offcntr: (rocket)

Day two of Silverton Fine Arts Festival dawns, and I've yet to see the predicted hordes of eclipse-chasing art buyers. The show invested heavily in its timing and location, the weekend before Monday's total eclipse. Silverton is well inside the area of totality, and the whole town marketed itself to eclipse tourism. They warned us to book our lodging early, as local hotels and campsites were expected to sell out. Don't know about the hotels--it's only a ninety minute drive home, so we're commuting--but word is that, while Silver Falls State park is booked solid, the three parking lots that the Oregon Gardens designated for overflow camping are seeing only three or four patrons each.

Crowds are light but steady at the fair, sales are about average for this day at this show. I'm seeing a lot of familiar faces, including a the daughter of a potter friend who drove down from Vancouver, WA to pick up two more items for her octopus pot collection. Fortunately, I didn't take everything I had in that pattern up to Anacortes, so she was able to score a dinner plate and pilsner glass.

I've seen a lot of eclipse-commemorative artwork. Several of the painters have themed paintings and prints, including the young artist who did this year's poster image. Nicest is probably the cold-cast aluminum (aluminum powder in a resin base) steam-punk styled pendants at a booth across the way. Tempted to pick one up, as they're only twenty bucks, but that's balanced by my aversion to souvenirs. Time will tell.

Potter Dave Parry has eclipse mugs in his booth. Wait, is this a thing? Should I have done that? His decorating style is much better adapted to the subject matter, featuring abstract, vaguely astronomical colored orbs and scribed black lines. The eclipse pattern fits right in. No idea what I could have done; perhaps the Rabbit in the Moon from Chinese folklore?

Nah. Last time I tried to jump on event-based patterns, for a Rhododendron Festival, I ended up with two boxes full of unsold mugs.
offcntr: (vendor)
A woman comes into my booth, announces I've got a great idea for you.

Okay, here we go again.

Twenty years ago, somewhere on the east coast, she bought a mug. On the rim of the mug was a small blue pig. In the bottom of the mug was another blue pig, looking up at the first.

You see? You give it to your friend, and when they get to the bottom of their coffee, there's a pig looking up at them!

I patiently explain that it's not a new idea; it's been done before. Heck, I've done it before. Back when I started making cat-handled mugs, the original commission had a small mouse in the bottom of the mug, that the cat was reaching for. Positioning the mouse down in the closed space, in such a way that the glaze didn't totally obscure it, was a pain in the butt. I finally decided to place the bisqued mouse on top of the glaze and trust it to stick down as it melted in the kiln, and even so, at least one fell over and stuck on its side.

Finally gave up on the mice, kept the cats. The cat's paw dipping into the top of the coffee was much funnier, anyway.
offcntr: (vendor)
Highlights of our second day in Anacortes:

  • Having two customers in a row who knew what potica was. (It's a Slovenian nut bread, served at holidays like Christmas and Easter.) Coincidentally, both of the were originally from Wisconsin, as are we.
  • Selling our last yarn bowl to a lovely Polish woman, who said it was the perfect size and shape. Right after someone else had told me it was too small.
  • A girl named Arden. Back in June, at Edmonds, we were visited by a little girl who loved our pots. I mean, it was like every time she noticed a new pattern, she'd squee, bounce a little, almost inflate a bit. I swear she was gonna float away if she saw one more bunny or kitty or elephant bowl. It was delightful. Sadly, she didn't have enough cash to get anything, and Mom wouldn't advance anything against her allowance.

    Later that day, I went down to my friend Shelly's booth to tell her the story, to find the same little girl there, equally enthusiastic about Shelly's animal sculptures.

    Fast forward six weeks. Late afternoon, I look up and say, "Edmonds." It's her and her mom. She's saved up her lawn-mowing money, and come to Anacortes looking for us. She found Shelly first, and bought a small elephant from her. Now she's trying to decide what she wants from me. Bunny toddler? Octopus dessert? Barn owl dinner plate? I'm going through the back stock box looking, for the barn owl dessert plate, when she finds the opossum dessert plate. That's it, we're done. She proudly paid out of her own pocket.


