Wednesday, December 30, 2009

2009 in review

bridgman pottery 2009
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
2009 has been huge, and in so many ways. It has been a year of a lot of growth. We've definitely felt both the thrills of accomplishment and hurt with those growing pains. Professionally, the year has been incredible. Since I quit my part-time art education job at a wonderful museum, my time for pottery has expanded exponentially. So did my sales. I haven't started the grand tally, but I more than met my 2008 sales in November and December. To have sales like that during such hard economic times is nothing short of miraculous. This year I've tried new forms and new colors- egg forms, more lidded vessels, buttery bells, buttons, pomegranates- and turquoise! red! Still working on getting that green to cooperate. And if last year was the year of the berry bowl, I'm not sure what this year has been, because I've made and sold well over 100 of them. Etsy sales have been wonderful, and my facebook page has surprised me with its activity.

I've taken some wonderful trips this year and met some wonderful friends- Dana of House of Roux in the early spring, a girls' weekend to New Orleans and a train ride with the Bundren family, and a fall trip to visit some very good friends. Not to mention the wonderful friends I've met through this blog and flickr. And seeing the Dalai Lama! Live! In person! A new school filled with old and new friends for my boy. New babies for dear friends and a brand new nephew.

There's been loss- dear friends and family have moved away. Permanent losses of my mother in law, a very dear friend who had been struggling for years. We've joined the ranks of the downsized and are looking, hopefully, in new directions (and in light of that downsizing, so so thankful for our joint capacity for freelancing and those aforementioned pottery sales).

I'm hopeful for what 2010 will bring. I've signed up for a late-summer workshop with my mentor and will take the opportunity to visit with some college friends I haven't seen in a dozen years while I'm in the area. I'm adding dates to the Memphis Farmers Market and St. Jude's monthly-to-quarterly market. I'm already thinking about new forms I want to play with and techniques to refine (namely, how to make the speckled egg glaze work in fewer firings). I'd like to work bigger and better. And I'd like to have enough work made from January-May that I can take the summer "off" from production and firing- both for the sake of my air conditioning (old house=old wiring) and time with my child.

So here's to learning from our past and anticipating the future. And here's to living in the present. Happy New Year's, everyone.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

wrapping up*

Finally, I feel like I'm at a point where I can relax. Shows are over. Pottery is packed up for either a mid-winter (valentines?) etsy restock or I'll just hang on to it for spring.
I did promise more berry bowls, so there are six little bowls in my esty shop. I won't promise delivery in time for Christmas for any sales made after Saturday. I'm shipping some custom orders tomorrow, putting the sale pottery bins on their proper shelves in the basement, and then, friends, I'm focusing on knitting.

Aren't these just perfect? The pattern is here. These are for little boy. I may have to felt them again, but I don't want them so small that he'll grow out of them before next winter. They're the same size as his shoes, but. . . .
To reward myself for all of my pottery work, I bought a little happy. What I really want are some cloggy boots like these, but unfortunately, none are in my size (37 if you're asking, and of course I want red!!! Or blue. Or chartreuse**.). Or my price range right now. So I treated myself to this instead. I've lusted after Vesper Sock for quite a while, and this hank will go in my stocking. From me.

Last day of school is Thursday. I have packages to mail (tomorrow), gifts to wrap, cards to send (or not), cookies to bake. Dozens of rosemary or lemon-thyme shortbreads. Maybe both. All I know is that I feel relieved that the sales season is over. It was good, productive, exhausting. And I know deep down inside I'll want to start throwing again the week after New Year's.

So. Merry Christmas. Happy last days of Hanukkah. Happy Eid. Happy Solstice next week. Happy Kwanza. I'm going to enjoy the holidays with my family now. Lord I feel so relieved for the break.

*I came back to amend this and saw my crazy post title. "wrapping up!s"??? O.K.
** I have chartreuse cloggy boots headed to my house. Merry Christmas from my wonderful mom who knows what REALLY makes my day. YAY!!!

Monday, December 14, 2009


Pardon my unexplained absence. Early last week I was pushing to glaze my last big batch of ware for the Deck the Halls event. On Wednesday I set up, Thursday was the opening night. I think I threw a little more to finish my orders - on Wednesday, perhaps? May have been Tuesday. Since then, I've been a slug. A little knitting, a little reading. We put up the Christmas tree, lit it up. It fell over. I left it splayed in the living room floor for a while. I haven't done any holiday baking, wrapping, much of anything besides sitting. Last night I did my last bisque fire of 2009. I'll begin glazing this evening and finish and fire tomorrow. All this pottery has worn me out.

Despite my cranky weariness, I'm grateful for so much. During this past month I met my 2008 sales. It isn't a pattern I could keep up, but I'm grateful nevertheless. We really needed that income after my husband's pre-thanksgiving layoff - it has gone straight into savings until his freelance practice kicks in. Most of my Christmas shopping is finished- not wrapped, but finished. My mom helped us weatherstrip my charmingly-drafty 1922 bungalow this weekend. Now we can stand to be in the kitchen and den. It was so chilly in there that I seriously considered closing off that end of the house except for when I had the oven on. I'd really love a woodburning stove for the den, santa, if you're listening.

