Saturday, May 29, 2010

Deeply Passionately in Love with Two......

What to do, what to do!  
As my gallery sales have dwindled and shows have not been the best (as reported earlier) I jumped head first to the farmers markets.

General observations on working a farmers market.
Eventually it will pay off.
The first market, on Wednesday, is small, very small.
Great place to cut my teeth and learn the ropes.  What to take and what not to take.
How to stand in the hot afternoon sun on asphalt and not burst into flames on an 85 degree day, while still smiling and greeting customers.

Attending my second market at a small upscale neighborhood this morning I have to say my feeling are somewhat optimistic.  The crowd was brisk and seemed excited to see pottery from a local artist.  Several buyers went home to retrieve checkbooks or cash & actually returned.  That will boost anyone's spirits!

I love the hours of the farmers markets!  3-4 hours max and home by early afternoon with a good bunch of veggies and local cheeses, eggs, and meats to boot.  Also love the handmade soaps.  I am passing out loads of postcards and information pointing to the website.  The booth fee for a 10 x 10 booth is $10 - $20.
People come back to see you each week and know you will be there.  This is not a hit a run kind venue, like the art fair scene.
Both of my markets allow me to work out of the back of my truck.  This makes loading and unloading a breeze!  I think the sales will improve as the summer goes on, both markets end in October.  I do enjoy the people watching and chatting.   Oh and let's not forget the double tasking of shopping for the weeks groceries!

Research and development have been HUGE!!  I am keeping a running list of requests.  Made a list and pounded it over my wheel for those flat line times in the studio.  All in all I have to say I love making functional work.  I also love watching shoppers pick up work and handle it; watching their faces smile or scrunch up as hands glide across a rim or caress a handle.  Proving, people really do fall in love with what they are purchasing.

But alas sales are not strong enough to support my studio habits.
Thursday, the phone rang with an invitation to work in the estate gardens again.  I jumped at the chance to make a very fair wage for a day of hard labor.  Leaving the house at 6:30 a.m. with my coffee cup full and NPR blasting on the radio I arrived on time, laced up my boots and loaded my tools into the wheel barrow.  Hi Ho Hi Ho.........  Met up with ace garden wench Bee and we were off to the races.  We decided not to stop for lunch as the day was HOT!  Head down, drink water and keep going until 3 p.m.  2:55 p.m. pack up, run the brush and weeds to the curb and do a final walk about for high garden satisfaction!  We rocked the estate!
I gotta say I miss this work and LOVE this work!  By noon Bee and I discussed current events, solved world peace, caught up on mutual friends and dreamed about being gardeners for some secluded Bed and Breakfast in Vermont.  Is it possible to have two loves?  Is it possible to do both well?

Took my camera too work ........ not a bad gig.

Ann Rosmarin is the designer and I must say she is my favorite designer that I have worked with over the years.  A South African transplant but a lover of all plant material!  I took a sabbatical from the gardens two years ago Ann stayed put.  Ann is an artist and print maker in her own right.  She is frustrated with living in two worlds; Art and Botanical.  We both agonize over which hat to wear.  As the years progress all three of us wonder how long our bodies will continue to entertain wild thoughts of these long days of laborious work.  
But we all drive away in our trucks........ smiling and feeling pretty good about the day's work. 

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Wooster Opening Cookie Recipe!

For all who wanted the cookie recipe from the Wooster opening here it is!
Don't faint when you read the recipe!
From my Mom's recipe box which I inherited several years ago.
She got it from a church lady at the Methodist Soup Supper in Punxsutawney, PA.
This recipe single handedly should explain the obesity and diabetes rate.  But they are so darn easy and yummy!  I only make them around the holidays and cannot keep them in the house!!!  

Sweet Grahams
Foil a jelly roll pan and spray with Pam.
2 cello pkgs. of graham crackers, break into quarters.
1 cup butter (the real deal) and 1/2 cup sugar:
Boil for 3 minutes and keep stirring!  It more than doubles in size!
I use a big enamel cast iron pot.
Add 1 cup of chopped nuts and cook another minutes
(I add 1/2 cup walnuts and 1/2 cup coconut)
Spoon over graham crackers with a ladle.
Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. that's it!
Keep your eye on them as they burn in record fast time!
get a cup of coffee and eat them all

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Farmer's Markets and other detritus......

In February this seemed like such a good idea.  In May and a day standing in a parking lot....... maybe not.

