Wednesday, April 30, 2008

i've been rated

I have had a very tiring week, doing an awful lot of lying around and reading books. I am on doctors orders to rest for two weeks (I have survived week one) and to not lift anything over 10 pounds for another 4 weeks. This has thrown a bit of a cog into the smoothly flowing wheels of my studio practice. I am not good at lying around and doing nothing, it makes me crabby. Save all of your feelings of sympathy for my poor family who has to live with cranky, do-nothing woman. I have had some rays of sunshine however, many lovely positive comments on some of my past posts from people whom I do not actually know nor am I related to, and my blog was rated by Thank you all you kind responders, definitely including the people that I actually know and am related to!

I have not been in the studio and therefore don't have any studio shots to show you. I have been thinking a lot about studio practice and spending some of my time planning for some new work. I have also been reading a lot of fabulous blogs. I can spend hours following links from blog to blog. So I want to say thank you to all of those wonderful bloggers. Thank you for sharing all that you do and all that you want to say. I am also spending some time wondering why people started blogging and how it has evolved for them. I started to record my thoughts and experiences in starting a pottery studio, it has morphed into more. It has connected me with a community of artists and potters that has been incredibly supportive and interesting. So I am wondering, if you blog, why did you start? Why do you continue?

Monday, April 21, 2008

a messy day

32 balls of clay, ready to go.

In the midst of making mugs. For me a very messy business.

My favorite new cup to drink tea out of, it looks a lot better when it isn't covered in mud.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

coffee mugs, finally

About 1/2 of the ski hill order. the rest are going to be thrown tomorrow and perhaps handles as well. I love throwing a bunch of the same thing, frees the mind.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

two things to make you smile

First up, my adorable niece and an adorable nest of puppies.

Second, a little story: My friend's 8 year old son recently had the opportunity to be asked some interesting questions regarding how different concepts are related. Here is the question, and here is his answer.

The questioner - What is the similarity between forgiveness and revenge?

8 year old boy's answer - Karma.

Are you smiling?

curious and swaggering

When I started this blog, it was going to be a record of my day to day in setting up and running a small pottery studio. It seems to have evolved a bit to include a lot of stuff about other aspects of my life. For a while I was feeling like this needed to be kept out of my blog and then I realized that all these other aspects of my life are really important to my work as a ceramic artist. I quit teaching school specifically so that I could spend more time with my family and doing the things I love to do. This led to working towards setting up my own studio all with a schedule that permits me to be with who I want and doing what I want, when I want (with clay drying schedules taken into consideration of course). I find that I need to remind myself of that whenever things get a little crazy in my studio and I keep thinking that I need to do more and be more. I have even been working on developing a little swagger. More of a metaphysical swagger than an actual swagger.

So this brings me to the point of this particular post. I feel like I have been a little lazy regarding my blog lately. I love to take photos, taking them almost everyday. This makes posting photos of what is going on in my life and studio simple, however, I have been neglecting to post much in the way of dialogue regarding studio life and ceramics in general. I think this is because I have these brilliant, long running dialogues in my head but they seem to happen when I'm in the bath or lying in bed, nowhere near my laptop. I have taken to writing down the point form ideas for blog posts in my daybook and have yet to flesh them out for you. Trust me, I do have a list of topics that I want to discuss.

So first up for discussion is the idea of marketing yourself and selling your wares. I opened my doors on Dec 1st 2007, so I am just at the beginning of figuring it all out. I have seen a lot of different systems and I have slowly started developing my own. Most of my ideas have come from watching what other people are doing and how that seems to be working for them. I try to have regular shop hours as this works best for me and customers. I have to be on a regularly planned schedule or I don't get as much done. I am much more likely to go for a walk or go out for coffee with friends unless I have a schedule to adhere to. So here are the parts to running my studio:

I wrote a business plan and created a cash flow before I even opened my doors. This is a REALLY important step. I refer back to my business plan and cash flow often and add ideas as I learn.

My winter schedule has been Mon, Tues, Wed, Thur, Sat from 12-5pm, closed on Fri and Sun. My summer schedule will be Mon through Sat 12-5pm. I am often in my studio by 10am starting to work, but I leave myself the option of noon as I may need to run errands, go for coffee, go to yoga etc.

