Thursday, September 29, 2011


Yesterday I was having some difficulties throwing this pot.  It felt like I had an air bubble but when I tried to poke the bubble with my pin tool I realized something was actually in the clay.  So I set about trying to dig out the offending matter.  It turned out to be a large piece of cardboard. 
I had just opened this bag of clay so, even though I did wedge the clay I didn't do as through a job as I would have if the clay was being reused. I guess I learned my lesson.  I just hope Highwater doesn't charge me extra for the paper-clay.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Etsy and The Studio Potter

Maybe I get bored easily or maybe I'm continually growing.  I like to think the latter is true especially since I spend so much time auditing and attending workshops and trying to improve myself and my pots.  We are told that growth is a good thing.  We are always striving for a higher degree of knowledge, a promotion at a job, we even measure our children's growth on a wall because we find it important.
Sometimes growth is not so good, like when it comes to listing my pottery on Etsy.  I don't create formula pots.  Even when I make a lot of one piece each one tends to be very different.  Take mugs for example.  Many potters make mugs, they can be a staple of our existence. But when I make them, even if I make a set, no two are alike.  It's not that I can't make a pair of matching mugs, I guess I could if I tried.  It's that I don't want to.  Like many people my mug travels around with me in the mornings.  It starts in the kitchen, moves to the bedroom then maybe outside, to the office then the studio, and eventually back to the kitchen and into the dishwasher.  Janet's morning coffee mug makes a similar journey and we don't want to get them mixed up since she takes hers without sugar and I take mine with, if we mixed them up it would be bad. 
In order to list one piece for sale on Etsy I need to take at least 5 good images of the piece from different angles, know it's measurements and then write something interesting about it.  That's a lot of work.  So is setting up and breaking down a show.  Which is the greater time suck?  I don't know.  But I will tell you that I do enjoy doing shows more than Etsy.  I like meeting my customers and hanging out with other artists.  Don't get me wrong, my favorite way to sell is still in galleries and stores.  It's easier than setting up the booth and I still enjoy a personal relationship with the owner of the place.
Lots of people sell on Esty, some of the work is very unique.  I'd love to know where they find the time.  I'd also love to hear some suggestions for making Etsy listing faster and easier.
I love and appreciate your comments.
Check out the gallery page - Future Relics Gallery

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Solving Problems With Art

I sell a lot of French Butter Keepers.  They are a simple product that solves a problem for people by keeping butter soft and fresh.  It also gives people a nice way to serve their guests that's different than a traditional butter dish and they make a great gift.  Essentially they solve a problem so they sell well. 
When you think about it most of my art solves a problem for someone.  Sometimes the problem is the need and want for a unique gift.  I can't tell you how often someone has bought a pot from me then told me that it was the perfect gift for someone who "has everything."  Sometimes it's a piece to ad interest to a person's home and sometimes it's very functional like butter dishes and casseroles.
As artists we need to think of our art in terms of fulfilling a need when we are trying to sell it.  A friend of mine is a writer who loves music.  Music inspires her but she can't listen to music with lyrics while writing.  The solution is, of course, that she listens to instrumental music while writing.  The hard part is finding radio stations that play only instrumental music, and of the type she likes.  To solve the problems she can buy CD's or download music onto her computer or find internet radio stations that fill this need.  This is a great example of art solving a problem and artists supporting other artists.
What problems can your art solve?

Other Stuff:

Solving Your Customers' Problems
Basic Sales Skills - Problem Solving

Check out the gallery page - Future Relics Gallery

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Volunteers Needed

2011 Telephone Factory Art Show?
You say, yes!

2011 Telephone Factory Art Show Status
Thanks to all y'all who responded to the 2011 Telephone Factory Art Show survey. We received 24 responses and 18 of those 24 said, "Yes! The Show must go on! That's great news. Now the fun begins. There're a few things to do to make The Show happen. Let's:

  • Assemble a 2011 Committee with the following members (complete this form to volunteer for the 2011 Committee):
    - Chair (Est. time commitment: 215 hours over 6 month period in 2010, est. 2011 will require less)
    - Co-chair (Est. time commitment: ?)
    - Treasurer (Est. time commitment: ?)
    - Web designer (Allison Smith if she still wants it) (Est. time commitment: ?)
    - Promotions/Marketing/Sponsorship (proposed new member) (Est. time commitment)
  • Schedule accelerated meetings and location(s):
    - Tuesday, September 27, 2011, 7:30 p.m., location TBD: Intro new Committee, Show agenda and whatnot
    - Tuesday, October 18, 2011, 7:30 p.m., location TBD: First payment due, Show status updates and whatnot
    - Tuesday, November 15, 2011, 7:30 p.m., location TBD: Final payment due, Show status updates and whatnot
  • Geterdone! The Show is Saturday, December 3, 11:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m., Sunday, December 4, 1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Complete this form to volunteer for the 2011 Committee.

