I’m not in a hurry to get my latest project completed for the client, but as we get closer to shipping the pieces, I’m feeling a bit pressed against the wall. The project is a week ahead of schedule but…when it’s shipped I loose access to the pieces for the video I’m working on. So all raw video and still of the pieces needs to be completed before they are shipped.
This is one of those videos where the ending is captured before the beginning…well sort of. I decided to do a video on the project as I was coloring the pieces…so I did that, then clean the edges and then fired them in obvara…having enough foresight to capture the obvara process for the project. This week will be coating them with acrylic and they’ll be finished.
But what about the forming of the pieces from the bag of clay. Well as luck would have it, I need to make more of the form in question. So, if I remember, I’ll set up to capture the forming and the rounding the edges and then I can edit that part of the process into the front of the video.
I’ve been wanting to do work on a new lead in for the video projects…we’ll see if this one gets that treatment or it’s re-edited at a date in the future…but in any event, I’ll edit the video with stills and motion, a few strategic text graphics…oh and the music, got to have music. If I had guts I’d use the Finale from the Rossini’s “William Tell Overture”…but it’s typically only 3 minutes long anyway. So my excuse is that it’s too short for the video.
If I’m lucky…the two hours of footage and a couple of more hours of editing will result in a video of about 8 minutes or so.
So if you have ever wondered what happens “between the lines” around the pottery…it’s all about…sweeping the floor. I could make it sound glamorous (or at least fun) but at times it’s much more routine, perhaps even mundane.
When I started in clay 45 years ago, I think I always thought of the fun of working with the ooey-gooey clay and the kiln openings…never really thought about the time and energy of cleaning the floors, the scraping of glaze from the shelves, rewiring the kilns and on and one. There’s really a whole lot of grind behind the wheel. Of course I share all the good-bad-ugly-boring-interesting (the whole bucket of stew) every Wednesday LIVE on FB…5-6 PM Pacific.
Well we did get the vaccine on Tuesday. We also did not have any sort of reaction. My arm didn’t even get sore…well not that sore anyway. “Piece of cake!”
Most difficult part of the process is just finding an appointment. That was about a week of checking with the various possibilities. California screwed our health care provider (actually did a number on a couple of them) and pushed the vaccines into the super sites and local pharmacy delivery. But way out here in the sticks…our local CVS is not on the list…and super sites? Hahaha But we have them in the arms and we have appointments for the 2nd.
We are working through details for our sale on the 25th of the month. We’re going to start the sale at 5:00 PM Pacific and run about an hour (not less than, but it might run a tad over…that’s a detail we’re working on) . We did decide to announce the discount code through our newsletter which will go out on the 22nd. At the very least it will be larger than any discount we announce “on air” during the show. It’s going to be a lot of fun. Now that we’ve done a bunch of virtual sales, we’re kind of getting to understand what is fun and what really falls flat…like some of my jokes.
So put the 25th on your calendar and spend some time with Brenda and I as we muddle through yet another show and sale. Couple of new products will be shared…new glazes as well as new pots to put them on.
...and thus the pictures today. These and others are being uploaded to the site in advance of the sale on the 25th.
I’d promise to put Madison the Black Lab on camera…after all she is cute…but I can’t really lift her any more (45 pounds of pure squirm). She is at a stage were if it can go in the mouth, she will probably try to do so. Electrical cords are always in jeopardy. She just does not care if those electrical cords are 110 volts live or “dead”, HDMI, Ethernet, USB or just a string that looks like a power cord. Cute…yes…distracting (and easily distracted)…also yes (and yes).
Last week was all about…well it was about all, as in everything. We did a four part video gig with Vogue Knitting Virtual, fired off two bisque kilns, a load of raku, glued, packed, shipped…and I went to Auburn (about 35 miles down the hill) to get printed cards. On Wednesday, Brenda and I combined to do FIVE Zoom meetings or streams…FIVE…a serious crazy day. But that trip to Auburn was a big deal. It was the first trip off the property in four weeks. I’m basically a hermit with a friend.
And I return to Auburn this week...well almost to Auburn. Lake of the Pines actually to a CVS pharmacy...you guessed it...Brenda and I are going in to get vaccinated! It was a stroke of luck to find the open appointments but we found them and booked them. I'm hoping that I'll get a sucker if I don't carry on too much.
