Tuesday, December 25, 2012

2012 Lessons Learned.....

Santa Hawaii Style
Who knew that 6 years ago I would be blogging about pottery.  6 years ago I was far from where I am now, but I am so thankful for the wonderful opportunities pottery has brought into my life, and for the whole range of new people it has also brought to me.  You know who you are out there, and I sincerely appreciate you, thank you for all you do!

2012 has been a year of expansion and learning here at Big Dog Pots.  I entered into several new retail venues, and am in discussions with a few more to come online in early 2013.  As a result of my new found brick and mortar locations, I have cut back on the number of shows that I attend.  2013 will see even further pairing down of my show schedule to 3 shows total, perhaps even less.

Being able to leave the show circuit has been a learning experience.  It is wonderful to interact with customers in the show setting to get their feedback and ideas on my pieces, and also to receive new ideas from people who stop by my booth and ask "have you ever seen one of those....." or "my grandmother had a ...." and the ever present "can you make me.....".

In exchange for this valuable feedback, I have been able to save wear and tear on Me!  Shows are exhausting to participate in.  Crafters arrive at 0-dark-hundred, spend about an hour and a half setting up, sit throughout the entire day, (or two, or three), then carefully pack out making sure they are ready to set up the next time, and are able to inventory what they need to create what has been depleted. Also saved is working on someone else's schedule of when you have to arrive, leave, and how to participate.  Most of those are not really issues for me, but occasionally you are placed next to the noisy vendor, the vendor with the wafting perfume, or the vendor who thinks they are a superhero and sets up their booth with such a flurry you are terrified that they will take out half of your display in the process.  For the most part, I have met lovely vendors, and have been lucky enough to be situated near some very nice people.  Many of whom have now become good friends.

What I have learned this year also extended in to the "World of ETSY".  I had tried to create a shop on ETSY about 3 years ago and found the programming not user friendly.  I always say "I am mud savvy, not computer literate".  So after being encouraged by many, many customers that "you really need to be on ETSY", I took the plunge again.  I found this time around that the minds behind ETSY had taken numerous steps to make it more user friendly.  I still have problems figuring out the details of some aspects of how it really works, but I have a shop, I have made sales, I have made custom orders, and I now have an ETSY presence.  The down side to ETSY is that it is time deceptively time consuming.  Photographing, editing, posting, monitoring, communicating, shipping, all take time away from not only making pottery, but living an everyday life.  For now, I will continue my efforts on ETSY, but am reconsidering they types of things I offer and will continue to alter various types of items available.


Something I have avoided.
I do see the value of making multiples.  Time saving, work saving, money saving.  I will begin to make multiples, but in a "Big Dog Pots" way.  My multiples will be unique.


Something I must do for next Christmas.
As the stars aligned, I was entering into various retail venues in late October.  The pieces I had made all year for the Holiday Season were all downloaded into brick and mortar stores.  So, come Christmas, I was really depleted and did not have enough items that were ready to ship.  Next year will be different, and hopefully as a result more successful.


As I am expanding, I have found that it is becoming more difficult to donate 100% of my proceeds to my favorite animal rescue groups.  While my level of giving to these groups will remain constant, or in some instances will increase, I now find that I do need some funds to maintain my equipment, pay electricity for the increased number of kiln runs, purchase basic materials, and the gas needed to drive the hour each way to the nearest pottery supplier.  As a result, my website, ETSY site, and everywhere else now says that I "donate a portion of my proceeds to animal rescue groups in my hometown."  I wanted to be honest, the past 6 years I was able to donate 100%.  From this point forward, that percentage will have to fluctuate.

So, as I enter into my 6th year in this endeavor, I continue to learn, continue to be inspired, continue to create and be passionate about making pottery.  All in all, it has been a very good year!

Happy Holidays 2012

Elf Daisy

Santa Max
Happy Holidays From Big Dog Pots!
Wishing you all the best this Holiday Season and in the coming New Year.
We give thanks as we end enter our 6th year
for the friends and family who have graciously supported our efforts.  We give thanks to all who give their time, energy and spirit
to the protection, care and love of animals everywhere.
Consider adopting your next pet, 
change a life forever.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A Study in Horses...

I learned to ride when I was 6.  I won't tell you how long ago that was, but let's just say that Neil Armstrong hadn't walked on the moon yet!  I loved my time with horses.  My summers were spent in the Blue Ridge Mountains of West Virginia.  As the summers past, and I became a little more accomplished with my riding skills, I started to care for the horses, and barns.  I remember walking out early on summer mornings in thick mist, and wet grass to call in the horses for the day's activities.  I would walk and call, and walk and call, and couldn't see much of anything.  And then, all of a sudden, I could hear them cantering and galloping thru the rich green fields and heading straight for ME!  I would stand still and spread my arms straight out to either the side and when they were a little too close for comfort sometimes, they would see me, and come to a very quick stop.  Snorting, and stomping, and breathing heavy from their morning run.  Then they would fall in line and follow me back to the barns to be groomed, fed and saddled for the day.

Having about 20 horses running full bast toward you in a thick mist, is something not to be forgotten.  I loved those experiences and I have been looking for a way to reconnect to my time with horses.  I did a study in horse heads over the summer, and created this piece trying to capture the essence of movement, particularly in the mane.  I am very pleased with the results, and thrilled with some of my glazing results.