I have been making pots all winter, functional pots to put food in.  I thought the farmers market would be a great R&D (research & development) approach to making pots.  When the dog likes everything you make I thought I needed a bit more insight.  My other thought was, this would be a way to ease back into the show scene, which I abhor, but need to sell pots as I am tripping over them.   I have not done an outdoor show in years!  

With great expectations I packed and made sure my helper, Abby would be ready to roll by 1:00 p.m.  Abby backed out by 11 a.m. while I was furiously going over my checklist and throwing boxes in the truck.  My brain had gone mushy trying to remember all the "stuff" needed to pack up pots.  Note to self, next career move, try jewelry!  

Arriving in plenty of time to set up it looked to be a good group of vendors.  Setting up next to the grass fed beef farm and across from the ice cream man with the non stop compressor proved no problem. However trying to talk to folks over the compressor proved to be interesting.  Pat the baker was next to her and the Alpaca wool gals were at the end.   

There is a learning curve to this type of show.  My truck was loaded like I was going to a two day a fair.  
Farmers markets are 3-4 hours.  Decided not to take a canopy as it was a beautiful Ohio afternoon!  That said, the wind was pretty fierce and the general consensus was; "Oh it gets much worse!"  Great.........  
I had way too much work and had a hard time weeding out what should stay in the truck and what should go out.  As you can see from the pictures, I suck at making these decisions.  Maybe I need two more tables.  Thinking shelves would not stay up in the wind, I'm still opting for tables.

My tables look like a garage sale and can I just say I have NEVER had anything look like this!  So back to the drawing board.  I think I need something I can toss up in 10 minutes and pack up in 5 minutes.  

Also thinking dog & bunny dishes might be the way to go, maybe I just need to make apple butter and give up pottery.

For a day of packing, unpacking, 4 hours standing in a parking lot with an ice cream compressor I came home with one sale (a bowl), grass fed hot dogs, 6 grass feed burgers, 2 rhubarb plants and 6 biscotti.  

a bit depressed but going back out early Sat. morning and do it again.........  
oh my........ 

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day Ethel!

In the never ending mess in the studio and now stacking pots on the floor my alter ego Ethel popped in and read me the riot act.  For those reading this and not having an alter ego, I strongly suggest you get one!
Ethel makes me toe the line when the dust fuzzies in the house are bigger than turnips and Sandy walks by to get to the studio or garden.  Ethel rises up and whacks me upside the head with her best broomstick.  Oh by the way; Ethel was my Grandma who was one tough cookie
at  4'10" in her sweet Hungarian, Emily Post, Hitler kind of way.

Tip toeing over the stacks of pots on my way to the wheel to make more pots, Ethel reared up with her broomstick and said Hey Princess how about that ETSY thing you have been rolling around for two years?
Stopping to look around and sighing a very heavy sigh, I thought;  Why not?  It's cold, windy, rainy and the last thing I want to do is stick my stiff fingers in a bucket of cold water.

At 9:30 am I glanced around and decided I need to black out the windows from all light to shoot those iron red glazes.  This means a trip to the attic to dig through the yardage of fabric.  Finding half a bolt of black polyester I retreated from the attic.  Duct Tape in my teeth and push pins in my pocket (yeah, the word pin cushion butt comes to mind)  Set up the photo booth, get the camera, spend an hour trying to adjust the lighting, find the camera manual, find the thingy that fits on your camera and clamps to the tripod (when you buy the tripod there is a package of 3 and do you think I can one?), figure out which pots to shoot first and step over the rest.  Realization........ all you have is dinnerware!  You need something besides plates, glancing up I see 300+ bisque pots waiting to be glazed.

The dog sees the camera and thinks its time for his close up he dances among the pots and then throws himself of the floor for a belly rub and a close up shot.

The dog was finally banished from the studio as cute only gets you so far.

By three o'clock and two pots of coffee later I was slowly figuring stuff out and making stellar progress.
By 6 p.m. I had shot what I thought was enough photos to attempt setting up an ETSY shop. 
Having several friends who thrive off ETSY and have told me how easy the process is, I really thought this would be a cake walk.  How can I be this old and this naive?   I'm praying I don't sell anything as I still don't know how the money goes from ETSY to my pocket; a cyber vacuum hose?  I really need to touch stuff; like clay, food, dogs, dirt, seeds, .......... and money or it just isn't real.

