Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Spam or How To Piss Off Potential Customers

Whoever likes spam raise your hand.  I'm not talking about the potted meat product that Monty Python sung about, I'm talking about unsolicited email.  Nobody likes it.  Don't send it, it won't get you customers but it will get you enemies.  If you sent it without an unsubscribe option you are breaking the law and it may get you a fine or worse.

At a show a while back a chiropractor grabbed my business card on her way quickly past my booth.  She mentioned who she was but never broke stride to even pretend she was interested in pottery.  Then the emails started.  To my way of thinking I had paid for her to spam me because I had paid for the business card.  I was not happy and will never use her services.

A friend of a friend wanted a web site built and came to me because I was referred by our mutual friend.  We chatted for over an hour with a promise of the job.  Then nothing.  When we met again just recently she said she was having trouble with her email and couldn't contact me anymore (she had before our meeting and she did have my phone number) but another friend is getting into the business of building website and was going to do it for free.  Now I'm getting spam from her, she fixed the problem in order to get spam to me about an event she is having and wants me to attend  for a fee.  Again, no unsubscribe button.

I met a woman at a show I was doing, she was very interested in my work and we started talking.  She owns a chocolate shop, I love chocolate so we exchanged email addresses.  I got an email from her the other day, she's opening a new shop and wanted to share the news with her network.  She did not have an unsubscribe button but told her readers how they could unsubscribe if they no longer wanted to receive email from her.  I'll be visiting her shop.

Use Mail Chimp or Constant Contact or some service like that, use a subscribe button and/or a guest book.  Let people ask for email from you, they will be your customers.
From http://mysocialwizard.com/2011/08/are-you-spamming-your-customers/spam-in-heaven/

Check out the gallery page - Future Relics Gallery

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Molly Hatch Workshop Review

This past weekend Molly Hatch was at Mudfire giving a three day workshop.  She normally gives two week workshops, which I think would be great, but seemed to be able to get quite a lot of information into this weekend event.  The workshop started with a community building exorcise that was a lot of fun.  It was kind of like a summer camp event for adults.  It succeeded in getting me wide awake for the workshop too.
During the workshop she demonstrated her techniques for surface decoration and give an interesting slide show and talk about her artistic and career motivations.  Each participant was invited to make a vase using hand building techniques that Molly demonstrated and then decorate the piece with one or more of the surface decorating techniques that were demonstrated during the work shop.

Molly showed the class how she does the Japanese "Mishima" style of engraving and then inlaying underglaze on the surface as well as scraffito, and resists with latex and shellac.

The work shop was a lot of fun and it was clear that Molly was very interested in each participant having plenty of take-a ways from the weekend in the form of ceramics and new knowledge.  Molly is one of those artists who is very happy to disclose her methods in creating art and in creating a successful business.

If you ever get a chance to take a workshop with Molly Hatch I highly recommend that you do so.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Colors Festival of Arts - Roswell, GA

This weekend I received notice that I have been accepted into the 22nd annual Colors Festival of Arts in Historic Roswell, Georgia.   This is a new show for me but one that was highly recommended by a few artist friends who have participated in the show.  That makes me really excited about it.  It also means that I have to get busy throwing even more pots than I anticipated since my spring show season has just been extended for me.  This is a two day show which usually means a really good amount of sales.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

This is a juried show, although I don't love being judged it's always a good feeling to know that the judges like my work.  I hope that means that the people that come to the festival will also.  Of course it also means that I won't be doing one of the smaller shows that I normally do in Kirkwood.  I enjoy doing the small, local show because I have friends that live in Kirkwood so I get to see them while I'm in the booth.  I miss that when I leave the area.  I'm not complaining, I just like to visit with my friends and catch up on what's going on with their lives.

Check out the gallery page - Future Relics Gallery

Sunday, February 26, 2012

All Clear For Rainier

You might remember this post from December when we found out that one of the rescue dogs had heart worm.  I was considering treatment for him and asked for your experience.

