Sunday, July 31, 2011
This is my favorite part of the weekend. It's been excessively difficult, but this bee tree- a new colony, it seems- in my mom's yard seems to be a message of renewal and life in the midst of trial, struggle, and succumbing to the end.
Thanks for your kind comments and support of my work and the direction in which I'm heading. It means a lot. Y'all mean a lot.
I'll be back here on Friday. Have a good week.
Monday, July 25, 2011
For the past ten years I've been making pots. I've been selling them at a price with which I feel comfortable. I've reasoned that I can pay myself a certain rate per hour and factor the cost of my work by that rate- and it covers my expenses. I've prided myself on making useful and above all, affordable work. A lovely but expensive mug won't get used, I thought. I want my work to be used and enjoyed every day. So, as the costs of materials and utilities went up (oh, you should see my electric bill when I'm firing a lot), my prices stayed relatively even. Over the years my coffee mugs have gone from $15-18, but nothing drastic. I also know that as a, um, impoverished sort of person, money is tight, and that's almost universal right now. $30 cup, or $30 for lunches for my family for a week. I know the answer to that question.
This year, my wholesale orders have jumped. You probably know how that goes, right? I get $9 for that $18 mug? Um, not so appealing. So the mugs that my wholesale clients sell are higher priced, and if I sell those same mugs, I match their price so as not to undercut them. I've tried to keep my prices at a level that I'd pay, but I've been uneasy about it. I have a beautiful cup that I bought for well over $50. A guest in my home asked about it when we were having tea and wanted to use it. She asked me (because she was a very good, close friend, and we've dispensed with those barriers) about its price and promptly put it back on the shelf. I understand that reaction, and it isn't one I'd like to see with my work. There's a flip side to that- under-pricing work makes it disposable. I get that, too.
BUT. I'm experiencing a shift. This work, like the cup above, is still pretty affordable. But it is significantly more expensive than one of my botanical cups. So I've put off listing the bowls and platters and pitchers, items that are regularly more expensive anyway, because I've been worried about (speaking collectively here) your reaction. Not that it isn't good enough to fetch the price that I ask, and not that I don't deserve to be compensated for my work, but I've just been nervous. This week I'm going to start listing them. They do me absolutely no good sitting in my dining room, staring at me. Actually, less good, because they're likely to get broken where they are now. So these pieces will be special*. They'll cost more. But they take more time, more skill, more firings. I think they're worth more. I feel mostly good about this decision.
Several of these cups are already up on Etsy. The one pictured above is going to its new home tomorrow. The mugs that I used for my invitation will go up in another few weeks- they need another glazing and firing. I won't be around here much over the next two weeks. We're wrapping up summer, working hard, and sneaking in a beach trip before school begins. I hope you enjoy the rest of your summer, too.
*They're also special because I'm setting aside a bit of each sale to finance my own urban bee hive next year. And they're the pieces I'm making for my first invitational show this fall. And they're special because I love them in a way that I don't love my other work. Maybe because Melissa means "honey bee", maybe because I'm drawing them. I'm not sure.
Monday, July 18, 2011
I am pleased with my sale attendance- I didn't expect high turnout in July because it's hot and sticky, but I am really tickled by the number of people who came out. Even more tickled by the new people I met!
Some funny events: the thermostat batteries died. I felt like it was getting hotter and hotter- indeed, the thermostat read 83 degrees. Even warmer because there were 20+ people in my living room. At the same time, 4 children under the age of 10 decided to play boy-on-girl mortal combat in the back yard and, yes, in the house, complete with screaming, crying, stick-throwing. I am ever grateful to my neighbor friends for corralling our collective children and leading them out of the house. All in a day's work!
The surprise hit of the evening was the blueberry lemonade I made for the sale - it was so simple. I made lemonade in a large beverage dispenser and used frozen blueberries (which I'd picked intending to make jam, but running out of steam, stashed in the freezer) instead of ice. It turned a lovely pink color delicately flavored with blueberries. I also made sangria with white wine (a box of Big House White was perfect for this), peaches, lemon verbena, some lemon/ginger infused vodka, and seltzer. Both were Yummy. We're still enjoying the last of the beverages, as well as the tuberose I bought for the taller vases.