I was presented with a new color matching project that will be very challenging. Its three colors, two of which should be pretty straightforward…but that third one…yikes. I’ll start on that this coming week…but will be hampered by my crossed fingers. Perhaps I’ll be able to uncross them to use the brushes. The preliminary tests look promising, but it will still be a challenge.
Last week’s color project worked as I had hoped and was well received. I thought it was appropriate that I was working with pink colors on the week leading into St. Valentines Day. We’ll produce the pieces this week to ship the following week.
Since we’re running low on the number of yarn bowls and rockin’ diddys that are in stock in carbon painting and obvara, those need to be color and re-fired soon…like also this week. Of course, since I'll be firing up the kiln, why not throw in shawl pins and such...the load went from a couple dozen pieces to about 250. Perhaps I should check the propane content of the tank…as I write this I’m thinking that we’ll be burning the propane on both ends the next couple of weeks.
Don’t boo hoo for me…I like what’s on the “honey do” list. Should be fun.
Last week was just a ton-o-fun…seriously. I’m not kidding. It’s all in how you define fun.
I once had a Pastor tell me that the way to build a successful Church was to set low expectations. I chuckle when I remember that conversation. I now apply that philosophy to other areas of my existence…like defining fun…fun is a low threshold to cross. Low expectations…that’s the secret.
But it was a fun week in a potterly, covidly, I’m-really-tired-of-being-cooped-up kind of way. We had a hauler come by and take away a bunch of “stuff” and that cleared the way for a kiln to be moved this week. Worked on a new way of trimming smaller pots and really enjoyed the results. Wrestled with some faulty WiFi nodes…and we ended the week with four successful show and tells with STITCHES at Home. We’re really enjoying the virtual shows lately.
I began the season of weed pulling last week. It’s all about timing. The soil has be saturated to that the weeds can be pulled. Too dry and the stem snaps and the weed is harder to pull next year…too wet and the puller gets cold and grumpy. There is no more than a 2 ½ month window to do the work so I try to put is an hour each day…then I’m grumpy, even when it’s dry.
Big news this week is the virtual studio tour. We doing a virtual tour of the studio starting in the mudroom and working our way through the kiln yard to the workshop and ending with a behind the camera tour of the video set up. It’s part of the SuperPass program for Vogue Knitting’s virtual show…this week Thurs-Sunday…we do the tour twice.
But in every time frame there is usually an event you can highlight as “special” and last week it was finding a stick. Yep a stick. Of course it wasn’t just any old stick…it was a length of oak that was custom milled for me years ago to frame some of my tile pictures. That stick will be cut to frame a couple of samples for show applications. I’m thrilled…seriously…I found a stick.
Felt like Madison must feel when she finds a stick in the yard and carries it around like a princess with her tiara. It’s the best thing ever and she flaunts it. Of course I won’t be carrying the stick in my mouth like she carries hers and I don’t see any reason to try to sneak mine into the house like you know who tries with hers…but I found a stick and I’m stoked.
Our healthcare provider, Kaiser Permanente, has a few hundred thousand more than 9 MILLION members here in California. That’s about ¼ of the entire state. They are prepared to stick it to us (in the arms). But they have been given about 300,000 doses of vaccine so far…not 9.3 MILLION…just .3 million, less than 4% of the number of members. Why?…government allocation. It’s a bit messed up. So we wait as patiently as we can.
I worked a bit on three new products this last week…a small jewelry box, a ramin bowl and a pour over for coffee. It was fun. I don’t normally do but one or two new products a year and to be able to sit down with wads of different sizes of clay and play with three new forms on the same day was a lot of fun…and without the pressures of needing an item, it was relaxing.
The website (www.lickinflames.com) has had a pretty hefty update. I made hundreds of additions and edits over the course of three days. My vision was blurred by the hours in front of the screen. I’m glad I have done his before as I learned from my past experiences that keeping notes on the pad of paper next to me is a great thing. I know…a paper trail for digital work seems counter intuitive…but it worked. As the nights got later on…the writing got a bit difficult to read. It wasn’t those blurry eyes as much as the horrible hand writing. Seems my brain was going a bit faster than the pen. I might have combined three words into a brand new one…maybe…can’t read it so I’ll really never know.
