Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Consumerism Conflict

’Tis the season to be sold something.  Everywhere you look you see some advertising that tells you that you should buy something.  They tell you your loved ones need more stuff and they will only love you if you buy it for them.  This has bothered some people so much that they refuse to participate in the holiday gifting ritual.  They choose to not give, or only give something intangible.

I get both of these practices.  I dislike consumerism and commercialism.  It seems to take the life out of everything.  Parents are made to feel like they can’t tell their children “sorry, you didn’t get (insert hot gift item here) this year because I refused to brawl with other parents for it.”  We’ve forgotten that it’s the thought that counts.  But the businesses that are involved with these products have to sell them so they can stay in business.  It becomes a fight for survival.

On the other hand when people say “I’m not buying/giving gifts this year” I cringe also.  This means they are not buying any pottery from me.  So where I understand and even admire this boycott of the consumerism madness I also have that fight for survival.  Holiday sales are the bulk of my income.  As much as I like to say I’m an artist I also realize that I’m a retailer and I have to sell my product.  It’s not romantic, but it is life.

Handcrafted Om Mugs by Future Relics Gallery
Om Mugs

So what is the balance to this conflict?  I feel like it’s a matter of what you give.  Anyone can pick up a stack of gift cards and hand them out to friends and family.  If they are really being mindful it should take them a couple of minutes to decide which gift card would be best for which person.  Good deal, 5 minutes, all your holiday shopping is finished, go celebrate the season, thanks for the thought.

When people come to pick out gifts from my pottery they usually take their time, they look at a piece from different angles, they touch, they hold, they imagine.  They often comment about how much they would like this same piece for themselves.  They may not realize at that time that they can go enjoy the piece while they are visiting with this friend or family member.  They are giving something of value, something of worth and something of themselves even if it was not made by their hands.  It is something that speaks to them.  It shows caring, it should be why we give gifts.

Check out the gallery page - Future Relics Gallery by Lori Buff

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Starting an Art Stroll?

This past weekend I had the good fortune and pleasure to be invited to the home of collage artist Patty Young for an art show.  She also invited assemblage artist Elise Aronson so we had 3 days of conversation about art and how to solve all the problems of the world.  Naturally it was mostly about art and it was totally fun.

At Last by Patty Young

 I’m a very private person and my house is a very personal space of me so in my opinion opening up one’s house like that feels very vulnerable and generous.  It turns out that it was a lot of fun.  Most of the people that came and visited were not only very respectful of the home and the art but they were very happy to visit and get to know a little about us artists as well as sharing pieces of their lives.  It was very nice and very personal.  I really enjoyed the experience and I feel like the customers did also.  If nothing else it beat the heck out of being at a mall.

Assemblage Jewelry by Elise Aronson

We also got a chance to meet a few other people in the neighborhood who are artists.  Several expressed interest in doing the same thing and the idea of an art stroll through the neighborhood emerged.  I think that would be a lot fun for the artists and the visitors as well as a great way to give people a community building experience that they are less likely to find in the big box stores.  I’m pretty excited about being at the start of this opportunity.

Handcrafted soup mug and serving bowl by Lori Buff
Serving Bowl and Soup Mug by Lori Buff

Check out the gallery page - Future Relics Gallery by Lori Buff

Monday, December 15, 2014

Parisienne Gnocchi with Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Brown Butter Sage

If you’ve ever tried to make pasta at home you may have discovered that it’s a little tricky.  Potters may have an advantage because we are used to rolling out slabs of clay but pasta wants to be much thiner and it wants to be kept cool, usually.  However, one of my friends kept telling me how easy it is to make gnocchi so I figured I’d give it a try.  He was right!  It’s easy and you can make them a day or two a head of time or while the veggies are roasting.

Speaking of veggies, I used sweet potatoes because I had some from my garden.  I’m sure this would also be good with any firm winter squash like butternut.  Feel free to experiment and let me know what you discover.
Parisienne Gnocchi with Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Brown Butter Sage by Future Relics Pottery
Parisienne Gnocchi with Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Brown Butter Sage

The casserole was amazingly delicious and actually looked much better than the picture shows.  I think the next time I make this I will double the recipe just to make certain we have plenty of leftovers.

Ingredients: 

For the Parisienne Gnocchi:

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 cup plain flour
3 eggs
½cup finely grated Parmesan
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons olive oil

Directions:

For the Parisienne Gnocchi:


To make Parisienne gnocchi, place butter, salt and 1/2 cup water in a medium saucepan over a medium-high heat. Bring to a boil. Add flour then stir continuously with a wooden spoon until a smooth dough forms and begins to come away from side of pan. Transfer mixture to bowl of an electric mixer. Set aside for 5–10 minutes to cool a little.

