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Friday, February 28, 2014

Art Shows, Pop-up Shops, and Galleries - Oh My

Show season is coming up sooner than you would think.  That means I'm spending a lot of time in the studio making pots and glazing pots and thinking about pots.  I'm also thinking about selling them and where.  Atlanta normally has beautiful weather in the spring and fall, actually, most years we can't even really complain about the winters but it's the spring and fall that bring people outside.  This means that festival promoters are ready to take advantage of this nice weather and desire to be out and about.  Consequently it's possible to go to multiple arts festivals each weekend in the Atlanta area during the nicer seasons.  It feels like over saturation.

Pop-up shops are becoming increasingly popular also.  This is where a promoter arranges for several artist and crafts people to occupy an empty building or store front for anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks.  People are encouraged to come in and shop right now because the event is temporary.

Pots in Progress

Both arts festivals and pop-up shops seem like a good idea for artists.  I do several festivals each year and I do enjoy doing them.  I get to meet people like you face to face and have a conversation.  It's nice.  The pottery tends to sell well at these events which is very nice.  The thing is, whenever a festival is held in an area many of the local businesses have really slow days unless they sell food or beer.  A pop-up shop comes into the neighborhood for a short period of time and takes business away from the gallery or shop that has been there paying rent and taxes all year long.  It presents a conundrum for the artist.  I want the shops and galleries to thrive but I also need the sales I get from the festivals.

So far I have only done one pop-up shop and it was held by Charis Books and More who sell my work.  They have been in business in Atlanta for about 35 years.  I feel like the pop-up shop they have helps everyone.  I love that as a solution for part of the conundrum.

What's your opinion?

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

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Quiet Little Sale

Sometimes life things just get in the way of what we have planed to do.  Sometimes the best of intentions are left by the way-side because life is happening.  As you may remember me writing earlier, I am trying to increase my Etsy Store sales this year.  I've been more active on Etsy and actually posted a few pots from the wood firing.  While poking around on the site I discovered a little app that I can use to connect my Etsy Shop to my Facebook Page.  Sweet.  You can even test it for free so I thought it was worth it to give it a test.

I installed it and configured it easily enough.  Then I created a sale banner and sent out the message about it but not very well.  Yes, I've had a few more visits to the store but no sales.  It's not the fault of the app.  I hope it's not the fault of the pots.  I suspect it's because I have been pretty neglectful about advertising the sale.  You can't sell anything if nobody knows about it.

Green Woodfired Tea Pot by Future Relics Pottery
Green Wood Fired Teapot

The thing is, I'm a maker, not a seller.  Yes, I do a lot of shows, I have my work in some shops and galleries around Atlanta but my passion is making the pots.  I love it when someone buys one.  It feels great to know someone else loves the piece that I love but I'm not about pushing it on people.  I really don't believe in sales because most of the time it just feels like someone has inflated a price just to mark it down (I didn't do that).  I do this because I have to sell the work to continue to make it.  I have to feed myself and my dogs, we all need a place to live and clay doesn't grow on trees.  Okay, it grows under the trees, but you know what I mean.

Maybe I should extend the sale and actually advertise for it more aggressively or just realize that this is not a great month for sales.  What do you think?

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

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Artists and Activism

Artists have a long history of expressing their beliefs in their art.  They are getting a message to the people who see the art while making a statement.  The stereotype of the impassioned artist is often a true stereotype and not always a bad one.  One of artist that comes to mind in this regard is Diego Rivera who painted large, very politically influenced murals.  I love his work and his passion.  Sometimes I wish I were a better painter so I could do the same.  But my passion is throwing pots and although  I'm often very happy with the statement they make I sometimes want more.  However, I have yet to be able to figure out how to convey something like the anger of oppression on a casserole dish.  Besides, honestly, would you want to serve your guests dinner in such a dish?  I guess it would make a great conversation piece.

The thing is, being self employed gives me a certain amount of freedom of time in my day.  This permits me to do things like take an afternoon off and go to the state capitol to let my representatives know how I feel.  Signing petitions, making phone calls and sending emails are all very effective ways of voicing your opinion and desires but actually being there can help one feel empowered, especially when you see that you are not alone.

