Normally I click the send button on the blog posts on Tuesday...I actually write them on Tuesday morning (usually)...I have a little work on my insulin pump that takes some time to come together and I've found that the time can be more productive if I'm typing rather than getting all goopy with the clay and such.
But today is Monday and I'm doing a bit on the blog cuz I'm thinking about the folks up in Paradise, CA...again. I could be thinking of fires up and down the state, particularly the newest one in the Valley of the Moon which wants to move towards Santa Rosa...but Paradise...again...really. That's the group devastated by the "Camp Fire" a couple years back. Residents of Paradise last night received the notice of Evac Warning...the level just below Evac Order (have to leave)...We still have a solid month of "Fire Season" to go...a year to remember for sure...so far.
This is setting up to be a busy week...obvara "goo" is fermenting in the workshop (ah, the smell of bread...the first day...stale beer by day three...stench on day six)...so that must mean an obvara firing is being planned (on Tuesday)...a quick raku firing (on Wednesday)...casting plaster chums for a workshop coming up and prepping a bit for the Lambtown Festivalcoming up on the weekend. Our interview time is 12:40 on Saturday...stop by if you have time. I have no idea what the questions will be, but I'll make up answers.
I don't know if I can make 2020 any more bazaar or worse, but my new-to-me banjo came this past week. Now to get some different strings put on it to really make it pop...for it's size, it's pretty loud already...but I'm used to the volume of an accordion and everything is quiet after an hour of so of that. I'm going to have to build up my fingers a bit...the stings are killing me.
The goat got out (and thankfully it was just the one ...not the 50 in the herd) of the paddock twice this past week...little imp. Big Zeke, the guard dog, was like, "Meh"...and just sort of let him roam around. Farmer Tim had to come up the second time to gather the goat...first time he got out he eventually wandered to the gate to be let in. Goats aren't stupid...they just put themselves and people in the proper perspective and apply appropriate attitude to make that clear. The herd is being moved down the ravine today.
Work continues on the new workshop curriculum. Our daughter, Katy, is certified to teach intentional creativity and asked us to partner with her on a series of workshops. The four classes will be held over two weekends, including four unique pieces and all done virtually as live webinars. Talk about intense. The samples are constructed (and in most cases, reconstructed with changes) and test video has been shot for framing. I'm a bit concerned about the audio, but that's why we test all the stuff up front right?
This week has us doing a trunk show in North Carolina with Friends and Fiberworks in Ashville and then virtually flying across the country to do a workshop through Mischief in Oakland, CA. Who's on First?...I don't know...I'm just trying to figure out what day of the week it is. The Covid Calendar is wacked.
Brenda and I are not the type of folks who sit up on New Years Eve to greet the new year...we might make an exception for 2021...probably more of a celebration that this one is over.
So it's been two weeks since we've had a AT&T crew here. They put the fiber on the poles and in the ground and it's sitting at the wall of the office waiting...for a crew to hook it up. My calls have been escalated to a manager. It seems that the crews have not been updating their progress in our file...AT&T thinks nothing has happened since mid-July. So they have us down for the next step in NOVEMBER as they are waiting for stuff to be completed...as in the pole work and the under gounding that has been completed already. Glad I tracked this down. Good grief.
Made a small error in an ICANN verification for one of our websites and killed the site. So there was a 2 hour block of time spent (not invested) in getting back to where I was and not getting to go where I need to go. At least the tech on the call was helpful.
Big news from last week was deciding that we needed samples for a new class we're putting together...decided on Tuesday evening...made the samples on Wednesday...finished them on Thursday...dried them and fired them the first time Saturday evening...glazed and fired them on Sunday to send some home with Katy for photos. I certainly wish all my projects were that quick.
I'm sure I'll talk more about the class shortly. We're working on another piece (in the kiln this evening) for a workshop that might go out to market next week.
Speaking of workshops and such...we're doing a Trunk Show at Friends and Fiberworks (Ashville, NC) on Wednesday next and then a workshop for a university research group on Friday...ramping up for LAMBTOWN in just a couple weeks. It might seem that there is a lot of time when you are doing everything virtually, but I'm finding that the planning part of a video shoot is a huge component and with LIVE gigs, there is little room for error...you just can't go back and capture the moment. We spend more time managing the virtual projects and planning same than with a face to face show.
Okay...I rambled a bit...more than I would normally.
Remember way back when things were “normal?” You know about eight(ish) months ago? It seems like so long ago yet the beginning of this whole covid pandemic deal was only 8-9 months ago. Our lives have certainly changed.
Brenda and I have taken the opportunity to look at what we do and what we want to do and then to make the changes that might get us on a slightly different path. Some of the changes we’ve made around our two brands LickinFlames and The Hobnob Collection, have been about how we can take those products to market in new ways. BC (before Covid) it was unusual for someone to have a virtual LIVE sale on line…here and there, sure, but nothing to the extent we see today. Now, it’s about the only way to get your fix other than going into your local shop (yarn or otherwise). Of course, anybody and everybody had an Etsy shop or a website of their own…but LIVE? Video? It’s a brave new world.
