Thursday, May 24, 2012

Does anybody read this, or are you all Spam Bots?

I am always a wee bit curious about how people are driven to this little blog, where nothing of significance is discussed (like geopolitics, economics, war etc). I actually think that most of what I write about is really only interresting to me (I could be wrong). Anyway, back to the stats. Blogger tracks the referring links, referring URLs and the search keywords used to get here. I know my mother links to my blog on her blog, so that explains that. I am listed as an artist on the Centennial Gallery blog, so that explains that. But everything else is still an unknown as to where the traffic came from. The only thing I can think of are spam bots and other mysterious internet robots. I do get a kick out of the fact that people other than myself are googling me and my alter ego the cracked potter. What is weird, is that one of the referring sites is an "alternative social media site" that I do not belong to. I barely use FB. So it is a bit weird to see that my FB presence generates nothing, but other social media that I don't know anything about is generating traffic. The other weird one is a URL fingerprint site, that uncovers "hidden relations", whatever that is supposed to mean. Other people who are more techie than me will just shake their head and roll their eyes at my www naivete.

Anyway, 'nuf said about that. It now less than 42 hours before the sale on Saturday and no, I wont have any really, really, really fresh pots in it, just the month old ones. I thought Dave was going to load the kiln with my stuff that needed to be refired and fit student work in amongst it, and he thought I was, so in the end, he just loaded the student stuff and fired it. So look for the, brand new, fresh as a daisy pots on Etsy in about a week, once I recover from this last sale. I am pretty sure there are going to be some gooders in that batch.

Additional thought:
I have noticed again and again that people keep landing on the post "Late Onset ADD?". I was just trying to be funny, but people also seem to be searching these very words as well, so is late onset ADD a problem that I am not aware of? Do I really have it? Probably not, I can focus really well when the big comfy chair grabs a hold of me and the television is showing something I really like.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Dodging Murphy's curve ball

It might just work out in the end, but its gonna be tight (just like OJ's glove). The kiln is getting a new element today (fingers crossed) and then my stuff will be re-fired tonight. So Friday I will be unloading that kiln, then pricing and cataloguing everything else. it's gonna be a long Friday night.

I must say that even though everything was just a tad bit under fired, the glazes looked OK. I still want to refire though, the feet felt a little dry and the glazes were not 100%. The gloss liner glaze was satin, the translucent brown had a purple/bluish haze with little depth, the black and rutile slip on my bas relief stuff did not develop as nicely as it has in the past (begins to react with the glaze and forms a milky opalescence where the glaze pools) and again, the F96 brown clay was still quite orange. I always worry with a refire that the glazes will run off the pots and stick to the shelf. They had already started to flow the first time round, and now will be subjected to a full firing again. Luckily, most of my feet are quite substantial. I love a nice fat foot. However, I have several tall jars and vases that have flat bottoms and the glaze stops quite close to the bottom. Everything should be ok, but you never know.

So, if all goes well, I will have everything priced and packed on Friday night. If I don’t sell anything, then on Sunday I will be posting a whole bunch of stuff on Etsy, so look out...

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Long Weekend Shennanigans...

This past weekend was the Victoria Day long weekend. I spent Friday night and all day Saturday at the studio, as well as a split shift on Sunday (sounds a bit sweat shopish). I was at the studio from 9:30am to 1pm madly glazing, then I went open housing with a friend of mine who is thinking of buying a condo. Her rent will be going up and other life situations have brought this to a head and now she is thinking of moving, so I went to a new condo project with her and then we drove around for a bit looking and then stopped for beer and food and then I was back to the studio at 4:30 and glazed and loaded the kiln until 9:30pm. I wouldn’t normally spend so long on the glazing at one time, but I was hoping to get one more load out of the kiln before the Mad Potters sale on Saturday. I took Monday off. I slept in for the first time in a really long time, got up, didn’t shower, barely got dressed. Dealt with the ribs that were defrosting in the fridge (I cooked them up and had a mid afternoon dinner out of them). The air outside my condo was heavy with the scent of the lilac in the front yard that is just starting to blossom, and the small tree outside my patio that I don’t know the name of, but it must be a cherry of some type. The pink/white blossoms are all out and I am sure some of what I smell outside is from that.

I did not think about the pots in the kiln at all on Monday, I just vegged out. I got an e-mail this morning addressed to all studio members and the title was Kiln Stuff. Hmmm. I read on and it looks like one of the elements went again. As this is not my kiln, I can’t really comment on how it is maintained, but when the elements start to go, it would probably behoove you to change them all out at the same time. Not so here. In an attempt to not have to buy all the new elements at once, they are being replaced as they die, which has been about 1-2 firings in between every replacement. I think so far 3 of the 6 elements have been replaced, so this would now be the 4th that needs changing.

