Wednesday, February 29, 2012

designer verses maker

I'm in a bit of a conundrum these days, trying to sort out my next move.  It's as though I need to go back to the drawing room of what I want  'dahlhaus' to be.  When I started out on this journey to make a living from my art, I thought about this dilemma a bit, but left it well behind for the immediate issues surrounding making unique work that could become my signature, and that I could make consistently well.  I was grappling with the day to day concepts of how to get my work 'out there' and how to get people to buy it so I could keep doing what I loved.  Along the way I found out what people liked about my work and began to tweak it so that people would begin to love it and want to buy it.  There's a big shift that goes on in that stage and it is very exciting to have shops start to contact me (instead of me contacting shops), have some blog and press mentions, and start to feel like maybe, just maybe, I can really make a living at this. 
So now I'm in the grind of making.  I am a great maker, it's what I seem to do best.  I've never thought of myself as a designer, but these days I find myself envying them.  The idea of coming up with an amazing ceramic design and then passing it along to a manufacturer to do the making.   I used to scoff at this with my art-school turn up your nose to everything that seems like the easy way out.  But now, in the midst of all my making and the constant requests by new shops to wholesale my work, I dream of passing along some of my work to a manufacturer to make it for me, because I can't do it all by myself anymore.  I have a whole host of ideas of how to avoid my work being 'made in china'.  I have all sorts of reasons why it wouldn't quite be the same to have my work made somewhere else- it wouldn't feel or look the same.  I think about raising my prices to meet the demand of my work better so I could avoid this (it's a good start).  I think about expanding my studio to have a staff or 2  (and all the issues in expanding and staffing that would come with this).  So it's a conundrum, you see.  Financially not much seems very viable, and yet, it seems a shame to just throw up my hands without at least searching for a way around it.  At the very least, it's not a terrible place to be embarking on- a crossroad in life has always been an exciting place to be standing at.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

On the home front

Photos from the past couple of days.  I've been sick with a cold, so I spent a little time doing some serious spring cleaning of the boy's rooms, making soup and bread, baking cookies and generally trying to lay low.  My mom brought over some Tulips on her way to the Island to see my sister and her family, who are in the last stages of waiting for their 2nd baby to come.  So exciting! Once again I'm hoping to be at the birth, like with Oliver who will be 2 years old in March.  I remember this stage of life- having a toddler with a new baby on the way.  It's a busy time of life.
Well, I'm feeling good enough to get back to it, and boy do I ever need to finish up some studio work.  I have a glaze firing planned for later in the week so I'll be  hunkering down over the next few days.  See you soon!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Approaching Spring

We've got all the signs of spring starting early except for a prediction of snow on Saturday.  Just in time for our Sasha's 8th Birthday.  I decided not to do a home party this year- this weather is just too random and unpredictable.  Furthermore I wasn't prepared to have ten 8 & 9 year olds running a muck in my house.  With a recent play-date involving one boy helping himself to matches that we have 'safely' hidden in a cupboard, I'm not willing to risk what would happen if 10 inquisitive and mischievious boys showed up.  Oi.  So yes, a swimming party it will be.  Not nearly as creative as past years, but oh well.  If it does end up snowing I'll be so relieved we made other plans!

Monday, February 20, 2012

I have a lot on my plate

Just to let you know that the last of this small plate series I made last year is available on Etsy here.  It's my favourite of the bunch and hopefully I'll have more time to sort through some of these designs soon again. 

On my plate these days:
-upload the new images from this past November's photoshoot up on my Website
-finish up filming for the small 'how my work gets made' video (almost done!)
-finish up a line sheet for 2012 so I can respond to shop inquiries properly
-finish up tax stuff for 2011
-finish up shop orders for the Gardiner Museum Gift Shop, the Gallery of BC Ceramics, Coal Harbour Florist, and the UBC Botanical Garden Gift Shop...
-plan 2 weeks of Spring Break in the middle of March for my boys
-sort out transportation to NCECA 
-plan/make work for up-coming exhibit with Krystal Speck at bookhou in June
-work on a presentation of my work and process for the Gardiner Museum Gift Shop in June
-plan a studio sale for the spring

-not to mention the obvious pick up boys from school, make dinner, do laundry, plan things around Dean's work schedule etc.

So many exciting things in the works, so little time to make them all happen. 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Measuring up

There are days when I don't want to even open my computer.  Where facebook feels like my nemesis and pinterest reminds me how unattractive my real world is.  I remember being a teenager and wanting to buy fashion/teen magazines and my mom wouldn't let me.  Her reasoning was that she didn't want me to feel like I had to compare my changing and growing body to the ultra thin-air-brushed models in the magazines.  A little bit of sheltering seemed to go a long way for me- I never struggled with eating disorders or felt that I had to diet, and over-all, I've always been content with my outward appearance.  Sure there are things I'd like to change and now that I'm getting closer to 40 I realize that how I look now is as good as it's ever going to get, but for the most part, the images in those magazines never made me feel like I had to measure up. 

Which brings me back to facebook and pinterest, design blogs and fashion blogs.  For the most part this online design world has been an amazing community to belong to.  I have felt encouraged and motivated to do what I do because of all the lovely comments and posts about my work.  I have made friends I otherwise wouldn't have made and have 'met' people from all over the world just by being part of this creative community.  I am more than thrilled when I see that another maker is getting deservedly noticed by press or blogs too.  However, I do find myself sometimes wondering how I measure up.  Wondering if my work is going to 'make it', whether I'm really going to be able to keep on top of my game.  I worry about my home not being beautiful enough or my clothes being so 2005.  My head tries to reason that I should spend $375 on those boots that are all the rage so I can take pictures of my feet with my polaroid camera.

