Friday, November 25, 2011

oh yeah, it's black friday

First thing this morning my sister, who is visiting from Los Angeles for the holiday, read the reports of squashings, pepper sprayings, and shootings at Wal-Marts and malls across the country as people shopped for black friday. I must say, she had an edge of glee to her voice as she read the various incidents aloud to me. Black friday mayhem is kind of like reading about weird, freak accidents that happen across the globe: you feel completely disconnected from the event as you try to imagine it, because something like this will never happen to you, or anyone you know.

I rarely shop in public, and certainly not in groups or crowds.  I'm a huge fan of online shopping and have no fear of ordering jeans, shoes, or even underwear online.  Anything that can protect me from milling around with the barbarian hordes at retail environments is what I refer to as salvation.

That brings us to the heart of this post, which is announcing that my long labored over redesigned website is finally up and open for business.  I love it and I hope you go check it out and love on it too.  It's all set up for free domestic shipping through November 30, and you can pretty much order whatever you want in whatever color or style you want.  And no one will try to snatch a cupcake stand out of your little paws, and then push you to the floor and trample you.  Click on over and let me know what you think!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

cute attack

I've been making some really cute stuff lately.  It all started with this dessert show I'm in with my pottery gals in December.  A dessert themed ceramic show!  Is there any person who does not want to check that out?  So, I thought about it a bit, because there was no way I was going to get lazy on this one.   I wanted to make something fabulous, something over-the-top and unique.  I was initially drawn to the parfait cup:

But, that wasn't totally doing it for me.
I needed something more.
Something even cuter, and more impractical.

I was quickly led to the pudding cup:

How effin' cute is that?  I ask you.
But even that still needed some enhancement.
Like this:

And that:

Some go medieval.  I go Marie Antoinette.
The cuteness got out of control.  
It was like trying to shoot a duck with an AK-47.  
The bullets went everywhere, and the cuteness spread.  I made this:

and then this:

This red cup I'm actually calling the "flared skirt cup." 
And don't ask me for that cup, but with a bird on it.
That, I will not do.

By the way, if you live anywhere near the Bay Area, please, come to the dessert show.  And what I mean by that is please come to the opening party.  The Fourth and Clay Gallery does openings right, with food, booze, music, and... well, dessert too this time!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

holiday hurricane

The christmas season is kind of like the weather.  Say, a hurricane.  You know the hurricane is coming,  but until it actually arrives, you're just waiting under clear skies with your windows all boarded up and a stash of bottled water.  Last week I was cruising along at my normal speed.  The sky was sunny and the birds were singing.  Then suddenly, everything changed, and I can't seem to complete my daily list, and an 8-hour work day is way too short.  The hurricane is here, and there I am, snoozing in my backyard in my underwear with an almost empty beer bottle resting on my belly.

Me, I live in earthquake country.  I'm intellectually prepared for the Big One, but do I have a three-day supply of water and a first aid kit?  No. Though I think I should.  I also think I should prepare for the holidays, like get all stocked up on best-selling items, and make special little things at that magical price point.  But, I just don't.  I never do.  Why?  Because I crave pressure.  It makes me feel useful and important.  There I am, all busy, working away in my studio, making people stuff. When I'm under pressure, I get very focused, and life gets very simple: make more pottery or die.

I have tried to prepare in the past, but the bottom line is, I just can't believe the holidays are here again.  Wasn't I just here a couple of months ago?  Am I really expected to just repeat this act year after year, each year getting shorter and shorter?  And I've gone through spasms of preparation in the past, and it's always the same thing: I never know what I'm really going to need.  My customers are all fickle and I'm loathe to try and read their minds, or brainwash them into buying certain things.

Also, in the name of "preparation" I've wasted hours on special holiday projects.  Like, I have an obsession with lighting and candles, especially during the winter.  So I've made all kinds of things that work with candles.  Beautiful, labor intensive projects that never sell because they are limited edition and cost a mint, which does not hit that happy magical price point thing.  I have a collection of porcelain tea light holders with carvings that the light shines through, and I think out of the 15 I made, I sold maybe two.  I've learned, in all kinds of ways, that when you bust out  a bunch of stuff trying to be prepared, the stuff never sells, unless it's so cheap people can't help themselves from buying.

I did throw this one thing a couple of days ago.  I had this vision of a porcelain ceramic christmas tree that you would put over a candle.  And it would glow, and be all modern and cool and holiday-esque. So I made it.  Just one. And I will sell it for a ridiculous price.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

custom order

Many ceramic artists I know hate custom orders, won't even take them.  There is the hassle of making something that you have maybe not made before, meeting the customer's expectations on an item that they have not seen before, getting stuck with extra custom work if the first one you make doesn't come out, and the stress of all of the above.

I love taking custom work, because I get great ideas from customers and I don't mind letting clients do my thinking for me.  This year my custom work has included a cake topper, a set of plates shaped like butterfly wings, and extra large bird pitchers, which turned out so cute I will probably get a mold made and put them into production.

Last summer I agreed to create a 16"x 20" tile backsplash for a long-time client in their newly-renovated kitchen.  I felt some reluctance because I have made single tiles exactly 6 times, and making a cohesive panel of tiles sounded like a pain in the ass.  But I couldn't come up with a reason to say "no" other than I like my ass pain free, which is not really a good reason when it comes to making stuff.

Turns out the hardest part was just making the tiles. Making hand-cut tiles that are perfectly square and all the same size is freaking impossible.  After working over each tile one-by-one I got them to pretty much all fit in together:

I stored the tiles between sheets of drywall so they could hopefully learn to stay flat and get to the leather-hard stage.  Starting last Monday, I spent a couple of hours every morning while it was still nice and cool in the studio, working on the design.  It's been relentlessly warm and beautiful here in Oakland, and part of the trick is making sure the tiles don't dry too quickly.  By Friday I had this:

Then I applied some underglaze:

The great thing about custom work is that I always learn something new.  I've been making this style of relief-pattern work for years, but I learned a new way to do the flower petals that gives them much more depth and texture.  Now, the tiles are tucked away on a shelf where air can pass beneath and between the tiles, drying ever so slowly, with no warping-- I hope!