Wednesday, September 29, 2010

What am so I afraid of?

I will admit that I find it hard to price my work. I have a hard time not giving people a deal when they come by the studio to purchase my work from me (I'm a real softy on the home front...).  I'm not really great on the cold hard facts when it comes to crunching the numbers, doing the math, and actually figuring out how much it costs for me to run a business to actually make a profit. 
And then there was this conversation I had with my husband the other night.  We were talking about an artist friend of mine who quoted a potential client a really large sum of money for a custom order they were inquiring about.  I admitted that I didn't think I would be able to quote that high an amount on my work.  That I felt I would somehow be obliged to cut the person a 'deal' based on the volume of the work they would want.  Even if they didn't ask for one.
He asked why I thought asking someone to pay me what my work is valued at would be too much for me to ask.  Why I was afraid of making money or making a profit.  And I had to stop and think about whether I really and truly do value my work.  
It's a complicated issue for me.  It's not just about whether I value the work that I do, it's also whether I value ceramics, or art on the whole.  As 'luxury' items that I can't often afford, I find myself questioning the value of making more stuff in a world that already has enough stuff.  I see well-designed, manufactured objects out there in the world for cheap and my psyche questions why my work should be so much more costly to a consumer than that work? 
I can't help but come back to the reason why I do what I do at this point in the conversation that happens in my head: I love what I do and what I make. It's a craft and a skill that I've been honing for close to 17 years and it's something so part of who I am and what I dream about that I can't imagine my life without making.  And at the end of all that I realize it's not about the money for me.  If it were, I wouldn't still be doing it. And that's the catch, the hitch, the dilemma I have with my own argument.  If it ain't about the money, it's most likely not going to be profitable in a financial sense.  If I fall into the trap of measuring success financially, then given my mind-set I'm probably always going to be disappointed.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Autumn Street Festivities

Went to the Autumn Shift Festival on Main Street this past saturday and enjoyed seeing things you don't normally see on the streets of Vancouver.  Hair cuts for trade, dancing in the streets and a chicken laying eggs in her coop.  Also saw this lovely friend.
Hope you had a great weekend and are ready for October (ALREADY??) this week!  I've been busy getting ready for an up-coming photo shoot and a little show happening at a local gallery next month.   

Thursday, September 23, 2010

More great Ceramic love on Etsy

Doug Peltzman's pottery (above) totally appeals to the potter in me.  High fired porcelain with underglazed line drawings accenting the form, I can almost imagine the silky smooth feeling of his glazes.  His pulled handles and dowel rolled spouts are fresh and lovely- nothing is overworked, yet everything is considered.  The form and the lines, the transition from one glaze to the next, the lids, the lips, and the foot- with this much going for these pots, I'm sure you will see this guys work on the cover of Ceramics Monthly sometime soon!

 Paula LopezOtero's work on her Etsy shop Paulova, was recently featured in a bunch of blogs after the past Renegade San Fransisco.  I really like her work- the wheel-thrown jars with corked lids and great underglaze designs with shades of turquoise, greens and yellows totally appeals to the modern retro in me. 
Isabelle Abramson's work is stunning! I don't think I've ever seen carve and cut techniques quite like hers- her patterns and lace designs are exquisite and intricately done.  This is no small feat, to get porcelain not to crack with the small incisions she's making, let alone when she goes to wipe all the little clay particles away with a sponge.  Her work is one-of-a kind magic!

That's all for today.  If you would like to see my other post on ceramic finds on Etsy, it's right here.  Now I'm off to trim pots like a good little potter should:)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

It was a blue kind of morning

My morning walk up to the school with the boys last week thursday in order of appearance. Hope you are having a good morning!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Market & Shop up-dates!

Here are some photos from the Eugene Choo Market that I did on the weekend.  It was a dreary Saturday with rain on and off, but it was good to pull all my new work out of the studio.  Here are some pics of one of my new designs- I started working with a stem design with floral shapes coming off of a stem in various shades of turquoises, greens and yellows.  It's similar to my current work yet different.. which is always good.

I finally have my cross stitch necklaces up for sale on my Etsy shop, along with an up-date of my regular work, which is now in stock again!  My new work will be photographed for a website up-date in early October, so I'll keep the rest under wraps until the big reveal:)
Hope your weekend went great!