I'm taking this week off for some quiet time and rejuvenation. I hope you have a good week!
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
I'm in the middle of loading the big kiln with the last glaze load. Mercy, it is HOT outside. I'll wait until sunset to begin firing.
How's your week treating you? I feel like it is Thursday rather than Wednesday. But my heavy work is almost finished, and I'll be glad to spend time organizing, setting up, and pricing tomorrow and Friday.
Monday, July 11, 2011
You've seen this image before. I'm not sure if I got lazy or if I just really like it, but it's the postcard. Those are going out today. I also sent an email version. If you're local and would like a print or email postcard, send me an email and I'll get one out to you.
Last night I fired my last bisque load. Today I'm doing a small touch-up glaze firing, then I'll be glazing all day tomorrow, firing tomorrow night, and unloading it on Thursday. Lots of setting up and spiffing up to do around here to get ready to open the doors for y'all.
I might be back later this week with some sneak peeks. Like this one. Have a nice week! Stay cool- it's scorching hot here in Memphis!
Thursday, July 7, 2011
Today is my glazing day. The first of two before next weekend's sale. so of course it is overcast and looking like rain. Inevitably if I set aside a day for glazing it rains. Such is life. I am grateful to have glazing help today, and grateful to have had help yesterday in cranking out the last few platters I wanted to make.
I am tweeting. Sometimes I feel like I have something to say or share, pottery-wise, but not enough for an entire post. We'll see how it goes.
Yesterday I picked up my sale postcards. I'm mailing some, emailing some, facebook-inviting some. I always feel awkward inviting friends- Hey! Come buy my stuff! Love you! Ok! Bye!- But what do you do? So while I'm not glazing I'll be addressing postcards.
This cake plate is off to California. I hope to have another like it for next weekend. I have a base and am waiting for the plate to dry.
Oh! Today I am glazing the first of the honeycomb foundation pieces. Can't wait to see how the glaze pools up in the impressions.
There is much to do. See you back in this space next week.
Friday, July 1, 2011
Today is my wedding anniversary. 11 years. I'd do it again in a heartbeat.
Today I also had the nicest chat with my mentor. It was good to touch base and talk pots and life. Whatever path you take, it is so so helpful to have a mentor. Someone who has experience in your field, and in life, to help guide you. I feel very lucky that mine was kind and answered my questions about beginning a pottery business and moving it online. I think it takes a special kind of person to be a mentor, and I hope that someday I can be a good one.
I drew on some mugs, like the bee mug in the previous post, this morning, and on some platters that my friend Natalie helped me impress with honeycomb foundation. I got the foundation (plastic pieces with raised honeycomb pattern to help guide the bees in langstroth hives) in making their combs from my friends Rita and Richard Underhill at Peace Bee Farm. Last night they were on ABC news! You can watch the segment here (although the video doesn't seem to be up yet, you can read the transcript. I'm really excited for them. They are good stewards of their bees and I have (and will continue to, as I prepare to begin my own urban bee journey) learned so much from them.
But about the pots! I'm really excited about using the foundation to create texture. I can't wait to see what the pieces look like once they're glazed. I've been throwing and glazing and making pots like crazy for my sale on the 15th and 16th. This next week will be my last week to throw before the sale, and I'll continue glazing and firing through Weds the 13th. Nothing like working until the last minute, hmm?
This week my camera died. I was very sad. Its replacement, a Nikon d80 (a step down from the d90 or other upper numbers, because I don't want or need video- heck, I'd really rather use film, still, most of the time), should arrive today. I'm excited to have my camera back in hand. I knew I relied on it, but I didn't realize how bereft I'd feel without it. And I'm so glad to have lots of work to do to pay for it. I wasn't really planning on this purchase. . .
Monday we're partaking in my own family's 4th of July tradition. My mother and I (and my son, plus anyone else we can wrangle) get up as early as possible, drive to a tiny farm in MS, and pick blueberries. I ran out of blueberry butter back in February and I only have one jar of blueberry-raspberry jam left. I'm not big on using the berries in muffins or pancakes, but I usually dry a gallon to add to our family granola. The berries came early this year- I hope to pick 3 gallons.
Ok. Enough rambling. Happy 4th, everyone. Be safe this long weekend.