Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Coming Back Down to Earth.....or MUD!

It has been an exciting time here for sure.  With the purchase of our new studio property and renovations getting ready to begin, I have returned to the studio, and returned to the mud.

When I first started with pottery, the clay that I used was a warm red brown.  Clay is found in many different types, colors, and consistencies and all of these work in different ways depending upon your application.

It happened that the first bag of clay available to me at the time was red brown, and so that is what I started with.

As I begin my pieces in clay, I visualize the end result.  So that when I begin, I know what clay I want to use.  Clay responds differently all along the process.  Some clay is more malleable and as such may not be good for hand building projects, some clay has more grog (sediment) in it and may just work wonders for particular throwing applications or three dimensional projects.  But all clay respond differently to glazes.  I made this little informational reference for my customers so that they could visualize how their clay choice would impact the end result of their custom pieces.  I learned a long time ago that it is always easier to start with a draft, this visual has been quite helpful.

I received a new custom order just yesterday, and seeing as the wedding is just around the corner, I decided to go ahead and get these trays underway.  They are going to be Wedding Thank You gifts from the bride and groom to their parents, and the wedding with be at a beach venue.  The bride and groom picked red brown clay, and a wonderful crab impression at the center piece.  These trays are still wet, but are well on their way to becoming a family keepsake.  They are a joy to make and I am looking forward to how these will come out.  The bride and groom have not decided on their glazes just yet, and that is part of the fun of custom orders, I get to create someone else's vision.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Come In, We're AWESOME !!!!

Setting the tone.....When I think about the new studio, I think relaxed FUN, with a little attitude!  I found this great sign, and yes, I bought it to hang in the window.  I just couldn't resist the overall sense of FUN it projects to the world!

The studio will be geared toward beginners.  As I am self taught, I know how it feels to be trying something you have never done before, and not be able to get it right.  But with a bit of old fashioned perseverance, it is indeed possible.  I have been told that I have a very laid back teaching style. I present information visually, as well as verbally, so my students find it easy to absorb what I am trying to show them.  When all else fails, the good old hand on hand method can also be remarkable helpful in teaching pottery.

I have been in classes where the teachers are too far "above" beginner students, and that not only frustrates the students, it inhibits them from returning to use the studio once they are working more independently.  I really hope this studio will be a relaxed, welcoming environment where ALL the artists, novice or expert, will come in, and leave, feeling AWESOME!!!!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Swimming Into Fall....

Just keep swimming, just keep swimming.....

I love living in a place where the seasons change.  It is so inspirational to see the world change its color palate every 3 months.  So surprising to watch the subtle changes of emerging plants from year to year.
Even the wind gives me ideas....

The movement of fish through the water is so interesting.  How certain species move, glide, sprint, or jump!  It is all interesting for me to observe and I find that ideas about pieces I would like to make can be attached to how my senses react to changes in the environment.  This piece is my "fall fish."  I make a lot of beach/nautical themed pieces during the summer months, but this fish seemed to want to belong in a deeper, richer setting.  Playing with the scales, and various inscribed patterns on the fins was an interesting contemplation of both movement, and providing surfaces for reflective relief.

Without, getting to "deep," I think this guy came out quite nicely, and I am thinking about trying another fall themed piece with perhaps splashes of purple.....

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Sometimes, less is more. Sometimes, less is less.

 Displaying items, whether it is pottery, or thimbles, takes some thought.  While there are as many thoughts and ideas to fill the universe, a display says something about you, and also about what you are displaying. Displays have been a learning process for me over the years.  I started doing commercial displays when I was a manager of a jewelry store at an east coast mall.  There were jewelry case displays, wall displays, and window displays.  All had to be done, and all had to be changed regularly.

     Here are some of my thoughts on displaying items.  I do not put myself out as an expert on this topic, why there are even entire degrees of higher learning in displaying items. I am not a recipient of such a degree, but I don't mind sharing some of the things I have learned along the way.

Sometimes, less is more.  Sometimes, less is less.  

One of the things I look for when I walk into a store is the overall "feel" and the intuitive response it generates in me as a shopper.

Is it cluttered? If yes, my internal response is: "Wow, there is so much here I will never see it all, and it will take too much energy to go through all of this, so I think I will just turn around and leave."

Are they really in business, there is hardly anything here?  If yes, my internal response is: "Gee, maybe they are not open yet and I missed an announcement, maybe I should leave, quietly?"

Does it "flow" and make sense to me the shopper?  If not, then my internal response is: "Hmm, that doesn't make sense, why would they have the boiled peanuts in with the spices?  Shouldn't these have been with the rest of the nuts?"

Finally, in my most unprofessional way of sizing a place up, is it pleasing to my eye?  If it is, then I normally feel calm, comfortable, and ready to SHOP!