Friday, September 17, 2010

In the kiln

After a summer of pumping out work for my galleries, I've finally had the chance to sit down and come up with some new designs for the fall!  Here's a sneak peek before the kiln firing that I did yesterday.  It is a pretty remarkable process to have the glazes transform from a thin powdery layer to a smooth hard glossy layer of glaze in 2300 degrees.
I love glazing. For me, it's where the magic happens.  I glaze each piece with a method that took me a few years to develop, where I cut out each 'stencil' that masks out parts of my pot while I glaze other parts.  After waxing around the stencils I can then glaze the in-between spaces with a different glaze.  I've worked really hard on making this process simple enough that I can re-create my designs. At the same time, this process is labour intensive and takes me 4-6 different glazes with the right combination of colours and design, with about 9 different steps (with drying time in between) to get each piece in the kiln. 
I've lost sleep over the last few nights trying to come up with good glaze combos for my new designs.  Glazing a mug is not like painting a picture- you don't see the colours until they've gone through a kiln firing, and you can't really glaze over something that didn't quite turn out. You can try to re-fire, but for the most part, it is what it is when you pull it out of the kiln.  There are any number of things that could go wrong here: bad application, hot spots in the kiln, or just a bad combo of colours. Sometimes I marvel at the patience and persistence that goes along with being a potter.  The amount of bad pots a person has to make before the glimmer of a good pot keeps a person going.  It really is a labour of love. 

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

This Saturday

The last summer market at Eugene Choo (3683 Main street, Vancouver) is taking place this coming Saturday, September 18, from 10-3 and I'll be there sharing a booth with the lovely Claire from heyday design.  The date falls on  Eugene Choo's yearly sale, so come by to check out the deals- I hear it's quite an event! 

I'll have new work just in time for fall, including my new porcelain cross-stitch jewelry

weekend baking

Janis from Pinecone Camp asked me yesterday what I had baked on the weekend- you know she has a great weekly post called 'baked on monday' where she bakes the most delicious looking baked goods.  The olive bread she posted about yesterday looked amazing especially with all those vintage baking tins!
Anyways, I lucked out this weekend and bought a whole box of local peaches for $3.99.  Yup- over 60 peaches for a mere 4 bucks.  Ok so they were all ripe on Saturday when I bought them, but after handing a bunch out to the nextdoor neighbours and anyone else who showed up at my door, I decided that I would bake a peach pie.  It seemed like the thing to do on a dreary wet Saturday night when my guy was out of town, I had one boy recovering from the flu, and the other boy happily playing lego in his room. All my pie photos look like they are directly out of some 70's cookbook- yikes! but the pie...well, I'm having a piece for breakfast 3 days later, and it's still tastes like summer to me.
ps Janis- I also baked a couple of loaves of 'Aunt Holly's' Banana Bread which is low in the butter dept., is mixed by hand and is delicious:)

Monday, September 13, 2010

Fall comforts

Well here we are nearly half way through September.  I did some baking over the weekend, bought some new yarn to start knitting again, and started some new glaze designs that I will show off later this week after my glaze firing tomorrow.  Things are starting to settle in at home and at school after a week of sick kids and half-starts of classes.  My boys are now in grade 1 and 3 and while everyone is congratulating me on all the time I will now have, it's not quite as easy as it seems. 
I've mentioned a few times that my older boy has some learning disabilities that were diagnosed at the end of the school year last year.  We were given a unique opportunity to send him to a Literacy Program that our school district offers for specific kids that have certain learning disabilities this fall.  The program is only about 2.5 months long- from end of September until beginning of December, but it requires a lot of extra homework and a commute to this new program.  We are really grateful that our son was able to get in, especially starting the school year off with the program.  It's just going to make for a really busy and different fall than I had imagined. 
I guess I've been 'dreaming' about this time in my life for a little while now.  The time when I would drop my kids off at school and then get to the studio for 5-6 hours a day monday through friday.  Without having to pay for extra childcare.  The reality is that life is never quite as we always imagine or plan for, there will always be circumstances that come up that create challenges we might not have expected.  My challenges are really small in comparison to some of the greater challenges out there.  And I'm pretty grateful to be in this place, comforted by the opportunities we've been given, content in knowing that not everything is always as it seems and that there is a silver lining in every circumstance.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

at the studio

Outside and inside.  There are little things that catch my eye when I get to the studio.  Check to see how the fish are doing and if there are waterlilies blooming.  Papercut flower collage in vintage frames that I bought from this local Etsy seller.  The new roadside garden that The Purple Thistle Centre  has been planting is in full bloom.  A new teapot off to a new home.  Hope your view is as inspiring!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Fresh for Fall

