Friday, June 28, 2013

TV vs Small Business Advertising Conundrum.

It's difficult for businesses to advertise to me.  I don't own a TV, I listen to NPR, college, and internet radio stations, and in general I try to avoid being in situations where I'm bombarded with corporate advertising.  Especially if I'm asked to pay to see and hear the advertising.  But I'm also a small business owner.  I have to get the word out about my pottery otherwise you'll not know about it and you won't buy it and I won't be able to make more pots.  That would be sad.

You may have noticed little advertisements on this blog.  I have no control over them but I always hope that they are for small businesses that are meaningful to you.  If you click on the ad I make a few cents, if you buy something I make a few more.  It's not a living, it's a tiny supplement.  This type of advertising is also important to the companies that place the ads but it's also a little distraction to the blog.

Soaring Hawk Mug by Lori Buff
Soaring Eagle Mug

So how does someone get the word out, and get customers to buy without annoying people with ads?  Maybe the problem isn't with small businesses advertising, maybe it's just too darn much advertising hitting our senses all day long.  Maybe we need to try to tune out as much advertising as we can and just focus on the ones that inform us about places we want to shop.

Yes, this blog is an advertisement.  But it's also a conversation, it's a connection between the readers who comment, the readers who email me privately, and even the people that tell me they read my blog and then we talk about an article.  So this is my kind of advertising because even if you never buy a pot from me I'm richer for the connection.

What kind of advertising works for you?

Have you been to Mudcolony this week?

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

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Bye-Bye DOMA

As you may have heard, the Supreme Court ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act was illegal.  Time to celebrate!  I'm really happy about it for so many reasons.  It just feels good when Love wins and people are treated equally.  Of course after Tuesday's ruling that cut the heart out of the voting rights act because the Supreme Court doesn't believe that racism, bigotry, and prejudice exist in the south any more (where do they live and have they not paid attention to the Paula Dean controversy?) I wasn't sure how they could have maintained DOMA as being legal.

Rainbow Over Atlanta Skyline by Lori Buff
Rainbow Skyline Mug

I'm lucky, I live in a fairly major city and am surrounded by artists and other progressive thinking people.  People who realize that who I love has no influence on who they love.  It's a nice, comfortable place to be except politically.  Thankfully, we have been lead by some amazing people who fought and died for civil rights.  Representative and civil rights leader John Lewis is still in office, still trying to make America a free and equal country for everyone.  I am forever grateful for these people.

After reading the Supreme Court's ruling yesterday I found out I can put my pots in the September firing of the Anagama kiln at Hambidge.  It was a really good day.

I'm going to read some blog posts from my sidebar and check out mudcolony then I'll throw some pots for the wood kiln.

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

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Martha Grover Workshop

I met Martha Grover at a workshop at Penland School of Crafts.  She was the studio assistant for Jim Lawton who was one of her Professors at the University of Massachusetts.  Needless to say I was very excited to watch her teach a workshop at Mudfire.

I think that one issue instructors can have in workshops is creating the right balance between doing demonstrations and giving people time to work.  Martha did a lot of demonstrations but she kept letting the participants go back to their clay and work and she continually checked with everyone to see what they wanted.  Most of the time they said they wanted to watch her work and everyone seemed to make a decent amount of pots.  Everyone seemed to be happy throughout the workshop.

Martha Grover Tulip Vase

It was really interesting for me to see what she had learned from Jim.  Much of the technical side of constructing her pots were steps that Jim showed us last summer, but that's where the similarities ended.  She was very much doing her own work, putting her own unique style into every piece.  Although most of the pots that were constructed by students in the class were very similar to her style I could already see people adding their own voice.  I'd be really interested in seeing where this new knowledge takes peoples work.

The class was also a lot of fun.  People were laughing and playing in clay, simply having a good time.  Some even expressed a desire for a one or two week workshop so they could continue to play and learn.  I'd say it was an excellent workshop and I'd highly recommend taking one with Martha if you ever get the chance.

