Things are moving right along in the studio with a few bumps here and there. Most of the mugs for the mug sale are photographed and posted in the shop. They’ll go on sale on Sunday, January 25th at Noon eastern time. Depending on how this next firing goes, there may be a few more goodies appearing in the shop between now and then.
Depending on the next firing…. Because I “lost” an entire load of mugs and cups. Because is this ceramics and that’s the way it goes. Phooey. Plenty of seconds. What to do with them? I hate to take them to Mr. Hammer because they are functional in spite of their flawed glaze. Maybe they’ll come with me to the Greyhound Gathering in May? I would put them up online at a reduced price, but, it takes as much time to get things organized, photographed and listed in the online shop as it does to make the mugs. Humm….
Right now I’m down to one functioning kiln (and the tiny test kiln). There are two others sitting in my studio in varying stages of “project.” The old kiln, the one I started with, needs a new top row element (like heating coils). Easy fix but a pain in the butt job. I can do it, but I keep putting it off. Because what I want is a shiny new kiln. When is the time to thank the kiln for the great job in the past and send it to kiln heaven?
The other project kiln needs all new elements and a visit from the electrician. This kiln was a freebie. It is half the size of my current working kiln. I’d like to have it up and running, but I don’t want to call the electrician to work in the studio while the studio is stuffed with so much work. After the mug and memory box sale would ease my mind.
So juggling. Things are moving along. New glazes mixed today. Test tiles and boxes firing in the kiln now. All is well. Good times.
Turns out vacations are a good thing. Or what passes for a vacation in my world. I like to work.
Driving to southern Utah for the Greyhound Gang‘s Greyhound Gathering, setting up my booth, peddling my wares and volunteering where I can seems to be the best vacation for me. This trip is the F5 on my computer keyboard. Refreshed.
If you are at all interested in Greyhounds you need to get to the Greyhound Gathering. Its been on hiatus for the last couple of years, but now it is back, back, back. Mother’s Day weekend, I believe. Do it. I’m already planning for next year.
To get there I snake through Wyoming, then across I-80, cut through Provo and down I-15 – about 17 hours drive. I worried a bit about the drive this time. Wyoming is a special state. I see plenty of white pickup trucks with Wyoming license plates blurring through US85 each day. Wasn’t too interested in seeing more. But the drive to Kanab was uneventful. I was armed with an iPhone full of audiobooks.
On the way back? Now there is where the fun began. I encountered heavy snow in Utah State Route 20. Full on North-Dakota-like fluffy flakes. No worries. Up I-15 I went. Until Wyoming. Interstate-80 has been closed three times during my trips to Kanab. Once due to an accident. Something about a high-speed chase ending badly. Then there was the time when one semi-truck collided with another – spilling the contents of one of the trucks onto the roadway. Chili blocked the road. And then this time. I-80 closed due to ice and snow.
Home now after a slight detour. Happy to see the hounds. They seemed to weather my absence just fine. Why do I think that they will suffer without my care?
One of the best things about a successful event is riding the after-event momentum. The little procrastination bug I’ve been suffering from lately is gone. Let’s get these things finished! First was the jack-a-lope and bison sculptures that I had been working on prior to the trip to Kanab. The bison was not quite ready to be fired before I left and the jack-a-lope needed its final finish. Finished both pieces after getting back.
I struggle with photographing the sculptural work. I know enough about the camera to get a half-way decent photo, but my photo light set up is not what it should be. At best it is a Pinterest project gone wrong with lights from the hardware store, shower curtain liner and foam core board. This makes the task harder and more frustrating than it needs to be. I’ve got a nice seamless backdrop for the photo (see above) but it is too small for the sculptures (also see above).
Since I moved the table I used to use to photograph, now I use the floor. This presents other difficulties – like Greyhounds wanting to see what’s going on…
Today I ordered proper lighting and a larger backdrop. Finally! I want good photos of the work. Why not make it easier to get them?
I’m moving things to make a dedicated photo set-up space. Then cleaning the studio to get ready for making more memory boxes. Busy, busy. This is good.