Activists at Subcommittee Hearing

So the other day when the call came out to attend the subcommittee hearing on Georgia's HB1023, a.k.a. the freedom of religion bill, a.k.a. the freedom to discriminate bill I was able to be there and although the chairman asked that we be very quiet unless we were testifying, I feel like my voice was heard.  The bill is dead for now.  I helped it die and all I did was show up.  I believe the presents of so many people who just showed up plus the very compelling arguments of the people who testified helped to kill this bill that could be used to allow discrimination.

The fight is not over, as of this writing Arizona has a similar bill that did pass and is now awaiting approval or veto from the governor.  We will most likely always see human rights violations and environmental issues that need to be addressed, but for this issue, I feel like I've made a statement and it was heard.

Other Stuff:

Watch a video of GA Rep Simone Bell speak against this bill
Watch a video of AZ Senator Al Melvin defend the bill

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

Monday, February 24, 2014

Meatless Monday - Shrimp and Avocado with Spiced Rice

Don't you love avocados?  They are versatile, tasty, and add a certain flair to a recipe.  Yes, they are high in fat, but it's a good fat so they are fine in moderation.  I used shrimp in this recipe but to make it truly meatless you can easily substitute diced tofu or the meat alternative of your choice.

I've included 2 recipes here, one for the rice and one for the shrimp.  You could simply use plain rice, this version is spicier.

Shrimp and Avocado with Spiced Rice
The Rice:

Ingredients:


  • 1/2 cup rice (brown or white), uncooked
  • 1/2 tbs cumin, ground
  • 1/2 tsp coriander, ground
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
Directions:

Boil the water for the rice according to the package directions, when you add the rice add all the spices, then continue to follow the rice directions.

The Shrimp or Tofu:

Ingredients:


  • 3/4 pound medium - large shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 TBS brown sugar
  • 3 TBS soy sauce
  • 1 tsp chili powder 
  • juice from 2 limes
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • chopped cilantro for garnish
Directions:

In a medium bowl stir together garlic, brown sugar, soy sauce, chili powder, lime juice, red pepper flakes, olive oil and shrimp or tofu.  Toss to coat then marinate for at least 15 minutes.

Preheat the broiler.

Using a slotted spoon, spoon the shrimp onto a cookie sheet or baking dish.  Broil for about 2 minutes.  Pit and peel the avocado then cut into strips while the shrimp is broiling.  Turn the shrimp and broil for another 2 minutes or until just cooked.  Serve over rice, add avocado and cilantro.

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

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Call For Artists - Girl Parts at Mudfire Gallery

Invitational Group Show, 3-4 pieces each by 20 artists.
Show what your mama gave you! Do you like to make tampon jars? How about warrior princess mugs? ceramic lipstick holders? pots with pin-ups? Then MudFire wants YOU! We'll be celebrating the female glory, in all it's silly, humorous, thoughtful, and provocative incarnations..
Timed to coincide with a workshop by Kirsten Stingle, this show will highlight a group of artists using feminine imagery in their ceramic work. Does this mean you have to be a woman to apply? NO! Just show us what "girl" means to you - are girls are sugar and spice or are they a little more sinister? We should note that our curatorial team is more focused on well-crafted studio pottery or individual wall pieces or sculptures (we don't have space for full-scale installation work).
Timeline:
May 1, 2014 Submissions Due at MudFire for Consideration
May 10, Final Invitations Issued
May 15, Acceptance Deadline
July 10, Artwork Arrives at MudFire (early shipments welcome)
August 9, 2014, Show Opens

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

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Artists Performance Review

This is the time of year when corporations are doing performance reviews with employees.  I remember those days, where I worked I had to write my own review, based on some guidelines, and send it to my boss who agreed or disagreed.  I also had to set goals and all that stuff.  I never really liked it, especially when the company got to the point financially where nobody could exceed expectations.  It was a situation where you had to work really hard but you knew you were only going to meet goal and compensation.  Very demoralizing, wouldn't you say?