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

Monday, June 24, 2013

Meatless Monday - Bollito Misto of Vegetables

Doesn't the name sound exotic?  Who wouldn't want to dine on a dish with a name like this.  It also sounds hard to make but it's not.  You don't have to tell anyone it's easy.  In the winter you can use whatever winter vegetables are in season.

Bollito Misto of Vegetables

  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, slivered
  • 3-4 scallions or a small onion, sliced
  • 1 tsp peppercorns
  • several parsley and thyme sprigs
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp course salt
  • 3-4 colorful new potatoes, scrubbed and sliced about 3/8" thick
  • 3-4 small carrots, scrubbed and halved lengthwise
  • 1 fennel bulb, trimmed and quartered
  • 1-2 leeks, well washed and halved
  • 2-3 small summer turnups, scrubbed and halved
  • 1-2 summer squash, sliced about 1/2 inch thick
  • Handfull of green beans, trimmed
  • 3-4 radishes, scrubbed, leave some leaves attached
  • Handful of peas or fava beans, shucked and peeled
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • freshly ground pepper
  • chopped fresh seasonal herbs
Simmer 2-3 quarts of water in 2 wide skillets, add the garlic, scallions, peppercorns, parsley, thyme, olive oil and salt to each pan.

In one pan add radishes, turnups and any other aromatic veggies you've chosen.  Place the more neutral veggies in the other pan starting with the vegetables that take the longest time to cook (potatoes, carrots...).  I usually cut the quicker cooking veggies as the potatoes and carrots are cooking.

Once the vegetables are done cooking to your satisfaction, arrange them on a platter.  Now pour over a little broth from the pan that the potatoes were cooked in.  Drizzle some extra virgin olive oil over all and season with fresh chopped herbs.

Serve with crusty bread.

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

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Understanding Color by Guest Blogger Intellicore

Even if you are not a designer, chances are you remember the internet when it was in its infancy-- and all the cringeworthy color schemes associated with it. Or, perhaps you know of a small business that had an excellent product or service, but a color scheme for their logo, menu, or website that would make even 1970s wallpaper blush.

This infographic reveals some of the reasons why color plays such a large role.

Each one instills a different emotion, sets a different tone, and inspires a different impression. It is up to the designer to strike the right balance and get into the mind of his consumers.

At the most basic level, there are primary and secondary colors.

The three basic primary colors, if you were paying any attention in elementary school, are red, yellow, and blue.

The secondary colors-- called that because they are created from the primarys-- are orange, green, and purple.

The color wheel includes both primary and secondary colors, and adds tertiary colors. Tertiary colors are a combination of primary and secondary, such as yellow and green being combined to make yellow-green or "lime".

The colors are further divided into warm and cool colors. Warm colors range from oranges, reds, and yellows to reddish purple like magenta.

They are meant to convey a number of things like energy, happiness, and intensity. Combining them with shades of grey can give a more serious and sophisticated look.

Cool colors, on the other end of the spectrum, range from light green to a deep blue-violet. They instill feelings of peace, calm, and serenity. It is recommended that you choose either solely cool colors or solely warm. If you want to be a bit more adventurous with your color schemes, there are:

    These are  directly across from each other on the color wheel, like purple and orange.

    These are similar to complementary colors, except you select one color and the two adjacent to its opposite.

    These are three contiguous colors that are next to each other on the color wheel, like green, blue, and violet.

    These are a trio of colors equally spaced from each other on the color wheel, such as teal, magenta, and yellow-orange.

    These are four colors that form a rectangle within the color wheel. One such example is red, yellow-orange, turquoise, and blue.

Colors can be organized even further by mode (additive RGB and subtractive CMYK), hue, saturation, and brightness. Perhaps you have found that there is even more variance to color than you thought! This underscores the importance of finding the right palette to suit your project's needs. The right color scheme can mean the difference between a failure and the next Kickstarter.

