Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Pictures of present...if I had pictures.

I am running one more load through the kiln this week trying to get some Christmas presents done.  I don't want to put any pictures up here, even though I am sure the people they are intended for will never read this.  That and I do not have any pictures of them know. 

In getting enough stuff to fill the kiln I was carving a few things this week.

Rooster crock & large mug.  Both for an order...sort of.
Medium-ish plate with branch/vine thing.
  I ran a bisque load yesterday and unloaded this morning.  I had two plates in there again, loaded on top this time, and there were no fatalities.  Yay.  Everything is waiting to to be glazed and fired as I type.  It should get run through tonight, so pictures next week.

And here is a picture of my recent studio visitor.
I saw him running around the garage (aka my studio) on Monday.  He got pretty bold, sneaking out from under my work table and coming up right behind my dog before running away.  I haven't seen him in a couple days, though, so I don't know if the dogs scared him off or what.

And finally, some not very exciting news, but still kind of cool.  I got my first sale on Etsy last week.  Payment received, cup delivered, everything went smoothly.  So...there's that.  Ok, Christmas present and other pictures next week.  Until then.

-Rob, Simple Circle Studios

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

At home with the Bub

 It looks like Noah might have pink eye, so he had to stay home from the babysitters today.  Not really a big deal, but it means that I will not be able to get into the studio much; maybe during nap time.  I will be able to get some more business type work done, though.
So I guess on the agenda for today is: finish Christmas presents, get contact info for potential retail outlets, call photographers about getting pictures taken for show application and take pictures for posting stuff on Etsy.

Speaking of Etsy (and Chritmas presents, wink wink, nod nod) I finally have a few things in my shop.  Just posted a couple last night, actually.  As I have said before, it is a laborious process (for me at least) but I suppose it has to be done.  Any way, here are a couple shots from the shop.  Click on the pictures to check it out.
Blue and brown whiskey cup

Green and brown mug
Back to child care.  Until later.


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

I got those paper, business, computer work blues

I have been stuck doing paper/computer work for the past two days.  I don't exactly hate it, but it is definitely not my forte.  I have gotten a few things done, though.  Updated my mailing list after the show last weekend (not a bad show!), messed with tax stuff, and unfortunately got signed up on the facebook.

Now the facebook was not really my decision.  My wife was messing on her facebook and the following conversation ensued.
Wife: I'm going to sign you up for facebook.
Me: Don't do that.
Wife: But you need to have a page for your business.
Me: Really, don't do that.
Wife: I'm signing you up.
Me: Ugh.

So now I am on the facebook.  From what I have seen on there so far it is largely just a waste of time.  Perhaps I will be able to utilize it better in the future, but I'm not counting on it.  If you should want to hook up with me on the facebook...well I really don't know how you would do that.  Search for Rob Lorenz or something I guess.  I will probably be on there even less than I am on my blog and such though.

On a more productive note, I finally got some stuff posted on my Etsy page.  I am really just starting to get into this and, as many people have said before, it is quite time consuming.  Taking pictures, editing pictures, writing descriptions, posting, etc.  I only have a few of them up right now; if you want to check them out just click on the pictures below.  I should be getting more stuff up there over the next couple weeks.

For those of you who are more versed in the world of Etsy, how do you work your Etsy inventory?  Do you make stuff specifically for posting on Etsy?  Do you just take the stuff off your Etsy shop when you take it to a show?  Any help or general input on the subject would be much appreciated.

Now to get back to some more tactile work, I actaully get to get back into the studio today.  I'm trying to get another load through before the 18th.  We'll see if that happens.  Until later.


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Catastrophic Failure

Just a quick post to show you what I found in the kiln this past Sunday.

I ran a bisque load last week and, after a long Thanksgiving weekend, unloaded right away Sunday morning.  This is what I found on the bottom shelf.  What that used to be was a 16 inch platter that I spent quite a while decorating.  Disappointing.  Not entirely sure what caused this platter to explode.  I have a few more to decorate still, so we will see what happens with those.

I am getting ready for a big-ish craft fair this weekend at SIU.  If anyone is in the area come check it out.  There is usually some pretty good stuff there.  Next week: how to butcher your own meat.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Episode 423

MST3K 423 - Bride of the Monster: Mad scientist Dr. Eric Vornoff (Bela Lugosi) lives in a remote swampy area attempting to create an army of atomic supermen in his lab with the help of his mutant assistant Lobo (Tor Johnson). He performs Frankenstein experiments on intruders, takes revenge on his critic, and feeds his enemies to a pond-dwelling octopus.

This past week has been a decorating week.  That is by far the longest part of my making cycle.  Finding the right image for the piece, transferring the design then carving everything.  Sgraffito is a very laborious process.   It is also very gratifying though, finally seeing what you had in mind realized. 

Here are a few quick shots of the work in progress.  I am working toward a bisque firing next Wednesday, right before Thanksgiving.  I have a show at SIU coming up the first weekend in December.  I should be able to get one, maybe two glaze loads through before then.

