Thursday, January 31, 2008

A little bit of redemption

After my goofy stamp debacle (see "Doh! & Duh!!!" post below), it felt good to finish up my plates for the Community Blood Center this morning. I was able to quickly remake some stamps, fire them and get them out this morning to use. They wanted me to work in my normal style, just basically sneaking in their logo as part of the design. I'm pretty happey with how they came out.
I guess plates have been on my brain lately, because as I looked around my studio, I had several other shelves with various plates on them. Maybe I've been craving sandwiches or cake!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Packing pots

About this time a year ago I attended my first wholesale show in Baltimore. For those of you who don't know, a wholesale show is one where artists set up their display and many gallery owners from all over the US come and make orders for the upcoming year. I was very blessed with a successful show and have spent much of my studio time over the past year filling orders for new galleries. It was a goal of mine to have a wider range of exposure, and I was able to do that as a result of the show.

Yesterday I packed my final order (actually, I may have two more orders if waitlist galleries still want the work) of the year. It felt good to see a giant list have the final X through the order to say it was shipped. I thought I'd share a little about my packing process, as I've gotten a little better at it (although I still occasionally have breakage- it's hard to completely guard against someone dropping your box, which happened last week!).

I first get all my pieces together and check the list to make sure I haven't overlooked any items.

Each piece will be wrapped well with bubble wrap, with the end taped so it doesn't come free. Masking tape or another colored tape works best because whomever is unpacking on the other end will be able to easily find the tape (rather than using clear plastic tape). I often tear off a bunch of strips because it's much more efficient than wrapping the piece, putting it down, tearing one piece, etc.Here's a pile of wrapped and taped pieces:

The final mess of bubble-wrapped pile. I like to have all the pieces out so when I'm loading the boxes, I can see what may fit in a little nook. I didn't take any pictures of the loaded boxes, but a couple things to keep in mind:

-don't stack plates flat on the bottom of the box. Instead, create a little nest with newsprint and stack them diagonally or on their ends. I will often add a little paper cushion in between the plates as well

-Fill all gaps between pieces with newsprint- you don't want the work shifting in the box

-add extra bubble wrap around protruding handles, feet, and spouts before wrapping the entire piece Always double box your work with at least 2" of foam peanuts in between. That's my gigantor bag of peanuts- 20 cubic feet!

I always overfill the top because the peanuts tend to break down through transport:

The process yesterday took a little under 3 hours (which is always longer than I think it will!). This was a particularly large order, so it took me a bit longer to wrap all the work. This all includes wrapping, packing, typing the invoice, creating a cd of images and info, dropping it off at UPS and a quick trip to Wendy's for a celebratory Frosty!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Doh!!! & duh!

This past week for me has been filled with random blunders and clumsy acts that have gotten me questioning if I need to just go away for a couple of days and start anew. This all culminated about an hour ago with the discovery that I had committed the ultimate mistake when making a stamp: I didn't create the mirror image, and thus ended up with a stamp that was opposite what I wanted (see the little swoosh going down to the left instead of the right)! DARN! DANG!

I'm working on a project for the Community Blood Center of the Carolinas: creating volunteer and donor awards for their 5th anniversary celebration. I have the pieces made and ready to receive patterns and textures that contain the CBC's logo of a blood drop. Luckily, I decided to test out my stamps really quickly before I went to town on the 12 platters and 8 vases I had made. Needless to say, I was much more careful when making the new stamps to do them backwards!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

It a winter wonderland!

That's what a friend of ours used to say on the rare chance it snowed down here in the Carolinas. While it's only about a half an inch and will probably be soggy mud by the end of the day, I've always loved how beautiful snow-covered trees are.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

All that's left

Today I returned to Clayworks for the winter session. Once again, I'm teaching 2 sessions of handbuilding. This morning's class had several returning students, one who hasn't taken in a year and she's back (yeah!) and many new eager students. It looks like it'll shape up to be a great session. We're going to be working on bowls (some to keep, some to donate to Second Harvest Food Bank event), wall pieces, a box with a drawer, and as many other projects I can fit in 10 weeks. I always have unrealistic expectations of what we can accomplish in one 10 week session, but there's so much one can do with clay, it overwhelms me (in a good way)!!!

After class I headed to Tic Toc for a yummy lunch, and then on to the Mint Museum downtown to check out the Fiberart International exhibit. For those of you who live in or near Charlotte, it's one show to see. It basically blew open the concept of what fiber art is, for me, and included many wallpieces, sculptures, and objects. It made me inspired to explore sewing materials other than fabric. I'll share sometime if I actually get around to it!