Brought to you by CRM specialists Intellicore of Aberdeen in Scotland.

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

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Noah's Ark

About an hour south of my home in Atlanta is Noah's Ark Animal Sanctuary. This is a place where they take in injured, abused or neglected animals and try to rehabilitate them and let them live in a natural but enclosed habitat. Probably the biggest attraction is the Bear, Lion, and Tiger trio that were owned by a drug dealer. When the dealer was caught the animals were rescued by Noah's ark and now live in a better environment. They still live together since that's how they grew up and they would miss each other if separated.

They also have animals that were rescued from circuses that didn't treat them well and animals that have problems like very weak imune systems and must be kept separate from other animals.

We took a trip down there this past weekend and had a great time watching the animals play and graze. They function mostly on donations so although it is free to visit they don't mind you giving them a few dollars.  I imagine every bit helps.

Tiger in His Habitat

Bison Roaming in Georgia
It was nice to see that the animals have pretty large habitats.  No, it's not the same as if they were in the wild but since they don't have to hunt or hide from hunters it seemed like they were given a good bit of space and cared for really well.

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

Monday, June 17, 2013

Farmhouse Cabbage Soup

We are told that cabbage is a really healthy food and that you can loose weight if you go on some cabbage soup diet.  Whatever.  It tastes good and is a really versatile leafy veggie.

You do not have to follow this recipe exactly, it's one of those clean out the refrigerator or the vegetable garden recipes where substitutions in the vegetables is encouraged.

Cabbage Soup

3 cups vegetable broth
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tomato
2 cups chopped cabbage
1/2 onion
1/2 cup chopped carrot
1/2 cup green beans
1/2 cup chopped zucchini
1/2 teaspoon cilantro
1/2 teaspoon oregano
salt & pepper


Spray pot with non stick cooking spray saute onions carrots and garlic for 5 minutes.

Add broth, Tomato, cabbage, green beans, cilantro, oregano and Salt & Pepper to taste.

Simmer for a about 5-10 minutes until all vegetables are tender then add the zuccini and simmer for another 5 or so minutes.

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

Friday, June 14, 2013

Little and Big

Making small pots is harder than making large one's in some ways.  It does take more strength to center 10 pounds of clay than a quarter pound, but one isn't really easier than the other because it takes a different type of hand dexterity to do the small work.  Small pieces are also harder to glaze because you've got less to hold on to and more opportunity for the glaze to run and cause the pot to stick to the shelves.  I've been working on replenishing my stock of mugs and making these little cups.  After they are bisque fired I'll paint the dragons, glaze then fire again.  I think they are pretty sweet and will be perfect for Espresso.

Demitas cup with mishima dragon image by Lori Buff
Dragon Espresso Cups
After making small work this week I needed to switch things up so I made a few of these platters.  They are about 16 inches across so they use a bit more than a quarter pound of clay.  I'll glaze them in the spray booth.
Handled open casserole by Lori Buff
Large Platter
I'll let them dry nice and slowly over the weekend.

Now I'll head over to Mudcolony and the potters on my blog list to see what you all are up to.

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

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Painting Dragons

Yesterday was spent painting dragons.  It's a lot of small, detail work, the kind that makes me need to wear reading glasses.  I think this is a little funny because I don't have to wear reading glasses to read. It's also really time consuming but I still enjoy doing it.  It's nice to have that feel of control over the brush and the color.  I paint using under glazes so I have a pretty good idea what they will look like when they are done.  Of course the kiln still has it's control.  It will change a blended tone or burn out certain colors.  I have to be careful how thick or thin I paint.  I'm also firing two of them in the gas kiln. That adds an entirely new variable because the reduction in the gas causes colors to change.  I liked the results when I woodfired some dragons and other painted mugs.  Let's see what these will look like.

Dragon Mug by Lori Buff
Purple Dragon Stein

The cups I painted yesterday are new dragons but I've still got a few of the previous dragons.  It'll be fun to see them after they are glazed and fired.