Some I liked pretty well; some were just ok and some were duds.  I suppose that is how it goes, though.  I never really have a clear picture of what a design is ultimately going to look like until I see it on a piece.  Thus some designs I try and they just don't work.  Oh well.

Still quite a bit to decorate in the next couple days, starting with these wine sets.

And finally, a handful of platters that I was working on before.  I have come to find that platters take quite a while to dry.  They finally got there though, so I could trim and finish them.  I am by no means an expert platter maker, but I think these turned out pretty well.  We'll see how they look with some decoration on them.  Until then.


Friday, November 11, 2011

Episode 619

MST3K 619 - Red Zone Cuba:  Follow the meandering adventures of an escaped convict and two ex-convicts he recruits along the way as they become involved in the 1961 Bay of Pigs Invasion, and a quest to find a hidden treasure in a tungsten mine.

Here are a few of the things I have been working on this week.

Some ice buckets that will be part of wine sets.  I am still working on the handles.  Next time I want to try moving them down the side a bit or perhaps altering the rim a bit to create a little more room under the handles.  Maybe a handle that goes over the top of the bucket; that was actually the original idea.  There's a lot to play around with on these.

I'm really diggin this new vase shape.   It makes for an interesting shape to decorate.  It holds flowers pretty well too!

These will be turned into spoon rests.  Although I suppose I could just leave them as is.  They wouldn't work bad as dessert plates.

Finally a few plates/platter.  Not really sure what you would classify these as.  They are about 13 - 15 inches across; a bit large for a plate, but a bit small for a platter.  These are actually the biggest ones I have made.  I am happy with them so far but they have a ways to go yet.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Craft Fair Quote of the Day

Says an older woman (50-60ish) to her younger relative:

"Did you see the priiiiice?!  I love coffee but I don't love it enough to pay $18 for a coffee cup!"

Then they both walk away with the $3 whole sale "crafts" they bought earlier.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween (That's when she gets so mean)

So earlier I said I would regale you with the Halloween exploits of my family and I.  Here are those exploits.  They really are not that exciting.  Saturday we were going to take Noah to some festival thing at the mall, but then Alicia decided she didn't want to go.  Thus we puttered about the house all day until it was time to go the festival thing at the school.  Alicia said it would be loads of fun.  There was to be a cake walk.  So we got Noah into his costume (hand made by his grandma).  He and the neighbor boy were going as monkeys in a barrel. 
The festival was decidedly less than exciting.  When it came time for the costume parade Noah was aces, riding in the barrel like a pro.  The neighbor boy cried whenever he was put in the barrel with Noah.
 I guess it is pretty easy to understand why.  That is one ferocious looking monkey.  They won a prize for the costume, despite the crying lad. 
After wasting a couple bucks on little games that Noah was less than interested in we went home.  We didn't bother sticking around for the cake walk.

After Noah had his Halloween fun it was time for Alicia and I to go out on the town; kick up our heels if you will.  Funny thing, though.  Due to some rather rowdy partiers back in the days of yore all of the bars on the Carbondale strip are closed the entire Halloween weekend.  Even stranger thing, you can go one short block off the strip and the bars are open.  If I owned one of the bars on the strip I would be pitching ten kinds of fits about that.
But I digress.  We did not dress up, but we went to check out a bluegrass band at a bar just off the strip.  They were ok; the opener was outstanding.  It was just one guy by the name of Alex Kirt.  He played dirty delta blues with a wicked distorted slide guitar and a little kick drum.  Great stuff.

It is now Halloween proper.  We, again, did not dress up.  We are currently sitting on the couch messing around on the computer; I blogging, my lovely wife working on my new web site (more on that in the future).  We live at the end of a road in a pretty small neighborhood, so we have only had a few trick-or-treaters.  Which is cool as it means a relatively quiet night now and more candy for me later.  And as soon as I am done posting this I am going to finish watching Nosferatu while I finish my whiskey.  Oh, and I unloaded the kiln earlier too.  All in all a good day.

The Past Three Days...

I have been trying to post this for a while, but have not found the time.  Now I am finally getting around to it, so here is what has happened in the past three days since I started writing this post.

Friday I cleaned up the bisque ware and got everything waxed and ready to glaze.  It is a pretty good load of stuff; a lot of tumblers and whiskey cups, some bowls, some mugs and a few new vases. 

I also had a couple of test ornaments in there.  I used to pit/barrel fire my ornaments but have not been able to get very good color on them.  Thus I made some ornament hangers to fire them with low fire glazes.  The hangers were basically cylinders with kanthal wire strung between the sides.

Unfortunately they will both need to be re-fired (or something) since the wire sagged quite a bit and the bottom of the ornaments stuck to the cylinders.  As a result I constructed ornament hangers 2.0. 

This should take care of the sagging wire problem at least.  These will get tested in the next bisque firing. 

Saturday was spent in Halloween endeavors.  I was going to write a bit about all that here, but I think I will save that for a different post later tonight or tomorrow. 