Aug. 5th, 2017 07:03 am
offcntr: (Default)
Back to Anacortes for their 56th annual Arts Festival, and things are unexpectedly ideal.

In previous years, we've set up in scorching heat, froze in the morning from chill drafts, or nearly had our booth blown away by onshore gales. This year, it's mild and calm, temperatures in the high 70s. Except for the smoky haze drifting down from forest fires in British Columbia, it'd be ideal. (And even that seems to have had its silver lining, shaving five or ten degrees off the predicted high temperature on Friday.)

First day sales were brisk--we sold our first pot 40 minutes before the show officially opened, the next one 20 minutes later--and ran overwhelmingly to octopus. Nine so far, square baker, pasta, pie, mugs, even the sugar bowl and french butter dish. (Still haven't sold the big platter or teapot, but I have hopes.) Running a distant second are hen and bunny pots, and I wish I'd brought more than two elephant banks, as they're both gone already.

This our first time staying at an AirBnB; I was very late looking for motel rooms, and even our usual place in Oak Harbor was charging extortionate rates. We're in a very nice house in Mt. Vernon, about 30 minutes out, sharing facilities with our host and another guest, in town doing genealogical research. Glad she's here, as I feel I'm being a poor guest. I don't like to socialize after shows--I've been talking all day, and just want to be quiet and decompress--which leaves Denise and Marcia, the other guest, the target of Dennis' volubility. Also, he'd really like to prepare us a fancy breakfast, show off his cooking skills, and I'm more of a cold cereal and berries guy. And we brought our own cereal. Sigh.

Had a bit of a surprise yesterday. Four years ago, when we first started getting into Anacortes again, our neighbor was an art photographer with a familiar name. Tracy Lebenson's uncle Keith was famous in ceramic circles for his handmade brushes, using such exotic fibers as wolf hair and such like. I drooled over them one at NCECA, but didn't have the money to buy one, particularly as I knew how hard I was on my brushes.

We had some nice talks that weekend, and I showed him one of my brushes--which he mistook for his uncle's--I was flattered. Apparently, selling photography wasn't working for him, because he's here this weekend as Lebenson Brushes. They look a lot like his uncle's; I haven't tried one yet for fear it would want to come home with me...
offcntr: (Default)
 Now that Clever Girl is bisque-fired, it's time to consider surface treatment. The dino herself is simple, if messy: Wax over the colored porcelain eyes, teeth and tongue. Iron oxide wash, brushed on and sponged off again to leave traces in the creases and crevices. (Leaving me red-handed for the next several days, worse than cooking beets.)  Maybe some white underglaze on the belly, white stripes across the spine. 

The book needs content, though. I impressed the title into the spine--The Big Book of Dinosaurs--but intentionally left the pages blank. Since my head-canon is that my velociraptor thinks it's a cookbook, I need her to be perusing the herbivores. These two are sufficiently close, alphabetically. Also fun to draw. Here's the process.

Beginning with the blank page, first define the border of the illustration, then draw the dinosaur. Letter in the heading, then use a grey wash to greek-type the body copy.

Turn the page and repeat. Next, I brushed wax resist over the edges of the page block, then brushed a chrome oxide wash onto the cover, sponging back a bit, which leaves extra color in the canvas texture, and especially in the rubber-stamped title in the spine. The result looks astonishingly like the green, cloth-bound books of my grade-school library.

Final results. Well, semi-final; the firing will probably tone down and darken the colors considerably. We'll just have to wait and see.


Jul. 29th, 2017 09:36 pm
offcntr: (rocket)
 I always feel vaguely guilty when I skip a Saturday Market while I'm still in town. It's like I'm playing hooky, cutting classes (which I only ever did once in seven years of college, undergraduate and grad school. Too responsible; or possibly too Catholic…).

But I really needed to fire this kiln today, so we could unload it on Monday, sort the pots Tuesday and load up the van to leave for Anacortes Wednesday morning. 