And I'm most grateful that I'm almost finished with pottery for the year. I'm sure that in a week or two my fingers will begin to itch for the clay again, but I'm looking forward to a break in the 10 hour production days. And I'm looking forward to celebrating Christmas with my family. My posting here will be pretty light until January, but I look forward to sharing new pursuits with you in 2010.

Oh, before I forget, this photo is courtesy of Lana Chu of Ginkgo Glass, who is also showing at Deck the Halls.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

pottery reclaim

Given our current economic (and environmental) climate, there's been a surge in the creative reuse and repurposing of "spent" items. Reusing old clothing, making over household items for crafting, art-making, even gift-giving. Reclaim, upcycle, reuse, repurpose- in some ways we've become our grandparents and great-grandparents again. I've been happy to reuse and remake textiles and other household items for a long time, but I've just figured out how to apply this to my pottery.

Last week I made quite a large firing mistake. I didn't realize how big it was until after I'd glazed my work and fired it and 1/3 of the kiln load came out with cracks in the bottom. Some cracked through the glaze, which caused fatal seeping. In the case of my egg cups, the cracks were in the glaze but not through to the bottom, but cracks in the glaze aren't food safe. Unfortunately, this happens fairly frequently. The number isn't huge- maybe 5% of my pots are damaged in this way, but this was a large number to lose. Rather than throwing the pieces away, I asked my friends at Peace Bee Farm if I could buy some of their beeswax (Rita makes wonderful candles!) to make some votive candles in these damaged pieces.

Almost every component of these candles is reclaimed from used or damaged items. The metal wick tabs are recycled from the cathedral votive stand (when I find myself with noting to do, I start looking for things to do. I've been helping to remove old candle tabs and replace votives for several years and thought about reusing the tabs a few weeks ago). I made several sets of rolled beeswax candles for Christmas gifts and used my leftover cotton wicking for this project.

I'm really excited about how this project has turned out. I kept a candle for me and put three of the egg cup votives up on etsy (and at stocking-stuffer prices!). There are a few more bowls- including one speckled egg bowl- that I'm going to turn into a large candle for a Christmas gift. Now I just wish I could figure out how to repurpose cracked berry bowls! Speaking of berry bowls, I just listed five more. I may have a few more on Dec 17, after the Deck the Halls Holiday Sale at Park Place Center in Memphis ends on Dec 16. I'm ready to focus more on making gifts for my family, so I've set December 16 as my
making and firing end-date. December 20 is the last day I'll ship packages.

Hope you have a wonderful week!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

buttons and marketing

buttons, II
Originally uploaded by Bridgman Pottery
These are new. I more than kindof love them. Michelle, a local knitter and pottery customer, had asked me about making leaf-imprint buttons this summer. At the time, I couldn't see how I'd do them, but when I started using ferny scraps to make very small trays, I knew how to do it. I hope y'all like them as much as I do.

I've had a great but crazy-busy several days. Friday I was at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital for their holiday market. They're using the vendor fees from monthly-to-quarterly farmers and craft market to raise money to build an interactive vegetable and flower garden for the patients. I was thrilled to be there and support such a wonderful project. Several of my Memphis Farmers Market friends were there, and I met some other vendors who were just wonderful. More about them soon.
Yesterday was the MFM Holiday Market. Despite the crazy traffic issues from the marathon (but we're all grateful for and proud of the runners who help raise so much money for research and the kids at St. Jude) and the chilly weather (normal high is 55, yesterday's high was 42, windchill hovered around 32 all day), the market was very well attended.

Today I'm throwing a little more, packing and shipping etsy orders, and preparing to make a final (I think. I may update after the 16th if there are good leftovers after my next show) holiday listing over there. I'm also making up a batch of gingerbread cookie dough and experimenting with some lemon-thyme shortbread for my own holiday giving. I usually make rosemary-pecan shortbread- that may be hard to top.

Hope your sunday is restful!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

holiday shopping

While I realize that I just said that we aren't doing a lot of holiday shopping around here, it occurred to me that YOU might still have some purchases to make. As I mentioned the other day, I am fortunate to be friends with lots of creative and artistic people, both locally and nationally. When I do shop, my preference is to support locally-owned businesses. After that, I want to support creative people who've struck out on their own. Here are a few of my favorites (and I may make another list of favorite creative friends in another day or so!)

My sweet friend Sarah just put together a little holiday gift guide featuring several of her friends and was so kind to include me. She makes lovely felted items- from unique jewelry, like the necklace above, to beautiful bags. You can find her over at Smashing Darling, a really cool indie fashion boutique site.

This lady, Thomasin Durgin, used to be my boss. We both quit our jobs this spring to focus on our own creative pursuits. Some of my favorite jewelry comes from this little shop. I have these, these (which I wear almost daily and have given as a gift, as well), and am planning to give these as Christmas gifts. She's also made some lovely etched earrings with a monarch butterfly wing pattern- I have those stashed away to give as a very special birthday gift later this winter.

This is one of my very favorite things. Erin makes these wonderful fun patchwork camera straps for dslr or old-school slr cameras. Her shop should be stocked with straps on Monday, Dec 7. You'll want to get there quickly, though, because she sells out within hours. She usually has several colorways to choose from. I think they're so unique and would be a great gift for any camera buff.

Lastly, my friend Grace just opened (really, like, yesterday) a new shop filled with wonderful waldorf-style dolls and some lovely totes. I'm crazy about the fern-printed one (go figure. me? ferns?).