I make all work in my studio by hand, most is thrown on the wheel, the rest is hand built. I make my own glazes with the exception of the bright red, orange, purple and lime green which are commercial glazes as I have not been able to accurately produce bright colours like these at cone 6.

I use stoneware (plainsman, m340, m370, m390) and porcelain (plainsman, p300, laguna Frost).

I teach handbuilding and throwing lessons on Wednesdays. My current session ends in May and I will not be teaching again until the fall as summer is busy.

I have two 'open house' shows in April and December showcasing new work and these have been very successful.

I participate in the Christmas Craft Show in Golden and I will be trying to add another Christmas Fair for next year.

I am going to participate in the summer's Farmers Markets in both Golden (Wednesdays 2-7) and Invermere (Saturday mornings).

I am operating out of my former garage which has been turned into a working gallery/studio. My kiln is in a separate building out back. My house and therefore gallery are located on the main street running through town, so I get a lot of tourist traffic. My open studio includes my gallery space at the front so that customers can watch me at work.

I have two distinct bodies of work: one functional (sold in my gallery and Jita's cafe) and one more sculptural and artistic that reaches completion on about a two year cycle. These collections concern themselves with feminism and media thus far. They have shown in local galleries and two pieces have travelled with a group show through the Kootenays.

I have a website, this blog and an Etsy site.

I use vistaprint to make business cards, brochures (to leave at the Chamber of Commerce), and flyers announcing sales/openings. I am a Chamber member, am going to be in their next shopping brochure and I advertise in the local newspaper and magazine in the issue running up to April and December open houses.

So, this is what I am doing so to run my business. I have learned a lot from other business owners as well as bloggers. Thank you so much! Now I want to know what you do? How do you sell your stuff? Do you schedule your production? Do you have a website and an Etsy site? Which is more effective? I know a lot of you are lurking (google analytics rocks!) so come out and tell me what works for you, how do you do it?

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


Look what I found stored in clay boxes in the back room.

I made them a while ago and put them away to bring out with my new work for the open house and then forgot about them.

I really like them, especially the gold butterflies. They are in my Etsy shop now.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

new items in etsy shop

I have spent my afternoon photographing work and putting it in my etsy shop. I seem to have a bit of a turquoise theme going on. Here is a small sampling of the new items.

Translucent porcelain tea light.

Porcelain tumblers.

Porcelain tea bowl.

Love pendant.

Handbuilt and stamped porcelain tumbler.

Any and all items can be specially ordered in different styles and colours. There is much more to be seen in my etsy shop.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

a fabulous weekend

It was a beautiful, sunny, and warm weekend for the open house. Spring brought out a lot of people, both tourists and locals and we were busy. The bright colourful deck chairs definitely attracted attention from passersby. My studio is hard to miss.

One of the fabulous sales girls who helped out this weekend. Very adept at using quickbooks and wrapping up purchases. Also good at reading books and eating chocolate kisses.

The other fabulous shop girl who worked the Sunday shift. Adept at quickbooks and wrapping up pottery. Also good at choosing CD's and eating chocolate kisses.

This weekend was exactly what I needed. I am exhausted and have almost no voice left but I have been convinced that the type of things that I like and I want to make are the kind that are going to sell. Thank you people for boosting my faith in beautiful, flowing, organic porcelain. I am going to bed a smiling and very happy potter.

Friday, April 11, 2008

new work - open house

This will be the last post until after the weekend. I have finished setting up the studio with all of the new work. I love the way it looks all lined up in a row.

The bright colours are a lot of fun.

Holly brought by a bunch of new glass jewelry as well. Everything is so colourful and happy looking. I'm off to relax with a hot bath and a glass of wine. I'll post pics and words about how the open house went after the weekend.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

if my hands were claws, i wouldn't get a lot done

Picture my hands attached to the ends of these pliers. This was my day, I kind of enjoyed imagining my life with plier hands, hard to function if this was my reality. All the neclaces are together now and I am cleaning and getting ready for the big weekend. It was sunny so I even cleaned out all the crap from last year in my garden and raked the front lawn. The light inside my studio is incredible these days.

A close-up of a few of the neclaces. I am trying new clasps, I'm not sure about their durability, hopefully they will hold up well. I am loving the LOVE pendants the most right now.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

pretty neclaces all lined up in a row

Most of the neclaces are together now, still have earrings to make. A lot of people have read the article in the Force as I have been busy all this week. It is nice to see spring arrive and people shopping again. Supposed to be +20 and sunny for this weekend. Yay!