We talked about doing both. If the firing was perfect and predictable, I could go down at 5:30 am and start turning up the burners, have the body reduction finished before I went over to Market to set up at 7:30, swing by Farmer's Market at 9:00, then go back and tend the kiln until finished, with a break at 5:00 to help Denise pack up and take down the booth again. She's more than qualified to sell for me; she's been doing it for years.

The problem is with that word: predictable. In my experience, this kiln is anything but. If I don't set the burners high enough overnight, I won't have body reduction early in the morning, so it'll conflict with set-up. Even if body reduction times perfectly--say, cone 08 is going down as I come in the door--that's no guarantee the firing will end on schedule. My last few firings have ended between 5:30 and 9:30 pm. I could work around the latter--just come back to the studio after sending Denise home--but our takedown usually lasts from Market's end at five to about ten past six, exactly the time I should be in the studio watching the cones drop.

So, after much discussion, we decided to let Market go for the day. I still went down to pick up produce, but parked on the other side of the Park Blocks, so nobody would spot me sneaking in. And spent the rest of the day being diligent and productive: mixing glazes, chipping and washing a kiln shelf, cleaning the studio floor.

Oh, and working on this--
stain on, stain off
Brushing iron oxide onto Clever Girl, then wiping it off again, to emphasize skin texture.

offcntr: (Default)

I'm not entirely sure we ever met. I think he came to my Saturday Market booth once, visiting with friends in Eugene. It's also possible that friends in Eugene sent him that first, fateful pot without him ever visiting in person. In any event, that pot started something.

The next I knew, I got a phone call from this fellow in California, who collected animal art, specifically fishing bears, and could I make a table setting for him? All the same pattern: black bear with a salmon in its mouth.

I said, Sure, and that was the start of my long relationship with Paul Eilert.

I made him oh-so-many bear pots over the years: that initial set, with dinner and dessert plates, soup bowls and mugs. Later, servers, toddler bowls (I added a bear cub behind the mama, in keeping with my "baby animals" theme), smaller plates, stews and dinner salads too, I think. A couple of sculpture bears sized to fit over the necks of wine bottles. The occasional order of replacements for dishes that hadn't survived his grand-kids. He once sent me a picture of his table set up for a big family gathering, with all the dishes, service wear, and carved wooden sculptures of black bears with dangling wooden salmon on chains. I saw it on my desk not that long ago; if I find it, I want to scan it and share it.

I took his last order this spring--more mugs, bowls, dessert plates. Unbeknownst to me, he was building up his table service to the point that he could divide it into two complete settings for his daughters to inherit; family heirlooms, in a word. When I shipped them off to California last month, I got a phone call from his daughter, Leslie. He'd died of cancer just a week before.

I'm still a little stunned. It's hard to believe I won't hear that dry, twangy voice anymore. I've taken one last commission for him, through his daughter: a set of three funerary urns in which his kids will share his ashes. I just glazed them yesterday.

Fishing bear pattern, of course.

offcntr: (bunbear)
so fluff 
Some new creamers from yesterday's glazing.
offcntr: (rocket)

Actually, more like 23 years. Found this picture in an album we brought back from Denise's mom's house. Her dad, Del, took it on their first visit to Oregon, in what must have been 1994. This was our first reserved space, on the East lawn of the park blocks, our second year selling. I remember struggling to sell pots there, and looking at this display, I don't wonder why.

It's a mess. Pots are arranged more or less at random, there's not much coherence in the designs. Way too many animal banks and blue iris pots. Pie plates and bowls stacked up so you can't see what's painted in them. Which is probably more irises. And Woo's Blue glaze on everything, even though it pinholes like crazy if you're not careful. Geez, what was I thinking?

Basically, I was trying stuff out. Throwing everything against the booth wall to see what stuck. I can barely make out a blue cat painted in one of the bowls; and a very awkwardly painted squirrel on a jar. That long, skinny thing is supposed to be a salmon baker, with fish painted in the bottom. It's way too small for a whole salmon, and the wrong shape for filets.

