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.


  1. Anonymous10:40 AM

    I know exactly what you mean about making things for the holiday and then being stuck with them. One of my friends suggested that I make Christmas ornaments. At this point, I am wise enough to know retooling my whole studio practice to make something that would only bring $5.00 each is am artistic trap. From the outside world, it sounds like I could really cash in but...when it is all said and done, it is a artistic cluster fuck of epic proportions.
    Keep going !

  2. I think I fell into the christmas ornament trap once many years ago. Ugh, the worst. Why do people always want ceramic artists to make that stuff? They take forever to make and you can't sell them for much. The only ceramic person I know who is successful with holiday ornaments is rae dunn, and I think because the pieces are a genuine expression of her work AND she's been doing them for years.

  3. Oh I hear ya on this one. I've basically run out of the one thing that everyone wants of my work already and my open studio isn't until this weekend. Shame on me for not being more prepared- not having stockpiles of this one thing that everyone now wants. 'tis the season!

  4. I love this, "My customers are all fickle and I'm loathe to try and read their minds, or brainwash them into buying certain things. "

    Surprised to see that one hyperlink led to my blog post! Ha. I am so screwed w. those ornaments. I think I've sold about 10 of the 100 I made. Mary is right w. that last statement of hers.

    The word verification below is
    phintsup. I think the h must be silent and I need to get open myself a beer.

  5. Well Ron, think of it this way: you have ornaments for those annoying people who will ask you, "Don't you have any ornaments?" for the next couple of years. Just pack them up at the end of the season and pul them out again next year... you'll never have to make them again!