Now I'm my self employed and I'm not required to do a performance review.  Or am I?  When you think about it, it's really not a bad idea.  It's a time of reflecting back on what has happened over the past year and looking, honestly at what has worked and what has failed, what could be done better, and what shouldn't be done ever again.  It's a good thing to set goals and figure out a way to reach those goals.
Mugs Awaiting the Next Step

For example, one of my goals this year is to increase sales from my Etsy shop.  It's been horribly neglected for most of it's existence and that is truly a waste.  So I'm putting more effort into it and you'll see more activity there as well as a sale or coupon every now and then.  That's a measurable goal, if what I try works I'll continue, if it doesn't work I'll stop and try other possibilities.

I also want to develop more consistency in the look and feel of my work.  This means doing some things differently with my work habits and glazing.  Again, I'll look at this and figure out what is working for me and what is not and make changes as are appropriate.  It's all very exciting.

What would you put on your performance review?

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

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Faceted French Butter Keepers

The winter residency program at Penland School of Crafts attracts artist of various levels who want to work independently.  One of the potters that was working there when I was doing the wood firing was Marsh Owen.  It was great to meet her as I really like her work and I got to discover what a sweet person she is.  So sweet in fact that she shared her technique for faceting pots with myself and a few of the other potters that where there.  I played around a little bit with the technique but I didn't really have time to practice very much while firing the wood kiln and Julia, the salt/soda kiln.

Now that I'm home I was able to take a little time and play with the technique.  Since I needed to make some butter keepers and thought this decoration would look good on them I created a few different ones.
Ceramic Butter Keepers by Future Relics Pottery
Faceted French Butter Keepers

Once they are glazed I might be able to decide which style I like best.  Which do you prefer?

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

Monday, February 17, 2014

Meatless Monday - Sweet Potato and Ginger Soup

It's been cold and snowy here in Atlanta and much worse for my friends and family up north.  That inspired me to post this recipe for a warming and hearty soup that is also quite delicious.  I have found that potato soups freeze well so you can make extra and have it ready for wintery dinners and lunches.  The ginger helps keep warm you and it's good for you but adjust the amount of ginger used to your taste.  I love it and can eat it all by itself.

Sweet Potato and Ginger Soup
Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup yogurt
  • zest of 1 lime
  • 1 TBS olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 2 large sweet potatoes, cubed
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 -3 TBS fresh ginger root, chopped
  • 1/4 creamy peanut butter
  • juice from 1 lime
  • fresh cilantro, chopped for garnish
  • 1 roma tomato, diced

Directions:

Stir together yogurt and lime zest in a small bowl, cover and let sit in the refrigerator while you're making the soup.

Heat a stock pot, add the oil until it just starts to shimmer then add the onion and garlic.  Cook over medium heat until just softened, about 5 minutes.  Add the sweet potatoes, vegetable stock, cumin, red pepper flakes, and ginger.  Bring to a boil then reduce heat to simmer.  Cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender.

Puree the soup using a blender or an immersion blender.  Add peanut butter and stir in throughly.  Add lime juice and a dash of salt if desired.

Serve hot with a dollop of yogurt/lime mix, diced tomatoes, and cilantro.



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

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Call for Artists - Krause Gallery

Anyone interested in doing a group show?

DEADLINE: April 30th, 2014
LOCATION: RI

Call for Artists / Krause Gallery

Reviewing portfolios for group / solo shows 2014-15 season.
Deadline: (postmarked) April 30th. Open to all artists. All media accepted. Please submit: resume, artist statement, 5-20 jpegs (300dpi) on a CD, $20 jury fee, 20% commission (materials returned with SASE) to: KRAUSE GALLERY, Moses Brown School, 250 Lloyd Ave., Providence, RI 02906


Contact: Kristin Street, Director  401-831-7350  http://www.mosesbrown.org/KrauseGallerykstreet@mosesbrown.org

www.mosesbrown.org

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

Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day

My dad was a sales rep for a greeting card company.  He didn't work for Hallmark, the biggest greeting card company of the day, because he didn't like how they treated people.  He was a good salesman and most likely could have earned more money working for that large corporation but he has values.  He also worked on commission.  That meant that he had to rely on good sales during certain holidays in order for us to live comfortably.   We never had a new car and I often wore clothes that were handed down from my cousin or even my brothers.  But we always had food on the table, a warm home, and everything we really needed.