Had enough of the cold? Yes, me too. It occurred to me as I was clipping the Greyhound’s toenails that I have clipped the hound’s nails many times this winter. And that frequency of dog toenail clipping is directly proportional to how long the winter feels. Poor dogs. Long toenails equal not enough walks and exercise. Our world is bitter cold and icy this winter.
Then again, plenty of studio time to be had. And plenty of time to chew on bully sticks (the dogs, ahem, not me. Ew…)
Started a new toy poodle sculpture. Look closely and you’ll see his little maquette next to the sponge. The big/little guy has a tongue and some teeth now and less buggy eyes and is missing that slightly unnerving pipe coming out of his neck.
One benefit of winter is there are plenty of opportunities to try the mugs I’ve made. This is is my current favorite, funky rim and all. More mugs are on the agenda. Sale soon. Pinky swear.
Speaking of sales, the latest batch of memory boxes will be available in my online shop beginning Thursday, January 30th at Noon Eastern time. The photos and information are in the shop now if you’d like to view the boxes before the sale opens. You know the details: they are all one of a kind, handmade, individuals.
Of course I’m going to have to make them available sometime… I guess now is that time. Mug time.
I’ve been photographing and measuring, then adding them to my online shop. They’ll go live on Sunday, February 17 at 5PM CST.
Looking over them all… and there are more that I didn’t photograph yet… I am hoping they don’t look too schizophrenic. Or maybe it’s ok that they do. These mugs are evidence of my learning process. That process includes exploring shape, handles, and surface.
So the mugs in the shop are one of a kind. No sets. No multiples. I hope to get to that level in my development but I’m not there yet. All are dishwasher safe, lead-free glazes, microwave safe. Through the process of photographing the finished mugs, there are a few shapes and handles that stand out as pleasing to me. Editing can be a good thing.
We’ll see what happens. This could get interesting.
Several years ago, Claudia Presto of the Greyhound Gang, asked me to create a special piece that could be gifted in remembrance of a greyhound. The winged hound image came out of those discussions. Here is the result – this year in blue green or cream with blue undertones.
Available at the Greyhound Gang’s website www.greyhoundgang.org
I killed my flickr account last month. Forgetting that the images on this site were linked from my flickr account, I couldn’t see a downside. Now the archives of this blog are broken. Time to fix. Where to start? I think I’ll do a month every week…
I’ve added the latest kiln load to my shop. They’ll go live on Thursday AM. Next kiln load will be available sometime at the end of January. I’ll have some more large boxes along with a few small and some medium sized boxes as well. Small sculptures will be coming up in February.
Damn you, Dog Park Fence. Thankfully only stitches.
I abandoned my traditional merchant account (i.e. the thing that allows me to process credit cards) and went with Square for events. Here’s why.
The merchant account, through my bank, was killing me with fees. I don’t do events every month. Most of my online payments are made via paypal. My bank charged a monthly “no use” fee and these fees were adding up. Then I added the cost of the terminal lease, the increasing number of miscellaneous fees here and there, and the extra fees to accept various cards. I did the big math. Ugh. Then figured out the percentage I was paying after all was said and done, and cancelled my account that day.
I was apprehensive about cancelling the account. I know that my sales have increased double digits since I began to accept credit cards at events. I needed an alternative. Did a bunch of research and a bunch more math. I signed up for Square.
What is it? It’s this funky little credit card reader that plugs into the audio jack on a smartphone. I used my iPad. Just like a traditional merchant account, the company takes a percentage of your sales (2.75% for swiped sales). Their website has all the gritty details.
Because what was I out if it didn’t work? The reader was free. (I have seen the black reader in Walmart for $10). I already had an iPad so I thought I’d try it.
Here’s a note about the iPad I used. It’s an iPad 2 with 32GB – 3G version with Verizon service price $729. Overkill. The 16GB, $629 version would work great for this but I wanted more GB. I pay $30 per month for 3G internet, but turn this off when I don’t have an event since I’ve already got wi-fi in the studio.
