Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Christmas Rush

Wow, I cannot believe I haven't posted since April.  To have that big of a lapse means I better have something to show for it...

You'll be pleased to know that I haven't fared too you can see below.

In looking at the photo, I guess it doesn't look like 6 months worth of stock.  But trust me, when you are turning out this stuff in a 5 x 7 shed, I was definitely maxing out my space!

All that is left now is marketing and getting to those shows!  My first big show year and I am super excited about my new wares - I just hope the public likes them too.

Sunday, 4 April 2010

After 8 years of potting, some things still get the better of me....

Like kneading hard, freakin' cold clay early in the morning.

Or making up a 5 kilo batch of tried and tested glaze, only to find the kiln load you just slapped the stuff on came out a completely different colour than you expected.

How about the lower back pain after a long day at the wheel?

And why does semi-porcelain have to be so darned difficult to throw with?

Or sitting at a show for 2 days and knowing you aren't even going to break-even?

On the flip side, there are some things about pottery that just make me all warm and fuzzy....other than the expected heat of the kiln...
  • How about that nervous feeling when cracking open that kiln?  Man, nothing beats that rush of anticipation - it's like Christmas morning and wondering if I got lucky the Barbie camper set I wanted or if I got stuck ith a handmade knitted sweater with a big teddy bear on the front.....
  • The reaction of people when you send or hand over their custom-made pot.  The "wow, you made that?" reaction - how cool is that?
  • What people say when you tell them you are a potter.  There are the inevitable "Ghost" references roughly 80% of the time, followed by childhood memories in art class.  My favorite reactions are the disbelieving ones who cannot contemplate that it is an actual profession.  Nothing like surprising people to make my day!
  • Conquering a new form on the wheel.  Transforming  an idea from paper to reality and it actually working out - WOW - the sense of accomplishment is fantastic!
I always thought that because pottery was my passion, that I would easily overcome any adversity and never experience times when I would just not be interested in being out in the pottery making.  But I have realised that like any profession or any path one embarks upon, there will always be highs and lows; moments of intense activity and development; times of barren creativity or action.  That's the way it goes.  Accepting these ups and downs as part of the process rather than using them as proof of my lack of drive or ability is helping me to be less critical and more optomistic.  Not easy, but I'm giving it a go!

Thursday, 1 April 2010

You win some, you lose some...

January and February seem to be the big application months in pottery land.  As Christmas time is typically the biggest earning period of the year for most potters, the November and December shows are highly sought after, requiring a selection process well in advance of the event.  Deadlines for Christmas loom around Feb or March for the bigger shows, and May-June for the smaller affairs.
In all, I have applied to 9 shows thus far, with 4 others not having posted their apps online just yet.  So far, I've had 2 rejections and 3 acceptances...
For my first year at this, I'm happy.
The oddest thing for me is thinking about Christmas in March! From this moment forward I will be making Christmas specific items and building up stock in readiness for the winter madness (yeah, I'm assuming that if "I make it, they will come").
So, Merry Christmas all and enjoy the spring weather!

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Trading overalls for full body lycra

I feel I must explain my absence from the blogging scene these past few months.  A madness has taken over those close to me, including my husband....we have taken on the London Marathon.
I really thought I could manage potting and training, but alas muscle soarness in netherregions I never knew existied and incredible fatigue post runs have rendered me useless in the land of pottery.
Conversations have reduced to the never-ending use of running terminology - with phrases like "stress reaction, interval training, negative splits, calcaneo cuboid joint instability, hip abductor strain, carb loading" worming their way into any discussion being had.  Sadly, we've even taken to sharing and analyzing toilet rituals pre and post runs.

Even more frightening is my comfort level when donning full body lycra.  I've taken to wearing it to bed, to make the morning fight to get out of the house at 5.30 a much easier process - slip on my shoes and go....

I am getting too comfortable in this stuff, even having visions that the "me" who is in the tight black running gear is some form of alter-ego super-hardass who would fit very rituously alongside the Marvel greats.  I haven't thought of a name for this "super me", so any suggestions are welcome.

Gym sessions keep me away from home on average 4 hours each go, three times a week, inclusive of travel.  The long runs can last up to 3.3 hours, once a week.  But if I had to rate my usefulness after these bad boys, my score wouldn't even hit the radar.  A big meal and commute home ends in me plonking on the couch with my feet elevated for the rest of the day.  Hubby knows not to dare ask for ANYTHING on those days....

Add a work schedule to the fun and you have the makings for a very exhausted little potter.

I'm nursing a foot injury at the moment which isn't what I had imagined for my training experience.  But, with only 4 weeks to go, the light at the end of the tunnel is certainly getting brighter.

Never you worry though, you'll be happy to know I had a very successful February from pre-made stock on sale in folksy and some custom orders too!

So, keep your fingers crossed and  thanks for being patient.  I'll be back on form (hopefully) after 26 April, allowing for a week post marathon of doing nothing of course!

Sunday, 24 January 2010

They like me, They really like me!!!

I just got my acceptance letter for my very first ceramics only show!

Ceramics South East is set in the private gardens of the Aylesford Pottery, which was established by David Leach - the son of Bernard Leach (who, coincidentally was a buddy with Lucie Rie who in turn taught Ray Silverman, my instructor at Rosetta Studios!).
I had been there once before two summers ago, helping out a potter buddy of mine, Jeremy Nichols, and really found the venue very nice.
I'm really looking forward to the show.  What's really great is it is very close to a mate's house down in Ashford so I'm gonna beg for boarding that weekend!
I have another 8-10 shows I have and will be applying to for this wish me luck!