I always flinch a little when someone says "it's a holiday that's made up by the greeting card companies."  Maybe it is.  But is showing someone that you love them and helping someone put food on the table such a bad thing?

Lilly Pad Heart

Do you celebrate Valentine's Day?  How?

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

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Salted Burritos, Soda, and Oatmeal Cookies Into The Kiln

One of my favorite kilns to fire at Penland is named Julia after potter Julia Terr who died in a car accident several years ago.  It's a sweet kiln that usually produces beautiful works, maybe it's the sprit of Julia helping out.  It's also a fun kiln to fire because it has no restriction and encourages experimentation.  Naturally, we were up for some experimenting last week.

Soda Kiln Loading at Penland School of Crafts by Future Relics
Sarah and I Loading Julia
 Despite the cold we loaded Julia after dinner.  Sometimes I joke that it's against the rules to load and fire a kiln during daylight hours at Pemland but it's really just a matter of getting everything done in a limited amount of time.

We fired through the night and had planed to add salt and soda to the kiln around the time that cone 8 went down, that's around 2200 degrees.  We would wrap the salt and soda in newspaper that was folded up like a burrito and feed it to the kiln.  But Michele did some research and found Emily Murphy's wood chip soda recipe which is, essentially, a way to add soda to the kiln.  We were already firing a wood kiln so why not add wood chips to the salt.  We read that the results were beautiful.

The recipe says to make the mix about the same consistency as oatmeal cookies so that's what we named the mix.

Soda and Salt fired Covered Casserole by Future Relics Pottery
Covered Casserole

Yes, we were happy with the results, the pots came out looking beautiful.

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

Monday, February 10, 2014

Meatless Monday - Noodles and Leftovers

Somedays you just have too many leftovers, or you don't feel like doing much cooking but you don't want to face the same leftovers again.  Sometimes you don't have enough of something left over to make a full serving for everyone.

Those situations are where this recipe comes in handy.  It's kind of a clean out the refrigerator or make a quick, easy, no brainer after a hectic Monday kind of meal.

Future Relics Meatless Monday, Noodles and Leftovers
Noodles and Leftovers
Ingredients:

  • Pasta (about 1 serving per person you are serving)
  • Hard boiled eggs (1/2 - 1 per person)
  • Leftover veggies
  • Soy Sauce to taste
Directions:

Cook pasta according to package directions.  While the pasta is cooking gently reheat your leftover vegetables and slice up the eggs.  Drain the pasta, place in serving bowls, toss soy sauce, vegetables and eggs.  Serve hot.  Relax and enjoy.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Call For Artists - Jasper Arts Commission

DEADLINE: Fri, March 14, 2014
LOCATION: IN

CALL FOR ARTIST PORTFOLIOS FOR 2015 EXHIBITIONS

Reviewing portfolios for solo and group shows for 2014. All media. No fees. Professional, non-student artists only. Artwork must be presented in a professional manner. Send 10 images for solo show, more for group show, along with artist statement and CV. Digital images should be on CD. Also, paid opportunities for workshops/gallery talks in conjunction with the exhibit. Deadline: March 15, 2013.


Details: www.jasperarts.org
Contact: Erin Stenftenaegl  812-482-3070 visualarts@ci.jasper.in.us

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

Friday, February 7, 2014

A Few From the Penland Wood Kiln

Here are a few pictures from the firing at Penland. We had a lot of work to do unloading the big kiln and a salt/soda kiln so I didn't get many pictures at all but I'll try to post a few later.






Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Getting Orange Peel Texture on Pottery

Some people really like the orange peel texture that you can get in a salt firing.  Not only does it feel nice but the texture reflects light well, this makes the pots come alive and bright light.  It's just one of the nice things you can do in atmospheric firing.

The anagama kiln here at Penland has a salt chamber built into it.  It's the last chamber of the kiln and was brought up to temperature at the end of the firing.  We started adding salt when cone eight was down.

Salting The Wood Kiln

We folded 2 pounds of salt into paper to create a salt burrito.  These were delivered into the kiln's firebox via a wooden plank.

We all decided that we really wanted the orange peel texture, but how to assure it?


How about adding some orange peel to the burritos?