The website has a few holes in it. It’s never really finished. It reflects the fluidity of our studio. Products come and go and grow…and the website does too. So as I sit here and gloat a bit having “finished” the update, I know it’s just one more step in the process.
In news from the puppy (Madison the Black Lab)…she’s got “sit” down pretty well…”down” (lay down) is right behind the “sit”…and then there is “no biting” which is huge and Brenda made a comment on how much Maddie has improved in that category. I’ve been taking her for walks with lead so that she can travel with us…and her big crate has been washed and sits next to her pen for her to feel more comfortable…why crate her? We will not be able to travel without her being comfortable in a crate. She’ll do fine. Anyway, she’s making good progress with everything we throw at her…throw at her? She’s decided that balls are her thing…well balls and rocks…well balls and rocks and cardboard boxes…but rocks don’t bounce as well and boxes just get smaller. Balls are the gift that keeps on giving.
We should all be able enjoy life as much as Madison...life really is that simple.
We knew we’re going to see some and it looks like more could be coming our way. We have moisture in the forecast for the nine of the next 10 days…four of which all sources indicate snow…maybe three…maybe five. In any event, it’s going to be a wet one. Brenda humored me and had a load and a half of food delivered this weekend and Costco will drop a shipment on Tuesday. We feel comfortable with the “Winter Storm Watch for the Motherlode” that the National Weather Service announced for Tuesday/Wednesday…we live in the Motherlode.
The glaze tests from last week finally paid off…took a bit of fudgy-wudgy and had to do some work-arounds but we got a result that we really like. The colorway we came up with really shows off the yarn from Mountain Colors…and that is the point isn’t it? The STITCHES at Home event is coming up in a bit over a week and we will have the new kit making its debut at that virtual show. We’re stoked about this combination.
Madison, the Princess of Hobnob, is developing into a typical Black Labrador Retriever. She’s four months old and her feet are continuing to grow…as is her love for the ball…she loves to chew her squeaky toys (and the floor is littered with them)…she has a rock collection on the kitchen counter and another on the railing of the porch…she picks up rocks around the yard and we take them from her mouth. She finds sticks and acorns but rocks are her favs. Best news? No accidents in the house for four days in a row…a miracle. This dog is extremely smart but not as stubborn as our Brittany…making her a joy to work with in training. Oh…and her tail can now dust the top of the coffee table…she’s growing.
A significant amount of snow happened last night for the first time this year. Moisture from the sky has been hard to come by this year. Still time to catch up…but we’re about two major systems down. Each major system drops 5-7 inches of rain. Our historical average is about 54 inches of water…more than Seattle by a few buckets.
The snow was Madison’s first experience. Fun?! Oh yeah…fun to watch her play. She is a bit frustrated with trying to find good rocks to carry around (how dare they hide)…but zooming around playing slip-n-slide is pretty cool. When the accumulated snow from a branch fell on her…the look on her face just cracked me up. Everything is new. We should all have that fresh, new, and fun experience every day.
The art/craft and fiber festivals continue to be postponed or cancelled in 2021. We’re expecting the few still “scheduled” between now and June to also fall along the wayside. I cringe when I think about waiting until June to do our first face to face show of the year…and first in a year and a half! But that could be a real possibility.
In the meantime it’s “lights, camera, action” around here. Our video studio got a workout last week and will see more action this week. I may start to use some techno gear during our Wednesday “Shenanigans of a Studio Potter (every week, Wed 5-6 on FB). It’s a live program (yes there are mistakes…it’s raw) and we do it each week. But I have equipment that will enable me to give a better upload and still shoot the segments in their plain, simple and unscripted form. I’ve got a few episodes this summer than could be in the car or at the cabin, where the studio potter is and what the potter is doing is all part of the story...it’s each week.
Madison, the black Lab puppy, is doing very well. She has stopped biting as her first option. She and Montana (her 15 yo sister pup) have actually napped on the same bed…and we got her using a slow down food dish. Eating a cup of food went from under 50 seconds to about 12 ½ minutes! It’s got to be healthier right?! She loves coming out to the mudroom to visit. I’ll be getting a raised bed for her as I can see her coming out to the shops when the weather warms a bit.
