Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Stuff that doesn't sell, stuff I've never made and selling out...but not really...

 El Chupacabra!  The nefarious goat sucker!  Most sightings of this cryto-zoological oddity come from central and south America.  Quite a few of the sightings have also been attributed to unidentifiable canines with a severe case of mange.  Still, makes for a pretty cool folk tale. 

This past week has seen the beginning of the various orders received at the last show.  While these orders were not quite enough to get me a wee bit tipsy, they are certainly much appreciated.  Let's start with bowls.
Part of one of the orders was for a couple bowls to be used as awards.  I do not generally make a lot of bowls because, well, they just do not sell.  Large and small alike sit in the booth show after show and very rarely make it to a new home.  The bowls in question, though, were quite enjoyable to work on, being larger serving/mixing type bowls.  This is a shot after throwing.  They weigh in at (going counter clockwise from the left) 4, 4, 7 and 10.
Another shot of the 10 pounder.   I do not usually make stuff this big (although I have been doing so more lately), but I was really happy with how this turned out.  I did not measure it, but I would guess it is roughly 7-8 inches tall and 12 or so inches in diameter.  A good size for mixing or serving.

Here is a fancy lighting shot of them after trimming.  Next (probably next week if I am being honest) comes deco...yippy ska-doo!

Another part of the same order was for oval planters...another item I do not sell a lot of.  I don't think people really know what they are for.  And it has been my experience that if people do not know what exactly they are going to use an item for, they tend not to buy it.  I am considering retooling the design to turn it into some sort of bread pan/casserole.  Anyway, here are some planters.  Not the ones for the order but made in the same batch.
Despite the fact that they will probably not sell worth a damn, I like the way they turned out.  They are sporting a fancy new rim and ears.  I'm not sure exactly what it is about them, but they have a kind of boat-y feel to them. 

Another order was for dog bowls.  I have never made dog bowls before, but I have seen dog bowls before, so I figured I could give it a go.
 The customer said they had a medium sized dog and that the bowl probably needed to be 7-8 inches across.  After throwing them that looked a bit big, but who am I to judge?  I am not sure these will become a production item, but I am not ruling it out.  I did see an awful (Editors note: I just got totally mixed up by the spelling of the word "awful"...that just doesn't look right...) lot of dogs at the last show.  Some were in coats and such so I know people will spend money on stuff their pets do not really need.

I am also working up a load for my next show.  It is a one day deal at a living history/historic site kind of thing.  The Saxon Lutheran Memorial (opperated by my mother, conveniently enough) is having their annual fall festival on the 13th of October.  I will have a pared down booth and be demonstrating.  It is a pretty cool to do.  Check it out if you are in the area.
Terra cotta tea bowls with white slip, soon to be decorated.
And here I sold out just a little bit.  I decided to make pumpkins for the fall/Halloween season...I am slightly dissapointed with myself.
Before:  hollow forms fresh off the wheel.
After: scary cute pumpkins.
More scary cute pumpkins.
I actually had a good time making these.  Is it really selling out if you enjoy what you are doing?  I say no.  I am not sure how well these will go over, but they will probably become an annual offering either way.

And with that I have run out of steam.  I am sure I can conjure up something more for next week.

Up next...Battlestar Gallactica!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Show notes, drinking games and something sketchy this way comes...

The capybara is a big freakin' rodent, the largest in the world in fact.  Some people keep them as pets.  Others hunt them for their hide and meat.

By all accounts this night is a four star success so far.  I am sitting here listening to Saint Vitus and sipping a Cuvee Ange.  St. Vitus is a bad [spousal censorship] doom metal band from the 80's.  Cuvee Ange is a rather tasty saison beer aged in wine barrels from 4 Hands Brewery is St. Louis, MO.  Good times.

And since it worked so well last time, this post will consist largely of notes I jotted down while hocking my wares at the Mosaics Art Festival in St. Charles, MO this past weekend.  All in all it was a decent show; one of the best I have had so far...which still isn't saying much.  I would tell myself not to quit my day job just yet, but it is a little late for that.  Let's go!


  • Set up was stressful as usual.  Now I have a PBR in my belly and just want to go home and take a nap.
  • I am not an especially social person.  I do not like small talk and selling is not exactly my strong suit.  I am still trying to figure out a way to just make stuff and let Alicia do all the selling.
  • Just blasted out the details for a big order!  That calls for another beer and some jerky!
  • This is going to be the new art fair drinking game.  Every time I get a custom order I drink, got it?  Then drink, fool!  That is order number two!
  • It is difficult having a conversation with someone who does not really speak English.


  • I do not want to get my hopes up, but the weather is great and there are already people here before the opening bell...promising...[Editor's note:  I should not have gotten my hopes up...]
  • Order up! And it is only 11:30! Drink! 
  • Things have been moving little by little, and I think the crowds may be picking up.  And I got another order...drink!  [Editor's note:  This was the last order received and thus the end of the drinking game.]
  • I am so glad the drum and fife troop is marching up and down the street making conversation (and sales) impossible and scaring the piss out of dogs!
  • [Editor's note:  At this point I ran out of business cards (because I did not bring enough) and spent the rest of the day making more out of sketchbook paper.]