 It's like a losing battle- this measuring up business.  These are not fair comparisons to make nor do they really reflect what I think is at the core of a creative community.  The images that I seem to get hit with a thousand times a day are unrealistic for the every day.  And yet, I'm totally drawn in to the beauty of it all.

That being said I need to take some time just to breath and live.  To 'work refreshed', like my ruler says. To take in the real and raw beauty that is my every day.  There are lovely things around me that don't need to be seen through a lens and there comes a time when it's important just to notice those things.  I hope you will notice them too.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentines Day!

The boys and I spent the evening decorating Valentine cards for the kids in their classes yesterday.  I had made some simple heart stamps, but, as boys will be boys, the hearts were vetoed.  Oh well.  Dean printed off a bunch of photos of our kitty that say: 'I think your 'purrfect'- happy valentines day'. Our kitty 'Amber' turns 3 today- imagine a whole litter of kittens being born on Valentines Day!  Purrfect indeed!
I hope your day is full of warm wishes from friends and loved ones.  I always seem to think of the passage in 1 Corinthians on Valentines day.  It's so counter-culture to think of love this way, but considering my grandparents were happily married for 65 years by putting this verse into practice, it seems to have stood the test of time. 

 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. 

Friday, February 10, 2012

Back to winter

We had moments early this week when I thought winter had passed and we were now onto spring.  It's ok, Spring will be upon us in record time once again.  Here we are nearly mid-February and I have so many projects that have just gotten started or I'm in the middle of.  I like starting things and I really like finishing things, not quite as much this middle ground.  I continually feel as though I'd like to be ahead of the game instead of always feeling behind.  So I'll be busy this weekend, trying to wrap up some of the exciting things going on so I can start sharing them here.
Thanks for stopping in this week! My facebook page has been a real source of encouragement for me this week- friends of ours were in NYC and stopped by one of the Anthropologie stores to snap a photo of my vases.  They look so amazing set up in this beautiful cabinet highlighting other products of similar colour-ways.  Seriously, their shop design team really knows how to put it together!  Made me want to take the red-eye to New York this weekend to check it out in person...
Have a great weekend!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Studio work coming along, slowly but surely. Orders are starting to get finished and shipped off.  My glaze tests didn't quite turn out the way I was hoping, but it wasn't all a wash.  I've been hoping for a great semi-matt charcoal grey (the one I've been using has a green tinge to it- beautiful, but sometimes, one just wants grey).
I recently realized that I've been throwing on the wheel for 18 years now.  When I first got started (took my first ceramics class at 18 in college), I was told by an older potter that I'd need to be working in clay for 20 years before I could consider myself a 'master potter'.  The term seems a bit archaic to me now- not really something I would think about ever striving for, but at the same time, I did take the advice to heart.  I decided to slow down, take my time in school and really spend years honing my skill before launching out on my own with my own signature style.  Maybe it held me back a little, because it would be about 13 years before I started 'dahlhaus', but on the other hand I think I needed that time.  It gave me space to sort out my ideas, and to work out all the kinks that were going to come up.   And most of all it gave me the confidence I needed to really make the kind of work I wanted to make.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Coming along

 We have been in our current home now for nearly 6 years- about 5.5 years longer then we thought.  I spent months and months looking for a new house to rent- we had been in an up-stairs of a house on a really busy street with a mostly annoyed landlord living below us.  Annoyed because the boys were too noisy at 2 and 4 years old. The writing was on the wall, so when we found our current house- I jumped.  The price was right, it has a 3rd bedroom, no one lives below us (ie the boys can play and be boys), the yard was stunning (had a garden plot), there was a school and preschool close by- nearly all the things we were hoping for in a house, except that it was small, with only one bathroom, no dishwasher, and the eating area in the kitchen is super tight.  That and the landlord had decided to cover the wood floor in the living room with purple carpet before we moved in.  On  moving day, Dean said that we shouldn't get too comfortable- it was too small for us and we should think about looking for a new place in about 6 months.  Not the easiest thing to hear from your spouse on moving day. 
So here we are, all these years later.  I usually get restless in a space after about 3 years, and for some reason, this house has felt like home more then any other.  For the most part we just needed to get over the expectation that a house has to have a lot of space.  Somehow we realized that having good neighbours and a good school for the boys was more important then the purple rug.  We edit our closets and the toys regularly trying to keep clutter to a minimum.  And perhaps one day our landlord will be able to clear out the basement suite for us to rent as well (we had made arrangements for that a few years ago, but he lost his mojo to move stuff out). That being said, it's taken me a while to commit to hammering holes in the wall.  I finally got started in the kitchen...

Monday, February 6, 2012

sunrise above the clouds

I've been waking at sunrise by the fog horns down on the water.  By the time I take the boys to school the fog has lifted and it's the most amazing light and sunshine.  It's been so warm and spring-like the past few days, it's had me wonder if winter's over around these parts.  So misleading.  We are bound to have more dreary wet and gloomy days ahead.
Hope you are easing into your week!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Hello Teacup

Thanks to this little Russian teacup, I might just have to enter a bit of a blue and white phase.