There will be winners during the Covid era and there will be losers. Some of that…maybe most of that…will be determined by one’s ability to and willingness to adapt to change. For example: I love to make pots and play in mud all day. If that’s all I did I’d be happy. Just pile the finished pieces by the side of the road with a jar…folks could come by, take what they needed and leave a bit of coin…happy camper me. But get real…that’s not the way the BC world worked and it certainly wouldn’t work today. I have always needed to get out and let people stop by the booth and touch the pieces and hear the story about their creation. Well that was BC…and during CE (the Covid Era) nearly all of the shows we were to attend were closed/cancelled/postponed to 2021 and shops?...shuttered for the most part. So what’s a person to do? Adapt.
I’ve always referred to the building that I make the pottery in as “The Studio.” The building we assemble, clean, pack, receive and store our finished bits in has been called “The Workshop.” We’ve relabeled the pottery making building to “The Mudroom.” The Workshop remains the same but we have developed a new space for video…that is now “The Studio.” Why did we need to start calling the spaces by names anyway…so we could tell each other where we were and where something might be sitting. Seriously…we needed a way to talk about the locations.
The Studio is a dedicated area for our video work…we have a separate dedicated room for photography…The Studio is all about video. At the moment, as aftermath from an event over the weekend, we have five tripods set up with three devices mounted on them. Our pipe and drape backdrop and tables and covers, along with the product displays and mannequins are the same as we would use at a face-to-face show, but duplicates. We don’t see video going away…ever…so we approached this new Studio with some kind of permanence. We brought fiber optics to our property (several 100 hours of labor and many $$ worth of equipment) and we did that so we could broadcast a strong video stream to improve the viewer experience.
I never thought about video becoming such an important component of our little business in the middle of the forest...but it has become vital. It has caused me to rethink lots of the details of our work. It wouldn’t be so bad, but I’ve chosen to use great equipment and cameras and every little “bit” shows under the lights (who knew my black shirts would show the dogs fur)…adapting to change.
So while I’m blathering about in the importance of video…I must say that our website (http://www.lickinflames.com) is critical and THAT is driven by better photos. I can’t win…cameras everywhere. Using the videos, blogs, social media and the website has taken up the slack from packing up the rig and leaving at dawn for shows in far away lands and many McD/Flying J’s later (my excuse for Cinnabons for breakfast). Now I get up and get to figure out locations, platforms and compatibility.
…and then there is that computer storage…I thought my 3T of storage would be enough. At the time I set that up it was all about storing photos for a website. Now…several websites, three carts to feed, 4 social posting sites and video shoots 3-4 times a week sucked up 3T…what next?...and then there is the backup protocol. The Cloud was not an option without fiber (DSL is too slow for uploading)…so does this take us to a free-wheeling work-from-anywhere realm? Really? What happened to making mudpies?
Life as a potter used to be so so very simple. Sing along…”The clay on the wheel goes round and round…round and round…round and round…”
So the goats get moved later thisday. They will be in charge of eating all the green stuff with the hope of mitigating future fires. Our local organic farmer, Tim, runs this herd from property to property to help us all with the fuel load on our properties. He keeps his milking herd on his place.
This week (hopefully Thatday) should see the next to last AT&T crew come by to set the equipment in place for the Fiber Optics line being installed. It's taken about two months to get us to this point. But we're close...very close. Once the equipment is set, the rest of the set up is handled remotely from an office (I hear it's Houston calling). This could take place by Otherday.
In conjunction with that AT&T thing...we have a couple of guys stopping by to tidy up the Ethernet lines and putting them underground to the workshop and the studio. Maybe next Someday.
Testing for the new grey glaze continue this week. I wasn't thrilled with the first volley of tests last week... too pinkish /purplish...and not particularly good pink or purple at that. I was going to set up more tests towards the end of the week, but PG&E has decided to kill our power for a couple of days so I set the tests in motion today. I did have a gorgeous purple come from an intentional test and one grey-like tile that was the basis for the tests done today. So it wasn't a complete loss (testing never is...you learn from tests). The tests for a new red glaze? I don't want to talk about it...just leave me alone in my pathetic existence. Glaze development is just so damnably humbling.
This week is going to be about patience...lots and lots of it...big dollops of it...scoops, shovel fulls maybe even a backhoe bucket worth.
Three ATT crews are on site dropping a fiber optics line into the property. Yesterday they put up the ropes and pulleys to do the pull along 25 (or so) poles to get to the property. Today they put in the fiber. They may finish that today and then we wait again. The next team will test the line all the way back to Nevada City...the second next crew will install the modem and internal bits...and the last crew will do the install remotely from Houston.
When they're all finished, I will have the ethernet connections tucked in underground in the tubes to the studio and the workshop (with a spare to and from each space)...and then it will look all nice and pretty.
When it's all finished we will have six points in our WiFi system and more speed in the wire capacity than all the devices we have (or will have) hooked up. No more herky jerky video sent out...now reception on the end?...I can't control that...but we'll be sending TV quality stuff.
Why all this you ask? When COVID came to visit us all, our business needed to pivot to video. Face-to-face shows were cancelled and virtual shows are trying to fill in the gap. Virtual shows are all about LIVE video presentations. Because we live in an under served rural location, cable is not available and fiber was a dream when we first moved here. DSL is a horrible way to send video of any quality.
So one of the silver linings in the COVID pandemic for us has been bringing fiber to the property.
Now if patience could be another silver lining, I'd appreciate that. I was in a hurry the day that they were handing out patience and didn't bother to stop at that checkpoint.