I know there are chickadees painted on a tall pasta jar, because I never did sell it; it's sitting in my cupboard full of spaghetti right now. I count a dozen different kinds of animal banks. The number doubled later on, then got trimmed back to the eight best sellers I still make. Teapots with ridiculous hoop handles that are less about actual function and more about showing off how big I could pull a handle.

Some things haven't changed. Pig and elephant banks, stegosaur and brontosaurs. (The triceratops has been replace by T. rex.) The display bench is still in the booth, as are the shelves, though they're on the left these days. I also cut the one large folding ladder-support down to two smaller ones, as it swayed dangerously whenever anyone bumped it in this version.

The bears definitely haven't changed. That's Bigfoot and Benjamin, the exact same two who were in the booth with us last Saturday.

offcntr: (maggie)
Glazing again, on super short deadline: nine days from now, I should be driving to Anacortes. Today was beverage day: glasses, tumblers, tall mugs, coffee mugs. I'm having a lot of fun with the new glass shape: kind of remind me of pilsner glasses. Here's a representative sampling:

Also did an order for the city of Eugene: employee 5-year mugs. 2012 must have been a banner year for hiring, as I glazed 17 of them today. That's a total of 85 years service, which is how long it feels like I've been doing these.


Jul. 22nd, 2017 03:00 pm
offcntr: (vendor)
I've never really been able to categorize my decorating style; I paint what I paint how I paint it. When I'm filling out a show evaluation and they ask my genre, once we get beyond "functional stoneware," I'm kind of at a loss. 

Just had a customer refer to my work as Artistic Farmhouse.

I like it.

offcntr: (Default)
I've been poking around the archives, trying to find the posts on glaze and overglaze recipes, because every now and then someone asks for them. I've finally found both, and have retagged them glaze recipes, so they'll be easier to find.

But recipes aren't the only important information. There are details of mixing and application that need to be considered.
Consistency. Glaze recipes tend toward dairy metaphors. A glaze should be the consistency of milk, cream, half-and-half. I found this maddeningly imprecise, and a real problem when painting on vertical surfaces. Too thin a glaze coat, and the base is brown and unattractive from the iron in the clay body, but too thick, and the picture runs off the pot. After far more years than I'd like to admit, I finally bought a hydrometer. It's a glass tube, like an oversized thermometer, with a lead weight in the bottom and a paper scale, graduated to measure specific gravity. After mixing the glaze thoroughly and waiting for it to stop spinning around in the bucket, I lower the hydrometer into the glaze and let it float, then read off the scale where it's at the surface level. The specific gravity of water is 1.000; I've found 1.500 works perfectly for me. (As an aside, this means there's twice as much water as dry materials in my glaze, so for my standard batch of 14,000 grams, I'm actually mixing up 42,000 grams of glaze--a bit over 90 lbs.)

 I also find that the glaze gets thicker with use, whether from evaporation or absorption of water into the bisque, so I check a couple of times a day, and add water as necessary.

Thickness. The thickness of application of a glaze depends on several factors: how you apply it, for how long, and how much water the pot can absorb. I dip or pour the glaze--spraying leaves too fluffy a surface for my overglaze decoration--for a count of four (one, two, three, four--out again), which I long ago determined is actually about three seconds. Apparently, I count in waltz time, 3:4. Smaller pots, especially thinner pots like soup or toddler bowls, may need a little more time in the glaze to get a proper coating. I usually dip lids for casseroles, cookie jars, honey pots twice to get a proper coating.

Settling. If the glaze isn't fully suspended, you're not going to get an even coat. If your glaze is high in slightly soluble minerals, like nepheline syenite, it'll want to settle to the bottom of the bucket and form a rock there, while leaving just enough in suspension to fool you into thinking you're still applying glaze. Mix early, mix often. And a teaspoon of epsom salts, and a bit of aging, doesn't hurt either. I now mix my glaze for each firing during the previous firing--four to six weeks before I actually start glazing again. The extra conditioning time does wonders for glaze suspension.