Here are the study photos of a horse I met in western North Carolina a few years ago, and then the raw clay piece and then the final glazed piece.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Back to the Studio

Back to the Studio as the official first days of Fall approach.  I have lists of things I want to try, new materials, new textures, new glazes.  I was awake early this morning and preparing some special orders for firing.  After a brief delay due to some strong storms headed our way, these lovely pieces should be packed and ready for their "forever homes" by late Thursday.

In the meantime, more custom orders have arrived.  Some from my new ETSY shop, some from local customers who are beginning to make their own holiday lists and are checking them twice to make sure they are not naughty, but NICE!

Exciting to have several new BIG DOGS to add to the "exclusive" Big Dog Pots club.  I LOVE it when I am sent a picture of a dog who has received their new bowl.  It almost reminds me of how I felt years ago when I had 7 puppies to find good and loving homes.  Each time one of the new owners sent me a picture of the puppy all settled in, I knew I could take a deep breath because that soul had found its loving home.

Although finding a dog bowl a new home, or a set of pendants, is certainly not on par with the responsibility of finding a new puppy a home, my reaction is very similar.  When I get a picture, I know the piece has arrived safe and sound and that it will be well cared for, and enjoyed!

So, thank you to all my new BIG DOGs out there, and enjoy your new pots.  Long, healthy and happy lives!

Back to the studio for some late night glazing.

Friday, August 31, 2012

She's a BIG DOG now! Coco and her Spaniel Bowl from Big Dog Pots

What can I say, she is JUST ADORABLE! This is Coco and she lives in Canada. Her mommy decided that she just had to do "something about those ears" and found one of my Spaniel bowls in my ETSY store. The rest, as they say is history. The bowl arrived safe and sound, and apparently, Miss Coco is enjoying her new addition to everyday puppy life. I wish Coco a long, happy, and healthy life!

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Creative Process

It is always surprising to me how I come up with a new idea. Sometimes, I just see a color and my mind starts to wander and the next thing I know I am working on something that seems to capture the essence of the color I was originally thinking about. That is sort of how this piece came to me. I have been very interested in working with soft blue/cream/white glaze recently, and I thought that the texture in this piece would really be interesting with a soft blue behind it...so...into the studio I went, and this is what I came out with today..... This is a "prototype" and I made this one for me, but I am going to be making another one for my nephew who is getting married in September (shhhhh! don't tell him ;)). So this is what I have so far, I will be offering these as a custom item on my ETSY store. They are quite versatile and can be customized to match just about any need, or any theme! FUN! Here is the link to my ETSY listing for this piece: https://www.etsy.com/listing/107940786/customized-engraved-ceramic-pottery-wall

Monday, August 20, 2012


After taking a break of several years from ETSY, I decided to go back and try again. I will admit, I am computer and internet challenged. ETSY, does make certain aspects of running a store very easy for the novice, but I still find it daunting and challenging. I am a child of the '60s and '70s and not a computer whiz kid. So, I have done my best. Please have a look around my ETSY store, and let me know what you think. You can comment thru a "convo", send me an email, or even go to my new Facebook page and make a comment there. See www.facebook.com/bigdogpots.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Summer....Selling Shells by the Seashore...

It has been a busy Spring here at Big Dog Pots. We are almost finished with the construction of an additional building next to our studio. The new building is almost the same size as the studio, but will not have electricity. We have outgrown our studio over the past few years and need the new space for storage, believe it or not! In the meantime, I have been very interested in sea creatures lately. My pieces are now being sold at Old Town Hardware in Old Town Alexandria. Look for Big Dog Pots in their Home Decor section. The good citizens of Old Town live right on the Potomac and have a proud maritime history. To this end, I have been searching for just the right pieces to create life like molds for all sorts of sea creatures. The pictures in this post are showing a couple of my latest finds incorporated into functional pieces. As I have said before, I LOVE texture. Realistic texture with creatures from the sea seemed a logical extension. Also new at Big Dog Pots is a move toward dipped glazing. I have always hand painted my pieces, but I find with the increase in demand, I am finding dipped glazes to be more economical with my time....and energy :). Once these pieces are glazed I will post follow up photos. Enjoy the changing of the seasons as we turn toward Summer. I will be at the Delaplane Strawberry Festival www.delaplanestrawberryfestival.com/ over Memorial Day weekend. Come by and say hello! Hope to see you there.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

New Projects, New Glazes, Lots of FUN!!

Well, as I take a big stride into 2012, I have brought a few new project ideas along with me. The first are new yarn bowls! I first saw these on another potter's website and thought I would have my own go at these interesting forms. I have had some successes, but am still trying to figure out how to control warping once the bowls are cut. I am working on creating my own system, to see if I can get more uniform results after the cutting is complete.

The second new kid on the block are my new "Jewelry Keepers". They are meant to hold your everyday pieces which come off at night and they go right back on the next morning. I figure there is a reason why we wear certain pieces on most days, it must be because they are a favorite! So instead of tucking them away inside a larger jewelry box, only to have to fish them out the next morning, I thought these new "Jewelry Keepers" would come in handy. I know I love mine!

So after completing my first show of the season in Leesburg, Virginia. I am settling down to teaching some classes, working on some special orders, and restocking a few specialty stores who so graciously carry my pieces.

Thanks for stopping by, check back again soon!