a "successful" country potter for over 30 years. Success means she has paid her bills, not that she has become rich. She makes gorgeous pots but that in itself is not enough. Strangers find their way to her Gallery/Studio and friends leave. I love to see her greet the public and watch them leave with an armload of pots. I really feel that they are paying for the memory of the day and the pot is a reminder of the warmth and hospitality they felt when they were there. Because they like that feeling, they return later for a booster shot and become regulars. They may not know that we feel as good as they do and maybe that's why we continue.

CBS had a segment on the Early Show this morning suggesting that people would gain more happiness if they shifted their discretionary spending from buying " things " to buying "memories" and experiences. I know a lot of people who can hook them up with both.

Thanks for listening.