Overglaze application. If you're used to underglazes, you're gonna put the stains on too thickly. You want it the consistency of india ink, maybe a little thinner. And that's for the initial line drawing, at full strength. Dilute with water to create washes, shadows, lighter tones. There's almost homeopathically small quantities of red stain in the water when I glaze bunny ears. I want only the palest of pink. Some colors have more tinting strength than other. Cobalt carbonate can be diluted many times and still give you blue.

If your stains are blistering, or, worse, burning out to a scabby grey scale, you'll really want to dilute them down some.

Firing temperature. There's a lot of variation in the way potters fire to cone 10. I know a potter who fires cone 10 flat on the pad, 11 nearly touching down to get the glaze effects he wants. If I did that, every picture on every vertical surface would be a blurred smear. I want cone 10 just touching at its tip. If the kiln is firing unevenly, I may fiddle with the damper to try and catch up the cold end, but not past that point. I can usually count on carry-over to drop that last half-cone, particularly if the top of the kiln is cooler than the bottom at shut-down.

Other firing ranges. I'm firing cone 10 in reduction; I've also used cobalt, iron and rutile at cone 6, reduction. Not sure how they'd work in oxidation; some metals, iron in particular, act as a flux in reduced form, but a refractory in oxidation. Experiment with a reliable white/whitish base glaze, moderately glossy, and be prepared to add Gerstley Borate or Ferro Frit 3134 to your oxides and stains. I wouldn't overglaze on a matte glaze if I intended to use it for food; I'd worry that the oxides wouldn't be sufficiently absorbed into the glassy matrix.

En route

Jul. 10th, 2017 08:18 pm
offcntr: (be right back)
So Denise is home from our vacation already, back in Eugene. I'm taking the long way around. Driving.

She inherited her mother's car back in January, and was also in Wisconsin in February; neither are good times to drive a nearly-new car cross-country to Oregon. So here I am in Billings, Montana, two days out from Milwaukee, with another two to go.

Didn't expect to run into anything ceramic to write about (though this little fella, found at a rest area just into Minnesota, has a fairly convincing raku copper luster).

But a little past Jamestown, ND this morning, I answered the call of excess hydration, and found this at the rest area. The display inside is devoted to the building of North Dakota's stretch of the interstate highway system, which apparently they finished ahead of everyone else (possibly because they had to do so little earth-moving to achieve a level grade).

The facade of the building continues the theme with this lovely, carved-brick relief sculpture featuring crane, jackhammer and the first piers of a highway overpass. I suspect the bricks were made in Hebron, ND (self-proclaimed Brick City), just a short drive west. Denise and I camped there once on a trip west, and were surprised to find that the very red gravel roads weren't granite (as in my home region of Wisconsin) but clinker, naturally fired chunks of red clay. They're created when layers of lignite--soft coal--ignite in the ground, and fire the surrounding strata of mudstone, naturally occurring clay.

You can see this writ large on the landscape at Painted Canyon, part of the Theodore Roosevelt National Park, a little further along my way. Red tops of the mounds are the fired clinker, which resists erosion better than the still-water-soluble layers of clay underneath.

offcntr: (vendor)
quiet, beautiful pots
Ever since my high school art teacher expressed surprise at my intention to major in art in college, I've had a bit of "I'll show 'em; just you wait and see" in the back of my head. (In Miss Guenther's defense, although I was a pretty good art student, I was also valedictorian, math league champion, and took a first at state in extemporaneous speaking. I wasn't spoiled for choice, academically, and in fact I had a double major in Art and Math when I finally graduated from Viterbo.)

So while I intended to show Tim and Mary what I was doing in pottery these days, there was also the secret urge to show off that I was doing it, and doing it well. Making my living as a potter.

It was during a rambling conversation about life in the booth, the Please Touch rule, and all the stuff that's tagged here as Marketing 101, that Tim quietly said, I never really learned to sell my pots.