I could write another post and all the ways I use the iPad in my artist practice. So not just for processing credit cards. I liked that I can use a multi-use device – not pay for a credit card terminal that does just one thing.
Okay… So back to square.
The Greyhounds Reach the Beach event at Dewey Beach, Delaware was the first big event where I’ve used this set up. This is my biggest event of the year. This is the event where I take the most credit cards. Did square work? Yes.
Really, really well.
My favorite thing was that I could enter my artwork into the Square app along with price the art work, description, and photo of the work. This made keeping track of sales easy and my tile inventory seamless!
Many people commented on the iPad verses smartphone. They loved the bigger screen and often followed along as I went through the steps. Only thing I would do differently is purchase a stylus for the customer to use to sign their name. The signing with finger worked okay – think the comfort level would be greater with a stylus.
The money appeared in my bank account quickly with no limit of the amount each day.
Very good experience.
Been a long time, eh?
Here’s the short of it: had an open schedule, then a full schedule. Trip to Helena, Montana for Archie Bray Foundation’s 60th anniversary celebration/symposium then preparation and trip to Dewey Beach, Delaware for Greyhounds Reach the Beach 2011. All good and much to write about.
So, for those who’ve asked, all is well. Hounds are good. I’m good. Art is good. 🙂
But enough with the weather report. My email inbox is full with inquiries about prices of my work and how to obtain the pieces. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate these emails. I read them and am working my way through replying, but thought I would respond here in case there are others who are curious but have not made inquiries.
Currently heres how it works. Smaller pieces like tiles, porcelain & sterling pendants, memory boxes and smaller sculptures are on my etsy store as they are available. Larger pieces like table top size and bigger rarely make it to the etsy store. Those pieces usually are sold at events like Greyhounds Reach the Beach in Dewey Beach, Delaware or the Greyhound Gathering in Kanab, Utah. Two reasons for that – I like to meet the people who are interested in my work and the pieces can be challenging to ship.
Prices for tiles range from $4 for the smallest tiles to $150 for the large tile sets – priced by size, # of tiles, and glazing complexity.
Prices for porcelain pendants are $18 for simple, single glazed pendants up to $25 for pendants with more complex glazing or strung with precious stones, etc.
Prices for Sterling pendants are currently at $65 but with the price of sterling going up, up, up I might be writing about a price increase soon.
Then there are the larger sculptures. How to describe them accurately? This one about was 16″H x 7″W x 17 1/2″L – I consider that a larger piece (but it really is mid-sized). Pieces in this range are around $650-$750. Prices are based on size and difficulty because, well, bigger pieces require more materials, more tile, more resources.
As for obtaining these “larger” pieces, I’m working on amassing a collection of pieces to have an exhibition at Dickinson State University in March 2011. The “winter hat” bust will be there, as will the “Faith in My Lucky Rabbit’s Foot” piece and “Frank” and others. Those pieces do not have homes as I write this. One reason why is that I don’t like to sell work before they are 100% finished – fully dried, fully fired, fully finished. ‘Cause things go wrong and I hate to disappoint people who have fallen in love with a piece. I want people to love the work, but I also have to be true to my vision of the piece. The best way for me to do this is to wait to sell the piece until the piece is fully complete.
The DSU show is an unusual circumstance. In the past I’ve sold work as it was completed, never wishing to keep a large collection for exhibition. But the DSU exhibition is different. For some time I’ve wanted to see all my work in a gallery environment displayed as a collection rather than a smaller selection like it is in an art-fair/booth environment. I wrote a grant based on this desire. This important goal is finally happening.
So… wow this post is long and if you’re still reading, thank you…
I have more goals. One of those goals is to have work for sale on this site. Tiles, small sculptures, memory boxes, and larger work too. Finished larger clay work with prices and links to a secure shopping cart. Now there will always be pieces that I would never feel comfortable shipping, but there are many that could be shipped safely.
And the other option is bronze…. But that’s a whole new ball of wax.