Thursday, December 22, 2011

Happy Holidays

I am still officially on Christmas break and looking forward to a much too rare visit from our globe trotting son. I popped back in just to take care of two important points.

1. Merry Christmas, Solstice, Kwanza, or holiday of your choice.( I didn't want to leave any out but I can only spell these and Blogger only tells me the others are wrong and not how to correct them Someone should write a book where I can look up words and their meanings..) I do appreciate every reader and comment and I especially thank those of you who put a link to this site on your own blogs.

2. We cannot close for the Holiday without awarding the BEND OVER GROVER award to Speaker John Boehner for refusing to consider the BI-PARTISAN Senate extension of the payroll tax cut and loading the house version with so many poison pills that no one in the Senate wanted anything to do with it. He rolled over for the Tea Party and made Grover Norquist and friends happy by choking the working people of America. Bend over Grover, drop those drawers and stand under the mistletoe.  Johnny is puckering up to give you a big Holiday kiss.


As I was going past my homepage on the way to shutting down the computer, I saw that the House has reportedly caved on the payroll tax extension. Apparently they figured out that when they act like assholes people accuse them of being assholes. This makes them fear for their political lives and do things against their nature.I really think that caving makes them look worse. If their stand was on "Principle" they are spineless for rolling over. Their stand could not have been  for assumed political gain because they just wouldn't do something that sacrificed the welfare of the American public just to make points. Or would they? Either way they really screwed themselves this time. When you put yourself in a lose/lose situation, you usually lose.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Panic Reducing Potter's Tip

This is the time of year when most potter's I know slow down a little. It is a great time to sort through those boxes of pots from last season and make prototypes with the changes and new glazes that we want to try for this year. No matter how I try, I always end up with a "set " of 10 bowls and one too big and one too small. Very nice bowls, but they don't quite match. I also end up with singletons of a color or size I'm no longer making or a style that I plan on changing. Here comes the tip....EMPTY BOWLS don't have to match.

Now is the time to get a big box and write EMPTY BOWLS on the side of it.Most potter's I know donate to their local EMPTY BOWLS projects. Some of us donate to more than one. Instead of getting in a panic the week before bowls are due, put a box out now. If your project has a "seconds sale" like ours does, put out two boxes.Both boxes will be full before you know it and your donation will not be hot from the kiln this year. No muss no fuss no last minute panic. Merry Christmas and thanks for stopping by.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Christmas Break

When I was teaching , Christmas break was a wonderful thing (if you survived the first three weeks of the month.) This week I have been on break from making pots.I unloaded a couple of kilns, put away unsold pots from Holiday Fair, and gathered up pots that I had at a Civic Garden Center sale. I got my totals from Holiday Fair and it turned out better than I expected. Not a home run but a solid triple. The Garden Center Sale was to a small audience and I did not expect to sell much. I was not disappointed.I only took 7 pots over and picked up 6  but it did get my work in front of a few more people.The mug order from last week is done and I am very happy with the results. I am also very happy that nothing else is promised to anyone So officially I am on Christmas Break until I say otherwise.Merry Chrismakwanakah and thanks for reading.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Holiday Fair

 Clay Alliance has two sales a year Spring Fair on Derby Day and Holiday Fair in December. Yesterday was Holiday Fair.We had 35 excellent potters from all around the area and a large team of dedicated volunteers. I'd been fussing about this show for a while because it is a "table show" and I am used to bringing everything I own when I do a show. I needed a new approach so I built these shelves to effectively triple my space. That worked out well. I didn't sell any of the big jars so I didn't need to bring more of them. I did sell a lot of mugs, whiskey cups, bowls and bakers. This show has a central checkout so I didn't have to worry about making change or wrapping but I couldn't easily keep track of what I sold. I wasn't a rock star but I did pretty well. I'll know for sure later this week. I also had a lot of potters interested in my shelves. I could build several sets if I really wanted to.

I'm glad the show is over but there is no rest yet. Last Sunday I got an order for mugs. I threw them Monday. Added handles on Tuesday. Waxed the attachments and put them in the hot box on Wednesday. 7am Sunday, out in the studio starting the bisque kiln. When these are done I may just go to Cognito Mississippi for a few days. No one knows me when I'm in Cognito.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Cone 6 Load

I needed some baking dishes for this Saturday's Holiday Fair so I pushed through a load of cone 6 pots this weekend. Not a waster in the bunch. I think I had 8 Bakers some green some red and one cobalt blue spongeware so this should help fill out the inventory. I have a little re-packing to do but I am basically ready for the show. I did get an order for mugs yesterday so I threw a bunch today to try to get them fired for Christmas. Every little bit helps.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Baum Open House

My friends Mike and Karen Baum are having their annual Open House this weekend.I helped out yesterday and had a very nice time. Traffic was steady and there were lots of people walking out with big bags.The sale continues this afternoon.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Bend Over Grover

OK, here comes one of those radical left wing blog posts.Some of you may wish to tune out now and stop back next week.

I'm becoming more and more convinced that the main thing that is choking Congress is the no tax never no how pledge that Grover Norquist has extorted many of our lawmakers into signing. You can't get access to Republican donors without it and if you don't sign it Grover's forces will work against you. If you ever waver, it's off with your head.Grover refuses to say who his funding comes from but he has so much of it you know he didn't get the money from poor people.This is the one thing that is keeping compromise out of budget negotiations. Lawmakers are scared to death to say that we should repeal the law that maxes Hedge Fund managers tax rate at 15%. They claim we should lay off public workers or let the payroll tax cut expire before we do anything as radical as ask the nations top earners to pay their fair share. Congressmen line up to kiss Grover's butt. So........

This week I am awarding the "Bend over Grover Award" to Mitch McConnell. Mitch says that instead of taxing millionaires (job creators who are not creating jobs), we should freeze the pay of Federal employees( working Americans), and Congress (non-working Americans) to pay for a continued cut in the payroll tax. As needed I will give the award to other lawmakers that I see puckering up to give Grover a big kiss.

If you are in Southwest Ohio this weekend , stop and visit Mike and Karen Baum's legendary Holiday Pottery Sale. State route 350 off route 123 at I 71. Saturday 10 to 5ish and Sunday afternoon. Demos, drawings, treats, drinks. It's always a great time.

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.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Some Good, Some Not or This is a Learning Opportunity

Last week I got my new POTTERY MAKING ILLUSTRATED in the mail and found a new twist on an old trick. When making sectional pots, I had learned to make the sections, stiffen, join, and do a little final shaping. The article ( by Rich Briggs ) suggested centering and opening a large ball of clay for the bottom section of the pot. Once opened, the walls are pulled straight up and left very thick. Thick like an inch and a half. A mating area is made by beveling the inside of this section at about 45 degrees. A slightly smaller bottomless cylinder is made the same thickness and diameter but beveled on the outside. This section is carefully inverted on the first one with no drying in between. With both sections still soft, no scoring or slipping is needed. At this point, turn the wheel slowly and put light pressure on the seam. Lo and behold, you have a fairly tall, thick walled cylinder that is straight and even. A few more pulls to thin it, a little shaping and there you are. I have made sctional pots before, but here is my first one with this method. Worked like a charm. I have included a 5 gallon bucket for scale.

I have seen lots of folks putting glass in the bottom of pots for color. Theirs looked great. Mine pulled   themselves apart. I think I may have put in too much glass. Oh well, it's all practice anyway.

Lastly, here are a few pots that came out nice. Thanks for stopping by. I'm heading for the Western North Carolina Pottery Festival in Dillsboro next week. You should too. It's a great show and a good time