Friday, December 13, 2013

All That is to Come...

These past few months have been quite busy.  In addition to my day job as mom to 2 teen age kids, 2 dogs, 4 cats, and wife to busy corporate executive, I have also been working on getting a new studio renovated and open. On top of that, my lovely and talented daughter had the lead in her school's musical, and my son began his journey into College! PHEW!  Just listing it all makes me tired :).

When my "pottery hobby" over ran the two studio buildings my husband had built on our property, we decided it was time to take the next step.  Instead of building a third, and probably fourth outbuilding on our property, we took the plunge and purchased an old house on Main Street here in Marshall, Virginia.

The property has a lot of visibility on our hometown thoroughfare, is zoned for Commercial uses, and was previously used as a dog grooming salon (this in particular felt like great karma to me!). The structure was built in 1890 and was constructed without the benefit of pressure treated wood, and with the added misfortune of being situated on top of some moderate shrink swell soils.  The end result....LOTS of rot.

We have had to gut most of the floors, replace most of the sills, band-boards, and of course floor joists and floors.  Here are some before and during pictures of the floor process to date.

The first cut is the deepest!
Exposing what was beneath.

Clearing out down to the dirt.
Original rock wall foundation.
LOTS of rot!!!
Once we removed what underneath 4 of the 6 rooms, we began to carefully rebuild with modern materials and technologies.  After monitoring the water drainage around the foundation for several weeks, we decided that we needed to attend to the outside of the foundation as well as the interior. So, we installed french drains around the perimeter of the structure.  Once in place, they will work to trap water filtering down beside the foundation and draw it away to several underground catch zones. It was a LOT of digging, both by hand and by machine, but we are hopeful that it will create a lasting difference for drainage on the property.  
Here is what that process looked like....
No doubt it looks like FUN, but it was a lot of work

Careful to make sure the water would drain properly and slope correctly.

Taking a much deserved break!

While we were at it, we added a few coats of water sealer to the outside wall.

Next came the rebuild....but I think I will save that for the next post!  Stay tuned.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Looking Ahead to 2014 and Learning from 2013....

"End of December, the sleepy brown woods seem to nod down their heads for the winter..."
Dan Fogelberg, Lyrics to "Old Tennessee"

Lessons Learned

As I write this in mid December, I am coming to the close of my 6th year in the world of custom, personalized pottery.  What I have learned this year can be summed up in the simple thought of "let the customer lead!"  Some of my best pieces have come from ideas that my customers have shared with me.  I keep and open ear and do not fear doing something differently just because it is something that I would not have done.  Some of my most interesting, and successful pieces have come from my collaborations with customers. That said, it is also important for me as an artist to continue to create all those pieces I have floating around in my head.  I find that if I share my studio time with pieces that I have been commissioned to create with those that I "need" to create for my own artistic venting, that I have a good week.  Keeping time set aside, and kiln room set aside for the pieces I want/need to create has been a happy medium for me this year and a lesson learned for sure.


Looking ahead to 2014, I just downloaded Pantone's Wedding Colors for Spring 2014. There are a lot of great shades to work with for my custom pieces, as well as for my ready to ship items.  In particular, I will certainly be playing with Pantone's Freesia - a beautiful vibrant yellow; Dazzling Blue - a wonderful full bodied shade or royal blue; Radiant Orchid - a fabulous shade of violet; and Celosia Orange - a terrific, subtle shade of soft peachy/orange.


Moving forward, one of the things that is beginning to whisper to me from the furthest reaches of my mind, is the notion of preserving my artistic ideas in the pieces I am working so hard to create.  Imitation is certainly the sincerest form of flattery, but within the artistic world it is a big no-no.  While, I have thankfully not been subjected to any other pottery taking my ideas and reusing them, I will be looking into protecting my ideas moving forward for sure.  Being a fairly "type B" person - sort of a more "whatever" type personality.  I have a natural resistance to pursuing such legal protections, but many of my customers, friends, and family are encouraging me to at least look into it.

So, if you have experience or ideas on how I should go about doing this, I would sincerely appreciate your input and experience.  For now, I am focused on responding to my Christmas orders, and finishing my new Studio which should be opening in January 2014. 

It is an exciting time here at Big Dog Pots Pottery, and we are hoping for even more exciting times ahead.

Best wishes to you and yours for a happy, healthy Holiday Season, and a wonderful 2014!