offcntr: (bella)
...are sometimes kids.

Part of it is the bears, I suppose, though the most enthusiastic ones ignore them in favor of the animals on the pottery.

Take this one little girl, maybe 10 years old, on Saturday afternoon.

She came in first with her dad and younger brother, and promptly began pointing out and naming the animals, choosing her favorites. (The penguins dessert plate took top billing.) They left, and a couple of minutes later, she came back with her older sister, and proceeded to show her around. During that visit, they spotted the cat food bowls, each painted with a different kitty, and decided they should really have one for their cat, who they proceeded to tell me about.

Two minutes later, they were back again, this time with little brother in tow, showing him the cat dish. After they leave, I turn to mouth to Denise, who arrived in the middle of the last visit, She's been here three times in the last half hour-- 

Just as she returned for a fourth visit with her mom.

 
offcntr: (rocket)
Country Fair weekend, and there's a lot of empty spots at Market. No booths behind the stage at alll, about half the food court is vacant. Doesn't help that the weather prediction is for clouds and showers, and setup is grey and spitting rain.

And then it gets better. Clouds gradually part, the sun appears, and all those people we we expecting last weekend? Here they are.

Seems to be about equally split between folks in athletic wear from the Olympic trials and folks in choir t-shirts and lanyards from the Bach festival. Lots of families with little kids, so I get a lot of opportunities to repeat the "Please Touch" mantra:  Anyone can pet the pottery; only grownups can pick it up.

A couple with two little ones comes by. Papa is pushing a toddler in a stroller, Mama with a five-year old behind. She's telling him what's in each booth, and I realize he's blind. So I invite them into the booth, explain the pot-petting rule, and encourage her to lift down the elephant bank for him to "see." Next it's the stegosaur, and he fingers the spines, hunting for the slot, and I tell him that the head is on the end between his Mama's hands, so he explores that, sticking his finger in its mouth. It's biting me! he jokes. No, it's an herbivore, I say. It's licking your hand because it likes you.

What else is here? he asks Mama, and gets to pet a cat bank next. What else? He probably would have spent the rest of the morning exploring, but Papa and sibling were six booths ahead, so they had to move on. Mama thanked me, and I thanked her for taking the time to show him my work.

I can't imagine how sad and boring Market would seem if you only had it narrated to you. So much better to be able to explore it firsthand.

Do Touch

Aug. 24th, 2014 08:45 pm
offcntr: (vendor)
From offcenter.biz, May 2014.

touch

She snaps "Don't touch!" and inwardly I cringe. Another Saturday, another mom and kids in my Market booth. Or it could be a father, a grandparent, all enforcing the hands-off policy.

And it really bugs me. By saying "Don't touch," in that tone of voice, what we're teaching kids is that pottery is scary: dangerous, fragile, untouchable.

Children learn by touching. They pat things, they pet things, they put them in their mouths. Saying don't touch is tantamount to saying "You can't know about this stuff."

I don't know about you, but I've been noticing that my audience, the people who appreciate and purchase my pottery, is aging. We're going gray, clearing out the cupboards, downsizing. I'm trying to make a living as a potter. If we frighten our children away from pottery, where is the next generation of customers going to come from?

And the funny thing is, hardly any of my work has ever been broken by kids--I remember one incident in twenty years. Heck, I break more than that in a given month.

So I have a different rule in my booth. No "Don't Touch." Everybody, big or little, gets to pet the pottery. Only grown-ups are allowed to pick it up.

And nobody gets to put it in their mouth.

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