2011 Telephone Factory Art Show Materials
If gettinerdone seems a daunting task, fear not, there's a good foundation of materials and contacts that can be recycled from previous years. Here's what we've got:

  • Web site: hosted by Hypermart
  • E-mail Marketing Account: Free MailChimp account
  • Twitter account
  • Facebook page (though it seems to have gone missing)
  • Google Docs:
    - Operations Manual (shared with Committee)
    - Visiting artists sign (public)
    - Prior year's postcards (shared with Committee)
    - E-mail account: thetelephonefactoryartshow@gmail.com
    - More...
  • Google Calendar (shared with Committee)
  • Mailing lists from prior years
  • Contacts from prior years for:
    - Parking
    - Sponsorship
    - Security
    - Porter/cleaning
    - Valet
    - More?

General Telephone Factory Art Show Info

Who Participates
Resident Artists, Guest Artists and Hosts

The Telephone Factory Lofts
828 Ralph McGill Boulevard, NE
Atlanta, Georgia 30306

Saturday, December 3, 11:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.
Sunday, December 4, 1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

E-mail us at thetelephonefactoryartshow@gmail.com.

Check out the gallery page - Future Relics Gallery

Monday, September 19, 2011

CERF+ and You

If you are a creator making craft and/or art you owe it to yourself to check out the web site for the Craft Emergency Relief Fund.  With all the damage from the spring tornadoes to the recent hurricanes now might not be too soon, hopefully it's not too late.
CERF is an organization that assists artist and crafts people after they have suffered a loss due to a problem like flood or fire but they do something more.  They have a web site that is stuffed full of suggestions to help people be ready for a disaster and better cope with one if it happens.  Many of the suggestions are really simple and easy things to do that won't be a huge time suck but could be worth the effort.
I've talked to several artist who have had to rely on CERF after an emergency, they all talk about how much more responsive CERF was than FEMA or other government run agencies.  That's no big surprise but it's still good to know.
So take a few minutes and go to the web site, and if you have a few extra dollars I'm sure they would put a donation to good use.  Think of it as good karma.

Other Stuff:
CERF+ Website

Check out the gallery page - Future Relics Gallery

Saturday, September 17, 2011

At The Collective Semi-Annual Clearance Sale

It's out with the old to make room for the new at our Semi-Annual Clearance Sale! You've stocked up on your favorite earth-friendly products at EcoEmporium's Retirement Sale...now treat yourself to fabulous deals from our other artists in the shop!

This is the perfect opportunity to get a head start on this season's holiday shopping!

September 17 - September 25 

Extended sale hours:  

Sept. 17 10:00am - 8:00pm
Sept. 20-23 11am - 8:00pm

 For all other dates, regular hours apply.   

280 Elizabeth St B103
Atlanta, GA  30307

Check out the gallery page - Future Relics Gallery

Friday, September 16, 2011

East Atlanta Strut

It's always nice to not have to drive very far to do a show, it's really nice when it's in the neighborhood so friends can visit easily.  That's part of what I love about the East Atlanta Strut.  The parts that other people (you) will love besides the great art and music is the good food and beer, the incredibly eclectic parade, the Imperial Opa Circus, and the friendly people.
My booth will be near the circus so I can enjoy them too.  Come on by and say "hi."  We may even have some of Janet's fabulous chocolate chip cookies for you.
The festival runs from 10am - 10pm Satuday, September 17, 2011.
Check out the gallery page - Future Relics Gallery

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

To Fix or Not To Fix

This little drop of glaze seems to have fallen off the side of the pot.  I expected the glaze to run a bit and even left a nice foot to catch any drips (you can't see the foot too well in this photo but trust me, it's there).  I did not expect it to do this.  Now I have this little drop attached to the foot and I don't know what to do with it.  I think it looks pretty cool, I like how it captures a moment in time but I don't know if anyone else will like it as I do.  So I'm posing the question to you, dear reader.  Grind the drop off or leave it there?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

artist vs artisan

At times the word artist is used to describe me, other times artisan is used. I often refer to myself as an artist but I think that's incorrect and that I'm actually an artisan, at least I hope I am. Per Poor William's Almanack (not to be confused with Poor Richard's Almanack by Benjamin Franklin):
An artist creates works that may not be appreciated during life, or ever.