In finding my own way to actually opening a bricks and mortar store, with displays, I have decided to err on the side of "simple."  To start off this store, I am going to go with white on white so that hopefully the displays themselves will not over take the pieces, and will not overwhelm the senses.

Monday, September 9, 2013

To Studio Cat or NOT to Studio Cat????

I have talked and blogged and posted a lot about my animals, but I have never really gone into how Sneakers came to be a part of our family.  A few years back we lost our last dog of the two that we had had, and that same week Sneakers appeared at our back door.

Now for some folks, a stray showing up may be a fairly normal occurrence,  but out here, surrounded by cow farms and woods and mountains, (and normally dogs), we had never had a stray show up.

 It was a first in nearly 22 years!

When he first arrived, he was hungry and wary, but still obviously wanted to be petted.  So, we set him up on our front porch and he snuggled right in.  A few weeks went by and he came indoors and all seemed to be just fine.  Our 3 other cats accepted him, or so we thought.  Then, about a year after Sneakers became a member of the clan, our female alpha cat Sammie decided Sneakers was not welcome.  And, well... it has been a rough go ever since.  At this point, both Sneakers and Sammie have been living outside on our porch. They are doing just fine, but they miss us :(, and we miss them.

I am considering moving Sneakers to the Studio once we are open.  He is an incredibly laid back dude. Loves to be held and petted and tolerates being hugged and nuzzled.  I have always liked when I go to a studio and there is an animal lazing around, and I think Sneakers might fit right in :).

Saturday, September 7, 2013

UNDER CONTRACT !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We are moving ahead.  Still keeping the exact property under wraps, for now.  But things are definitely moving along.
We plan to settle in the next few weeks.  Then the property will need some much needed repairs, new equipment will be arriving and we hope to move in during November.
Sammie and Sneakers Help with Refinishing a Chest of Drawers
Hopefully, Saturdays in December, we will be open for Holiday shopping.
Then in the first week in January we will begin classes for pottery and other art forms (HINT)!
LOTS going the mean time we are working behind the scenes getting fixtures and other pieces built and/or refinished so that they will be ready to move in when we are.
I have accumulated a number of displays during my 7 years on the show circuit, my theme for the gallery is going to be white on white so that the pottery and other unique items (HINT) will display well. 

I hope to create an inviting, uplifting, and comfortable place where children and adults can immerse themselves in pottery and other art forms (HINT.....yes AGAIN).
These first steps toward making that a reality for my hometown are really very exciting.  Stay tuned as more information rolls out over the next few weeks and months.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Taking the Next Step....Bricks and Mortar????

Well, I have been doing pottery for 7 years.  It is truly a passion.  I think constantly of pieces that I want to make, things I want to try, things I would like to teach.  In my personal life, we are also trying to navigate the transition into adulthood for our son who has special challenges.  On top of that, I have once AGAIN outgrown my current studio.

My husband and I had a long talk, then we had a long family talk.  The result...we began a search for potential places to open a studio.  We envision a place where I will work, teach, have a sales gallery, and provide studio space for other pottery hobbyists who would like a space to create their treasures. My son will be my CEO, he will manage the studio, handle my books, class registrations, and since he is an whiz with chemistry....he will be developing my own glazes!

Now, you may be thinking....well, she can create pottery, but can they actually handle all the aspects of running a business.  Good question.  The answer is yes, we believe we have the combined experience to do just that.
From the perspective of finding a suitable property, to renovating it for our use and setting up a studio. We have lots of experience.  We have built and set up my own private studio, and I have worked and created in many other studios. My husband, before he was a financial whiz in the corporate world, owned a building company.  He built our home and has done major renovation and construction work for all types of properties.  When he decided he wanted something to challenge his brain everyday, instead of his back, he went back to school and earned his MBA (about 18 years ago). So the construction and numbers aspects are checked off! 

In terms of finding a property, I have my own skill set to bring to the table.  Before deciding to be an at home mom, I worked for many years as an Urban Planner in both the public and private sector. I worked to do just what we are interested in doing, analyzing properties for various uses, and when the existing zoning didn't allow what a potential owner what to do, I would work through the zoning aspects with local jurisdictions to help make it happen.

From the perspective of running a retail gallery, I think we are good to go!  I was the manager of a high end jewelry store in a mall here on the east coast, and before that I worked in various retail stores through high school and college.

From the perspective of running a pottery studio and teaching, I also think we are good to go!  I have not only run my own studio and taught privately, but I have also run after school programs, worked with preschools, and have managed a pottery studio locally where I also taught classes for students aged 3-92!

So we are trying to make this dream a reality.  Follow along as we attempt to take my pottery making into a full fledged bricks and mortar business.  Wish us luck!  We may need it :).