It's been a weekend of purging, cleaning, hanging and cutting. I cleared out the basement storage, am still in the process of removing a large bookshelf/clutter shelf from the living room and I re-organized the kid's rooms to make way for their studies.  It always feels a little chaotic mid-way when I've got piles of stuff all over the place and haven't quite made it to the thrift store to drop off the things we no longer need.  It feels good though, you know, to clear out and lessen the load. 

My sister sent these drapes along with my husband the other night (he went to the island to pick us up some fish for the winter!) as a gift for me and now my living room is a little more cheery with the coming rainy season.  I couldn't quite believe the gift was for me when I first saw the present (no card or name-tag) sitting on my lap-top with no Dean around to ask.  I confess that I peeked, opened the package, even attempted to see if they would fit in the one window by our front door before wrapping it all and carefully putting it back where I had found it.  Turns out my sister found them in a thrift shop on the Island and thought of me and my little interest in Folk Art. Little did she know they were even drapes (she thought they were table cloths) and that they would actually fit (just barely) in our front window...

And then bangs.  A Sunday decision.  After 3 years of growing out my bangs I decided it was time to bring them back. Of course I cut them myself and as such, I'll be snipping away all week trying to make them work for me- all those little stray bits that keep falling in my eyes now.  Not quite sure I made the right decision. I've got 3 more years to regret it, I guess.  

I hope you had a lovely long weekend- tomorrow it is the first day (hour) back go school for my boys and the start of a very busy fall!  I'll be back mid-week when things get a little more settled.

Friday, September 3, 2010

The list (with or without the bucket)

September and January are always good times to sit down and write down some goals.  They just seem like natural times of the year to think beyond the every day.   I often find it really helpful for me to sit down and write a list.  Somewhere on that list I start writing columns: things I must do, the things I need/should to do, and things I want to do.

To start, I try to keep my list pretty achievable.  I start with pretty small goals and work my way up.  I'm a firm believer in having a dream that doesn't get you down.

This fall one of my goals is to start running again.  I kind of got started on that one in June and it worked really well while I was taking the boys up to school, not so much in summer when I'd have to take them with me. 
Another goal is to go to Portland with Dean for an anniversary trip.  It's a big one for us this year and we wanted to celebrate that we've been together and married for a really long time.  So I'm off to try to get my passport renewed.  Yes, it's amazing what can stop a dream.  What can hold a person back.  A line up.  With 2 boys.  A form to fill out.  Signatures of people to get to verify that I am ligit.

When I used to work in a group home for adults with mental and physical disabilities, the staff would do a brainstorming session with and for each person in the home that their family and friends would be invited to attend.  The idea was to draw out their goals and dreams so that we could get closer to achieving those goals with them.  One staff person was the facilitator to get everyone involved, the other staff person was the illustrator and on a large piece of paper would begin to draw out the person's dreams and goals. Starting with the most amazing, near un-achievable goals and dreams on the one side of the paper the facilitator would then bring everyone back to the reality of today and what the daily goals are.  Then in between we would slowly work through the steps needed to be able to make that big dream happen for that person.

I sometimes think about that process, since I was part of several of these dream-storming sessions, and think of my own life.  What would be my big crazy dream, what would it look like? (I haven't thought that big in a while..) Who would be part of the plan?  What would it take to get there?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Take 3: Cross-stitch jewelry

After attempting a few different underglazes (charcoal/turquoise- much too pale, black/prussian blue- much improved), I finally feel like my cross-stitch porcelain pendants are starting to come along. This is one of those projects that's been on hold for a few months while I've been plowing away on all my summer orders. I'm in the final stages of getting the right clear glaze so the 'black' doesn't turn out brown instead of charcoal, and then comes some silver chain experiments. 
I'd love a silver chain with these, but I've completely customized these chains and silver ain't cheap.  I'm no jewelry designer, but hopefully I can come up with a really lovely and not to expensive (ie low time/cost on my part) option for these.  More to come soon...