Sunday, May 29, 2011

Homebrew and Swordplay

Saturday was a fun day at a potter's house that had nothing to do with pottery. My friends Josh and Marie are fine potters but also love to beat on their friends with swords. To kick off the summer, Josh made a batch of tasty Brown Ale and invited his friends to come over and bring weapons. A perfect combination. . See you next Saturday at ART in the GARDEN in AUGUSTA, KY.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The State and Education

A couple of weeks ago, there was an image circulating on Facebook of a button that read" Those who can ,teach. Those who can't,  pass laws to restrict teachers."As often happens, this got me thinking. Between my wife and I, we have over 50 years experience in the classroom and/or supervision of educators. We both have  Masters Degrees and many additional credit hours of training.. I think this qualifies me to speak with some authority on this subject.

The Ohio General Assembly has taken it on themselves to restructure the state's educational system. The need for reform was obvious to the legislators because even though the average educational level of teachers in any school in the state far outstrips the level of education of  the legislature and even though the teachers had specialized training, they were still not smart enough to agree with the opinions of big money donors who want to privatize and industrialize public education. Clearly, if the most qualified people did not have the correct opinion, the system must be broken.

The notion that we can standardize and quantify education comes from manufacturing. It assumes that if the proper processing is given to all children, they will all come out of school with the same competencies.No Child Left Behind assumes that all children are going to the same place on the same bus at the same time.If this doesn't happen, it is the fault of overpaid teachers.Make no mistake, this is the first assumption. No one ever mentioned that the Captains of Industry who are being encouraged to manage education would never agree to manufacture the simplest widget if they had no control over their raw materials coupled with no control and little knowledge of what the second and third shift was doing. No one would ever agree to these conditions but we expect teachers to do it every day.

The Republican Governors and legislatures of Midwestern States are systematically passing laws to severely restrict the bargaining rights of teachers and other public servants. They may not strike, they may negotiate pay but not benefits( so what goes in one pocket may be arbitrarily taken out of the other) Seniority means nothing. Pay must be merit based with 50% based on those tests that we don't"teach to" wink wink. It has never been shown that students who do well on these tests are more successful in the real world than others. It has certainly never been shown that these tests are valid for assessing teacher performance nor has any other formula to account for student differences been proven. The answer?  Ignore student differences and assume that everyone is capable of learning the same skills at the same rate. Of course this is totally ridiculous but you have to do it to make the math work.

When I went into the classroom, I had a wife and two kids.If I had been the only earner in the family we would have qualified for Food Stamps.The only thing that made it feasible to go into a job with no real career ladder was the assurance that with regular scheduled increases, and professional growth my wages would improve. The Ohio Legislature has removed this incentive for people to enter the field.

Ohio has passed and the Governor has signed SB5 that dictates these and other changes. Currently petitions are being circulated for a voter referendum on this law. Polls show a 60/40 split against the law but it is still an uphill battle to repeal it. I'm not saying our system is perfect. I'm not saying that public employees shouldn't be asked to help out and tighten their belts a little. And finally, far be it from me to suggest that CEO's whose wages are up 27% this year, banks that we bailed out, and Oil Producers who got 4 billion in federal money should kick in a little more.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

I Won't Be Needing to Make Any More Pottery

I'm sorry, that was a typo. What I meant to say was I won't be KNEADING to make pottery.In an attempt to make my worn out rotator cuffs last as long as the rest of me I splurged and got a new toy.So far, I love it.I softened and pugged out the first batch of clay earlier and so far the score is BOWLS -7,  AIR BUBBLES- 0.

In other matters, I had a great time at Tromp and Trolley in Maysville last Friday.Sales were weak but it was more of a reunion/pot luck than a money maker anyway.When potters get together, it's always tasty and there was not a tupperware bowl or deli tub in sight. I like seeing pots in action. I sold enough to cover expenses and really enjoyed seeing the old woodfire gang..

Monday, May 9, 2011

Spring Fair Report

Saturday at Spring Fair began with bright sunshine.None of us recognized what it was at first but we liked it.Set up went smoothly but slowly with the new shelves.When you are used to laying things out one way it takes a little trial and error to get used to a new system. People started coming brfore the 11AM opening and kept coming until 5 when rain was forecast. We actually stayed dry until a brief drizzle at 4:40 followed by a downpour as we began packing up at 5.Sales were pretty good and I was selling more larger pots than usual. Woodfired pots went well also and may have made 25% of my sales. It is amazing that 60 potters can be in one venue and all the work is different.I only had a brief minute to visit friends before we started but it is always a treat to see what everyone has been making. Here are a few booth shots of the new shelves in action. Yes, I did remember to remove the tape from that lid before customers came.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Last Minute Additions

Blogs are like Children's Books, the more pictures the better.I thought I was ready for Spring Fair but we unloaded the gas kiln at Middletown this morning and these pots have to go, but they won't go cheap. I'll post a review of the show next week. Thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Ready for Spring Fair

This Saturday, the Cincinnati Clay Alliance kicks off the outdoor show season with our Spring Pottery Fair. Nearly 60 talented potters on one street. I have been getting ready for weeks and I think I'm in pretty good shape.The pots are priced and packed. The finish on the new shelves is dry. The truck is loaded and I still have room on the seat for a couple of last minute additions.The problem is that after a few years of this, I haven't figured out what to leave at home and what to take with me so I end up taking almost everything I own .If I had a long bed truck I would just take more.At 5 o'clock the show ends. Then  I will start 2 hrs of repacking and reloading and the truck will look the same as it did in the morning. If you are in the area Saturday, stop, buy,(not a misspelling), and help me reduce the size of this load! It should be a great show rain or shine. We have gotten a huge amount of publicity this year so hopefully we will have a crowd regardless of the weather. Jake Speed and the Freddies will be playing 12 to 3pm and there will be demos and prize drawings all day.Free show, free parking Fun Fun Fun.  I'm in booth 12 near Myrtle Ave.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

New Booth Furniture

Hey everybody. This is just a quick post to show off the new set of shelves I built for the booth this weekend.The uprights are made from 2x6's ripped in half and dowels. The shelves are cedar for light weight and stiffness. They are 5 ft wide 16 inches deep and taper as they go up to help with stability.They fold flat for storage and hold as much as two tables.