And I stopped dead.

I mean, it kinda makes sense. When you're on a college faculty, they look more at your exhibition record--how many shows you've done--rather than how well you've sold at them. Add the fact that your time is divided--if you're a good teacher, it hugely impacts how much time and energy you have for your artwork. And if you're not naturally gregarious (or business-oriented) and trying to sell art pots--basically a specialized form of sculpture--it's easy to never quite crack that nut.

That could have been me. Just out of grad school, applying for teaching jobs, not very outgoing, and crap at self-promotion, if I'd actually landed that tenure-track position, I might be saying the same thing now. (Though maybe not. The story tiles--narrative sculpture in a handy, table-top format--I was making in graduate school had a fairly broad appeal. I think I sold more from my thesis show than any of my classmates.)

But we'll never know. The only teaching job I ever got was a part-time affair that required I take a production gig to make ends meet. That experience gave me the skills to make and sell my own work at Saturday Market. Weekly practice there taught me what would sell and how to sell it. And gave me the first few steps towards moving out into the greater fair circuit, where I am today.

Tim's retired now, still making beautiful, quiet pots, but he's left the marketplace. Mostly, he gives his pots away, to people he thinks will appreciate them. These two beauties are coming home with us.
offcntr: (live 2)
The interior of Tim Crane's wood/salt kiln. All that shiny brown glaze is decades of ash and soda deposition from wood and salt glazing.
stuck pot optional
And yes, that is a pot stuck to the back wall. He had a shelf collapse in his last firing, and that brown glaze is plenty sticky when the kiln is hot.
offcntr: (live 1)
I've never really had a mentor.

Wasn't really close to my professors. Only met with my graduate committee twice in three years. It may be I'm too independent (bull-headed, my father would have said). But I think there's also a healthy dose of reticence, a holdover from the shyness of my childhood. I'd rather figure something out for myself than bother someone else, asking for help.

So it was with some trepidation that I got in touch with my Viterbo pottery professor and his wife, Tim and Mary Crane, about visiting them while we were in Wisconsin. Sure, Mary encouraged us to stay over. We have a guest room! Do you have any food preferences? How long can you stay? But I still didn't want to intrude. Didn't want to be a bother. (I'm so Midwestern sometimes.)

So glad we did.

The conversation went all over the map. Pottery, of course, and "Where are they now?" reminesces. But art in general, literature, college and life experiences. I showed pictures, they showed pots. Visited the wood-salt kiln, still there after 35 years (though the kiln shed had burned down in 2014 and been replaced), the studio, showroom. Went for a long walk along the ridge--they still live in a rented house beyond two fields and three cattle guards--looking at birds and plants and other points of interest (Wolf scat? You have wolves?). And the beautiful rolling hills of SE Minnesota.

They also invited Tim's ex, Diane (who also taught me at Viterbo) and her partner Bets to dinner, where the conversation started all over again.

We left with a stack of books (including a noir trilogy set in La Crosse), a couple of pots, and an open invitation to come back... and some wonderful memories.

Six words

Jul. 3rd, 2017 02:43 pm
offcntr: (berto)
Staying with friends whose bathroom reading included Not Quite What I Was Planning, a collection of six-word memoirs, so I decided to try and write my own.

It took a couple of tries--for some reason I kept coming up one word short--but I finally got one I'm satisfied with.

I made your kitchen table happy.
offcntr: (Default)
Most potters in the world (Japan excepted. Don't ask me why.) throw with the potter's wheel turning clockwise.

But I'm left-handed. I grew up in a world of Of course,  that's if you're right-handed. Left-handers reverse these directions. So when I first started to throw, I kicked the wheel clockwise.

If the regular pottery professor had been teaching, or if Viterbo had had electric wheels, it might have been otherwise. Throwing is very ambidextrous,  equally easy (or difficult. For me, more the latter) to learn turning either direction, and back then, few electric wheels had a reversing switch. But Tim was on sabbatical, Jan was occupied with teaching an unfamiliar class, and the studio was committed to Leach-style treadle wheels, so by the time anyone noticed, I'd gotten used to the direction I was throwing.