Into the fire they went.  We will open the kiln soon so we can all see if this idea worked.  Remember, this was done at the end of a long week of firing and we were all a little silly.

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

Kibuta

Kibuta or ki-buta is a process that some people use when firing a wood kiln.  It seems to be a great way to build up an ash bed quickly, it's useful for vibrating the kiln (creating fluctuations that add drama to the pots), and it's exciting.  So of course it was something I wanted to do.  What you do is stuff the front door stoke hole in the kiln with pieces of wood.  You want the opening to be filled pretty tightly with wood, this keeps air flow to a minimum. The wood will be burning in the back of this wooden door as your building it. 

Needless to say you have to work pretty quickly, a team of people helps too. 








As the wood burns in the back you poke it with a stick from the front.  Pretty soon all the wood gets pushed into the hole which causes a nice build up all at once and changes the airflow in the kiln for a short time.  

Of course your place the metal door promptly or build another Kibuta.

Wordless Wednesday - Bright Spot In The Snow


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

You Might Need a Website

No matter how internet or computer savvy we are somethings are just not easy to do.  Most artists that I have talked to do not admit to being very computer savvy which is understandable since we have so much to learn and do with our chosen medium.  Even people who use computers for their art like graphic designers and photographers can't always code a webpage.

Having a website built can be expensive.  Even when you can afford the initial cost of the website you'll occasionally need to update it with new images of your work or maybe show dates or venues where your art is sold.  This problem has resulted in all sorts of creative solutions the least of which is not having a web presents at all.  That's a bad idea because it means you'll be very difficult to find which means it may be harder to sell your work.

Future Relics Webpage

Some people just use a blog.  Blogger and wordpress are both free options that you can customize to give them something of your own look.  They do have the advantage of being easy to maintain and update.  If you like to write blog posts you can even create conversations with other artists or people who are interested in your art.  And it's fun.  The thing is, you have to be really smart about how you design it.  If you're going to be using it to showcase your work to art shows and galleries you have to make it easy for the busy curator to find images of your work.  You may also want to make it easy for people to purchase your work from your site, or at least find out where they can go to make a purchase, be it an online site like Etsy or a gallery.

Not long ago I was looking at a website of a person who claimed to be a creative director.  The site was full of examples of really terrific work but I would never hire her to build my website or an advertisement for me.  Not because she's not good but because the website has no contact information.  I couldn't contact her if I wanted to.  It looks to me like the site was built in wordpress which makes me think it might be a homemade site with a very important detail forgotten.  It's a shame.

It's also possible to use a free website, a google search will give you lots of options.  These are lost leaders by companies that want to sell you a premium hosting package which might or might not be a worthwhile investment.  Most of them offer some nice templates that you can use to create the look and feel you want and might even help you to remember to add your email address to the webpage.

No matter what you do, it's good to have a web presence that is not exclusively Facebook.  If you have to build your own please give it the same effort, commitment and quality that you give to your art.  It is a reflection of you and your art after all.

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

Monday, February 3, 2014

Meatless Monday - Pasta with Brie and Sun Dried Tomatoes

This is one of my go-to recipes when I want something quick and easy that tastes gourmet.  It's simple and quick but rich and flavorful.  The measurements are just a guess based on 2 servings, obviously you can use more or less per your taste.

Pasta with Brie and Sun Dried Tomatoes

Ingredients:


  • Long pasta such as angel hair, spaghetti, or linguini - enough for 2 servings per the package.
  • 2 - 3 ounces of brie, cut into chunks
  • 2 - 3 ounces of sun dried tomatoes (with or without oil)
Directions:

Cook the pasta according to the package directions.  Drain then separate into pasta bowls.  Toss the brie and sun dried tomatoes onto the hot pasta.  Add some of the olive oil if the tomatoes are in oil.  Toss, serve, enjoy.

Bowl by Michael Kline.

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

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Call For Entries - Shake it Baby


Shake it Baby!

Juried by Bryan Hopkins and Lisa Orr
August 16- September 27, 2014
Calendar
April 4, 2014:  Application postmark deadline
May 16, 2014:  Notification on Website
August 8, 2014:  Work due at Gallery
August 16, 2014,  6-8:  Opening Reception
September 27, 2014:  Exhibition Closes

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