  • A few people have taken the make-shift business cards so far...I don't think everyone really gets my sense of humor.
  • A dragonfly just landed in my booth.  A lady standing there said it was supposed to be good luck...then left without buying anything.  The dragonfly left pretty quick too, so I may well be screwed.
  • I think I just saw the Rocketeer!  Padded leather jacket and an angular back pack that definitely could have contained a rocket pack...are super heroes real?!
  • I believe I may be slipping in and out of this dimension...or maybe time is slowing down or something.  Everything looks washed out and slow and just a little bit off.  It is ok though.  There are only 15 minutes left before closing time and no one is buying anything, so I don't really have anything better to do than slip in and out of dimensions.  [Editor's note:  I now believe this altered state of consciousness was due to wearing sunglasses while it was cloudy and extreme boredom.]

Shortly there after I repacked more work than I was hoping to and headed home.  Again, all in all not a bad show, but it could always be better.

And so there are more pictures in this blog than just a capybara...

This is a page out of one of my sketchbooks.  I always enjoy seeing other people's process drawings and such.  I may start doing two blog posts each week, one regular and one sketchbook post.  Yes, I realize that there are probably very few people in my massive very tiny audience that are interested in the average ramblings of my mind, but it will provide an impetus to catalog and create a back up of my sketchbooks.  They are getting a bit tattered with use.

Up next...I don't know yet, but I'll think of something.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Tragedy, figuring it out and come buy my pots!

When I searched the google for "Timmy Tabasco" this was the second image that came up.  I assure you this is not Timmy Tabasco.
My senior year of high school one of the last projects we tackled in my speech class was to write and produce a short television program.  The show my group developed was a situational comedy about a guy who gets put in the witness protection program.  I believe it was called "Where's Walter?" or something like that.  The plot went something like this.
One day as Walter is walking down the street some mob thugs drop a guy on his dog.  (I was that guy dropped on a dog.  They actually threw me off the roof of the school...onto padding of course.  It was pretty freaking cool.)  After witnessing this mob murder Walter testifies to put Jimmy the Squid (the mob boss) in jail and is put in the witness protection program.  For some reason he has to share a room with someone else in the witness protection program.  This new room mate is none other than Timmy Tabasco, a ex-GI red neck on the run from the Chinese mafia.  I was also Timmy Tabasco.  Wackiness ensues.  There are candy-grams, slow speed foot chases and probably not that much oh so much more.
Granted this was only a crappy high school project, but it was awesome...or at least we thought so.  You are no doubt exceedingly disappointed after three weeks of build up, and I don't blame you.
There is probably still a tape of that spectacular show pilot floating around somewhere.  If Dan, Aaron or Steve happen to have a copy of it (or, even less likely, if they happen to read this), I will give you a large Fortel's pizza for a copy of it.

And now that that foolishness is out of the way...
There are few things sadder than a broken coffee mug.
The other day my son knocked my Brandon Phillips coffee mug off the table and broke it.  It was probably the mug I used most often...the perfect size for a cup of coffee or whiskey.  And a freaking fantastic handle that was just about perfect for how I hold a coffee cup.  Oh well, so it goes.

For something a little less tragic, here are the results of the red clay experiment.
Wishy-washy spoon rests
Wishy-washy sheep
Wishy-washy wheat
There are obviously a few problems here, beside the collapsible handles.  I think the slip was a bit too thin to begin with.  Combine that with them being over fired and you get a washy, thin look that is not all together pleasing.  Due to the over firing the lids also stuck on the jars.  Luckily I only mangled one while knocking them loose.  Most of the batch ended up on the shard pile. 
I did have a couple that did not make it into that first round, though, so I tossed them in with the next bisque firing.
Add caption
"I pour poorly!"

Neither will be sold due to cracks (not sure why/how those showed up), but they are still structurally sound, so I will  probably hold onto them for a while.  At least the platter.  The lid of the teapot fits a little too snug and traps air when pouring, so it is kind of a pain to use.
I will probably pursue this style again soon, but not until I do a little more research.

Finally, a few shots of the glaze load I just unloaded this morning.
Collaborative piece with my 2 year old son.
This is another piece my wife has been bugging me to make for a while.  One of the custom items I make is a "surprise" mug; personalized on the outside with a figurine on the inside.  Now I will always have an example on hand that I can take to shows.  I would actually like to make a catalog to take instead of just examples, but that is still in the works.

Whiskey cups, lidded jars, bottles...and balloons!
The mark of the werewolf!
It was a pretty small load because I had to get some custom orders done, but I was happy with how everything turned out, especially the reds.  I had been having some trouble with getting the color I wanted, but I think I have the formula figured out now.

And finally (again), if anyone is in the St. Louis region, I will be at a show in St. Charles this weekend.  Mosaics goes from 4pm Friday to 5pm Sunday.  It looks like the weather is going to cooperate, so come up and see me!

Up next...capybara!