I continued throwing on kick-wheels, left-handed, after college, all through graduate school, and into my days at the Craft Center. I did teach myself to throw counter-clockwise as a teaching assistant in grad school, the better to do demos, but it never came as easily as clockwise.

Fast forward to my days with Slippery Bank Pottery. I was committed to making nine dozen hummingbird feeders as week, while continuing my teaching load. Kick-wheels weren't gonna make it.

I mentioned Japan earlier? For some cultural reason, right-handed potters throw clockwise there. Fortunately for me, the Craft Center had a Japanese-made electric wheel, an old Shimpo that nobody used much because the speed control was either a very stiff, inconveniently placed pedal, or the attached gearshift-style lever. It quickly became my wheel.

Wheels with reversing switches are more-or-less standard these days, so I guess I'm not the only lefty out there. I have two electric wheels now, a Pacifica with factory reverse and an old Soldner with a switch bodged in by the previous owner (who I once made hummingbird feeders for). But I still get the occasional confused look as I throw, from spectators who aren't quite sure what's different, but know something ain't right.

offcntr: (window bear)

Visiting my brother in Wisconsin, which, in addition to revisiting embarrassing family stories, allows me to revisit embarrassing pottery.

Actually, it's not that bad. A lot of the pottery I've given him over the years is still recognizable: a large bunnies serving bowl, robin cookie jar, batter bowl with the happy hen pattern. This one, though, goes way back. Not quite to my Wisconsin days, I don't think, but certainly pre-Off Center Ceramics.

It's an oval baking dish, about 6x9", glazed in Craft Center temmoku and Woo's blue. I did a lot of these, early on. The walls are thrown first, with no bottom, then formed into an oval. At soft leather hard, a slab bottom and crock-style handles are attached. Can't tell if these handles were pulled from a (very small) coil, or whether they were thrown and then cut and attached. They're a little small for practical use, almost dainty.

I still use this technique to make oval platters, but not bakers. The failure rate was too high both in the making (cracks along the seam if moisture wasn't correctly matched between bottom and sides) and, occasionally, the baking. Apparently, a slight mismatch in moisture, not great enough for cracking, might still introduce stresses that would show up when they were heated in the oven. Much safer to go with my current, squared bakers: thrown in one piece, deformed slightly while still wet, then pulled handles attached at leather-hard.

Though this is a pretty, pretty pot.
offcntr: (rainyday)

Weather continues weird and unpredictable. Friday became surprisingly sunny by mid-day, though occasional grey, cold fronts blew through. Saturday,  predicted sunny, was overcast all day, and turned to rain for several hours around supper. Today looks to be grey most of the day, though chance of actual rain is supposedly small.

And that's the other problem. The forecast changes from hour to hour, and from forecaster to forecaster. Everyone has a favorite source, sites or app, and none of them agree. Worse, the weather changes drastically in the five miles between our motel and the fair. Microclimates.

We have a lovely bunch of neighbors this year, unlike last time, when we had to listen to a pair of vendors complaining through the back of the booth all weekend. Only problem is that all of them--with the exception of the porcelain jewelry lady to our right--are art objects. Paintings, mural landscape photography, silk scarves, high-end fused glass. Harder to sell than painted pottery, especially when the potter has a head start--120 postcards and e-cards sent to previous customers before the fair started. I've said before how much I rely on repeat custom, and that was really evident on Friday, when I had a very good day while everyone else was dragging. Saturday picked up for them, thankfully, and while I had fewer customers, individual sales were slightly larger, so I ended up within $30 of Friday's total.

It's tricky having a good sale while your neighbors aren't. You want to feel good, celebrate it, but you don't want to be that guy, the one who brags about his success when everyone else is failing. So you go all Midwestern. Oh, we're doing okay. Not bad, y'know. Can't complain.

Hopefully, Sunday will bring sale to everybody. Us included...

August 2017

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