Monday, April 7, 2008

putting it all together

Porcelain neclaces in various stages of togetherness. My week is set aside for cleaning and organizing before the open house this weekend. Not only the inside but the front garden and building, windows etc., the list goes on and on. The sun is shining which makes cleaning easy.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

painting weekend

So this weekend my pottery studio turned into a painting studio.

Risa, Jada and Avery spend the weekend learning to oil paint.

Look at how happy and artistic looking they are!

My friend Esther was the amazing oil painting teacher with the greatest hair ever!

Friday, April 4, 2008

my daily

I have become addicted/inspired by a new blog called Design For Mankind, although on my first reading I was thrown off by the comment "I'm not a feminist, but this is good" sort of thing. Shocked me and I find that now I only read "the Dalies" section as it is interesting and devoid of non-feminist thought. It get's me to thinking about my days and what I do. So the following post is not a "I'm so much busier than you are post", it is just an outline of one of my days. Now that I am self-employed, I don't have a lot of typical days. They similar enough though:

6:30am - wake-up and wiggle, my dog notices the wiggling and come up for a cuddle. Cuddle Taz for about 30 minutes and then up and trying to rouse the sleepy man beside me. Matt does not like mornings. Head to the kitchen and make some ginger tea. Head to computer and read my favorite blogs as well as and the tyee so I know what is going on in the world.

7:30am - get ready for the day, which usually involves several changes of clothes if I am working in both the studio and outside world.

8:00am - make some oatmeal with raisins (Matt has a bizarre hate for raisins and so I must hide them in the pantry and cook them when he is not around). Help Matt and his girls find all the things they need for school and send them off on their bikes. Back to the computer with my breakfast to continue with the morning reading and often posting on my own blog.

9:00am - intead of heading to yoga with my friend Dahlia, I start my walk/poster campaign across town. I am having an open house next weekend and I have lovely posters that need putting up all over town announcing this event. While on this walk I will also send off some mail to the Tourism BC people so that they can assess my brochure and I can get a highway artisan sign. Hopefully, there will be fun mail waiting for me.

9:30am - gather all the things I need for my morning and head out to the studio (which thankfully is attached to my house). Open up the damp cupboard and turn on the space heater to try to dry some work that should be in the bisque kiln by tomorrow. Finish unloading the glaze kiln load from yesterday (you know you are either tired or disappointed when you can't be motivated to finish unloading a glaze firing as soon as it is cool enough to touch with gloves).

11:00am - back home and back to the studio to check on the progress of the drying pieces, sand the bottoms of the new pots and start pricing and boxing.

12:45pm - inside the house for some lunch which consists of dahl and rice today. Reading a book for book club called The Golden Spruce, not loving it.

1:15pm - walk to the stylists to get my hair done, we have some bad hair happening right now.

3:30pm - finish at stylists and walk to medical clinic for appointment and to meet my daughters.

4:30pm - quick walk home to change and then off to my friend Suzanne's ceramic show House Music. A very successful show which is no surprise as Suzanne is a very fabulous artist.

7:00pm - encourage children to get ready for bed and read stories to my (soon to be) stepdaughters as Matt is currently spending his free time ripping a house apart.

8:30pm - back to the computer to check email and add photos to this post.

9:00pm - bath and reading of my new Bust magazine.
10.00pm - bed and asleep very quickly.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

some days...

you like what comes out of the kiln.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

a fun day in the studio

A very busy and fun day in the studio. My friend and her mother came to spend the day playing. A LOT of work was made and we were all very tired by the end.

Jewelry bits glazed and waiting for the kiln.

I haven't written a lot lately although I have had a lot of ceramics things happening. I feel like I need to force myself to take the time to write about what is going on rather than just posting photos.

So things I have been thinking and doing lately:

-reflecting on my own ceramics practice and beginning work on heading in a new direction. Some of this new direction will be seen in the work that will be out on the 12th/13th for the open house.
-planning on some new items that will be specifically marketed on my Etsy site. Dates booked etc for photographing the new work and a day set aside to update my online shop.
-doing interviews and putting ads in papers, magazines and around town advertising my open house as well as my classes.
-researching different options for ceramic residencies and masters programs.