Friday, March 18, 2011

Creating a Farmer's Market Table Display

After going to a business seminar last weekend, my personal consensus was that since I live 15 blocks from Fremont Sunday Market, I ought to set up at the market, if only for the research opportunity it represents. This particular market has a low barrier to entry - you simply need to show up at 7am on Sunday, sign in and pay $40, which includes a sturdy table (this time of the year it is in an underground parking lot).

I didn't want to just go and throw a nasty looking table cloth on a table (which I have done before with fairly shocking results), so I started drawing my dream table with the helpful ideas from the seminar. My pieces are small and bright colored, so I ended up choosing black. Also because the pieces are small, I wanted a display that would literally get in your face :)

I got a humongous sturdy black tablecloth from for $11, and then took a trip to the University Bookstore for large sheets of black matting and some black foam core.

There followed much cutting, polishing and anguish over the fact that black does a great job at looking uneven unless you are really good. I think the results are pretty good. I set it up on a 4 x 3 table. It will look a little more spread out on a 6ft table (I will add some of my drop plates and a newsletter sign up sheet).

All that's left for today is to complete my inventory list, pack the extra/duplicate items and make some price signs.

The full set up.

The tall shelf comes up to eye level on me and has lots of cubbies that hightlight small pieces, plus a 'scenic' shelf for really tiny items.

Larger scale shelf to feature some of my anthropomorph and goblin figures.

"Rummage" basket with pinch pots that contain lots and lots of different beads and pendants.

The 'scenic' shelf of the tall shelving - it looks nicer in person!

The grid area of the big shelf, showing how each piece is nicely framed.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

You've worked a while at ceramics when -

  • You drop a piece and don't get that upset because you figure you can make a better one
  • A person says they could make what you make. You observe their beautiful well-manicured fingernails, their make up and lovely new clothing and smile. Go ahead, make my clay.
  • Mud is a good word
  • It hasn't been a good day unless you scrub at the sink for at least 10 minutes because you keep finding new places where clay or glaze landed.
  • Wherever you go, you see textures that might make a good stamp
  • Wherever you go, you see things that might make great tools
  • Upon observing a clay soil, you wonder what it would look like fired.
  • If you see ceramics in a store, you instantly turn it over and look for signs it was hand made. Any sign you find that indicates a human worked on it makes you happy. This is akin to the feeling I used to get when I saw bear tracks in the forest. Look! A ceramicist was here and they left their sign!
  • Drywall is not just for walls
  • You view all loose hair as the enemy while throwing and when the inevitable hair does get in the clay, you swear you will cut it all off and then you don't because you think you can stop it from happening this time
  • You like that damp musty smell in your studio that indicates your clay will be nice and pliable
  • You have your own language for the texture and consistency of clay and glaze. My celadon tends to be green-buttery, my toshi brown is moossy-goosy and one of my stonewares tends to mump (get bumps when wet). My glazes also get mold, which I have dubbed 'glold'.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Space Shuttle Discovery

I love the space shuttles. Way back when, when I was in highschool, I competed the art contest to give an insignia to Space Shuttle Columbia (lost of course, didn't even make it to any semi final). I was standing in my livingroom, just about to walk to high school when I saw Columbia's launch and destruction. The next day I and the other science nerds (a small number of people in my small school) were going to tune into Sally Ride's lessons from space. It never happened, of course, but if anything that regret made me love the shuttles more, so I continued following their missions and mishaps, I cried some years later when Challenger burned up on entry - this time announced while I was competing at a dog agility meet. I can't remember the competition, even though I still have the blue ribbon medallion from that day - Stella honored my tears and ran her heart out, the time on the ribbon reads 00:36:48, probably longer than the time it took for Challenger to fragment in the atmosphere over Texas.

There is and was something fantastic about the shuttles - real spaceships, not just rockets and orbital modules, they flew like airplanes, they ran on technology from the '80s and all things considered, that they lasted into this decade is a marvel of engineering. Of all things American, I was always proud of NASA, even when they confused metric and imperial measurements, sported a murderous woman in space diapers, when the occasional satellite burned up, I cheered for them; I loved the story of Apollo 13, I treasured a silver dollar with the eagle and the moon etched on its surface. Now, NASA is fading away like Opportunity and Spirit, to dust, despair and obscurity, wandering feebly with a few programs, no longer the muscle of the International Space Station but just a subsiduary.