This is of course interfering with getting ready for the sale. I had a few things in this firing that I really wanted to put out on Saturday. Maybe it will get fixed today and then no worries, but then again, maybe it will get fixed on Thursday, which would mean very hot pots on Friday. I will be in the studio tonight to teach so I can take stock of the situation and find out if it might be fixed in time for a refire on Wednesday. I had a lot of my bas relief shellacked pots in there. Approximately 14 teabowls, a tall jar with wire doodads on the lid, a test piece for Dave using some Alberta slip, a couple of large platters and other random tall stuff. I had a few glaze combos in there that I was anxious to see as well. Oh well, just another case of Murphy rearing his ugly head again.

I won't be taking these pots to CC to refire, just not enough time. I have a lot of stuff for the sale, that is not the issue, I just wanted some of these pots too.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Off to the Bronx...

I will be shipping a package to NYC (specifically the Bronx) today. It contains a cute little jar that was purchased from my Etsy shop. I must say that trying to figure out shipping costs for things before you sell them is a bit tricky. I knew from the outset that I would probably not get it right the first time and would probably end up either grossly over estimating shipping costs, or even worse, under estimating them. If I overestimate, that is fixable, as the extra can be refunded to the customer. It is the underestimating that is the real problem. Before I listed anything on Etsy, I did a quick survey of other Etsy shops selling roughly the same thing as me to try and figure out what they were charging for shipping. I also focused on those shops that were Canadian to try and get a handle on how much they were charging their US and international customers. But still, I have never shipped pottery to the US, or internationally for that matter, so the whole pricing thing was still a bit of a mystery. I have since discovered a couple of charts that are buried a couple of layers down on the Canada Post website that explain (that’s generous) how things are priced for shipping to the US. If you can keep your parcel under a certain weight (2lbs) and try and keep the dimensions of the overall package on the small side to reduce your “volumetric weight”, then you will only pay about $12.66 to ship to NYC by ground, otherwise, it jumps up to about $20. I am still not sure if my package is under the size and weight limits, but we shall see. Pottery is a tricky thing to wrap too. It’s fragile, so lots of packing materials go into ensuring it arrives in the same number of pieces it left in (usually 1). You need at least 2-3 inches around your piece to make sure there is enough room for the bubble wrap and extra padding, so your box size increases rather dramatically. At this point, I am not even considering the cost of the packing materials themselves. I went to the post office on Monday to pick up some bubble wrap, tape and brown kraft paper. That alone cost me over $11, but will wrap a few packages, so probably $2 or $3 went into the packing supplies for this one. My pot sold for $25, and shipping was charged at $14, so if by some miracle this comes in at $12.66, then I may just have guessed my shipping costs correctly, give or take a buck. If not, then this “road to riches” through pottery is going to be hard and all uphill (one can dream can’t they?).

This weekend is a long weekend (Victoria Day) and while most people take advantage of the nice weather to go camping, or go to their cabins, or whatever, I will be in the studio, as per usual. The Mad Potter’s Sale is quickly approaching, and I need to get one more load fired off before then, so I am hoping to load a bisque on Friday and then a glaze on Sunday. I have yet to price anything, or set in stone what I am taking (mandatory catalogue sheet). I hate catalogue sheets. In fact, hate is not a strong enough sentiment. I loath and detest them with a passion usually reserved for things like war & puppy kickers. For the amount of work that goes into putting them together, I don’t see the benefit. I like the way we do it at the Fairview sale. Blank sheets, price sticker goes on sheet when sold (re-written for security sake) and totaled. Catalogue sheets really mean nothing to me. For instance, if I have 10-12 bowls of similar sizes, then they will all be the same price, so when one sells, I can’t tell which one it was that sold by the catalogue sheet, unless I get really, really descriptive when writing them up, but that takes way too much time, and how many different ways can you describe a bowl in 2 inches of space? I never look back at my catalogue sheets (maybe I should), but I can usually tell, at a glace, what has sold really well, and what didn’t. It becomes very apparent when you are wrapping up your stuff at the end of the day too. The other reason I hate catalogue sheets is that I am a prolific potter for the amount of time I spend in the studio. I always take way too much stuff, and that means having to catalogue approximately 100 pieces that I know will never all sell, but I don’t want to limit my potential, so I tend to bring it all and cross my fingers.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Mad Potters...we don't bite (hard)

I will be in the Mad Potters Sale on Saturday, May 26th this year. If you are in the Hillhurst/Sunnyside area and want to see some excellent pottery, there will be all kinds of wonderful, functional and sculptural work by local Calgary artists ranging from Cone 10 reduction stoneware to mid range porcelain fired in oxidation. So come on down to the HHSS Community Centre and check us out, we would love to see you there!