The big challenge in the studio work this week will be to try some glaze tests without using a particular chemical (titanium)…it throws off some color responses…in a very unpleasant way. But removing the titanium also kills the surface of the glaze, a feature of the glaze that really makes it special. So I’ll be trying to fine tune the glaze in question to get some hint of the surface character with the color combination that I desire. Fingers are crossed. Normally I use 12-13 test tiles on a test like this…I made 50 for this go around…it may be that complicated.
We have a STITCHES at Home event coming up (Feb 4-7) and will be premiering a new color that will blow your brain. Seriously the coolest glaze I’ve ever worked with. We will have a limited number of pieces done in the new glaze. It will only be available as a magnetic backed shawl closure…in five shapes. You will have to watch our LIVE gig at STITCHES for the show-and-tell…and the pieces will be available immediately following that show on our website. Details for the STITCHES event will be in the newsletter…don’t subscribe? You can do that at: http://www.lickinflames.com/contact.html
Daughter Katy and I taped the webinar for the last in the Intentional Creative series, “Elemental Creativity.” What a great experience. I’m editing the material for the course, “Water: Honoring” and should have it up on line by this coming weekend. Information about the series is on our website at: https://www.lickinflames.com/store/c36/Elemental_Creativity_Series.html So despite the setbacks the pandemic has provided, there are new things happening.
Brenda and I try to find the “silver lining” in everything. Sometimes, when projects don't produced expected results you might find something pretty fine...as is the case of the dark ruby red glazes in the pictures...oops. I didn't make a mistake in mixing...the chemicals just didn't respond as expected...I didn't get the ruby red, but I can certainly live with the grey.
The puppy, Madison, is growing at 6-8 pounds a week and nowhere close to filling in the feet and skin. She may be a big girl when she reaches “adult stature.” I like that stature word…it covers up for her still acting like a goofy puppy when she is full sized critter.
So then my mind starts to wonder if that same term could somehow be used to describe a human…say someone like myself…full size but child-like. I could warn folks to not let my adult stature fool them as I play with clay.
Madison is just at 12 weeks and while not quite able to leap tall buildings…she tries to jump on the couch. Sometimes she’s successful and sometime…well she misjudges the launch and falls just a tad short of the cushions. And while she may not qualify for the long jump OR the high jump in the Olympics…Speed Eating…she qualifies for that muzzle down. She can clean 1 cup of food in under 50 seconds…unless she decides to chew a piece (that’s rare) and then it takes just a minute. Her new slow down bowl has been shipped. We decided to get the new bowl when I found out that there are no competitions with prize money involved for speed eating dogs…and the gold medal isn’t solid gold so who cares.
We’ve let her visit in the mud room a couple times now and have to watch her with eagle eyes as she still tries most things with her mouth. Eventually I’ll put a bed in the workshop and another in the mudroom so she can go to work with us in the shops…but always with an eye out on the sneaky little girl.
BIG week this one…shooting “Shenanigans of a Studio Potter” on Wednesday 5-6 PM Pacific LIVE on FB…a LIVE demo with Vogue Knitting’s Virtual product also on Wednesday (Noon)…then a sale slot with Vogue on Thursday…and a different demo on Thursday and another sales slot on Friday…all the while making stuff in the mudroom…and shooting footage for the first in the new MakeIt series.
Still trying to find someone who will complete the Ethernet install…including second lines (to run HDMI over Ethernet). All of it needs to go underground and thankfully the pipes are all under already. When the lines go underground life will be good…for a bit anyway.
Covid came close to us this past couple of weeks. Turns out we had an outbreak at the local Post Office (6 of the team down there tested positive)…our driver tested positive and three days later when he wasn’t showing symptoms he was back on the route without retesting. Needless to say…he stays “over there” when he picks up and drops off…6 feet?…more like 20 AND masks AND outdoors. Me thinks the PO should rethink their policy on Covid precautions…I know they’re shorthanded (down 2 FT positions locally even)…and the volume is huge…but now we can’t trust any PO employees to be “clean” and not just merely asymptomatic.
Last week when I wrote about a wild 2021 ahead of us…I had no idea just how wild it could be. What are people thinking?! Hopefully things can get back on track and we can have a wild but successful 2021…less on the wild and more on the successful…please. Do I need to say "Pretty please with a cherry on top?"
It’s going to be a wild ride this 2021…not a scary/bad ride like 2020…but still wild. There will be some ups and downs I’m sure, every year adds something to the up and something to the down side…but…
…we made it through 2020…AND…
…we’ll make it through 2021.