Sunday (after sleeping in for a good spell) I glazed everything and got the kiln loaded and firing.  I have a couple glaze tests in there; just some different clears and a satin to play around with.   I am trying not to be too anxious to pop it open.  It is currently at 650 or so, so I should be able to unload this evening some time. 
Now I have to get stuff ready for a show this weekend.  It is at a smaller college (Southern Illinois College) in Harrisburg, IL.  The spaces (if I remember correctly) are only 5.5 by 10, so I am imagining a big room, foyer, etc just lined with a bunch of tables.   I am going to have to rework my display to fit the space but keep it looking professional.  It bothers me when I go to craft fairs and it looks like vendors just set up a table and threw their wares out there.

Today I am working on a set of shelves that will sit on top of the table.  I will probably take a couple of pedestals as well.  If I have time I will tackle the problem of proper table cloths and a better looking sign.  Of course that will be between unloading and cleaning the new work, taking pictures, inventory and pricing, etc, etc.  I will try to take more pictures of everything and get them up here.  Until then.


Thursday, October 13, 2011

How to Fail at a Craft Fair

Ok, I don't really know exactly how you would go about failing at a craft fair as far as what step you would take.  I do know that I was pretty good at it a couple weeks ago, though.

Two weeks ago I had a booth at an art and wine fair near where I live.  It wasn't a big thing; one day, 30 - 40 vendors, but I figured it would be a good avenue to get my stuff out locally.  I was wrong.  During that 6 hour art and wine fair I sold exactly...wait for it...nothing.  I did not sell a single piece.  Now I have had bad fairs before, but I have always sold something, even if it was to other vendors.  Selling nothing was a first for me.  I think the biggest problem was that it was an art and wine fair.  97.4% of people were there to listen to music and drink as many free wine samples as possible, not buy stuff.  Oh well; now I know.

Last weekend I was at a fall festival in Missouri and that went a bit better.  I didn't sell quite as much as I sold there last year, but it was a slow year for the festial all around.  And now I am getting ready for a couple more fairs coming up in November and December.  These are bigger shows (I think) and are closer to the Christmas season, so I have somewhat higher hopes for them. 

Here are a few more shots of the stuff that came out of the last kiln.

Salt Jar (NaCl stamped on the lid)

Bunny mug  There is a carrot on the other side.

Salt & Pepper Shakers  Possibly my favorite color combination.

Cloud Mug  Not really fond of the color, but I dig the design.
More later.  Until then.


Monday, October 10, 2011

Recent Work

Here are finally some pictures of the finished work I pulled out of the kiln a couple weeks ago.  Later I will post some more pictures and give a brief account of the two shows I had the past couple weekends.

These oval vessels are fun to make, but they are not extremely functional.

They work ok for flowers if you use one of those green foam block things, though.

These tall-ish squared vessels were originally made as vases, but work pretty well as utensil holders.

This is a mug that I showed in progress a ways back.  Here it is finished.  The black on the rim is a comercial gold glaze that I tried as an accent, but it didn't turn gold, obviously.

I really like this design, but it took quite a to complete.

Until then.


Friday, September 16, 2011

The Unload

Here are a few quick shots from yesterday.  And I threw a few more things after I took this picture.  Pretty productive, I would say.  Looks like I will be chasing plastic today.

Here are a few shots of the kiln as I was unloading yesterday evening.  A decent firing.  There were some things I really liked, some things that did not work out as well as I hoped.  I will get some more pictures up next week.

Layer 2 (forgot to take a picture of the top shelf)

Layer 3
Layer 4
 I guess that is all for now.  Until later.


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Ready, aim, fire...or something like that.

Here is the work of the past couple days.  As I said in the last post, I got a bisque load fired and out.  Yesterday I went about the task of getting everything sanded down, washed off and waxed for glazing today. 

Here is everything laid out with wax drying, waiting to be glazed.  It doesn't look like a lot, but it was enough to fill a kiln.  On a side not, I hate the color of that wax.  It is just a commercial cold wax resist, but I added some red ink to make it easier to see.  Now it is a sick bubble gum/pepto-bismol pink.  Next time I am going to have to add a different color.

 Everything set out once again, this time all glazed and ready to go.  The kiln is now running through a glaze cycle and is currently at...1280 F and rising.  It should be finished by morning and I should be able to unload tomorrow night or Friday morning.  I will snap some pictures of the finished stuff and get them up here when everything is out. 

As Christmas is approaching I decided to work on some ornaments.  Previously I had just barrel fired them with some interesting results.  More often than not, though, they just came out smudged with soot and what not.  These I made with low fire clay (that I got for my second continuing ed class that failed to garner enough interest) and plan to glaze with some old low fire glazes I got from the wife's cousin.  Before that happens, though, I will have to get some kanthal wire and make some sort of contraption to hand them from.  I'm not really fond of using stilts

Damn dirty low fire Christmas ornaments
I guess that's all for now.  Here's hoping the kiln fires off alright and everything comes out looking spiffy. Until then.