Wednesday, August 25, 2010

august doldrums

I've been reminded that I have a blog and people like it when I post every once in a while. It's not that I don't have anything to say, there has just been a lot going on. I'm getting ready to leave for a 3 week trip to Europe in 7 days, and there's a lot of prep that has to happen because I'm leaving my helpers to manage things. Which makes me nervous. And testy. To deal with my testy nervousness I've been making martinis that are so strong they make my face numb. Martinis are really not a drink you should get into the habit of drinking. I wake up in the middle of the night apologizing to my liver and to the brain cells that I just killed, I feel so guilty when I drink like an alcoholic. And the most unfortunate thing of all is that it helps not at all for long-term relaxation.

Despite the hectic schedule, I feel like nothing is getting done, which is my default emotion for when I'm trying to do too much with too little time. People have been getting on my nerves, but I manage to maintain a superficially sunny exterior so no one gets hurt. I had my first negative feedback on etsy a few weeks ago. I already know there are unhappy customers out there, because I usually hear from them. This one, I heard nothing, just an ugly red "negative" post on my feedback page, with no commentary. I wrote the person immediately to ask them what was up, even though I was inclined to just ignore them since they already left negative feedback. But that would be poor customer service, and I never intentionally give poor customer service. Unless you are being such a bad customer that I have no choice. They wrote me back to tell me the creamer cracked-- or something, it was actually not totally clear what happened-- and it wouldn't hold liquid, so they were disappointed. I was so irritated by their total lack of recognition that they had other ways to deal with this--like maybe contact me so I could send them a new creamer--that it took me 4 days to respond. Taking that long to write a customer back broke my 24 hour rule, but every email I wrote was so hostile that I couldn't send it. I finally managed something bland and inoffensive:

I can't say for sure what happened with your piece unless I looked at it. Clearly, it seems you received a very rare defective item since all of my work is made to be useful and functional, not just something pretty to look at. I will replace the creamer, I hope that will resolve the issue. Let me know if this solution works for you and we will go from there.

Never heard back from the former customer, so fine, fuck off. Live with your cracked creamer.

Meanwhile, I've been working on this cool project for the Gamble House Garden in Palo Alto. The Gamble House is having a 25 year anniversary event and one of my good, long-term customers asked me to design an exclusive vase for them that would be sold as a fund-raising thing. Time to call in the Hector! All of these images are of the prototype vase I slaved over. The only unfortunate thing about this order is they want it glazed in the "bad boyfriend" glaze. I almost immediately started thinking about the brain cells that are serving me well today, but will die tomorrow as more rivers of vodka pour down my throat while I wait for kiln loads of vases covered in matte green glaze to cool down. I attempted to talk them into something else, but it's true that this vase will look best in the matte green glaze, so I had to concede. And then I immediately recruited Hector to do the glazing part too. I am merciless.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

blog paparazzi

I was at the Renegade Fair last weekend, selling my work. My college degree is in anthropology, so craft shows are prime ground for studying the culture and human behavior in action. I like to take notes. I am mostly interested, occasionally annoyed at what I observe. Nowadays what I see constantly are parents who bring young children to shows, and then spend the whole time telling their kids not to touch anything. I consider that child torture. I watched a woman scold her six year old daughter: "Look at how cute that is-- don't touch it! Isn't that cute-- don't touch it!" If I have time, I will walk up to these poor children and teach them how to pick up pottery. I know parents think they are doing me-- and by extension themselves-- a favor by not letting their children touch my stuff, but really, they are just totally annoying me and everyone else within earshot. Take some time to help your kid touch and pick up stuff, you'll both have a lot more fun.

Also on my list of annoyances are people who talk on the phone while idly wandering around my booth, like they're in their own kitchen or living room. Feel that gentle pushing on your side? That's me, nudging you out of my space. Most people are so caught up in their phone conversations they have no idea what I'm doing to them until they are out in the middle of the aisle, getting buffeted by the crowd. And then there are the people who have no intention of buying a thing from me but want to tell me what I should be making. When these types start talking to me I make my eyes go really wide and start making a "grrrrrrrrrrr" sound under my breath until they get scared and run away.

These annoyances pale in comparison to a new scourge that one my friends dubbed the "blog paparazzi". These are people--mostly bloggers, some just plain old rude people with cameras (rpwc)-- who think nothing of coming up to your booth and photographing anything they please without so much as a "hello" or bothering to ask permission. This is a trend that I've been noticing more and more the past couple of years, and this last weekend I was inundated with people and their cameras. I had a number of people who didn't even make eye contact with me as they snapped away. I finally busted someone after glaring at them for a good solid 30 seconds while they took images. How anyone could ignore my patented weaponized glare is beyond me. I think they may have been an alien made of Teflon. This person was so surprised and defensive that I could possibly have an issue with them taking images, and didn't understand why I would want them to ask for permission. It could have been an educational moment but since I was pissed, it was probably just more frightening.

Here's the deal, blog paparazzi and rpwc: My work is me, and before you take pictures of my babies, you ask first if it's okay. If you want a picture of my work, you can go to my website or image library and look at all the pictures you want, and even download if you want to. I spend a lot of time and money on having beautiful images of my work out there, and an unattractive snap of my work at a show with bad lighting posted on your blog does not get me excited. If you must take a picture, you can show some basic common courtesy and respect and ask for permission. Why? Because it pisses me off when you treat my work like a public commodity that anyone has a right to take a picture of. Just because people have started documenting every moment of their lives does not mean I want to be a part of your personal archive.

Despite the rpwc and blog paparazzi, it was a really good show and my customers were awesome. I stopped doing any show but Palo Alto because of the poor sales at most of them, but I'm happy to make an exception for Renegade, even if I have to deal with some clueless people. Don't be one of them!