We were offered a rare opportunity to change our catalog a bit through the Covid Darkness. Not much was selling anyway, so why not make things that I wanted to make without the pressure of sales. I took that opportunity and continue to work on new items. It’s fun to be free. I’m blessed that the response to the new material has been so strong. I’m pretty sure that we’ll be making some exciting pieces this year and can’t wait to show them…when and where? We can’t know that yet, but soon.
The last few weeks we’ve been playing with combinations of glazes which we have in our pallet and retesting the bases. It’s silly putty work…just a lot of routine. But that allowed me play with the interaction between the bases. Months ago I acquired some interesting new glaze components and am playing with those to find new colors…some which are usually avoided by potters. There are some wild things happening on the glaze side of the pottery work. I’m excited to put them onto the new forms.
All of this new stuff has been happening in our “Hobnob Collection”…all stoneware. But we have two collections we work on. The other is “LickinFlames.”
We are not neglecting new ideas for LickinFlames but what I want to work on is expensive. A single valve for the experimental work is about $200 and who knows if it will work. And that’s just one valve…there are several…and gas tanks…and oxygen tanks. But if I can pull it together AND if the hints that the old-school chemist talked about from his Doctoral research can be applied to Raku…it could just be a superlative OMG experience.
Then there is the notion of using native material in my glazes. I’ve always driven by cuts in roadways and marveled at the colors. Most of us are attracted to the reds, yellows and black that we see as we roar along. Those are mostly iron with impurities…easy enough to incorporate as colors into the glaze. But I’m more interested in the rock as glaze components. I’m shopping for equipment and tools to process the rock…again…it’s only money. But how cool would it be to be able to fire my yard onto my pottery.
And lastly, we’ve decided to start our new series of making videos. The working title is simply “MakeIt”…we’ll see if we can come up with a better title. It’s a one episode a month deal where I will take a “deep dive” into one of our products and show its process and progress from before the bag of clay is opened, through the forming, finishing and decorating…right up to the point of the piece “going out the door” and finding it’s new forever home.
I didn’t like 2020…most of us didn’t. But I think we put the negative space to a good use and now are excited to see just how many of these wild and crazy ideas get squeezed through the studio.
Both of my parents were educators. My Mom was a first grade and my Dad was the Head Librarian at the local High School. As we grew up, the family calendars were in sync by default. All of our vacations were at the same time. We started School at the “first of the year” (note the quotes…important notation in a bit) and we all had the same “end of the year” (more quotes).
I was not raised in a house that recognized January as the actual beginning of the year as it always occurred in that break of time between the first and second half of the year. January 1st (and therefore New Years Eve) meant almost nothing to me, and still doesn’t.
In my brain I saw the year as Sept-Christmas…Christmas break…Christmas break to mid-June…and Summer. Christmas break was not even time on my calendar…it was just a block of “bonus days” between the two part of the year…and summer was the extended version of that magical block of bonus days. My year started in September…not January. As I got a bit older I started to notice that other people referred to the September-June cycle as the “School Year.” To me…the school year was just the year as my family celebrated it.
I don’t think it was until I started my short lived teaching career that I realized that other people also had calendars that didn’t revolved around January 1st. It was the two week mid-October “Harvest Break” at school to allow the community to harvest the potato crop that got me thinking about other non-Gregorian calendar years.
Now we live in “Fire Country” in the Sierra foothills of California. One of my recent calendar overlays is that of Fire Season and non-Fire Season…and then there is the pottery calendar…and the cabin-time calendar…October and November is a calendar within the calendars...January through April are sort of our summer bonus days of yesteryear. My simplified School Year is now complicated as delightfully bazaar.
Bazaar would be a good word to describe this year of 2020 on ANY calendar. Have you ever noticed how close calendar sounds to caldera? If you are a rapper you can easily get calendar and dumpster fire to rhyme. The pictures are a smattering of weird stuff...our Granddaughter riding her new Harley trike...four wannabe cool dudes who have neither shoes nor pride...and truth as explained by Congress...all in the same year.
But I still don’t really worry about New Years Day…my response would have to be something like “On which calendar.” Thank goodness there is my phone which tells me what day it is…AND…the day of the week. If it were not for my phone I don’t think I would care about the day or the week…but then maybe it doesn't matter all that much.