Using an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat in the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in Parmesan and mustard until smooth.

Bring a large saucepan of salted water to boil over a high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low. Place gnocchi dough in a piping bag fitted with a 1cm plain nozzle. Pipe one-quarter of dough into boiling water, cutting at approximately 1 inch intervals with a small sharp knife to make gnocchi-sized pieces. Simmer for 1–2 minutes or until gnocchi rise to surface and are tender. Using a slotted spoon, transfer gnocchi to a bowl of iced water. Repeat, in batches, with remaining dough. Drain gnocchi and return to bowl. Drizzle with oil and toss to coat. Cover and store in refrigerator until required. (Gnocchi will keep in refrigerator for 3–4 days.)

Ingredients:

For the Sweet Potatoes:

2-3 medium sweet potatoes, scrubbed, cut into bite size pieces
6 tablespoons olive oil
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup fresh sage leaves, chopped small
shaved Parmesan, to serve

Directions:

For the Sweet Potatoes:

Preheat oven to 425°, if you are going to use a handcrafted casserole you should put it in the oven now so it heats up with the oven. Place pumpkin, in a single layer, in a large baking sheet. Drizzle with oil and toss to coat. Bake for 25 minutes or until soft and slightly caramelised.

Place gnocchi and pumpkin in a casserole. Bake for 15 minutes or until gnocchi is puffy and golden. About 5 minutes before gnocchi is ready, place butter and 8 tablespoons olive oil in a small saucepan over a low heat. Cook for 4–5 minutes or until butter begins to turn brown. Add sage and cook for 1 minute or until sage is crisp and butter is a nutty brown color.  Pour melted butter over gnocchi mixture. Top with Parmesan to serve.

Check out the gallery page - Future Relics Gallery by Lori Buff

Friday, December 12, 2014

Home Art Show

It’s time for another art show.  This weekend I have the good fortune to be showing my work at the Home of collage artists Patty Young of Redstilts Design.  She has also invited another collage artist, Elise Aronson to the home show so it should be a weekend of lots of art and fun.  You all are invited.


Details:

4674 Westhampton Dr
Tucker, GA  30084

Click here for directions

Friday December 12, 2014 through Sunday December 14, 2014
12 pm - 5 pm each day

Check out the gallery page - Future Relics Gallery by Lori Buff

Thursday, December 11, 2014

It’s Good vs It’s What I Wanted

Potters have many options for firing our work.  Some, like electric firing leave little to chance.  Other types of firing, like wood firing depend on so many different factors that it’s always a bit unpredictable.  Yes, we can learn to do things that will help make better flame marks of the pots but we also are at the mercy of things like atmospheric pressure and moisture content of wood.  Each time I participate in a wood firing I learn a bit more but it’s kind of like learning about computers.  Each answer brings another question.  You have to be okay with that sometimes.

The most recent wood firing that I participated in produced some pots that made a few potters unhappy.  One man was very disappointed and posted a picture of a cup he disliked on Facebook.  Friends flocked to it to tell him how much they loved the cup.  Another friend said she thought all her pieces experienced too much reduction and came out too dark.  Again, I looked at pictures on line and thought they came out beautiful.  Of course a picture isn’t the same as seeing the piece in person but I’ll bet they were beautiful in reality.

I’ve seen this with students also.  I’ve seen a student be very disappointed with a beautiful pot because they expected something different.  My advice is to put the pot away until you have lost your expectations then look at it with fresh, eyes that are not opinionated.  That tends to work.

Woodfired Pottery Vase by Future Relics Gallery
Wood Fired Vase

Some people who work in other art mediums that have much more control argue that potters are not true artists because we often leave some of the elements of our art to the kiln (or kiln gods as the case may be).  Potters argue that letting go of that control is part of our art form.  I can’t imagine we will find an answer to that debate here, and that’s okay.

For me I’m happy to work with the materials in harmony.  I like having a little control but I also enjoy giving up some control.  I believe that it should feel like Christmas when we open a kiln.  Sometimes the gift is good, sometimes it’s not.   I understand that potters want our voice to be seen in the piece and I understand the disappointment when it is not.  Maybe the voice of the potter has a lot more to do with nature than we realize.  We do play with mud after all.  If you really watch the leaves on the trees they seem to change a little differently each year.  I suspect light, water, and temperature play roles in the process, but they always look beautiful.  I think it’s called harmony.

Check out the gallery page - Future Relics Gallery by Lori Buff