So it all makes me sad. I hear rebuttals that it's too expensive, that it's wasteful, that we could finance better schools, better food distribution with the money and that NASA is just part of the dreaded military industrial complex so just shut up about it. All of these things are true of course - to an extent. I would argue though that NASA is a testament to the will of all that is progressive, intelligent and inventive in the US, that it was a place that in all my days in school I could dream about when my future looked like it would be full of drudgery, heartache and poverty. NASA helped me dream beyond my little town, my little family and my country, too. I just wonder what kids get to dream of now, if the stars are no longer on the agenda.

I guess this is to say that things like the space shuttle remind me that things can be better, they can be exceptional, they can take us to the stars. We can dream of a better place on earth, because every few months I could tune in and look down on this planet with the crew of the space shuttle, without seeing borders - just the great wide oceans, the golden plains of Africa and the white swathe of Siberia. I am thankful they repaired the Hubble Telescope, so at least for years to come I can still enjoy the awesome beauty and mystery of its images. Anyhow, I loved those stubby winged ships!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Pottery Attack and the Interpests

Pottery Attack! My Favorites today!

Beautiful Nudibranch Bowl from lesperancetile I love sea slugs and this is an absolutely beautiful transfer from a scientific illustration.
Wonderful raincatcher from laspottery. Spring is springing, and this is a great way to celebrate the return of warmth and weather sanity in the garden!
Crafted by adventuresinclay, it looks like an Arabian Night's airship to me, ready to take off at any moment.

–noun, plural -s.
1. Any person, thing, activity that presents a nuisance while on the internet.

  • Faux galleries on etsy. You see a conversation header that perkily says "I love your work." You instantly think "Oh a commission maybe!" You open the conversation and see a wall of text containing things like "I am honored pleased to welcome you two or galleri opens." I always get my hopes dashed...
  • Faux friends on Facebook. They had a name resembling the name of a well known ceramic artist so I cheerfully said 'yes' when I got the invite. This person spammed me with "My cow in farmville makes chocolate milk" "could you care for my pigs while I am away?" "I am a big don in Mafia Wars."
  • I innocently found a great shop on etsy and 'favorited' something. Later on, I noticed the shop had 'favorited' me, warm fuzzies all round. The next day, a friend of that shop contacted me, asking that I favorite them. Only problem is, they specialize in adult items and I didn't want everyone in my activity list to see it. Sorta felt sad that I had to self censor just to satisfy the activity thing, they seemed nice.
  • I noticed that I had a ton of new subs on Twitter. All of them were from the clones and sock puppets of one account trying to sell me holistic dog food (why?). Or, a few weeks ago it was mineral cosmetics, and before that it was lotion that would shrink my pores and make me look 10 years younger. It's nice to see that spam bots have moved up from viagra.
  • Conversations that randomly ask for a discount without any preamble or even previous business dealings. I do my best not to feel insulted, but what I always feel is "Your work is not worth X to me, but it is worth Y, which, coincidentally, is equal to what I have in my penny jar." Art is a luxury, not a right. I would never refuse someone a hot meal, but I will withhold porcelain miniatures!
These are amalgamation and slight exaggerations of actual things that happened while selling online. I do have to say that 99% of my interactions are positive and that I love my shop regulars very very much. It's just when you get a few of these greatest hits, you have to write them down because they're either funny, mind boggling or just so annoying!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Unloading Bisque!

Big run of bisque today, about 150 items or more (I didn't count every single little pendant).

Video with additional commentary by Namio the talkative australian shepherd >> There needs to be a sound editing tool called "mute dog".

Giant Ant Eater

What I am calling a spirit horse at the moment. Probably brought on by looking at Persian art.

He has a slippery expression :)

Fairy with roses

This goblin already has a name - Griselda
Overall pretty happy with the load with the exception of cracking drop plates, though I knew full well this might happen since I did not take care while drying them. Next time they will properly get to sit on the racks and do their thing in piece, rather than get put in the kiln too quickly. Still, the commissioned plates are fine.