We decided to take him to Loving Touch Animal Center as they offered a natural treatment that was less dangerous than the traditional heart worm treatment.  The wonderful, caring people at Loving Touch prescribed a treatment of Black Walnut extract, and supplements like fish oil to help keep him strong and healthy during the treatment.

He was on this regiment for about 6 weeks, it was really easy because I was able to just put everything in his food and he gobbled it up.  It seems dogs like fish as much as cats.  The other good part is he never seemed uncomfortable and we didn't have to make sure that he stayed very quiet throughout the treatment.  It's hard to keep a two year old dog from playing sometimes, thankfully, we didn't have to restrict him as we would have with the traditional, arsenic based treatment.

We've taken him back to the vet for a heart worm retest and it came back negative! Rainier is healthy, happy and heart worm free.

Check out the gallery page - Future Relics Gallery

Thursday, February 23, 2012

What Am I Going To Make Today?

I love the feel of the clay as it glides through my fingers. I love the way a form takes shape as I direct the clay. And I love how a lump of dirt can be transformed into something beautiful and even useful. Yet some days I struggle with the question of what I should make. It only matters to me what I should make because I need to sell my pots in order to earn a living. So some days I think about how many casserole dishes I have in stock and decide if I should make more, if I feel like it. Sometimes the need for new inventory out rules the desire to make whatever I want, can you imagine walking into the booth of a functional potter and not seeing a single mug? And then, sometimes I do struggle with the question of what form my pots should become.  Other times I'm inspired by something and know exactly what I'm going to do.

Some days I do wake up thinking "what should I make today?"

Do you have the same thoughts?  What inspires you?

Monday, February 20, 2012

HodgePodge Coffee House And Gallery

I am happy to announce that you can now get my pottery at HodgePodge Coffee House and Gallery which is located at 270 Moreland Av Atlanta, GA  30316.  They are a fairly new business in East Atlanta but they seem to have taken off pretty well.  I think their commitment to the community and the larger environment has helped.  Besides the really good coffee and awesome cupcakes.

On Thursday nights they have an open mic night plus a crafting circle gathers there at the same time so people can knit or whatever while listening to new music.  I really like that idea and may start hanging out there on Thursday nights.  I won't bring clay there but it might be fun to sketch or collage to the music.

I only brought mugs there, it is a coffee shop after all, but I'm thinking I should make some yarn bowls for the knitters.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

In The Dark

You may have noticed that I didn't write a bog on Friday (did you miss me?) and may not have commented on any of the blogs I normally read.  That's because I woke up on Friday to a problem in the studio.  My potter's wheel wouldn't turn!  When I turned it on the light on the switch glowed as usual but when I stepped on the pedal it hummed but didn't move and the light went out.  I repeated this a few times, checked the fuse, tried another outlet then called Skutt (it's a Thomas Stuart classic).  The tech was great and in no time we figured out that it was an electrical issue in my studio.

I checked the other outlets, they wouldn't even light up a lamp so I checked the breaker, it was fine.  So I started looking for the problem.  I spent the entire day troubleshooting and replacing parts that might have broken but met no success.  I finally called my friend who's a contractor, he called some electricians who told him to tell me to try things I had already tried.  That was a bit frustrating but still it's good to know I was doing the right tests.

On Saturday I tried duplicating some of my test, thinking I had done them wrong and I posted my problem to a do it yourself forum.  In the past I've used these forum for information and help and found a mixed bag of helpful and not so helpful people.  This time has been no different.  Now I have more education about electricity but I'm still in the dark.  I'm very frustrated and feel like a failure.

I don't have time for this, I have Fired Works coming up in April immediately followed by a bunch of other shows until mid May.  I need pots for these shows and to keep the other venues who nicely carry my work in stock. 

I know I should just rearrange the studio so I can plug my wheel into one of the outlets on the other side of the room that work but that just seems like more time wasted and I find it difficult to make really nice pots when I'm feeling like a failure. 

Check out the gallery page - Future Relics Gallery

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Hand Truck Options?? In-put please

I seem to do a lot of shows.  I like doing outdoor shows when I can just pull up to my spot, unload and set-up (after moving the truck to a spot out of everyone else way).  Of course those shows can also have weather issues, the worst was a tornado warning at Inman Park a few years ago.   That makes me like doing indoor shows better.  No wind is nice, heat or air conditioning are really nice.  Leaving my pots in a locked building over night is really nice too.

