Monday, March 21, 2011

changes and challenges

Last week was spring break.  It was a good week- probably our last week to use the woodstove, and the first week with open windows.  I had a really good meeting about a new project I'll be working on.  I had a good birthday (hello, 36!).  We took a camping trip with a friend and her family that was just divine.  And, thanks to my dear friend Natalie, I got a lot more work done before the trip than I thought I might.  She helped me crank out a ton of platters for a new retail account- they are in the kiln now (my stars, it is STUFFED) and this week we'll be glazing them. 

That retail account is one of the new changes/challenges I'm facing.  I have four wholesale and consignment accounts right now, which is pretty amazing to me.  It's a lot for one person and a 2-4 hour a week helper to tackle.  I haven't been terribly good about keeping my accounts as stocked as I should.  And I'm realizing that I've let some things that are good slide and some things that aren't as good take up more space in my brain and my life than they should reasonably be allowed.  I'm shaking that up.  Over the past year I've really neglected my etsy shop.  Sure, there have been egg cups galore, but I haven't put up as much new work as I would like.  I've been operating on a zero-inventory basis.  I make it, I sell it.  Make it, sell it.  This morning my accountant was finishing up our 2010 taxes and asked about inventory.  She seemed a little surprised when I told her that I never really had any.  I think that should change. 

So- the changes.  After early June, I'm taking the summer "off".  I'll still work on filling orders for my accounts and keeping the etsy shop stocked, but I'm not going to be as publicly available as I have been in years past- at least, not to anyone but my family and friends.  It has been five years since I've had a "proper" summer.  Our school year ends right before Memorial Day and begins the second week of August.   I'll be at the Memphis Farmers Market early- once in April, May, and June, and I'll have my annual home sale in mid May.  After that, I'll have work available in stores (more on that soon) around Memphis, at Etsy, and I'll have an early holiday sale.  Life isn't all about work, is it (I have a hard time with not working all the time)?  I'm looking forward to having more time with my boy in the garden, at the pool, storing up the seasons' bounty, reading, relaxing.

I'll be back later this week with some photos of new work and where it will be available-
Y'all have a good week!

Monday, March 14, 2011

what do we do?

there's a motto I try to live by - the motto of the Daughters of the King, an Episcopal women's lay group : "I cannot do everything, but I can do somethings.  What I can do, I shall do.  Lord, what would you have me to do?"  I can't do much, but I can do a little.  Last year Haiti's devastation lodged itself in my heart.  The poverty, the destruction, the despair.  Last Friday, Japan moved into my heart as well.  This week I'm donating 50% of all sales in my Etsy shop to Doctors without Borders for their relief efforts in Japan.  I've reloaded the shop with made-to-order egg cups, including these red cups.  I hope I'll be able to make a small donation, and I will match the first $50 (because my budget doesn't go much beyond that) that comes in.Thanks, friends.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

new beginnings

Happy Fat Tuesday, everyone!  I've been up early after a long day yesterday.  Thinking a lot about the past, right now, and carrying on tomorrow.  I took this picture this morning for friends who are still locked up in cold and snow- trying to give them a glimpse of spring that is surely coming (and in return, I'm asking for deep summer pictures of shade and cool streams when I'm sweltering in the sauna that is Memphis in late summer).

I've kept politics out of this space, but I am a very political person.  I've jumped around a bit where I stand on many different issues, but I believe that we can affect the changes we want to see.  I have been very involved recently in a local issue.  This morning, thinking about the past and future, my family and I encouraged other parents and voters in Memphis to vote in today's referendum to combine the city and county school districts.  There has been so much division in my community for too long- divisions over race, income levels, education, geography.  I try to never speak ill of Memphis- I love it, but it is like a dysfunctional family.  After I heard the NPR piece yesterday morning, I felt physically ill.  This situation is a mess, but ignoring it and maintaining separate school systems won't fix our problems.  If you're reading this and you live in Memphis, please go out and vote YES today.  The schools need serious reforms, but voting to maintain the status quo will only serve to further marginalize children who are already at risk.