An artisan produces things that work, and that are immediately useful.

Clearly, in a society that values things, it is safer to be an artisan than an artist.
It seems many people think of artisan as a marketing word, probably from seeing so much artisan bread in the large grocery stores.  But the word is actually derived from the Italian artigiano and refers to craftsmen or manual workers who create functional or non-functional products.  Since I make functional pottery as well as sculptural pots (raku) I think that definition applies very well.  However, the definition of artist uses terms like "expert," "imaginative," and "master."  I sure don't consider myself a master potter at this point in my life but I do know that to create my pots I use my imagination.  Is the difference between artist and artisan then the level of expertise?
Which do you prefer?  Do you hate labels also?

Other Stuff:
Poor Richards Almanack 
Definition of Artisan
Definition of Artist
Check out the gallery page - Future Relics Gallery

Monday, September 12, 2011

Volunteering Equals Networking

One day I was feeling very badly about something I had no control over.  I was feeling helpless and angry which I know are useless emotions.  Often when people feel those things they say or do something ugly to someone who doesn't really deserve the wrath.  I didn't want to do that so I thought about doing something that might make me feel better.  I immediately contacted someone from a non-profit that I like and asked them if they would keep me in mind if they ever needed a piece of my pottery for a fundraiser.  As it turned out they did need something and fairly soon.  The woman from the charity was very happy that I approached her so she didn't have to do the work of looking for me (or some other artist) and giving the sales pitch to make me choose to give up a piece of my work.  It made us both feel good.
Besides the obvious immediate funds for the charity I also got some exposure for my pottery which is great for increasing sales.  Anyone who bid on the work is now a potential buyer and the people that work at the non-profit are more likely to think of me when they are thinking about making a pottery purchase.  Oh, yeah, and I felt a whole lot better very quickly.
I can't afford to give away a lot of pieces, and I'd rather choose the receiving organization myself than have them contact me but it's something that I like to do from time to time.
If you don't have something to donate you could consider donating time.  It's a way to meet new people and tell them what you do and who you are, who knows they may turn out to be a good part of your network whether you're an artist looking to sell your art or someone looking for a new job or someone looking for a good pet sitter.  Oh, and you may help someone else while you're at it.

Other Stuff:
Hands On Atlanta
Volunteer Match
On Altruism and Service to Others

Check out the gallery page - Future Relics Gallery

Friday, September 9, 2011

Wheelbarrow Festival in Reynoldstown This Saturday

The Reynoldstown Wheelbarrow Festival is celebrating its 16th annual event on Saturday, September 10, 2011.
This festival has grown over its 16 year history into a rich and diverse family festival. Providing eclectic, beautiful and savory fare that appeals to all audiences, this year's festival will not disappoint.
The purpose of the Reynoldstown Wheelbarrow Festival is to use art and artistic expressions to empower residents with support and recognition in their quest to grow and maintain the neighborhood they call home. The festival is also a leadership development tool for community residents to organize the festival and head the needed committees and leadership positions. All the proceeds from the festival go to neighborhood revitalization and public safety.

More Stuff:
AM 1690 Artist's Market
Music Schedule
Check out the gallery page - Future Relics Gallery

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Other People's Pots - Geoff Pickett Mug

Geoff Picket is one of my favorite Georgia potters.  This may be because he fires with wood or because he apprenticed in England in the '70's and I enjoy the English ascetic.  I love the look and feel of this mug, and face it the feel is very important in a mug.  I have actually handled many mugs that Geoff has made and this one feels the best to me.  I like that about a potter since we all don't have the same size hand and since people hold mugs differently.  Pete Pinnell has a great video about his thoughts on cups.  It's worth a listen, you can find it here.
Check out the gallery page - Future Relics Gallery

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Sell More Art By Being With The Process