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

Monday, June 10, 2013

Meatless Monday - Spanish Garlic Shrimp

Yes, technically shrimp is a meat but it's so good.  If you're a strict vegetarian or vegan you can try substituting tofu for the shrimp.  It should absorb the flavors nicely.

3 tablespoons olive oil 
1 bay leaf
4 -6 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon small caper
1 tablespoon brandy
1 lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined (dry well on paper towels)
1 teaspoon paprika
2 tablespoons parsley, minced
2 cups cooked rice 


In a heavy skillet, heat the olive oil and the bay leaf over medium heat. Add the garlic and saute, stirring for a minute or so until just softened.

Add the pepper flakes, the capers, and the brandy, and cook off the alcohol for a minute. Turn heat to medium-high and toss in the shrimp, stirring quickly to cook them evenly.

Cook the shrimp until opaque and just firm.

Remove from heat, stir in the paprika and the parsley. Taste for salt. Serve immediately on hot rice.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Judy Cutchins Opening Reception at Mudfire

My friend and MudFire member Judy Cutchins combines her love of the nature and interest in science with her love of art in her stunning pottery. As a photgrapher, illustrator, and author, Judy developed a keen eye for observing the natural world and has translated it into sgraffito on her pottery. Coming from Italian for "scratch" - Sgraffito means to incise the surface of a pot covered with a contrasting slip to reveal a drawing - surface depth, carving style, and color help to further define the work.

Loon Covered Jar by Judy Cutchins

The gallery reception is tonight, June 7 from 5pm - 9pm.  You can come to the gallery and meet Judy and talk about her work, how she creates and discuss her style of sgraffito.

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

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Expressing Emotion In Art

Art can touch you on an emotional level.  A painter can paint a picture that makes the viewer look at the world in a new way.  A writer can express him or herself in a way that makes the reader feel an range of emotions.  Musician give us songs that make us happy, sad, in love, ... the list goes on and on. In the clay community we see this in sculpture much more than in pottery.  Is it that we don't want to feel these emotions while drinking our morning coffee?  Honestly, I'm all about awareness of social injustice but I'm not sure I'd want a salad bowl that reminds people to stop violence against women.  I don't know, maybe that would actually work well in raising awareness.

Carved, Ash Glazed Covered casserole by Lori Buff
Carved Covered Casserole

The past week and a half have been very sad for me.  My aunt died, a neighbor was murdered, we found a nest of baby bunnies but they died also.  It's been hard.  As an artist I feel compelled to express my emotions through my art but somehow I don't think that throwing a lovely casserole dish will do that.  I know that getting my hands in the clay and finding that zen of creating will help me feel better but sometimes it feels like my pots are speaking in a different voice than I am.  Do you express your emotions through art?  How?

Have you checked out the happy potters at Mudcolony yet?

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

Monday, June 3, 2013

Meatless Monday - Lavender (Honey) Butter

Lavender is such a great flower.  Not only do they have a wonderful scent that we find in so many products that help us relax but they are a very pretty addition to the garden.  But it's also edible and delicious.  I'm sure Linda Starr can tell you a lot more about lavender than I can as she used to own a lavender farm.

The other day we made Lavender Honey Ice Cream with a borrowed ice cream maker and it was delicious.  This got me thinking about the Lavender Honey Butter I had a Penland so I decided to make some.  It was easy and delicious.

Butter server and lavender honey butter recipe by Lori Buff
Butter Keeper


1 stick of butter or butter substitute at room temperature
1 - 1 1/2 tbs dried lavender
1 tbs honey (omit for vegan)

Blend all ingredients well in a food processer.  Using a spatula move butter from processor to a butter keeper, add water to the bottom of the butter keeper so you can keep the butter fresh out of the refrigerator.  Enjoy on artisan bread or just about anything else you'd spread butter on.

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