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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

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Wonderful, Whirlwind Weekend

The song says it’s the most wonderful time of the year, for many it’s also the most hectic.  That was the case for me this weekend since I had two, overlapping shows.  Since cloning isn’t an option Janet stepped in for me at one of the shows.  That was a huge help and I’m very grateful that she was willing to do that.

The first show I had to do was the Decatur Holiday Marketplace and Cafe.  For this show the PTA parents clear out the classrooms and help the artists get set up in each room.  It’s a lot of work and it has to happen very quickly.  We have an hour and a half to check in, unload, and set up.  It would be pretty impossible for me to do it without the help of the volunteers.  They are wonderful that way.

I love doing this show because so many people return to it year after year.  I get to visit with them and find out how they or their kids are doing in school (“he’s graduated from collage already!”) and in life.  And most of the people that are there are very supportive of the artists.  They know that they can get very unique gifts for friends and family plus they understand that if they support the artists the artists will come back and the PTA will get the money it needs to continue to help the students.  Everyone wins.
Owl Mug by Future Relics Gallery
Owl Mug

When this show was done on Saturday night I packed up quickly with the help of the amazing volunteers and rushed over to The Stacks Lofts in the neighborhood of Atlanta known as Cabbagetown.  This is an old cotton and bag mill that was built after the civil war and has been converted into loft apartments.  They are really very cool and it’s a fun show for the customers and residents.  I was invited to show in the loft of a person who I had never met but who was generous enough to open his doors to me, another artist and a lot of visitors.  People often amaze me with their kindness.

Although sales were good we had anticipated they would be better since the Milltown Grill was supposed to set up with samples from their menu.  Unfortunately they switched lofts two hours before the show for some reason.  Of course we weren’t prepared for this and had no wonderful food or drinks ready.  The loft owner ran out and got some snacks but we were rushing against the clock and it was impossible to be very creative.  As disappointing as this was we still had a pretty good turn out and sold some pots and had a lot of fun.  I am very grateful to everyone that made it possible.

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

Saturday, December 6, 2014

The Stacks Lofts + Artists Tour

The old Cotton and Bag Mill is now known as The Stacks Lofts.  And man, are they cool.  If I were ever to live in a loft apartment I'd want it to be in one of these historical buildings that has been creatively repurposed.  You’ve got to come tour these buildings and what better way then when they are full of art?

I was really excited to be invited into this show so I accept the invitation but later realized that the show was the same weekend as the Decatur Holiday Marketplace and Cafe.  Oh, no! I need to clone myself! Thankfully, Janet has sweetly offered to be there for me.  So she gets to hang out in a cool loft all day.  Isn't that nice of her?  I was able to go there early and set up the pottery so she doesn't have to do that.  The thing is, I won't be able to help her pack everything up and tote it down to her car.  Maybe you can do us a favor and pick up a piece of pottery for yourself or for a gift, that way she doesn't have to carry it home.  We'd appreciate it.  I'm sure she'd be really happy to see you even if you just came in to say hello.

Thanks, here are all the details:

The Stacks Lofts + Artists Tour
170 Boulevard SE
Atlanta, GA 30312
Saturday Dec 6 1pm - 8pm
Future Relics Pottery will be in loft E 309


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

Friday, December 5, 2014

Claremont School Holiday Market and Cafe

This Friday and Saturday I'll be at the Decatur Holiday Marketplace and Cafe at the Clairemont school on Erie Ave in Decatur.  This is a great show where almost every room is filled with great art and craft.  I tend to do some holiday shopping here.  You might want to also.  It's a great opportunity to get a unique gift or something special for your home.



You might also come hungry.  The cafe is full of delicious soups, home made pastries, and soft drinks.  The event is a fundraiser for the school so you know the money you spend is doing some good.  Everyone wins.

While you're there be sure to stop by and say "hi." I’ll be happy to visit with you.