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Updated Etsy Shop Sorted!

Now Etsy has my whole new range for view.
Given that, I have to say that I am not relying on etsy very much at all for bringing in sales.
The fact that my wares are ceramic and therefore heavy, shipping rates from UK to the states are astronomical.  (This is one of the few times of recent years I have yearned to be in the states so I could take advantage of national postal rates!).
With such high shipping costs, I'd imagine most people are put off.  I guess posting my wares on there is more of a way of being seen.  I don't imagine it will amount to much and that's why I am pushing Folksy more.  If I was a jeweller or a textiles person, the Etsy world would be open to me, but for now I am just going to have to use it as a showcase.
So, here it is!

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

The woes of working with a homemade lightbox

As promised (okay, 4 months later - sorry!), I am here to report that finding lamps to fit those darned bulbs, which wouldn't cost the earth, was a painful process!

In the end, I settled on 3 of these beauties!

and one of these:

Ordered from The Lightworks (from one of the only suppliers I could find that confirmed the lamps were suitable for ES bulbs)at the lowest price I could find for £10.97each for the black and £19.97 for the white.

Note: The taller white lamp was ordered for behind the photobox to hover over the top for downlighting.

I gave up on finding the clip-on desk lamps because none seemed to have a big enough shade diameter or none would/could confirm.

Got 3 in total and ended up with this setup (insert picture here).

As for the pictures that resulted from the light box, they left much to be desired!!! No amount of hue/saturation editing in photoshop could get these babies light enough.

So, back to the drawing board. I figured there wasn't enough light.  So, I ended up ordering two more lamps to increase the brightness. Results as follows:

As you can see, they are an improvement, but when I photograph lighter coloured and white objects I still have some serious issues. You can see that the white and light pink suffer the most.

I'm not sure if I am drowning too much light now? 
Would a coloured background paper be better to bring out the object more? 
Where else can I put lamps to backlight the object?  I have such a small photobox, I fear needing to make a larger one!

All the blue, green and yellow items look pretty good for beginner's standards.  I am just not happy with the pink and white.  Looks like I'll be posting updates on this matter in the future!

For the time being, they will suffice.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Making up time

A new product in my range is clocks!!!

I have decided that my swirly slip patterns would look pretty slick on a round clock face and provide a really nice textural effect behind the clock hands - kind of like functional art!

The thing I love about making these, is that they are dead simple to make and fun! The hardest part is finding the appropriate movements to turn it into a clock! More on that later.

So, how do I make these things, eh?

First, I throw a wide shallow cylinder:

Then I wait for it to go leather hard and turn it into shape, cleaning off all the nasty bumpy bits.

Next I apply my slip texture, wait for that to firm up and add the central hole then fire! Vioila! Done!

Making it a real clock....

What movements do you need?

Well, from what I can gather from my research and some trial and error, you need to be certain of the spindle length of the clock movement. It's depth is super important.

My clock faces are about 3/8" thick (roughly 9.7mm) and the spindles (the shaft that goes through your clock face and connects the dails to the mechanism) come in 11, 13.8, 16.2 ,20.1, 26.2 mm lengths. You need to measure the thickness of your clock face and allow for a little length of spindle to stick out in the front of the clock face so you can screw the hands and finishing nuts on the spindle to finish off the clock.

With my clock face thickness, I chose the 13.8 length. Don't worry if none of the lengths seem to suit your needs, as the mechanisms come with rubber washers of various thicknesses to adjust the spindle's length accordingly.

Shop around because a lot of the hour and second hand movements I have been finding on the internet are quite old fashioned. After many hours, I finally found some suppliers who stock a bit more contemporary hands, so they are out there. I ended up choosing the B series hands from:

bude time enterprises ltd.

You need to choose hands that are the appropriate length to fit onto your clock face, and that decision is completely yours, as you may want to make an off-centred clock face or so forth.

What I can say, is you should be aware that the larger the face, the more powerful a motor you will need- more kick to get it around over time. This motor is called Model High Torque Euroshaft Movement, well it is called that in the UK, on this site, not sure about other sites! For the average sized clock, all you need is the Euroshaft Standard Movement.

Once fitted into the central hole and secured, one battery in and you have a working clock! You've just created time! Magic!

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Resolution Number One - Sort out my folksy home page!

After taking most of last year to develop my new range of work, I was finally able to photograph the work in late November in my makeshift light box.
All in all, I have managed to document 80% of my range, with a few hiccups preventing completion of the remaining wares. I still have to load all my mirrors online and photographing them has become a real issue (more on that later....).
I know I need to improve the light quality on some of the photos, but for now, I am happy with a cohesive brand. Finally!!!
Let the sales begin!!! Please!!!

Monday, 4 January 2010

Dulwich Craft Fair

Okay, my first official Craft Fair was on 14 November at St. Barnabas Hall in Dulwich!

I was very excited, but after a Friday night drive into south London, after leaving central london to go home in the east, I was pooped by the time we got everything set up and got home at 11.30pm!
And, guess what, I forgot to take pictures of my stand!!! So, my photos of my setup the night before in my dining room will have to suffice.

For a first show, I managed to get a bit more than breakeven! But, that darned sandwich I bought brought me right down to zero profit! Learned my lesson on that one....

All in all, crappy weather but great organisers and fellow stall buddies. Fabric Nation and her fabulous set-up (with mince pies thank you very much) were an inspiration on how to fit a table full of kit into an amazingly reduced travel set (without a car!!!)!