Indoor shows have a down side though, and it can be a back breaker.  You have to carry the pots and display inside of the building which means lots of trips with the hand truck. 

I have a great, sturdy hand truck that can move a lot of weight, it's really well built but it also takes up a lot of room in the truck.  It's usually a fight to cram it in with the bins and shelves and everything.  So I've been thinking about getting one that will travel better. 

I met a painter that had a Total Trolly, this thing is nice, it can be used as a hand truck, a dolly, a cart, even a step ladder (something I rarely need).  I do worry about the wheels working well because they are so small.

I also found this Portable Platform Cart which seems to fold up pretty small and might work well.

But I realized the best people to ask are the people that use these for shows themselves.  So I'm asking my readers, especially the potters what you do and what you use (if anything).  Of course if you work in another field that has a need to use a cart, dolly or hand truck I'd love to hear your opinion too.

Thanks for all your comments.

Check out the gallery page - Future Relics Gallery

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Throwing Large...For Me Anyway

After several days of fog and rain my head was in a fog and my spirits in a slump.  I've been working, I've got too much happening now and in the spring to not be working but my heart hasn't really been into it.  Then Janet said "try something different, something outside of your comfort zone." I have been wanting to do something large.  I've read a few articles on throwing large and have seen some demos, I figured it's time.  Of course I'm not ready to throw a 25 pound bowl or anything quite that big just yet but I did feel like I should try making something closer to 10 or 12 pounds.  I also wanted to do something in multiple parts.  I wanted the process of a project that could not be done very quickly.So I grabbed my copy of Pottery Making Illustrated and set off to make a large (for me) pot.

I did not use as much clay as they recommend in the article.  Starting small would be fine for my large pot.  I did throw two pieces and then connected them together and threw and shaped them further.  I did have some difficulty pulling a lot of clay off of the bottom, it was going to have to be trimmed away.  I don't like that but I do have to remember that it's my first pot of this size.  I have to be kind to myself.

The pot needed to set up to leather hard (except the top) before I could put the neck onto it and it was late so I called it a day.  Because of the rain it still wasn't ready when I went back to the studio so I threw some vases for the next raku firing and then threw another pot that's going to have a foot and a neck attached.

Yes, I'm getting the throw it big bug.  I've started to dream about 25 pound bowls and jugs.  Of course I have to wonder how I'm going to transport these to shows.

Check out the gallery page - Future Relics Gallery

Monday, February 13, 2012

Limoncello, Home Brew, and Unchaining Dogs

Winter has hit Atlanta making this weekend too cold to do much of anything that meant venturing outside the house.  I like to spend days like that curled up with a good book and a pup or too or creating something in the kitchen.  This weekend it was Limoncello that asked to be created.  We had a few bags of beautiful Meyers lemons so we were ready.
Limoncello is something we discovered in Italy, it's often served after your meal in a shot cup or a cordial glass.  You'll want to sip it, not shoot it, the alcohol content is too high but it doesn't taste really boozy.  It actually helps you to feel a little less full after a meal.  You can buy it already made but what's the fun of that?   I can buy a manufactured ceramic item too, but the ones we make by hand are so much better, even if they aren't always perfect.
After making the limoncello we squeeze the lemons into a pretty bottle which we store for later use in cooking.  The fresh juice doesn't keep for very long (I'm not sure how ReaLemon lasts as long as it does but I find that frightening) so I wanted to use some of it right away.  I guess I had alcohol on my mind because I thought about brewing some beer as a good option.  So I made an American IPA with an addition of about a cup of lemon juice.  My hope is that this will give it just a subtle hint of lemon flavor to the beer.  It will take a few weeks of fermenting and conditioning before I get to drink any of it to be certain my theory is sound.  Beer brewing is a bit like pottery, you need patience.  You also need some forward thinking an optimism.  On one of the coldest days of the winter (thus far anyway) I  brewed a beer that will be best enjoyed on a warm summer's day.
A good cause will get me out of the house, the fundraiser for the Coalition to Unchain Dogs was inspiration enough.  I bundled up in as many heavy layers of cloths as my body could carry and still stay upright and raced from the house to the car and then into the Midway for the fundraiser.  I'm such a whimp when it comes to cold.  They had a great turn out, a raffle and silent auction, adoptable dogs and a good bit of fun.  It didn't seem like the cold weather kept many people inside and that they were successful in raising a good bit of cash.  They will improve the lives of a few dogs with that money and that makes me happy.