Rationalizing why this is good idea I hunt for power cords, IFB cords, card readers.  There are miles of cords I have no idea what they go to, one looks like the power cord to my mixer in the kitchen.  
AND I DO NOT have the ONE cord I need?  The hunt leads me to a dusty recess in a back drawer and finding my back up external hard drive, I hear Ethel saying: "Well you procrastinated about backing up that hard drive long enough" so I did that too.  Who knew backing up 2,493 photos, files, gazillions of glaze formulas, infancy of a book and tons of correspondence would take over 2 hours!  But that gave me time to hunt for cords, balance my checking account, balance out the month of April (again in the negative, giving me more reason to forge ahead), find old baby booties tucked in ancient tissue paper and precious photos of trips gone by, old political buttons, old Earth day buttons from 1973, a 1980 button proclaiming THE YEAR OF THE COAST (do ya hear that BP? 1980!)  and still.........  no cord!  Finally, rigged a cord that looked like it should fit to my external hard drive and it worked. But there was Ethel;  "For GODSAKE,  JUST DO IT!"  So I pushed the button......  spent two hours making a pot roast and drinking another pot of coffee.

I question how one buys pottery or anything that needs to be felt, touched, fallen in love with and simply can't live without purchases, on line.  I buy ice cream like this, I drift past the freezer the door and drool.  I pick up the butter pecan, put it back and go for the pistachio, head for the check out line but realize how great Moose Tracks would be!  I would never buy ice cream on line, it's a well thought out impulse buy.  

By two in the morning I had sat at the computer so long I forgot I had feet. In Ethel's words; "Honey, you have a dead end!"  But victory was sweet as I had set up an ETSY shop, linked my webpage, facebook, blog and ETSY shop all together.   Also found warranty cards from stuff that broke ten years ago, old tic tacks (the dog now has minty fresh breath!), soft white leather hand embroidered baby booties, the id bracelets from both my daughters when they came home from the birthing center, old Petosky stones found walking the beaches of Michigan with my Mom,  a handful of arrowheads dug up on an uncles farm when I wanted to be an archeologist at age 6,  my old ranger whistle, my naturalist name tag, homemade and lots of cards from my daughters and husband and all the flotsam and jetsam from a journey through life.......

Stumbling up the stairs I tripped over the dog and rolled victorious into bed.
Thanks Ethel....... miss you and happy Mother's Day! 

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The land of the Flibbertigibbit......

Scattered, pulled, spring fever......... set your clock, it happens every year;  Spring has arrived!
Storms blow through, flowers bloom, the woodchuck eats them, the boat goes in the water, husband moves to boat and we are off to the races.....
and I am not running fast enough!

The studio is jam packed with work.  I need to glaze!   The bisque kiln is coming down, the glaze kiln is going up & there are enough pots to fill it again.  Bottom line;  I love making pots!
Today will be filled with mixing test glazes, glazing market pots and wading through my thoughts of great expectations.
And always, more ideas for new pots and things that need to be put into the third dimension and not just the airy fairy recesses of my brain.
The panic of getting top notch gallery work ready for Chicago & building a new booth
while the commitment of working farmers markets 2 days every week until Oct. looms large.

Jumped into the Lake Farmpark Farmers Market this year as my little foray into research & design.  Also allowing my alter ego, Ethel to show up and make pots Sandy would never make!  Besides, Wednesday afternoons hanging out with farmers and double tasking my grocery shopping for the week set me a-twitter!  Then the Geauga Fresh Market called and I jumped into that one too...... what else can one do on a Sat. morning in Ohio but go hang out with the farmers in a parking lot & talk about the weather and how the tomato crop is fairing this year.  
I will buy way too much, stock the freezer and the dog will be eating canned peaches in January!
Then I will blog about how to treat a dog with rectum rockets and save time taking the rugs to the car wash, hanging them on the car mat wall & hitting them with the turbo power washer!

With the thought of fruit dancing in my brain I made carved fruit dishes & fruit sauce pots......

Thoughts of the garden drift in and out;  tomatoes, peppers & squash, OH MY!  Pole beans or bush beans?  Amber glaze or celedon?  Asparagus plates?  How many?

Also caught up in buying Rachael's first car!  Happy to do it but yikes it took too much time!  Three days and counting & one day for cursing the BMV in Ohio.  I guess it will sit in the driveway until October when she retrieves it so for now I open the doors and the dog thinks he is going for a ride.  He loves it and saves gas!

And let's not forget the Dinnerware Show opening next Friday!  Set up is tomorrow!! 
I will be hitting the road around 8:30 am and home for dinner....... 
just in time for the kiln to be dropping.........