Details:
Decatur Holiday Marketplace
155 Erie Avenue, Decatur, Georgia
Friday Dec 5, 5:30pm - 9:30pm
Saturday Dec 6, 10am - 5pm
Check out the gallery page - Future Relics Gallery by Lori Buff

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Learning New Words

They say you learn something new every day, or at least you should learn something new every day.  I find it’s pretty easy to do by simply paying attention to things around you, reading books, looking up words you don’t know or making up ones that need to exist.  This weekend when a customer paid with a credit card I swiped it on the card reader on my phone and asked for her “fignature.”  Yes, it’s a new word I just invented.  It means to sign with your finger.

Fignature in Action

Feel free to use it often.  Since I’ve got at least one show every weekend until Christmas I’m sure I’ll get a chance or two to use it.  I hope you all do too.

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

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

After The Open Pottery Studio and Sale

The annual Open Studio and Sale is normally scheduled for the weekend after Thanksgiving.  I’ve done this to co-ordinate it with what is known as a long weekend dedicated to shopping but what it ends up being is a long weekend dedicated to giving thanks.  It starts on Thursday when friends gather together over a bounty of delicious food to celebrate.  Our Thanksgiving dinner is vegetarian so even the turkey’s have something to be thankful for on that day.  The next day the sale starts and so do the thanks.

Yes, I am grateful to everyone that comes by and visits, I try to express my thanks whether they buy something or not.  I am happy to see them and very glad they stopped by.  Maybe they didn’t see anything they wanted or maybe they can’t afford to get something.  It’s okay, it was still nice to visit.
Visiting with customers by Lori Buff
Visiting The Studio Sale

Janet makes the worlds best chocolate chip cookies and she made certain the plate was always full.  That was no easy task considering the amount of cookies I customers ate.  I appreciated her and them very much.
Cookies and clay by Lori Buff
Worlds Best Chocolate Chip Cookies

Sunday was amazingly warm and beautiful.  I pulled the wheel outside so I could throw some pots in the sunshine.  I am thankful that the weather was beautiful all weekend but Sunday knocked it out of the park!
Pottery Throwing Demo by Future Relics Gallery
Throwing Pots in the Sunshine

I am also thankful for everyone that brought friends with them and the friends that were willing to come along.  It made the weekend even more fun.

Now, on to the next shows and more thankfulness.

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

Monday, December 1, 2014

Meatless Monday - Zucchini Curry with Lemongrass and Coconut Milk

Just thinking about curries tends to make people think about hot, spicy, flavorful dishes.  Of course some people like the flavor but are put off by the heat.  The thing is, curries don’t need to be hot.  This curry dish is made smooth and mild by the coconut milk but still has wonderful flavors you expect from a curry.

I served it over riced cauliflower which is just raw cauliflower put through a ricing blade in a food processor.  It would be equally delicious served over white or light brown rice.

Zucchini Curry with Lemongrass and Coconut Milk
Ingredients: 

3 large red chillies, deseeded and stalks removed, chopped
6 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
knob of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
2 lemongrass stalks, trimmed and chopped
2 tbsp ground turmeric
1 tsp chilli powder
2-3 zucchinis, quartered lengthways, then halved
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp sugar
6 shallots, finely chopped
1 tbsp Thai fish sauce (nam pla)
1 can coconut milk
1 cup vegetable stock
small bunch coriander, roughly chopped, to garnish

Directions:

Using a food processor, pulse the chillies, garlic, ginger and lemongrass to a coarse paste. Set aside. Mix the turmeric and chilli powder together and rub it all over the zucchini wedges.

Heat the olive oil in frying pan, then brown the zucchini, remove from the pan and set aside. Cook the paste, sugar and shallots for a few mins, then return the zucchini to the pan. Add the fish sauce, coconut milk and stock or water, mix well, and bring the liquid to the boil. Reduce the heat and cook gently until the zucchini is tender, but not mushy, about 15 mins. Season to taste and sprinkle the coriander over the top. Serve hot with steamed rice or riced cauliflower and bread to mop up all the juices.

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