Other Stuff:

How to Make Limoncello
The Coalition to Unchain Dogs

Check out the gallery page - Future Relics Gallery

Friday, February 10, 2012

Generosity of Spirit

Generosity of Spirit: The Gifts of Penland Artists

February 10, 2012 - March 15, 2012

At Signature Contemporary Craft, Atlanta
An exhibition of contemporary ceramics, jewelry, and metalwork by 68 artists affiliated with Penland School of Crafts. A portion of each sale will be donated to expand Penland’s ceramic and metal studios.
(Please scroll for schedule and participants.)

Boris Bally Metals
“I am participating in the show because our field (Metals/Crafts) would vanish if it wasn’t for magic places such as Penland that keep the techniques/language/history/spark alive. My experiences there have nourished my mind and heart and give me hope that our world will not simply become a place where objects are designed/made for $$ by computers or in other countries. (No, I’m not a luddite) We have such a rich heritage and Penland is the ‘keeper of the flame.’ ”
Opening Reception:
Friday, February 10, 6:00 – 8:00pm
Opening Online:
Friday, February 3
Penland Artist Gallery talks:
Nicholas Joerling & Angela Bubash:
Saturday, February 11, 2:00-4:00pm
Julia Woodman & Gay Smith:
Saturday, February 18, 2:00-4:00pm

Barking Spider Clay
“After meeting as students at Penland in the early seventies, we have worked together as Barking Spider Pottery for over 37 years. Living a mile down the road from the school has allowed us to be fully immersed in this remarkable community of artists, while raising our twin boys in a rich and unique environment. Penland has been the catalyst that has allowed us to create an incomparable quality of life.”
Show participants are: Will Baker, Boris Bally, Barking Spider Pottery, Kenneth Baskin, Jana Brevick, Cynthia Bringle, Angela Bubash, Ra├»ssa Bump, David Butler, Melisa Cadell, Caroline Cercone, John Edward Cogswell, Josh Copus, Nancy Megan Corwin, Jim Cotter, Susan Dewsnap, Daniel Dicaprio, Judith Duff, Bob Ebendorf, Veva Edelson, Julie Elkins, Marty Fielding, Joanna Fireman, Becca Floyd, Steven Forbes-deSoule, Debra Fritts, Aran Galligan, Adrienne M. Grafton, Becky Gray, Andrew Hayes, Judith Hoyt, Rob Jackson, Nick Joerling, Diane Solomon Kempler, Sun Kyoung Kim, Kathy King, Michael Kline, Leah Leitson, Suze Lindsay, Sarah Loertscher, Courtney Martin, Tom McCarthy, Linda McFarling, Ryan McKerley, Kent Mclaughlin, Matthew Metz, James Meyer, Ron Meyers, Jenny Mendes, Lisa Naples, Kelly O’Briant, Neil Patterson, Mary Pearse, Ronan Kyle Peterson, Ron C. Philbeck, Rob Pulleyn, Sang Roberson, Justin Rothshank, Akira Satake, JoAnn Schnabel, Gertrude Graham Smith, David Stuempfle, Joy Tanner, Holly Walker, Lana Wilson, Julia R. Woodman, Janis Mars Wunderlich, Hiroko Yamada, and Gwendolyn Yoppolo.