After my little excursion downtown I headed to tutoring, and then home to discover that one of my daggum (that's darn for you non-southerners) cats knocked one of the plants out of the garden window! AAARGG. Of course it was in one of my favorite pots (I can't figure out if pots become my favorite before or after they're broken!): it was one my professor in college had made and given to me. Bummer. Here's all that's left:

The problem is that Parker and Posey love to sit up in the window and chatter at the birds outside in the fig tree. Usually there aren't quite this many plants in the window because many of them are outside during the spring and summer. Parker, the fat one, has a charming way of squeezing his body in the smallest available spot. It just doesn't work well for fatty. Although I can't accuse him of doing it because I wasn't there to see it happen- just home in time to discover the pile on the floor and little dirt and ceramic treasures scattered around the house. I wish I could ground those crazy cats, but what can I do? Not pet them for a day? Yeah right.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

In case you didn't know....

Here's the answer to that age old question: what is art? A friend sent this to me and I almost fell over.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Little rascal

The reason our bird feeders run out of seed so fast....

I saw this little guy several times this morning even before I thought to get the camera.

I guess it was divine intervention for him to fill his belly so well.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

A little visitor

My wedging table has a window above it that looks into my neighbor's backyard (and no, I wasn't peeping). During a marathon wedging session yesterday I happened to look up and see this little guy, nestling down in the tree. He (or she?) was fluffing up its feathers and really getting comfortable for some time. It reminded me of my cat, Parker, who is fat and cuddly and quite a character, and will quit at nothing to get comfortable (or fed).

I have a new found appreciation of birds, as my brother-in-law and sister-in-law are bird watchers and just got these new amazing binoculars. They took Brian and I on a short birdwatching stint. It would be fun to be able to identify birds.

Here was the result of my wedging labor yesterday. Although not much actual work got done. I ended up going to the Clayworks monthly potluck lunch, which was fun and yummy. Those ladies know how to cook. When I got home, a friend who now lives out of town stopped by and we ended up talking for 2 1/2 hours! That's the pleasure of working for yourself, I guess. That means more work for today!

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Back in the studio

While the picture to the left may not seem too impressive to the causual observer...I spent much of yesterday morning and early afternoon cleaning and reorganizing my studio. This was probably the messiest area (I should've taken a before picture)- my desk. I literally, and shamefully had over a foot of random papers, postcards, mail, and junk on each of those shelves and on my desk. It feels good, now, to have all the books and magazines organized so I can actually use them. And I put up some favorite photos of family and friends, so I won't get lonely while I'm working by myself. My friend Julie and I were talking yesterday about how it would be so much easier if we would just take the extra minute to put things where they belong, rather than spending hours trying to reorganize. I guess that's one lesson I didn't learn well when I was three (or thirteen, or thirty)!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Resolution? Probably not....

Happy New Year! I hope this finds everyone rejuvinated and happy after the holidays. I took some time off from the studio the past couple weeks to travel up to Ohio with Brian to visit family. Our parents live about 5 miles from each other (we grew up in the same town), so it's really easy to see everyone and actually spend quality time with them over the holidays. The highlight of our trip was getting to see our 6 year old niece perform in her school's little holiday production. Addie even had the last speaking line of the evening. We were thoroughly proud!

Our trip to Ohio consists of driving about 8 hours on big highways, small highways and back roads. We often see something interesting along the way. This year, along the AA highway (mostly just a 2 lane road through the through the countryside Kentucky- lots of farms) we encountered a cattle farm with a funny sight: someone must have just called all the cows for a meal because they were all lining up in front of a barn, waiting their turn (seemingly patiently) to go in for their dinner. It was so odd to see them all slowly sauntering over to the line, not even really bumping into each other. We forgot our camera at home, so I was bummed to not have a picture to share because the words aren't as captivating as the image was.

Even though I was taking a break from pots these past weeks, doesn't mean I wasn't thinking about them. My grandma has a great china cabinet full of old serving pieces from her family. I always enjoy spending time with her exploring all the china with her, while hearing some stories of their history. Once again, I was sad that I didn't have my camera with me!

I also got some good books for the studio as gifts:

This was one of them, a used library book of Chinese Ceramics. I also got an awesome picture book called "Food Mania," which contains images of food presentation, preparation, produce picking, you name it. One of my favorite potters, Kari Radasch, had it listed on her website as an inspiration.

While it's the time of the year for resolutions, I'm not one who usually works that way, but I am often inspired by others. I just read Ron's blog entry that he had logged 285 blog entries! My hope is that this year I will take time to post more often. I enjoy reading others' blogs, and comments, and I enjoy the feedback that I get from others. So thanks for reading and responding!