So, appropriate that voting day is on Fat Tuesday, the day before Lent begins.  For many people, Lent is about giving something up.  Deprivation is pretty easy for me- grace and beginning again are harder.  This year, as in years past, I'm taking on the habit of gratitude.  And after spending 10 hours yesterday  glazing pottery and pushing myself too hard, I'm also going to work on being kinder and more gentle with myself.  A bit more Grace for Me.  And by extension, grace and gentleness for those around me.  Lent is a time for preparation; Spring is coming, it's time to begin anew.  Tomorrow, no matter how the election is decided, Memphis will begin preparing its children and its schools for the future.  I hope we'll be unified.  I resolve to be grateful that we were given an opportunity to decide and grateful that the will of the people will prevail. 

More pottery talk later this week. 
I'll keep the rest of my political opinions to myself. 
Celebrate Mardi Gras, y'all!

Friday, March 4, 2011


Good morning!  It is a gray and rainy Friday in Memphis.  I can hardly believe that it's Friday already.  The week's flown by.  I've gotten some good work done, had a good initial meeting with a new retailer and am developing some work especially for their shop.  It's exciting to have a new direction to work in- taking someone else's idea and making it mine. 
I've made two big batches of limoncello for 2011's holiday gifts- plain and gingered this year- last year's batch was rosemary-flavored and spiced-blood-orange.  I have just a bit more than one pint of each left; I'm guarding them with my life!

This weekend is supposed to be rainy the entire weekend.  With no definitive plans on the books, I'm going to try to get all of my glazing in - I have almost a dozen honey pots to glaze- at least 6 will go into the shop next week.  I'm overdue with a restock in the shop. 

Finally, I'd like to share an email I received from a customer this morning.  It made my day:
Thank you so much for the egg cups.  I saw your work in . . . and
   decided to purchase as I have fond memories of my Grandfather eating
   soft boiled eggs from an egg cup.  Every time I make the eggs for my
  little grandchildren, I think of him and wish I had his egg cups.  . . .I have been 
  diagnosed with cancer and am  currently undergoing chemo, so comfort and 
  nostalgia mean so very much. . . . I shared two of the cups with
  my dear sister, and she had the same wonderful feelings.

This, friends, is why I keep working.  My dearest desire is that my work will impart some extra meaning and joy into normal everyday life.  That you'll use a mug, plate, eggcup, bowl on a daily basis, enjoy it, wash it, eat in it.  This email counteracts every single small criticism that I get from other customers (though there are not many) or from my own hyper-critical inner voice.  

Ok.  Have a good weekend.  See you next week!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


Hello, March!  So happy to see you!  Sunshine, warmer temps- spring has come to Memphis.  We'll probably have one more freeze, but I've drug my bay tree out into the yard and will drag it back into the house if it gets too cold.  The daffs are popping up, and the gorgeous Japanese magnolias and cherry trees are coloring up front yards like giant pink lollipops.

March is almost always a busy month for me- it is officially time to get busy building inventory, and a friend who managed the market sales for a local orchard with strawberry fields reminded me that strawberries will start coming in at the end of April.  Which means one thing: berry bowls.  I'm making fewer of these this year because I'm getting tired of them, but I don't think I'll stop completely.  I've been making honeypots by the dozen, both to build inventory and to put up in my neglected shop.  Starting Thursday I'll be making one. thousand. herb markers for a local event put on by the master gardeners- and hopefully that will be enough to last me through the summer.  One. Thousand.  That will be about 100 of each herb that I do.  I'm getting help for this one- from the making to the glazing to the cutting copper stakes, my friend Natalie is my right hand gal.  Our farmers market starts back up in mid-April; it is serious inventory time!

Today was a lovely day- a cool morning- frosty, even, cold enough that someone was kind enough to build a fire while his family was still sleeping- and now warm enough that laundry is out drying on the line.  I saw a honeybee while I was hanging the laundry (I bough the new Ashley English Keeping Bees as an early birthday gift to myself, btw.  Look for bee posts in another 2-3 years), and I am making a double batch of Olive Oil Granola (Don't let the name put you off.  It is the best granola I've ever made.  I cut the maple syrup down to 1/2 c and left out the brown sugar entirely) as I type.

I hope you're beginning to see signs of spring where you are, too. 
Have a nice week!