Monday, March 28, 2011

Start of the Next Season

Today officially ends my catch up and get ahead time in the production cycle. As of today, I have sales every weekend and a gallery to keep up with along with home sales and students. I have lots of Market meetings every month and lots of packing and unpacking for shows and sales.

The local art show is happening on the 7th to 10th of April and I will have to get Dave to do one day of the show so that I can go to the Market as it spans a weekend. There is a gift shop this year for the first time and I decided to pay for the four days in the gift shop so that I would be able to sell some work. I have put some items in the "A"rt show in past years and even if a pot sold, the money I got back didn't cover even the raw material costs of the pot after entry fees and commissions etc were taken off.

This year the gift shop only folks are not included in the gala opening night as the gift shop will not be available to view at that time. Perhaps that will change next year as it is a bit odd that the giftshop isn't included in the whole event, there is no need to separate things this way.

I have been working on a plan of what to throw in the next few days as the early week is best to start projects and then finish them up in the shorter bursts of time that the later week allows.

I have added a photo at the top, one of Kurt Knock's lovely pictures of course. These bowls are in my water glaze and are a larger volume soup bowl set.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Volounteer My A$5/Bottom Off

The Market runs mainly on volounteers and two staff members that have to really understand the way the whole ship needs to manoeuvre. Vendors set up out of place, show up late, don't book a stall, waste staff time, have hurt feelings at the drop of a hat, don't attend adjudication meetings, bring things that aren't eligible for the market, bring a vehicle in when they aren't ready and block everyone else who is ready to drive out, complain about the vendor beside them smelling funny, leave garbage in the city get the point.
As an aside, I received two lovely compliments last Saturday, about how well I handled the General Meeting a few weeks ago. A small, heartfelt, positive comment can wash away ten ugly rants and for that I am most appreciative.

It is part of leading a huge group like the Farmer's Market, that people will call you at home, email you, write long horrible letters about how their opinion is more correct than that of the board and how moronic all the decisions made three month ago were, and as mentioned call you at home in the middle of the day.

I work at home and put in some serious hours in the studio and during the merger between the two feuding Markets, it got so bad that I was unable to complete enough pots because there were hours of each day lost to these random phone conversations. The old wheel was so loud that I couldn't have the phone on speaker because it drowned out their end of the conversation (which cheeky dave suggested was just fine). So I actually got a hands free earphone set that I could plug in and hang the phone on the back of my apron, put the headphones on and then throw, trim and wedge clay all while listening to the various espoused opinions .

I think it is time to get back to that. Also another part of the stress free studio plan is to turn the answering machine on during the day and then return phone calls when it is convenient for me and possibly when the caller has calmed down.

I have been working a lot with the Market as I am trying to train her to handle a lot of people (last weekend's market was 40ish stalls****our largest outdoor season starter ever****), the physical placement of every stall, the parking place of each vendor vehicle, customers, handling the stall fees and receipts for each person, taking attendance, writing down each concern along with every request for stall changes, and visually reviewing every item for sale at the Market to ensure it complies with our mantra {{MAKE IT/BAKE IT/GROW IT/SELL IT}}.

I am also coordinating tonight's monthly adjudication meeting, inviting each person by phone and email and collecting all the applications, reviewing them and then I will head the meeting and interview everyone that shows up or sends us email photos.

Perhaps my lack of compassion on the phone earlier is because I am a little tired to the bustle of the start of the new Market year.

My gallery was very well stocked a few weeks ago and I was confident with the amounts of each type of pot until I took 35 pots to the Salish Sea Gallery in Cowichan Bay and then packed up two tubs to take to the Market Saturday. When I came home I could really feel the empty spaces and now I have made a new list of pots to make and am working through them.

So it continues, a new season of markets and sales and a new plan for keeping up with my gallery demands. All at once, the number of hours that I spend volounteering seems like a bit extra weight on my mind. I am really looking forward to the time when the Market is running along like clockwork, monthly Board meetings, monthly adjudication meetings and weekly markets with only a few small fires to put out from the comfort of my stall (not running around like a crazed chicken with a huge fire extinguisher, see diagram above) hahahaahaaa

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Kurt Knock Photography

I am applying to the Ladysmith Arts on the Avenue Show, that will happen August 28th, 2011 and I needed to put together a very nice, professional portfolio for the jury process that is happening this coming weekend. So I called Kurt.

We had chatted a few weeks ago, and looked through some photos of pottery from books and magazines and there were very few that I liked. The graded background and lack of shadow or light makes the pots seems to be from some other planet where the basic laws of earth are not in effect. My simple, honest work needs to be in some sort of context in the pictures because when you buy a casserole dish, it is used to make a bubbling brie with ginger, apricot jam and roasted garlic, so you need to hold and interact with the pots. All my mugs go to new homes where they are embraced every day and usually washed out while they are still warm and put in the drying rack so they are ready for the afternoon tea or coffee!

Kurt showed up on time (an excellent starting point amongst us artists) and was very professional about setting up the living room into foreground and background. I was unable to see how the photos would reflect their surroundings but he was careful to look through the camera and then make adjustments to the room.

I, of course, was wearing the usual clay clothes which includes at this time of year, a long sleeved shirt that I cut the sleeves of so that they are just the right length and don't get messy while I throw and wedge clay. Perhaps not very photogenic. The pants have built in grub as they are worn until they disintegrate and the over shirt I was wearing is a worn out, sun bleached colour of red and proclaims loudly in 2 inch letters that I am a "VEGGIE VALET".

I went and got a few fabrics from my closet and asked if they would look nice through the view finder. We decided on a dark long sweater that I had made (knit with 2.5mm needles and took me a year to knit up) and some nice blue jeans that fashionable (great taste in clothes) dave had picked out for me.