Monday, May 14, 2012

First Etsy Sale

It may have taken 3 months, but I just made my first sale through Etsy. It was for a little stoneware jar thrown all in one and then the lid is seperated from the body at the trimming stage. It will be going to the Bronx in a few days. Now I just have to find a box...

Thursday, May 10, 2012

My new T's arrived in the mail yesterday....

I was not able to decide which one to get, but as it is for a good cause, I bought both of them.
I got the link for the t's from Carole Epp's blog Musing About Mud, however, I just checked and unfortunatly it looks like these limited edition t-shirts are now all gone :(

Monday, May 7, 2012

Spring Blizzard = Good Pottery Sales

I was participating in the Fairview Studios Pottery Sale this past Saturday. When I left my house at 7:00 it was sprinkling lightly, but not very cold out, so I decided against a jacket and wore runners without socks. By the time I got to the hall where the sale was being held (7:30), it had started to snow and was beginning to accumulate. I parked my car, got out, opened the hatch and immediately stepped into an ice cold puddle of melty slush (BTW, runners with mesh tops are not water proof). There were not many customers waiting for the sale to start, maybe 10 or 12, but by 9:30 it was packed and people were shopping. For a spring sale, I did reasonably well. My gross sales were on par with a slow Christmas sale. I ended up having to re-sticker all my pots as the ones I had used were not coming off very well. As I was standing at my table madly redoing everything, there were a couple of women looking at some of my stuff. The words coming out of their mouth sounded like “this is just beautiful, I love it”, and then they put it back and walked away. Perhaps I misunderstood them? Maybe they were looking for the same thing, but in blue? Actually, I think they were looking for the same thing, but in “Cheaper”. I do tend to price myself out of sales, but my thoughts are that why should someone else get it for $20, when it cost a minimum of $30 in materials and time to make it. I would rather wait a little longer to make the sale than give it up for a quick buck now.
I have the Mad Potters sale in 3 weeks on May 26th, and it will be curious to see how this one goes. I have been involved with them only for 2 previous sales and so far my earnings from them have been about half of what I can do at the Fairview sale, but then I am spoiled. The Fairview Sale, which has been running for over 30 years, has all the kinks ironed out and it practically runs itself. The Fairview customers are extremely loyal and it always amazes me how much money they spend. I will give this sale one more shot, and if the numbers remain the same, I will have to reconsider if I participate in it next year or not. You never know, this could be the year that everyone wants cone 6 electric instead of cone 10 reduction. At least I am not competing with salt/soda or wood fired work

I should note that the snow did not stick around. It stopped snowing around noon, continued to sprinkle on and off for the rest of the day, and then on Sunday the temperature was ~12 degrees celcius, and today, it is forecasted to be a beautiful 19 degree day, and tomorrow is supposed to be even nicer at 23 degrees. In saying this, I am looking at the weather forecast right now, and I see snow and rain on Thursday…oh well, that is what you get for living nestled up against the foothills of the Rocky Mountains in Southern Alberta. No two days are ever quite the same and you can always count on a snowstorm in May.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Fairview Studios Annual Spring Pottery Sale

Once again the potters at Fairview Studios will be selling their wares at the Canyon Meadows Community Centre from 9am to Noon. If you are in the Calgary area tomorrow, you should come and check it out.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

200th post, and the results of my last firing at the studio before the sale

So I fired off a kiln load on Sunday, and here are the results

Not sure about the one with the whale. I love the pot, but the whale was supposed to be a smoky blue and it turned out cobalt blue. It is hanging from a length of high temp wire that was inserted into the lid at the green stage. The whale has a loop of wire as well, and it just hangs there.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Two from the kiln

This is all I had the energy to do last night. I did not get home until after 7:00 last night, I had not eaten all day, and was pretty exhausted. So, this is what I managed to get pictures of. I will take more tomorrow. I am teaching tonight, so it will be pretty dark out and I like a little natural light. 

This little cup is aout 3" x 3.5"

And this mug is about 5.5" tall x 3.5" wide