Check out the gallery page - Future Relics Gallery

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Local Folk Artist Prevails in Dispute with European Retailer

I just have to share this story about a former neighbor of mine and how she took on a large corporation who stole her art.  I've been following this story for a while in the community buzz.  Tori is a very humble designer who was not trying to make a fortune off of her art.  She just did something simple that made people feel good.  Then her design was stolen by a large corporation.  After friends and neighbors convinced her to take action what did Tori want from the entire mess?  Enough money to pay for surgery for her best friends dog, about $3000.  She's gotten that money, plus a whole lot more.

Local folk artist prevails in dispute with European retailer | ajc.com

Check out the gallery page - Future Relics Gallery

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


For some reason I've not been feeling really positive about my work lately. It could be because I've been doing a lot of small, production pieces lately.  I'm doing these to rebuild stock but I'm not feeling very passionate about them right now.  I made a bunch of mugs and played with glazes, that didn't help.  Most potters refer to kiln openings as being like Christmas, sometimes you get an iPad, sometimes you get socks.  The mugs, although pretty and totally functional, felt like socks.
Then yesterday I had a meeting with a new venue, they love my pots and want to sell them.  I'll announce who it is after the contract is signed but the big result for me was it helped me to feel better about my work.
Later I went to Mudfire to pick up some pieces I fired there and get some others into a kiln.  The pots I wanted to pick up were a bit of an experiment.  I normally fire my ash glazed pieces in the reduction kiln but since I've got a show on Saturday I couldn't wait for the gas kiln to be fired so they got fired in the electric kiln.
I am really happy with the results.  The picture below is of a platter that I did in that firing (forgive the picture, it's from my iPod).  I also had a couple of casseroles that were beautiful but one of them didn't come home with me because Adrina Richard bought it on the spot.  Another ego boost.  Now I'm ready to run down to the studio and throw beautiful pieces again.
In the video I discussed the other day a joke was told by Michael Simon.
An old potter and a young potter where talking, the young potter said he was not happy with his work. The old potter said, "you never will be."
This was met with uproarious laughter from the room. I guess it's something we all go through.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Cakes & Chocolate

This weekend Janet & I went to a workshop at the International Sugar Art Collection by Nicholas Lodge who is a famous cake decorator. I didn't even know this was a possibility in life but apparently it is. Janet is the baker and cake decorator, actually she's really fantastic in all of the culinary arts. I just wash the dishes and enjoy the delicious food she creates.

I was happy to tag along thinking I might come up with some pottery decoration ideas and a belly full of chocolate.  Well, sadly, you don't get to sample much chocolate.  You also don't get to sample any cakes.  This form of art is all about the presentation, the look.  It's not at all about eating.  Actually, if you've ever had a taste of one of these cakes you understand the sentiment of "too pretty to eat."

The workshop was a lot of fun, don't get me wrong, how could it not be.  It's about sugar art.

One of the presenters was Ruth Rickey who was wonderful.  She's smart, vibrant and gave the audience lots of good things to think about in cake decorating that could translate in to pottery and so many other things.

She talked about knowing when to stop decorating the cake not in terms of aesthetics but to think about time vs. payment and time away from family or other things that you love.  Basically, if you're sacrificing your personal relationships to create something that you're going to sell for less than minimum wage than maybe you should spend a little less time on this work.  The gem was her quote "seek excellence, not perfection."

Other Stuff:
The Great American Cake Show

Friday, February 3, 2012

Ron Meyers and Michael Simon Demo Video

I found this video on Youtube thanks to Michael Kline. It's about two and a half hours long so you might want to make a big batch of pop corn but it's worth the time.  You can fast forward through the first few minutes of people tallking and getting seated, I wish they had edited that out but otherwise it's really a worthwhile video.

Ron Meyers & Michael Simon Demo

Happy Friday, everyone.
Check out the gallery page - Future Relics Gallery

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Salt Pigs

I don't normally make cute pots, or at least I don't try to make them cute. I don't tend to put bees on my honey jars or lady bugs on my casseroles so I'm not sure why I was motivated to put ears on these salt pigs.  I do think they are kind of cute but not too much.  If they had eyes they might be too cute.  Of course after I made them I thought "how am I going to transport these to shows without breaking off the ears?"  

Maybe I've been spending too much time playing Angry Birds.
Oh, yes, they do have tails too.