It was the fastest morning I had spent in a while and I brought upstairs all sorts of pots that I really loved for him to shoot. I was so excited that Kurt was able to see the glazes and shapes AND capture them in the camera. I see the beauty but when I take a picture there are so many mistakes that no one even sees the pots.

He was working on the shot with me in it for a while and I'm sure he is very used to people being self conscious when the camera is out, but I had no intention of being in any of the shots. There are some really great shots that include parts of me and I felt very respected and actually had some fun (so many women are afraid of having a picture of them taken that looks really bad). There was one shot of me looking down that I balked at and he hit delete instantly which made me feel safe! (oops my ego is showing, haha)

He let me know when he had taken all the shots he could in the time and I started to put the price stickers back on them and take them all back down into the gallery. When I was done running up and down the stairs he had put all his camera equipment away, packed it into the van, and left to go home and work on the editing. I wrote him a cheque and prepared to wait until the last possible minute to get a copy of them so I could run down to the photo print place and run some off for the jury next week.

Kurt worked on them right away and emailed me a few that day then stopped by the next day with a CD of his favorites! He also explained a lot of options for processing and empowered me to try my hand at building my own photo book online, which I did (it took 4 hours) and now I am just waiting for the printing to be done.

I can't say enough about how comfortable I was with Kurt in our home, how beautiful the photos of my artwork are, how professional and respectful the process was and how much I am looking forward to using his images as the public face of my art in the years to come. I have ideas of all kinds from business cards to postcards inviting people to my Annual Solo Show, that I want to make with the new pictures.

I am currently waiting for the photo book but you don't have to. I will post a shot or two a week over time and credit his with his name. You'll be amazed and see what I see (but can't capture) when I look at my own work. Thank you Kurt.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Dedication to the Craft

I got a cute email this morning from a clay artist that I have become good friends with here in the 'warmland' about how she was up until 4am waiting for the kiln to turn off. I think it is a really good idea to know how long the kiln fires for so we can have an idea of the efficiency of the kiln and a firing schedule is crucial as the kiln ages so that an extra long firing will be noticed.

Anyway, she must be as stubborn as I am, as her story of sitting under a heat blanket (her studio is unheated as most are) with a hot drink and waited for it to shut off, reminded me of one long night that I spent out in my carport.

Keeping in mind that I fire electric because I like it and because my neighbours would call the fire department every time I tried to 'reduce' my wood kiln. If it isn't clear by now, I live in an old part of the muni built in 1967 on those old quarter acre lots, all the houses are basically the same and the whole street was rented out to various people for about a decade making it a bit rough. Now the street is filled with kids walking around, chasing each other, playing street ball hockey (in the rain) and people walking their dogs (both on and off leash much to the chagrin of the local bylaw officer (yup just the one guy)).

Not a rough 'hood anymore unless you get a bright orange ball in the head for driving your car through the game too fast. Of course, I never get a ball in the head because I ride my bike everywhere and bribe all the kids with cookies. The cookies also help my kilns, bike and trailer and any pots that need to dry out, STAY in the carport where they belong. Everyone around knows me (some because of the tree thing, read the older blog posts) and we all keep an eye on the street. Also, the guy who lives right across from my carport smokes and works shifts that start and end at all times, therefore he is always coming and going with an eye on my front door.

Back to the start: I had met a wonderful woman on the ferry who had just gotten an email through the potter's guild she is part of, saying that someone needed to get rid of an unused kiln, so I emailed, called and went to the guy's house, had my carrier go get it and had a whole group of cyclists (who know how to lift with their legs) move it off the pallet into place, then I had the neighbour's son-in-law who is a electrician wire more power to the house, paid a whole year's potter savings for him and then worked my as$ off filling it with pots.

So here I was, new kiln, new computer programmed right out of the factory and I am too scared to turn the damn thing on.................So I turned it on, estimated it would turn off before midnight and went to make dinner. There was no way I was going to go to bed with this behemoth firing away under the spare room, visions of the many catastrophic house fires I have been to danced in my head (no sugar plums here), so I stayed in the studio working until midnight and checked on it. 2000F but not 2232F like I needed it to be. So I waited to see how fast it would get to peak temp. then my feet started to fall asleep, so I went and got a sweater and wool socks and waited longer, then I got a blanket a large cushion and a toque and settled in.

I was amazed at the incredibly slow ramp program that it was using and started to close my eyes as the red glare of the computer display was burning them. I would open one eye, alternating, just a slit to see the temp which was flashing alternately with the pyrocouple number that the reading is coming from.

I was blissfully unaware that the downstairs young man was out with friends at the pub and when they pulled up in a cab and tumbled out into the street in front of the house, laughing and talking, I really only had two choices. Try to grab everything and run for the door that they were also aiming for or stay put and pretend this was normal.

I was too stiff and cold to bolt so I stayed put. I am sure it was a ridiculous sight, the blanket, toque, cushion etc all in the carport in the dark night. We all had a good laugh and they went inside to sleep.

Magically, just after they were all inside the kiln flashed 2232F and I was frozen in that moment to see if it would turn off, it didn't, I screwed up my courage and waited, it went to 2234F and I held out hope that this huge investment (for which there was no warranty, receipt or history) had a plan to stop firing. I held my breath. Wait for it.......... then at last a click and a different display on the heartless computer display!!! It said completed and gave the firing time.

I breathed in deeply the cold are of the night and stiffly bent to pick up the cushion, I wrapped the blanket tightly and turned off the (also unknown) downdraft kiln sucker and turned to go inside.

Funny enough, the door was locked. I gave it a more aggressive tug and the group of pub goers burst out laughing from inside the dark gallery. They laughingly let me in my own house and when I finally crawled into bed my husband squealed at the shocking cold of my flesh each time he accidentally touched me!