As a career potter or maybe anyone who sells their work, I am often considering the sale of my work.  I look back on records from shows and galleries to see what has been bought, I check old consignment records to remind myself of what people have ordered and I check Etsy to see what people are buying.  It's hard not to make this an obsession.  I can spend a lot of time and energy trying to make the perfect pots for everyone but we all know that is not going to happen.  I do know that if I make mugs people will buy them, many of them anyway.  I also know that I don't sell many sake bottles so I don't make many of them.  However, sometimes I just feel like making sake bottles, so why not do it?  The right buyer will come by eventually and that person will love that bottle.  At the point where I decide to make a piece I should be fully invested in making that piece.  I need to be with the process and not be spending my energy worrying about whether someone will buy it or not.  To quote Wayne's World "if you book them they will come."  If I make them they will sell, provided I'm focused on art, not on profits.
A study was done recently where two groups of children were given paper and crayons and told to draw a picture.  The first group was told to draw whatever they wanted to draw and just have fun.  The second group was told the same thing and offered a prize for the best drawing.  The first group drew better pictures because they were simply enjoying themselves and making their art for themselves not for any reward.  The second group of kids got so focused on the prize that they did poorly on the drawing.  I suspect that's true of most artists.  If we focus on making the sale it will distract us from the actual piece we are trying to make.
How many times have you made a piece that you really loved and as soon as you put it out for the public it sells.  That is because the feeling you put into the work shows in piece.  Love what you do and the buyers will see that and help you to make more great work.
Check out the gallery page - Future Relics Gallery

Monday, September 5, 2011

To Be or Not To Be?

Telephone Factory Art Show Logo

To be or not to be...
2011 Telephone Factory Art Show?

2011 Telephone Factory Art Show Status
Rumors buzzed about 2010 being the last year for the Telephone Factory Art Show (TFAS) and it would appear that the rumor intends to hold true. There've been a number of changes at the Telephone Factory Lofts and in the lives of many of the founding artists who live(d) there, so we're calling for a show of hands for interest from Hosts, Guest and Resident Artists who participated in the 2010 Show. Wanna have another go at it in 2011? 'Twould be such a shame for a much anticipated annual event to fade away.

2011 Telephone Factory Art Show Survey
As has always been true, folks who participated in The Show in previous years get the first say in this matter because it is your Show. Please take our survey to let us know your level of interest in creating a 2011 Show. Please respond by September 16, 2011. If the majority of responses are positive, we'll form a 2011 TFAS Committee and charge ahead with planning from there. If the majority of responses are negative or unsure, well...sadly, that'll be the end of one of the Atlanta's longest running art events.  Please email thetelephonefactoryartshow@gmail.com with your thoughts about continuing this show.  We are especially interested in hearing from residents who would be hosting artists.

General Telephone Factory Art Show Info

Who Participates
Resident Artists, Guest Artists and Hosts

The Telephone Factory Lofts
828 Ralph McGill Boulevard, NE
Atlanta, Georgia 30306

First weekend in December

E-mail us at thetelephonefactoryartshow@gmail.com.

Check out the gallery page - Future Relics Gallery

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Arts On The Creek


Perimeter Church, at Medlock Bridge & Old Alabama Roads, Johns Creek, GA

Saturday, Sept. 3: 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Sunday, Sept. 4: 1 p.m. - 6 p.m.

With our Juried Exhibition Art opening Friday, Sept. 2
at the Johns Creek Arts Center

Follow the links below for more information

Map of festival grounds
How to get to the festival

Check out the gallery page - Future Relics Gallery

Friday, September 2, 2011

Robin Hopper's Functional Pottery - Review

I recently read Robin Hopper's book titled "Functional Pottery."  Let me start by saying I thought it was a really great book and one that I will read again in the future to be reminded about what he's discussed.  I believe that this book would be helpful to all levels of potters but the newer potter may get the most out of it.  One of my favorite chapters was the one where he discussed making lids.  We all know that their are many different types of lids but we frequently only make a couple of types of lids and although we may get really good at those lids it can be limiting to the style of pieces we make.  In this chapter he also discusses where the weak points can be which is helpful in preventing breaking or warping.
Robin writes a good bit about the aesthetics of good form.  He even starts the book with a brief history of functional pots and includes many, many pictures of great work from ancient pots to contemporary works.  It's a joy to simply look at the pictures and be inspired.
Only one thing about this book really annoyed me and I can't be unhappy with Robin about it as his main talent is making great pots.  Most of the chapter titles ended in a preposition.  I know it's a small thing in many peoples minds, some people only think of prepositions as something they had to learn in school and could then forget.  However, I don't think his editor should have been one of those people.  I hope that mistake does not distract any readers from what is otherwise a wonderful book.

Other Stuff:

Funtional Pottery eBook
Robin Hopper